Arab Students Teach Jewish Children Arabic
A.M.A.L. is the Hebrew acronym for “Spoken Arabic for All”. The A.M.A.L. program was conceived in the framework of the British Council’s “Intercultural Navigators” program and is co-sponsored by “The Association for the Promotion of Spoken Arabic” (A.P.S.A.) and “Perach” (Israel’s national mentoring program). Since 2010, Arab students taking part in the project have taught spoken Arabic and Arab culture in Jewish elementary schools. Currently, 20 students receive scholarships, for four hours a week of teaching in the schools. Hundreds of elementary school pupils, in 7 schools in the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa area are taking part in the program.
The program aims to replace the popularly accepted equation, Arabic=Arabs=enemy, with a new equation, Arabic=Arabs=people. In this case, the people are regular everyday Arab students, future doctors, lawyers and engineers, reaching out to young Israeli Jews, with the hope of changing perceptions and uprooting stereotypes. Our program makes the linguistic leap a bit easier, by having it done at a young age, with the help of young native speakers that the pupils can relate to. The linguistic bridge in turn makes the formation of intercultural relationships easier, by shortening the psychological distance between the Hebrew speaking center and the Arabic speaking periphery.
In addition to exposing Jewish children to Arabic and to Arabs, the program offers Arab students a unique opportunity to integrate into a Hebrew speaking organization. By working with A.M.A.L., the students teach in a Jewish school, with Jewish staff and pupils, with all the challenges, complexities and opportunities this entails. A.M.A.L. provides the professional and personal support that is needed to learn from this experience and maximize its potential benefits. For most of A.M.A.L’s students, being accepted as equals in a Jewish school is an empowering achievement.
Our vision is a more tolerant and open minded Israeli society, in which Jews that don’t speak Arabic are the exception, not the rule. We see ourselves as citizens of a modern liberal society, in which Arabic and Hebrew, as well as Arabs and Jews, live side by side in peace and common respect.
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