Post by mordantmaxim on Aug 3, 2011 14:08:20 GMT -5
I should mention that my goals are to use Hebrew in Israel (I'm planning to go on Birthright this winter and would extend my ticket for a week or so after the 10 days if selected) and when talking to my boyfriend's father, whose Russian and Hebrew are much better than his English.
I'm pretty darn good at languages, without tooting my own horn. I'm fluent in Spanish and can pass for native in Argentina and Honduras by changing my accent and vocabulary. I taught myself academic Portuguese using a textbook for Spanish-speakers that wanted to learn it; my accent is not so good. I studied Turkish in grad school and my professors were amazed at how I intuitively predicted syntax, declension and morphological structures; my accent is good.
I know this is a Semitic langauge, very different from the languages I know now. I don't want to set myself up for failure. Hence the reaching out to see what others thought.
My daughter's third year Hebrew class at her public high school used that text and she thought it was terrible. She complained that the vocabulary did not emphasize common words, saying that the word for "harpsichord" was taught before some common word like the word for "thank you". I paid about $30 for a used copy because there were copies to be used at school, but it was suggested that the students have their own copy. I figured it might be something I'd want to look at too. Wrong.
Don't waste your money. If you really want the book and you are willing to pay the book rate postage, I'd be happy to send you the copy we have since we have no use for it. Looking through it quickly, in my opinion, it is not at all the kind of book that can be used for self study. There is very little explanation and the little explanation of grammar uses linguistic jargon that is not that enlightening for someone who doesn't know Semitic linguistics.
Before our trip to Israel last summer, I bought a book called "Colloquial Hebrew": tinyurl.com/3karpo8 It was perfect for my needs for a quick brush up on my limited Hebrew skills, but I think it moves too quickly for beginners. But it says that there are CD's available, so maybe with the CD's and if you are good at learning languages, it would work for you. I only got through about the first third of the book before our trip and I intend to go back to it after finishing the book "Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way" I'm working through now: tinyurl.com/3tanql5 I got the "Prayerbook Hebrew" from a Minyan friend who had several brand new copies that the Hebrew school where she teaches was going to throw away. It is straightforward and aims at increasing understanding of the liturgy so it focuses on those words and grammatical features that are common in the siddur.
For a quick way to learn basic survival conversational Hebrew, I highly recommend the Pimsleur audio lessons. I posted the following to the old Gereitzedek listserv before:
I used the Pimsleur Hebrew I lessons on tape (now available on CD) very successfully starting about 30 years ago. They are for conversational modern Hebrew. Expensive (but see buy-back offer below), 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 $160 with a "$100 guaranteed buy back" (price and link updated since my older post): www.pimsleurmarketplace.com/hebrew This seems to indicate that you can essentially "rent" them for only $60. I see that there are now Levels 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: Aug 3, 2011 21:11:31 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
Post by mordantmaxim on Aug 3, 2011 22:12:44 GMT -5
Thank you all for the input. I think I will pass on Hebrew from Scratch at this time.
My boyfriend has a copy of Modern Hebrew for Beginners by Esther Raizen l may borrow; it was used in one of his classes and he said there was a multimedia website on UT Austin's Dept. of Middle Eastern languages. If I think the website is useful, I'll pass it along.
Josh loved the Weizmann. It's a wonderful academic institution full of interesting people. Josh made a number of friends when he was there, some of whom we are still in touch with and see when we visit Israel. I liked Rehovot too, but last summer I was shocked by how much how much the place has changed since our previous visit in 2002. I couldn't even recognize some of the parts of town with so many new buildings. And it even has its own Mall---a full-sized one too--not just like the mini-Mall in Nes Tziona or Rishon LeZion (I don't remember which nearby town) which has probably also morphed into a big mall.
Post by mordantmaxim on Aug 8, 2011 12:49:26 GMT -5
A follow up from last week:
Before I came here with my question about the Hebrew from Scratch question, I had Google-searched the title. I found a forum, Hebrew Cafe, that offered free tutoring/assignments to help you learn Hebrew using a couple of different textbooks.
The forum organizer (from what I can tell so far in 15 minutes of browsing) is an American convert who has lived in Israel for a while as a teacher. I don't know what he teaches, but in his free time, he set up the site to help guide students of Hebrew through some texts--he's basically a free online teacher.
This online course is set up in a "Virtual Learning Center" as my college called them--they're the format used by many universities to house forums, quizzes, chatrooms, online video clips, notes, PDF documents, homework submission etc for online classes.
The class runs from August 2011 to June 2012, with the first unit starting August 14th.
His end of the deal: -provide weekly units that consist of learning goals, reading assignments, and practice exercise -assign you a study buddy (as close to your time zone as possible, of the same gender if important to you for religious reasons) to practice reading the assignments aloud, to ask questions if you don’t understand the content, to have conversations with, etc -to be available for questions that you and study buddy can’t resolve -grade weekly unit quizzes and provide feedback on your work -call you once a month if you live in US or Israel to check in individually with you
Students’ end of the deal: -commit 4 hours/week to the Hebrew course, including your own review of the material, the studying with your partner, doing the practice exercises, and taking the quiz -commit to the full course length, so you don’t ‘abandon’ your study buddy -use Skype, Google video-chat, the phone, or some other method of studying with your buddy “live/in person” -obtain a copy of the text, used or new, and if possible, a copy of the CDs for the book, a dictionary, and a verb chart book
I decided to sign up for the Hebrew from Scratch course because I had access to a used copy of the book and CDs from synagogue (thank you for the offer though, Debbie) and this fits better with my preferred learning style and schedule than the JCC course. It’s really helpful to me because I now have some accountability and feedback from a person who speaks Hebrew, but lets me learn independently with a chance for interactive reinforcement of concepts.
If this sounds good to you, feel free to sign up for this text book; there are a few other texts he guides people through too, though I forget what their titles are. You can get a used copy of the Hebrew from Scratch I book for about $20-40 dollars in the USA from what I can tell on various sites. My local Judaica store also has new copies.
To sign up for the course, you will have to create an account at Hebrew Café’s forum, and then another account on the “Moodle site” that is tied to the Hebrew Café forum’s site. The moodle is the online classroom I spoke about earlier. Finally, you will fill out a student application where you provide more information about you, your Hebrew skills, where you live, preferences for study buddy gender, and “prove” you have a copy of the text by completing a sentence in English from a specific page in the book.
My offer stands that I will mail a used copy of the "Hebrew from Scratch" book to anyone who is willing to pay the shipping costs. It's of no use to my family, but I hesitate to put it into the recycling bin.
With proper instructional support, it could be an OK book. It simply doesn't work for self-study.
Good luck with the course, Mordantmaxim. It's sounds great. And with that amount of time and effort, I'm sure you'll learn a lot. Basically, I find that time and effort pretty much directly correlate to success in learning a foreign language.
Post by mordantmaxim on Sept 2, 2011 18:23:26 GMT -5
Just wanted to provide an update:
So far, I'm doing really well in the course. If I didn't have the CDs, a partner (thus the opportunity to practice on Skype), or my teacher, I'd probably be on Unit 1 still instead of Unit 3. The vocabulary is getting to an overwhelming amount per week if they expect retention. My boyfriend will ask me basic questions about who people are, where they're from, where they live, and what they're learning, and I can more or less answer the questions in simple, simple sentences.