Pimsleur Hebrew Review (Pros and Cons) - Live Fluent

Pimsleur Hebrew Review (Pros and Cons)

Note: This article is specifically about Pimsleur’s Modern Hebrew courses. Here we discuss the unique features of these courses and how they relate to someone learning the Modern Hebrew Language.

We don’t cover the usual strengths and weakness common to all of Pimsleur’s language courses. You can find that information in our full Pimsleur review.

Summary of Pimsleur Method

(all languages)

Review of: Pimsleur

Use: Audio courses for learning foreign languages

Effectiveness

With Pimsleur you will be able to speak at a functional level

Price

Pimsleur Courses are expensive. Expect to pay $100+ for 1 Level

Time Commitment

Each lesson is 30 minutes

Ease of Use

Lesson are simple: just listen and repeat when prompted

Structure

Pimsleur courses are well designed and structured to teach you a foreign language 

I Like

  • Actually gets you speaking & listening
  • Functional vocabulary
  • Emphasizes pronunciation
  • Easy to use
  • You can switch between languages

I Don't Like

  • High price tag
  • Very formal language
  • Little reading and no writing

Summary: Pimsleur courses are known as some of the best audio courses for learning to speak a foreign language.

Their method includes a question/recall/response technique that is very effective for helping you internalize the basics of a new language.  Many people who use Pimsleur cite a marked improvement in their speaking abilities.

Pimsleur is also one of the few language courses that focuses heavily on correct pronunciation. This helps a lot when trying to remember new words in a foreign language. 

However Pimsleur courses also have their drawbacks. They're pretty expensive compared to other audio courses. They also tend to use highly formal language that is too respectful for most day to day situations. The courses are also sometimes criticized for teaching limited vocabulary. 

Starting at $19.95 for 5 lessons up to $107.95 for 30 Lessons

Great courses are hard to come by for anyone learning Modern Hebrew. Compared to more popular languages like Spanish, French, and Japanese; Modern Hebrew doesn’t get much of a spotlight in the language learning world.

That’s what makes Pimsleur’s Hebrew courses really stand out from the pack. They are one of the few solid audio course options for anyone serious about speaking Modern Hebrew.

Pimsleur Hebrew shares all the usual pros and cons common to all the Pimsleur courses, but here we’re going to talk about how well the Pimsleur method works for the Modern Hebrew language.

Biblical Hebrew or Modern Hebrew?

Pimsleur’s Hebrew courses are audio courses for learning how to speak Modern Hebrew. People learning Biblical Hebrew usually do so to read and understand the written hebrew texts of the Bible. They’re not looking so much to speak Hebrew.

If you’re learning Biblical Hebrew then you’re probably not going to get much out of the Pimsleur courses which deal almost exclusively with the modern spoken language.

Does knowing Modern Hebrew help you understand Biblical Hebrew?

The short answer is yes. There are some grammatical differences between the two. For instance: Modern Hebrew doesn’t make a distinction between the present simple (I walk) and present progressive (I am walking) tenses; but Biblical Hebrew does.

Also the meaning of words can change over time so that a word in Biblical Hebrew may be used in differently in Modern Hebrew. Take בשל for example; there’s a good chance it meant “to boil” in Biblical times but in Modern Hebrew it means “to cook”.

Modern Hebrew is a descendant of Biblical Hebrew so more often than not the two languages overlap. It’s just important to be aware of their differences.

Pros & Cons

Pros

Good Pronunciation practice

In Hebrew you’re going to come across some sounds that don’t exist in the English language. The 3 most notable are the sounds for the letters: het, ayin, and resh.

What makes Pimsleur Hebrew great is that it will break down new words and phrases by individual syllables so that you can practice pronouncing each one while receiving feedback from the audio recording.

The Hebrew sounds het, ayin, and resh

This method will help you to hear and say the more difficult sounds of the Hebrew language. Pimsleur is one of the only Hebrew audio courses that allows you to do this.

Cons

Lack of reading

Reading has never been a strength for Pimsleur. Their courses focus on listening and speaking, so reading is really more of an afterthought in their courses. With Pimsleur Hebrew you’re taught the basics of the Hebrew alphabet.

After that you’re given lists of individual words and short sentences in written Hebrew. You’re then supposed to follow along with the script as you listen to the recording of a native speaker reading the same text out loud.

This technique is okay when the language you’re learning uses a latin based alphabet. Because Hebrew uses an entirely different script it’s less effective in this case. If you’re dead set on learning how to read Hebrew then you’ll probably want to use another course in addition to Pimsleur.

Only 3 levels

The biggest shortcoming of Pimsleur Hebrew is that there aren’t enough courses! Pimsleur only provides 3 levels for their Hebrew courses.

Other, more popular, languages have up to 5 levels and help you reach an upper intermediate level in speaking ability. But since there are less levels in Hebrew you’re probably going to be closer to an upper beginner by the end of all 3 courses.

What other people are saying about Pimsleur Hebrew

Pimsleur doesn’t teach baby talk, that’s not their style. They always get right into the point, teaching you how to speak like an adult, no more “repeat after me, kattool.. kattool (cat in Hebrew)”. Pimsleur keeps it real. You want to learn how to speak Hebrew and that is exactly what you get.

israelhebrew.com

Alternatives to Pimsleur Hebrew

Price

From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Hebrewpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Hebrew conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging. 

 While it's not as structured as Pimsleur it's still a substantial Hebrew learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.

Price

$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)

Time commitment

30 minute or 1 hour lessons 

An intro video from one of Italki's Hebrew teachers. 

Summary:

Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.

You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. Italki is the only site I know that provides an opportunity to take lessons with professional Hebrew teachers. 

*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account

Conclusion

Pimsleur Hebrew is a great resource for anyone looking to speak Modern Hebrew. Pimsleur’s trademark pronunciation based approach really shines with this language, and students will find it helpful.

The reading materials are less than amazing, but that’s to be expected of a Pimsleur course. The biggest issue we have with Pimsleur’s Hebrew courses is that there are only 3! It would be great if they developed levels 4 and 5 as well.

Pimsleur offers the first lessons of their Hebrew Level 1 course for free on their site. Check it out for yourself and tell us what you think of the Pimsleur method!

About the Author Chris J

I'm definitely an unlikely language learner. I failed Spanish in high school. I started learning German as a hobby while studying abroad. Long story short...and a couple languages later...I love language learning!

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