How to learn Hebrew fast
So, you want to know how to learn Hebrew fast? You’ve gotten over the hurdle (which doesn’t need to be a hurdle) of thinking that Hebrew is so hard to learn, so
different from other l
languages, the alphabet is different, etc. You’ve got an appetite for this ancient-modern action-packed tongue, and you’re ready to feast. Here are some tips for you. Principles, really.
Principle 1: Get the most bang out of your buck (in this case, your currency is time)
Professor Paul Pimsleur called this core vocabulary – the most common, useful words and phrases in the language. This is what you want to focus on – the words that will empower you to do all the things you want to do in Israel – get around in the streets of Jerusalem, connect with Israelis, maybe score a date with one.
Why focus on core vocabulary? Because necessity is the mother of invention – and internalization of Hebrew. The words you need are interesting by necessity, and your brain will pull out all the stops to ensure that these words become yours to keep – on the condition that you use them.
Principle 2: Practice actively and passively at every opportunity
They say “use it or lose it”, especially about language. This is generally true, assuming your learning isn’t a Pimsleur or Ulpan La-Inyan course,
where the words just tend to stick
If you’re trying to learn Hebrew as fast as possible on your own, make sure to do two things: 1. use your growing core vocabulary whenever you get the chance, and 2. surround yourself with Hebrew.
Practice your Hebrew with the checkout guy at the supermarket, with your neighbor, with the woman who serves you hummus, and with your new Israeli friends (ask them to be patient – סבלנות). When you see a sign in Hebrew, read it (or at last start, if the text is too long and you lose interest). When the guy in the cafe is holding up the newspaper as he reads, try making out the headlines – and when he leaves the paper behind, pick it up and try reading as much as you can. When you’re washing the floor in your apartment (not many carpets in Israel), have Israeli radio blasting in the background – even
if you have no clue what’s going on, your brain will automatically be trying to make sense of it while you’re doing something else that doesn’t demand too much brain power.
Principle 3: Have fun
The best way to make your new Hebrew words and phrases yours to keep is to learn them in interesting context. That’s the principle behind the principle of “core vocabulary” – the words that are most necessary are the most interesting, and the most interesting words are the ones that will stick long-term. So pursue your hobbies in Hebrew. Watch your favorite TV shows in Hebrew, or with Hebrew subtitles that you’re trying to make out. Get to know your new friends or your love interest – in Hebrew, as much as possible.
If you’re having fun, your learning will deepen and stick so that both your experiences and your Hebrew will be unforgettable (unless you have/learn them while drunk).