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The US Department of State teach abroad program

 
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Hemlock32



Joined: 14 Apr 2017
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:39 pm    Post subject: The US Department of State teach abroad program Reply with quote

Anyone else considering working for them? Have any of you already worked for them and want to share an experience? It really doesn´t look too bad. A lot of perks for a 10-month full-time job. You just need to be willing to go anywhere, it seems. Doesn´t this kind of sound like an extended vacation?

It reminds me a little of Peace Corps, but I never did that, so I really don´t know.

Surprised
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10901
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was on a special project with the State Dept a few years ago. Which specific program are you referring to? If it's the English Language Fellow (ELF) Program via Georgetown University, it's been discussed a few times within these forums, including this one.
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Hemlock32



Joined: 14 Apr 2017
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya, this is the one I am referring to. It has the feel of the Peace Corps, but I am wondering what others think about it? Has it been a good career choice? Does having the US Department´s name on your resumé open up lots of doors?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10901
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hemlock32 wrote:
It has the feel of the Peace Corps, but I am wondering what others think about it? Has it been a good career choice? Does having the US Department´s name on your resumé open up lots of doors?

It's not the same as being a Peace Corps volunteer. Working as an English Language Fellow (ELF) is much more involved than the PC, requires a graduate degree, and the role isn't considered voluntary.

It's not an easy program to get into; competition is high, especially given the decrease in projects over the years. A TESOL-related MA is ideal and post-degree experience beyond just teaching are expected. Per the ELF website, "TESOL experience that includes skills such as classroom management, instructional technology, syllabus evaluation/design/development, materials and/or resource development" help an applicant stand out. As such, ELFs are expected to hit the ground from day one and be comfortable working with minimal supervision.

Friends of mine who have completed several ELF assignments are seasoned teachers with years of diverse TESOL experience. However, being an ELF isn't really a "career" choice per se. The experience (rather than the "US State Dept" indicated on a CV) enhances one's career and can open doors for those who make the most out of their assignment and professional development. Although I wasn't an ELF, the State Dept project I was on mirrored some of the same responsibilities. (Not surprising, a couple of my colleagues on that project were former ELFs.) I'm back in the US and find that a few people are mainly curious about where I was (I was in a warzone) more than what I did, while others are interested in what I'd accomplished.
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Hemlock32



Joined: 14 Apr 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I´m trying to decide whether sticking to a part-time job in the states or heading abroad with the EFL program is a better decision. I think the question is: what experience will be better in the long-term.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 997
Location: US

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hemlock32 wrote:
I´m trying to decide whether sticking to a part-time job in the states or heading abroad with the EFL program is a better decision. I think the question is: what experience will be better in the long-term.

In general the ELF program will look a lot better on your CV than part-time teaching in the US, especially if you already have some part-time teaching experience (5 years of part-time work doesn't look much better than 2 years). The ELF program is certainly much more selective.
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Hemlock32



Joined: 14 Apr 2017
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rtm wrote:
In general the ELF program will look a lot better on your CV than part-time teaching in the US, especially if you already have some part-time teaching experience (5 years of part-time work doesn't look much better than 2 years). The ELF program is certainly much more selective.


Ya, that is what I suspect. Thanks for your thoughts. I think I will stick it out in the US in the short-term and once I get the call from the department of state, see if I can 1) barter with the current employer or 2) march off bag and baggage.

Gracias
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10901
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hemlock32 wrote:
I think I will stick it out in the US in the short-term and once I get the call from the department of state, see if I can 1) barter with the current employer or 2) march off bag and baggage.

Keep in mind the ELF program is very competitive. If you're serious about getting selected, thoroughly review the application requirements and documents in addition to what the upcoming projects entail. You'll also need to show evidence of the competencies they look for (e.g., classroom management, instructional technology, syllabus evaluation/design/development, materials and/or resource development, professional development...). Since you completed your MA TESOL only a couple of months ago, I suggest creating a digital portfolio of your work. (See A professional ePortfolio can help you stand out.) Lastly, in your current part-time position, make sure you're formally observed. Even though you're not full time, you should learn as much as you can to make the most of your experience.
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1112
Location: New York

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I submitted a resume for the ELF program a few years back, and they called me almost immediately. I do not have a world-beating resume, though I do have a related masters and experience. I spoke with the friendly woman about the position at some length, and by the end I understood that it simply wasn't for me at that time. However, in some years, I may re-visit the possibility.
I got the impression, though she did not say this directly, that they really needed to fill a few spots. Of course, this was five years ago, and things certainly could have changed.
I knew two ELFs during my time abroad, and they seemed to enjoy the work quite a lot. It seems to me to be a pretty good option for professionals who don't have kids (or perhaps have kids and the means to support their education, etc.).
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Gulezar



Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 447

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:08 am    Post subject: Re: The US Department of State teach abroad program Reply with quote

Hemlock32 wrote:
Anyone else considering working for them? Have any of you already worked for them and want to share an experience? It really doesn´t look too bad. A lot of perks for a 10-month full-time job. You just need to be willing to go anywhere, it seems. Doesn´t this kind of sound like an extended vacation?


The application is quite extensive, and your referees will have quite a bit to respond to, also. I would suggest that you get them on board and politely encourage them to follow up as soon as possible. The interview questions follow the same topics as the application and the referees' topics. Once the application is submitted, the process can move along very quickly, meaning in less than two weeks you could hear back. Of course, that probably depends on your qualifications and what you can offer.

I think that the interview period is coming to an end, and possibly has ended for this year.

Apparently, candidates' preferences and positions will be matched from January on into the summer. You can always decline and you go back into the pool.

That's what I know about the interview process. These are my questions about the job, with an understanding that some answers are entirely dependent on the actual posting.

    Does it pay $30,000 for the 10 months.
    Are you paid in dollars?
    I assume that you cannot claim an overseas tax home and you must pay federal and Social Security.
    How is the health coverage? That depends how far out in the bush you happen to be, of course.


It seems to be similar to the British Council. Being attached to the US Embassy and doing something to promote the US educational mission abroad does seem to be a worthy endeavor and could prove politically and, eventually, financially rewarding. It could be a good place to start that journal that we've all thought about, develop a blog or work up a photography portfolio. Perhaps it could be a very interesting vacation with some nice embassy perks, connections and parties. Wherever you end up, you'll be living above the standard of most of the common people and, in some cases, better than the average Joe EFL teacher on the street.

I'm more worried now, since even the diversity lottery is under attack, that someone might find a program that promotes American educational and cultural values abroad to be unacceptable. "Send lawyers, guns and money," but forget the books.
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uh huh



Joined: 14 Oct 2011
Posts: 107
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:16 am    Post subject: The US Department of State Reply with quote

Being an ELF is a mixed bag and changes from year to year. A colleague was placed several years ago with very little experience; other years, the selection process is much more competitive. The expense allowance is good. I wouldn't count on having connections with the embassy; a colleague on one of my two assignments remarked that the embassy treated us "like flies buzzing around their heads." Since you're attached to a university or institute, you'll likely be in or near a large city. The stipend is paid in dollars and deposited in your US account.

Feel free to send me a PM.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10901
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Perhaps it could be a very interesting vacation with some nice embassy perks, connections and parties. Wherever you end up, you'll be living above the standard of most of the common people and, in some cases, better than the average Joe EFL teacher on the street.

It's not an interesting "vacation"; ELFs are expected to work. As for standard of living, see these challenges ELFs may face.

Also check out the following for an overview of the types of responsibilities/duties of an ELF:
Quote:
Fellows work directly with local teachers, students, and education professionals to provide English language instruction, develop resources, and conduct evaluations. In addition to their teaching duties, Fellows organize and participate in cultural exchange projects within their communities. From hosting events and celebrating holidays, to providing students with opportunities to express themselves through different forms of art, Fellows are cultural ambassadors who create innovative activities to support public diplomacy initiatives.

Many Fellows also collaborate with Regional English Language Officers to develop teacher training seminars in areas such as methodology, curriculum or materials development, and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Fellows often support other U.S. Department of State initiatives in English language education, such as the English Access Microscholarship Program for underprivileged students and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program. (Source: https://elprograms.org/fellow/assignments/)
.
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uh huh



Joined: 14 Oct 2011
Posts: 107
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:45 pm    Post subject: The US Department of State Reply with quote

How much work an ELF does is wildly variable, certainly not predictable, and has a great deal to do with the relationship between the host and the embassy. I met an ELF in Uganda who taught one class a week. I taught 12 hours a week in one position and had the summer off, which had a lot to do with people at the host university feeling that an ELF had been forced on them. Other ELFs are far busier.
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