Elana Shohamy + Michal Tannenbaum

Elana Shohamy + Michal Tannenbaum

Tel Aviv University
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Elana Shohamy is a professor emerita of Multilingual Education at Tel Aviv University where she teaches and researches various issues of multilingualism as they relate to language testing, language policy, immigration, linguistic landscapes from a perspective of criticality and social justice.

Michal Tannenbaum is a professor and the head of the Program for Multilingual Education in the School of Education at Tel Aviv University. Her research interest and teaching areas include linguistic patterns of minority groups, psychological and emotional aspects of immigration, multilingual educational policy, intergroup relations and exploration of meeting points between language issues and arts.

Talk Information:

A New Multilingual Educational Policy in Israel: The role of research as a contributing factor
April 4, 2022 | 10:00 AM

In 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Education decided to fund a new project aimed at promoting a new multilingual education (MLE) policy in Israel, partly as an outcome of more than two decades of advocacy for expanding the language repertoire of Israeli students (Tannenbaum and Shohamy, 2022) . As the developers of this new policy, we decided to two unique features: The first is the ‘engaged language policy’ approach, according to which schools create their language policies according to their demographic profiles and school visions; the second is the use of empirical studies addressing pivotal questions to be integrated into the new MLE policy. The results of these studies and their contributions to the new policy will be addressed in this presentation. Our study of teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards multilingualism in schools provided us with an overview of the current situation and indicated possible obstacles to be overcome in introducing the policy in schools. A crucial further study on multilingual testing provided new methods of ML assessment. Exploring the use of languages in EFL classrooms indicated how to utilize the full language repertoires of pupils. From a study on shared education of Jews and Arabs learning English together we gained insights into the value of creating interpersonal connections in a context of conflict. Based on a study on heritage programs in schools we developed recommendations to improve current curricula. Lastly, our study of pupils learning through linguistic landscape showed the value of this method for developing multilingual awareness. Together, these studies provide important guidelines for future implementations of the major components of the MLE policy. In this presentation we will briefly describe the studies and the central findings of each, and how they contributed to the design of the new educational language policy.

For further reading:

Shohamy, E., Tannenbaum, M., & Gani, A. (2022). Bi/multilingual testing for bi/multilingual students: Policy, equality, justice, and future challenges. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2022.2062665

Tannenbaum, M., Shohamy, E. & Inbar-Lourie, O. Advocacy strategies for a new multilingual educational policy in Israel. Lang Policy (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-022-09616-5