Hebrew Pronunciation Guide
THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT PRONUNCIATION
Students who don’t pronounce sounds correctly will have trouble “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.
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.