Fewer than one-fifth of English teachers in Israel speak the language at a mother tongue level, a poll released this week revealed.
The study also found that just half of the English teachers working in Israel have a degree in English, and a strong majority of English teachers think the level of English teaching in the country is only “reasonable.”
The poll, conducted by the Youth Renewal Fund, an Israeli NGO that, according to its website, “seeks to empower students on the geographic and social periphery of Israel,” found that 50 percent of English teachers have an English degree and 25% of teachers learned English independently. Only 18% speak English at the mother tongue level, the Israel Hayom daily reported Tuesday.
A majority of teachers, 67%, said that the level of English instruction in Israel is at a “reasonable” level; 16% said it was at a “low” level and just 13% said it was at a “high” level.
English instruction is a core requirement in Israeli elementary and high schools, and most universities require a high level of the language for admittance.
Students typically begin learn to read and write in English beginning in the third grade.
Galit Toledeno-Harris, head of the Youth Renewal Fund, told the newspaper that proper knowledge of English is a key to social mobility and the survey results should “set off alarms.” She called for a government inquiry into English-language instruction and student achievement.
The poll results did indicate a certain dedication among teachers of English — a full 77% said they chose to be in the educational field because they love to teach, although only 32% said they felt “a sense of mission” in teaching English.