Shalem College
February 3, 2014

Shalem English-Language Program “Views Proficiency as Just the Beginning”

Shalem English-Language Program “Views Proficiency as Just the Beginning”

With the hire of Annie Kantar Ben-Hillel, a poet, translator, and instructor of creative writing in both the United States and Israel, Shalem College has launched a unique English-Language Program, designed to ensure fluency and influence in an interconnected world. “Viewing proficiency as just the beginning,” says Kantar, the program will demand thoughtful engagement with the seminal works of the English literary canon, as well as cultivate critical skills in English rhetoric and writing.


Kantar, a Fulbright scholar who has translated the works of such iconic Hebrew poets as Leah Goldberg and Yonatan Ratosh, is directing the development of a tailored curriculum, which will complement students’ Core studies throughout their four years at Shalem. “The aims of this program are very ambitious: to foster an authentic interaction with the English language and its literature, as well as to enable the students to bring their insights and ideas to play in the world at large,” explained Kantar. “The command of English required to fulfill these goals is high, and the students will be expected to approach their language studies with the same dedication and level of intensity as they do all their courses.”

Daniel Polisar, Shalem’s Provost, is especially enthusiastic when discussing the program’s course on public speaking and parliamentary debate, which he plans to teach himself. At Shalem, Polisar explains, “skills in debate and rhetoric are seen as critical to success in public life, and to the fulfillment of students’ responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.” He maintains that students’ ongoing encounters, through the core curriculum, with the fundamental ideas of political philosophy, economics, sociology, and theology, to name just a few, will provide them with the raw material they need to excel in this challenging yet immensely rewarding activity. “When you combine skills in public speaking and debate with the expertise in logical, rigorous analysis gained through close readings of primary texts, you position students to help shape Israeli discourse. They will be able to advance, effectively and eloquently, the ideas at the heart of Western civilization.”