Social tuning of illiterate adult immigrants through the selective connecting of Amharic and Hebrew languages and cultures

Anna Osmolovsky

Ministry of Education, Department of Adult Education, Haifa,Israel


The immigrants from Ethiopia bring with them to Israel a very different and often astonishing vision of reality. In addition many of the adults are illiterate in Amharic, their mother tongue. For them to integrate into Israeli society requires a complicated process going beyond learning Hebrew words and phrases.

This paper will describe and discuss the project carried out by the Haifa Division of Adult Education aimed at providing the new immigrants from Ethiopia with the basic communication skills in real life situations in their new social, cultural and linguistic environment. The task at hand entails combination of teaching L2, Hebrew, to those illiterate in Amharic, with emphasizing the relevant connections between the Amharic and Hebrew languages, as well as the Ethiopian and Israeli cultures and life styles in order to enable the immigrants to act appropriately and effectively in their new society.

The specific approach of the project emphasizes careful and thorough selection of elements on various micro and macro levels (e.g. pedagogical, perceptional, psychological, linguistic, orthographic, graphic, semantic, semiotic, and material) optimal for this particular sociolinguistic situation. The success of the project depends on the right combination and application of linguistic and cultural context and includes, among other things, the students moving around the class as well as manipulating and moving the objects (teaching material) rather than learning only from verbal material.

Session: POSTERS: Focus on variation, migration, minority languages
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 12:45-15:45
room: foyer