Schools to emphasize ‘practical’ English skills in upcoming year

In other changes, special education schoolyear to be longer; Arab schools to begin teaching Hebrew in first grade.

Children on the first day of school in Jerusalem, 2014. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Children on the first day of school in Jerusalem, 2014.
The Education Ministry plans to concentrate efforts on English lessons in the next school year, Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee on Tuesday ahead of the new school year.
“Every Israeli child needs to be able to conduct a meaningful conversation in English,” Bennett said. “I want 100 percent of Israeli children to know to speak English, to write an email in English, to be accepted to any job. In the next 100 years, without English you don’t have a chance.”
Bennett, the son of immigrants from the US who is fluent in English, said English lessons would include “less Shakespeare, less literature, and more practical skills.”
The campaign to improve English skills will be modeled after the Education Ministry’s encouragement of students to study five units of mathematics.
Schools will have an additional 2,000 hours of English lessons, and there will be an emphasis on closing gaps between the periphery and the center of the country.
Bennett defended the government’s decision to cancel a law defunding haredi schools that do not teach the core curriculum, which was never implemented.
“Out of 440,000 haredi students, 40,000 are in institutions that are exempt from the core curriculum,” Bennett explained. “The law was never put into effect, and was only supposed to be implemented in 2018. I’m not part of those crying over a law that never went into effect. We’re working with haredi schools that want to teach five units of mathematics and English. The key to success in haredi education is not talking, it’s doing.”
Bennett also announced that the special education school year will be lengthened next year, until August 15, and there will be classes during the Tishrei holiday season.
The Education Ministry also plans to budget NIS 50m. toward transportation for Beduin children to schools in the Negev.
In addition, Bennett said that Arab-language schools will begin teaching Hebrew in first grade starting this year.