Celebrating 50 Years of the English Language Fellow Program

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English Language Fellow Howard Johnson leads a teacher training workshop in Togo.

Celebrating 50 Years of the English Language Fellow Program

In 1969, a few adventurous Americans traveled down the metaphorical (and probably literal) bumpy road to teach English in South America through a then-U.S. Information Agency Program called English Teaching Fellows. It’s evident those American teachers had a positive impact, because 50 years later, the program is still going strong with over 200 Fellows in over 80 countries participating each year.

The State Department’s English Language Fellow Program is the premiere international exchange opportunity for U.S. English teaching professionals. The 10-month fellowship program is highly competitive for educators in the United States and highly sought by institutions abroad. The program participants, or Fellows, are experienced educators with advanced degrees who improve English language teaching capacity in their host countries while benefiting from opportunities for professional and personal growth.

America reaps many benefits from this program, as well. Upon completion of the program, Fellows bring home enhanced skills which improve U.S. institutions. They also share their experiences, which help globalize their local schools and communities. Living and teaching in another country is a very different experience from simply reading about that country in the news. This unique experience allows program participants to connect with the world on a personal level – a key goal of our people-to-people exchanges.

In honor of 50 years of the program’s success, the State Department will host a celebratory event in November 2019 in the Benjamin Franklin Room.  With members of Congress, foreign embassy representatives, and distinguished alumni in attendance, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce will host the event and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Lussenhop will deliver keynote remarks to honor the program, its participants, and its partners.to honor the program, its participants, and its partners. The program will present awards to three outstanding Fellow alumni and seven U.S. universities who have been key partners of the Fellow program - University of Colorado BoulderUniversity of OregonSchool for International TrainingColumbia UniversityMiddlebury Institute of International StudiesUniversity of Washington, and San Francisco State University.

Bret Vlazny celebrates with English teachers in the West Bank.

50 years from now, we predict that the impact of English Language Fellows and the people-to-people connections they have made will still be felt and that we’ll be celebrating 100 years of success.

About the Author: Jennifer Hodgson works at the U.S. Department of State as a Program Officer for the English Language Fellow Program.