Hebrew language plays an important role in Jewish life. As People of the Book, we want our children to be able to access our cherished Jewish texts in the original. At the same time, we want to infuse our children with a love of Eretz Yisrael, and perhaps give them the ability to communicate with Israelis, no matter where in the world they actually live.
Each family will have to decide how much Hebrew language they want to incorporate into their homeschooling. Some families choose to study only Biblical Hebrew, with the goal of reading Jewish texts. Other families want to include Modern Hebrew, spoken in Israel today. While there is a large overlap between Biblical and Modern Hebrew, there are also significant differences in grammar, sentence structure, and word usage.
Biblical Hebrew has different pronunciations, depending on where your family comes from. Ashkenazic pronunciation is different from Sephardic, which is different from Yemenite, and so on. Some families use their traditional pronunciation for prayer and Torah learning, and the Israeli pronunciation for conversational Hebrew.
The best way to learn a foreign language, especially for younger children, is by immersion, in the same way they learned their first language. If conversational Hebrew is a goal, it’s best for the children to hear spoken Hebrew much before they are ready for reading and writing. For Hebrew-speaking parents this is much easier to implement, but even if the parents don’t speak Hebrew, they can expose their children to the language through books, audio recordings, and videos.
A pre-reading Hebrew curriculum is in the works – stay tuned!
Once your children are older, they can begin studying written Hebrew. Listed below are both Biblical and Modern Hebrew resources.
Ani Koreh offers a Hebrew reading curriculum with beginning readers in Hebrew.
Kesiva is a Hebrew handwriting workbook.
Little Pim offers an introductory course to Modern Hebrew for kids ages 0-6. This is the younger version of Mango Languages (see below).
Mango Languages offers courses in both Biblical and Modern Hebrew. A comprehension of Hebrew letters is necessary before starting the course. Good for ages 6+. The courses focus on speaking, reading, and grammar. Many libraries offer a free membership for the service. They also offer a homeschool option where you can pay one price for all your students.
Duolingo is an app that teaches Modern Hebrew.
Migdalor offers both Biblical and Modern Hebrew resources for all ages.
My Hebrew Books offers Modern Hebrew resources for all ages.
Lshon Hatorah offers Biblical Hebrew grammar and vocabulary workbooks for elementary through high school levels.
The First Hebrew Primer: The Adult Beginner’s Path to Biblical Hebrew, Third Edition is a great introduction to the Hebrew of the Tanach for high school age students.
The Guide To Lashon Hakodesh, Vol 1: Mastering the Basics and The Guide to Lashon Hakodesh, Volume 2: Mastering Hebrew Verbs is another set of books on Biblical Hebrew for older students, or for parents wishing to improve their own Hebrew skills.
Ha-yesod: Fundamentals of Hebrew (English and Hebrew Edition) is a textbook on Modern Hebrew for older students.