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Modern Hebrew for Beginners

Modern Hebrew for Beginners
A Multimedia Program for Students at the Beginning and Intermediate Levels
With contributions by Yaron Shemer

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.

Series: The second edition is now available for ordering here

January 2000
This book is out of print and no longer available.
224 pages | 8 1/2 x 11 | illustrated |

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.

  • To the User
  • Notes on the Hebrew Writing System and Pronunciation
    • 0.1 The Hebrew writing system—consonants
    • 0.2 Hebrew vowels
    • 0.3 A note on transliteration and borrowed words
  • Unit álef
    • Greetings
    • Names
    • Students in school
    • 1.1 The conjunction [] and
    • 1.2 Sentence structure: The simple sentence
    • 1.3 Gender and number
    • 1.4 The definite article []
  • Unit bet
    • More greetings
    • Studying
    • Subject pronouns
    • School and work
    • "want," "be able," "need"
    • 2.1 Sentence structure: Yes/no questions and negation
    • 2.2 Sentence structure: Coordinate sentences
    • 2.3 Verb forms: Present tense and the infinitive
    • 2.4 Vowel changes with []
    • 2.5 Gender: Masculine as the common designation
    • 2.6 Pronouns referring to inanimate nouns
    • 2.7 Repetition of prepositions
    • 2.8 The modal verbs [] can and [] need
    • 2.9 Information questions: Sentence structure
  • Unit gímel
    • Where we live
    • Introducing people
    • Places in Israel
    • 3.1 The preposition [] from
    • 3.2 Markers of gender and number
    • 3.3 Stress shift and vowel change
    • 3.4 The demonstrative pronouns
  • Unit délet
    • Time expressions and tenses
    • 4.1 The root
    • 4.2 Final -heh verbs
    • 4.3 Short verbs
    • 4.4 Adverbs
  • Unit heh
    • Seasons
    • The days of the week
    • Telling time
    • Writing
    • 5.1 Definiteness
    • 5.2 The preposition []
    • 5.3 Location and movement
    • 5.4 The use of because
    • 5.5 Sentence structure: Reversal of subject and verb in questions
    • 5.6 Vowels and consonants: Compensatory lengthening
    • 5.7 The verb [] to know
  • Unit vav
    • Shopping
    • Food and eating
    • 6.1 Nouns of large quantity used in the singular form
    • 6.2 The adjective [] much
    • 6.3 Either-or, neither-nor
    • 6.4 A typical vowel change
    • 6.5 Adjectives
    • 6.6 Negating an adjective
    • 6.7 "There is" and "there is not"
    • 6.8 Sentence structure: Objects fronted for emphasis
  • Unit záyin
    • The weather
    • 7.1 Prepositions
    • 7.2 The absence of "it" as a "dummy pronoun" in Hebrew
    • 7.3 The subordinating particle []
    • 7.4 On the pronunciation of the word []
    • 7.5 More about definiteness
    • 7.6 Predicative adjectives and definiteness
  • Unit chet
    • Professions and areas of study
    • 8.1 More on information questions
    • 8.2 [] and [] as when
    • 8.3 Third person pronouns as linking elements
    • 8.4 [] in the past tense
    • 8.5 Vocal, composite, and silent schwas
  • Unit tet
    • Clothing
    • 9.1 Compound nouns and patterns of change in nouns
    • 9.2 Adjectives: Agreement in definiteness (review)
    • 9.3 The direct object
    • 9.4 [], the marker of a definite direct object
    • 9.5 Common errors with []: Omission and over-generalization
    • 9.6 Questions about objects of prepositions
  • Unit yod
    • Addresses
    • The family
    • Counting The calendar and birthdays
    • 10.1 Numbers
    • 10.2 Ordinal numbers
    • 10.3 Cardinal numbers
    • 10.4 Stative verbs
    • 10.5 More on telling time
  • Unit yod-álef
    • The body
    • Directions
    • 11.1 Structures imparting possession
    • 11.2 The construct state—[]—as a structure indicating possession
    • 11.3 [] as a marker pointing to a direction
  • English/Hebrew glossary
  • Hebrew/English glossary

A native of Israel, Esther Raizen is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of Texas at Austin.


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