Hebrew Pronunciation Guide
THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT PRONUNCIATION
Learning to read requires that students discriminate between phonemes. This is hard to do when students can't correctly identify and pronounce each phoneme. This is why students who don’t pronounce sounds correctly often struggle “hearing” how sounds blend together to form words (NRP 2000, 2-104). /kuh/ + /a/ + /tuh/ does not make the word /cat/. It sounds more like: /kuhatuh/. Students who pronounce sounds correctly avoid this difficulty.
These observations apply to all languages that use an alphabet to encode phonemes (i.e. sounds). Hebrew and English are no different in this regard.
Teach your students the proper pronunciation of each sound. Make sure they are not adding a "voice" to an unvoiced consonant, or an additional vowel or schwa when they don’t need to. We urge teachers to practice the sounds carefully with a partner, so an objective “ear” can listen and offer constructive criticism when necessary. Our Pronunciation Guide contains a short video detailing how each sound is pronounced.
We urge you to share our CAPIT Pronunciation Guide with your students’ parents so they too can learn how to correctly pronounce each phoneme.
MODERN, ASHKENAZI, AND SEPHARDI HEBREW
Teachers from different backgrounds and traditions pronounce words and sounds differently. Students sometimes receive mixed messages regarding the pronunciation of sounds. To minimize confusion, we recommend that reading instructors within an institution strive for a uniform pronunciation of sounds.