Cornell University

Language Resource Center Speaker Series - Yarden Kedar

Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Stimson Hall, G25
204 East Ave., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

"Bilingual Community-Based Language Pedagogy: An Arab-Jewish Language Café in Jerusalem"
Yarden Kedar
Israel Institute Visiting Faculty, Department of Psychology, Cornell University 

The Good Neighbors – Abu Tor/Al-Thuri project is a grassroots, volunteer-based initiative that started in 2014 in order to promote a shared life approach and to build a joint community between Jews and Palestinians who live side by side in Abu Tor, a binational neighborhood, which is located on the seam between East and West Jerusalem. 
This unique project, which is extraordinary given the long geopolitical and national conflict and the explosive daily tension between Arabs and Jews, includes initiatives such as language courses in Arabic and in Hebrew; a community organic garden; "Abu-Job" – a job placement project; a bilingual street library; and a variety of community events and festivities that are organized by and intended for Jerusalemites from both nationalities. 
We focus on the Language Café, an authentic, bottom-up local initiative in which Jews and Palestinians actively teach and learn Hebrew and Arabic from each other. This study explores the unique bilingual pedagogy that has evolved in the Language Café and the participants' perceived language learning process and its outcomes (i.e., their motivations to learn the language of the other group, their attitudes toward the learning situation, and its potential outcomes, particularly sociocultural outcomes).
The findings reveal that the pedagogical model that has been developed and employed by the Language Café non-professional tutors promotes values of equity, equality, and mutual respect among the Jewish and Palestinian participants alike. Moreover, this new model builds on the language and cultural repertoire of the participants, hence affording them the opportunity to learn and teach each other's language and culture. Despite the long-standing political tension, the language tutors seem to have created a safe learning environment that allows both Jewish and Palestinian participants to feel at ease. Participants express genuine interest and desire to learn the language and culture of the other national, religious, and cultural group. Furthermore, they report having gained not only conversational language skills in the languages they wanted to learn but also novel insights about each other's cultures, enabling them to engage in various social activities within their neighborhood and beyond.
These findings may contribute to the development and advancement of both formal and informal pedagogical frameworks worldwide – in language as well as other subject matters – based on inter-group appreciation and collaboration. Such frameworks could also bring about more tolerant and integrated societies in conflict zones.

Bio: Yarden Kedar is an Israel Institute Visiting Faculty in the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. He has served as Head of the Early Childhood Education Department in the Faculty of Education at Beit Berl College between 2015-2021. He is also the Head of the Language and Cognition Development Lab at Beit Berl College. 
Dr. Kedar received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology (2007) from Cornell University and then became a Kreitman Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University (2007-2010), focusing on the neurolinguistic aspects of syntactic processing in young children. 
Dr. Kedar's research interests relate to Language Acquisition, Cognitive Development, and Early Childhood Education across several cultures and languages and a variety of child populations (e.g., infants, children, and adults; monolinguals and bilinguals; Arabic, English, and Hebrew learners). In other lines of research, he explores the interaction between language and socioemotional aspects of development such as immigration, gender, and various preschool educational environments.

This event will be held in person in G25 Stimson and will also be streamed live over Zoom. Join us at the LRC or on Zoom.

The event is free and open to the public. Campus visitors and members of the public must adhere to Cornell's public health requirements for events, which include wearing masks while indoors and providing proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

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