Here are some resources I have found useful in learning Modern Hebrew up to the Dalet Level (Lower Advanced):
- Dictionary: Morfix is a free online dictionary that allows translation from Hebrew to English or vice versa. You can type in any morphology of the Hebrew term, and the search engine will offer you the possible base forms and their meanings.
- Grammar: Easing into Modern Hebrew Grammar published by the Hebrew University Magnes Press comes in two volumes, explaining almost every nook and cranny of Modern Hebrew grammar in a clear and logical fashion.
- Vocabulary Builders and Grammar Reinforcements: These three textbooks were composed by our ebullient and knowledgeable teachers, Gali Huminer (גלי הומינר) and Zooki Shay (צוקי שי), from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They target the students at the Gimel (Upper Intermediate) Level and the Dalet (Lower Advanced) Level. They contain texts compiled and composed from a wide range of resources about the Israeli society. Through them, I have learned about the water desalination process in modern Israel, I have read and listened to Idan Raichel (עידן רייכל)’s evocative song entitled ממעמקים that fuses the Ethiopian rhythm with the traditional Hebrew lyrics, I have deliberated the advantages and disadvantages of a democratic high school in the Israeli society. הכל בעברית! All these texts, while serving mainly to build our vocabulary and reinforce our grammar knowledge, provide interesting insights into the Israeli history, culture, and society. While the first textbook (Gimel Level) is still at its trial period and is not available for online sale yet, the next two textbooks (Dalet Level) בין השורות. עברית לרמת המתקדמים and הפועל בפעולה. פועל לרמת המתקדמים can be purchased at the website of the Hebrew University Magnes Press.
- More Online Resources: I love listening to this Hebrew podcast entitled StreetWise Hebrew. The host Guy Sharett is from Tel Aviv and is now living in Shanghai. I like how it packs a manageable amount of information about Modern Hebrew and its slang within just 5-10 minutes per week. I also learn a little bit more about the Israeli pop music through Guy’s podcast. The English version is free for everyone, while the Hebrew version, mirroring the English version, costs 5 USD per month. The satirical TV show, “the Jews Are Coming” (היהודים באים), broadcasted by Channel 1 and now freely available on YouTube offers another fun and brilliant way to enhance my knowledge of Modern Hebrew and Jewish history. I appreciate how this group of Jews, rather than denigrating the other ethnic groups, has deployed their satirical humour in a self-critical way. Contextualising the speakers’ perspectives is all important for this show, as some of the Hebrew terms aired in the show would make the audience gasp in horror if they were to be put in the mouth of a non-Jew (e.g., a German). For Prof. Zierler’s insightful review that sheds light on the show’s attempt to bridge the secular-religious schism in modern Israel, click here.
- Fun Immersion in Israel: There is probably no better place learning Modern Hebrew than in a country where the language is spoken on a daily basis. Our Hebrew teacher once showed us the late Israeli author Amos Oz’s explanation for the “resurrection” of the Hebrew language in the modern era:
הרגע האינטימי הזה, שבו אמר איש לאישה מילים אינטימיות, לא בספר, לא בסידור, לא בבית הכנסת, אלא מתוך צורך, מפני שלא הייתה שום שפה אחרת – זה רגע תחיית העברית
My reason for speaking Modern Hebrew is not as romantic as what Oz has presented. However, I can agree with him that learning and speaking the language arises out of the need or yearning to connect with and understand the people and environment here. Sitting side by side with classmates coming from diverse walks of life can be intimidating, but our common desire to learn the Hebrew language well creates a commonality between us. An understanding of the environment gradually seeps in when we, following the teachers or tour guides to places on- and off-campus, learn to recognise and call out the Hebrew names of the herbs, flowers, trees, buildings, and bus stations. A sense of satisfaction arises when I seem to light up the faces of some shopkeepers with my effort to speak Hebrew and manage to get a discount thereafter 😉 Language seems to be a powerful tool to bind people together.
Feel free to let me know which other resources have helped you learn Modern Hebrew. 🙂