The Top 10 FAQs for the 2018-19 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award

Jun 20, 2017

Summer is beginning and Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) applicants are starting to draft their award proposals. During this process, it is common to become overwhelmed with questions. Fulbright Program staff recently recorded a webinar to help explain some commonly misunderstood aspects of the application process. Here were some of the questions asked by applicants during the webinar. Visit the Fulbright webinar page to access the full recorded seminar on the 2018-19 English Teaching Assistant Awards, and other helpful presentations.

1. Can I apply for an English Teaching Assistantship if I didn’t major in Education?

ETA awards are open to people from all academic backgrounds, although some countries will indeed state a preference for certain backgrounds such as creative writing, English, or education majors. Make sure to read specific country summaries to know what each country is looking for.

2. Is there an age limit for applying to an English Teaching Assistantship award?

While there is no age limit for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as a whole, some countries specifically state that they place recent graduates into classrooms and therefore have age limits. Look at country-specific requirements to determine if you are eligible to apply. If a country has no age limitations and you would like to apply, you must make an argument for why an assistantship is appropriate at this stage in your career. More experienced professionals might want to consider other Fulbright programs.

3. If my university does not have a Fulbright Program Advisor, must I apply at large?

If your college or university does not have an Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA), then you must apply as an at-large candidate. If you’re a currently enrolled student and your institution does have an FPA, then you are required to apply through your university.

4. Will applying to a country where I’ve spent a semester studying abroad help or hurt my application?

If all other application components are equal, Fulbright does give preference to individuals who have not spent extensive time in the host country to which they’re applying. Undergraduate study abroad is not considered “extensive” time and will therefore not be counted against you in the application. Extensive experiences would include spending six months or more living or working in the proposed country after a bachelor’s degree.

5. What does it mean to have a recommender who can speak to your ability to teach English, especially for those just graduating?

Fulbright is looking for recommenders have either had direct classroom experience with you in a teaching setting. Faculty members who have watched you engage with other students can also serve as recommenders if they can speak about your flexibility, leadership potential, or ability to participate with others in classroom discussions.

6. Are tutoring or work supervisors qualified to count as a recommender?

A general rule is that two recommenders should be academic faculty members, but one supervisor (i.e. a coach or boss) is fine as long as that person can speak directly to your teaching ability. Fulbright is not looking for someone who can talk generally about your qualities, but rather about your ability to lead and teach others in or outside of a classroom setting.

7. Would it be beneficial to have a former Fulbright grantee as a recommender?

It’s not necessarily beneficial to have a former Fulbright grantee as a recommender. Asking a former Fulbright grantee to write your recommendation will only enhance your application if this person can speak about your ability to teach. Since a Fulbright alumnus might have been an ETA, they might know how to appropriately talk about your teaching abilities. They should only write it if they know you well and can speak directly to your teaching skills; having a Fulbright alum write your recommendation just for the sake of it might not be in your best interest.

8. Can I reapply if I don’t get a Fulbright this year?

Yes! You can always reapply. Your application will probably be stronger the second time around.

9. If one year of academic or professional teaching experience is required to apply to a specific country, does volunteering weekly in a classroom qualify as that experience?

It is known that the vast majority of applicants come right out of university, so direct classroom experience in addition to doing your coursework, in most cases, will satisfy that type of requirement. Countries that make this a requirement just want to know that you do have direct classroom experience.

10. Is there a specific part of the application that [Fulbright believes] is the most substantial in influencing whether or not you receive an award?

Since Fulbright gives you a one-page limit for your statement of grant purpose and your personal statement, it really is a conglomerate of all application components put together. Fulbright wants you to tell a consistent narrative throughout the whole application. You should articulate how your past experience and your interest in teaching overseas for a year in the proposed country are related. Rather than pouring all of your time and energy into one component, think about the application and its components as they work together.

Interested in applying? Bookmark the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to your ProFellow account.

Also see our articles on Fulbright Application Tips for more insights on developing a strong Fulbright application.

© Victoria Johnson 2017, all rights reserved.