Hebrew Language Studies

Hebrew Program Overview

Your entryway into the world of Hebrew begins here at Princeton! The Near Eastern Studies Department offers three levels of Hebrew language, which are taught Dr. Philip Zhakevich.

Why study Hebrew?

  • Because it's the only spoken language revived after nearly 2,000 years of dormancy.
  • Because it's the language of Israel—a key player in the modern Middle East.
  • Because it’s a language that unites the rich literary tradition of the past with the vibrant discourse of the present—from the Bible, to Rashi and Maimonides, to the modern Hebrew novels of Shai Agnon and Amos Oz, to the Hebrew of Facebook and Instagram.
  • Because it will enable you to connect with the locals of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as the many Hebrew speakers in New York, Los Angeles, and the cities of the world.

Hebrew Courses

Hebrew courses include the following:

  • Beginners (HEB101/102), intermediate (HEB105/107), advanced (HEB300 series). 
  • Courses at the 300 level may be taken in any order.
  • Upper advanced (400 series) and graduate Hebrew courses, taught by Dr. Lital Levy, are also offered by the Comparative Literature Department.
  • Completing two years of Hebrew language study fulfills the university foreign language requirement.

Language Placement

Students seeking to test out of the language requirement, or to place into a level higher than HEB101, are encouraged to take the placement test, which is offered every year during orientation week, and by appointment.

While students may take Hebrew to fulfill the foreign language requirement, they also have the opportunity to study Hebrew while pursuing a concentration or a certificate in Near Eastern Studies. 

For more information, please contact Philip Zhakevich.

Study Abroad

Students wishing to develop their knowledge of the language further are able to benefit from various programs in Israel.

These programs take place during summer vacations or during a semester (or year) of foreign study in one of the Israeli universities, such as Hebrew University or Tel Aviv University. 

For more information, please contact Philip Zhakevich.

Hebrew Placement Test FAQ

Who should take the Hebrew placement test?

Students who have knowledge of Hebrew (either from prior study of Hebrew or from Hebrew speaking parents) should take the placement test if they seek to place out of Hebrew and thereby fulfill the language requirement or if they seek to place into a level higher than HEB101. If you have no prior knowledge of Hebrew and plan to start studying Hebrew at beginners level HEB101, you do not need to take the test.

When and where is the Hebrew placement test?

The Hebrew placement test is offered every year during orientation week at a time scheduled by the College. You can find the time and location listed in your orientation packet (usually on Sunday at noon). If you miss the test or seek to take the test after the academic year has begun, contact Dr. Philip Zhakevich (pz4@princeton.edu).

Is it necessary to sign up for the Hebrew placement test?

No. Students can simply show up to the test in order to take it.

How many components does the Hebrew placement test have?

The test consists of two parts: the written test and the oral test.

How much time does the Hebrew placement take?

Students usually complete the written test within an hour or an hour and a half. The oral test lasts between fifteen and twenty minutes.

How is a student's placement determined?

Based on the results of the written test, students are placed into HEB101, HEB102, HEB105, or HEB107. If after taking the written test, you test into a level higher than HEB101 but do not test out of the written test, you do not need to take the oral test. If, however, you successfully test out of the written test, you will then be asked to schedule a meeting with Dr. Philip Zhakevich to test your oral proficiency. If you test out of the written and oral tests, you will be placed out of the first two years of Hebrew and you will have fulfilled the foreign language requirement.

Is the Hebrew placement test an online test?

No. The test is administered in written form while the oral test is administered in a face-to-face conversation.

Is it possible to prepare in advance for the Hebrew placement?

Yes. You are welcome to review textbooks that you have used in the past to prepare for the written test.

Does the Princeton honor code apply to the Hebrew placement test?

Yes. You should complete the test on your own with no help from anyone during the test; and you are not permitted to consult dictionaries or grammar reference materials while taking the test.

When will the results of the Hebrew placement be available?

Students will be informed of their placement before the fall semester begins.

Will the results of the test affect a student's grade or credit record?