Participating in the Fulbright Commission English Language
Teaching Assistantship for the Austrian Ministry of Education, the Arts and
Culture is an experience I will never forget. I was absolutely content working
The whole process started in 2001, with my first
attempt at application to the Fulbright program. I was accepted, but was told
that due to my lack of pedagogical experience, only as an Alternate. Wanting to
participate in the Austrian Fulbright program, as well as needing to gain
experience in the education field, I began to pursue jobs and education which
would help me gain that much needed experience. After 6 years, one Masters
Degree and years of teaching and working in the education field, I decided it
was time to reapply. With the help of many wonderful professors at both
In my first email from the Fulbright Commission, I learned that I had been assigned three schools, instead of the typical one to two; the Bundesgymnasium or BG/BRG/Borg in St. Johann im Pongau, and the Missions-Privatgymnasium St. Rupert and the Bildungsanstalt für Kindergartenpädagogik) in Bischofshofen, and that I would be working with students ranging from the 1st form (13 yrs old) to the 8th form (18 to 19 yrs old). With much excitement, I began to process of becoming an English Language Teaching Assistant.
With regard to housing, I learned that it is very important
to contact your Stammleher(in) or a local rental agency as soon as you receive
your acceptance email. There are diverse living arrangements, but it depends on
how much one is willing to spend. I would also suggest coming to
It didn’t take long to discover that
After orientation in late September, I began teaching, and soon found out that the job was one from which I would learn a lot. Each day, I tried to work hard to find/create good lessons for the students, and due to my education background, I was able to co-teach with many of the teachers. Many of them actually allow me to create my own lessons or find my own material. I actually created a portfolio of lessons and articles for the next TA so they would have basic reference materials to draw from for lessons.
Academically, there are many things I would recommend. The
first would be that the future TA learn or improve their English Grammar,
especially rules and terms, teachers and students will ask you a lot of grammar
questions. I would also recommend the
student learn as much about the other English-speaking nations, and their use
of the English language, as possible. Their main focus will be the
Acting professional is very important when interacting with teachers, both in the school and in public. They prefer TAs who are able to represent the schools, and themselves, positively. Appearance-wise, I would recommend trying to dress similarly to the teachers, or in business casual attire. It is also important to always be prepared and flexible, and to try to always arrive at least 15-30 minutes before a lesson, just in case things have changed or additional information is needed. I tried to always check-in with teachers at least a few days before a scheduled lesson. I also used a daily planner, which became a life line for me. I record EVERYTHING in it. I use it to help remember lesson topics/ideas/teacher suggestions.
While participating in the assistantship, I did not take classes at the Universität, but I would recommend taking a class, if there is interest. I became very good friends with the French TA, and she was able to teach and take classes at the same time with little to no difficulty.
It is very important to befriend yourself with your fellow TAs and the teachers. I was very close with the French TA, and many of my teachers, which made my social life very busy. The French TA and I would take turns visiting one another (cooking dinners, watching movies, just laughing our heads off, etc.), and I often was invited to visit teachers for tea, a meal, or to take a walk.
I truly hope this statement can help students make the decision to apply to this program. In my opinion, they should definitely apply, possibly even more than once, possibly even twice. It will change your life (and your perspective on the world). It's really changed my life in a very positive way.