Navigate to News section

Learn, Practice, and Perfect Your Hebrew: ‘Could You Go Slower?’

The StreetWise podcast from TLV1 in Israel will make you a better Hebrew speaker by shoring up some mistakes that drive Israelis bananas

Jonathan Zalman
February 16, 2016

Have you ever learned a new language and wondered whether some of the words or phrases you utter sound odd, even grating, to native speakers? Me too. But if there’s one thing I know—and this coming from a Mandarin speaker who cut his teeth in Fuzhou, Fujian—is that practice makes perfect (well, perfect enough).

This is true for new Hebrew learners as well, whose use of the spoken language can be annoying for Israelis to hear. Enter StreetWise Hebrew, a podcast from TLV1 hosted by Guy Sharett, a private Hebrew instructor is Israel who uses the environment of the country—disciphering graffiti, visiting a spice market, e.g.—as a linguistic teaching guide.

In the episode below, Sharett reviews nine tips to makes one’s Hebrew better: How do you talk about finding your keys the right way, or using the word “when” properly? Or talking about a birthday, eating apples, or simply going places? These are just a few of the basic, everyday pieces of Hebrew that Sharett addresses. (As you listen, follow along with the words and phrases listed below.)

Kshe – When – כש

Ka’asher – When (archaic) – כאשר

Kshe-bati ha-bayita matsati et ha-maftechot – When I came home I found the keys – כשבאתי הביתה מצאתי את המפתחות

Kshe-halev boche – When the heart is crying – כשהלב בוכה

Ima sheli – My mom – אמא שלי

Lirot et ha’or – To see the light – לראות את האור

Pagashti et Danny – I met Danny – פגשתי את דני

Ani ochel tapu’ach – I am eating an apple – אני אוכל תפוח

Ani ochel et ha-tapu’ach – I am eating the apple – אני אוכל את התפוח

Hayiti rotse lihyot melech shelach – I wish I’d be your king – הייתי רוצה להיות מלך שלך

Hayiti rotsa, hayiti rotse – I would like – הייתי רוצה

Ani rotsa cappuccino (be-vakasha) – (אני רוצה קפוצ’ינו (בבקשה

Efshar kise – Could I please have a chair? – ?אפשר כסא

Efshar ledaber im… – May I speak to… – …אפשר לדבר עם

Efshar yoter le’at? – Could you go slower? – ?אפשר יותר לאט

Me-ayin – Where from (archaic) – מאין

Me-efo – From where – מאיפה

Be-bayit – In a house – בבית

Ba-bayit – In the house – בבית

Le-bayit – To a house – לבית

La-bayit – To the house – לבית

Ani holech le-bayit shel chaver – I am going to a friend’s place – אני הולך לבית של חבר

Ani holech la-bayit shel Eyal – I am going to Eyal’s house – אני הולך לבית של אייל

Ani nose’a le-hofesh (not ‘la-hofesh’) – I am going on holiday – אני נוסע לחופש

Sheva banot – Seven girls – שבע בנות

Hatzilim – Eggplants – חצילים

Hamisha chatsilim – Five eggplants – חמישה חצילים (But you’ll hear “hamesh hatsilim,” which is a mistake)

Hamisha Asar kilometer – 15 km – חמישה עשר קילומטר (But most Israelis say “hamesh-esre kilometer,” which is a mistake)

Hu lomed – He studies – הוא לומד

Kelev – Dog – כלב

Bokker – Morning – בוקר

Yomuledet – Birthday – יומולדת

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.