Asymmetries and inequalities in the teaching of Arabic and Hebrew in the Israeli educational system

Iair G. Or, Elana Shohamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this comparative study is to detect symmetries and asymmetries in the status of two major languages taught in Israel: Hebrew in Arabic-medium schools and Arabic in Hebrew-medium schools. The teaching of these two languages offers a unique case of language education policy where categories of ideology, policy, curriculum, methods, and assessment intersect. For Arabs, Hebrew is perceived as a major tool for upward mobility, but findings show they are alienated by a curriculum embedded in the hegemonic culture and ideology, with which they can hardly identify. For Jews, Arabic is a language of low prestige, and their motivation is hindered by a curriculum which focuses mostly on formal language and security needs, and not on communicative, interactive skills. Concluding the paper, we propose an outline for the creation of alternative teaching environments that defy existing power structures and reinvent inclusive ecologies for the learning of both languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Arabic and Hebrew in Israel
  • Comparative education
  • Language education policy
  • Linguistic justice and equality
  • Symmetry


Dive into the research topics of 'Asymmetries and inequalities in the teaching of Arabic and Hebrew in the Israeli educational system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this