Many people recently wrote to us telling about their painful experiences and even traumas that resulted from their attempts to learn Hebrew.
Here are some of the phrases in which they described their past experiences:
- “Hebrew suffer.”
- “Hebrew torture.”
- “Hebrew trauma.”
The main question was:
Why is it so difficult to learn Hebrew?
- Is there a different way to do it?
- How can we exploit Corona times, the lockdown to expand our Hebrew knowledge?
And there were more challenges mentioned…
As you know, the mission Orly and I undertook upon ourselves is to help all those who wish to study Hebrew acquire it in the fastest, most effective, and enjoyable way.
We are going to address some of the most common challenges in the near future.
Let’s begin with this fundamental challenge:
Why is it so difficult to learn Hebrew?
Well, is it an objective question or a subjective one?
Interestingly enough, the American Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has created a ranking list of languages broken into five categories based on the difficulty of learning a specific language for an English speaker.
The ranking is from 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest, and 5 – the hardest.
Here are some examples of languages in each category:
- Spanish, French, Italian, Norwegian
- Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, Zulu
- Chinese, Korean
So, you see that Hebrew indeed is found in the fourth most difficult category coming behind only such languages as Chinese and Korean.
Hence, it could be that objectively Hebrew is harder to master than many other languages.
But, you must realize that generally speaking, learning a foreign language is one of the hardest things our brain can cope with.
The difficulty in learning a foreign language concerns the effort we have to make to transfer between very complex linguistic structures. Moreover, we are forced to transfer our whole thinking process to another language!
So let’s briefly address this aspect of thinking in another language – The Cognitive Obstacle.
Most people think in their mother tongue when they start learning a new language. They usually translate words in their head while trying to comprehend and converse, which, of course, takes time.
In fact, by doing this, they get even more confused.
Every language has different speech patterns, no matter how similar it might be to your mother tongue – even in category 1.
Therefore we recommend you try not to translate directly but rather make an effort to think in Hebrew, no matter how many words or phrases you know.
By eliminating the translation process, you will become much more confident, more focused, and faster communicating in Hebrew
By the way, Orly’s father, who immigrated to Israel from New Jersey at the age of 9 and indeed spoke perfect Hebrew, still counted silently in his head in English till his last day – he passed away at the age of 92.
And, most of them have dreams in their mother tongue.
To demonstrate this process, please access below an excerpt from our Novice-Mid level course, where our students enjoy learning a lovely Israeli song using several steps of our methodology.
In this song (Dreaming in Spanish), the famous Israeli singer Shlomo Yidov, who was born in Argentina and immigrated to Israel in 1964, tells us in his song that despite everything else he does in Hebrew, he still dreams in Spanish!
You can enjoy learning it as well!
Well, you may think: “In learning Hebrew as one of the most difficult languages in the world, I am doomed to hard Sisyphean tasks and continuous failure!!!
Well, we have good news for you:
Using our natural intuitive learning RLA (Rapid Language Acquisition) methodology, over the years, we have helped tens of thousands of our students overcome the “Cognitive Obstacle.”
Our tip to you this time is:
When conversing in Hebrew, think in Hebrew right away – from your very first lesson,
using whatever limited (for the meantime) vocabulary, you have acquired.
Do not be concerned with thinking in correct phrases.
Continuing to think in English (or any other language that may be your native tongue) to translate your thoughts into Hebrew might be detrimental to your learning progress.
In a nutshell, our RLA methodology helps grown-ups learn Hebrew by mimicking the way they learned their mother tongue when they were toddlers.
In fact, our Total Beginner students are able to speak basic Hebrew just after five (5) lessons!
Watch a short video clip demonstrating the “Hebrew transformation” of our Total Beginner students after a few lessons:
We will provide more tips in our following posts.
Shabbat Shalom, enjoy you Hebrew and get used to thinking in Hebrew.
Yoel & Orly