Customer Reviews: Hebrew: A Language Course Primer
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on February 2, 2001
If you order this book, you'll probably come away with the impression I did: these other reviewers are friendly with the author. There is nary a word of English instruction in this book, and it is almost impossible, to my eyes, for the beginning student of Hebrew or the novice to use it without formal instruction. This is a classroom textbook and a not a guide for for self-starters or at-home learners, so far as I can see.
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on November 21, 1999
This book is the best I've found for the novice Hebrew reader. It teaches the aleph-bet and a starting vocabulary. I found the cartoons scattered throughout the book a little off the wall, but I have learned a lot from the book. It takes the novel approach of not teaching the letters in the order they show up in the aleph-bet, but instead teaches the letters in order of frequency of use. After the first section a newcomer to the language can even read and speak a few basic sentences. This is the first book in a 4 part series, a prelude of sorts. For the others, check out:
Hebrew : A Language Course Level One ISBN:0874413311
Hebrew : A Language Course Level 2 ISBN:0874413605
Hebrew : A Language Course, Level 3 ISBN:0874413818
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on May 31, 2001
This was my textbook in Israeli middle school. It's a good, complete book, but it's very hard to get through without a teacher or translator to make sure you understand the assignments and instructions.
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on October 2, 2005
The Hebrew Primer is the first in a series of books (there are 3 others) that stress conversational Hebrew. The primer breaks down the Aleph-Bet (alphabet), presents stories, and also conversations. The book stresses the Sephardic pronunciation used in Israel, and even has an introduction to script. The final section of the book is very helpful, with a listing of the vowels (including the dangerous diphthongs), some Bible verses, and even songs to help you read and speak the language.

We are using this book in a college class, and I will be using this book to teach a beginning Hebrew Conversation class. Note that is not Biblical Hebrew (for that, see "The First Hebrew Primer"), but the emphasis is on conversation and reading. You won't find detailed discussions of fine points in the language here, such as the use of a patach versus of a kamats, because these are technical issues that really don't affect comprehension of the language as it is currently spoken and written.

Some reviewers have complained that the book is not useful for individual study. It is not hard to see why at first glance. However, these reviewers were probably unaware that there is a tape set that can be purchased with the book (although I had to look around to find it; some Messianic sites have the tapes, such as HaKesher). In the text the authors have a series of sounds using combinations of letters (some are actually words) to stress certain sounds. In the tape, one of the authors reads the sounds, and also reads the stories and dialogues. Without the tape, yes it would be difficult to use this book on your own. With the tape, the task is much easier. And the book is very good for a class setting. it is easy to follow, and not a complicated as other texts (it is a PRIMER after all).

And I don't know the authors either ...

So for a classroom book Id give it something like 4 or 5 stars. But for an individual who uses the tapes, something like a 4 so for this reason Ill go with 4 stars.
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on October 25, 2011
I use this textbook to teach my beginner's Block Letter Hebrew class. This is the book that my teacher used when I was first introduced to Hebrew. It is designed for a teacher's guidance and interaction with the students; It is not designed for independent study. For example, when the letters and vowels are each introduced, their names are not given, making it necessary for the teacher's input. However, in the back pages of the book, after all lessons, they do include the names of these letters and vowels. Learning this language for people whose first language is English can be an incredible and sometimes daunting challenge. This book has differing and fun exercises that focus on the letters that were just introduced, helping to solidify the information just learned. Letters and vowels are introduced in order of frequency of use, enabling the new or returning learner an opportunity to read actual Hebrew words in the very first lesson. This fact is very encouraging when first reading totally differing shaped letters presented to read in the right to left manner. This book teaches the Sephardic Hebrew and not Ashkenazi because the nation of Israel, as a whole, speaks Sephardic.
Lastly, the book does introduce the Script Letters. However, the predominance of the exercises are designed for learning the Block.
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on February 21, 2012
In light of other reviews, let me say, I do not know anyone connected with this book. I bought or borrowed almost a dozen different Hebrew books with the intention of teaching myself. This series is by far the best.

Some feel that the learning curve for this book is too steep. A fair point. This book was released (as the authors point out) because their Level One Course was too difficult. This book, the Primer Course, is intended to get the student's abilities up to Level One. But even this book assumes the student knows the Hebrew alphabet. If you are starting from complete scratch, I would recommend you spend a little time online acquainting yourself with the aleph beit. Alternatively, I would recommend this wonderful book: Learn Hebrew Today: Alef-Bet for Adults

This Primer Course takes the absolute beginner and teaches about 120 words in context. With this mastered, the student can easily begin the "first" text book. Hebrew: A Language Course Level One

The chapters include a vocabulary section, a dialogue section, and a large familiarization section that is intended to be read aloud without expecting the student to comprehend. (This is possible with Hebrew, unlike English.) The book is not designed to teach grammar. It teaches by building simple sentences with simple common words.

My only complaint is that the authors include lessons on cursive Hebrew. It's rarely encountered. Israelis I know don't use it. For a student outside of Israel, it's useless. Therefore, I recommend skipping lessons that teach cursive. You won't miss a lot. You can learn it more easily after becoming comfortable with Hebrew.
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on April 11, 2015
My husband is taking a beginning Hebrew class for which this is the text. It reminds me of the books we used in our childhood Hebrew classes. It progressively introduces new letters and words, building simple vocabulary, and slowly encouraging familiarity with the hebrew language. By the time all the letters have been introduced I hope that those in the class will be comfortable and knowledgeable about reading simple Hebrew. Their skilled teacher helps them progress a few pages at a time.
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on February 22, 2015
I am horrible at languages, but I'm doing pretty well with this.
I think it's an excellent guide.
My instructor is very demanding, and I'm not sure the 6-week timeframe is realistic for everyone (certainly not for me - I am *not* a linguist!).
But broken down a little more, this book is very, very good.
You do need someone to help with pronunciation, though - I wouldn't try to learn to read Hebrew without a "coach" per say.
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on November 30, 2013
Honestly, I'm only in so far as the first few units so I can't really fairly rate it I don't feel. However, prior to ordering this book I have spent some time learning the aleph-bet and vowels, and muddling through the Hebrew Old Testament translating and trying to glean what I could thinking I'd catch on sooner than now. For sake of time though I gave in and first ordered Lev. 1 of this series and then discovered this Primer soon afterward and ordered it.

I am studying this solo and I don't see how this book wouldn't facilitate this. As far as the vocab., being solo, it'll just simply be repetition. Learning the consonants and vowels I just wrote them over and over for several evenings and that's my general plan for committing the words to memory if the reading exercises aren't sufficient. I may have to go back and review several units for several evenings but hey, I'm on my own so I write the syllabus too ;P. As far as pronunciation? Well the consonant sounds are all sounds encountered in English and the vowels - 1 dot sounds like "ee", a dash sounds like "ah", and so on - it's not exactly translating Sanskrit to Coptic or anything. Just heard about these tapes too so it seems well covered for the lone student also.

I just have ONE burning question (won't call it a 'problem', I just need to know what it is/for)! Okay the Unit layouts are such: 1. New Letters, 2. New Vowels, 3. The same new letters represented in their "Script Characters", 4. ?????, 5. Vocab., 6. Dialogue, 7. Exercises. So, if anyone out there has this book, could you PLEASE clue me in?!? To be specific, in the Primer, Unit 1, page 2, there are 14 numbered lines of "characters in some organization"... Now I recognize several as words of course, several, my best guess, are syllables(?) and then there's some, uh.... Well, you get the picture.

Oh, and to summarize. Can these help the lone student, sans teacher? My belief is - Yes. Is it a matter of how fast can you flip through the pages and scribble down the exercises? Not hardly, it will take time, effort and dedication. Outside a classroom there is no one else using these words or otherwise exposing you to them - the normal means of commission to memory. No, the exposure to the vocabulary is ALL ON YOU! You can't shred through 5 units a day and then toss this one on the shelf and move on. As far as pronunciation? Well, as much help as a good dictionary provides is what you'll get from the book. Personally, I'll be ordering the tapes (which will also facilitate more exposure to the vocabulary). Plain and simple; 'It is what it is', a textbook, it's not fiction, its not non-fiction for the purpose of pleasure reading either. As is the goal with any textbook the aim is retention of the info there in. Normally a classroom setting is always preferable and easier to that end. Lacking that though, like me, you'll simply have to do what it takes for you to retain it's content. Best of Luck to anyone else out there attempting it as well! :)

And again, anyone who can clue me in on that collection of lines of characters between the "Script" and "Vocab." portions of the Units - Thank You in advance :)!
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on March 23, 2014
If you are serious about learning Hebrew, as I am, then this book is a must. Just knowing the Hebrew alphabet is not enough to advance in learning Hebrew to be able to read it. Like primers we all had in elementary school to learn how to read and write, this Hebrew primer will get you started. It is working for me and I recommend it.
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