- Paperback: 401 pages
- Publisher: Eks Pub Co; 3rd edition (2005)
- Language: English, Hebrew
- ISBN-10: 0939144158
- ISBN-13: 978-0939144150
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.5 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 156 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The First Hebrew Primer: The Adult Beginner's Path to Biblical Hebrew, Third Edition 3rd Edition
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While this book is great, I think if you are a total beginner with no Hebrew background at all, it may be more difficult to simply pick this up and start studying. I would recommend going through some other study guides before starting this one (for example Beginning Prayer Book Hebrew). I was already a proficient reader in Hebrew and had studied biblical hebrew beforehand a little bit which made it easier for me to jump in with this book, but some of my classmates with little background really struggled with this textbook.
1) The sections on the alphabet are a few short chapters at the beginning. Do not proceed further until you have thoroughly mastered this or you will be frustrated beyond belief. I made myself flash cards copying from the chart on the last page of the book and learned the vowel points at the same time. If you move on without knowing all the letters and what they sound like, the rest of the book will seem too much.
2) It gives pronunciation guides but you really need to listen to someone say it. There are enough free online resources to at least get a general idea without spending more money on audio tapes.
3) Also, the pronunciation given in the book is Sephardic, but it is very easy to work around this if that's not what you want to learn. There are only a few minor differences with Ashkenazic pronunciation that can be quickly figured out looking at online transliterations of Jewish liturgy. The major differences I have found are in the pronunciation of tav with no dagesh, which sounds like an S not a T in Ashkenazic, and the vowel point kamets, which the book does not differentiate from patach but which is more of an O sound in the Ashkenazic rendering. Chassidic is probably harder but you can start by saying the cholem as "oy" instead of o.
4) Use other resources for reading practice. I have an Artscroll Chumash with Hebrew and English where I just read aloud a couple of pages a day to try to get faster. Transliterated siddurim are also good for double-checking pronunciation. You may start making vocabulary and conjugation connections on your own!
5) Don't go too fast. A chapter or two a day is probably enough. I find myself getting frustrated and forgetting things if I do more than that. It is not a language you can cram.