Virtual Educator Application Process
The application process provides multiple opportunities for applicants to illustrate their qualifications and demonstrate their interest in the Virtual Educator Program. The first step is documenting eligibility.
Virtual Educator Program
- Minimum Requirements
- Preferred Qualifications
- Certificates, Endorsements, Degrees
The Virtual English Language Educator Program recruits trained and experienced U.S. TESOL professionals for online teaching opportunities with local host institutions around the world. Virtual Educator projects are up to one semester-long, and up to 10 contact hours per week.
Virtual Educator applicants must demonstrate that they have:
- U.S. citizenship.
- A conferred graduate level degree or higher in TESOL, applied linguistics, or a field related to English language teaching.
- 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 recognized TESOL certificate with at least 120 course hours plus a supervised and observed practicum (additional information regarding certificates can be found here).
- A current, valid, and full state teacher credential, certification, or license with a specialization or an endorsement in ESL, or the equivalent.
- If a degree was awarded by a non-U.S. institution, it must be evaluated by an educational credential evaluation service. Visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of evaluation companies. Most of these companies provide a variety of evaluations, but a general evaluation is sufficient for the program’s application requirements. Once a general evaluation from one of the recommended evaluation companies is obtained, it must be uploaded directly into the application.
- 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 minimum of five (5) years of full-time experience in education, including three (3) years of full-time ESL/EFL classroom teaching. The definition of a full-time academic year depends on the setting:
- University and community college setting: 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 setting: one academic year consists of two semesters or three terms at 15 to 25 instructional hours/week.
In some cases, projects have additional requirements and restrictions related to, among others, education or employment history, or age (related to local labor laws).
While these factors will not preclude an applicant from consideration for the program, they may prevent an applicant from being considered for certain projects. For example, some projects may require someone with a very specific educational background.
Applicants should note the following:
- Applications from former English Language Fellows and Specialists are not accepted (with the exception of 2020-21 Virtual Fellows who have not previously completed Specialist or in-person Fellow projects). Click here to learn more about opportunities for program alumni.
- English Language Fellows, Specialists, and Virtual Educators are not permitted to engage in overlapping projects between, or within, the three programs.
- Virtual Educators who will have an overlapping full-time employment contract with or will be employed by another U.S. Government agency, during a project agreement period, are required either to waive the stipend portions of the agreement or to take an unpaid leave of absence from the other U.S. Government agency for the duration of the overlapping period.
- The following persons are ineligible for Virtual Educator assignments during and for a period ending one year* following the termination of employment, association, or service:
- Employees of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development. This provision includes all employees, paid or unpaid (including part-time or temporary employees, consultants, and contract employees). This provision does not apply to interns;
- Employees of private and public agencies (excluding educational institutions) under contract to the U.S. Department of State to perform administrative or screening services on behalf of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ exchange programs;
- Officers of an organization, in the United States or abroad, including members of boards of trustees or similar governing bodies, or individuals otherwise associated with the organization, wherein the organization and the individuals are responsible for nominating or selecting individuals for participation in any exchange program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs;
- Immediate families (spouses and dependent children) of individuals described in paragraphs 1-3. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting children who live apart from their parents.
- The one-year period of ineligibility is calculated from the date of termination of employment, service, or association until the date of submission of a Virtual Educator application.
Applicants that are considered most competitive not only meet the minimum eligibility requirements, but also demonstrate the following experience and qualities:
- Flexibility, cultural adaptability, resourcefulness, desire to work with an international community, and the personal motivation to be a Virtual Educator.
- Experience with classroom management, instructional technology, and materials and/or resources development. Online teaching experience is not required but it is preferred. On average, selected candidates have 6-8 years of full-time EFL/ESL classroom experience.
For more specialized projects, successful applicants demonstrate some or all of the following:
- Experience with teacher training; EAP, especially academic writing and research; ESP teaching; and/or STEM for K-12 and university students.
- 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.
Certificates: Applicants with a graduate level degree in a field unrelated to TESOL are eligible to apply if they have a certificate with the following components:
- A minimum of 120 instruction contact hours or an equivalent in credit hours for a certificate granted by a BA or MA TESOL program.
- Live, online, and blended course instruction may be considered.
- 100-hour certificates may be accepted for eligibility if the program includes 10 or more supervised and observed practicum hours. If the 100-hour certificate program has fewer than 10 hours of practicum, the candidate may be considered eligible with an additional year of full-time ESL/EFL classroom teaching.
- Classroom practicum/practice teaching (preferred six (6) or more hours), supervised and observed by a qualified professional.
- If a 120-hour certificate program does not include a supervised and observed practicum, the candidate may be considered eligible with an additional year of full-time ESL/EFL classroom teaching.
- Curriculum components (minimum):
- Second language acquisition
- Motivation and the language learner
- Methods and techniques
- Teaching language skills: reading, listening, speaking, writing
- Teaching grammar and vocabulary
- Lesson planning
- Classroom management
- Resource and materials development
- Testing and assessment
- Cultural, linguistic, and multi-cultural sensitivity
Applicants must submit the following documentation of their certificate with their application:
- Scan of the certificate document.
- Web address (URL) where the certificate program’s curriculum and practicum components can be verified.
If an applicant is submitting a K-12 license/endorsement, they must ensure that documentation is uploaded to the application for their most up-to-date credential.
Graduate-level degrees – related vs. unrelated:
In order for a graduate level degree to qualify as “related” to English language teaching – if it is not expressly in TESOL or applied linguistics – coursework should have included courses that provide explicit training to be an ESL/EFL teacher, such as teaching methodology, language pedagogy, second language acquisition, language testing and assessment, etc.
Applicants with a graduate level degree in a field unrelated to TESOL are eligible to apply if they also have one of the following credentials, in addition to the other minimum eligibility requirements:
- A recognized TESOL certificate with at least 120 course hours plus a supervised and observed practicum (additional information regarding certificates can be found above).
To be eligible, all applicants must have a graduate level degree. A graduate level degree in TESOL, or in a field related to English language teaching, is preferred. If an applicant does not have a graduate level degree related to English language teaching, and they also do not have a qualifying TESOL certificate or K-12 ESL state credential, they may be considered eligible if they have FIVE or more years of full-time ESL/EFL, TESL/TEFL, or TESOL classroom teaching experience with English language learners.
Virtual Educator Program
- Availability and Current Location
- Personal and Background Information
- Education, Credentials, and References
- Regional Preferences
- Professional Experience and Capabilities
- Essays, Lesson Plan, and Teacher Training Module
- Resume/CV, Transcripts, and Certificates
- Additional Information
- When to submit an application
- How to submit an application
Applicants should review the eligibility requirements before submitting an application.
Applicants submit an application for a specific academic year cycle; it is possible to be selected for more than one Virtual Educator project during the academic year cycle. To be considered for a project in another academic year, applicants must resubmit their application.
Availability and Current Location: Applicants can return to the application at any time to update this specific section to ensure the program has their most up-to-date availability for project duties and current location (i.e. time zone);
Personal Information: All applicants are asked to complete a brief Personal Information section to provide details such as preferred name, gender, ethnic background, and dual citizenship status.
- Current Address and Contact Information
- Criminal Conviction History – Applicants who, at the time of application, or at any subsequent time prior to becoming a Virtual Educator, have been convicted of commission of a felony or a misdemeanor (excluding minor traffic violations), must inform the program.
- U.S. Government Affiliation, as it relates to the applicant’s eligibility to apply for the program.
- Previous U.S. Government Grantee Information – Whether the applicant has previously been a recipient of another U.S. government grant. This can include, among many others, receipt of a Fulbright grant as an ETA, Student, Scholar, etc.; or serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
- Language Skills – Additional language skills are not required, but they can be helpful for projects in certain regions.
- Affiliations and Awards – Affiliations to organizations or professional associations relevant to the field of TESOL, such as TESOL International, regional TESOLs, NABE, or others; relevant awards or accolades received throughout the course of the applicant’s career.
- Minority Serving institutions – Applicants indicate any minority serving institutions that they either attended as a student or have been employed by.
- The applicant’s academic background, including relevant degrees, certificates, diplomas, state ESL endorsements, or other required credentials for eligibility.
- Contact information for at least two professional references from the applicant’s professional life within the last five (5) years.
- At the moment an application is submitted, references are automatically emailed a link to an electronic questionnaire with six questions to complete.
- Applicants should reach out to their references to ensure receipt of the email.
- One of the two references should be a current or most recent supervisor who has observed the applicant in the classroom.
- Both references should be able to speak to the applicant’s ability to succeed in the Virtual Educator 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.
- An application is not complete, and will not be reviewed, until the two required references have submitted their responses.
- Applicants can indicate regional preferences in the application; however, the program cannot guarantee a match to a project that fits those preferences.
- Applicants are matched to projects based on their professional skill set, experience, and the needs of the project, including the applicant’s availability to carry out the project duties (time zone, daily schedule, etc.)
- Applicant preferences are taken into consideration where possible, but the more flexibility applicants indicate, the greater their chances are of being selected for a project.
- This section gathers details regarding 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 Experiences is reviewed alongside the Resume/CV, so the two should match.
- This section provides the applicant the opportunity to describe their professional capabilities in as many of the categories below as are relevant to their background and experience.
- Each question asks for evidence of specific outcomes of the applicant’s work, unique contributions they made, recognition they received related to their capabilities, etc. Each entry is limited to 70 words or fewer.
- ESL, (domestic) English as a second language;
- EFL, (international) English as a foreign language;
- K-12, (domestic) e.g., SIOP, bilingual schools, ESL aid/assistant;
- K-12, (international) e.g., international schools, bilingual education, language schools, language tutoring centers;
- Content-based instruction, e.g., STEM/STEAM, current affairs, arts;
- Higher Education, e.g., universities, community colleges, IEPs, vocational or technical schools;
- Adult Education, e.g., language schools, community language classes, professional language institutes;
- Presentations/workshops/other, e.g., state/regional conferences, presenting at staff professional development meetings, leading voluntary professional development meetups;
- Teacher training, e.g., teaching methodology classes for an MA TESOL program, conducting an in-service professional development program for a school district, teaching a TESOL certificate course;
- Training of trainers, e.g., district-wide training events, leading best-practices workshops or classes for TESOL professionals who train pre- or in-service teachers, teacher education MOOCs or series;
- Materials and/or resource development, e.g., course modules, online lesson development, textbook material;
- Syllabus evaluation/design/development;
- English for Academic Purposes, e.g., academic writing, research, publications;
- English for Specific Purposes, e.g., law, business, journalism, tourism;
- Online teaching experience, e.g., communicative activities conducted in a virtual classroom, leading or facilitating webinars, moderating asynchronous discussion boards, creating recorded instructional video content;
- Online tools and platforms, e.g., teaching online courses, designing an LMS for your program, integrating digital platforms in classroom teaching;
- Testing and assessment development, e.g., at the district, school, or classroom level;
- TOEFL or IELTS test prep or scoring.
- Statement of purpose: This is an opportunity for the applicant to explain their motivation to be a Virtual Educator; what they hope to contribute as a cultural ambassador and English language teaching professional; their cultural adaptability; and how a Virtual Educator experience will contribute to their future goals in 500 words or fewer.
- Short answer questions: This section consists of four questions to assess the applicant’s ability to succeed as an Virtual Educator. Applicants are asked to provide examples of their work ethic, initiative, leadership skills, resourcefulness, flexibility, judgment, and classroom management skills. These examples may include intercultural contexts both in the U.S. and abroad in 250 words per question.
Lesson Plan and Teacher Training Module
- Lesson Plan: Applicants must include one ESL/EFL classroom lesson plan with their application. A lesson plan from an online course that you have prepared/taught is preferred.
- Teacher Training Module: 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.
- In both cases, these must be original lesson plans or modules that the applicant has personally developed and used in their work.
Resume/CV: A copy of the applicant’s resume/CV is required. The resume/CV should be up-to-date with all relevant professional experience, and should include experiences that help define the applicant’s professional background, such as full-time and part-time teaching experience, adult education, volunteer language instruction/tutoring/clubs, and classroom experience in fields outside of TESOL.
Transcripts and Certificates: Applicants must also upload the transcript for their qualifying graduate level degree, and, if applicable, TESOL certificates and/or state K-12 ESL credentials. Additional information can be found here.
Additional Documentation – Applicants can upload 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 – The applicant’s relevant experience abroad, details related to the country(ies), purpose of the visit/trip, type of position (study abroad, volunteer, presentation/conference, or other), and dates must be provided.
Recruitment – How the applicant learned about the Virtual Educator Program.
Once the application opens each year , applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until all projects are filled for the relevant academic year. The application closes for approximately one month during the winter each year for updates.
Application Timeline for the 2022-2023 Academic Year
March 1, 2022 – Application for the 2022-23 academic year opens
April 30, 2022 – Priority application deadline
May 15, 2022 – Project matching begins and continues until all projects are filled
January 2023 – Application for the 2022-23 academic year closes
March 1, 2023 – Application for the 2023-24 academic year opens
Applicants are encouraged to apply by the priority deadline in order to have the best chance of being considered for all available projects for that cycle.
- Applications for the Virtual Educator Program are accepted only through the online English Language Programs Portal.
- Through the Portal, applicants can create a new application or access an existing application using their original login information.
- Applicants should carefully review the requirements for a complete application. Failure to follow instructions will delay the review of the application.
- Applicants must accurately reflect their skills and experience; material omission or misrepresentation of any information submitted may be grounds for removing an application from consideration and/or rescinding an offer to participate in the program.
- Applications do not need to be completed in one sitting; applicants can begin an application at any time, save the information, and come back as many times as is required before submitting.
- Returning applicants must log in to the Portal to review/edit the information saved from a previous application, and complete any new sections or questions, before submitting again.
Virtual Educator Program
Review, Matching, and Selection
The application review begins once a completed application and the two required references are submitted.
Each application is reviewed to determine whether it meets program eligibility requirements, and if there is evidence of the experience and qualities the program looks for in Virtual Educators.
Eligible applicants are contacted for a virtual interview. Following the interview, applicants are notified by email if they have been put into the available pool for matching for the relevant cycle. Being placed in the applicant pool does not guarantee that an applicant will be matched to, or ultimately selected for, a Virtual Educator project.
If an application does not meet program eligibility, the applicant is notified by email and no further consideration is given for the upcoming cycle. Applicants are encouraged to review their materials and consider reapplying for a future cycle. Applications are not automatically reconsidered for future cycles.
Applicants can track the status of their application eligibility review online by logging in to the English Language Programs Portal.
Applications that are moved to the available applicant pool are considered eligible to be matched to a project. Matching is the second phase of the review and selection process.
All applicants in the available applicant pool are encouraged to update the Location and Availability section of the application as often as their circumstances change in order to be considered for as many projects as possible.
During the matching phase, the program matches applicants in the applicant pool to projects that have been developed by U.S. Embassies for the upcoming cycle. Being placed into the available applicant pool does not guarantee that an applicant will be matched to or selected for a project, as the number of applicants in the pool is typically greater than the number of available projects.
Each project is developed to address local needs and responsibilities and duties vary. Applications are considered for available projects if there is a professional match between the applicant’s skills and experience, and the needs and requirements of the project.
Applicants are contacted by email if a determination is made that their application meets the specific needs of an available project. A project match notification is NOT a notification of selection. The match notification email contains information about the location and a general description of the project’s duties. Applicants are asked to confirm whether they would like to be considered further for the project, at which point they move to the selection phase, or they can request that their application be withdrawn from consideration for that project. If a request is made to withdraw an application for consideration for a specific project, the application will be placed back into the applicant pool, but there is no guarantee of another match.
As each project is unique and requires different qualifications, it is not possible to anticipate if or when an applicant in the applicant pool will be contacted regarding a project match. Applicants will be notified by email only if they are matched to a project.
Applications that have been matched to a project are forwarded to the relevant U.S. Embassy for their consideration. The U.S. Embassy may reach out to the applicant and arrange an interview.
U.S. Embassies make the final selection decisions for all Virtual Educator Program projects. Matched applicants will be notified by email of the final selection decision. Applicants who are not selected will be placed back into the applicant pool, but there is no guarantee of another match.