Modern Hebrew for Beginners offers high school, college, and independent-study students a state-of-the-art learning experience. This combination text- and workbook is designed to be used with web-based audio, visual, and interactive materials to give students multiple learning opportunities suited to a variety of learning styles. This allows intense practice of all four language skills: reading, writing, listening comprehension, and conversation.
Esther Raizen introduces the basic concepts of Hebrew through a wide variety of written and oral exercises in this text, many of which link to the website's computer tutorials and short original films based on contemporary Israeli life and society. She emphasizes the spoken language, while also paying attention to various aspects of normative grammar, of the written language, and of cultural elements associated with Hebrew. With this variety of materials and the capacity for continuous updating via the website, teachers and students will find this book endlessly adaptable and highly suitable for self-paced training.
Modern Hebrew for Beginners is a multimedia program developed at the University of Texas at Austin. It takes the learners from the beginner to the intermediate levels, and, assuming five weekly hours in the classroom, provides for a semester and a half or two semesters of instruction.
The core of the program is this workbook. In addition to a variety of written exercises, it includes vocabulary lists, reading selections, discussions of cultural topics, illustrations of grammar points, suggestions for class and individual oral and written activities, and a final glossary. The workbook is complemented by an Internet site which provides students and teachers with a versatile set of tutorials and other materials. These include short video segments originally scripted and filmed in Israel; vocabulary flashcards with sound; interactive exercises supplementing specific topics included in the workbook or independent of it; sound files parallel to the reading selections in the workbook; and slides which provide visual cues for class or teacher-student conversations. While training with the book only is possible, the computer programs add interest and variety to the learning process. The site may be accessed at
The use of the Web allows us to update our materials and add to them at will, and to maintain continuous interaction with teachers and learners, providing technical support where necessary. The individual exercises and activities are deliberately short and focused on single concepts, as they are geared toward modular training which has been found to be appropriate for our student population. The technology is simple at the most part, which minimizes difficulties in computer use. The materials have been tested on Macintosh and PC computers with Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer as browsers, and have been found to work well with all combinations of the four. Special Hebrew system and/or fonts are not necessary for using the site, and all the electronic components of the program are free and open to all.
The program assumes an English language environment which does not call for immersion, and English is often used as the language of instruction. While proficiency in communication is the basic goal of training, an effort is made here to produce informed learners, who not only know how to perform in Hebrew but are also aware of its history and development, of common differences between the formal and the spoken standards, and of typical problems of learners who are English speakers.
"This new introductory textbook is far-and-away the most interesting, innovative, and promising development in Hebrew education in America that I have seen.... Its strength lies in its integration of multiple modes of presenting Hebrew to the learner.... This variety in modes of presentation helps teach students the range of communicative skills they would need to function in everyday life in Hebrew."
—Daniel Lefkowitz, author of Words and Stones: Language and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict