Have 5 minutes to spend practicing your Hebrew? Keep reading as we’ve put together a short article that will help you improve your reading with and without Hebrew vowels.
This post is going to assume you know the basics of the Hebrew alphabet, and have at least familiarized yourself with the Niqqud vowel system. People wonder how difficult it is to learn Hebrew since the writing system is so different compared to English. For starters, you read Hebrew from right to left, rather than left to right. There are also NO vowels in written Hebrew (except children’s books and in some prayer books). But in day-to-day life, Modern Hebrew does not include vowels. So you need to practice your reading if you’re going to master the language.
Beginner Reading Practice
If you’re a beginner we have put together some basic words for you to sound out when you’re practicing to read Hebrew. If you’re familiar with the niqqud, and want more of a challenge then read along the far left column.
|Hebrew (no niqqud)||Hebrew (niqqud)||Transliteration||English meaning|
|בוקר טוב||בּוֹקֶר טוֹב||boker tov||Good morning|
|ערב טוב||עֶרֶב טוֹב||erev tov||Good evening|
How Can I get Used to Reading Without the Vowels in Hebrew?
Most people jump when they hear that Hebrew has has no vowels. While it might be difficult at first to read a sentence, or sentences without vowels you’ll probably find it a lot easier than reading something like Chinese which has almost no way of deciphering its pronunciation.
Take a look at this sentence: H br w s sy to r d w th pr ct c
Hebrew is easy to read with practice
You probably struggled to read the sentence at first, but looking back at it once you know what it is should make it a lot easier to understand.
Most kids in Israel, and those who study Hebrew, will learn לְהִתְרָאוֹת with the niqqudot when they first see the word / phrase. Once they understand what it looks like, and repeat writing and reading it, they’ll be able to read להתראות perfectly fine.
Read with the the Niqqudot, Write without it
When I was personally studying Hebrew I remember struggling to read without the niqqudot. So I decided to just read the word with the niqqudot and write it without. While many kids will learn to write with the niqqudot at first, I didn’t want to spend several years practicing “hello” and “thank you” with the niqqudot, and THEN transfer to reading without. So I simply read the word a couple times, listened to the pronunciation, and then took notes without it.
This strategy helps a lot because you’re forcing yourself to recall the pronunciation of each word. Imagine the niqqud system as being training wheels on a bike. If you’re 5 years old training wheels make sense. But if you’re 20 years old it looks a little funny and you probably can get the hang of it fairly quick.
Try to guess the pronunciation
When reading and listening to a transcript it’s helpful to try and guess what the pronunciation is going to be before you listen to the audio. This way you can correct any mistakes and exercise your familiarity with the words / phrases.
FREE Hebrew Reading Resources
So here are some amazing resources you can use to learn to read Hebrew. The beauty is that ALL of them are FREE.
- https://twitter.com/i/lists/2218355 (if you’re looking to follow Israeli news on Social Media)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeZ6PF-i6jA (read aloud with Niqqudot)
Looking for the Best Books?
If you’re looking for the best books to learn Hebrew, we’ve compiled a list of 7 super effective books to help you improve your language skill. Check out “7 Books to Learn Hebrew“