Survey: Israeli Arab Pupils Have Overwhelmingly Positive Attitude to Hebrew Studies

90 percent of Israeli Arab students consider it important to learn Hebrew, and 93 percent consider Hebrew fluency important to their future.

Yarden Skop
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File photo: Children at a school in Umm al-FahmCredit: Rami Shllush
Yarden Skop

The overwhelming majority of Israeli Arab pupils have a positive attitude to their Hebrew studies, according to a new survey released on Monday by the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education.

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said they enjoyed learning Hebrew, 90 percent thought it important to learn Hebrew and 93 percent said they understood that Hebrew fluency was important to their future.

Half of the pupils reported being exposed to Hebrew outside of school; 61 percent said they listen to Hebrew songs, 48 percent said they speak Hebrew outside the home; 46 percent said they read and wrote in Hebrew online and 43 percent said they watched Hebrew TV programs and movies. Only 39 percent said they read Hebrew stories.

Druze pupils do better at learning Hebrew than other Arabic-speaking pupils in Israel, the study found. On a test graded on a scale of 200-800, Druze pupils scored an average of 100 points higher than pupils in the Bedouin community, and nearly 40 points higher than other Israeli Arab pupils. In addition to the test, the research included a survey of 4,886 sixth-grade pupils and 311 Hebrew teachers in 195 Arabic-speaking schools in the Arab, Bedouin, and Druze sectors.

The study showed that girls did better on the test than boys, outscoring them 513 to 487, on average. Not surprisingly, there were also marked gaps between pupils from different socioeconomic backgrounds; pupils from wealthier families averaged a score of 574, compared to the 480 average for pupils from poor families.

Overall, Druze pupils were more likely to report exposure to Hebrew out of school than other Arab and Bedouin pupils, particularly on the Internet. Bedouin pupils were least likely to use Hebrew out of school.