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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Haifa 5th, 6th graders to be taught Arabic language, culture

This was a long time in coming - it is too little, and it just might be too late, but it is an example to be adopted everywhere in Israel.
By Fadi Eyadat, Haaretz Correspondent

Fifth and sixth graders in all 52 Haifa elementary schools will take Arabic-language classes as well as study Arab and Islamic history, as part of their regular curriculum. The project will be funded by the Ministry of Education and the Haifa Municipality.
Two years ago, Haifa municipality and the Abraham Fund Initiatives began a pilot project in 12 elementary schools called "Language as a Cultural Bridge." A year later the number of participating institutions doubled.
The aim of the project, beyond teaching spoken and literary Arabic, is to "link Jewish pupils to the Arab population which is the second-largest [community] in the country," said Rachel Metuki, educational director at the municipality.

"The program is experiential, and in addition to the language lessons, there will be story tellers in Arabic, audio tapes and plays in Arabic," she explained. "The pupils will learn about Arab family and community life, cultural codes, and all aspects of customs."
Contrary to the Junior High School pupils throughout the country who study literary Arabic only, the Haifa pupils will learn spoken Arabic and will make daily use of it.
"Whoever goes to the market in Wadi Nisnas [an Arab neighborhood in Haifa] will speak Arabic with the people there," she said.

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  • Hi! I am a linguist by profession and a Ukrainian by birth. I am in the States right now. Having no abilities of both the spoken and written English I would face huge difficulties in everyday life, no matter how big the population of Russian-speaking people is here. So, your idea about teaching kids Arabic is wonderful, especially taking into the consideration the political arena and successful relations with the neighboring countries for your young people in the future.

    Besides there is a nice saying in my native language--"the more languages one knows so many times he is a man"

    I wish you luck with the implementing of your program!

    By Blogger u, At August 23, 2007 6:11:00 AM GMT+00:00  

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