Marsha – Israel
I am an American who has been teaching English in Israel for 22 years. My work is very challenging and rewarding as most children in Israel strive to learn English.
Last year I received a job in the gifted program at Ein Ganim Elementary School. It was the first year that the children in this unique program were at this school. My school is one of five schools in the whole country that offers this special project. Children that participate in the program come from schools across the entire city. I realized it would take a tremendous amount of effort and investment on my part. It was a learning process for everyone that the program includes.
Normally, according to the Ministry of Education, regular classes start to acquire English as a second language in the fourth grade. However, schools begin English in the third grade. Teachers teach the oral skills through games, songs, drama, and visual aids. The written skills are usually taught at a later stage after the reading stages.
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The gifted program includes three classes: fourth, fifth, and sixth graders who study together as one unit from the third grade until they finish high school in the twelfth grade. Each class contains up to 25 pupils.
Israeli authors usually write the textbooks we use in Israel, although it is possible to purchase books at teachers’ centers from other publishers from almost anywhere in the world. Since parents have the responsibility of buying children their books, it would be too expensive to buy materials from abroad. Although many teachers purchase additional materials, it would be a burden on the parents.
Regular classes in the fourth grade normally begin to acquire basic English at the age of nine, since it is mandatory to begin in the fourth grade. Teachers put a tremendous amount of effort into reading and writing skills. It usually takes a year.
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Teaching the gifted children is so different from a regular class of children. After ten lessons my fourth graders were all reading fluently. Their capabilities amazed me so much that I began to teach the fifth grade curriculum and, believe it or not, at the end of the year they had also succeeded in completing that too! It has truly been a real joy working with them and I hope to help them advance as much as possible.
Gifted children are normally very creative and especially talented in their oral skills. I began to take advantage of these skills by using songs and drama. These are two excellent ways to encourage all children, especially gifted ones. They particularly enjoyed songs by the Beatles, and they acquired many skills through songs, such as vocabulary and grammatical structures. More importantly, they learned about different cultures through the music and expanded their horizons in many areas. I can even say their oral fluency improved tremendously.
At our school, children also have access to the computer and so do I. They love using the Internet and it has contributed so much to many of our lessons. As an English teacher, I feel fortunate that I am able to take advantage of the marvelous free lessons from onestopenglish and additional sites which are excellent and most effective. The knowledge that can be gained is endless, and at the same time a regular boring lesson becomes more enjoyable and delightful for the children.
The pay in Israel depends on the teacher’s qualifications. Teachers are encouraged to attend workshops and this may contribute to enlarging a certain percentage of their salary. However, for the last few years there is a lack of English teachers and the Ministry of Education is trying to encourage people to enter the teaching profession.
Everyone is aware of how important it is to know English. The whole world revolves around English as an international language. Children should be given the opportunities to stay on their own paths of excellence. Since English is a very prestigious subject within the Israeli curriculum, it is vital to expose these children to a variety of opportunities for success.
It is my belief that this program for the gifted might become a tremendous asset to Israeli society and Israeli education. It has helped me to become a better teacher. I feel blessed in teaching such children.
I would like to thank onestopenglish.com for the marvellous lessons. I am sincerely grateful.
Shalom and greetings from Israel.
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