US Embassy funds program in Israeli school for English exam

Afula high school implements program dedicated to strengthening English studies for students who took three or fewer study units in the subject.

May 16, 2013 02:49
2 minute read.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro at the Herzliya Conference, March 13, 2013.

Dan Shapiro370. (photo credit: Courtesy of The Herzliya Conference)

As high schoolers across the country sat to take the English part of the matriculation exam on Monday, students at the AMIT high school in Afula went to the test with greater confidence than ever before.

Last January, the high school implemented a program dedicated to strengthening English studies for students who took three or fewer study units in the subject.

The program, which is funded by the US Embassy, was launched in January and requires students to stay at school after their usual hours for two additional hours of English lessons twice a week.

“A significant number of children arrive at the matriculation exam unprepared,” Principal of AMIT Afula High School, Boaz Giladi told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“A lot of them come from the haredi education system and lack basic skills,” he added, “but there is also the fact that there is a lack of English teachers in Israel, or in the North at least.”

Giladi explained that beyond teaching English for the exam, the project – entitled “We Believe in You” – also involves lessons about the language’s cultural elements.

“We want to teach them about England and its royalty and also about baseball, softball and the Super Bowl,” he said. “We want them to understand that English is not just grammar.”

The principal said that students display a strong will to strengthen their English and understand its importance.

“English is an obstacle of the matriculation exam for many kids, Giladi told the Post. “Sometimes, English is the part that makes them fail the exam.”

Students participating in the program, he said, have also shown increased motivation in other subjects. Next year, the school is expected to expand the program from two groups of students to four.

“I hope that English becomes a subject students are not afraid of,” Giladi said, “So that they are not scared to write in English, read in English, deal with English.”

During a visit to the school earlier this month, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro said the US Embassy is proud to sponsor the program and congratulated participating students on their progress.

“The best thing to do, besides prepare for your test is not to study for the test, it’s to read English and to find opportunities to use English in the most normal and natural setting,” the American diplomat told them.

“You don’t have to be perfect to make yourself understood, you can make mistakes, it’s ok.”

In the past two years, the US Embassy has collaborated with AMIT on several educational projects, cooperating with the English debate team at the AMIT Oriya Ulpena High School for Girls, involving itself in a musical program at the AMIT “Chavruta” Yeshiva in Ra’anana and providing financial support for the AMIT Young Leadership program.

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