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

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.\ud 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.\ud 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

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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  1. about your decision to introduce English in Gradesl and 2. Why did you decide to do it?
  2. Are there political issues involved? If so what are they?
  3. Are you content with this distribution of hours? If yes, explain. If not, explain why not. How would you alter it given optimal conditions?
  4. are you involved in your child's school work, lessons etc?
  5. As a teacher, have you encountered a growing demand for learning English amongst your pupils and or their parents? If so give examples and explain.
  6. believe there is competition in the market? If so, what type of competition?
  7. (2003). Creating and implementing a language policy in the Israeli educational system', in
  8. (1994). Criteria for assessing interpretive validity in qualitative research',
  9. do you think the English language is important? Why? For whom?
  10. Do you think these concerns represent other officials in the Ministry?
  11. Does your child use English in his daily life? If so, give examples.
  12. English teachers are there in the school? Just as a comparison, how many mathematics teachers are there?
  13. Father,
  14. Generally speaking, is it important to know English? Why? What are the reasons?
  15. (2002). Globalisation and Language Teaching, London and doi
  16. had any affect on your decision to introduce
  17. Have parents shown interest re English lessons in general? If yes, what kinds of issues do they bring up?
  18. Have there been any direct or indirect requests from parents as to when English language lessons should be introduced?
  19. Have you been offered other programmes or initiatives for English for Young Learners in the past? If yes, what were they?
  20. Home-room teacher for grade 2
  21. How did you come to the decision to take part in it? Was it your personal decision or did you involve other members of staff or parents?
  22. How did you find out about this particular programme?
  23. How did/do the parents in this school react to this innovation in their children's class?
  24. How do you think the pupils feel? doi
  25. How is it implemented? Could you share some examples?
  26. How many hours a week are allotted for English lessons in each grade level in this school?
  27. How would you define your own English language abilities? Good, fair, weak? Explain. How do you feel about it?
  28. How would you describe the spread of EYL
  29. If young children grow up knowing English, how would that benefit them?
  30. If your child could grow up knowing English, how would that benefit him/her?
  31. In order of preference, how important is the English language, in your opinion?
  32. In relation to other subject-matters, where would you place English in order of importance?
  33. In what ways do you think he/she will benefit from this?
  34. In what ways is the English language related to people's lives?
  35. In your opinion what are the reasons for the spread?
  36. in your opinion, are the reasons for this new idea?
  37. In your opinion, as a teacher, is it important to teach English in grades 1 and 2?
  38. In your opinion, at what age do you think English should be taught in school?
  39. In your opinion, why are they interested?
  40. Introducing this programme means that English is being taught to all the pupils in the school. What does this mean to you?
  41. invest in any way, financially or otherwise, in promoting English with your children? Why? Explain, Give examples.
  42. Is the knowledge of the English language considered important in your family, in your society?
  43. Is there a special committee or a professional body addressing the issue of EYL in grades 1 and 2? If so, could you tell me about it? Who is on the committee?
  44. Is there anything else you would like to add or say on the issues we have been discussing? Thank you for your cooperation Appendix 5: Interview guide for home-room teachers and English teachers English with your children? Explain. Give examples.
  45. Is there anything else you would like to add or say on the issues we have been discussing? Thank you for your time and cooperation. Appendix 7: Interview guide for Inspector Questions: not, why not?
  46. Is your child exposed to English in everyday life? What kind of exposure? Give examples.
  47. know of any other programmes in the market? If so, which ones?
  48. (2000). Language Death, Cambridge: doi
  49. Many people believe in "the younger the better" with regard to learning English. What do you think they base their opinion on?
  50. Meital Home-Room teacher for grade 2
  51. more about the content of the programme. What were the considerations?
  52. Mrs Mother, doi
  53. Now that the EYL in grades 1 and 2 programme is being implemented in schools, what issues, if any are of special concern to you, as the chief inspector?
  54. Now that you have become part of the programme, what are your reactions to this? How do you feel about it?
  55. Now that your child is learning English in grade 2, what are your expectations? doi
  56. Orna Home-Room teacher for grade 2
  57. (2000). The development of bilingualism in an immigrant community',
  58. The expression "the younger the better": Do you agree? Disagree? What is your opinion?
  59. (1997). The myth of objective transcript: transcribing as a situated act', doi
  60. (1997). The negotiation of teachers' socio-cultural identities and practices in post-secondary EFL classrooms', doi
  61. (1996). The New Work Order: Behind the Language of the New Capitalist, doi
  62. The programme is rather costly. How do you manage it, in view of the serious budget cut-backs in schools?
  63. The recommendation whereby EYL in grades 1 and 2 is taught by `home-room' teachers versus professional English teachers is a new one. Who was the initiator behind this? How do you feel about it?
  64. (1989). The role of language planning in second language acquisition', in doi
  65. The younger the better". Do you agree?
  66. think children benefit from learning
  67. think EYL in grades 1 and 2 is a passing trend? If so, why, or why not?
  68. think getting an early start in English is a good thing?
  69. think parents have influence over school decisions? If so in what ways?
  70. think parents have influence over school decisions? If so, in what ways?
  71. think that getting an early start in English, in grades 1 and 2, is a good thing?
  72. think that if young children learn English in grades 1 and 2 their English knowledge will be better in the long-run? If so, in what ways?
  73. think the children in your classes use English in their everyday life? In what circumstances? Do you think they are exposed to English?
  74. think there is a connection between knowing English, opportunities for young children to learn English and success in older life?
  75. think there is social or any other pressure for learning English? How does it take place?
  76. think there is social or other type of pressure for starting to learn English at a young age in schools? How does it take place?
  77. think they had influence over the decision to introduce EYL in this school?
  78. think this initiative takes place in other schools? If so, where?
  79. use English in your everyday life or in your workplace? Explain, give examples.
  80. Were you involved in the schools' decision to introduce English lessons in grades 1 and 2? If so in what ways?
  81. What are the advantages and disadvantages to this trend? doi
  82. What are your expectations from the home-room teachers? From the English teachers?
  83. What are your expectations from the pupils? doi
  84. What are your expectations from this? doi
  85. What are your opinions regarding the ways in which the programme is implemented?
  86. What are your personal concerns regarding the spread of EYL in Israel?
  87. What can you say about the study of Arabic in your school?
  88. What can you say about your own knowledge of English?
  89. What could be some implications on the people in society?
  90. What could be some implications on the school system?
  91. What do you think about the idea of `home-room teachers'
  92. What do you think about the idea of home-room teachers teaching English to their pupils versus professionally trained English language teachers? Do you think it is better?
  93. What do you think about the schools' new initiative to introduce EYL
  94. What do you think are the reasons for the `trend' for EYL? doi
  95. what do you think are the reasons for their demand? Where is this demand coming from?
  96. What do you think of the axiom: "the younger the better"? Do you agree? Do you disagree? doi
  97. What is the basis for your impression?
  98. What is your personal opinion of this initiative?
  99. What is your personal position regarding English in grades 1 and 2? Do you think it is effective?
  100. What is your professional opinion about them?
  101. What is your'gut feeling'
  102. What other concerns are being voiced?
  103. what type of pressure is it? Where does it come from? What are the reasons for this? What does it mean, in your opinion?
  104. What would you say about your own knowledge of the English language?
  105. Why have you decided to introduce English in Grade I and 2 this year?
  106. Would you promote the study of EYL with your own children?
  107. Would you send your child to private English lessons?
  108. Would you send your children to private English lessons?

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