In today's world, the quickest way to learn to read, write, and think in Hebrew and Chinese - that is, to completely understand Hebrew and Chinese - is to learn to listen and comprehend, speak and write, as a modern person raised in Israel or in China does. Modern instruction methods such as classes in spoken Hebrew and Chinese, and books, CDs, flash cards, and recordings, are valuable tools which will help the learner to quickly increase their vocabulary and ability to think in and comprehend these two languages. Of course, a trip to Israel or to any Chinese speaking country can only help in this process.
Modern Hebrew and Chinese
While it is not the goal of this website to deal with modern Hebrew or Chinese, we are presenting here an example, in modern Hebrew, Chinese, and English, from an author who discusses some similarities and differences between Jews and Chinese. The goal of modern languages is to allow their countries to function in an international world, and modern world languages have much more features in common, and less differences between them, than their earlier counterparts. In the present example, the languages themselves contain Hebrew and Chinese terms and expressions of modern thought, that can make sense in any language; aside from the obvious features of the Hebrew letters, Chinese characters, and Hebrew and Chinese vocabulary, there are much less traditionally "Jewish" or "Chinese" features expressed in the modern languages - even though they may be discussing some traditional Jewish or Chinese ideas. This is why the uniqueness of Jewish and Chinese cultures is to be found in the older, traditional writings.
PDF of modern Hebrew and Chinese.
In this portion of learning Hebrew, the learner needs to be careful to get materials for learning modern Israeli Hebrew, and to avoid materials that teach ancient (Biblical) Hebrew. Our goal at this stage is to become emersed in the modern spoken language so as to aquire, as quickly as possible, a vocabulary and understanding of the Hebrew language. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Hebrew is infinitely easier when one emerses themself in the world of modern Israeli Hebrew.
Audio of modern Hebrew lecture on some of the topics covered on this site.
PDF of the lecture.
The same applies for Chinese, except that the learner will have no problem in finding materials for learning modern Chinese. The reader should look for Mandarin Chinese (as opposed to other dialects), as Mandarin is the much more widespread and universal dialect of Chinese (the advantage of this is, again, the increased opportunities to learn Chinese rapidly).
Note: Some Characteristics of Modern Hebrew and Chinese
The modern Hebrew language used in Israel has only been in existence for the last 100 years or so. Before then, Hebrew had generally been a written language, not a spoken one, for almost 2000 years. This written language had to be modernized and adapted in order for it to become the spoken language that could be used among the millions of citizens in the modern State of Israel.
Modern Chinese (Mandarin), also, has only been in official use for about 100 years, but as a written language. Previously, traditional Chinese was the chief written language, used by the educated, and Mandarin Chinese was generally an unwritten, spoken language, used by the masses. In the last 100 years, though, traditional Chinese was abandoned as the official written language, and Mandarin Chinese, formerly spoken and not written, became the new written language for China.
So, although their developments were different, both modern Hebrew and modern Chinese only came into official use as both written and spoken languages, in roughly the last 100 years.