The Need for English for Israel's Haredi Community

The Haredi sector comprises 12% of the population in Israel. However, based on the rapid growth of this sector, by 2030 it is estimated that over 40% of the population of Israel will be Haredi. The Ultra-Orthodox community is characterized by low employment rates and severe poverty; hence, a low contribution to the economy. Today, the Ultra-Orthodox (ages 25-65) comprise 7% of the Israeli workforce, but only 44% of them work. In 20 years, Haredim will represent 18% of the workforce in Israel. This means that the issue of Haredi employment is a top priority, and requires an urgent response. English offers Haredim a competitive edge.

TALMA's Response

TALMA is taking an active response by supporting workforce integration, adult employability training, and educational access through English. Learn about our current programs as outlined below. Interested in working with TALMA to support workforce development and Haredi integration? Contact us here.

Business English @KamaTech

The Business English @ KamaTech program was established in 2018 by TALMA with assistance from the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel. In this program, TALMA instructors teach introductory and business-level English to Haredim at the KamaTech center in Bnei Brak.

Students are Haredi women and men whose job prospects or ability to grow within their current place of employment is dependent on gaining essential English skills in order to get hired or advance in their workplace.

 

In keeping with the needs of the Haredi community, separate group sessions
are offered to men and women. Classes are offered in a number of ways. Group classes of typically 1.5 hours are offered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis over the course of a four-month semester to groups of 15-20 people.

 

Personal one-on-one sessions are offered on an “as needed” basis, often helping students prepare for a special job interview or business presentation.

 

Intensive “boot camps” are group sessions customized to the needs of a specific company. For example, this past year the semiconductor company TowerJazz offered an intensive English course to its Haredi women employees over a period of some three months.

To date, some 400 Haredi women & men have benefitted from TALMA’s Business English program
@ KamaTech. This innovative program is another example of how TALMA is making a big difference in the lives of its target populations while strengthening the bonds of foreign teachers to Israel.

"We are happy to report that the COVID-19 pandemic did not adversely affect the Business English @ KamaTech program. After going virtual in April, the program has continued as

an online program with

no effect on enrollment."

-Moshe Friedman,

Co-founder & CEO of KamaTech

UltraCode Technical English Bootcamp

Ultra Code is a bootcamp training program for Haredi women from large seminaries (educational institutes for women) in Israel. The program is designed to help bridge the gap between the limited supply and the large demand for trained graduates required by large high-tech companies.

 

Students in the bootcamp learn through independent study and a “flipped classroom” method of learning.

 

The women study computer science and engineering through an online platform where they watch videos, do exercises, and take tests. At the end of the program, seminary graduates have the opportunity to join multinational companies.

 

Utilizing pre-recorded video lessons, TALMA’s English course provides these students the chance to learn higher level technical English, as well as vocabulary used in science and technology jobs. In addition to viewing 20-minute lessons, the students receive practice materials and take tests for monitoring progress. Office hours are also provided for private lessons and support during the course.

Haredi Teacher Training For K-12

TALMA staff are leading a revolutionary program that trains Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) educators to teach English as a core subject within Haredi schools. Established by TALMA in 2019 with assistance from

the Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, the program
currently serves teachers of grades 4-8 at over 30 Haredi schools in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. English classes are also offered to older students at yeshivot and community centers.

One of our team of three TALMA trainers is responsible for training typically one teacher per school. After their training, these teachers use a specially designed curriculum – with an emphasis on spoken English, relevant content, modern pedagogy and English songs – that is culturally appropriate. For example, children’s names used in texts reflect popular names in the Haredi communities, and graphics show children with kipot (yarmulkes). Teachers receive lesson plans, frontal instruction and weekly workshops where they share their experiences and learn from one another. TALMA also has hired a Haredi rabbi to serve as a cultural liaison.

The case of Beit Shemesh is especially interesting because the communities we work with there are quite restrictive regarding the content they will allow in their schools. Accordingly, we are constantly updating our curriculum to fit their needs. For example, some schools won’t allow us to use pre recorded songs in lessons; if they want to incorporate music, the teachers must teach the kids the melodies and words while providing their own accompaniment. By working closely with our teachers and exhibiting creativity in lesson planning, we are able to provide a curriculum that fits the needs of the various Beit Shemesh communities.

TALMA trainers have received invaluable guidance from Middlebury College in Vermont, whose Middlebury Language Schools program is considered one of the United States’ preeminent language learning institutions.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we recognized that many Haredi families do not possess home computers. As such, we created printed workbooks with family-oriented assignments to encourage the continued development of speaking skills and new vocabulary. These specially designed workbooks were then delivered to the homes of participating students.