Dear creators of resources that teach people to pray in Hebrew:
I have some problems with your products, and I would like to discuss them.
Let's begin at the beginning. If I am coming to your CD/book or website to get help learning to pray in Hebrew, it's very likely that I either a) Do not read Hebrew at all or b) I read Hebrew poorly. Certainly, A is not your business; there are many other resources for that. However, you are not serving your poor Hebrew readers as we need you to. And I am willing to bet that we are the overwhelming majority of your customers.
1) Be very clear about what kind of pronunciation you are teaching us. I would rather not get into a habit, only to discover I'm using some very niche pronunciation of a vowel that the members of my community doesn't understand. There are many more accents than "Ashkenazi" and "Sefardi," and your information is not enough.
2) I will cover this more in #3, but I don't want to hear your tunes. I want to hear clear, accurate pronunciation of the prayers. I find it difficult to be sure I am pronouncing a word correctly when it is being sung, since that is so different than speaking. Amazingly, easy-to-follow pronunciation of prayers that are usually sung is apparently impossible. I am a poor Hebrew reader. Causing me to sing something "close" isn't the effect I was hoping for. I sang Aleinu wrong for months without even knowing it! Until it was pointed out, of course.
3) Getting to the tunes. Quite frankly, I don't want to learn this prayer to a tune initially anyway. If I learn the words plainly, I could apply them to any tune. But if I learn the words specifically to one tune, I can never say it with another tune. Personally, this has already happened with Aleinu. I can't just "say" it, I HAVE to sing it or else I don't know the words. My new congregation does not sing it. This is difficult and annoying. Further, there are 4 million prayer tunes in the world. I want the freedom to use the tunes of my community rather than being locked into the tune of a CD I learned with when I first began. The average FFB person grew up hearing multiple tunes to those prayers that have them, which prevented him or her from "locking in" a tune. I don't have the mental and linguistic flexibility of a child, unfortunately.
4) I know that no one wants to (nor should) say a bracha in vain. However, my understanding is that instructing a person in prayers and brachot is not halachichly a bracha in vain. I know that one adult may even say a bracha word-by-word so that another adult can say the bracha correctly. Why must these recordings only use Hashem and Elokeynu? Again, you're just confusing me and getting me into bad habits. I'm not good enough at this to be switching words around, and I will inevitably memorize the wrong thing. Do you remember how hard it is to see one word in a foreign language and have to remember that in some circumstances you must replace that word with a different foreign word? When you don't understand what you're saying, that's even harder.
All future helpers of the converts and BTs of the world, please take these things into consideration. You have the potential to make our lives much easier.
And that's what grinds my gears.