FAQs

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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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

For exchange teachers:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Living stipend of approximately $20,000; and
  • Housing in the form of a monthly housing allowance for the duration of the program, calculated based on average housing prices for the assigned host community.

 

For host schools: 

  • A highly qualified teacher of Mandarin/Arabic for one academic year; 
  • 8-10 hours a month of community outreach to build support for a language program;
  • A two-day Host School Orientation in Washington, DC for the mentor teacher, including transportation; and
  • Professional development workshops.
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Can my school 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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How are host school applications evaluated?

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.

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 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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How much does hosting a teacher cost?

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. 

  • Fully-funded: all exchange teacher expenses are covered by the program, except any teacher certification fees if required by the district. 
  • Partially-funded level I: the host school covers the cost of the teachers housing; all other exchange teacher expenses are covered by the program, except any teacher certification fees if required by the district. 
  • Partially-funded level II: the host school covers the cost of the exchange teacher's housing, plus pays $32,000 for stipend, travel and professional development costs. This option is typical for schools that have already hosted TCLP teachers. 

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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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.
  • Designate a mentor teacher 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.
  • Designate a community liaison 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.
  • Cover the cost (if any) of teacher certification for the exchange teacher
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Are exchange teachers certified teachers?

Exchange teachers are certified teachers in their home countries and have at least four years of teaching experience in English as a Foreign Language, Arabic, or Chinese.

Since the teacher certification process in the U.S. varies by district, host schools are required to identify what is needed for their exchange teacher to be certified to teach in their school. Many states offer temporary or long-term substitute certifications that allow teachers to teach independently without needing to complete exams like the Praxis. Upon acceptance of the grant, TCLP staff will work with host schools to inform their exchange teachers of what they should prepare in order to streamline the certification process, for example, having transcripts translated or evaluated by a third party. All host schools are responsible for the costs related to certification, regardless of funding level.

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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 with TCLP and host school approvals starting in late December.

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What type of 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 and a minimum of 10 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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Are host schools responsible for the exchange teachers' housing?

The expectation is that host schools will help to find 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 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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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 may apply again to host a different exchange teacher through the Teachers of Critical Languages Program in order to continue building sustainable Chinese or Arabic language programs.

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I am a Chinese citizen. Can I participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

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

  • Is a citizen of 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 full-time classroom teaching experience;
  • Has a firm understanding of Mandarin;
  • Is prepared to teach for the entire U.S. academic year with leave time limited to school breaks;
  • 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.

Contact tclp@americancouncils.org for application details.

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I am an Egyptian citizen. Can I participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

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

  • Is a citizen of 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 full-time classroom teaching experience;
  • Has a firm understanding of Modern Standard Arabic (fus’ha);
  • Is prepared to teach for the entire U.S. academic year with leave time limited to school breaks;
  • 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.

Contact tclp@americancouncils.org for application details.

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I am a Moroccan citizen. Can I participate in the Teachers of Critical Languages Program?

Competition for TCLP is merit-based and open to anyone who:
• Is a citizen of 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 full-time classroom teaching experience;
• Has a firm understanding of Modern Standard Arabic (fus’ha);
• Is prepared to teach for the entire U.S. academic year with leave time limited to school breaks;
• 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.

Contact tclp@americancouncils.org for application details.

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