Modern Hebrew as a Second Language in Public High Schools: Survey

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Welcome! Thank you for participating in the Modern Hebrew as a Second Language in Public High Schools survey. Public schools in cities across the U.S. offer Hebrew courses and Los Angeles should be next.

This survey will help measure the level of interest in Hebrew courses for public schools among Greater Los Angeles area students and their parents.

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Hebrew is a language both ancient and modern. With an unbroken literary tradition going back more than 3,000 years, it is the premier example of a classical language revived as the living language of a world community and the idiom of their daily lives. Learning Hebrew provides great potential for connecting people to the life and culture of Israel, but that is not all. The unique historical phenomenon of Hebrew’s revitalization, modernization, and secularization, as well as its transformation into a spoken cultural medium, offers meaningful opportunities for students to explore the evolution and purposes of a language and its function in building and sustaining communities worldwide.

Hebrew is becoming increasingly relevant in the world of international business, and mastery of the Hebrew language has pragmatic benefits as Israel’s influence in world markets continues to expand. Israel has the third-largest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange, and is recognized worldwide at the cutting-edge of industry developing the technology of the future. Israel is a giant when it comes to innovation: a global leader in R&D spending and VC investment, and home to global R&D centers for the likes of Google, Apple, and IBM. In light of Israel’s growing influence and prominence, fluency in Hebrew and modern secular Israeli culture is a profound asset for students’ futures.

Hebrew is also a desirable language to know for those pursuing a career in government and in areas such as diplomacy, intelligence, and the military. Various departments and agencies of the United States government consider Hebrew an important language, and several offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing studies in this and other non-Western languages considered critical to U.S. security.

By engaging in comparisons between their language and the language they are studying, and between their culture and the culture of the people who speak the language they are studying, students can develop not only a greater understanding of their own language and culture—but also of language and culture in the broadest sense.

“When students study another language and participate in communicative interactions, the actual experiential dimension makes such an understanding more real,” says the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century document. “By struggling with how to express particular meanings in a second language, how to encode them linguistically, and how to be sensitive to norms of politeness in another culture, students gain awareness of the nature of language itself.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others. Being able to communicate with someone in his or her language is an incredible (matanah מתנה) gift. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives. Knowing the language makes you a local no matter where you are, opening up your world literally and figuratively. You will be shaped by communities. You will be humbled by the kindness of strangers. You will build lifelong friendships. For these reasons, today, it is more important than ever to bring foreign language education into our schools.
(Source: 972 Education – Hebrew Language and Israeli Culture Instruction)

About this survey:

This survey is sponsored by the Israeli-American Civic Education Institute, the civic engagement and advocacy education partner of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network (“ICAN”). The questions included in the survey are designed to measure the number of students in a given geographical area that have an interest in taking Hebrew courses as part of their course of studies at their local public school. The results of the survey will be anonymized and will not include any personally identifiable information.

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