These are Excel spreadsheets developed by NatalieK. It tutors you what words sound like.

Shma Quiz

This file is a zip of a self extracting zip of my “Shma Quiz Experiment” folder.

Extract it to the same folder on your C drive. (If you extract it anywhere else, the hyperlinks won’t work). The folder contains the whole Shma movie, and several one-word extracts. I didn’t have the time and energy to remove the complete shma file before zipping. You don’t need it to run the quiz. The folder also contains the quiz I have created from a spreadsheet containing a few of the words from the Shma. This sheet contains errors, but will show how the Excel application works.

If you click in column A and then click on one of the sort icons, the rows will shuffle. A beginner sill simply click in a hyperlink to hear the sound.

When she is confident about her reading, she might want to run the quiz in other ways.

If she wants to check that she can translate from English to Hebrew she would change the font colour to the background colour in the Hebrew column, and in the hyperlink column.

A click in a Hebrew cell will reveal the contents in the formula bar. A click in a hyperlink cell will, of course, play the file.

I can’t simulate the dynamic nature of Ben’s weighting, but in real life, I would put several copies of the difficult rows into a particular quiz.

I create Quiz sheets from a copy the master by creating a select column, putting a non zero character in that column for each row I want to include, and then sort/descending the copy. The desired rows appear in the top of the sheet and it is easy to paste them into a quiz sheet.

suggestion: you can also add images here


A major problem with transliterations is the use of the letter "a" to transcribe the kamatz and the patach. The verb meaning "he learned" is transcribed as "lamad". Most printed guides to pronunciation say that the sound of these vowels is like the "a" in "father". It is really far more like the short 'u' in "cup". If you say "lahmahd" and "lumud" out loud you will hear the difference. Listen carefully the movie of the Shema. In line 3 the speaker says v/u/HUV/tu, not v/ah/HAHV/tah. At the end of the word "shma" the vowel is lengthened, and does become more like the "ah" in "Father", but, if you are going to choose only one pronunciation for the kamatz and the patach then, choose the short 'u'; you will be correct most of the time.

suggestion: you can also type Hebrew here -


The segol is always pronounced like the short 'e' in "egg".

The chiriq (the single dot below a letter) is a short 'i'.

Both cholams and the kamatz katan are all pronounced rather like a short version of the vowel in "horse", "or" or even "all".

The remaining major sound is the short "oo" sound as in "Took" or "good" (not "tool" or "rule").

The final sound is the shva. If it occurs at the end of a syllable it has no sound at all. The rest of the time it is more like a very short pause or the vowels in "the" and "a" in the sentence "ThE cat sat on A mat". In the shma movie, because the speaker is talking so slowly the sound is exaggerated.

The best guide to pronunciation is to actually listen very carefully to the Shma movie and think about each word both before you listen to it, and after you have listened to it. You can use the space bar to toggle between play and pause so it is not difficult to listen to that movie one word at a time.

The movie does contain one deliberate mistake. In the first word on the third line the speaker says v'aHAVta, with the accent on the 2nd last syllable. This is how the word is pronounced in normal speech. In the bible, without the vav the word is also pronounced with the accent on the 2nd last syllable. However, within the context of this prayer the accent should really be on the 1st syllable i.e. v'ahavTA. The reasons are for this are complex and will be explained in an article on "Past, Future, And and Stress". However, as a guide on how to say to a man "You have done something", v'aHAVta will give you the correct stress pattern almost all the time.

A document giving a detailed guide to listening to the Shma movie will be posted shortly.

English/SoundSpreadsheets (last edited 2011-05-03 09:50:31 by BenS)