The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Letters of Recommendation: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

The Fulbright US Student Program funds one-year post-graduate awards that place students in a classroom as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). ETA awards are available in approximately 70 countries; students who have demonstrated community engagement and a desire to take part in a cultural exchange using education as a medium are strong fits for Fulbright's teaching program. Fulbright ETAs are not responsible for designing curricula or teaching full courses. Rather they serve, under supervision, at their assigned placements and will be expected to develop and carry out a variety of learning activities, make presentations on U.S. culture and society, and/or assist faculty in an English Language Department with their teaching responsibilities, as needed.

For the ETA competition, the Fulbright Program requires the submission of a reference form and not a general letter of reference. The Fulbright Program will NOT accept reference letters for ETA applicants. Once a student registers you as their reference, you will receive an e-mail with a secure link to the reference form. More information about the process, including a link to a sample form, can be found here. The following are some suggestions for writing effective recommendations for students applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship:

Address the applicant's "Fulbrightness." Fulbright teaching assistants are evaluated on: (1) the merits and their reasons for wanting to use education as a medium for cultural exchange in their country of application, (2) knowledge of the host country, (3) academic and other qualifications, including leadership and community engagement activities that may be transferrable to the host country, (4) language qualifications, if applicable, (5) evidence of maturity, motivation and ability to adapt to a different culture, (6) impression the applicant will make as a citizen-ambassador of the US. Keep in mind that the Fulbright program is not only an educational exchange program; it is a cultural exchange program.

Tell "stories." The form must bring the student to life with specific examples of achievement and ability as they relate to the aims of the Fulbright teaching assistantship. Such anecdotes may be related to a student's classroom experience, leadership experience, community engagement, or ability to serve as a cultural ambassador.

Highlight communication skills. Facility with and knowledge of English usage, grammar, spelling, and writing is important in the teaching assistantship position. You may be able to comment on the applicant's abilities in those areas from tests or papers they have prepared for your course or from formal presentations, classroom discussion or individual interviews with the applicant.


All reference forms are submitted online: When the applicant registers you in the Institute of International Education (IIE) Application system as a recommender, you will receive a message from IIE with directions for accessing your form. IMPORTANT: If after submitting your form online you discover errors or wish to make revisions, you must ask that the letter be "unsubmitted" and returned to you by sending a request to (detailed instructions are on the Fulbright site). The system does not allow Reed College faculty or staff to do this for you, however, if you need assistance please feel free to reach out to