FAQs

FAQs about the EHLS program
FAQs about the application process
FAQs about the formal language assessment
FAQs about the scholarships
FAQs about the service requirement

About the EHLS Program

What is the EHLS program?
EHLS is an intensive English as a second language program for adults who want to achieve professional proficiency in English.

What is a heritage language?
A heritage language is a person’s home or ancestral language. It may be the language spoken by the person’s family in the past and passed down through generations or the language spoken now in the person’s home or community.

What are the advantages of participating in the EHLS program?
Participation in the EHLS program has several advantages:

  • The program enables participants to develop the English language skills they need to function effectively in federal government and professional positions in the United States.
  • Program participants develop language learning skills and strategies that enable them to continue increasing their English proficiency after they complete the program.
  • Participants who complete the program have access to NSEPnet, an interactive Web site that connects participants with job opportunities in the federal government. Through NSEPnet, participants' resumes are made available to hiring officials in all federal departments and agencies where relevant employment opportunities exist.

How long is the program?
The program is eight months long; it consists of four 2-month sessions of instruction. The first three sessions involve full-time, intensive study on campus. The fourth session involves part-time study that can be done off campus.

What skills do EHLS program participants work on?
Participants work on professional communication skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They practice giving presentations, participating in meetings, reading technical materials, and writing reports, summaries, and professional correspondence.

What kind of instruction does the program provide?
The program combines classroom instruction with small-group tutorials and one-on-one instruction.

Who are the EHLS participants?
Participants are nonnative speakers of English who have professional proficiency in the native language and want to improve their English skills in order to obtain higher level positions in the United States. For 2010, the EHLS program is actively recruiting native speakers of Arabic, Dari, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Persian Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Swahili, or Urdu.

Where does the EHLS program take place?
In 2011, the program will be offered at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Visit the Georgetown EHLS Web site for details.

How much does participation in the program cost?
Qualified applicants who are United States citizens are eligible for scholarships that cover all tuition and fees and provide a living stipend.

Can I work while participating in the EHLS program?
Participants may not work during the first six months of the program. During the first six months, EHLS is a full-time, intensive program that requires participants to be in class during the day 30 hours a week and to commit a substantial amount of time to outside-of-class assignments. During this period, participants are expected to devote all of their time and attention to the successful completion of the program's requirements.

Participants may work during the final two months of the program, when instruction is part time only.

Who manages the EHLS program?
The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, DC manages EHLS. CAL has extensive expertise in issues related to the teaching and learning of English as a second language and English for professional purposes. CAL also has experience with education in heritage language communities.

Who provides the funding for the EHLS program?
EHLS is funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a part of the Department of Defense.

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About the application process

Who may apply to the EHLS program?
Adults who are heritage speakers of a language other than English may apply. For 2012, the program is especially interested in recruiting heritage speakers of Arabic, Dari, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Persian Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Swahili, or Urdu. To be qualified for the program, an applicant must have professional proficiency in the heritage language and working proficiency in English. Use the language self-assessment grids to determine whether you have the appropriate language skills.

How do I apply to the EHLS program?
Gather the supporting documentation: a current resume, a copy of your transcript from the degree program most recently completed, a copy of the confirmation email for your telephone interview, and two or three letters of recommendation. Then, complete an online application at www.ehlsapplication.org or download a paper application here. The program application and all supporting documents must be submitted together. Mail your paper application and supporting documentation to this address:

Institute of International Education
Attn: English for Heritage Language Speakers
1400 K Street NW, Suite 650
Washington, DC 20005-2403
Tel: (866) 831 – 3012
Email: ehls@iie.org

To complete your application, you will also need to participate in a short telephone interview. Sign up for your interview here.

Can I send my application to Georgetown University?
Please do not send your application packet to Georgetown University. Send it directly to the Institute of International Education at the address given above.

When is the application deadline?
The application deadline for the 2011 EHLS program has passed. Applications for the 2012 program will be available in January 2011.

Will I be considered for a scholarship on the basis of my program application?
Yes. The scholarship application is part of the program application.

What happens after I submit my application?
The Institute of International Education will contact you in late September to tell you your status. Your status at that time will be either provisionally accepted or not accepted.

What happens if I am provisionally accepted?
You will need to complete formal language assessment in English and your heritage language. Final admission decisions will be based on the results of this formal assessment. Final admission decision notification will be sent out in late November.

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About the formal language assessment


Who must participate in formal language assessment?
All applicants who are provisionally accepted on the basis of their program applications must participate in formal assessment of language proficiency.

For which languages must an applicant undergo language assessment?
Each applicant must be assessed in both English and the heritage language.

What English language skills are assessed?
Each applicant's English proficiency is assessed in four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

What heritage language skills are assessed?
Each applicant's heritage language proficiency is assessed in speaking.

How are English language skills assessed?

  • Listening and reading skills are assessed using a test developed by the Defense Language Institute for U.S. government personnel.
  • Writing skills are assessed using an essay test developed by the Defense Language Institute for U.S. government personnel.
  • Speaking skills will be assessed using an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI).

How are heritage language skills assessed?

  • Speaking skills are assessed using an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI).

When and where does formal language assessment take place?

Dates for language proficiency testing for the 2012 admission cycle will be posted in the summer of 2011.

Can I take the formal language assessment at another time?
No. All applicants who are provisionally accepted must participate in proficiency testing on the dates specified.

Can I take the formal language assessment in another location?
All applicants who are provisionally accepted must take the English listening, reading, and writing tests at Georgetown University. However, arrangements can be made to take the heritage language and English speaking tests in other locations. The Center for Applied Linguistics will assist provisionally accepted applicants who need to do this.

How well must I score on the English language assessment in order to be admitted to the EHLS program?
Applicants must receive a score of 2 or 2+ on the ILR scale on all four English language skills in order to be qualified for admission to the EHLS program.

How well must I score on the heritage language assessment in order to be admitted to the EHLS program?
Applicants must receive a score of 3 or better on the ILR scale on both heritage language skills in order to be qualified for admission to the EHLS program.

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About the scholarships

Who is eligible for a scholarship for the EHLS program?
Applicants who meet the language proficiency criteria for admission and who are United States citizens are eligible for EHLS scholarships.

What does an EHLS scholarship provide?
A scholarship covers all tuition and fees for the eight month program. It also provides health insurance and a modest monthly stipend during the intensive portion (first six months).

How do I apply for a scholarship?
The scholarship application is part of the program application. Complete an online application at www.ehlsapplication.org or download a paper application and submit your application and supporting documentation to this address:

Institute of International Education
Attn: English for Heritage Language Speakers
1400 K Street NW, Suite 650
Washington, DC 20005-2403
Tel: (866) 831 – 3012
Email: ehls@iie.org

When will I know whether I will receive a scholarship?
Scholarship award notices will be sent out with final admission decision letters.

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About the service requirement

What is the NSEP service requirement?
Each EHLS program participant who receives a scholarship from NSEP to participate in the program must agree to pursue employment with the U.S. government. The NSEP service requirement stipulates that an award recipient seek employment in the Department of State, Homeland Security, or Defense, or in the Intelligence Community. If, after making a full and good faith effort (according to conditions and rules established by NSEP), an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in one of these agencies, he or she may seek employment in any U.S. federal department or agency. Please note that some jobs in the federal government require a security clearance (for example, secret, top secret).

What is the duration of the service requirement?
The duration of the service requirement is one year.

How much time is allotted to fulfill the service requirement?
Scholarship recipients must begin to fulfill the service requirement no later than two years after they complete the EHLS program.

Does NSEP assign scholarship recipients to specific jobs with the U.S. government?
No. Scholarship recipients seek out positions that match their professional interests and qualifications.

What is the Department of State?
The Department of State is the lead federal agency responsible for U.S. foreign affairs. The department employs individuals in both Civil and Foreign Service positions. Many NSEP recipients are currently working for the Department of State as Foreign Service Officers throughout the world and as civil service employees in offices within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, among others.

What is the Department of Homeland Security?
The Department of Homeland Security is a network of 22 federal agencies and organizations involved in efforts to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters. NSEP recipients have found employment in many different offices within the Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

What is the Department of Defense?
The Department of Defense (DoD) provides the forces needed to deter war, protect the security of the United States, and render global humanitarian assistance as directed by the President. The department includes all offices and organizations that comprise the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, three Military Departments (Army, Navy, Air Force), nine Unified Combatant Commands, the DoD Inspector General, fifteen Defense Agencies, and seven DoD Field Activities. NSEP recipients have found employment in many different offices within the Department of Defense, including the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and National Defense University.

What is the Intelligence Community?
The Intelligence Community is a group of executive branch agencies and organizations that work both independently and collaboratively to carry out intelligence activities necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of the national security of the United States. NSEP recipients have found employment in many different organizations within the Intelligence Community, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

How do scholarship recipients identify opportunities that will satisfy the service requirement?
EHLS scholars are responsible for their own job search. To assist these scholars, NSEP has developed an interactive Web site, NSEPnet, to help scholarship recipients simplify and organize their job search efforts. NSEPnet maintains an online collection of federal job search tips, job notices, and resumes posted by recipients of NSEP awards. These resumes are made available to hiring officials in all federal departments and agencies where relevant employment opportunities exist. Scholarship recipients should also use other widely available employment resources such as www.usajobs.opm.gov.

What is a scholarship recipient required to do to find a job that fulfills the service requirement?
Each scholarship recipient must make a full and good faith effort to identify and secure a position in the federal government. This effort includes creating and routinely updating an online resume that will be made available to hiring officials in the federal departments and agencies listed above. Scholarship recipients must also document specific efforts to identify employment opportunities in the federal government that would fulfill the NSEP service requirement.

How do scholarship recipients document their searches for appropriate positions in the three departments or the Intelligence Community?
Through NSEPNET, each scholarship recipient maintains a Job History Log of activities undertaken to identify and pursue opportunities in the federal government that would satisfy the NSEP service requirement.

What happens if scholarship recipients are unable to identify and to obtain positions in one of the three departments or the Intelligence Community?
A scholarship recipient's Job History Log must demonstrate to NSEP that he or she has made a full and good faith effort to identify and to apply for federal employment with the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, or State, or with the Intelligence Community. By maintaining detailed log entries, recipients demonstrate specific efforts that were made to identify suitable job opportunities and the types of positions that were available to them while they were seeking to fulfill their service requirement.

If scholarship recipients have not been successful in identifying positions in the three priority departments or the Intelligence Community, they may pursue employment in any other federal agency.

What if a scholarship recipient is unable to secure employment in any federal agency?
The federal government is not obligated to hire any individuals who have received funding through the EHLS program. Therefore, if a scholarship recipient has made a full and good faith effort to secure employment but has not been successful, he or she is free from any and all obligations associated with the service requirement.

Are opportunities to gain federal employment improved by having a scholarship award?
NSEP does not guarantee that a scholarship recipient will obtain a job with the U.S. government. However, scholarship recipients enjoy several advantages as they seek federal employment. First, NSEPnet connects scholarship recipients directly with potential federal employers because federal hiring officials search scholarship recipients' resumes for specific types of expertise. Second, NSEP staff are available to guide scholarship recipients in their job search efforts.

Are there any special hiring privileges available to scholarship recipients as they look for federal employment?
Scholarship recipients are eligible to be considered for positions that are available only to those who already work for the federal government (status positions). Therefore, scholarship recipients can apply for jobs available to the general public (all source positions) and status positions, which increases the number of job postings available by 30 – 50%. Also, scholarship recipients can be hired by a government agency on a non-competitive basis for a temporary position that lasts up to 4 years (Schedule A Hiring Authority).

What types of federal positions are scholarship recipients required to accept?
NSEP does not have the authority to require an individual to accept any position. Nevertheless, scholarship recipients are expected to accept paid positions commensurate with the level of education and experience they possess. A scholarship recipient may choose to satisfy the service requirement by accepting a suitable paid or unpaid full-time, part-time, temporary, or internship position. Employment in the federal government prior to receipt of a scholarship does not count toward fulfilling the service requirement.

What happens if a scholarship recipient fails to fulfill the service requirement?
Scholarship recipients who fail to demonstrate a full and good faith effort to fulfill the service requirement are required to reimburse the U.S. government for the full amount of assistance provided from the scholarship.

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