Sunday, January 25, 2009

English in 1st Grade 'אנגלית בכיתה א

It drives me ‘round the bend when Israelis obsess on their kids learning English…and the Education Ministry caves! “Hapless when confronted by…demands on the part of parents”; “It’s best to adapt to [the trend] rather than fight it”; “It’s impossible to oppose such a demand, even if I don’t believe in it”? C’mon, EdMin and Principal, grow some balls!

How about informing the parents of what the experts say: “In Canada, for example, no advantage was found in pupils who started in lower grades compared to those who did so at the age of 12, and who very quickly catch up to that which their colleagues reached at an earlier age. In the end, they reach the same point." That’s coming from Hebrew University’s Professor Ilit Olstein.

What bothers me even more is the EdMin’s hypocrisy: They preach the importance of learning Arabic, yet invest in English, the latter which is so pervasive and ubiquitous, no kid could possibly avoid learning it unless s/he’s being homeschooled by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

Not so with Arabic, which should be started in third grade. Kids need two years to master literacy in their mother tongue, then a new language can be added every two years thereafter. If any language should get priority, it’s Arabic, which they will not learn simply by tuning in to cable, satellite, and a steady diet of Disney.

This irrational drive to push English is simply a status chase, plus it disses the Arab public. Where are all the English-worshipping parents when push comes to shove in the discourse on coexistence? To the English-worshippers: Put your middle-class money where your mouths are and push for Arabic language instruction.

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