Hebrew is so complicated: how to learn the language for expats

Hebrew is a Semitic language belonging to the Canaanite group. It is one of the oldest languages in the world, with a history of use dating back more than 3,000 years.

Hebrew is the official language of Israel, where it is spoken by about 9 million people.

Hebrew is also used by Jews around the world as a language of liturgy, culture and education.


  • Hebrew uses a consonantal alphabet consisting of 22 letters.
  • The letters are written from right to left.
  • There are no vowel letters in Hebrew; vowel sounds are indicated by diacritical marks.


Hebrew has a three case system (nominative, genitive, accusative).

Nouns have two genders (masculine and feminine) and two numbers (singular and plural).

Verbs are conjugated in person, number, tense, and kind.


  • Hebrew vocabulary is largely based on Biblical Hebrew.
  • Modern Hebrew also has many words borrowed from other languages such as English, Arabic, and Yiddish.


  • There are two main dialects of Hebrew: Ashkenazic and Sephardic.
  • The Ashkenazic dialect is spoken among Jews of Ashkenazi descent, mainly in Europe and North America.
  • The Sephardic dialect is spoken among Jews of Sephardic descent, mainly in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
  • Hebrew is a rich and expressive language that is important to Jewish culture and history.

Learning Hebrew can be fun and rewarding for people interested in Jewish culture, religion, or history.

Here are some resources that can help you get started learning Hebrew:

  • Textbooks: “Hebrew in 16 Hours” by Eliyahu Baskin, and “Hebrew for Beginners” by Dvor and Yehuda Amir
  • Online courses: Duolingo, Memrise
  • Dictionaries: Milgrom and Revivim.

There are many ways to learn Hebrew while living in Israel:

1. Ulpans:

  • Ulpans are language schools that offer Hebrew courses for immigrants.
  • Ulpans offer courses at different levels, from beginner to advanced.
  • Classes in ulpans are usually subsidised by the government, so they are relatively inexpensive.

2. Private lessons:

  • Private lessons are a great way to get individualised attention and help with your Hebrew learning.
  • You can find private Hebrew teachers online or through local language schools.
  • Private lessons can be expensive, but they can be very effective.

3. Online courses:

  • Online courses are a convenient way to learn Hebrew at your own pace.
  • There are many online Hebrew courses available, both free and paid.
  • Online courses may not be as effective as other methods of learning, but they can be a good supplement to other classes.

4. Language Immersion:

  • One of the best ways to learn Hebrew is to surround yourself with Hebrew.
  • You can do this by interacting with native speakers, reading and listening to Hebrew news and other materials, and watching Hebrew films and TV shows.
  • Language immersion can be difficult, but it is a very effective way to learn the language.

5. Language learning apps:

  • There are many language learning apps that can help you learn Hebrew.
  • These apps usually offer games, exercises and other interactive activities that can help you improve your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.
  • Language learning apps can be a good complement to other learning methods, but they should not be your only source of learning.

Here are some tips to help you learn Hebrew:

  • Study regularly.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Find ways to make learning Hebrew fun.
  • Surround yourself with Hebrew.

Learning Hebrew can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Being able to speak Hebrew will allow you to communicate with native speakers, learn more about Jewish culture and history, and access new opportunities in work and education.