Raising Bilingual Children in Israel: Challenges & Solutions

A mother and her son engage in online English lessons with Novakid.

In Israel, a country with a population of about nine million, multilingualism is a common aspect of daily life. Many families have bilingual parents where one parent speaks English and the other speaks Hebrew. Despite the efforts of the educational system, Israeli children face significant challenges in learning and mastering English.

Even though English is a mandatory subject starting from the 3rd grade, and passing an English exam is required for a high school diploma, Hebrew remains the dominant language spoken at school and among friends. As a result, children often respond in Hebrew even when spoken to in English at home, which complicates their English learning process. In addition to Hebrew and English, Israel is home to a variety of languages, including Russian, French, Arabic, and more, adding to the linguistic richness and complexity of the society.

Fluency in English is crucial for children to access more opportunities in the global economy. Many parents around the world are turning to online English classes to support their children in learning a second language. As a parent committed to ensuring my children learn English and can use it effectively in the future, the greatest challenge was accessing quality education and providing services that best suited their learning needs.

When I was a child, learning English was often boring and ineffective. Finding a strong English tutor for my eldest son proved to be difficult. Offline, students were taught by other students, and online services were primarily aimed at adults. Moreover, there is a significant shortage of qualified English teachers and tutors in Israel, making private lessons both rare and extremely expensive for many families. However, I noticed that e-learning solutions for children were being pioneered in the Chinese market and wondered why similar resources weren’t available elsewhere.

This curiosity led to the creation of Novakid. Along with my son’s English teacher and my colleague with IT expertise, we decided to build an online English learning platform that parents like us could rely on. We aimed to provide an engaging, fun, and effective learning experience for children, incorporating games and animations to make the language come to life. We designed the program to encourage self-learning, with students taking about 50% of their learning online through interactive activities.

How Parents Benefit

Parents often hesitate to take on the challenge of teaching their children English due to concerns about their own language skills. They may worry about their accent, limited vocabulary, or feel awkward speaking English in public. However, parents also benefit from their children’s learning journey. As they join their child in learning, their own confidence in the language grows. They learn new vocabulary and become more comfortable using tools like Google Translate and speaking English in public.

How Children Benefit

Children learning English online benefit from fun and engaging lessons that open up opportunities in the global network. Additionally, learning a second language enhances cognitive abilities and academic performance. Research has shown that bilingual children have unusually active prefrontal areas of the cerebral cortex, which are responsible for verbal fluency and adaptability. Bilingual children also process information more critically and are better at filtering out distractions, which is connected to their upbringing in a multilingual environment.

Learning a second language also boosts creativity and confidence. Studies have shown that bilingual individuals have better pitch perception and are more self-aware, helping them form relationships with different people and feel more confident communicating with the world. Furthermore, bilingualism has been linked to a lower rate of dementia in old age, highlighting the long-term cognitive benefits.

Tips On What Your Online School Should Offer

To ensure the best learning experience for your child, consider the following when choosing an online English platform:

  1. Home-based English lessons with flexible scheduling.
  2. Options to choose between American and UK English dialects.
  3. Courses that complement the child’s existing learning, delivered in a fun and engaging way.
  4. Availability of both one-on-one and group lessons.
  5. Stable technology and affordable teaching sessions.

Mastering English can open up a world of academic and career opportunities for your child, equipping them with the skills needed to thrive in a globalized world.

About the Author
Max Azarov is the co-founder and CEO of Novakid, an online AI-platform that provides personalized English learning for kids ages 4-12 through gamification. He is a serial entrepreneur with successful cloud-related ventures. He's held positions at LG Electronics, Google, Cyber Vision and Digital 5.
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