Sheltered Initiation Language Learning 

Hebrew Lesson 1: practice confidence.

To help you get an initial impression of words, it helps to use memory tricks like the following "associations." Say them ALOUD several times each, trying to visualize or understand their "meaning." (These associations are aimed at speakers of English; make up your own if you don’t like these.)

you and the boss are eating MEAT

Doug ate a FISH

APRICOT mishmash

evacuate a shah, PLEASE!

Now say the words to be learned ALOUD several times.


NOTE: two full "ah"-sounds; accent on -sar


NOTE: with full "ah"


NOTE: with two "ee": meeshmeesh


NOTE: abbreviated form; accent on -shah

Test yourself until you know all words studied. (It is best to use flash-cards with pictures as cues, rather than English words.)

Step 1: Word-Quiz

Translate each of the following words.

1. please

2. apricot

3. meat

4. fish


One of the secrets of SILL is to teach only 5 or so words at a time: This is how many words can actually be acquired well enough to speak with at any one time. (You can acquire as many words as you want, even in one day, as long as you acquire them 5 at a time.)

Step 2: Pattern-Drill

Mishmish, vaqashah!

Practice this sentence-pattern by saying your own sentences.

Put the words learned together in a simple but communicatively adequate sentence-pattern. Don’t try to combine two things in one sentence: Keep it simple and use two separate sentences.

Of course, four words isn't much. But if you learn five new words four times a week, you will know 90 words in a month, and 300 in a semester - more than enough to begin having conversations.

Step 3: Talk now!

Imagine being in a noisy restaurant. Order several things - in separate sentences. Talk very loud, or you won't be heard!


Talking is a sport: Practice doing it smoothly.


Use the sentences below as reading exercises — but they are also models and samples for how to comprehend in conversation. (These are exercise-types: Additional exercises can be constructed according to these types — some of them by learners for each other.)

You have guests: Can you catch what each wants? ("skip-comprehension")

1. ketsat dag metugan, bevakashah!

2. yesh lekha mishmish ulay?

3. efshar lekabel ketsat basar 'al prusat lehhem?

4. ten li dag.

Notice how, given the context (they are asking for something), you don’t have to know all the words they say. This is a model for how you can comprehend in a new language far beyond your vocabulary: (1) use context; and (2) catch whatever you can, and guess on the basis of that.

Hebrew lesson 2
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