Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pre-season talks

{quickly flips through the blog and discovers, with some surprise, that the topic of English classes for dovrei Anglit (literally, English speakers) hasn’t yet been discussed}

Nearly a week into the new school year?

If you’re an Anglo parent of elementary school students, you know what that means.

Yup, that’s right.

It’s time for the annual dovrei Anglit negotiations to begin.

Because as we’re all aware, just because the school offered DAC (=dovrei Anglit classes) for our kids last year, that’s clearly no guarantee that it’ll do so this year.

Moreover, just because all the relevant parties had computed the cost, the number of English speakers per class, and the number of hours per week last year, that’s also no guarantee that the same calculations will continue to apply this year.

And hence, the negotiations.

Of course, in a handful of predominantly Anglo communities, the DAC are par for the course.

Indeed, in some neighborhoods (yes, I’m looking at you, RBS…) where the vast majority of the kids speak English, not only do the schools – partially or even fully - subsidize the DAC, but they start on (gasp!) the very. same. day. as the regular English classes. (Shocking, isn’t it…)

But in most locations, the DAC require a significant financial outlay on the parents’ part and, as noted above, mean that the parents have to spend the first week of each school year haggling with the school and reinventing the DAC wheel. (That’s strange! These same kids spoke English in 5th grade, and now, look at that, they still speak English in 6th grade! What are the odds?!)

So, why do we bother, you ask?

Well, the reasons vary from family to family, but basically, most Anglo parents feel that the classes serve as a [relatively] simple way to give our kids an advantage later on in life.

Not to mention the fact that it’s kind of ridiculous for them to sit there, watching their classmates break their teeth as they dutifully repeat, “My name is ____. What is your name? This is a banana. The banana is yellow.

Admittedly, some English-speaking kids think this is very amusing, but others find it to be extremely annoying.

But either way, it’s a huge waste of time. (One year, together with a friend, one of the Shiputzim kids spent the first week of school – before the negotiations ended and the DAC finally began – painstakingly drawing a detailed map of the school…)

Furthermore, the teachers don’t want the English speakers in their regular English classes. For under such circumstances, even the most well-behaved child will disturb the rest of the class. (See: the aforementioned mapmaking session…)

Not that the DAC teachers have it easy either.

Because, inevitably, the students range from straight-off-the-NBN-flight new olim to veteran Heblish-speakers with thick Israeli accents…


Feel free to use the comment section to vent share your DAC experiences.


  1. Interesting . . . I have to ask my sister if she goes through this.

  2. I taught dovrei anglit classes (a dozen years ago) at a religious public school in a mixed Israeli/Anglo community. It was my first ever teaching job. I had no credentials, no education degree, no teaching skills or experience at all. The principal hired me because "you seem to be a nice person, and you obviously speak English well".
    To the parents of my former students: I'm so sorry that I took your money. I tried my best, but I didn't do a very good job teaching your children.

  3. When my daughter was in third grade there were no DAC classes (English started in third grade, but DAC only started in 4th. Of course) so she had to learn with the regular class. She came home saying "Van, two, tree..." I always say the only thing she learned that year was how to speak English with an Israeli accent.

  4. My oldest son perfected aerodynamic paper airplane making during the start of the year a few years ago - his teacher was then convinced that perhaps she ought to spend a few minutes photocopying pages out of an 8th grade israeli english textbook for him to work on instead.

    My kids are the token dovrei anglit kids in their class so that is the best we can hope fo - a teacher that will at least give them something to do in class. This year, the teacher seems particularly on the ball as when she met the 4th graders for the first time, she immediately informed my son that he will actually need to do work this year - she knows who he is and handed him a worksheet as an intro test. (Last year he perfected his oragami skills)

    We are now getting to start the battle with the middle school for my 7th grader who is the token dover anglit for the school. Though he's actually proudly told me that he'd like to work on his art skills this year seeing as they don't have regularly scheduled art class *sigh* :)

  5. Laura - As I noted in the post, unless the vast majority of the students are English speakers, the DAC are usually one of the principal's lowest priorities...

    Raizy - LOL! :-)

    Malke - "Van, two, tree..."
    Now I know how she became such a math genius BA"H... :-)

    Anonymous - I've found that the situation improves dramatically once the kids get to junior high school and - even more so - high school. Not only do the schools make all the necessary arrangements, but in one high school, the parents don't have to pay at all!

  6. I deeply sympathize and wish you good luck!


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