USC offers a sequence of four semesters that will have you speaking, reading, and writing modern Hebrew; you will learn how to order food and shop at a market as well as how to score an internship, pursue graduate study, write fluently, and foster international connections. The first three courses satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement for most majors in the Dornsife College of Arts, Letters and Sciences.

Students can start with Hebrew I or place into a higher-level course by taking the Hebrew language assessment. Upper-level courses offer students a chance to dive more deeply into Hebrew literature, business vocabulary and cultural diplomacy. There are also opportunities to do independent research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Hebrew is a perfect choice for students who have studied Hebrew in the past, whose parents or family speak Hebrew as a first language, who are interested in the Middle East, and/or who wish to explore religion, history, and culture.
While learning Hebrew, students will investigate the relationship between cultures, practice communication skills and language use in different social and professional contexts and broaden their critical awareness about cultural stereotypes. Advanced Hebrew courses teach students how to recognize and navigate potential opportunities for and obstacles to successful intercultural communication.

At all levels, students will explore places, people, art, photography, literature, poetry, films, and songs in the language that is spoken and written today. Students will gain both confidence and competence in communication skills, greater sophistication and complexity of expression, and nuanced written, oral and reading expertise.

  • HEBR 120: Hebrew I (Fall Semester) This course focuses on the acquisition of speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension skills as well as cultural literacy. Students will become familiar with the sound and structure of Hebrew as they read and listen to a variety of written and oral texts relating to their own lives. HEBR 150: Hebrew II (Spring Semester) Prerequisite: HEBR 120 or proficiency assessment This course develops writing, reading and comprehension proficiency. Students will be able to describe themselves, their families, and interests as well as learn vocabulary related to shopping for clothes, talking about the weather and seasons, describing people and jobs, making travel arrangements, and planning a vacation. HEBR 220: Hebrew III (Fall Semester) Prerequisites: HEBR 120 and HEBR 150 or proficiency assessment Students will develop a more sophisticated vocabulary, contextual comprehension and interactive skills. They will engage in learning about the linguistic, cultural, and historical roots of the language that essential for Hebrew language proficiency. HEBR 315: Modern Hebrew Language (Spring Semester) Prerequisite: HEBR 220 or proficiency assessment This course examines modern Hebrew language in depth and introduces students to contemporary popular culture, political discourse, and business and entrepreneurship vocabularies. Students deepen their fluency by unpacking the nuances of spoken and written Hebrew. JS 504: Modern Hebrew Literature This graduate level course requires prior knowledge of Hebrew. Students will read unvocalized texts from Hebrew literature and explore the development of modern Hebrew literature, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary short story and poetry.

  • The Hebrew language program at USC is administered by the Hebrew Language Coordinator, Professor Hagit Arieli-Chai, who is a native Israeli who specializes in language acquisition and language proficiency with a particular interest in second language study. She has degrees from California State University, Northridge and the American Jewish University. She is certified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) as a national Oral and Written Language Assessor and is an active member of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (NAPH) and the Institute Européen D’Etudes Hébraïques.

    As part of her language courses, Prof. Arieli-Chai incorporates the history and culture of Israel. Her scholarly research focuses on the practices related to language acquisition, the linguistic phenomenon of Hebrew roots, and cultural competency.

    Please contact the Jewish studies office for questions related to the Hebrew language assessment process and/or to set up an assessment appointment or 213-765-2113.

  • USC undergraduates may spend one semester or a year at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) in the Rothberg International School (RIS). The program begins with a three-week pre-semester period of intensive Hebrew language study. USC students take a semester-long Hebrew language course and English-taught courses at RIS in fields such as archaeology, art history, environmental studies, history, international relations, Jewish and religious studies, Middle East and Islamic studies, literature, political science, neuroscience, and psychology. Students may also take Arabic or Yiddish at RIS. Although most regular HUJ courses are taught in Hebrew, there are well over a dozen regular HUJ courses offered in English. All USC students are required to take at least one regular HUJ course taught in English (or in Hebrew for students with advanced language ability). Students live on campus and participate in a variety of social and cultural activities at the university. Students must have completed one semester of college-level Hebrew or the equivalent to participate in this program. You can find more information about the program and how to apply from the Office of Overseas Studies.

  • Several Websites offer a wealth of educational material about Hebrew language and culture as well as other languages of Jewish experience. Many help students gain proficiency in reading, speaking, and listening. Here are some of our favorites:

    Hebrew Language
    Hebrew Language Program, Brandeis University
    Hebrew Language at the University of Texas
    Society of Biblical Literature
    Association for Jewish Studies
    American Academy of Religion
    American Jewish Historical Society
    American Jewish Archives
    Duolingo Hebrew
    Hebrew Immersion Program at Middlebury College

    Other Jewish Languages
    Jewish Language Project
    Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
    Yiddish Workbook for Beginners
    Yiddish Pop
    Ladino at the Endangered Language Project