Assimil Hebrew in 2 weeks
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Joined 5308 days ago
323 posts - 426 votes
Studies: Modern Hebrew, German, Spanish
Message 1 of 1803 January 2013 at 11:57am | IP Logged
Assimil Hebrew is based in French, and I don't speak French. Thus, it's been a challenge for me to use this book. But I finally figured out how to use it. Perhaps this can be used as a general method for using Assimil books that are based on languages that you don't know. Basically, it is extensive reading combined with intensive reading/listening, though it's probably mostly intensive reading.
My steps were as follows:
1. Listen to the audio 1x, trying to understand, without looking at the Hebrew text.
2. Listen again + simultaneously read the Hebrew text silently.
3. Read the Hebrew text aloud 1x.
4. Read the Hebrew text aloud 1x, but this time underline any unknown words with a pencil.
5. Look up these words in a dictionary (I use Rav-Milim online).
6. Listen again + simultaneously read the Hebrew text silently.
7. Listen again + simultaneously read the Hebrew text aloud ("shadowing") as best as possible.
8. Read the Hebrew text aloud 5x now that you understand all the words. At this point, you should understand all the words in the sentence and understand the meaning of the sentence.
9. Listen to the audio 1x, trying to understand, without looking at the Hebrew text.
(10.) For the review on the following day, read previous day's lessons aloud 1-2x.
I went through all 85 lessons in two weeks as follows:
Day 1: ; New 1-14 (time = 1.5 hours)
Day 2: Review 1-14 ; New 15-24 (time = 1.5 hours)
Day 3: Review 15-24; New 25-32 (time = 2.0 hours)
Day 4: Review 25-32; New 33-40 (time = 2.4 hours)
Day 5: Review 33-40; New 41-47 (time = 2.1 hours)
Day 6: Review 41-47; New 48-54 (time = 2.5 hours)
Day 7: Review 48-54; New 55-60 (time = 1.9 hours)
Day 8: Review 1-60; (time = 1.2 hours)
Day 9: ; New 61-67 (time = 2.0 hours)
Day 10: Review 61-67; New 68-73 (time = 3.0 hours)
Day 11: Review 68-73; New 74-78 (time = 2.5 hours)
Day 12: Review 74-78; New 79-82 (time = 3.0 hours)
Day 13: Review 79-82; New 83-85 (time = 2.0 hours)
Day 14: Re-read entire book aloud 1x. (time = 1.8 hours)
Total sentences read: ~7500
Total active study time: 29.4 hours
Steps 1-4 help you become familiar with reading and hearing the text. It also gives you a chance to figure out some words through context.
Step 5 - this is where you learn the meaning of unknown words and figure out the meaning of the entire sentence. When you look up a new word, look back at the sentence and look at the word in context so that you understand the sentence as a whole.
Steps 6-8 reinforce all the new words you just looked up, clarify the meanings of sentences, and give you more reading & speaking practice. The conversation should make more sense each time you listen to it and read it.
Step 9 - now you should understand the entire spoken conversation, which probably wasn't the case in Step 1. Exciting!
Step 10 is the next day's review. Hopefully you still remember everything. If not, review until you remember.
A good way to improve listening comprehension is to rotate between steps 1 and 5 - back and forth.
My Result: I now have better active production and much better passive understanding. At least a one level bump (A2->B1, for example).
My suggestion for improving on this 2-week-method: add in your favorite vocabulary-learning technique (SRS, GoldList, Iversen, etc) to further improve your active and passive vocabulary. Write down all your new words and review them every day.
The book starts off very slow with short lessons, and many of the early lessons were very easy for me (to Lesson 15 or so, and largely comprehensible into the 20s), because I already knew some basic Hebrew vocabulary, grammar, and the Hebrew alphabet + vowel points. Perhaps I began this project at around a high A1 - low A2 level, which I think was a good idea considering I didn't have English translations to help me out here. However, in the beginning I took a peek at the last few lessons (83-85), and I didn't really understand much - a few words here and there - and I didn't know what was going on in the conversation. Now that I've finished the whole book, I understand >95% of everything in the book.
It's only fair that I should acknowledge a site that I found most helpful before beginning with Assimil - www.teachmehebrew.com - where I learned almost everything in the 'basic hebrew' section of the site. It's free and includes audio of everything. I strongly recommend learning some basic Hebrew, especially basic grammar rules, before beginning this Assimil experiment; I imagine it would be far slower, less interesting, and very difficult if you don't know any Hebrew at all.
Regarding the method I presented above, I did not write down the vocabulary that I looked up in the dictionary. I did my best to remember it in step 8 (re-reading the text 5x) and when I reviewed the following day. However, as I stated above, I would have remembered the new words/phrases better if I had written them down and reviewed them for a few minutes several times throughout the day.
I thought the stories in the second half of the book were quite good (funny and interesting).
Something else I did sometimes was, instead of reading the sentence aloud straight off the page every time in Step 8, I would momentarily memorize the sentence, look up from the book, and say the sentence aloud pretending that I was talking to someone. This felt more like having a real conversation instead of simply reading aloud. I also tend to stand up and walk around the house for this step, so I'm not constantly sitting and to have a different physical experience while practicing. Also, I tried to imagine the story in picture-form in my head while reading.
Regarding the Revision sections (every 7th lesson in Assimil books), I looked through them but didn't spend a lot of time on them because I don't speak French and don't understand the explanations.
Also, I mostly ignored the Exercises in each lesson.
I always read from the Hebrew side, not from the transliteration side. The listening steps helped to confirm the proper pronunciation.
I doubt that I'm at a B2 level, even though I understand the book and Assimil claims that's what my level should be now. B1 level is more realistic, especially for my reading comprehension. Though, to be fair, I didn't follow Assimil's recommended methodology or time frame. Even so, this is a good result considering I started at high A1 - low A2. I don't believe that a book containing only 620 sentences can take anyone to B2 level. I feel like I would need ten times more material to reach a confident B2 level.
Is it possible to reach B2 from Assimil Hebrew? I really don't know, and I'm not sure I have the desire to stay with Assimil as long as it takes to find this answer.
I think the 80/20 rule applies here, as I feel that I received ~80% of the benefit from Assimil while spending ~20% of the time (two weeks vs. ten weeks or more). I do believe that if I spend another month or more with this book, I will get even more out of it and become more fluent with this specific material.
This Assimil Hebrew project is only the beginning of what I hope will be a much bigger extensive/intensive reading project for me. True fluency (C2 and beyond) will require huge amounts of reading, listening, and speaking. Assimil is too little material to get you very far, as I have now experienced, but it's nice to use during the mid/late-beginner stage. I think it's important to view Assimil not as some sacred language-learning tool that HAS to be struggled with for many months, but rather as only one small but useful tool in the long journey to fluency.
This is what I've learned. I hope you find it useful. I thank Glossika for inspiration.
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Message 2 of 1803 January 2013 at 12:16pm | IP Logged
This is very helpful, thanks for sharing. I also like the assimil courses, and want to slowly learn hebrew. I have started whith Michel Thomas which works fine, but now I'll check out assimil as well.
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Message 3 of 1803 January 2013 at 1:42pm | IP Logged
I don't really see why you would want to rush through an Assimil course in two weeks. The whole point is to do a little each day in order to assimilate the material naturally.
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Message 4 of 1803 January 2013 at 1:57pm | IP Logged
Unlike newyorkeric, I totally get the idea to rush through more material and finish it
quicker. But you would need a lot more time for it and it would be a rush job. I think
you can do more in less time. How much you remember in the long term depends on how far
you got in the first place and how often you repeat the material to let it sink in.
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