Hebrew for Kids: Introducing the Alef-Bet
Because learning Hebrew isn't like learning other languages - you have to learn a whole new system of symbols when learning the Alef-Bet - you want to take the time to make sure that this important first step has sunk in before moving on to learning vocabulary. There are several techniques for doing this. Naturally, you will want to have on hand some reference material. Take a look through the resources listed in my article, "Hebrew Learning at Home for Kids" Akhlah is a great resource with a listing of the Alef-Bet, flashcards, and coloring pages. Another great resource for Hebrew Alef-Bet learning is Benny's Educational Toys where they have various place mats, games and coloring books geared toward helping students learn the Hebrew letters.
Creating Your Own Flashcard and Memory Game
One way to make learning Hebrew fun is to create games. To create a simple memory game, purchase a pack of blank index cards. There will be more than enough cards to make flashcards for each letter of the Alef-Bet and to make a simple memory game. Create the flashcards first. On the front of each flash card, write the Hebrew letter. On the back of each flashcard, write the name of the letter in English. Extend this to the game. Instead of having matching cards, create one card with the Hebrew letter and one card with the English name of the letter. Students turn over cards and match them up. If they are a correct match, the student keeps the card. Whoever has the most pairs at the end of the game wins!
For children, it is best that you keep things simple. Only introduce one letter at a time. If you do introduce multiple letters, keep the number to three at the most. Remember, not only is your student learning another language, but she's learning a whole new symbolic system that reads from right to left instead of left to right. It is best to proceed slowly. For the first week, you may wish to simply introduce Alef, Bet, and Vet. For the second week, you would continue on with Gimmel, Dalet, and Hey. Then spend one week reviewing all of the letters reviewed so far. By introducing and reviewing alternatively, the student can build her familiarity with the new language and retain the information.
When Do We Learn Words?
Only after making it through the entire Alef-Bet should you begin to introduce Hebrew words to your student. She should be comfortable in identifying the letters and the sounds the letters make. In Hebrew, there are no vowels. Modern Hebrew has adapted conventions for denoting vowel sounds in Hebrew words. You will want to spend some time after going through the Alef-Bet on the vowel sounds in conjunction with simple Hebrew words. For more information on teaching children Hebrew, you may want to also read "How to Help Children Learn Hebrew" by Babes.