Become a Pro at Speaking and Reading Hebrew

4 min read
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher

Wanna learn Hebrew? Sweet!

Many people share a soft spot for the Hebrew language, and just hearing it connects them to a deep and emotional place that relates to their family and heritage. Learning to speak and read modern Hebrew can open up a whole new world of communication and understanding, allowing you to connect with people and the culture in a deeper and more meaningful way. It might seem complicated, but with the right method, you’ll be able to improve quickly and actually enjoy the process, whether you are a complete beginner or looking to improve your existing skills.

What it takes

Many people wonder how long it takes to learn to read Hebrew. Learning any new language takes time and dedication.
If you’re already familiar with a few languages, or have a previous knowledge of Hebrew, you might pick it up a bit faster.
There are many factors that affect the speed of learning – your prior language experience, motivation, the amount of time and attention you dedicate to studying the language, and how much you’re exposed to it in your daily life.
As understanding the script is deeply related to understanding the spoken language, learning those two together is essential. By that you’ll not only learn the grammar and vocabulary, but also get a feel for the language’s rhythm and intonation, deepening your ability to read and write.

Is reading Hebrew easy?

קל easy light Citizen Café Hebrew and Culture

Reading Hebrew can be challenging, especially for those who are new to the language. Hebrew is written from right to left and uses a unique alphabet that is different from the Roman alphabet used in English. Additionally, some letters in the Hebrew alphabet have multiple forms, depending on their location in a word (for example, the letter “mem” looks like this “מ” when it’s in the middle of a word, but like this ם when it ends a word).

The alphabet contains 22 letters and the vowling system is unique and slightly confusing. However, with the right approach and the right resources, it is possible to learn to read relatively easily.

It’s always a good idea to practice your reading skills with unexpected and fun reading material – this could include anything from reading Hebrew news articles, to songs, to even social media posts.
By making reading practice a more enjoyable experience, you’re more likely to stay motivated and engaged in your learning journey.

The hardest part of learning Hebrew

קשה hard difficult Citizen Café Hebrew and Culture

Learning Hebrew can be tough, and what’s hard for one person may not be a challenge for another. The script can trip some people up. Pronunciation can be a hurdle, as some of the sounds in Hebrew can be tough for English speakers to make. The grammar can also be a pain, especially when it comes to nouns having a gender. And don’t even get us started on prepositions – they can be a real head-scratcher! For some, the biggest challenge can be connecting with Israelis and understanding their way of thinking.

Just like playing the piano

פסנתר Piano Citizen Café Hebrew and Culture

Learning to speak and read Hebrew takes effort and practice, but it’s worth it! To master the language, you’ll need lessons, activities, and chances to practice speaking and reading.

We encourage you to keep the conversation going outside of class too: read books, watch movies, and talk with native speakers to keep the ball rolling. And just think, before you know it, you’ll be speaking Hebrew like a pro!

We like to compare it to playing the piano. When you’re learning to play, you’re using your fingers. But with a language, you’re using your ear and mouth. That’s why practice is key. With this approach, you’ll be using your ear and mouth a lot, which is the best way to actually master a new language.


Picking up new words as you go

When it comes to learning a new language, we all want to know as many words as possible. And while quality is definitely more important than quantity, knowing a lot of words can give you the confidence to speak and understand the language. If you ever asked yourself how many words do you need to learn to speak Hebrew, I have some good news: Hebrew has a lot fewer words than English, so you don’t have to memorize as much!
The real key to speaking Hebrew with confidence is not just about knowing a lot of words, but about understanding how the language works and the places it’s totally different from English or other languages.
For example: In Hebrew most adjectives come after the noun, so if you want to say “A white house” you say בית לבן (bah-eet lah-vahn) which literally translates to “house white”.

Or the fact that we have a preposition which does not even exist in English (you might have heard about the confusing אֶת) and you have to figure out when to use it. These examples remind us that it’s not just about expanding your vocabulary, but also about practicing using the language in real context.

And this is where the Citizen Café method comes in – our lessons and activities focus on real life dynamics, meaning that everything we learn is being put in context. We build a solid understanding of the grammar, pronunciation, and culture of Hebrew, so you can communicate with confidence and ease.
And don’t worry, you’ll be able to pick up new words and phrases in no time! Think of it this way – every new word you learn is a step closer to being able to have meaningful conversations with native speakers. Imagine being able to ask for directions, order food, and make new friends all in Hebrew! The possibilities are endless, and the Citizen Café method will help you get there with an actual sense of ease.

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