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Specialist Program

Specialists are top-tier TESOL experts who lead intensive, high-level English language projects, including curriculum development, materials design, and ESP program implementation. Specialist projects vary in length from two weeks to three months, and may be in-country or virtual.

What Do Specialists Do?

Specialist projects are designed by U.S. Embassies for ministries of education, teachers' associations, and other education partners, with a wide range of project subjects, as this carousel illustrates.
Specialist makes plenary presentation

Specialists are often invited to be the keynote speaker at international conferences, such as CamTESOL.

Specialist at his virtual work space

Teaching pronunciation is hard enough in person - this Specialist created two five-week virtual seminars for Honduran teachers.

Specialist in Kuwait meets with workshop participants

Committee members developing the Kuwaiti English language curriculum presented the Specialist with a commemorative plaque.

Specialist in Bolivia meets with workshop participants

Specialists create opportunities for colleagues to share, discuss, and collaborate.

Specialist shares meal with workshop participant

Sharing a meal with organizers and participants is a very important part of any successful teacher training project.

Specialist in Chile meets with student

Specialist itineraries are packed: a schedule that begins with a large group training may end with one-to-one consultations.

Specialist meets with Indian teachers online

Creating a space where students are eager to participate online isn't easy, but this Specialist is an expert.

Specialist takes selfie with workshop teachers

Even when the subject is serious - Socio-Environmental Management in the Hydrocarbons Sector - there's time for a group photo.

Specialist in her home workspace working with teachers in Mexico

Specialists model what they teach, for example how to be comfortable conducting distance learning with teachers in Mexico.

Workshop participants completes task on blackboard

Specialists partner with teaching communities in all contexts, both high tech and low resource.

Specialist in Cambodia poses with teacher trainees at end of program

These novice teachers benefited from a 3-part TEYL workshop series for Cambodian public school teachers.

Workshop participants in Libya participate in communicative activity

Many Specialist projects focus on the professional development of in-service teachers and teacher trainers.

Specialist Program


English Language Specialists receive a generous benefits package for the valuable role they play in U.S. Embassy programming, and in achieving U.S. Department of State public diplomacy goals. 

  • Benefits depend on whether the Specialist project includes in-country activities, virtual activities, or a combination of both; the location of the project; etc. The final benefits package is outlined in the agreement Specialists receive from the program. 
  • Refer to the appropriate English Language Specialist Program Policy Handbook for more information on taxes and withholdings, and the benefits that are considered taxable income. Specialists are not employed by the U.S. government, the cooperating agency, or any agency or government of the country(ies) of assignment. Specialists are considered grantees and, for tax purposes, suppliers or independent contractors.

Specialists receive a daily stipend of $250 during travel, rest, and in-country activity dates.

Specialists receive an hourly stipend of $50 during virtual activity dates.

Stipends are deposited directly into the Specialist’s U.S. bank account, according to the payment schedule laid out in their agreement.

Specialists receive funds in support of planning for the performance of their project duties.

Specialists receive a living allowance during in-country activity dates, which varies from country to country, to cover the cost of lodging, meals, and local transportation.

Specialists do not receive a living allowance during virtual activity dates.

The program provides a round-trip economy class ticket to and from the in-country project location(s). Any required regional travel (between project cities) during in-country activity dates is also covered by the program.

Additionally, Specialists with in-country activities can claim reimbursement for certain expenses related to international travel, as outlined in the English Language Specialist Program Policy Handbook.

The program does not provide a travel allowance or travel-related reimbursements during virtual activity dates.

Funds are available for Specialists to be reimbursed for the purchase of materials and activities that supplement and enhance project activities.

  • During in-country activity dates examples include facilitating local conferences or workshops; establishing/enhancing resource centers, teacher associations, etc.; and, purchasing educational materials or small equipment and office supplies for the partnering organization(s).
  • For entirely virtual projects, examples may include new subscriptions to video/web conferencing services for the duration of the virtual activity dates, specialized software, or necessary computer peripherals.

The program enrolls Specialists in a supplementary health benefit plan, the Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE), for the duration of in-country activity dates, as well as international travel dates. ASPE only provides coverage while a Specialist is in the country(ies) of assignment.

Specialists are not enrolled in ASPE during virtual activity dates.

The Specialist Program does not offer a dependent’s allowance.

The English Language Specialist Program provides numerous professional benefits.

  • All Specialists are provided a virtual pre-project orientation.
  • Through their projects, Specialists often have opportunities to share their expertise and also expand their professional skills, for example by consulting with national Ministries of Education to lead curriculum design projects, designing English for Specific Purposes courses at the national level, or giving plenary presentations at national and international conferences.
  • Specialists are members of the English Language Programs online Community of Practice, with access to resources, discussions, online webinar events including Specialist Master Classes, and numerous networking opportunities among current participants and alumni.
Specialist at her computer meeting online with Bolivia teachers
Specialist Program

Learn More

The following page provides detailed information about Specialist Program eligibility and the application process.

Review Application Process

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This is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Georgetown University, Center for Intercultural Education and Development.

All decisions related to participant terms (including candidate review, selection, funding, suspension, revocation, and termination) and all criteria related thereto are made and established by the U.S. Department of State.