“Matura”, Please Meet the “Bagrut”! Accomodations on EFL Matriculation Exams from Two Countries

Spot the differences…
Epstein Family Photos

For anyone who teaches English as a foreign language in a school system, matriculation exams are a big deal. We spend a lot of time learning the intricacies of the exams so that we can spend a lot of time preparing our students for them.

However, how often do we have the opportunity to take a look at what matriculation exams in other countries are like? Do they divide them into sections? Are there levels? Do they allow their students to use a dictionary during the exam?

Now take this one step further.

How often does a teacher of English as a foreign language to Deaf and hard of hearing students have the opportunity to compare accommodations on matriculation exams between countries?

The answer would probably be “ZERO OPPORTUNITIES ” if I hadn’t had this blog.

Out of reach…
Naomi’s Photos

Thanks to this blog I met the amazing Beata Gulati from Poland, who introduced me to Professor Ewa Domagała-Zyśk (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland) and to other members of the research group on the topic of teaching English to this population.

Naturally, I asked everyone lots of questions about matriculation exams. I was fascinated to learn that while there are certainly similarities between different EFL matriculation exams in other countries, there are significant differences in the structures of the exams for the general population and in the accommodations given to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.


Take a seat and check this out!

Naomi’s Photos

I’m pleased to announce that Professor Ewa Domagała-Zyśka and I have written a joint article: “EFL Matriculation Exams for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students – Polish and Israeli Experiences” in which we presented the issue of teaching this population in the context of the Polish “Matura” exam vs the Israeli “Bagrut” exam.  The article was published in “Multicolors: An International Journal of Educational Theory and Research”.  

Such collaborations serve as an “eye opener” and as a reminder – no one in education has a monopoly on “the right way” to teach and assess students. Such comparisons can serve to enrich and enhance our teaching methods.

Here’s to reading, learning, and blogging!

Counting Re-Entry of Vocabulary Items – “Thank You, Ma’am”

Plenty to count!
Naomi’s Photos

One of the stories that my Deaf and hard of hearing students like the most is “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes.

I’ve just begun teaching it to a new group of 10th graders so I was very motivated to update my materials for this particular story first. As I explained in my previous post, since vocabulary acquisition often requires significantly more explicit instruction with my weaker students, I want to make sure that I highlight vocabulary that appears on the Ministry of Education’s vocabulary list for high – school students (known here as “Band Three).

I was delighted to see that there is no need to update my pre-reading exercise. I designed it to highlight the higher order thinking skill that we teach with this story  -“Uncovering Motives”. Not only have I been happy with the exercise with previous classes, but the word “motive” is also on the word list!

To download the pre-reading activity click on the title below.


Many ways to highlight one thing!
Naomi’s Photos

However, changes were made to the next part. Due to my students’ hearing problems, we can’t discuss the story properly in spoken English in class. Everything must have a written component.  A worksheet of “Open Questions” help me ensure that the students have achieved a basic understanding of the story (analysis and interpretation come later).

Here is the updated worksheet. Click on the title below to download it. The words that appear on the official list are in “bold”. I highlighted them with a colored marker after printing – they didn’t show up as “bold” after the photocopying machine was done with them.

Thank You Ma’am Open Questions-2ktog3e

Naomi’s Photos

I’ve created a Quizlet list of the words I’m focusing on at the moment while teaching this particular story.  I may be updating it as I teach.  See link below.


I’ll let you know!