Learning a new language is an incredible thing you can do for yourself. But which language should you learn? There are some that are certainly studied more often than others for reasons like perceived level of difficulty, usefulness, and attractiveness. What about languages that aren’t studied as often? Take Hebrew, for example. It isn’t the most popular language to learn, but maybe it should be.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of great reasons to learn Hebrew. Read on to see why you should take on the official language of Israel.
So, Why Should I Really Learn Hebrew?
1. Deepen Your Understanding of History
The Hebrew people and their language played an incredibly influential role in history, mostly in relation to modern world religions. Judaism came from the Hebrew people, and it is the root of both Christianity and Islam. These religions have had major impacts on the modern world, and the Hebrew language was at the source of all of them.
Hebrew is also the official language of Israel, a land with a history like no other, and one that is frequently making headlines all over the globe. Anyone with an understanding of the Hebrew language will be better able to access news information on this part of the world and its history.
This language is also a very old one. The earliest examples of written Hebrew date back thousands of years, and it disappeared as a spoken language for several centuries. It wasn’t until the Zionist movement took off at the end of the 19th century that it remerged as a spoken language.
In summary, the history surrounding this language and the part of the world it’s used in is complex and fascinating. Anyone that takes the time to learn the language will be able to connect with this history on a more meaningful level.
2. Relate to New Cultures
There’s no doubt that language is strongly tied to culture. Specific vocabulary for certain foods, festivals, instruments, dances, and even weather can reflect the culture of the people that speak a certain language. This makes language a key to understanding and relating to cultures that are different from your own.
Hebrew isn’t the most widely spoken language in the world. That gives it an even stronger connection to the culture of the people that speak it. Anyone who learns Hebrew will automatically be much closer to understanding the culture, simply by sharing a certain vocabulary.
In Israel, where Hebrew is spoken, the culture is perhaps one of the most interesting in the world. The country is a religious center of the world, and there is an interesting mix of people living within relatively close proximity to each other. Learning Hebrew will provide a unique window into this culture.
3. Visit Israel
This is probably the most obvious (and for good reason) motivation one would have to learn Hebrew. Even though English is widely spoken throughout the country, knowledge of Hebrew will prove invaluable to anyone visiting Israel.
When visiting a foreign country, everything is made easier with an understanding of the local language. Taking local transporation, ordering food, asking for directions, and shopping are all experiences that can be made infinitely easier with some knowledge of the language. Learning some Hebrew before going to Israel is bound to provide for a smoother experience.
The above point is doubly true if you plan on staying in Israel for a long period of time or to live in the country. The longer you stay in Israel, the more complicated tasks you will likely have to accomplish: opening a bank account, developing relationships, dating, navigating a work environment, etc.
In addition to generally smoothing out your everyday experiences in Israel, being able to communicate in Hebrew will deepen your relationship with the country you’re in. You’ll understand the people speaking around you and will share a vocabulary that brings you closer to the place and its people.
4. Make New Connections
Though it may seem backward, the fact that English is widely spoken in Israel could actually be a reason to learn Hebrew. Since many Israelis speak English — about 85% of the population can speak some English — the majority of people that visit the country from abroad don’t make any effort to learn the language. Because of this, anyone who does will stand out from the crowd.
Instead of “just another tourist,” you’ll be recognized as someone who has a genuine interest in Israeli culture and the way of life. This shows a type of respect that is likely to be reciprocated by locals. Mutual respect is a fantastic way to build connections and relationships.
Even outside of Israel, the ability to communicate in Hebrew has the potential to open social doors that would otherwise remain closed forever. You’ll immediately have something special in common with anyone who speaks Hebrew outside of Israel.
5. Become More Interesting
What’s the most interesting thing you have to share about yourself at a dinner party? Would you be more interesting if you could add that you speak Hebrew? The answer is almost certainly yes.
Since Hebrew isn’t spoken by a huge percentage of the world’s population, it’s noteworthy when someone has taken the time to learn the language. At the very least, it’s a great conversation topic; at best, it will create professional and academic opportunities. Hebrew proficiency is something that will stand out on a CV or application to any organization because it shows discipline, intellect, and social awareness.
6. Care for Your Mental Health
Not only will learning Hebrew help you connect with others, enjoy Israel on a more meaningful level, and help with professional or academic prospects, it will also improve the health of your brain.
Mental health is extremely important to one’s well-being. Learning a foreign language has been proven to prevent signs of mental deterioration, especially those regularly caused by aging. You’ll create new neural connections by learning Hebrew, and you’ll learn how to formulate your thoughts in a new way. These are both excellent for brain health and have the power to make sure your mental health remains in top shape for years to come.