Learn Biblical Hebrew. Learn fast, have fun.
What Level of Hebrew Student Are You?
This course is best for students who have no prior experience with Hebrew. Read, write, and speak in Hebrew from day one. You will learn grammar and vocabulary with an interactive digital textbook and meet in a live, online class.
This course is best for students who have some experience with Hebrew, but aren’t yet comfortable reading the Hebrew Bible. By the end of this course, you will be reading selections from the Hebrew Bible with ease!
This course is designed for students with at least two years of Hebrew under their belts. Students will customize their own curriculum and pursue the biblical texts that most interest them. This course equips you for independent study!
How We Teach Hebrew
In most Biblical Hebrew courses, you could sit through weeks of rote memorization before you ever read a real text from the Old Testament. Even then, texts tend to be very short selections, and they take a back seat to paradigms, vocabulary, and grammar. Too many students complete a course with only a set of “conversion formulas” to show for it, and they think they’ve learned Hebrew!
That’s like forcing you to memorize a cookbook before letting you step foot in a kitchen — and once you do step foot in the kitchen, you’ve never even held a knife before!
We think there’s a better way.
We think that proficiency in Old Testament Hebrew requires reading early, much, and often. In our courses, you start reading Hebrew as soon as possible, and reading, not rote memorization, takes first importance.
That is the better way. And that’s why the Ancient Language Institute exists.
Jonathan Roberts, Founder and Director of the Ancient Language Institute
ALI’s Natural Method
The ALI curriculum is built around Active Pedagogy and Comprehensible Input.
- With Active Pedagogy, language students learn by reading, writing, and speaking the target language from the beginning. Memorization of vocabulary, grammar rules, and other critical material happens dynamically with fun and interesting texts.
- With Comprehensible Input, language students read texts at their level that they will understand and enjoy. They will read entire stories from beginning to end without the need to run to a dictionary. This creates prolonged exposure to the language and compels the brain to employ the language ahead of understanding — which is how everybody learns their first language as infants! And this is the only way to acquire fluency.
What You Can Expect
At the introductory level, all students receive a license to our interactive, digital textbook, which helps you learn Ancient Hebrew grammar and vocabulary according to the natural method. At every level, actual class meetings take place live, online. Our Fellows will present lessons, oversee exercises, and lead students in readings and discussions, so you will get a chance to interact with our faculty and your fellow students.
Since our goal is to help you read Hebrew fluently, we’ll get you reading texts from the Jewish Scriptures as quickly as possible. And even though modern Hebrew (the national language of the state of Israel) is the only version of the language with a native community of speakers, you will learn to speak biblical Hebrew in our classes, too! One of the best ways to learn how to read is to learn how to speak, and vice versa.
You don’t need the gift of tongues to acquire Hebrew. It requires no special skill or innate talent — just good study habits and time. And that’s all we expect of students. That’s all they need to excel and meet their language goals.
The ALI Promise
We promise to be a student-first educational institution. Here’s what that means:
- We build class schedules only after you sign up. This way, we can work around your calendar and commitments. (And yes, no matter the time zone. Our student body is spread across the world.)
- We are here to meet your goals — not vice versa. So we conduct individual consultations with all new or prospective students so that we meet your personal language goals, whatever they might be.
- We only assign work that is useful for achieving fluency as fast as possible. Our methods represent the leading research on second-language acquisition. With ALI, you begin to read, acquire, and understand Hebrew from day one.
What is Biblical Hebrew?
We use a vocabulary learning platform to introduce students to new Hebrew terms. This software combines images and sounds with the target term, always used in a memorable context.
The combination of sounds and images allows students to quickly and enjoyably understand Hebrew words, in the ways that Biblical writers used them. Our vocabulary learning platform is what flashcards want to be when they grow up!
In most courses, students are so burdened by grammar that they hardly get to enjoy actually reading in Biblical Hebrew. We want students to be exposed to grammar in such a way that it expands the amount of Hebrew content they can successfully encounter.
Our Hebrew grammar platform grants students access to short lectures on Hebrew grammar that are characterized by clear explanations and helpful images. Then, you complete intuitive drill exercises that creatively combine sounds and images.
All of our classes are live, online classes. Learning a language with other live people, plus the combination and careful sequencing of materials we employ, allows our classes to be highly productive and fun. In class, students see the vocabulary and grammar they have studied that week in a fresh and creative way, which prepares them to read their assigned texts with ease and success.
Further, in every class session, students are also exposed to additional comprehensible input in a way that prepares and allows students to interact with Old Testament Hebrew actively. The best way to learn to read the language of the Jewish Scriptures is to speak and to write it! Thus, students will also learn to compose and speak in Biblical Hebrew.
The work of one of our heroes, the linguist Stephen Krashen (who has made all of his research on second language acquisition available for free), has convinced us that students acquire languages through extensive exposure to comprehensible input.
What does that mean? Basically, the more information in the target language that you encounter the faster you’ll learn. Therefore, for our introductory course we have put together a sequence of readings that will allow you to read hundreds of pages of Old Testament Hebrew with success and ease (and without a Hebrew dictionary)! And that’s just the introductory course.
Ready to learn Hebrew? The Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim (and more!) are waiting…