Jacob Maslow
Fiat justitia ruat caelum

Hebrew for Kids Adjusting to Life in Israel

I made aliyah with my five kids almost four years ago, and while my Hebrew was “good,” I still lacked the same language level as native speakers. My kids had a big transition ahead of them, and there were quite a few methods that I employed to help them accelerate their language learning.

They had one thing going for them: full immersion.

Living in Israel means that my children had the ability to be fully immersed in the Hebrew language. Immersion is a quick way to learn a language, but I wanted to encourage my kids to learn faster while also maintaining their English language skills.

I did a few things to help my kids and I master Hebrew.

First, I got the entire family involved.

Everyone needs to be on the same page. Kids will learn and pick up a lot from their parents, so I made sure to say as much as I could in Hebrew. But I also tried to make it fun by:

  • Singing songs
  • Reading children’s books

Watching television together was a lot of fun, too. As any Hebrew speaker knows, pronunciation is a huge part of the Hebrew language, and learning requires a massive amount of resources. We used Kodi to watch material that wasn’t on television.

And I watched a lot of kid-related programming.

I also made it a point to read to my children in Hebrew every night. Often, I would have them repeat the words I said to help them form and build their pronunciation further. I also found that by doing this, my kids were able to retain information better, too.

When one child had a favorite story, he seemed to retain the information much better.

Again, use a lot of material to find what sticks for your child. They’ll learn a lot in school and by making friends, but the transition is easier for kids when they’re exposed to a plethora of material already.

I went a step further. I decided to note every word that my child forgot or had difficulty saying. And then I used flashcards and Anki  to help with spaced repetition.

I also started doing all of this well before the transition to Israel. I wanted to give my children a foundation that they could use and grow from. If I hadn’t done this, they may have been lost when they came to Israel.

It’s much harder to date natives and “fit in” when you can’t speak the language.

But I also learned that reading the news was difficult. Your vocabulary is limited, and it is more news-centric than it is realistic. You’ll know a lot of words relating to scandals and politics, but you’ll also miss words relating to emotions and food – among many other topics.

My learning experience may not have been as vast as my children’s learning experiences, but it was still an intense time to learn more about Hebrew. I even went as far as hiring a babysitter to help speak Hebrew with my kids and me.

About the Author
 Jacob Maslow is passionate about writing and has started numerous blogs and news sites. Jacob is originally from Brooklyn. He packed up his five children and made Aliyah in 2014. Jacob's experience and varied interests lend themselves to a diverse palette of topics ranging from technology, marketing, politics, social media, ethics, current affairs, family matters and more. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys being an active member of social media including groups on Facebook and taking in the latest movies. 
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