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Still struggling to understand what Israelis say? It doesn’t have to be that way assures Addam Corre, who runs Street Hebrew - a special program teaching practical day-to-day Hebrew.
  Understanding Hebrew conversations
but knowing only some of the words...
Intrigued? Get yourself ready… this is a practical blog with a call to action!

You might think this sounds like a tall order but it is possible to get the gist of a fluent, Hebrew conversation whilst only knowing 70% or less of the actual words in it.

As with any language it’s not always just about the words. There are many other factors that contribute to comprehending and understanding what is being said:


You can glean a lot from a conversation by keeping it in context. Say for example you are at the pharmacy. You would expect to hear words like “medicine, prescription or cosmetics” as well as perhaps the words “checkout, change and credit card”.

Street Hebrew recommends:
Preparing yourself before an everyday situation or scenario in Israel. Take five minutes to sit quietly and collect your thoughts as to what words you might expect to arise during that particular interaction. It is also a good idea to make a quick list of relevant nouns, adjectives and verbs that you expect to come up. A fantastic resource for this is the book “English - Hebrew By Subject’ by Hanna Perez. The book actually separates word groups and divides them into useful, every day subjects. Check it out here.


You can pick up a lot of what’s going on in a Hebrew conversation by teaching yourself how to recognize certain patterns. For example, verbs generally follow very similar rules when conjugated. If you know you will be talking to someone about something that happened to YOU in the PAST, for instance, you would concentrate on the conjugation pattern for P1 (1st person, past tense) which always ends with the suffix “Tee” in Hebrew as in “Halachtee, ratzeetee, deebartee - I went, I wanted, I spoke”.

Street Hebrew recommends:
Acquaint yourself with the generic prefixes and suffixes that apply to Hebrew verbs. This takes care of most verbs in the past and future tenses. Past tense tends to have the same suffixes (endings), and future tense verbs have a combination of the same prefixes and suffixes when conjugated.


If you are learning Hebrew and find that you are beginning to hear the same words and phrases time and again it means that you are on the right track. It is often difficult to understand when Israelis speak Hebrew to you, due to the speed and pronunciation of the words. Not to mention colloquialisms and slang. It can be frustrating when the Hebrew you hear in the street is different from the Hebrew you may be used to from Ulpan. Nevertheless you can familiarize yourself with common terms that keep “coming up” in conversation which takes care of a good percentage of everyday situations.

Street Hebrew recommends:
Say for example you are in the routine of visiting a particular store daily, such as your local coffee shop. You will find over a relatively short period of time that the same words and phrases are repeated. Try and pay attention to how a specific person, say in the coffee shop, greets you. Make a mental note so that next time you see them you will be prepared and even be able to preempt what they say.

The techniques above are a good way to help improve your Hebrew conversation skills and compliment any Hebrew learning you may be already doing.

Learning Hebrew isn't just about memorizing vocabulary and verb tables. It is also about the “big picture”, about sensing and allowing your instincts to help you understand what is being said.

Addam Corre
Street Hebrew offers tailor-made private and Online Hebrew lessons to new and prospective Anglo Olim. We are geared specifically to the needs of the anglo community and for people who want to understand and be understood in every day Israel. We focus mainly on conversational Hebrew skills and get you where you need to be when it comes to dealing with every day situations in Hebrew.

For more information call: 0549753987, or email: addam@streethebrew.com; Web: www.streethebrew.com


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