It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Pimsleur language courses. Actually my family and friends beg my sometimes to stop talking about Pimsleur! It is not like you invented the program for god’s sake, they complain. So I have to warn you that I might sound too hyper when talking about Pimsleur Hebrew here, please forgive me, it is all out of passion. The reason why I love Pimsleur is that it doesn’t beat around the bush, you want to learn how to speak Hebrew? It teaches you how to speak Hebrew. Period! Unlike other Hebrew language learning methods that waste your time on alphabets, days of the week, months of the year, etc.. and after a few weeks you realize you know how to say “April”, “Going” and “Israel” but you can’t say in Hebrew “I am going to Israel in April”! Poor Hebrew language learners (sufferers), they don’t know how much they are missing out! Pimsleur on the other hand teaches you piece by piece how to speak Hebrew (just like a native speaker if you do it properly). and It will surprise you how each piece you learn just falls in place!
Here is how it works
The course consists of three levels: (the first 10 lessons now can be bought together for only $16.43 instead of $24.95) Each level of these has a set of 30 audio lessons (called Units). Each unit starts with a Hebrew conversation going on between two native speakers, and then the instructor teaching you your first Hebrew words, then starts asking you the magical question: “How do you say such and such in Hebrew?” You will be surprised how BRIGHT you are! But wait a minute, I don’t want to disappoint you, it is not you that got brighter than you are, it is just Pimsleur that knows exactly how your brain functions and as I said, it just gives you the language piece by piece and each piece happens to fall just in place. Sorry again for the disappointment. The questions will get more challenging, and that’s okay, this is how we learn and I assure you that you will enjoy it. Your first few questions would be: “How do you say Hello in Hebrew?” “How do you ask a man how he is?” “A woman asking you about your wife, tell her she is not here, she is in Tel Aviv” Then it will start putting you in imaginary scenes, asking you to talk to people and to respond properly. Before you know it, you will be answering questions as complicated as: “Tell him: My kids are back in New York, and I am here on a business trip for a few weeks, I like Tel Aviv so much” Yes! In a matter of few weeks you will be able to say this in Hebrew, not only saying it, but actually speaking it right from your mind naturally, with no hesitation or shame.
What Pimsleur Hebrew teaches you:
1: It teaches you how to speak Hebrew!
Pimsleur doesn’t teach baby talk, that’s not their style. They always get right into the point, teaching you how to speak like an adult, no more “repeat after me, kattool.. kattool (cat in Hebrew)”. Pimsleur keep it so real. You want to learn how to speak Hebrew and that is exactly what you get.
2: Israeli and Jewish culture:
You are always asked to imagine you are in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, talking to someone, and along the way, the instructor tells you, cultural information about things like Shabbat and social customs. This is very useful for those who want to learn Hebrew to travel to Israel or to get in touch with Israeli and Jewish people.
Somehow, I don’t know how they succeeded in doing it, Pimsleur makes you believe that it doesn’t “teach” you Hebrew, it just “let’s you” speak it! Yes, you just realize at one point.. Oops, I guess I can speak Hebrew now”. No more hesitation and worrying about the way you pronounce words, you just go ahead and speak up. This actually requires that you do the course in a proper way. More about that in minutes.
4: Everything is possible:
Have I gotten off the point? No, actually this is very important for me to emphasize. Everybody around me believe that learning a language as an adult has to be tough, and many believe it is impossible. When I knew that most Pimsleur learners are adults, I wasn’t surprised, but I was so glad to know that people started realizing more and more that they can do whatever they want, whenever.
What Pimsleur Hebrew does not teach you
1: How to read and write Hebrew:
This is actually a huge advantage rather than disadvantage. It has been proven that learning how to speak a foreign language should be prior to learning to to read and write it. Think about it, did you learn how to speak your native language first? or did you learn the alphabets?
2: No word lists:
Do not expect to get a list of “colors in Hebrew”, “days of the week in Hebrew”, “names of animals in Hebrew”. This is so much not Pimsleur! Pimsleur teaches you Hebrew the way you learned your native language. Again, did your mother teach you when you were born “okay baby, this is the list of colors! Red, blue, purple”? Or you had to learn each of them as you grew up, as nature taught? You never knew electricity was called electricity until you had your first contact with it!
3: No drills:
Though I love drills (I know most language learners don’t like them), however, drills have proven not to be that much effective, unless you have special talent in memorization. Pimsleur is certainly THE course for you if you want to learn how to SPEAK Hebrew. No contest! As I mentioned above, the course consists of three levels, they are a bit pricey, but they are so much worth it. Pimsleur Hebrew I Pimsleur Hebrew II Pimsleur Hebrew III And again, in case you feel like you are not sure about paying all that money on Pimsleur, remember that you can get the first 10 lessons for only $16.43 instead of $24.95 If you disagree with me, please let me know. And if you have a good Hebrew learning method in mind, please share with us.
Also check these discussions about the various Pimsleur Hebrew units: