Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Programme
By Danielle Ringgit @danitbpseeds
KUCHING: Starting February 3rd, 10 Fullbright English Training Assistant (ETA) will be designated to 10 different public schools all over Sarawak for 9 months.
The schools where the ETAs will be offering their services are SMK Bandar Samariang, SMK Semerah Padi, SMK Siburan, SMK Kota Samarahan, SMK Muara Tuang, SMK Tarat, SMK Serian, SMK Taee, SMK Simanggang and SMK St Luke.
The Fullbright Program is the most prestigious international exchange scholarship programmes between the US and 155 other countries. Here in Malaysia, the programme is administrated by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE). This would be the first ETA programme launched in Sarawak.
An ETA programme serves to raise student’s confidence in conversing in English whether it is in class, during co-curricular activities, camp and even in normal daily conversation.
Among the main activities planned by the ETAs are co-curricular activities where the ETAs may lead the English Language Society at their school and organise and participate in other activities that interest them. Depending on their own skills and interest, they may apply it to create or lead co-curricular activities at their school.
Other than that, the ETAs may also organise special camps throughout the year to promote English use and provide enrichment for students. In addition to that, the ETAs may also start independent original projects such as local volunteer work, photography or art projects that could contribute cultural exchange.
One of the ETA program candidates, Alexandra Mills Victoria who graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) said that she was excited about the program and is ready to accept and face any challenges, hoping to foster good relationships between staff as well as the students in her new school by getting to know them better. As of next week, she will begin teaching at SMK Bandar Samariang.
Another candidate of the programme, Emily Ruhl Jean, from Gettysburg College who graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Biology minor is very passionate about the environment and is hoping to lead an environmental club where she plans on taking the students for nature walks on the beach and rivers and testing on water quality, waste management, over fishing. But first, she would like to get to know her students better. She will be teaching at SMK Semerah Padi.
The Fulbright ETA programme is extremely beneficial for the students in the selected schools. Since the ETAs are native speakers of English, the students will have at least 20 hours of direct contact with their dedicated ETAs each week through teaching and extracurricular activities to practice speaking in English.
Aside from that, cultural exchange between the students and the ETA members can be made. While the students get to know more about the US and global culture in more depth, the ETAs also benefit from learning about local culture.
In addition to this, ETAs have led their own drama, debate, public speaking, choral speaking and sports teams to succeed in district and state level competitions. By using their own talent and skills, the ETAs activities often receive coverage in US and Malaysia media to raise the profile of the schools.
With the involvement of the ETAs in the public schools in Sarawak, hopefully the students are able to be more comfortable and confident in conversing in English as it is one of the main languages used around the world.