Prof. Penny Ur of the Oranim Academic College of Education was awarded with Queen Elizabeth II’s Order of the British Empire on Saturday for her services to the English language.

“At first, when I got the call from the British ambassador and he told me the news, I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” Ur, who specializes in English, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview on Sunday.

The call came about a month ago. Ur was asked to keep the award secret until the information was released to the press on Saturday.

“It’s a great honor and very flattering,” she added. “I’ve been receiving messages of congratulation all day, it’s very heartwarming. My family and friends are very happy as well.”

Originally from England, Ur made aliya in 1967 with a degree from Oxford University in hand, and lived in Kibbutz Mahanayim in the Upper Galilee.

“When I got there, people told me ‘Oh great, you speak English and you are a teacher, you can be an English teacher,’ and that’s what I eventually started doing,” she explained.

Ur quickly developed a love for teaching and during the course of her career, with over 30 years of experience, she produced numerous research studies on teaching the English language.

These studies later turned into a number of books published by Cambridge University Press on language-teaching methodology, fluency and accuracy in language teaching as well as the development of English as a lingua franca.

“It feels good to have such recognition for my work,” Ur said. “It’s great to see that my work is worth something and that people appreciate it.”

“It’s still hard for me to measure how much I deserve it or not. Sometimes I’m thinking there are so many other influential people in the field, why me and not them?” To her, English is a basic necessary tool.

“Everyone needs to know English to advance, communicate and achieve things beyond the everyday tasks,” she said.

“As time passes, this becomes more and more important.”

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