I mentioned in a previous post the potential usefulness of following news outlets in Hebrew on something like Twitter or an RSS reader like Google Reader (both of which I use). Now, this is something that’s up to your own discretion, since any number of groups have Twitter accounts to follow or RSS feeds on their website, but just to give you an idea of what’s out there, I thought I would show a little bit of what I follow personally.
On Twitter, I follow a few, ranging from the newspaper Haaretz to the LGBT news and resource site GoGay, which post only in Hebrew. Search for your preferred newspaper or resource, and see if they tweet. It’s becoming more and more common!
On Google Reader, I subscribe to Haaretz’s “Foreign News” feed. They have a twelve different feeds you can follow, including news, sports, and politics, to name a few. Try out one or two to see which might be the most relevant and interesting for you. I was interested in several of them, but to be honest, all the others post WAY too often for me to be able to stay caught up, and it became too overwhelming. Like on Twitter, other news outlets and websites have RSS feeds as well, and it’s just up to you to decide which ones are the most helpful for you.
As a supplement to my previous post about Hebrew dictionaries, which focused on online, translation dictionaries, I wanted to add some resources for Hebrew-Hebrew dictionaries, which will be more helpful for creating a Hebrew-only environment for yourself.
In terms of actual books, the Milon Even Shoshan has always come highly recommended to me by my professors. It comes in a few different editions, from the comprehensive 6-volume set, to the condensed 1-volume edition (which I have).
Now, unfortunately, it’s not often practical to carry around a dictionary like the Even Shoshan (six volumes OR one…), which is where the Internet comes in. It’s a tad harder to find Hebrew-Hebrew dictionaries online than it is to find Hebrew-English ones, but they’re still out there. One in particular that I’ve found useful is the מילון רב לשוני. This site actually has a number of languages available, including Arabic, English, and Russian, but the most useful for you will be the Hebrew-Hebrew one.
Back on your iPhone, the Milon Even Shoshan is also available in the form of an iPhone app, as are other dictionaries, like Milon Sapir. A few words of caution, though: the Even Shoshan app costs $2.99, and the Milon Sapir has both a free and a pay app, but I have no experience with the former, and limited experience with the latter, so proceed with caution when spending money.
One of the easiest, but potentially confusing, things that you can to start the process of translating your world into your target language is to change the language of the various technological resources you use. What follows are instructions for changing the operating language to Hebrew for the handful of resources that I use (for others not included here, a Google search will often yield helpful results). **A word of caution before you start: make sure that you know how to change things back to English, in case this isn’t a measure that’s helpful for you, or that you’re interested in using**
First thing’s first: set up your computer to be able to type in Hebrew.
For Windows XP/Vista/7:
Go to Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options (might be worded slightly differently, but will include these terms) -> “Languages” tab -> Make sure that “Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages (including Thai) is selected -> Details -> Add -> find Hebrew on the list, keep the default settings -> Okay -> Apply
Once you do this, the letters EN should appear on your taskbar. To switch between languages, you can either click on the EN to switch to HE and vice versa, or (the faster way) press ALT + SHIFT to go back and forth.
The next step is a big one: changing your operating system to function in Hebrew.
For Windows XP:
Start -> Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> “Regional Options” tab -> Select “Hebrew” from the drop-down menu -> Apply
If you’re interested, you can click on “Customize” under the “Regional Options” tab to set things like the currency, time, and system of measurement that will serve as the default for your system (for example, I changed from Metric to the U.S. system of measurement; you can also change to using the Hebrew calendar, but I chose to stay with the Gregorian one that’s standard in the West).
Settings -> General -> International -> עברית
What’s great (and potentially confusing) about changing your iPhone to Hebrew is the number of areas it affects. While changing your computer’s operating system to Hebrew might not have a great effect on your day-to-day life, changing your iPhone to Hebrew will translate a number of oft-used apps, like Maps, iTunes, Settings, and the App Store.
In terms of switching programs and websites to function in Hebrew, it’s a bit hit-and-miss. Since Hebrew operate right-to-left, but most of the rest of the world operates left-to-right, you’ll run into problems on some sites. If you plan to write e-mails in English, for example, I wouldn’t recommend switching your e-mail client to Hebrew, for formatting reasons. I *have* switched my web browser, Google Chrome, to Hebrew, however. If you use Chrome, and would like to do the same, just follow these steps:
Go to the Wrench menu (on the top right) -> Options -> Under the Hood -> under “Web Content”, click on “Language and Spell-Checker settings…” -> Add -> select Hebrew and click OK -> select Hebrew from the “Languages” list -> select “Display Google Chrome in this Language”, and you’re done!
Since it’s not possible for everyone to go abroad to immerse themselves in a language and culture (which is the usual advice people give to students of language), I’ve come up with a list of small-scale things you can do to try to create elements of that immersion experience where you are. The things on this list apply to most every language. If any of you out there who have other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
- write notes for yourself in the target language (TL; the language you’re learning)
- e.g., class notes, a meeting agenda, your grocery list, etc.
- speak only the TL with those who speak it
- don’t fall back on English just because it’s easier! It’s hard enough not to do when you’re actually surrounded by people who speak your TL, and it’s even harder not to do when you’re in an English-speaking society, but it’s totally worth it
- keep up with current events (global and local) in the TL, whenever possible, in whatever forms are available
- finding access to written resources will be easier (see my previous posts about Israeli newspapers), but consider listening to the news on the radio, if you can find it
- if you have an account on Facebook or Twitter, or have an RSS Reader like Google Reader, consider following news outlets in your TL; you can often get just the headlines and a brief blurp, making things less overwhelming
- read academic articles in the TL
- read short stories, novels, poetry, and other literature in the TL
- go to conferences, workshops, etc., and present in the TL
- use a TL-only dictionary (i.e., a Hebrew-Hebrew dictionary and not a Hebrew-English one)
- read up on the history, literature, culture, politics, etc., of the target culture
- if you have a smartphone or computer that can be set to function in the TL, do it
- the same goes for websites and applications that can run in your TL (e.g., Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
A fair bit of time has passed since I last posted, and in that time, my focus has shifted somewhat. This will still be a place that motivated Hebrew learners can find resources to faciliate their learning outside the classroom, but the next several posts are going to focus on suggestions and resources at a more advanced level. Specifically, I’m posting for those folks who may be out there who’ve already reached a pretty advanced level of Hebrew, but who aren’t taking classes anymore or aren’t actively engaged in learning it, and who maybe worry about their proficiency level slipping a bit as a result. I’m talking about Hebrew teachers, people pursuing advanced degrees in Hebrew, people who use to think they were fluent and think they’ve gotten a bit rusty.
Whatever your specific situation, oh advanced language learner, the following posts are for you.
**(whoever out there might be reading this blog; I’m optimistically assuming that there’re more than one of you)
One resource that’s always been pointed out to me, but that I don’t always have the most use for, is Shironet. This one is for the slightly more advanced user, since the almost the entire website is in Hebrew. This site is, basically, a database of Hebrew song lyrics. Whether listening to Hebrew music is a strategy you’re using to expose yourself to more of the language, or you just like the sound of it, Shironet can be a useful tool to help you understand it a bit better.
Again, a bit of a departure from the main purpose of the blog, but I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Gesher Books series of simplified and abridged Hebrew literature. The series is designed for learners at a range of levels and ages, from children to adults, and can be a helpful introduction to reading Hebrew literature. The main reason that I hesitated to post about it here is that it’s not a *free* resource, and it’s not technically online. The link I provided is to a page that explains about the series, shows the available titles, and lets you buy them. That said, they’re all very reasonably priced ($6), and definitely worth the money.