How to Use These Pages
Welcome! On these pages, you will begin to learn how to read and write in Yiddish. Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet, and for these lessons, we will be using standard YIVO orthography. (You can download a pdf of these instructions at the bottom of this page.)
How to use these materials:
- Start by watching the alphabet video and reading the accompanying notes. Print out a pdf of the notes to use as a reference while you're studying.
- After you've familiarized yourself with the shapes of the letters, download and print the cursive alphabet worksheet at the bottom of this page to practice writing the cursive letters yourself. Be sure to follow the directional arrows next to each letter to form it correctly.
- Practice reading the individual letters with the color-coded multi-media alef-beys chart. On this page, you can click on each letter to hear the letter name and pronunciation. Vowels, consonants, final forms of letters, and letters that only appear in words of Hebrew origin are each marked with a separate color. Don't forget to print out the pdf version of the chart to use as a reference.
- Focus on learning the vowels. You can try making flashcards with the print and cursive forms of the vowel on one side, and the name and pronunciation of the vowel on the other. Then test yourself with this vowel quiz.
- Practice distinguishing letters that look alike, matching the final forms of letters to the regular forms, and matching the letters that only appear in words of Hebrew origin to other letters that are pronounced the same way.
- Practice reading real Yiddish words and sentences. This reading practice assumes that you've learned the vowels and introduces the consonants one at a time. For example, the first section only includes words with the consonant daled. The second section has words made up of vowels and the consonants daled and yud. The third section has words with daled, yud, and zayen, and so on. Each section is accompanied by an audio recording of the text. Every time that a new word is introduced, it is highlighted in gold, and if you move your cursor over it, you will see its definition (in English). Plan to progress through the reading practice gradually, ideally spending 10-15 minutes a day on reviewing and covering new material.
- Once you feel comfortable with reading the print letters, focus on practicing your cursive. You can try writing out the text on the reading practice page in cursive letters in your notebook.
Zol zayn mit mazl! (Good luck!)
Start here with the Yiddish alphabet video.