Frequently Asked Questions

I am a complete beginner. I cannot read Hebrew with ease and I do not have any knowledge of vocabulary. Is there a class in your program for a student like me?

First Year Hebrew: Elementary I, the fall semester of First Year Hebrew, is intended for complete beginners. Please note that this course is offered only in the fall. The spring semester of First Year Hebrew is the second course in the Hebrew sequence. If you do not take the first semester in the fall, you will have to wait until the following fall.

I learned Hebrew in Hebrew school many years ago. I forgot most of my Hebrew. For which class should I register?

Please take the Hebrew placement test and you will be notified about your placement. For information about the test, see below.

I graduated from a Yeshiva high school and I am quite proficient in Hebrew. Am I exempt from language requirement in Hebrew?

Only if you take the Hebrew placement test and place out. If you are not exempt, you will be notified about your placement. For more information about the test see below.

I took the Jerusalem Examination in my high school. Do I have to take the Hebrew placement test at MESAAS as well?

If you passed the Jerusalem examination (60 points or above) you do not have to take it and you will receive an exemption from the language requirement in Hebrew. You may also get credits for it, depending on your scores. Please present your certificate with the scores to the coordinator of the Hebrew Language program.

I took the SAT II in Hebrew. Am I exempt from the language requirement in Hebrew?

If you scored 700 or more, you will be exempt. Please present your SAT II results to the program coordinator. If you scored less than 700 you have to take the Hebrew placement test. For information about the test, see below.

I am a transfer student. In my previous college I took Hebrew courses. Am I exempt from language requirement in Hebrew?

Columbia requires you to complete four semesters of Hebrew, in which classes meet five hours a week. If you took the same number of hours in your previous college, you may be exempt. Please present your transcript from your previous college to the Hebrew Language program coordinator.

I spent a year in an Israeli University. Do I have to take the placement test? Do I get credit for the courses I took there?

You do not have to take the test and you will receive credit. Please show your transcript to the Hebrew Language program coordinator.

I spent a year in a program in a Yeshiva/Michlala in Israel. Am I exempt from language requirement in Hebrew? Do I get credit for the courses I took there?

Columbia cannot give you credit for a program in an Israeli Yeshiva or Michlala because these programs are not recognized as college level schools by the Israeli Council on Higher Education. However, if you take the Hebrew placement test and pass it, you will be exempt.

I was born in the U.S. but my family speaks Hebrew at home. I speak Hebrew, but I do not read well and I cannot write Hebrew at all. For which class should I register?

Please speak to the Hebrew language coordinator.

I took the placement test and I was placed in Second Year Hebrew Section I. May I switch to Section II?

The intermediate sections are grouped by level. A student who wants to switch sections must get an approval from the professor in whose class he/she was placed.

What am I expected to demonstrate on the Hebrew Placement test?

The Test is comprised of five parts, organized in increasing difficulty from elementary to near native. You are expected to complete as many parts as you can. There is no time limit, and you may not use a dictionary. Each part presents:

  • A reading passage with multiple choice comprehension questions.
  • A section in which you are required to complete each of the given sentences with the correct grammatical form (you are given four choices).
  • A few questions that require you to answer with your own sentences. If you reach the advanced part, you are also asked to write a short composition on one of the given topics.

When and where is the test given?

The test is given in the office of the Department of Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), at 401 Knox Hall, on any weekday from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. If you intend to take Hebrew in the fall, please take the test before registration week.

When and how will I find out about my placement?

Two to three days after you take the placement test you will be contacted by phone. Please do not forget to fill out your phone number on the questionnaire. Students who take the test before registration week in the fall will find their names on a bulletin board outside 401 Knox Hall.

I have completed Second Year Hebrew and I would like to continue with my study of the language. What is the next level?

If you completed section I or II, the next level is Advanced Hebrew. If you completed Upper Intermediate, please speak to the Hebrew language program coordinator. If you completed Intensive Grammar Review, the next level will be Readings in Hebrew Texts.

I would like to take a Hebrew literature course. How do I find what is offered?

Read the entire list of courses offered by MESAAS, which offers a wide variety of language and culture courses.