Learning How to Speak Hebrew: Basic Expressions





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Published on Sep 17, 2011

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Learning to speak Hebrew is a skill you should work on before traveling to Israel. Hebrew is the official language of Israel. Trying to learn Hebrew will not only help you get around the country and its cities during your trip. You may also use their language to bargain for goods and strike conversations with locals among other things.

Learning the Hebrew language will also help you unlock related ancient and modern Semitic languages such as Amharic, Arabaic, Aramaic, Maltese, and Syriac. When exploring cultures that borrowed their language from Hebrews, it would also help to know how to speak Hebrew. The Landino and Yiddish are examples of people whose cultures borrow largely from the Hebrew language. Whatever your reasons or personal motivations are for wanting to learn Hebrew, the following tips should be able to help you.

1. Study Hebrew. Look for a school, tutor, or Jewish center within your community that offers courses, academic programs, or lessons on Hebrew language. It will cost you but the commitment entailed by these institutions and professionals will push you to learn how to speak Hebrew.

2. Join immersion programs. This non-traditional method will help you learn Hebrew by exposing you to the Jewish culture. After all, the language is still used by Jews and throughout the liturgies of Judaism. If you can wait until you reach Israel, there are several places in the country where you can join these programs and start learning to speak Hebrew. At which time, you will be assigned to live in local households where you will have the rare opportunity to learn Hebrew in an immersive environment.

3. Embrace the Israeli culture. Tune in to an Israeli radio station, download their music, and read a children's book in Hebrew. While traveling in Israel, accessing books written in Hebrew would be easier. You can either borrow books from Jewish Community Centres or buy books from several locations across Israel. One of the best places to get a book in Israel is the book shop near the Central Station in Jerusalem. A children's book should help you learn how to speak Hebrew.

4. Practice speaking the Hebrew "r" and "a khet". These two sounds are widely used in Hebrew language and are spoken differently from when you would try speaking them in English. They sound throaty as in the German word "bach".

5. Learn the difference between feminine and masculine words. Much like European and Semitic languages, Hebrews assign masculine and feminine genders to nounds and verbs. Feminine terms are assigned with the syllables "ah" or "it" whereas masculine terms lack them.

6. Learn to speak Hebrew phrases. For the purpose of proper pronunciation, the letter "h" has has been replaced with "kh" and "ch" which is how it should be pronounced in Hebrew.

- Boker tov: "Good morning"
- Yom tov: "Good day"
- Ma shlomcha?: "How are you?" (male)
- Ma shlomech?: "How are you?" (feminine)
- Shalom: "Hello/Goodybe/Peace"
- Korim li (your name): "My name is (your name)"
- Ani ben (your age): "I'm (your age in years) old" (masculine)
- Ani bat (your age): "I'm (your age in years) old" (feminine)
- Ani meh (your hometown or country): "I'm from (your home town or country)"
- Todah (rabah): "Thank you (very much)"
- Bevakasha: "Please/You're welcome"
- Eich korim lekha/lakh?: "What's your name?" (male/female)
- Eifo ata gar?: "Where do you live?" (male)
- Eifo at garah?: "Where do you live?" (female)
- Sebaba: "Cool/Awesome"
- Eich omrim (unknown Hebrew word) beh'Ivrit?: "How do you say (unknown Hebrew word) in Hebrew?"

Learning to speak Hebrew can sound complicated, but if you plan to travel to Israel, a basic knowledge of simple Hebrew phrases is enough.

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