Hebrew is one of the world oldest languages and it’s one of the few languages that kept its composure and structure for the most part, since it is written and spoken today almost the same way as it was more than 2,000 years ago. For example, the style and structure of the Hebrew language that is used today in most books, newspapers and magazines published in Israel is very similar to the one used in the Bible. A strange fact in the history of the Hebrew language is that it ceased to exist as a spoken language for almost 1,700 years ago, being reborn as a modern language around the 19th century. Nowadays, Hebrew is the official language of Israel and it is spoken in the large Jewish Diaspora.
The comeback of Hebrew as a spoken language in the 19th century is often attributed to the name of Eliezer ben Yehudah. Eliezer was a visionary linguist and polyglot that devoted his entire life to the revival of his ancestors’ language, adapting it to the rigors and rules of modern society as well as allowing a substantial vocabulary increase through foreign words. Following Eliezer’s efforts, Hebrew gradually came to use among Jewish settlements around Palestine and when the State of Israel was created in 1948 it became its official language.
Tips and tricks for learning Hebrew
One of the fastest ways to learn Hebrew is over the Internet, where you can find a lot of free Hebrew lessons online to start off with. If these don’t cut the mustard for you, you could always try a local “Learn Hebrew” course or start studying it from a course book. However, these methods should only be considered a starting point to help you grasp the basic notions of Hebrew and help you improve vocabulary. Direct communication is always a great teacher, so you can try finding a Hebrew conversation partner to help you out, or even try out learning through video conferences with an online teacher (they could cost quite a bit though).
The grammar of the Hebrew language is usually considered easy to understand by most students, however the major problem is spelling and pronunciation of words. These can be improved through several of the above mentioned methods, but if you find those too boring or stressful, you might want to try out a few Hebrew vocabulary games that you can find in books, on audio tapes or over the Internet. These games improve both spelling and pronunciations and they will also allow you to memorize words easily.
Take note that these tips and tricks don’t apply STRICTLY to Hebrew, as they can be used in studying a number of other languages. Remember that learning skills grow up directly proportional with language skills, so the more you learn of a language the better you are at learning a different one in the future. Once this happens, becoming a true polyglot is only a matter of time and ambition.