FAQs

I am a Moroccan citizen. How do I apply to participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

Contact tclp@americancouncils.org for application details. Competition for TCLP is merit-based and open to anyone who:
• Is a citizen of Morocco who currently resides in Morocco;
• Is currently a full time teacher of English as a Foreign Language or Arabic as a Foreign Language in a primary or secondary (K-12) school in Morocco;
• At the time of application, has at least four years of classroom teaching experience;
• Has a firm understanding of Modern Standard Arabic (fus’ha);
• Has at least a bachelor’s degree;
• Demonstrates a commitment to continue teaching after completion of the program; and
• Is proficient in written and spoken English.

Individuals in the following circumstances are NOT eligible for TCLP:
• U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States, or their spouses;
• Individuals currently participating in academic, training, or research programs in the United States;
• Individuals who have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years;
• Individuals currently studying, residing, or working outside of Morocco;
• Ministry of Education officials, full-time principals or educational administrators, full-time teacher trainers, education consultants, university faculty, private English Language tutors; and
• Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored by the U.S. government for a period of more than six weeks in the last five years.

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I am an Egyptian citizen. How do I apply to participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

Applications will be available in October 2016 at http://tclprogram.org/arabic-application. Competition for TCLP is merit-based and open to anyone who:

  • Is a citizen of Egypt who currently resides in Egypt;
  • Is currently a full time teacher of English as a Foreign Language or Arabic as a Foreign Language in a primary or secondary (K-12) school in Egypt;
  • At the time of application has at least four years of classroom teaching experience;
  • Has a firm understanding of Modern Standard Arabic (fus’ha);
  • Has at least a bachelor’s degree;
  • Demonstrates a commitment to continue teaching after completion of the program; and
  • Is proficient in written and spoken English.

Individuals in the following circumstances are NOT eligible for TCLP:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States, or their spouses;
  • Individuals currently participating in academic, training, or research programs in the United States;
  • Individuals who have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years;
  • Individuals currently studying, residing, or working outside of Egypt;
  • Ministry of Education officials, full-time principals or educational administrators, full-time teacher trainers, education consultants, university faculty, private English Language tutors; and
  • Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored by the U.S. government for a period of more than six weeks in the last five years.
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I am a Chinese citizen. How do I apply to participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

Applications will soon available at: http://tclprogram.org/chinese-application.

Competition for TCLP is merit-based and open to anyone who:

  • Is a citizen of China who currently resides in China;
  • Is currently a full time teacher of English as a Foreign Language or Chinese as a Foreign Language in a primary or secondary (K-12) school in China;
  • At the time of application has at least four years of classroom teaching experience;
  • Has a firm understanding of Mandarin;
  • Has at least a bachelor’s degree;
  • Demonstrates a commitment to continue teaching after completion of the program; and
  • Is proficient in written and spoken English

Individuals in the following circumstances are NOT eligible for TCLP:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States, or their spouses;
  • Individuals currently participating in academic, training, or research programs in the United States;
  • Individuals who have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years;
  • Individuals currently studying, residing, or working outside of China;
  • Ministry of Education officials, full-time principals or educational administrators, full-time teacher trainers, education consultants, university faculty, private English Language tutors; and
  • Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored by the U.S. government for a period of more than six weeks in the last five years.
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Is it possible for an exchange teacher to teach at the host school for a second year?

Each exchange teacher's J-1 visa is valid for one academic year only and no visa extensions can be granted. Host schools, however, may apply to host a different exchange teacher in a second year through the Teachers of Critical Languages Program in order to continue building sustainable Chinese or Arabic language programs.

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What is the orientation for host school administrators and mentors? Is there a cost for the host school representatives to attend?

The host school online course is a five-part series of hour-long sessions for school administrators, mentor teachers, and (in some cases) community liaisons that takes places after notifications in April. The host school representatives will participate in sessions that discuss the program policies, benefits, and cross cultural communication among other program details.

In addition to the online course, there is a mandatory host school orientation for mentor teachers in Washington, DC. This two-day conference takes place during the last days of the exchange teachers' program orientation in August. This orientation is the first opportunity for school representatives to meet with their exchange teachers; representatives are requested to bring with them concrete information about exchange teachers' transitional housing and school plans, as well as specifics about who will greet them when they first arrive in their host communities. The mentor teacher from each host school also participates in sessions that discuss program policies, cross-cultural communication, and how to get the most out of the exchange year. After the orientation, the mentor teacher and exchange teacher return to the host school community together to begin the exchange program.

The TCLP application provides two funding level options:

  • For the fully funded option, mentor teacher representatives will attend the Host School Orientation in August at no cost to their school; their transportation, per-diem, and hotel rooms will be paid for under the terms of the grant.

Please note that all rooms will be double-occupancy by gender regardless of funding options. Alternative arrangements may be an option for an additional cost based on availability.

Quotes from past mentor teachers:

I was very impressed with the organization of the program and all the thoughtful details to ensure a successful experience for both, mentor and exchange teacher.”

“The TCLP has done a clear, consistent, and thoughtful job at transitioning schools and teachers. There should be transitions like this for people who are moving or getting ready to live and work in cultures/countries.”

“I appreciate you packing such an abundance of useful information into such a short amount of time and making it such an enjoyable experience!”

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What occurs during the exchange teachers' orientation in Washington?

Before the program begins, exchange teachers participate in an eight-day orientation in Washington, DC, which is typically at the end of July or early August. During this time, exchange teachers gain knowledge on a range of topics, including U.S. educational structure and current issues; constructivist, activity-based, and learner-centered teaching approaches; U.S. foreign language teaching methods; classroom management techniques; U.S. culture and society; relationship-building techniques with the host schools and other exchange teachers; and strategies for integrating into the host school and community.

Exchange teachers also participate in a teaching practicum where they discuss methodologies and best practices with foreign language teaching specialists, observe modeled lessons in area schools, and take part in a facilitated analysis of the lessons' components. During the teaching practicum, exchange teachers design activity-based lessons and become acquainted with classroom management and cooperative learning strategies.

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What are the expectations regarding transportation for exchange teachers? Can exchange teachers drive?

Host schools are expected to have a plan in place for exchange teachers' transportation needs. Exchange teachers can walk or use public transportation if their housing is strategically located. Historically, in the areas that public transportation is not available many people from the host school and community have volunteered to help with the exchange teachers' transportation.

Some exchange teachers have no experience driving cars in their home country while others may have an international driver's license -- in either case, the exchange teachers will need to take the driving test required by the host states. If driving a car will be the primary mode of transportation, schools should indicate on the application if a car will be made available for the exchange teacher; how the school will facilitate training, licensing, and the acquisition of insurance; and the details of the transportation plan in the time period between when the teacher arrives and when he/she obtains a driver's license.

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Are host schools responsible for the exchange teachers' housing? Can exchange teachers live with host families?

The expectation is that host schools will make housing arrangements for the exchange teacher because they know the best locations for exchange teachers to live in the host community.

  • For a fully funded program, the host school must arrange housing accommodations (an apartment, a rented room in a house, or a home-stay) in the host community with the understanding that rent and other living expenses will be paid by the exchange teacher (who will receive a housing allowance).
  • For a partially funded program, the host school must arrange and pay for housing accommodations (an apartment, a rented room in a house, or a home-stay) in the host community.

Apartments, houses, basement rentals, and host family arrangements are all acceptable, and host schools should be prepared to  collaborate with the exchange teacher when they arrive in August to make sure the housing is satisfactory. Host schools are expected to arrange for safe and secure housing that has access to local public transportation or is strategically located to allow exchange teachers to function independently in the community.

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What are the responsibilities of the community liaison?

The community liaison is designated by the host school to serve as a resource for the exchange teacher's transition into the host community, outside of school. Typically, prior to the exchange teacher's arrival, this person assists with locating the teacher's housing and makes arrangements for his/her transportation. After the exchange teacher arrives in the host community this person also schedules tours of the community, provides introductions to community groups, activities, and programs, and throughout the year assists the exchange teacher with becoming part of the host community. Anyone in the community can serve in this role.

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What are the responsibilities of the mentor teacher?

The mentor teacher is the person designated by the host school to provide ongoing professional support to the exchange teacher at the local level. Any teacher can serve in this capacity. The ideal mentor teacher has a genuine interest in cross-cultural exchange; the ability to provide guidance and counsel on best practices and school policies regarding classroom management, curriculum development, assessment, and other school norms; and can devote time both to exchange teacher's classroom observation and to the regular sharing of best practices through team-teaching in cooperative and/or interdisciplinary ways. He/she should also be willing to assist the exchange teacher in forming faculty networks, constructing positive classroom climate, and establishing a strong rapport with students.

Quote from a past mentor teacher: “The mentor teacher should be a person who supports the visiting teacher on many levels.  These teachers need emotional support, academic support, cultural awareness support, etc.  Mentor teachers need to be willing to spend the time necessary to bond with the visiting teacher and assist him/her in adapting to teaching and living in the United States.”

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What teaching schedule do exchange teachers follow?

The policy for program participants is that they will have a maximum of 20 classroom teaching hours per week. The remaining 20 hours of the 40-hour work week are allocated to curriculum development, guest presentations in colleagues' classes, outreach to other district and area schools, and the designing of extracurricular activities. In their applications, the host schools should propose schedules that demonstrate how exchange teachers will contribute toward the development and expansion of their foreign language programs.

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What type of visa do exchange teachers receive?

Exchange teachers receive a J-1 visa that is valid for one academic year only. They must return to their home countries for a period of at least two years immediately upon completion of the program. Families may visit TCLP teachers during the academic program; however, the program is unable to offer financial support for family members of participants to come to the U.S. For those participants who decide to bring their family, family members may join only after November 22, 2017 with TCLP and host school approvals.

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Are exchange teachers certified?

Selected exchange teachers are certified teachers in their home countries and each comes to the U.S. with at least four years of teaching experience in English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL), or Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCFL). Since the teacher certification process varies from state to state in the U.S., the host schools are required to identify, then describe certification procedures and requirements in their applications in order for the exchange teacher to begin teaching in the shortest amount of time. If awarded the grant, the host school is responsible for the costs related to certification, which might include funding the teacher to take the TOEFL or other necessary tests. Exchange teachers are asked to bring original copies of their university transcripts and certifications with them to the U.S.

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What criteria are used to evaluate international teachers for participation in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

To be eligible to participate in this program, international teachers must:

  • Be a citizen of China, Egypt, or Morocco;
  • Currently teach Chinese/Arabic/English as a Foreign Language in a K-12 school;
  • Have at least four years of classroom teaching experience;
  • Have at least a Bachelor's degree; and
  • Have English language proficiency in written and spoken English.

Teachers will be selected through independent panel evaluations and in-person interviews.

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What is cost sharing? Is it required?

While strongly encouraged, cost-sharing is not required to participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program. As exchange teachers represent a significant financial investment, a school's proposal of cost-sharing helps demonstrate its ownership in the development of a critical foreign language program.

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What is expected of host schools?

Host schools are expected to:

  • Help ensure that exchange teachers are comfortable and successful in their classrooms;
  • Make the exchange teachers feel part of the faculty and schools' educational communities (e.g. through shared activities and social events);
  • Support the teachers' transition into their new classrooms, especially
    • guidance in understanding schedules;
    • developing experience with activity-based education and classroom management; and
    • facilitating collegial relationships with fellow teachers.
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Does the level of host school funding affect the selection process?

No. Your school’s chances of being selected will NOT be affected by whether you opt to apply for a fully-funded or partially-funded exchange teacher. However, at the end of the selection process when host schools are being matched with qualified exchange teachers, additional slots may become available if some host school finalists have selected partially funded options.

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Is there a monetary contribution required from the host school?

TCLP is funded through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and provides three possible funding levels for host schools.  More slots are available for partially funded options.

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What criteria are used to evaluate host school applications?

The host schools are selected based on the following criteria:

  • The academic program plan;
  • The school's commitment to the program;
  • The presence of diverse student and community populations with whom the exchange teacher can interact;
  • Professional development opportunities for the exchange teacher;
  • Cultural exchange opportunities for both the exchange teacher and the host community; and
  • The school's sustainability plan for its Arabic/Chinese foreign language program.
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Will I be notified by American Councils upon their receipt of my application?

Yes, all applicants will receive email confirmation indicating whether the application is complete, or if additional materials are needed.

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I have questions about hosting a teacher and completing the online application. Can you put me in touch with current or former host schools to get their advice?

You are welcome to participate in a live, online chat with the TCLP program staff and TCLP U.S. alumni hosts. During this online chat session, you will learn how this program can make a lasting difference in your school and community, and get your questions answered in real time. Please check the news section of the TCLP website for dates and times of these online chats.

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Which schools are eligible to apply to host a Chinese or Arabic exchange teacher?

All K-12 schools in the United States are eligible to apply to participate in this program, including any public, private, or charter school that is looking to develop or already has a developing or established language program in Chinese or Arabic.

 

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What are the benefits of participating in TCLP?

TCLP is funded through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and provides the following benefits:

  • Selection and placement of a qualified exchange teacher with a minimum 4 years of teaching experience
  • J-1 visa support;
  • A Pre-Departure Orientation held in the exchange teacher’s home country;
  • Round-trip airfare from each participant’s home country to and within the U.S.;
  • An eight-day Welcome Orientation in Washington, DC;
  • A two-day Host School Orientation in Washington, DC for the mentor teacher, including transportation
  • An approximately 11-month teaching assignment in a U.S. host school;
  • Professional development workshops;
  • Accident and sickness insurance for exchange teachers;
  • Assistance with finding housing, generally arranged by the U.S. host school/educational community; and
  • Maintenance allowance for exchange teachers of approximately $30,000, comprised of a maintenance stipend of $20,000 and an area housing allowance based on average housing prices for the assigned host community.
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What is the process for host school selection?

After the application deadline, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and American Councils will convene an independent panel consisting of U.S. teachers, TCLP alumni, curriculum designers, and foreign language specialists who will review the hosting applications and determine semi-finalists. The semi-finalists will be interviewed via telephone by program staff and the finalists' selection will be based on the applications and interview results. Schools selected to host an exchange teacher will be notified in the spring.

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What is TCLP?

The Teachers of Critical Languages Program (TCLP), a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, is designed to increase the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of Mandarin and Arabic by bringing Chinese, Egyptian, and Moroccan teachers to the U.S. to teach their native languages and culture for an academic year. The exchange teachers receive on-going methodological observation and training opportunities, live and work in an immersive English environment, and receive a certificate of participation following their exchange.

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