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March 24, 1989 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



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Reg. $18
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you have to discuss or debate,
and you have to use your hid-
den dictionary," he says point-
ing to himself, "then it is a
problem!'
Learning English is essen-
tial for Israelis because it is
the primary language in the
economic, tourism and
business spheres, Ganor says.
"Even in the military, many
bulletins and professional
reviews are published in
English?' Officers who seek to
study with the U.S. Army first
must pass an English profi-
ciency exam.
ELI, housed in three
trailers left over from the
Lebanon War, is the creation
of Miriam Flachs, a 72-year-
old, U.S.-born educator who
made aliyah around the time
of Israel's founding. Before
ELI, there was no specific pro-
gram to teach English to of-
ficers, she says. English was
taught as one course of many
and received no special em-
phasis for language study.
Flachs will not discuss it,
but others at ELI say it took
her years to convince the IDF
of the importance of teaching
officers intensive English.
What keeps the program go-
ing in this time of budget
cuts, they say, is that ELI is
more cost efficient than study
abroad. Some officers and
their families were sent
abroad to study English
before ELI was formed.
The program has evolved
over the past decade through
innovation and trial and er-
ror. One lesson Flachs says
she learned early on, was that
class would run more
smoothly if the officers wore
civilain clothes. That les-
sened the tendency to pull
rank or to defer to higher
rank, she says.
"If the guy with the three
felafels (Israeli slang for in-
signia denoting rank) said
something, the guy with one
felafel kept quiet," she says.
"You can't deal with a class
that's divided up into a
hierarchy," says Cpl. Michael
J., an oleh from the United
States who is doing his army
service as an assistant at ELI.
"Once they take off their
uniforms they seem like nor-
mal guys, even when you hear
the stories about what
they've done and they seem
like heroes. I think that
without the uniform, part of
the mystique goes?'
Some say these days they
feel like they're waging war
against the English
language. For his talk,
29-year-old Lt. Col. Arye T.
discussed a battle he fought
south of Beirut in the
Lebanon War.
"The talk was more difficult
than the battle,"he says. ❑

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS



39

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