Despite the fact that are only approximately six million speakers of Modern Hebrew, a disproportionate amount of interest relative to its size exists in learning Hebrew. This is largely tied to Jewish communities around the world, but is also generated by interest among many Christian communities.
An enduring resource for those looking to learn Hebrew has been the program originally developed by the Foreign Service Institute, a department within the U.S. State Department. While originally aimed at providing overseas diplomatic personnel with practical Hebrew language skills, these courses are now available for the general public.
The challenge with the FSI Hebrew course has been the text quality. While the course text is certainly still legible, its age has started to show. However, the quality of the audio remains the same.
For someone with some basic rudiments of Hebrew, the audio alone should prove to be a significant boost to learning. The course provides the student with the basic patterns of the Hebrew language by imitating native speakers in the audio. This is coupled with vocabulary memorization, which allows the student to manipulate the basic phrases covered and create a large number of sentences.
©2012 ABN (P)2011 ABN
Considering this course offers some 22 hours of Hebrew learning for less than £6, it seems like a bargain, and in a way it is, but I wouldn't recommend it for beginners. The course was designed fifty years ago (yes, 50) for a class based Drill and Learn method. Without a teacher and a class, it loses much of its power. Also, without the original written material, it is all but useless to beginners. Even so, there is no translation on the audio, so you have to keep referring to the text, and this is both time consuming and frustrating. In a live class situation, I can see how effective the course would be, but listening to it in solitude, even with the notes to hand, is a bit of a bind. The notes, by the way, are over 500 pdf pages so you'll be flicking around endlessly. There is, and I told Audible this, a free version of the audio, but it isn't as organised, although more might have been done to identify and bookmark the units and chapters. To summarize, I would say that if you have a smattering of Hebrew and are both patient and rigorous in your learning habits, give this a go, otherwise try to find something more user friendly.
"A Beneficial Tool in Assisting Hebrew Study"
It may seem that I rated this Hebrew course a little higher than others. Yes, the tape-recording sound quality dates this course from a time gone by. Almost all of my audio books come as a Level 4, but because of the poor sound quality, it is more difficult to listen to. I found that by listening to the lessons for a while, I was able to finally understand the pronunciation; that is, my ears adjusted to the sound, and I could understand it. At first, I was discouraged, but once I found I could assimilate the sounds and understand the communication, I found it was useable for me and beneficial in my language learning in Hebrew. One of the down sides of this course is, there is no booklet to follow along and learn the meaning of newer words. The thing that made this course workable for me was the fact that I completed the entire Audio Pimsleur Hebrew Levels 1 to 3. I was able to understand many of the sentences, numbers, clock times and everyday happenings in Hebrew despite the poor sound quality. Also, some of the sentences I had never heard before, but I knew everyone of the words from having completed the Pimsleur Hebrew. And therefore I was able to assimilate the meaning of these newer sentences and expand my base of Hebrew comprehension. I will admit I was a US military linguist using German behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and I and other linguists had to deal with much poorer sound quality than this but yet understand it and process it; so maybe I have an edge. I would not recommend this to the Hebrew student starting out for the first time. I would recommend doing the Audio Pimsleur Hebrew first then go for this one for reinforcement and language maintenance. The more different Hebrew speakers you listen to will help you to understand more Hebrew speakers with different accents and patterns of speech.
"Terrible audio quality"
I'll keep this short and sweet. The audio quality is so poor that you simply cannot get through this language course. It's grainy, full of static and background noise and the narrator is difficult to hear anyway. A language guide is difficult to listen to anyway, because of its repetition. The quality here makes it simply impossible. Please, Audible, get a good quality collection for learning Hebrew, this one does not do!
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