National Fellowships are highly prestigious, nationally competitive awards that provide funding for study, research, teaching, or internships in the United States and abroad. One award, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program, is part of the Fulbright US Student program, the largest US exchange program offering opportunities for students to complete graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary/secondary school teaching worldwide. Approximately 1900 grants are annually awarded in all fields of study, enabling students to travel to more than 140 countries worldwide.
Be a Cultural Ambassador
The ETA program places students in classrooms abroad to assist local English teachers. Fulbright ETAs are given the unique opportunity of working in a host country, where they will meet with, live with, and learn from native citizens by sharing daily experiences. This allows the ETAs to act as ambassadors, sharing their own culture while gaining an appreciation for the beliefs and viewpoints of other cultures. This collaboration helps to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.
What Skills Do You Need to Apply?
The ETA program is highly competitive, with a limited number of awards for each country (https://us.fulbrightonline.org/applicants/types-of-awards/english-teaching-assistant-awards). To obtain a wider choice of country options, applicants need teaching-related experience. It takes time to accumulate the experience and qualifications you need, which means preparation in advance is essential.
Who Can Apply and When?
Notre Dame juniors who have an interest in teaching or diplomacy can apply during the summer going into senior year. You can begin the application process by filling out the interest form on https://cuse.nd.edu/fellowships/fellowships/fulbright-english-teaching-assistantship/. CUSE offers step-by-step guidance in completing the application from background information to personal statement essays.
"It has taught me so much about the wonderful and underappreciated world of education, and if you have pride in the teaching field, if you have a love of languages, then this is the minor for you." -- Olivia Wright '21
Plan Ahead with a TESOL Minor
Freshmen and sophomores should start building the required skills now. To qualify for a Fulbright fellowship, you will need to have some teaching experience (volunteering is a great way to gain practical experience). To be truly prepared, consider declaring a TESOL Minor (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). TESOL classes help to equip you with the essential skills you need to teach English to non-native English speakers. In TESOL courses, you will learn about the fundamental aspects of linguistics and language education. You will also gain practical, hands-on experience in classroom management and lesson planning.