Are you considering the applying for the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program? This unique program brings young teachers and recent graduates from around the world to the United States, where they teach their native language at a U.S. university for an academic year. Belgians can apply to teach French, Dutch, or German. If selected for participation in the Fulbright FLTA Program, you probably already know that will have the opportunity to spend one academic year sharing your culture and language with American students by supporting an existing language program or helping to establish a new one on a U.S. university or college campus.
Foreign Language Teaching Assistants engage in a meaningful cultural exchange opportunity on a U.S. university or college campus, while at the same time deepening their pedagogical skills and promoting mutual understanding through engaging with American students and getting involved in local communities. FLTA duties vary widely from institution to institution: some FLTAs are expected to teach language courses on their own with minimal in-class supervision, while others may be much more involved in extracurricular support of established language programs such as leading conversation groups, participating in community events or lectures, working in language laboratories, or contributing to language materials development.
We’ve asked our alumni to weigh in on the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, and to share with you some things that you might not know!
1. You don’t have to be an experienced language teacher to apply! In fact, the FLTA Program is specifically designed for young applicants without a large amount of classroom experience. You are eligible to apply to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program if you reside in the country of nomination at the time of application, possess the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree with a good academic record (although master’s degrees are highly desirable at many institutions), and are either an early career teacher of English, training to become a teacher of English, or are an early career educator in a related field. Previous FLTAs from Belgium have included recent graduates from programs in education, foreign language and linguistics, translation, interpretation, and more. For more eligibility requirements, please check the program description.
2. You don’t have to be a trained French or Dutch teacher. While some applicants are Francophone French teachers applying to teach French or Dutch-speaking Dutch teachers applying to teach Dutch, this is not necessarily the case. Many applicants to the FLTA Program have trained to be teachers of English or another language, and applicants can put on their application which of Belgium’s three official languages they would be interested in teaching. For some, spending a year teaching their native language in the United States will be the first time that they have ever taught their native language!
3. You will be immersed in ‘American’ life from Day 1. Emily Van Leemput, a former FLTA to the University of Minnesota, wrote: “As soon as I arrived in Minneapolis, I seized every opportunity to spend time with Americans; I found a room in a house where I am the only international person, I enjoyed a true Minnesotan weekend at ‘the Lake’ eating ‘s’mores’ with U.S. colleagues and went to the State Fair and did not chicken out trying weird deep fried food! Yep, so far … I am as ‘Americanized’ as I could be!”
4. Being a Fulbrighter in the United States is a great way to connect with people from all over the world! According to FLTA alumnus Anthony Hudders, “Even though the FLTA program is essentially about spending time in a U.S. environment, I got to meet people from all over the which, many of which I am now happy to call my friends.”
5. Your students will impress you. Joke De Lille was an FLTA at the University of Minnesota. She told us: “Students who choose to study Dutch are incredibly motivated to learn the language, without exception. University classes are expensive, so the fact that they opt for a ‘small’ language like Dutch means that they have a very good reason to do so. Maybe they want to study or work here or they just want to be able to talk to their grandparents or in-laws in their own language, but their enthusiasm made me want to be a better teacher as well.”
6. It’s not just about teaching! Fulbright FLTAs have the unique opportunity to take courses at their host institution while still teaching their language classes. FLTA alumna Charlotte Vanhecke said, “Aside from this unique teaching experience, as a Fulbright FLTA I was given the opportunity to take courses at my host university. A teaching methodology class helped me learn the ropes of teaching in this new environment, and collaborating with my peers, the other new [teaching assistants] in the department, taught me things about teaching that will surely impact on my classroom practice for years to come. I also grabbed this opportunity to broaden my horizons with some less self-evident courses that fell vastly outside of my area of expertise, such as film studies and an introduction to quantum mechanics, the latter of which mainly served to remind me that, like a character from the aforementioned series, I know nothing.”
7. FLTAs experience all that American university life has to offer. Some of our previous FLTAs have shared stories about attending their first American football game, taking tango lessons, and enjoying the diversity and amenities that many universities in the United States offer! Joke De Lille reflected on her experience by saying: “Thank you Fulbright, for allowing me to see the real United States of America.”
8. “Being a FLTA opens doors!” Your international experience will give you an edge when applying to future jobs. Several of our alumni told us that their international experience as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant helped their resumes to stand out after their return to Belgium. Anthony Hudders said, “Thanks to my FLTA experience in the U.S., I was able to get a job at a European School in Brussels as an English teacher.”
9. Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants become part of one of the largest and most prestigious academic networks in the world. Over 370,000 people from more than 160 countries have participated in the Fulbright Program since its creation in 1946. What does this mean to Fulbright grantees? According to FLTA alumna Paulien Detailleur, “as a Fulbrighter, you become part of an enormous international group of remarkable people and all of a sudden, the entire world is within your reach.”
10. The deadline is 1 December. The annual deadline for the Fulbright Program in Belgium is noon on 1 December 2017. If you are interested in learning more about the Fulbright FLTA Program or would like to apply, please visit www.fulbright.be/awards/grants-for-belgian-and-luxembourgish-citizens/flta/.