English Education Policy in Israel

Iair G. Or, Elana Shohamy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The English language education policy in Israel is shaped by the varying social meanings of the language throughout the country’s history. The chapter begins with a brief historical sketch that tracks the formation of these social meanings, from the British Mandate of Palestine, which imposed English as an official language (alongside Arabic and Hebrew), through the rise of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel, where English was excluded and regarded as the language of British imperialism, to the current state of affairs, in which American influence is strong and English is regarded as an asset in a globalized world. Implications of the prolonged Israeli-Arab conflict on the status of English in Israel are also considered. Following the historical sketch, aspects of the English language in Israeli society and education are discussed, including issues of social and economic inequality, exposure to English in the mass media, and minority populations with particular needs and difficulties such as Israeli Palestinian (Arab) students, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and immigrants. We conclude the chapter by discussing ways in which the Israeli educational system can address the multiple social meanings, uses, and manifestations of the language, as well as the specific needs and capabilities of different types of learners.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish Language Education Policy in the Middle East and North Africa
EditorsRobert Kirkpatrick
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783319467788
ISBN (Print)9783319467764, 9783319835839
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameLanguage Policy
ISSN (Print)1571-5361
ISSN (Electronic)2452-1027


  • Israel
  • Israeli Palestinians
  • Jews
  • Language ideology
  • Language in the mass media
  • Language policy
  • Migration
  • Religion
  • Ultra-Orthodox Jews


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