The Lazy Person’s Guide to Learning Hebrew

3 min read
Zoë Biehl
Zoë Biehl

Learning a new language requires tons of hard work and concentration. But that doesn’t mean learning has to be dull and difficult. In fact, there’s plenty of ways to sharpen your Hebrew skills by doing practically nothing!

Here are our favorite lazy ways to learn Hebrew.

1. Watch movies in Hebrew

Grab some popcorn, sit back, and relax. For easy mode, simply put on an Israeli movie or show with English subtitles. If you’re feeling more daring, skip the subtitles and pick your favorite Disney movie that’s been dubbed in Hebrew. You already know what’s going on in the film and know the songs by heart—now you can learn them in Hebrew, too.

You can pick up lots of words and phrases this way, and all you have to do is sit on your couch and watch TV.

2. Listen to Israeli music

Israel is rich with lots of original bands and musicians—some are fantastically talented, and some are, well, pretty cheesy. No matter which artist you choose, however, listen in on the lyrics and do your best to understand. You’ll be singing along in no time!

Listen to this song just once and I guarantee you’ll have the Hebrew word for “I wish” (הלוואי) forever burned into your brain:

3. Go to the bar

Did you know that drinking alcohol helps you speak a foreign language better? Having a beer or a glass of wine lowers your inhibitions and gives you some “liquid courage” to speak up. So head on over to your favorite bar in Tel Aviv, down a drink, and chat up a cute Israeli. Don’t worry, you’re doing it to get smarter, right?

4. Label everything

Making flashcards is a great way to expand your Hebrew vocabulary—only problem is you have to make time to sit down and actually study them. The lazier option is to get a stack of Post-it notes and label everything in your apartment in Hebrew. Every time you make your morning cup of coffee, you’ll be reminded that an electric kettle is called a “kumkum” (קוּמקוּם). You can also put up any phrases you’re trying to remember. Switch them out for new phrases once you have them memorized. Now you’ll be learning Hebrew while you wash dishes or sit on the toilet.

5. Eat out

Food is a great way to motivate yourself to sharpen up your Hebrew skills. Go treat yourself to a nice meal somewhere. The only rule is you have to read the Hebrew menu—don’t ask for the English one!—and order in Hebrew as well. Bonus points if you keep the dinner conversation in Hebrew also.

6. Sit on a bench and just listen

This is the ultimate lazy way to learn Hebrew. Simply find yourself a comfy bench on a popular street, plop yourself down, and listen. You’ll pick up on snippets of conversations as people stroll by. Do your best to understand what they’re talking about. It might feel a little odd to be eavesdropping on strangers, but it’s great practice for understanding the way Israelis speak in the real world.


Zoë Biehl is a full-time freelance writer and editor with an insatiable passion for travel. Originally from New York, she now happily calls Tel Aviv home.

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