Forvo is a great site for hearing the pronunciation of Hebrew words by native speakers. One application for this site is to drag the sound file into your Anki cards as you make them. For example, if you are learning the word for weather (מזג אוויר), just go here: and take the sound file and add it into your flash card. Then you can compare your pronunciation with that of a native speaker for almost any word you want.
Hebrew websites, books, newspapers almost never use vowel points unless the target audience is children. So, how do you know how to read or pronounce anything? Hebrew isn’t an easy-to-read-from-day-one language like Spanish or Italian. But at the same time, it’s not as difficult to read as Mandarin Chinese, which uses characters that tell you nothing about how the word is pronounced. Hebrew is a challenge, which is probably why it’s a Category 4 language according to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. If you’re having a hard time, don’t worry, everyone else is, too.
To begin reading a book, you need to know the Hebrew alphabet and have a basic idea of how Hebrew works (basic grammar). Then, quite simply, you look up each word in a dictionary and piece the sentence together. I like the online Rav Milim dictionary, which charges a yearly fee.
Let’s practice with a random sentence from the first Harry Potter book.
האגריד שלף שוב את המטרייה הוורודה, נקש בה פעמיים על דופן הסירה, והם התחילו לטוס לכיוון היבשה.
האגריד hagrid – Hagrid. This name you should know through context already.
שלף shalaf – extracted, pulled out.
שוב shuv – again.
את et – you know it’s ‘et’ and not ‘at’ (you, f) because of context.
המטרייה hamitriya – the umbrella.
הוורודה havruda – the pink.
נקש nakash – knocked, struck.
בה ba – (with) it.
פעמיים pa’amayim – twice.
על al – on.
דופן dofen – side.
הסירה hasira – the boat, the rowboat.
והם vehem – and they.
התחילו hitkhilu – they began.
לטוס latus – to speed, to fly.
לכיוון lakivun – in the direction, toward.
היבשה hayabasha – the dry land, the land.
In English, it comes out to approximately:
Hagrid pulled out the pink umbrella again, struck it twice on the side of the boat, and they began to speed towards dry land.
Naturally, this process is slowest in the beginning when you’re first learning. But over time with daily practice, reading will become quicker and more natural. Learning a foreign language to a high level takes a lot of consistent study and practice. Get going!
New phrases here, including some funny names for animals.
Today I learned from Benny's blog that there is a fun new site for learning Hebrew called Immersia. It only has a few lessons, but it's fun. It forces you to speak to your computer and evaluates your sentence and pronunciation. There are also lessons for learning French, but since it was started by an Israeli there are of course the Hebrew lessons, too.
Here is a YouTube video of Yair Lapid speaking (in Hebrew) to a group of Haredi college students at Ono Academic College on the topic of secular and Haredi responsibilities to the State of Israel. It's a great video for improving your Hebrew because he speaks very clearly and the subtitles are good. Plus the topic is interesting.
This is often a slightly confusing topic, so here is some clarification.
leg - רגל
foot - כף רגל [leg spoon!]
But if you were to say my feet are cold you can say הרגליים שלי קרות, so it's shortened to just רגל.
same with hand and arm
arm - יד
hand - כף יד (or יד) [arm spoon!]
Fingers and toes are both אצבעות.
But usually when talking about toes say אצבעות ברגליים,
There are different names for your specific toes and fingers:
thumb - אגודל
big toe on your foot - בוהן.
Here are greetings that you'll hear in Israel. Ranked roughly from more formal to less formal, though really only the first two are at all formal. And those two can also be used in less formal settings.
Israel isn't exactly a formal place.
ma shlomkha / ma shlomekh
?מה הולך (less common than the others)
TeachMeHebrew provides a lot of material in bilingual format. This video, by a very famous learner of languages, provides very useful instructions on how to use such material. It's a long video, but I left a comment today under it that summarized his video (with time points in the video) and makes it easier to access. Please sort comments by 'Newest first' and upvote my comment so that others can more easily see it. And of course try out his method.