Department of State - English Language Fellow (ELF) Program

Please consult the program website to confirm details, including applicable deadlines.

Visit Program Website Here

Program Description and Benefits: 

The English Language Fellow (ELF) Program is a diplomacy initiative that sends TESOL professionals on paid teaching assignments at universities and other academic institutions in more than 80 countries abroad. English Language Fellows assist U.S. Embassies in delivering and maintaining quality English language programs. Fellows share their expertise and interests, develop new skills by teaching in different contexts, and gain unique international experience. They also support U.S. Department of State diplomatic efforts to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.

Most projects follow the U.S. academic calendar, beginning in September and ending in June. However, a small number of off-cycle projects are available from February to November.

Fellows work directly with local teachers, students, and education professionals to provide English language instruction, develop resources, and conduct evaluations.

Fellows primarily work with individuals for whom English is a foreign or a second language. As English language teachers, most Fellows teach undergraduate and graduate students, as well as pre-service or in-service professionals. A typical work week for a Fellow includes up to 20 classroom contact hours and 10 hours of class preparation and planning, plus time for additional activities. As a guest faculty member, Fellows also fulfill all professional obligations of their host institution, which may include conducting workshops, attending staff meetings, thesis advising, maintaining office hours for consultation, and peer evaluation.

In addition to their teaching duties, Fellows organize and participate in cultural exchange projects within their communities. From hosting events and celebrating holidays, to providing students with opportunities to express themselves through different forms of art, Fellows are cultural ambassadors who create innovative activities to support public diplomacy initiatives.

Many Fellows also collaborate with Regional English Language Officers to develop teacher training seminars in areas such as methodology, curriculum or materials development, and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

Fellows often support other U.S. Department of State initiatives in English language education, such as the English Access Microscholarship Program for underprivileged students and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program. Involvement in these projects has helped alumni obtain higher-level jobs in the TESOL field.

Application Process: 

Candidates will have a chance to voluntarily share information about specific regional preferences, as well as plans to travel with accompanying persons. The Program will only use information related to personal considerations to help facilitate a successful project match.

Some projects may have additional requirements and restrictions related to a candidate’s education or employment history, medical conditions, dependents, language skills, or other areas. These factors will not preclude a candidate from consideration for the fellowship program; however, they may prevent candidates from consideration for certain projects.

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until all projects are filled.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early (the application cycle usually opens in September) in order to have the best chance of being considered for all available projects.

Candidates that apply before the priority application deadline (that is, usually before December 31) are the first to enter the project matching phase when it begins in January.

Candidates that apply after the priority deadline will only be considered for projects that remain available at the time they enter the applicant pool.

The application cycle usually ends in July.

The application is extensive and made up of two sections: Application Profile and Fellow Application. See "More Information" below for the contents of these sections.

Applicant Profile: 

The English Language Fellow Program is highly competitive, and the teachers selected to participate represent the best of the U.S. TESOL community. Competitive applicants will have a demonstrated commitment to the field of English language teaching.


In addition to satisfying program eligibility requirements, applicants should demonstrate the following experience and qualities for project consideration: Personal qualities of flexibility, cultural adaptability, resourcefulness, desire and ability to live and work abroad, and motivation to be a Fellow.

Candidates considered most competitive, particularly for more specialized projects, will also demonstrate some or all of the following qualities and skills:

Teacher training, instructional technology, online teaching, materials development, EAP, especially academic writing and research, ESP teaching, and/or STEM for K-12 and university experience living and teaching EFL abroad.

A commitment to the field of English language teaching through membership in an English language teaching professional association, experience presenting at English language teaching conferences, and publishing materials in the field of TESOL.

Leadership skills, excellent work ethic, and the ability to take initiative, work well with others, problem solve, and show good judgment.


Most qualified applicants will have graduate level degree in TESOL, applied linguistics, or a field related to English language teaching.

Alternatively, applicants with a graduate level degree in a field unrelated to TESOL are eligible to apply if they have one of the following additional credentials: (A) a recognized TESOL certificate with at least 120 course hours plus a supervised and observed practicum; (B) a current, valid, and full state teacher credential, certification, or license with a specialization or an endorsement in ESL or the equivalent.

If a non-U.S. institution awarded the qualifying degree, it must be evaluated by an educational credential evaluation service. The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services offers a list of evaluation companies from which applicants may obtain a "General Evaluation."

A minimum of two years’ classroom TESOL (ESL and/or EFL) teaching experience is also required, in one of the following contexts:

UNIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE CONTEXTS: one academic year consists of two semesters or three terms at 12 to 15 instructional hours/week.

ADULT EDUCATION: one academic year consists of the equivalent of two semesters or three terms at 12 to 15 instructional hours/week.

K-12 PUBLIC/PRIVATE SCHOOL SETTINGS: one academic year consists of two semesters or three terms at 15 to 25 instructional hours/week


U.S. citizens only.

More information: 

The Application Profile section asks for the following information:

  • Personal Information – Personal contact information. Applicants will be asked whether they have previously been a recipient of a government grant, such as an English Language Fellowship or Peace Corps Volunteer assignment. They should also be prepared to answer questions about your criminal convictions history.
  • Education/Credentials – Details of the applicant's academic background, including relevant degrees, certificates, diplomas, and state ESL endorsements or other required credentials for eligibility.
  • Resume/CV – A current resume/CV to include all of the applicant's relevant professional experience.
  • Language Skills – While additional language skills are not required, they can be helpful on projects in certain regions. Applicants should indicate other languages they speak, if any, and to what degree.
  • Affiliations and Awards – List all affiliations to organizations or professional associations to which the applicant belongs, such as TESOL International, regional TESOLs, NABE, or others. Indicate any relevant academic or professional awards or accolades.

The Fellow Application section asks for the following information, essays and documents:

  • Project Preferences – Applicants may indicate here any preferences to work in a certain region. Be aware, however, that applicants are matched to projects based on their professional skill set, experience, and the needs of the project. Applicant preferences will be taken into consideration when possible, but they may not be matched within their preferred region. The more flexibility applicants can offer about where they are willing to serve, the greater their chances are of being selected for a fellowship.
  • References – Provide contact information for at least two professional references. One of the two references should be the applicant's current or most recent supervisor who has observed them in the classroom. References will be emailed a link to an electronic questionnaire with six questions. References should be able to speak about the applicant's ability to succeed in the Fellow Program by providing examples of their work ethic, initiative, leadership skills, resourcefulness, flexibility, judgment, classroom management skills, and overall strengths and weaknesses. Reference responses are confidential. The application is not complete until the two required references have responded.
  • Professional Experience – All relevant professional experience, including employer name, city, state, and country, as well as the applicant's title, employment dates, average hours per week and instructional hours, if applicable.
  • Professional Capabilities – Applicants answer a series of questions here about their experience in the following areas. In 70 words or less, they should provide specific evidence of their experience in any of these areas:

    • ESL; EFL; K-12, including, but not limited to SIOP;

    • content-based instruction, including, but not limited to STEM;

    • higher education;

    • adult education;

    • presentations/workshops;

    • teacher training;

    • training of trainers;

    • materials and/or resource development;

    • syllabus evaluation/design/development;

    • EAP, including, but not limited to academic writing, research, publications;

    • ESP, including, but not limited to law, business, journalism, tourism;

    • instructional technology;

    • testing and assessment development;

    • TOEFL or IELTS test prep or scoring;

    • leading relevant extracurricular activities. 

  • Essays, Lesson Plans, and Additional Documents

  • Statement of Purpose (400-500 words): This narrative is designed to give the reviewers an idea of the applicant's motivation to be a Fellow. It is an opportunity to explain what they hope to contribute to the program as a cultural ambassador and English language teaching professional. Reviewers also want to know how the applicant would assess their cultural adaptability and how the ELF experience relates to their future goals as an English language teaching professional. 

  • Short Answer Questions (250 words each): Applicants respond to four questions regarding their ability to succeed in the Fellow Program. Applicants need to supply examples of their work ethic, initiative, leadership skills, resourcefulness, flexibility, judgment, and classroom management skills.

  • ​Lesson Plan: One ESL/EFL classroom lesson plan is required of all applicants. Must be an original lesson plan that the applicant has personally developed and used in their work.

  • Lesson Plan: An additional teacher training module is optional; however, it is required if an applicant wishes to be considered for projects that are primarily teacher training. Must be an original module that the applicant has personally developed and used in their work.

  • Transcript for qualifying graduate level degree.

  • Certificates and Credentials: Applicable TESOL certificates and/or K-12 ESL state credentials.

  • Additional Documents: Any TESOL related professional presentations, publications, honors or awards, leadership activities, or other information from relevant projects they have led or contributed to.

  • Additional Experience Abroad – Information about other relevant experience abroad. Provide details related to country, purpose, type of position (study abroad, volunteer, presentation/conference, or other), and dates.

  • Dependent/Family Information – Indicate any family members who would accompany you on a fellowship. This information may help ELF facilitate a successful match. The applicant's answer to this question will not preclude them from being considered for the English Language Fellow Program; however, the applicant may not be considered for certain projects due to special requirements or restrictions. 

Visit the Projects and Stories ELF Page for articles written by English Language Fellows about their experiences abroad, organized by region and country.

How To Apply: 

SF State students and alumni may apply directly to this program. These students may seek feedback from the Fellowships Office on the application essays and other materials well in advance of the program deadline. Applicants should be prepared to devote significant time to developing and revising their essays and other application materials.

Resources for Applicants

Why Should You Apply for a Fulbright?

Quick Links

Fellowships Office

Dr. Joy Viveros

Phone: 415.405.2128
Reception: Grad Stop, ADM 250 
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132