The Main Challenge in Learning a New Language:
The first and most challenging part of learning a new language is the need to memorize and remember thousands of new words. In our modern day lifestyle we do not use our memorizing skills too often. Most of our daily activities are performed in an automatic and unconscious manner which do not require any memory skill. In addition, the digital revolution has made it even “easier” for us. Today there is almost no need to remember information such as: phone numbers, addresses or our schedule. Thus, when attempting to learn a new language we are obliged to use the neglected muscle of memory. Here are some tool to help you work out this muscle.
1. Using Flash Cards To Learn Hebrew:
Many students who use the “Flashcard Method” report it as the most effective way to memorize new words. You can use physical cards, where on one side the word is written in Hebrew and on the other side its translation. These cards can be taken anywhere and anytime. Nowadays, such flashcards can also be created digitally. A great advantage of using digital cards is the ability to add sounds on them. This means a student can always refresh his memory and hear how words should be pronanoncued. On top of that, digital flashcards make it possible to add an image on them. Multiple studies have shown that a visual image greatly stimulates memory, which is incredibly helpful when studying a new language.
2. Labeling Objects in Hebrew
This method is a long time favorite among language teachers and is widely used. Simply the language student has to label with postits different everyday objects around the house. Cup, Bathroom, Door, Couch - whatever it is! In this method the process of memorizing new words takes place without any special action from the student. These words will slowly start to become part of the students' unconscious memory. Some people may think this method can ruin their home decor. I think exactly the opposite!
3. Creating Stories
Studies have shown that linking and composing words in short stories can improve students' memorization of new words. For example, If I want to learn and memorize the words Cat, Table, Car and Refrigerator I should make up a short story which includes these four words. “This morning I opened the Refrigerator, grabbed some yogurt and sat by the table. After I finished my breakfast I went down to my Car and found a Cat sitting on it” (only the bolded words will be said in the learned language). The story can be funny, serious, surreal, sad, etc. The only thing that really matters is that the story is engaging and memorable.
4. Associations Method
This is definitely a fun and enjoyable method of learning new words. In this method students are asked to associate a new studied word in Hebrew with one in their own native language. The associate between the two should be sound based, meaning the two words should resemble each other phonetically. Later on, the students are asked to find/make up a logical connection between the two resembling words. The connection doesn't have to make sense in a realistic manner, but rather to form some kind of a connection between the two words. As I see it, the funnier and more absurd these connections are, the more likely the student will remember the word. Here is a quick example:
When teaching my students the Hebrew word for kitchen, Mitbach (מבטח) - I will first ask them to divide the word into two syllables: Mit + Bach. After that we can associate the first part, Mit (מט), with the english word - Meat. I will ask them: “where meat is usually stored?” and the students will already shout out MItbach! Then I will associate the second syllable Bach using the sentence: “When washing my dishes I like listening to Bach”.
In this example I teach the word kitchen (Mitbach) through a somewhat funny association that I created.When I was staying German this method was my favorite. Often I found myself using funny associations in order to remember how to say everyday words. Many students report this method as their preferred one.
5. Self Talk
The fifth method is what I call the “Self Dubbing” method. This method is suitable for students who know a large amount of words and are able to construct sentences. For these students I recommend dubbing into Hebrew their actions, feelings and thoughts whenever possible.
For example, when waking up and going to brush their teeth I'll ask my students to narrate their actions in Hebrew. “I am getting off my bed. I am going to the bathroom. I am brushing my teeth”. When doing this the students will come across words they do not know yet. This will direct them to which words they should add to their vocabulary.
6. Reading Books in Simplified Hebrew
Simplified Hebrew Books are a wonderful way to enrich vocabulary. Compared to regular native Hebrew reading novels books for beginners expose the student to a limited amount of complex words on each page.
Students can read these unique books for pleasure and at the same time, as a back process, they will learn new words in an organic way. Easy Hebrew Books are a great tool for bridging the gap between spoken and written Hebrew. I even recommend reading the story out loud to someone. Improving reading skills is very important in the process of learning a new language. Reading skills will also lead to fluency in speech.
From my experience as a Hebrew teacher, I find that different students connect to different teaching methods. I always recommend trying out all methods in order to findout which one is most suitable for you.
Learning Hebrew is definitely not an easy task, but with practice, time and patience anyone can learn it!
This article was written by Ira Yospa, a Hebrew teacher for adults, Senior instructor for Hebrew teachers and a developer of Hebrew studying materials.