You want to learn Hebrew?
I bet you’re now looking for inspiration how to tackle the language.
You might already have your favourite tools and platforms that helped you with other languages but following the same old paths may not always work.
Most of us are familiar with the Duolingos and Memrises of the world.
So this post will skip the basic Hebrew resources found on the gazillions of regular Internet resource lists.
Learning to read and write the Hebrew alphabet
This is a great introductory app for those at the beginning of their Hebrew journey.
It will help you practice recognizing and writing the letters.
A big outline of the letter is presented for you to trace with your finger on the phone’s screen.
Each letter is shown in four different fonts — two print-style, and two cursive ones — to teach you to recognise different renditions of the characters.
iScript also has a section dedicated to the vowels, nikkudim.
This comes in handy for your later reading practice.
You need to learn to recognise the vowels, even if you’re not interested in the nitty-gritty of vocalisation.
Write It Hebrew (Android)
It’s a similar concept as iScript Hebrew, but with a few more ways to practice, and a much nicer colour scheme. 🙂
In the learning phase you are writing the characters following animated strokes.
Later, you are asked to write them out yourself on a blank screen.
The app has a good way of detecting if your writing matches the shape of a particular character.
Apps to help you learn basic Hebrew
Download it even if just for the UI.
This beautifully designed app teaches vocabulary from over 20 languages including Hebrew.
The basic premise is to encourage short but regular practice, learning the language drop by drop.
You choose how much time per day you want to spend learning.
The app will present words, with audio, dropping from top of the screen with accompanying pictures.
You can choose to learn words from many different categories and, after you learn 50 items, you can enter the practice mode — Tough Word Dojo.
I log in there just to see the delightful colours and animations, even if I already know most words!
This is a good selection of flashcards with introductory words and phrases, and audio.
The app encourages you to record your pronunciation of specific words and compare it with the native speaker’s recording.
NEMO has handy sections of phrases grouped by topic; in the free version you get access to the essential phrases and questions, including (a nice idea!) sections like “If you only learn 10 things”, or “If you only learn 50 things”.
To access phrasebook chapters like “Love & Kisses”, or “Tech & Communication” you will have to subscribe.
I learned about Cloze tests in my Ulpan classes in Israel.
Even though I now know it’s a common practice method in language learning, I still associate it primarily with Hebrew.
Cloze Master is an app and a desktop game where you have to fill in a missing word in a sentence.
You can choose to rely on your creativity, or opt for an assisted version where you’re given options to select from. There are almost 100k sentences to learn Hebrew from English.
You can play different “sets of sentences” organised by difficulty.
Each sentence is read out by a native speaker and, if you find it hard, interesting, or funny, you can save it for later.
Great fun even for advanced learners!
Hebrew Basic Phrases (Android)
This is a simple collection of words and phrases with audio, divided into categories.
The design is far from perfect — a rather crude 90’s style, in stark contrast to Drops. 😉
But, that shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss this app!
The reason why this phrase-based app made it to my list is the unusual choice of vocab categories.
Apart from your standard ‘days of the week’ and ‘weather’, you have delights such as ‘fuel and maintenance’ — including words for ‘alternating current’ or ‘3-phase’ — and ‘mine warfare terms’ with entries such as ‘grappling hook’ and ‘cleared lane’.
You won’t learn it in any other standard app, that’s for sure!
It also works offline, so you can talk about mines even when you don’t have wifi.
Online Hebrew courses
This is one of the discoveries for me.
A completely free online course, neatly organised to teach you different aspects of Hebrew in each class.
For example, rather than throwing you on the depths of alphabet at once, each of the initial lessons introduces just a few letters, a choice of nouns, and basic grammatical concepts.
There are animations to illustrate writing of the letters, audio, and practice exercises — all that you would expect from a paid service.
The course has 15 classes, covers only the very basics and is not being expanded.
But if you are not sure if you want to commit to learning Hebrew, and want to wait before making a financial investment, this is a great start. A truly high quality resource.
I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t mentioned it.
Do take my enthusiasm with a pinch of salt, as this is a course I myself have written.
It follows the pattern of other LinguaLift’s courses — each lesson is divided into small parcels of knowledge covering: grammar, alphabet, vocabulary, and culture.
In addition, at the end of each lesson there is a fun section called ‘cake’ with a video or song related to class content, and an assessment to practice what you have learned in the lesson.
The style of explanations is very conversational, as if a friend — me! 😉 — was explaining grammar to you.
It’s a subscription-based course, so probably only for committed students but it also took me ages to write, so do try the free class.
I would be happy to hear your feedback!
This app and web platform started as a Duolingo clone but appears to have changed course.
The app teaches using dialogues that appear in a chat like interface, with Hebrew, English, and transliteration.
You can learn vocabulary using several different language games with nice visuals and a chatbot function is a fun way to practice pronunciation in pretend dialogues.
Mondly Languages is also gamified, so if that motivates you, you can collect points, keep streaks, and enter competitions with your friends.
Boost your Hebrew reading skills
Even though the creator of Readlang moved to work for Duolingo and isn’t updating the tool, Readlang remains one of my favourite foreign language reading aids.
It works as an add on translating words on any website and adding them to your word bank, where you can review them using SRS.
You can also upload your own texts onto the web platform or use texts uploaded by the community.
Readlang resolves the problem learners start having when they move from basic to lower intermediate — finding interesting texts matching their language level.
To throw a little cliche out there: Readlang makes the whole web your practice reader.
Improve your Hebrew listening comprehension
Seriously, this is the best Hebrew podcast out there.
Guy Sharett is an engaging presenter who not only teaches you new expressions and slang words, but also explains their origin and all the nuances of pronunciation.
What is more, the bite-sized episodes include a wealth of native resources.
Relevant fragments illustrating the use of specific words and phrases are pulled from YouTube, radio, and TV.
You might learn basic phrases from all newest apps and textbooks, but this podcast will keep you up to date with the most trendy street lingo.
A good selection of podcast-based classes with accompanying resources like pdfs, and online practice games.
There is little content in the free version but the paid subscription offers a clear roadmap of what to do next.
It’s a resource for more disciplined self-learners.
As long as you can make yourself access the classes, and strike a balance between learning and reviewing — you’re home.
Hebrew Language essentials
This is a repository of knowledge about modern Hebrew.
Everything that’s to be said about the language’s grammar is there. Ok, well most of it.
On top of that the website has a collection of practice dialogues, and songs with translation and transliteration so you can sing along even before you understand the lyrics.
Among cool extras you will also find: the Hebrew frequency list of most commonly used words, links to Anki decks, and a breakdown of the language Tim Ferriss-style.
This is not a course, although you probably could use it as such.
I would recommend it as an extra resource if you need an additional grammatical explanation, or are looking for more practice materials matching your level.
You will be using this website a lot if you’re learning Modern Hebrew.
It’s the most popular and comprehensive Hebrew-English-Hebrew online dictionary.
It quite cleverly guesses what you meant even if you make a typo, and allows to search for words both by root or the exact spelling.
To satisfy the mobile learners among us there is also a Morfix App.
Watch this space (not for Hebrew — yet)
This is one of my discoveries this year — an app that helps practice reading native texts at your level.
It shows you parallel texts in two languages, alongside with playing audio.
In other words, it’s a podcast with a bilingual transcript.
Sadly, currently Beelingua does not offer Hebrew, but the creators have experience with non-Latin scripts (Arabic, Japanese, Korean), so we should hope this language is on their roadmap.
Anything I missed out?
It seems that a new language app, platform or book springs up every day! If you have favourites, do let me know in the comments.