Language in Israeli society and education

Bernard Spolsky, Elana Shohamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Depending on their language ideologies, countries are likely to develop different concerns for language-education policy. Countries with a monolingual ideology, which may ignore the multilingual reality, will be concerned with correctness and normativism. A country that recognizes two or three languages as equally important, or countries that recognize multilingual complexity, will need first to determine the status of each. While Israel is historically and actually multilingual, the strength of the monolingual ideology used to effect the revitalization of Hebrew has led to downplaying the claims of other languages, even the rights of the autochthonous second official language, Arabic. However, the inexorable penetration of English as a world language into Israeli society, the major effects of 600,000 Russian speakers arriving in the last few years, and the slow changes brought about by the ongoing peace process all worked to encourage the development of a new multilingual ideology while presenting pragmatic pressures encouraging acceptance of diversity. It is this changed atmosphere that has led the recent Ministry of Education to a policy for language education in Israeli schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-114
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number137
StatePublished - 1999


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