Languages Spoken in Israel Besides the Hebrew Language
When most people think of the language of Israel, if they do not mistakenly think that the language spoken is Israeli, they know that the Hebrew language is the majority language. Nonetheless, Hebrew is not the only language spoken in Israel. In fact, Arabic is also an official language, and there are a number of other semi-official languages. If you visit Israel, you will notice that virtually all official signs are in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Due to the fact that Hebrew is not the native tongue for many Israelis, many governmental publications and other official documents are available in a number of languages.
Approximately 20% of Israeli citizens are Arab and they generally do not speak Hebrew at home. Due to the fact that Arab citizens often live in their own communities and have governmental services available to them in their native Arabic language, many of them never learn Hebrew at a very high level. This changes for Arabs who choose to go the universities in Israel, at which point they must reach a certain level of proficiency in Hebrew in order to continue in their studies.
Many official documents are also available in the Russian language. Approximately one million Russian immigrants have come to Israel in the last 20 years or so, and while most of them have learned Hebrew and their children have grown up learning and speaking Hebrew, Russian will remain the first language for many of them. Amharic, an Ethiopian language, is also a very common sight, as many Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel since the 1970s and 1980s. Like the Russian immigrants, most of the Ethiopian immigrants have also come to learn Hebrew since coming to Israel; however, there are still many who are more comfortable speaking and reading their native Amharic. Despite the many different languages written and spoken in Israel, the Hebrew language is, on one level or another, spoken by almost everyone and is a common unifying element for nearly all of Israel’s residents.