Archive for the ‘Fulbright Student Exchange Programme’ Category

Fulbright announces call for 2020-2021 applications

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
Fulbright programmes are funded by the US Department of State and administered by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in partnership with the US embassy.

THE United States (US) Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is calling for applications to three programmes under the Fulbright Exchange Grant for 2020-2021.

Fulbright programmes are funded by the US Department of State and administered by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in partnership with the US embassy.

The Fulbright Malaysian Scholar Programme is targeted at Malaysian academics, who want to develop or update their research through interaction with their distinguished American counterparts. While these grants are typically research-focused, applicants who are willing to add a lecturing component to their proposals are encouraged to apply.

Meanwhile, the Fulbright Malaysian Professional Exchange Programme provides opportunities for mid-career Malaysian professionals in the public and private sectors to broaden their experience through research, lecturing and other professional enrichment programmes.

These grants are meant for practitioners rather than scholars. Administrators, managers of organisations or associations, journalists, doctors and lawyers are encouraged to apply.

The application deadline for the programmes is on Nov 15. For more information, visit and

For the Fulbright US- ASEAN Visiting Scholar Programme, the application is open to university faculty members, the foreign ministry or other government officials and professionals in private-sector think tanks and Asean non-government organisations, to research issues of priority to the US-Asean relationship.

Selected visiting scholars will travel to the US during the spring semester of 2021 (January to May). To apply, visit by Dec 13.

By NST Education.

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Unique teaching placements

Sunday, December 9th, 2018
(From left) Arnold, Issa, Lee, Quinn, Soophia and Halfacre sharing a light moment at the showcase held at the Education Technology Division.(From left) Arnold, Issa, Lee, Quinn, Soophia and Halfacre sharing a light moment at the showcase held at the Education Technology Division.

Teaching assistants under the Fulbright programme return home after helping students in rural schools with their English proficiency

OVER the last 10 months, more than 90 English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) from the United States have left a mark on the lives of almost 20,000 Malaysian students.

However, it wasn’t only the students’ lives that were touched as the ETAs themselves will be taking home some precious memories.

Most of the ETAs agreed that it wasn’t the fact that the students improved their language skills that was heartfelt, but it was watching them grow to become more confident.

Soophia Ansari, 23, who was based in Perlis says her most memorable experience was breaking fast with the students at SMK Syed Saffi’s hostel.

“Every day I would go to the school’s hostel and I would break fast with the students and pray together.

“I was definitely getting a little bit homesick being away from my family because Ramadan is definitely a family-oriented activity,” she adds.

Soophia says the school is in a small town in Perlis and that the community’s livelihood centred around driving lorries, fishing and farming.

This posed a problem to her as she had to convince her students that English communication skills were necessary for success in today’s world.

“Many students basically believed that they will be working their parents’ jobs after they finish schooling.

“They had kind of set limits on what they will be able to do,” she adds

Lakhdhir says the programme helps boost English language skills for Malaysian students.

Lakhdhir says the programme helps boost English language skills for Malaysian students.

To overcome this, she says she spent her time convincing the students that “they were brilliant and have opportunities.

“I also told them that it’s never too late to begin learning the English language and that being able to speak in English can take them places,” she adds.

She says she would give examples of how the nearby jetty to Langkawi always had foreign tourists around and how they would not understand Bahasa Malaysia.

“I would tell them how with English, they could get jobs as tour guides or open tourist attractions,” she adds.

For Linda Halfacre, 23, the most memorable moment was when she jointly organised an international camp with 20 Thai students and 22 Malaysian students in Kuala Lumpur for three days.

She says that watching these students form friendships with their counterparts across the border was something that makes being part of the ETA programme worthwhile.

“They had to bond with the common language of English as they could not communicate with each other using their native languages,” adds the New Jersey native.

“This will help ensure that they continue to practise using English in a social context in the years to come (with their new friends).”

Halfacre says that the ETAs spent a lot of time persuading their students to speak English outside of classroom hours, and it worked.

Ayah Issa, 24, says one of the most impactful moments for her happened while she was conducting a creative writing session for her students in SMK Seri Kota, Perak. She says that she asked them to discuss a particular song and its meaning to them.

“I left the class for a little while and when I came back, the girls were in an intense debate in English on what they thought about the song ‘Cantik’ and how it was about women empowerment.

“Generally, my students will switch back to talking in Bahasa Malaysia when I’m not around,” she says with a smile.

“What I wanted was for them to continue in English and that was amazing.”

Samuel Lee, 23, felt that the connection he built with his students gave him much joy.

He says he went into SMK Bukit Payung, Terengganu, with some “pretty big plans” but soon realised that they would not work as there was no personal connection with the students.

Their command of the English language was quite poor, he says.

“It definitely helped me realise that it wasn’t the programmes I had planned for them but that bond with them that has had the most impact on me,” he adds.

Peter Arnold, 23, says that he hopes what he taught his students will continue to stay with them throughout their lives.

He adds that the sustainability of the ETA programme is what will ensure its efficacy long after the ETAs have left.

Based in SMK Sindumin, Sabah, he says: “I want to see the successful continuity of programmes we started at the school.”

“The biggest hurdle was definitely the language level,” says Katherine Quinn, 24.

Although her students from SMK Bukit Mendi, Pahang, could speak a little English, very few of them were brave enough to talk to her when she first arrived.

She believes the students wanted to build a connection with her but were too shy to speak in English for fear of embarrassment.

To help them, Quinn took it upon herself to learn a little bit of Bahasa Malaysia so that the students will feel more at ease.

“It helped them relax around me because they saw my efforts to make a connection with them and respect part of who they are.

“It also helped us meet each other halfway,” she adds.

She says she would also find the Bahasa Malaysia translation of English words and put them side by side during her lessons.

The ETAs are part of the 2018 Fulbright ETA programme, which is now being run in nine states with Melaka joining the list this year.

The programme is a joint bilateral programme administered by the Malaysian American Commission on Educational Exchange (Macee) and the Education Ministry, and supported by the US Embassy.

The ETAs taught nearly 20,000 school students in 2018 and conducted 210 English camps including three international camps, six at the national level and six statewide camps.

During the 2018 Fulbright ETA showcase, US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir says that the programme helps boost English language skills for thousands of Malaysian students each year since its inception in 2006.

“Most importantly, it exposes these students to American culture, American ways of thinking and the American attitude.

“There is this large world out there that Malaysian students can access through English.

“To the ETAs, I hope your lives are also enriched by having this relationship (with your students),” says Lakhdhir.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching says the ETA programme not only promotes English language learning, but also cross-cultural exchange.

She adds that the Prime Minister has also expressed his concern over the poor command of the language among Malaysian students.

“I believe one way (to overcome this problem) is to increase exposure time to the language.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
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Fulbright ETAs leave lasting impression

Thursday, November 29th, 2018
(File pix) Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (third from left) visiting an exhibition booth at the 2018 Fulbright ETA Showcase. Pix by NSTP/Rohanis Shukri

Being a fluent English speaker involves speaking with speed and clarity. There is no better way to improve English communication skills than by engaging in a conversation with native speakers. At the same time, English learners are exposed to the values, customs and cultural nuances of the native speakers.

This is the premise of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme where college graduates and young professionals from the United States are sent abroad for year-long assignments as teaching assistants in classrooms around the world, including Germany, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.

The programme was first established in Malaysia in 2005 as a state-level programme between the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) and the Terengganu government with only 12 ETAs. The programme was expanded by the US Embassy and the Education Ministry in 2012.

This year, 100 ETAs were deployed to 100 schools in Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Pahang, Perlis, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak to boost English proficiency and communication skills among students in rural areas.

ETA Nathan Mathai, 23, from Texas, was stationed at SMK Putra in Jerteh, Terengganu.

New to teaching, Mathai said it is a challenging profession, especially when the students are from the rural side of town. “Teachers make a lot of decisions. We are constantly thinking about what’s happening in the classroom, what activities are going to be next and the extra-curricular aspect of the school.

“It was challenging to come up with activities suitable for all students. Lessons should also cater to students’ proficiency level.

“Warming up to the students, I was trying hard to get them not to be afraid of me because they see me as someone who’s coming to test their English. It took them some time to see me as a friend.

“I am a 23 year-old from US trying to figure out what’s cool for teenagers in a foreign country. I had to find ways where they could naturally be comfortable with English and that was probably with music, so my lessons revolved around that.”

The language barrier did not stop Mathai from being committed to his role as a teacher or a mentor to his students.

“We started from nothing. They didn’t speak English at all, even in English class. In Jerteh, they speak the Kelantanese dialect.

“However, when I see my students improving, it makes everything worth it. I am probably going to tear up as I say this now,” he said.

“One of my students decided to participate in a public speaking camp organised by the ETA programme. I am so proud of her.”

Mathai, who graduated with an accounting degree from the Furman University in South Carolina, plans to pursue his master’s degree in the same field once he returns to US.

To some, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions. Despite the everyday challenges, many find great satisfaction in what they do.

This is what ETA Vanessa Avalone, 23, experienced during her 10 months of teaching in SMK Mudzaffar Shah, Perak.

“I love the fact that I am able to share my knowledge. It is a very fulfilling thing to do.

“At the end of the programme, I saw students coming up to me speaking complete English sentences and raising their hands in class. At first, they were too shy to do all. I am proud of them.”

Apart from teaching, all ETAs go through cultural exchange through direct interaction not only in classrooms, but at home and in routine tasks.

“I love community-based programmes. That is something you don’t get to experience when travelling. Here in Malaysia, I have been invited to iftar, visited temples and tasted all kinds of food.

“Being an ETA, I have grown tremendously as a person. It has also improved my confidence as a teacher, and I learnt a lot about religion and culture living in this diverse and multicultural society.”

Avalone, who graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Biology and French, plans to pursue medicine to be a doctor.

After 10 months of teaching and community engagement, the Fulbright ETA programme, involving nine states and 100 secondary schools, came to an end.

At the closing ceremony, students held an exhibition on the activities they have done. Present at the 2018 Fulbright ETA Showcase were US Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, MACEE executive director Suseela Malakolunthu and Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Lakhdir said: “This year, we have more national and international camps and activities. I think that this year’s ETAs worked very hard to develop more activities and programmes for the students.


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Fulbright opportunities

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

FULBRIGHT programmess are funded by the US Department of State and administered by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in partnership with the US Embassy.

The Fulbright Malaysian Graduate Study and Research Programme is a grant award opportunity for graduate level study (Masters or Ph.D degrees) in the United States for the 2019-2020 academic year. The grants are valid for the period of one academic year and renewable by approval of the Fulbright Scholarship Board.

Application for the 2019 Graduate Study and Research programme closes on Aug 10.

For information, visit

The Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) programme is a nine-month, non-degree programme funded by the US Department of State.

FLTA provides young teachers of English as a Foreign Language the opportunity to refine their teaching skills and broaden their knowledge of American culture and customs, while also strengthening their foreign language instruction at US colleges and universities, where they serve as teaching assistants for their native language.

The application for the 2019 FLTA Exchange programme closes on Aug 23.

For information, visit
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Teaching and cultural experience

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018
Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (centre, with blue scarf) sharing a light moment with some of the ETAs.

EXPERIENCING a different culture through educational and cultural exchange will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and those around you.

It will also deepen knowledge of foreign cultures and strengthen international relations.

This is the journey ahead for 100 American college graduates who are here in Malaysia for a 10-month lifetime experience under the Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme.

They will get the opportunity to work as assistants to English teachers in secondary schools in selected districts in Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak and a newly added state, Malacca.

For them, leaving the familiar behind and plunging into the unknown show their commitment to understanding other people and cultures, and learn about the world in a way that books, school assignments and a professional career cannot provide.

Most of them are so eager to develop leadership skills, self-confidence and a greater understanding of the complexities of other cultures around them.

From left: Emily Zapinski, Nathan Mathai, Pashoua Vang and Dustin Vessey.

Dustin Vessey, from Phoenix, Arizona, said participating in the programme would be a wonderful opportunity to explore the Malaysian student life, learn more about the diverse cultures of the people, make new friends and study the environment around him.

“I am excited to be here. I hope that every day is a new adventure while I am here. I want to be a part of the people here ­— getting to know not only the locals but the education methods and everything in between with food included,” said the 22-year-old chap.

Vessey graduated in political science from Yale University. He said he equipped himself with learning the Chinese language for this programme.

“I know that in Malaysia, there are three main races, and to be able to speak in Chinese will help me communicate with the locals.

“As for the lesson plans, it will have to depend on the school as I will work with their English Language teachers,” said Vessey, who is attached to a secondary school in Jerantut, Pahang.

Nathan Mathai, 23, from Dallas, Texas, said he applied for the programme after he heard a lot of good things from his friends who joined the ETA progamme two years ago.

“This is the best thing ever for me to be able to teach abroad and educate students in a fun way. I used to get involved in TED Talks and I know the importance of speaking comfortably in English in front of other people. Thus, I want to bring that element into the lesson plan,” said Mathai, who loves diving.

He said he would like to explore the food and maybe do a little bit of cooking besides diving during his stint in Terengganu.

“As a teacher, I will be able to meet the locals on intimate levels. I can ask them about interesting places to eat, visit or spend a leisurely afternoon together. Maybe parents will invite me to their homes for dinner or a local party,” he hoped.

Pashoua Vang, 26, from Minnesota, who graduated in Global Studies and Asian Languages and Literature, hopes to broaden her perspective when teaching abroad.

“Making a life for yourself in a situation like this will force you to take the reigns constantly. Not to mention, you will be responsible for a roomful of students. We, as teachers, must learn to relate to students in a new way. Teaching in a new culture will stimulate new ideas for me.”

Vang said being in Kuala Perlis will be a little scary, but exciting at the same time, because students are mainly shy about speaking in English, which she hopes to change by the end of the programme.

“I want to build their confidence and, hopefully, they will teach me how to speak in Malay along the way. It is like a win-win situation for us,” she said.

Since she enjoys art and craft, she would incorporate the elements into her teaching methods.

Emily Zapinski, 23, from Dallas, Texas, said English is important as an international language and being able to speak it would improve people’s lives and opportunities.

The Business Management graduate from University of Alabama said learning a new language will only be possible through practice and exposure.

“A main component of teaching English abroad will be having conversations with people and helping them have conversations with each other.

“As for me, being out of my country can be just as rewarding as I get to be involved in a community development project as well.

“It’s a great way to share your skills and discover talents and passions you never even knew you had,” said Zapinski, who is teaching in Alor Star, Kedah.

Present at the event were United States ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and the Embassy of the United States of America Counselor for the Public Affairs Bradley A. Hurst.

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (centre) hosted a reception for 100 American Fulbright English Teaching Assistants in Kuala Lumpur. PIC BY AIZUDDIN SAAD

The Malaysian ETA programme has been around for 11 years, with around 10 to100 graduates taking part each year. They are selected through a rigorous annual competition among America’s brightest young university graduates.

ETAs are assigned to schools for 10 months, where they work under the supervision of qualified Malaysian teachers to enrich the schools’ English language instruction.

They also organise school clubs, sports teams, English camps and other extra-curricular activities, all geared toward helping students develop greater interest and ability in using spoken English to express themselves.

Living in Malaysian communities and having close daily interaction with students, teachers and residents provide the young Americans with an in-depth cultural experience, which can be both enriching and unforgettable.

In addition, Malaysian students can benefit from interacting with native English speakers and learn first-hand about Americans and their culture.

The programme has been successful that both governments recently extended the programme for another three years.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Engaging in unique lessons

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Teaching assistants under the Fulbright programme return home after helping students in rural schools with their English proficiency.

THE 2017 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) programme came to a close recently, with participants saying goodbye to Malaysia. From January next year until 2020, 300 more will come to help students in rural schools improve their English proficiency.

Before the ETAs came, we were not brave enough to speak English, shares SMK Ibrahim Fikri’s Nielya Natasya Nadhirah Nizam.

Students in the Terengganu school, she explains, didn’t speak English in class or at home, and so, were not confident in using the language.

“We want to keep improving. Even though we still use broken English, at least we have the courage to speak it now.”

On Oct 30, the ETAs and their students performed, and set up booths to showcase their experiences, in Putrajaya. During the three-hour event, 98 ETAs who participated in the programme this year, received their certificates.

The ETAs are fresh graduates from American universities who have gone through a rigorous selection process to serve in secondary schools in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak, for 10 months.

The global programme conducted in 67 countries, is managed by the Malaysian American Commission on Educational Exchange (Macee) here. Malaysia runs the third largest Fulbright ETA Programme, behind Germany and South Korea.

ETA Nancy Mangels, who was posted to SMK Orang Kaya Haji, Pahang, thanked the students and schools for supporting them.

Delivering her speech in Bahasa Malaysia, Mangels shares how the experience has changed the ETAs’ lives forever.

“We learnt to survive the heat, and to tell you about our culture. Hopefully you’ve learnt something from us, because we’ve definitely learnt from you. Even though we are leaving, this relationship will continue from afar.”

Fellow ETA, Sophia Ng who went to SMK Idris Shah, Perak, says as a person of colour living in New York City, she relates to Malaysians.

“I learnt to eat with my hands, wear a tudung (headscarf), and play traditional games. You let me be part of your Mid-Autumn Festival and Deepavali celebrations. We sang old One Direction songs, laughed and ate. It’s the simple, unanticipated moments that are the most special. We are as diverse there as you are here.”

Macee executive director Dr James Coffman said all ETAs are vetted at university, and national levels. They are also screened by the relevant authorities here.

“We don’t just look at their experiences but we speak to them and get to know them. We do the best we can to make sure that they will do a good job here.”

While most ETAs are without prior teaching experience, they are enthusiastic, innovative, and confident, young people who can motivate local students to improve their use and command of the language.

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Teaching English through drama

Friday, April 14th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: American teacher Nathan Stauffer ignites passion for English among his students here through drama.

Stauffer hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylva­nia. He has been serving as an English tea­ching assistant at SMK Sungai Ranggam in Kampung Gajah, Perak, since January.

“In addition to studying to be a teacher while in college, I acted in a lot of theatre. So coming to Malaysia, I thought that one way to introduce my students to English is through drama,” he said in an interview.

“I’m trying to get them to create their own drama and hopefully by the end of the year, put on a performance for the school.”

Given that many of the students, aged between 15 and 17, have never seen a live theatre performance, Stauffer, 22, took the initiative to organise a trip to Kuala Lumpur to watch one.

He won a grant from the US Embassy and took 74 students to see Mud: Our Story of Kuala Lumpur last weekend.

Mud is a production in English but it’s about Malaysian culture and history. So it helped the students learn about their own culture while teaching them English.”

Mud, a production about the birth of the capital city, has been staged for three years at Panggung Bandaraya here and will end its run on April 30.

Stauffer, who graduated from the Univer­sity of Pennyslvania last year, is part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programme. The 10-month fellowship places American teachers in Malaysian schools with low or mid-level English proficiency.

He admitted that it was a challenge trying to communicate with the students and he has to think of creative ways to get his lessons across.

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An exciting teaching placement

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Teaching assistants under the Fulbright programme arrive in Malaysia to help teach English in schools.

COMING back to Malaysia was all Shins St Germain could think about after she went back to the United States (US) in 2016 following a 10-month stint as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA).

In January this year, she returned with 97 American graduates to carry out their mission as ETAs, who foster a strong command and a love for the English language among school students in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak.

St Germain, 23, is heading back to SMK Sri Nangka in Tuaran, Sabah, the same school she taught in last year.

She reapplied for the programme as she is determined to improve what the school has to offer as well as to be with her students again.

“Towards the end of last year, I had many ideas and projects that I wanted to implement in my school, but there wasn’t enough time.

“So I decided to come back to continue working on the projects which I know will be great for the students,” she said.

Recalling her past year, she said all favourite memories revolved around her students.

“They are incredible students. Leaving them was hard and one of them even cried!

“It just felt so great to truly connect with them,” she said.

St Germain said her time as an ETA last year had helped her grow as an individual.

“I became more confident in myself,” she said.

St Germain carried out English camps, speaking workshops and learning through karaoke last year.

Also a returning ETA, Nancy Mangels, 23, will be conducting classes at SMK Orang Kaya Haji in Kuala Lipis, Pahang for the second year in a row.

“I’m so excited to be back and so are my students. They have been keeping in touch with me since I left last year,” she said.

She described her experience last year as “awesome”.

“I love my students. They bring so much enthusiasm and excitement to the classroom,” she said.

She is planning to conduct more English camps, language learning games, speaking activities, sporting events and drama sessions for her students this year.

The ETAs are the 11th batch of ETAs who have signed up for the programme, which started in Terengganu in 2006.

The programme is administered jointly by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange and the Education Ministry with volunteers sent to Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak.

Nicole Young, 23, is here for the first time and is teaching at SMK Parit Panjang Sik, Kedah, for the next 10 months.

She is hoping to use fun actives such as sports and singing to “switch things up” in order to enhance the learning process.

“Having been a student myself, I know that having classes within a confined hall is not enough to spark interest.

“I want to make sure my students get the most out of every day I spend with them,” she said.

Young wants to get to know the people, their culture and learn from the community.

“I’ll just go with the flow as I know this year will bring a rich experience.

“I also hope to be able to impact my students’ lives and the community during my time there,” she said.

Also joining the programme for the first time is Joey Wiley, 23, who will be based at SMK Megat Dewa at Kodiang, Kedah.

Wiley who was previously an exchange student at Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2014, said he was keen to work with students on discovering their passions and expressing themselves freely.

“I would also love to use Malaysia’s traditional music along with western music to bridge the cultural gap among us,” he said.

Speaking at the ETA reception, US ambassador-designate to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said she was pleased to see the excitement and enthusiasm shown by the ETAs.


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Fulbright continues to shine

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

IT has been 10 years since she last visited Malaysia, and Mary E. Kirk is overjoyed to be back again.

Besides holding discussions and attending meetings on the US Fulbright programme, she had some things to update herself on – Malaysian cuisine!

As director of the Academic Exchange Programmes office in the US State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs bureau, Kirk heads the worldwide Fulbright Programme.

Over the years, Fulbright has grown not only in the US but in partner countries as well. It was first established in 1946 by Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright and reached Malaysian shores in 1963.

Fulbright is the US’s most prestigious and renowned academic exchange programme, with 155 countries involved.

The programme also supports a wide range of participants – recent graduates, senior scholars, professors and higher education institutions. Every year, 8,000 people participate in this programme.

The cost, selection of students and governance is shared among the Fulbright partners around the world.

To date, the Fulbright programme, which provides a number of grants to either study, teach or conduct research in the US, has benefited over 1,000 Malaysians.

“It’s a fresh, dynamic and innovative programme. I’m constantly impressed by how it’s been in demand all these years,” says Kirk in a recent interview at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

An exciting exchange programme

Kirk sees Fulbright as a vehicle to reinforce and strengthen mutual understanding and corporation between our governments, higher education establishments and between individuals and institutions.


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Native English speakers help teachers and students

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

DENGKIL: The 360 native English speakers seconded to schools nationwide have helped to improve English proficiency among teachers and students.

SK Jenderam teacher Fauziatul Durra Ahmad Fauzi said the mentoring sessions with Kathleen Eljeddi had enhanced her confidence and helped create a more engaging environment.

“She provides a helping hand when needed,” she said, adding that Eljeddi was very supportive of her ideas to create a livelier classroom.

“It’s no more chalk and talk,” Fauziatul Durra, 31, said, adding that action songs and multimedia usage were utilised.

Mohamed Suhairie Jamaluddin, 32, said he was apprehensive to speak English initially but now his confidence had grown.

Both the Malaysian teachers noticed a difference in their pupils’ performance as well.

The 40-year-old Eljeddi, an American, said the pupils had also shown more confidence to speak in English.

She said the programme began in SK Jenderam last year and “we try to keep the same teachers so that we can monitor their progress too”.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the 360 mentors, who came from countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, were here to coach local teachers nationwide.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the mentors in SK Jenderam here, he said each mentor was assigned to five schools. They would visit one school every weekday.

“They will be covering 1,800 primary schools with 6,500 local English language teachers (to be mentored),” Idris said.

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