Arabic Instruction in Israel

Lessons in Conflict, Cognition and Failure


In Arabic Instruction in Israel Allon J. Uhlmann confronts two conundrums, namely the persistently poor level of Arabic proficiency among Jewish Arabic students and teachers, and the traumatic alienation of Arab students by university Arabic grammar instruction.

These are not aberrations but rather direct, albeit unintended, systemic consequences of the field of Arabic instruction, where Jewish students encounter Arabic as a dead, hostile language; Jewish hegemony devalues native Arabic proficiency; and Arab students are locked into a fractured educational trajectory – encountering two alienating and mutually unintelligible grammars of Arabic at school and at university.

By tracing systemic variabilities in cognition and learning Uhlmann exposes hitherto misrecognised dynamics that hinder Arabic instruction in Israel, thereby offering new avenues for possible change.

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Biographical Note

Allon J. Uhlmann, PhD, Anthropology (2002, Australian National University), is a research manager and policy analyst with the Australian Public Service. He is the author of Family, Gender and Kinship in Australia (Ashgate, 2006).

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1 Conundrums of Arabic Instruction in Israel
The Origins of This Research Project
Methodological Disclosures

2 The Field of Arabic Instruction in Israel: Underachievement in the Jewish Sector
Language Instruction in the Jewish Sector—English versus Arabic
Arabic as Cultural Capital
Arabic Educational Policy and Practice

3 The Tertiary Education System and the Double Alienation of Israeli Arabs from Arabic
The Backdrop: Arabs and Arabic-Grammar Instruction
Tertiary Education and the Alienation of Arabs from Arabic

4 A Cognitive Clash in the Classroom—The Incommensurability of Jewish and Arab Grammars of Arabic
A Lévy-Bruhlian Moment
The Sources
Lost in Simplification: The Light Hamza and the Meaning of Tenses
Mistranslation and the Different Construction of Nominal Sentences
Verb Morphology:Structuring Knowledge at Cross Purposes
Differences in Language Ideology and the Construction of Learning
Improbable Role Reversals
Systemic Incommensurability as Personal Failure

5 Arabic-Grammar Instruction: Systemic and Cognitive Implications
The Social Variability of Cognition, Scholarship and Learning
Circumscribed Freedom within the Field



All interested in Arabic language and grammar instruction; curricular design and educational policy; cognition across cultures; language policy and communal relations in Israel.