Many people use or have used computer programs, tapes or CD's or other 'verbal' methods of learning Hebrew. Please post your information about such things in this thread!
I looked at Rosetta Stone but it is a very costly program - I was also told that RS isn't very culture-specific, but teaches much the same vocabulary for every language it presents (I don't know that for a fact).
Pimsleur also puts out a 'listen - learn' set - I think it's CD's - that you can put on your computer and use.
There are several online sites for learning basic Hebrew - but I don't know much about them! My daughter would go to such places when she was learning.
There are CD's and tapes - for learning nusach (prayers), the USCJ has a complete set of casette tapes (which I DEARLY wish they would put out on CD's!) of ALL the prayer services - it's huge. And although it's pricey, it isn't totally prohibitive in cost.
I used the Pimsleur Hebrew I lessons on tape (now available on CD) very successfully starting about 20 years ago. They are for conversational modern Hebrew. Expensive ($345 list price), but worth the price given the results.
In 1990, I diligently spent 30-45 minutes every single day listening closely and responding to the tapes, working through the 30 lessons in about 5 weeks. The Pimsleur method introduces new words or concepts and reinforces with drill question and response. The repetition of a concept gets less frequent as that concept becomes reinforced, but it will be repeated again in later lessons so that you don't forget what you have already learned as you learn new things. It takes concentration. I listened while pedaling on my bike trainer, but I would not advise these lessons to be used while driving or even jogging where there is traffic, curbs, or other distractions. The lessons at the end got difficult enough that I found I had to work through them a second time before I was able to respond correctly and promptly through the whole lesson.
I did the lessons in preparation for visiting my husband who was doing a post-doc at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. I found that in the short time that I studied, I had gained the ability to at least properly respond in social situations and even understand something of some everyday conversations.
I worked through the tapes from beginning to end again to get ready for the summer of 1995 when we spent the whole summer in Israel. My husband took another few months of his post-doc and we came with our 15 month old daughter. The regular municipal Ulpan I first enrolled in proved to be unworkable because we did not have full-time childcare for our daughter and my husband really could not get any work done if he tried to bring her to the office with him. We found an evening Ulpan, but it had started about a month before. Based only on the Pimsleur tapes and the reading and bit of vocabulary I had picked up in about 10 years of attending services and having my husband teach me the letters and some words and phrases, I joined the evening Ulpan and was fine.
I used those tapes even a third time to brush up on conversational skills before our visit in 2002. I tried them out on my son at age 11 because he really ought to learn more Hebrew, but it required too much concentration which he was not willing to give it for the full time of each lesson. I found a website in which you can just buy used Pimsleur CD's for $155 with a "$100 guaranteed buy back": www.usedpimsleur.com/hebrew?b=1 This seems to indicate that you can essentially "rent" them for only $55. I see that there is now Level's II and III so maybe I'll try those some time. If I reviewed the Level I yet again, I might even try the buy back option even though I have the tapes, because I would like to rip them to mp3's to play on my iPod which would be much more convenient than cassette tapes.
Last Edit: Feb 15, 2011 22:53:09 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
* Kehilat Hadar positions itself between traditional Conservative and Open Orthodox. I checked the "Birchot haShahar" file and found that it neatly skips the three verses that are done differently by Conservative Jews simply saying that the nusach is the same for all verses I don't have the time to listen to enough of the other files to check for the other small differences. If someone figures out if the audio files are definitely C or O, let me know.
The Virtual Cantor website sells all the files on CD for only $20. SiddurAudio also sells CD's: the three CD Shabbat set is $46.50 and the Weekday CD is $17.50 (Odd amount: I would have thought they'd choose $18 = Chai)
The voices (both male and female) and styles vary, of course. For example, Rabbi Mark Zimmerman of SiddurAudio has a pleasant voice, but he has a tendency to add a kind of extra "uh" half-syllable to the end of words and it drives me nuts. A rabbi member of my minyan does something like this at the end of every verse when he reads Torah.
Disclaimer: I have mostly collected the links rather than really listened to them.
Our synagogue produced several CDs of Shabbat music. I just checked into that today and found that the music is now being sold at Amazon as audio downloads. I own the CDs but I guess they aren't being sold anymore. I really enjoyed these CDs and they present the typical melodies used at Conservative synagogues. In some cases there is more than one melody presented.
Here is the source for the downloads at Amazon from Ahavas Israel:
I found list of 33 sites through Rabbi Josh Feigelson's (of the Northwestern Univ Hillel) site: joshfeigelson.wordpress.com/torah/recorded-liturgy/ Rabbi Josh uses the standard substitutions for various references to God since he is not actually davening. For example: "Adoshem" for Adonai, "Elokeinu" for Eloheinu, etc. This can make his recordings difficult for beginners to use since he doesn't sing the words as they are actually said in actual use.
Last Edit: Dec 13, 2010 23:39:42 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
I think it's important for children, especially, to hear spoken/sung/chanted Hebrew as early as possible and as frequently as possible. It is a long-term regret of mine that I did not push for my husband (who is Israeli) to speak to the girls in Hebrew - he had already been in the US for ten years or so when we married, and spoke fluent (though heavily accented) English, and in fact, did not usually 'think' in Hebrew, thus rarely used it - so they grew up with phrases but no real knowledge of the language.
Thankfully, we did teach them to read and speak enough to get along with the siddur - and two of our girls spent lengthy periods of time in Israel specifically learning - our oldest went to the University of Haifa for a semester including a month-long ulpan - she can now speak Hebrew well, if rather slowly. And our youngest spent a month long session at Ulpan Akiva when she was fifteen. I don't think she remembers a whole lot, but she has that background to rely on when and if she wants to expand her language skills.
My Hebrew is mostly siddur knowledge - I often feel the urge to work harder and learn more conversational Hebrew, but I have (so far) been unable to sustain that urge! My conversational Hebrew is well suited for conversing with two year olds! By the time they are 4 or so, they are beyond me, alas.
But if our oldest follows up on her currently expressed desire to make aliyah, I guess I'd better work harder on sustaining that urge!