University of Leicester
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The trend for English for Young Learners (EYL) in Grades 1 and 2 in Israel: Critical Discourse Analysis

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posted on 2010-07-16, 12:29 authored by Rivka Carmel
The English language enjoys a growing status in Israeli society (Spolsky & Shohamy, 1999; Stavans & Narkiss, 2001, 2003). This has resulted in a steady growth in teaching of English for young learners (EYL) in schools and in an official recommendation for teaching EYL in Grades 1 and 2 nationwide. This educational initiative seems a socio-cultural phenomenon, shaped by external forces of globalisation and socio-political trends (Crystal, 1997, 2003; Pennycook, 1994; Graddol, 2006) affecting and reflecting people's identities (Norton, 1997,2000; Norton Peirce, 1995), social practices and ideologies. Critical discourse analysis is used as the theoretical framework and analytical tool (Gee 1999,2005) for the examination and analysis of discourses mobilised by parents, teachers, position-holders and pupils, for the ways in which they enact their identity ('ways of being') and construe the hybrid Discourse of EYL. Analysis of 33 in-depth semi-structured interviews and samples of published texts reveal a range of commonsense dominant Discourses such as the `Discourse of consumerism', the Discourse of the `good, Jewish/Israeli parents' and the `Discourse of Americanisation and internationalisation' to which the actors involved wish to belong. Findings illuminate that the forces behind the promotion of EYL seem to be driven by social, ideological and political concerns rather than pedagogical ones. The Discourse of EYL (and the D/discourses from which it is construed) seems to have a regulating effect on social, educational decisions, schools' policy and classroom practices, and the distribution of goods, shaping people's everyday life. There is evidence for the possibility that people in Israel (parents in particular) project themselves, with hopes and desire, into an idealised, abstract, global world of `knowing English' in which EYL plays a major part. Findings highlight the ways in which the attitude of Jews in Israel towards learning languages is a marker of their identity.



Gieve, Simon

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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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