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Prof. Mila Schwartz

Dr. Mila Schwartz

Research Fellow, Department of Learning Disabilities

Research Interests
  • Socio-cultural and linguistic aspects of Arabic-Hebrew speaking bilingual education
  • Bilingual education: socio-cultural, linguistic and cognitive outcomes
  • Family cultural and language policy
  • Bilingual teachers’ and immigrant parents’ counseling
  • Identification of at-risk children and early intervention
  • Development of screening batteries
  • Reading difficulties in Hebrew as a second language
  • Bilingual teaching: models and strategies
  • Early sequential bilingualism
  • Emergent literacy within a bilingual context

Current Projects
In 2010, I launched a new research project in bilingual (Arabic-Hebrew) education in Israel. This study focuses on the way early bilingual education may provide Arab and Jewish children and their parents opportunities to be exposed to one another’s culture and language. More specifically, I am investigating the background motives and family language and cultural policy of the parents who choose to send their children to bilingual Hebrew-Arabic kindergartens and schools. In addition, my aim in this project is to examine the socio-cultural, educational and linguistic consequences of these settings for children and their parents from the two different ethnic groups. This project also studies the instructional strategies used by kindergarten teachers in bilingual Arabic-Hebrew kindergartens.
During 2008-2010, I initiated two cross-national research projects with collaborators from Canada and Germany. The German project was carried out with my colleague, Dr. Anna Breitkopf from the University of Helsinki and focused on family language policy and immigrant and host country teachers’ pedagogical development within the context of German-Russian and Hebrew-Russian bilingual kindergartens. The Canadian part of this project is now at the data collection stage. This project is being conducted with Prof. Esther Geva and Prof. Becky Xi Chen (OISE, University of Toronto). The international project has three aims: 1. to examine the main characteristics of language and emergent literacy acquisition within the multicultural context of Canada and Israel and, in particular, within the framework of bilingual pre-school education (Hebrew-English, Chinese-English, and Russian-Hebrew); 2. to determine how language-minority parents describe and ground their family language policy concerning their children’s bilingual development and education in L1/L2 in the Canadian and Israeli contexts; 3. to investigate teachers’ approaches to emergent literacy instruction and development in L1/L2 within the framework of bilingual pre-school settings.
Together with Prof. David Share and Dr. Shelley Shaul at the Department of Learning Disabilities and the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center at the University of Haifa, I have initiated a new research project within the framework of the Laboratory for the study of at-risk children in early childhood. This Laboratory was established in order to develop early identification tests (using behavioral and brain-imaging techniques) for learning disabilities for at-risk children and behavioral and computerized interventions for at-risk groups from ages 3 and up. Currently, I our team is investigating the connections between a broad array of cognitive and language skills and early literacy skills among 3-6 year old children.
Together with Dr. Janina Kahn-Horwitz and Prof. David Share at the he Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center at the University of Haifa, I conducted research project on English as a foreign language (EFL) literacy acquisition. This project was aimed to The aim of study this the following three theories: (1) the self-teaching hypothesis (2) the challenges of acquiring EFL literacy; and (3) the linguistic and orthographic proximity hypothesis.
In 2010, I initiated a new international project on language acquisition in Russian (L1) among early sequential bilinguals speaking German, English, Finnish and Hebrew as L2. The German project is being carried out with my colleague Prof. Maria Polinsky (Harvard University), Prof. Ekaterina Protassova (University of Helsinki) and Dr. Elena Dieser (University of Tubingen).