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Home > Arhiva > 2022 > Numar: 3 > The Progress of Social Skills among Israeli Primary School Pupils during their First Year of Study of English as a Foreign Language

 The Progress of Social Skills among Israeli Primary School Pupils during their First Year of Study of English as a Foreign Language

  • Mahmood Khalaila (West University of Timişoara, Romania; The Doctoral School of Philosophy, Sociology and Political Sciences, E-mail:
  • Julia Sirota (Carmel College, Israel, E-mail:
  • Elena-Loreni Baciu (West University of Timisoara, Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, Department of Social Work, The Research-Action Centre on Discrimination and Social Inclusion, No. 4 V. Parvan Boulevard, Timisoara, 300223, Romania, Tel. +40256592331, E-mail

The Israeli society is a multilingual and multicultural one, with different social identities, with a Jewish majority population, and an Arab minority, both engaged with complex lingual issues, which are also expressed in the education system. Considering that multilingual competence is inherently linked to diversified social contexts, we explore the dynamic of social skills in pupils who start to acquire English as a foreign language. In the current paper, we present an assessment of the progress achieved in the development of social skills, during the third grade (the grade in which the formal study of English as a foreign language starts), by pupils in Israeli schools (N=336, ages between 9 and 12). The sample was divided into three subgroups, based on the main language used in the pupils’ school: Arab (N=167), Jewish (N=86) and Bilingual (N=83). Our underlying hypotheses were that (1) within the context of acquiring a foreign language, pupils in all three types of schools will improve their social skills, and (2) this improvement will be more significant among pupils studying in bilingual schools. The social skills were measured with a teacher report questionnaire. Data was filled in individually, for each pupil included in the sample, at two points in time: at the beginning and at the end of the third grade. The analysis of the data shows that: (1) the means of the social skills scores registered an increase for all three subgroups, by the end of the third grade; (2) pupils from the bilingual schools group registered the highest increase. Based on this observation, we suggest that primary schools could combine foreign language acquisition classes with social skills training interventions, in order to provide a positive context for the enhancement of both categories of competences.

Keywords: foreign language aquisition, social skills development, primary school pupils, Israel, multilingualism