How Long Does It Take To Learn Hebrew?

Hebrew is an ancient language from the Semitic family and a sister language to old Arabic. The language had more or less died out by the time of the Roman occupation of Judea and became essentially extinct shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire in the late 4th century AD. However, efforts by prominent rabbis throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to revive the language have been quite successful.

Hebrew is estimated to take around 44 weeks to learn, based on its language categorization by the US Foreign Service Institute. If you are familiar with other semitic languages like Arabic, you may be able to learn it faster.

Keep reading to see details on how long it takes to effectively learn modern Hebrew, as well as some information on how studying Hebrew differs from other languages.

Why Does It Take So Long to Become Fluent in Hebrew?

Hebrew takes around 1100 hours of study to achieve proficiency. This estimate comes from the US Foreign Service Institute language categorization and is based on the linguistic and cultural differences between Hebrew and English.

Hebrew is generally considered a moderately difficult language to learn, especially for people who aren’t familiar with other Semitic languages like Arabic. 

Learning Hebrew is so difficult because the lexicon is very old and bears little similarity to modern vocabulary in any western language. However, modern Hebrew is actually quite different from Biblical Hebrew, and there are a few things about it that make it a bit easier to learn.

According to, the first hurdle that one has for learning Hebrew is the alphabet. Hebrew is written with an ancient Semitic script that typically omits vowels. This means that the spelling of different words won’t necessarily be intuitive, and learning how to read the language requires a lot of memorization.

You can visit the Foreign Service Institute website to get more information on language categories and learning opportunities.

Is Hebrew Hard To Learn?

Hebrew is quite challenging for English speakers to learn due to a number of factors. These include the different alphabet, vocabulary, and grammatical details such as gender.

Although English grammar is fairly complex, most native English speakers are naturally acclimated to the language and don’t require a deeper understanding of the grammar in order to function. Hebrew grammar is comparatively simple, but English speakers studying Hebrew will need to wrap their heads around concepts not found in English, such as grammatical gender.

If you want to learn Hebrew quickly, it’s important to stick with it. Start with a robust understanding of basic grammar and vocabulary, and build upon your knowledge from there. It’s also a good idea to immerse yourself as much as possible. Duolingo is an excellent way to give yourself a crash course on the basics of the language, including the alphabet, vocabulary, and basic grammar.

Final Thoughts

Hebrew is a dynamic language with tons of cultural history behind it. If you have a personal connection to the language through your heritage, or if you’re just curious about the language in general, it can be very rewarding to learn the language to fluency. As with any language, the key to success is perseverance.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask away in the comments section.

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