After 3 months of Hebrew

I started learning Hebrew with a plan that was as seemingly simple as it was naive. It turned out that learning a language with a different alphabet is much harder than I would have imagined. Although I started learning Hebrew at the end of March, only at the beginning of June can I say that I knew every letter of the alphabet by heart. The Anki flashcards didn’t help much either, and it didn’t help me to write all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet on a piece of paper every day.

After about a month and a half of using Rosetta Stone, I gave up. It was starting to get both boring and annoying. Each lesson has between 10 and 20 sections, of which the first section is the longest, the next being dedicated to Speaking, Listening or Writing. The problem was that they were so repetitive that you even had to repeat a word 100 times. Moreover, after you finished each section and had one or more wrong answers, RS advises you to repeat the section. There were no grammatical explanations, just a picture and a sentence in Hebrew. The first lessons can be fun, but at some point you get to a point where you need explanations. In other words, Rosetta Stone creates more problems for me than benefits.

I started using Mango Languages, a product quite well known in the US, but almost unknown in Europe. The lessons are on the Powerpoint system, meaning that each lesson contains 40-50 slides. For every 10 slides you have a Grammar note, there is a little tip on how to conjugate a verb or how to decline a noun. At each lesson there is a Cultural note, which explains some peculiarities about the country where the language is spoken. For example, I was surprised to learn that taxi drivers in Israel, after asking you what country you are from, make an “offer”, ie a fixed price much higher than normal. This is a very common technique in Romania (and especially in Bucharest), and I didn’t think that taxi drivers from other countries use this scam. But let’s get back to the topic. Mango Languages is definitely not the best resource I’ve come across, but it’s about the best option in case you want to learn Hebrew.

I started using Duolingo as a secondary resource. It is far from a good resource, but I have no choice: the number of online sites to learn Hebrew is very small. Duolingo has an addictive interface, but it has a big problem: it has at least some bizarre translations. And not just translations, even source sentences make no sense. For example, I don’t see why I should learn the Hebrew translation of “The ducks don’t drink beer.” Uhm, I hope there’s no duck drinking beer, otherwise we’ll have to urgently set up an AA duck association (AAD). Also, every time a sentence contains the expression זה, a very poor quality audio sequence is started, in which a teenager shouts “ze”. Seriously, this happens every time זה appears in a sentence or translation.

Resources I want to use in the future: Lingualift, Mondly.

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