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3 Steps to Learning Conversational Hebrew

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

According to an old joke, a fellow stops an old man on the street and asks him how to get to Carnegie Hall. The reply, "Practice, kid, practice." In learning Hebrew, the old man got it half right. Practice is a cornerstone, but practicing smart is a better one. Practice the wrong things and you will soon be frustrated by your lack of progress. But practice the right way for just 15 minutes a day, and you will start to see significant progress that you can build on.

Don't be afraid of grammar

As in training for a marathon or learning to play classical piano, daily practice is indispensable, but so too is practicing smart. So what's smart practice?

You need two elements: first, the key words that come up often in conversation, and second, the basic grammar rules, such as how to make nouns and verbs masculine and feminine, singular and plural. Most people don't love grammar, and you can minimize the time you spend on it by focusing only on the aspects that come up routinely in daily conversation.

You don't learn to speak from a textbook

In fact, all of your study should be conversation-based. Start with the building blocks: the prepositions - 'in', 'for', 'to', 'from' - are all prefixes. Learn them and learn a bank of common nouns that you can attach to them. You are already on your way to creating phrases and one short step from short sentences.

Once you've got a solid practice routine on these building blocks, you want to add common words and idioms that Israelis use all the time in conversation. For example, 'okay' is 'b'seder', 'certainly' is 'betach', and 'what can you do' is 'mah la'asot'. When you build your stock of such words and idioms up, you are on your way to conversing in Hebrew!

Verbs

They are the heart of your sentence, but you can learn them without pain. You can create an unlimited bank of short present-tense sentences, utilizing the masculine, feminine, and plural versions of verbs together with the elements outlined above. Here are some examples that you will say after only 1-2 lessons:

  • I am from New York.

  • You live in Israel.

  • They work here.

  • We also speak Hebrew.

Grow your sentences. Learn Conversational Hebrew in just 3 steps! Don't just study Hebrew; start speaking it with confidence!


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