We are lucky to live in an age when we can get around in Israel fairly easily without being fluent at speaking Hebrew. Many Israelis speak fluent English, and Google Translate is there for us when they cannot. This is necessary when we first arrive, but it is far from ideal as a long term solution.
The problem is that the best way to achieve fluency in a language is from speaking it, but Israelis are not known for their patience. While some will appreciate that you are trying, others just do not know how to slow down!
Fortunately, there are now many new ways to learn Hebrew. Mobile apps make it easier than ever, even if you don’t have someone who will take the time to speak with you.
These are the best apps that help you learn languages.
Duolingo is perhaps the most famous language learning app in the world and for good reason. It provides a simple way of learning a language with relevant words and phrases in just a few minutes every day. You can learn or improve your Hebrew with Duolingo. A threatening owl will get you to do the work every day with some gentle encouragement.
Duolingo is popular because it is so easy to use, but it is not perfect. After all, you are not speaking the language or hearing it spoken in real life situations, no matter how relevant the app tries to keep its examples. Also, Duolingo has some strange quirks – like its seeming obsession with teaching me the Hebrew word for duck!
Lingopie provides what may be the funnest way to learn a language. Unlike Duolingo, which gets you to learn a certain number of words and phrases, Lingopie is a lot less structured. Rather, it provides you with thousands of episodes of TV in the language you are learning.
Watching TV is a great way to learn language for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is enjoyable and requires very little forced motivation. The second is that you are hearing the language spoken naturally. You are learning how real people speak it and experiencing it in context.
It is not just a streaming platform for non-English series. Its subtitles are interactive, meaning you can click on them for more info and it will store the words you need help with so that you can study up on them later.
As yet, Lingopie only offers Spanish and French learning. However, they are adding Hebrew to their roster sometime soon.
The approach Memrise takes is somewhere in between Duolingo and Lingopie. It uses algorithms to learn from how you use it, including what you find easy and what you struggle with. It also provides videos of native speakers speaking the language, giving you more of a lived experience.
It is still a somewhat dry way of learning. While it is not as enjoyable as watching series to learn a language, you can find ways to motivate yourself. The app makes the process painless, and is effective if you see it through.