A half-century of research underscores the need for explicitly teaching phonics and decoding to children learning to read. Even literacy expert Lucy Calkins has rewritten her own curriculum to include regular structured phonics and assessment of student progress in decoding. (NYTimes, May 22, 2022). If you want learners to be able to recognize written language, you need to teach them to decode.

Behrman House is the leading resource for creative, reliable materials to help children recognize and become comfortable with written Hebrew. Developed over decades, they provide a strong core for your Hebrew program.

It’s easy to pull together. Here’s what you need:

  • A good formative diagnostic tool. Lesley Litman has written one of the best, Hebrew Reading Assessment. There is also the classic Diagnostic Hebrew Reading Test. Both feature assessment pages you can reproduce. These are useful at the beginning of the year to set learner goals and create groups, and later to determine progress and locate areas for reinforcement.
  • A solid pre-primer. Hebrew decoding and reading begins with basic letter recognition. We have close to a dozen pre-primers to choose from, ranging from Let’s Discover the Alef Bet for younger learners, to Learn Hebrew Today for adults. Several include online versions you can project for larger groups or use in remote-learning tutorials.
  • A comprehensive primer. Your overall program goals will help you determine the best primer. Ask: How old are the learners? Do we want to include writing? Block or script? Some primers teach confusing letters together; others separate them; still others teach in alef-bet order. Our most popular and fully-featured primers are in the Shalom Uvrachah family, and include a wide range of support materials. An added plus: a fully-revised Shalom Uvrachah will be ready for next year. We’ll have samples beginning in December.
  • Fun, easy to use reinforcement tools. Like music, language learning requires practice. Inject some fun with resources like Hooked On Hebrew playing cards, Shalom Reader, and Ten Minute Hebrew Reader. Creating an immersive setting with posters and labels and adding auditory activities such as Hebrew Alive provides additional reinforcement
  • A program that lets students apply their decoding. Most congregational schools move on to prayer learning, with the goal of engaging learners in t’filah. Others may opt for Modern Hebrew in a program that focuses on Jewish culture and Israel. Our Hebrew through music prayer curriculum Hebrew in Harmony solidifies student’s decoding with the help of songs by the Jewish musicians (dozens of them!) that you and your students love. New this year, access to the audio and video elements of Hebrew in Harmony has been built right into a web-based version each prayer booklet, making it even simpler for teachers and students to use.