Qualifications and Application

Participant Qualifications

The EHLS program is designed for nonnative speakers of English who want to develop their ability to use English in professional situations. For 2012, the program recruited native speakers of Arabic, Balochi, Dari, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Persian Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. The 2013 language list will be released by January 2012.

To be eligible for admission to the EHLS program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a native speaker of a language other than English. For 2012, speakers of Arabic, Balochi, Dari, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Persian Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu were eligible for admission and scholarships. The 2013 language list will be released by January 2012.
  2. Have native language skills at level 3 or higher on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale (see www.govtilr.org).
  3. Have completed university-level or post-secondary professional education in the native language.
  4. Have English language skills at level 2 or 2+ on the ILR scale.
  5. Be willing to commit to six months of full-time study.

To be eligible for an EHLS scholarship, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a United States citizen.
  2. Be a native speaker of Arabic, Balochi, Dari, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Persian Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu.
  3. Agree to fulfill a one-year service commitment with the United States government. Note that all scholarship recipients must agree to fulfill this commitment. NSEP will advise scholarship recipients on job opportunities, but does not guarantee employment. Read more >
  4. Be completely separated from any position with the United States government and any service in the United States military as of the date instruction begins.
  5. Meet the eligibility criteria for admission to the EHLS program listed above.

Assessment of Language Proficiency

The EHLS program assesses applicants' language proficiency in three ways.

  • Through applicant self-assessment as part of the initial application. Applicants use self-assessment grids to provide information on their proficiency in English and the heritage language.
  • Through a brief telephone interview conducted within two weeks of the application deadline.
  • Through formal proficiency testing conducted with applicants who are selected to move into the second part of the application process. Formal testing uses assessments developed by the U.S. government.

The ILR Scale

The Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Scale is the rating system used by many federal government agencies to assess proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The ILR scale measures an individual's ability to use a given language effectively in various types of real-life situations. It assesses language proficiency on a scale from 0 to 5.
A history of the scale's development and the full text of the descriptors for each level are available on the Web site of the Globe-Gate Project.


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