Tag Archives: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship

Want to Know What it’s Like To Be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant? Check Out This Video.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) Program from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

My Fulbright Year as a Franz Schubert-Singing Linebacker

By Deeneaus Polk, 2011-2012, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany


Deenaus Polk (center), 2011-2012, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany, with some of his students from Grade 11 Berufsfachschule Class I

Serving as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Germany provided many teachable moments. I approached my time as a Fulbright ETA with a specific goal in mind: I wanted to serve as a creative force, pushing my students to dream big and to elevate themselves towards heights they had never dreamed possible. As is usually the case with a bright-eyed, altruistic notion, I ran into a mighty brick wall – namely, the interest of my students.

My initial attempts at serving as a teaching assistant relied heavily on discussing the latest gossip on “important” topics such as Nicki Minaj, whether or not Tupac was still living, and if the Dallas Mavericks (Dirk Nowitzki is German!) could repeat as NBA Champions. Everything else fell on deaf ears. An eventual breakthrough came via an unexpected avenue – classical music. I have a huge love for classical music. Listening to it propels me through life, sparking all sorts of creative thought. Further, performing it with others is the ultimate form of diplomacy. For me, there’s nothing better than coming together with people you don’t know, especially in another country, and working together to understand, perfect, and perform a piece like Antonín Dvořák’s “Stabat Mater.” One day during class, I referenced Tom and Jerry and the prevalence of classical music within cartoons. I got nothing but blank stares in return. They had no clue what I was talking about! This sparked not only a slew of lessons, but also drastically altered my time as an ETA. I had the confidence needed to become the cool, ‘Mr. D.’ This allowed me to connect with students on a personal level. Several students attended my performances with a local choir. I also played semi-pro ‘American football’ with one of my students for a local team and would routinely tell our coach if he didn’t turn in his homework!

The Language of Listening

By Jonathan Remple, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Rwanda

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Jonathan Remple, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Rwanda, at the base of the Virunga Volcano Range in Musanze, Rwanda

Before college, I never would have imagined that I would someday become a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I knew the highly competitive nature of the Fulbright Program, and was initially intimidated, but its central focus on cultural exchange meshed well with my aspirations and compelled me to apply. Once in college, I reached out to my on-campus Fulbright Program Adviser, who was extremely encouraging and helpful in guiding me successfully through the process. After a fantastic year of learning in Rwanda, I’m grateful I did so.

My Fulbright experience was particularly unique because the U.S. Department of State partnered with Peace Corps, allowing me to train for six weeks alongside Peace Corps Volunteers in rigorous language instruction, cultural immersion courses, and teaching methods. From the onset of the program, my goal was to live as close to the earth and the community as possible, focusing my efforts on cultural awareness and exchange. For me, nothing meant more than embracing Rwanda’s native tongue, Kinyarwanda.

Livin’ La Vida Caleña

By Emma Din, 2011-2012, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Colombia

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Emma Din, 2011-2012, Fulbright ETA to Colombia, giving individualized help to an advanced English student, Alex, who has been attending Fulbright ETA classes for four years

This was it: Thursday night at Tin Tin Deo. I was embracing la vida caleña, or Cali lifestyle, venturing into the “salsa capital of the world” by visiting the legendary salsa bar for the first time. I couldn’t have imagined it more perfectly with its low ceiling, pictures of famous salsa singers displayed on all the walls, dim lights, pulsing rhythms, and sultry atmosphere. I’d taken salsa classes before moving to Colombia and loved them, so I thought I was good to go. Little did I know, Cali-style salsa features quick footwork, unique Afro-influence, and enough improvisation to render the classic movements and foot patterns I’d learned useless; I was forced to give up on the prescriptive combinations and rely instead on how the music made me feel and what my partner was communicating with his steps. That night, I discovered that in Cali, Colombia, salsa is more than a fun activity, more than a sport, and more than an art form; it is an identity and language.

My time spent practicing salsa outside of class influenced my role inside the classroom as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA). I was placed at the Universidad Santiago de Cali and had my own classroom where I assistant taught English conversation classes to college students ranging from 15 to 50 years old. Just as I was learning the importance of moving away from memorized salsa steps, I challenged my students to step away from the prescriptive English sentences and dialogues they had memorized. I encouraged them to take risks and to get outside of their comfort level in English and focus on expressing ideas, rather than fearing mistakes.

Taking that First Step: Submitting your Fulbright Application

By Todd McKay, Bangladesh, 2011-2012, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Bangladesh

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Todd McKay, 2011-2012, Fulbright ETA to Bangladesh, reviews participants’ work at an English speaking and pronunciation workshop in Motijheel, Dhaka, Bangladesh

“Half the battle is applying,” a former linguistics professor of mine once told me. This is the kernel of wisdom—the all-too-true aphorism—that carried me through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program application process.  Since that first sit-down with Fulbright’s online application, I have learned a lot and have had ample time to reflect on the application process and on my time in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I was in the second semester of my MA program in applied linguistics at the University of Utah when thoughts of a Fulbright future first popped into my head. One of the courses in my program was a curriculum design and development course, which included both curricula for foreign language teaching and a professional development component.

“We get so caught up in our academic lives,” my professor said, “that we often forget to work on our professional lives.” She challenged each of us to come up with a practical goal that could be completed by semester’s end.

I decided I wanted to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant, but I didn’t think I was qualified. Truth be told, I was downright afraid of applying for a Fulbright grant. I was an okay, but by no means brilliant student. I grew up in a small town 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah, my undergraduate GPA didn’t begin with a 4, and I was not a polyglot studying linguistics under Noam Chomsky.