Many Hebrew learners are excited about the idea that they would use popular songs in Hebrew in order to extend their vocabulary and improve their knowledge of the language and the culture it exists in. Songs are indeed a great learning aid and we do use them both in The Jerusalem Post Ivrit and in Ivritalk ,but we must keep in mind a few guidelines in order to use them in the optimal way for improving our Hebrew.
What to do when studying Hebrew with songs?
* Consult an expert!
Ask your Hebrew teacher to suggest the songs that you should use. Your Hebrew teacher will choose for you songs that meet your level of Hebrew, that are on the one hand popular and on the other hand contain good linguistic material.
* Listen and read!
Songs activate both your listening comprehension and your reading comprehension. When you study with a song, make sure you both listen to it and read it. You can try to do both things as the same time. When it comes to Hebrew, a language whose pronunciation standards have changes over a course of a few years, you might want to listen to different versions of the same song.
* Sing along!
Once you have listened to the song and read it and understood it – it’s time to use its vocabulary in the most active way. At the beginning you might feel you are imitating the singer in every syllable you utter, but that is actually a great way to memorize the words. The next step would be to try to chant the song, to tell at as a story and maybe even sing it in your own style.
What not to do when studying Hebrew with songs?
* Don’t translate!
Of course, you want to know what is the songs about. But translating is an art to itself, and you might be lost in translation if you will use the dictionary for each and every word. so try to catch the spirit of the song, and don’t worry if there are a few words here and there that you don’t fully understand.
* Don’t limit yourself to children’s songs!
Although they might be shorter than regular songs, children’s songs are not necessarily easier to understand. Some of them may contain high register vocabulary as their aim is to educate, and some of them may contain made up words as their aim is to entertain. Judge them as they were regular songs.
* Don’t ignore the context!
When choosing a Hebrew song to learn Hebrew with, don’t forget to find out some basic background facts about it: who wrote it, when was it written, the specific events that led to the writing of the songs. This information might be crucial for understand the song, and it may also add to your general knowledge about the Hebrew and Israeli culture, the history of The state of Israel and more.