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English Teaching Forum
Outside the United States
Language Officers Worldwide
U.S.Gov't - based Resources for Teachers
Frequently Asked Questions
Who produces the most widely distributed publication in the ET
The one correct answer for all of the above is the U.S. Information Agency.
With a small and low profile in the United States, its work is often masked
by the institutions it works with--Fulbright/CIES, IIE, and NAFSA in the
U.S.--or unacknowledged because of generic names like American Cultural
Centers and binational centers overseas. But for nearly 50 years the U.S.
Information Agency (USIA) has provided support and direction for English
teaching resources, first to students, and then, as the profession matured,
to teachers who sought better guidance, training, and materials. Long
before the Berlin Wall fell, USIA was active in most East European countries.
Throughout Latin America countless thousands learned English in the 1950s
and 60s at binational centers (which are now down to only 300 or so in
Who is the largest publisher of EFL materials in Tbilisi, Georgia?
Where do teachers go, worldwide, for help in contacting American ET
Where can a new American M.A. graduate go for professional ET experience?
Who provides the most student advising outside the U.S.?
1. I'd like to be an English teacher and work overseas, but I don't
know anything about it. Can you offer any general advice about the ESL/EFL
field? For example, what is the difference between ESL and EFL? Do I need
any specialized training to teach English? Thanks.
Margaret Gamez has written a very useful summary that addresses these
and other questions. It is called "The International ESL/EFL/ESOL Resource
Guide to Frequently Asked Questions." You can find this Resource
Guide at Kristina Pfaff-Harris' Linguistic
2. Can you help me find a job teaching English outside the United
Unfortunately, no. The English Language Programs Division is not a
clearinghouse for ESL/EFL jobs. If you fit the criteria for any of our
three exchange programs (see Question #5), we encourage you to send in
an application. Otherwise, check out our page with job
links. You might also want to look at the Peace
Corps web site for information on becoming a volunteer.
3. How is USIA involved in English teaching?
The English Language Programs Division (ELPD) of the U.S. Information
Agency is the office responsible for U.S. government English teaching support
activities outside the U.S. With a total of 27 Civil Service and Foreign
Service personnel, the ELPD provides a wide range of services and products
throughout the world, most commonly through U.S. Information Service (USIS)
offices usually located near or within the American Embassy in the capital
city of a host country.
4. What is the difference between USIA and USIS?
USIA, located in Washington, D.C., is the acronym for the "United
States Information Agency" which is an independent foreign affairs agency
within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy
and national security interests abroad through a wide range of information
programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States
and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange
activities conducted by its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
USIS is the acronym for "United States Information Service" which
are how the overseas offices, or posts, of USIA are named. The Agency has
more than 190 posts in 141 countries.
5. What are the exchange programs that come under the supervision
of the English Language Programs Division?
We operate three exchange
programs which you are invited to review at our website: (A) the long-standing
English Teaching Fellow (ETF) program, currently administered by the School
for International Training, for recent American TESL/TEFL graduates--42
ETFs are currently "in the field"; (B) the Eastern Europe/NIS EFL Fellow
program, begun in 1991, this year has in place 30 American EFL/ESP teacher
trainers in 11 countries; and (C) the English Language Specialist program
which last year sent 77 American EL Specialists to some 37 countries.
6. What are USIA/USIS English Language Officers? The Programs
Branch of the ELPD is the home of nineteen Foreign Service English
Language Officers (ELOs), some based in Washington but the majority
of whom are posted outside the U.S. The field ELO is the U.S. government's
front line diplomatic and professional link between the English teaching
profession in the U.S. and counterpart ET professionals in other countries.
ELOs consult with host-country ministry, university, and teacher training
officials, as well as lecture and present workshops on EFL methodology
and practices; they stimulate and reinforce academic exchange programs
between the United States and other countries to help interpret American
life and institutions to the world; and they provide oversight for the
English Teaching Programs run directly by USIS
in Africa and the Middle East and engage in consultative services for
Binational Centers and English
Teaching Programs affiliated with USIS offices throughout the world.
ELOs who cover several countries, i.e., a region, are referred to as
RELOs (Regional English Language Officers).
7. Can a R/ELO help me find a job in a specific country if I contact
No, R/ELOs do not hire or recruit teachers. If you are interested in
a teaching job in a specific country it would be best to contact an institution
in that country directly. You could also contact the nearest embassy or
consulate of that country for information.
8. What is the English Teaching Forum?
The English Teaching Forum is probably the most well
known product of the ELPD. The Forum, with articles by and
for practicing English teachers, is the most widely distributed publication
of its kind in the world. This past year approximately 110,000 copies of
each issue were distributed in 185 countries.
9. How can I subscribe to the English Teaching Forum?
For subscription information, please review the ET
Forum page on our website.
10. Doesn't USIA produce English teaching materials?
Yes, the Materials Branch of the ELPD produces a wide variety of low
cost, English teaching and reference
materials. These titles are available outside of the United States
from our USIS offices; legislative restrictions prohibit the materials
from being distributed in the United States. Each overseas office of the
U.S. Information Service establishes its own policies regarding availability
and pricing. Anyone interested in obtaining these materials, which include
print, audio and limited video titles, should contact their nearest USIS
office. More than 514,000 titles (books and cassettes) were distributed
worldwide in the first seven months of the current fiscal year. There is
now also a catalog of Online Materials.
11. I know VOA
has radio programs that teach English. Are there any television programs
Yes, indeed. Please review our English
by Broadcast page.
Crossroads Cafe is the USIA's newest venture
in English-by-broadcast, with satellite broadcasts that began on October
7, 1996, to all of Latin America, where 3.5 million cable TV viewers can
watch it daily on USIA's Worldnet Television Service. Worldwide satellite
broadcast began in February 1997. Aimed at adults with lower level English
proficiency, this engaging series incorporates humor and drama in the daily
lives of a diverse group of people centered in a small lunchtime cafe.
There are culture clips and grammar spots to help bring language and cultural
problems into focus.
12. What is USIA's relationship with TESOL?
Family Album, USA has been a major project of the USIA
and Prentice Hall Regents, locally broadcast in more than 70 countries.
This enduring series provides intermediate-level learners with equal portions
of American culture and language, and has developed followers from Chile
The ELPD and TESOL (Teachers
of English to Speakers of Other Languages) have long had a cordial
as well as professional relationship, though there is no "official" connection
between the two. For several years the ELPD has been the major sponsor
for the "International Networking Event" during the TESOL Convention. In
addition, several live Worldnet programs with worldwide audiences have
been broadcast direct from the convention. Outside the U.S., the ELPD/USIS
can usually be found in action when members of TESOL affiliates come together
at national ET conferences.
13. How do USIA and the British Council get along?
ELPD maintains a cooperative, not competitive, relationship worldwide
with our colleagues in the U.K. Indeed, in many countries, the ELPD/USIS
and the British Council/ODA are
joint sponsors of a wide variety of English language projects, e.g., national
English teaching conferences in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, international
conferences in Senegal and Turkey, ongoing institutional co-support in
Indonesia and Malaysia (to name but a few). Simply put, "cooperation" is
the key word between the U.S. and the U.K.
14. Is the ELPD doing anything with the Internet?
The ELPD provides funding for support of the e-mail based TESL-L (the
Teachers of English as a Second Language Electronic List) which is hosted
at City University of New York. In early January 1998, the TESL-L Management
last reported having more than 21,000 members in 101 countries. For further
information on TESL-L, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe
to TESL-L, send an e-mail message to email@example.com with
the message SUBSCRIBE TESL-L FIRSTNAME LASTNAME.
There are also special online workshops that are scheduled and planned
for specific topics or regions. For more information on these, contact
your closest Regional
English Language Officer.
15. Where should I go for TEFL Training?
The USIA does not maintain lists of graduate schools in TEFL; there
are too many. Most state-supported universities have some kind of graduate
(M.A., Ph.D.) programs.
16. I have a friend who wants to study English in the United States.
Where should she go?
USIS offices support or maintain Student
Advising Centers which have directories of college and university
based ESL (English as a Second Language) programs. These directories
can provide potential students with most of the critical information
you need to make a school selection.
Do you have any other questions? We would enjoy receiving them, and
we will post the answers to them on this page. Send any questions to English@usia.gov.
This site is produced and maintained by the United States Information
Agency. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement
of the views contained therein.