Arabs, Jews, Arabic

Arabic Teaching in Israel and its Challenges - Research Report

Edited by

Yonatan Mendel, May Arow, Thabet Abu Rass, Gal Kramarski

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2020

This report addresses the characteristics and challenges of Arabic studies in Hebrew-speaking schools in Israel. It also lays out the guidelines for designing a new,  comprehensive curriculum for teaching Arabic as a second language in Jewish schools throughout the country. The ideas presented throughout the three chapters of this report—the result of a three-year process led by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Abraham Initiatives—push the boundaries of the existing public, academic, and education discourses, with the aim of promoting positive changes in the field. The first chapter presents the challenges inherent in teaching Arabic in Israel and discusses the importance of Arabic to Israeli society. The second chapter presents the findings of an innovative study that we conducted among high-school students throughout the country, with the aim of bringing their voices and perspectives into the discussion. Lastly, the third chapter offers a new horizon
for Arabic teaching in Israel, formulated by a forum of over 70 researchers and practitioners, both Jews and Palestinians, and using five practical steps. The ideas presented throughout the report seek to break through the practical and political limitations that characterize the field by discussing such matters as the purpose; scope; teaching methods; teachers’ identity, skills, and training; and the language taught. These are core concepts that should be reexamined. We believe that language is a tool that serves to connect people and cultures. We believe that improving Arabic teaching in Israel will promote mutual understanding between all citizens of Israel and their neighbors in the region.

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