In the Israeli educational system, the study of Arabic in Jewish schools is compulsory in grades seven through grade nine (middle school) but not compulsory in elementary or high school. Teaching Arabic to Israeli pupils recognizes the importance of language as a cultural bridge between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel.
“Let’s Talk” a communicative Arabic program was developed by Merchavim (curriculum, class materials, student workbooks, teacher support, etc.) and delivered in Jewish elementary schools in central Israel, in full collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) over the years 2006-2017.
The objective of the program was to teach the Arabic language in a way that promoted interpersonal communication and familiarity with contemporary Arab culture as part of the strategy to advance shared society among Jews and Arabs in Israel. Studies have indicated the program’s success in shifting the opinions of students towards Arabic language and culture, Arab individuals, and shared society in Israel. Moreover, our research showed a lasting impact well after the completion of the program. The program also included the successful integration of Arab teachers into the schools.
Let’s Talk was supported by the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Arabic Supervisory department. The Teachers’ Guide, the pupils’ workbooks, and program textbooks, which were created specifically for the program by Merchavim, were approved for use by the MOE’s textbook section. Arab language teachers in the program received accompaniment and support from Merchavim to ensure their success and the success of the program. Evaluation studies conducted confirmed the impact and effectiveness of the program.
In early 2017, the MOE took its first steps towards recognizing the importance of programs such as Let’s Talk by announcing, via a formal directive, that the MOE would be taking responsibility for the communicative Arabic curriculum for elementary schools. The new implementation of the new curriculum marked the end of the Let’s Talk program and all accompanying materials, written and designed especially for the program in primary schools.
The MOE’s formalization of the communicative Arabic curriculum was a welcome step. Our goal is now to support the MOE’s new communicative Arabic curriculum in Jewish schools by producing new teaching materials (Teachers’ Guide, textbook, pupil workbook, and recorded Arabic conversations). The creation of these materials was done in collaboration with The Abraham Initiatives while providing training, support, and accompaniment to the Arab language teachers (Arab citizens).