Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) Program
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Nepal has been running since the first cohort of three ETAs came to Nepal in August 2009. While Fulbright ETAs in Nepal primarily focus on their work as co-teachers in English language classrooms in Nepali government schools, ETAs have engaged in a broad range of training, curriculum review and development, and extra-curricular activities focused on the use of English, which have made ETAs valuable resources both at their schools and in their communities. Additionally, ETAs have acted as resource people to support the work of the Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA), a professional association of Nepali English language teachers which assists in the implementation of the Fulbright ETA program.
All Fulbright ETAs are partnered with NELTA members as co-teachers and a NELTA member is also assigned as a “focal person” to small groups of ETAs living and working in close proximity to each other. The Fulbright Commission Program Officer oversees the program and remains in close contact with the NELTA focal persons.
Since the beginning of the program’s implementation in Nepal, ETAs have lived and worked in Kavre district and in Lalitpur district. In the academic year 2012-13, the program also seeks to expand beyond these localities to place ETAs in more rural areas in districts outside the Kathmandu Valley.
Overall objectives of the program
The program’s primary objective is to assist in the overall improvement of English language instruction in Nepal. To do so, ETAs are placed in Nepali government schools as co-teachers with English teachers who are also members of the NELTA organization. The presence of a native speaker of English in the schools helps the students, the teachers and other members of the school and broader community in improving spoken English and in learning about the U.S. To promote cultural immersion and Nepali language learning, all ETAs are placed in home stays with Nepali families for the duration of the grant period.
Role of NELTA
The Fulbright ETA program in Nepal’s primary structure is the co-teaching partnership between ETAs and English language teachers who are NELTA members in government schools. The individual school calendar is thus the main calendar guiding the work schedule of all ETAs. When extra time is available and the individual ETA has interest, the NELTA focal persons may involve ETAs in NELTA branch activities or other extra-curricular activities involving the promotion of English language learning. During school breaks, ETAs also have opportunities to travel to NELTA branches in various parts of the country to assist in trainings and to conduct English language sessions.
Individual flexibility within a structured program
While the Commission and NELTA seek to be as responsive and encouraging as possible to the individual talents and interests of the ETAs, experience has shown that the work of the ETA and the demands of living in a home stay leave little extra time for individual research or other types of activities. It is important for all applicants to understand clearly that the Fulbright ETA program is not a research program, but rather a program that focuses on English language learning and teaching.
While all Fulbright grantees are allowed a 14-day vacation period during the grant period, for Fulbright ETAs in Nepal, it is important that this vacation be taken during periods when the schools are not in session and NELTA has not planned other activities.
A distinctive focus of the Fulbright ETA program in Nepal is that all ETAs live in home stay accommodations with Nepali host families. This sort of living arrangement offers varied opportunities for cultural immersion and language learning otherwise difficult to achieve. While the home stay has been a very successful aspect of the program in Nepal, it is also important for applicants to understand that there will necessarily be cross-cultural issues that emerge and particular stresses as a result of living in what are generally very friendly and welcoming, albeit basic conditions.
For more information, consult http://us.fulbrightonline.org/thinking_teaching.html