Learn Hebrew with Hebrew
This past week we saw a Facebook post offering tutoring for Italian, saying that lessons will be offered in English or Italian according to the student’s level and preference. We often hear that certain ulpanim and Hebrew tutors in Israel and abroad are using English or other languages as a base when teaching Hebrew. Not surprisingly, most if not all of the students learning this way will NEVER get to be truly fluent Hebrew speakers.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the journalist Eliezer Ben Yehuda had the idea of reviving Hebrew as a spoken language. He did this by sending teachers to schools around the land of Israel, and offering instruction to new immigrants. Those teachers taught ONLY in Hebrew. The children did not understand at first, but in a few days they were able to start speaking the language, and soon could learn all of their subjects only in Hebrew.
And so the traditional ulpan method was developed: teaching Hebrew in Hebrew, since this is the only way for students to truly learn to speak. The teacher can use his hands, pictures, and some of the foreign words borrowed by Hebrew, but every lesson should be given rak b’ivrit.
At UAB we use English only as a supporting language, and the instructions in our Aleph books are in English as well. Other than that, however, from Absolute Beginners to our Dalet classes we use only Hebrew. This is vital in order to teach fluent speaking and comprehension.
So whether or not you are planning to keep on learning with us, keep in mind that the best teachers and ulpans always use UAB’s method, and teach Hebrew with Hebrew. It may not be an easy method, but it will bring the best results for budding Hebrew speakers.