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Information from the Fulbright Program
De-Mystifying Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA)
By Jody Dudderar, IIE Program Manager
The Fulbright program has offered opportunities for U.S. students to serve as English teachers and teaching assistants at schools, colleges and universities abroad for many years. In recent years, countries offering ETA programs have grown from a handful to 23 in the 2007-08 competition. Since you may only apply to one country and one program, it is important to select carefully, based on your educational and career goals, academic background and preparation, language proficiency, and geographic interests.
For example, ETAs in Asia are placed primarily in elementary and secondary schools and knowledge of the host country language at the time of application is not required. However, ETAs in South America will be working with university and adult students and must have proficiency in the host country language. On the other hand, the programs and prerequisites in Europe vary widely.
Applicants are advised to read carefully the Participating Country Summary to understand the nature of each program and specific requirements. You should make certain that your Statement of Proposed Study very clearly states why you have chosen a particular program and country, your experience, training and skills, and what you expect to contribute to and take away from an ETA experience.
Most ETA programs expect that grantees will engage in an independent academic, vocational, or community service project. You should briefly describe what you would like to do in the Statement of Proposed Study. Since applicants will not know exactly where they will be located, this statement is not expected to be detailed, nor should you attempt to forge an affiliation at this stage. You simply need to indicate the activities that you intend to pursue outside of the ETA responsibilities and why you have chosen this/these activities for the country to which you are applying.
Finally, a few tips for choosing a country and preparing your Statement:
- Beware of the competition statistics. Most ETA programs are only a year or two old and, therefore, may not have received applications or much publicity in the previous year. In addition, the number of applications for ETA programs has doubled in the last two years, a reflection of the growth in the number of countries participating. Given this, you can not reliably predict the number of applications for this competition based on last year's numbers.
- Project proposal. If you have a very specific proposal for study or research, you may wish to consider the full grant option, since in the ETA program you will not be able to choose where you will be placed. Furthermore, successful ETA's are those who value the experience of working in an educational environment first and foremost.
- Prior experience or training in teaching. This may be required or strongly preferred in some countries and not particularly relevant in others. Read the Participating Country Summary and speak to an IIE Program Manager when in doubt.
- Extensive experience or training in teaching. Remember, this is a Student Fellowship. Persons with university-level teaching experience or more than four years of teaching in schools and persons who have completed a master's degree in TESOL or a related field may be overqualified for this program. If you fit into one of these categories and have specific reasons why you feel you would benefit from a Student ETA Fellowship, then be sure to express this clearly in your Statement. Contact an IIE Program Manager if you have questions.
Excerpt from Fulbright Online Statement of Grant Purpose:
ENGLISH TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS
Developing the Statement of Grant Purpose
Since you are applying for an ETA grant, you are not expected to present extensive research plans. The following are guidelines as to what you could include in your Statement.
- Why you would like to undertake a Teaching Assistant assignment
- Why you have chosen the particular country
- Specific qualifications, training, and/or experiences that you have had related to the overseas assignment
- How you expect to benefit from the assignment, and what use you will make of the experience upon your return to the United States
- What use you will make of your time outside the classroom. (Most ETAs work no more than 20 to 30 hours per week.) Some countries expect a mini-project proposal; some countries do not. Check the individual country guidelines for proposal information.
Keep in mind that the maximum length for the Statement of Grant Purpose and Personal Statement is one-page each. Therefore, you should construct these Statements in such a way as to include all pertinent information, but so as not to be redundant.
Most ETA programs expect that grantees will engage in an independent academic, vocational, or community service project. You should briefly describe what you would like to do in the Statement of Grant Purpose. Since applicants will not know exactly where they will be located, this description is not expected to be detailed. You simply need to indicate the activities that you intend to pursue outside of the ETA responsibilities and why you have chosen this/these activities for the country to which you are applying. In addition, any community service activities or extra-curricular activities that you think you might conduct should be described.
If you have a very specific proposal for study or research, you may wish to consider the Study/Research option, since in the ETA program you will not be able to choose where you will be placed and you will not have very much time for independent research or study. Furthermore, successful ETA's are those who value the experience of working in an educational environment first and foremost. We have seen highly qualified applicants not selected because the impression from their statements indicated that they were more focused on a project than on the ETA assignment.