Although Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel, English is widely used due to immigration and a high level of overall education. Among Israelis, proficiency in English is seen as a mark of a great education, so most public schools and universities offer English classes. Not only is it important in the classroom, but knowing English is a great asset in international relations in Israel, as well.
Exposure to American culture, movies, and music has also played a large role in informal education for Israeli young adults. Whether bonding over the latest movies in the theater or the grandness of the Dome of the Rock, students can rest easy knowing that they will be surrounded by English speakers to help them in their language journey.
Whether studying English to satisfy a degree requirement or to get into international business, there are several course types to consider.
- University courses. This is one of the most typical study abroad options taken by students learning English. There are several universities in Israel, like Ben Gurion University and Herzog Academic College, that provide academic programs in English to help students gain proficiency in the language.
- Homestay Programs. Israel is very homestay-friendly with many host families eager to take in international students. Many speak English fluently and are happy to help students practice their English, show them around town and advise them on unique cultural activities.
- Language Study & Volunteer Programs. Learning English while volunteering is a great way to pursue two passions at the same time. Whether pruning grapes in the heart of Israel or helping run a summer camp for low-income students, volunteer programs can provide English training, professional development, and an unforgettable experience.
- Cultural Immersion. There are many opportunities for cultural immersion classes to study English in Israel. Cultural immersion courses focus on daily activities and visiting sites outside of a traditional classroom setting in order to understand the cultural topography of the country. Students can practice their English with their instructors and other students while learning in interactive situations.
Why Learn English Abroad
If you are planning to learn English anyway, why not explore a new country at the same time? English is required of all Israelis from the age of 8, so finding English-speaking people will not be a problem. There is ample opportunity to practice and learn English with locals while exploring the beautiful country of Israel.
Anyone with determination and a will to learn is eligible to study English in Israel. There are courses for all English levels, ranging from novice to expert. Some cultural immersion programs promise you’ll start speaking English from the very first day, while those who already have a good grip on the language can take more advanced university courses. For university-level work, several years of English study is recommended.
Planning Your Trip
Popular Locations to Learn English in Israel
As the capital of Israel, Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the region. It's said to have been founded in 3000 BC and is divided into four sections: the Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, and Armenian Quarter. Each has its own fascinating history and you will never get bored of studying and living in this city.
A contemporary city, Tel Aviv is a hub for tech companies, important cultural sites, and boasts a rambunctious nightlife. Right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s a perfect place to lay out on the beach in the morning and enjoy the nightclubs in the evening. In this lively city, there's a never-ending list of trendy cafes, galleries, and even fitness classes to attend in between classes.
Choosing an English Learning Program in Israel
Finding the perfect English program starts with understanding your personal needs and style. Consider if staying with a host family is truly the type of experience you need. If you are more independent or like to enjoy the nightlife, then a cultural immersion or university course may be better fit.
Next, make sure the program has the capacity to support you in your transition to Israel. Programs that can help with assimilation and readily answers questions or concerns is a great sign. Studying and living in Israel can be expensive, so tuition and fees are important to consider when choosing a program, as well. Certain programs may even be able to help financially through scholarships or need-based grants.
Lastly, social and cultural activities are important when going overseas. Traveling solo abroad can be scary, so having a program that creates opportunities for students to make friends can make the transition easier.
Cultural Immersion in Israel
There are many cultural, religious, and historic landmarks within Israel. It’s easy to stumble upon a story since everywhere you turn, there is significance behind the stones, buildings, and alleyways.
It’s a deeply spiritual and religious place for the three religions said to be born here: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For example, the Temple Mount has three separate significances for each religion, but they all agree that something tremendously important happened here. Taking tours or diving into the rich history on your own can provide tremendous insight into how religion and culture coincide in this small country.
It’s impossible to completely immerse yourself in Israeli culture without interacting with the locals. While learning English, it’s important to practice the language with locals by asking questions and learning the complexities of the country at the same time.
Costs & Funding
Average English Language Learning Tuition in Israel
Formal education, such as a language school or university course, will cost considerably more than finding a volunteer program that exchanges work for meals and lodging. Not all volunteer programs are free, however, so they can still cost hundreds of dollars per week depending on the organization.
For university courses, it’s important to talk to the college you are currently attending to get an accurate estimate of the cost of going abroad. For university tuition, students can generally expect about $10,000 per semester or $18,000 per year, which includes not only English but other academic classes as well.
Scholarships for Learning English in Israel
Israel is a relatively new country and it yearns to attract a bright future. Many organizations exist with the goal of creating opportunity for young people to learn, work, and experience life in Israel. Many of these programs provide scholarships in hopes of attracting young, intelligent students.
One such example is the Levy Scholarship available for any student wishing to study in Israel. To apply, students need to be enrolled in a university that provides the scholarship (like Penn State or Michigan State University), have a 3.0 GPA, have a "purposeful plan of study in Israel" and show leadership skills. Scholarship amounts range from $3,000 for a summer semester to $6,000 for an academic year.
There are scholarships specifically for Jewish young adults, such as grants from Masa Israel. Grants are need-based but also based on time spent in Israel. If students have spent less than four months in Israel, they are eligible to apply.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is another great option. Since Israel is a less popular study abroad destination, there is a high chance of being awarded the $5,000 scholarship. However, it’s only available for students already receiving financial aid in the form of Federal Pell Grants.
Cost of Living in Israel
Living in Israel is not cheap and students should be prepared to spend $1,500 to $2,000 per month for housing, utilities, groceries, and social activities. Generally, a one bedroom apartment in the city center can run as high as $800 and $1000 per month. To lessen the costs, students can consider living outside the city center, where a one bedroom can cost between $650 to $750.
Basic utilities such as electricity, cooling, garbage, and water costs around $200 per month. A one-way ticket for transportation around the city can cost $1.60 or you can purchase a monthly pass for $60.
With costs between $15 and $30 per meal and $7 per beer, eating out can add up quickly. Cooking at home can save money. General prices include $3.50 for a carton of eggs, $1.60 for a loaf of bread, and less than $1.50 per pound for vegetables.
Visas & Other Relevant Information
There are 99 countries that do not need a visa to visit Israel if their stay is for less than three months. If planning to stay longer than three months, student visas can be acquired once in Israel. The A/2 Temporary Resident Visa will allow students to travel in and out of the country freely for up to one year. After the first year, this visa can be renewed either within Israel or in the student's home country.