Czech Government’s Contribution Expanded the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Fulbright Commission in the Czech Republic, the Czech government has pledged to donate an additional $1.5 million to the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program over the course of five years.

As a result of this generous contribution, the Fulbright Commission has already been able to double the number of ETAs from 10 in 2014-2015 to 20 in the current 2015-2016 cycle. For the upcoming year, they are completing the expansion with a record total of 30 ETAs.

This enlargement has been in the works for some years now, according to Andrea Semancová, the program officer at the Fulbright Czech Republic. Seeing the quality of the program, the Ministry of Education decided to step in and provide additional financial support.

Semancová sees great potential for the revamped program. “This will allow more [Czech] students to be better prepared for their future jobs, because learning English is very important for their futures,” she said.

ETAs are an integral part of the English for All initiative. This program aims to increase accessibility to the English language in countries around the world, allowing for cultural exchange and connections to global opportunities. ETAs, usually students who have recently completed their undergraduate studies, spend from six months to one year working at primary and secondary schools or universities in their host country.

In the Czech Republic, ETAs have taught, and are teaching, at schools in cities all across the country, excluding Prague. There is a very high demand, on both sides, for ETAs: every year over 150 schools request an ETA to be assigned to their institution, and interest from American students is on an upward trend.

While the expansion of the ETA program is unprecedented for the Fulbright Czech Republic and poses some logistical obstacles, Semancová is confident that the increase of ETAs will be a huge advantage to the Fulbright mission: “The benefits are obvious. This will help the schools, Czech students and teachers, and also the American grantees who are coming to teach.”

To learn more about the ETA program in the Czech Republic, check out the new series entitled, “Get to Know a Grantee,” which is currently running on the Fulbright Czech Republic’s blog. ETA alumna Maureen Heydt is interviewing current ETAs across the country about their experiences, providing insight into the everyday lives and activities of these individuals.