30 Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation English Teaching Assistant Award
Accepted Degree Levels
Grant PeriodSeptember Start
Grant Length10 Months
The Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation Program for US English Teaching Assistants (ETA) to Bulgaria offers students holding at least a bachelor's degree in any field the opportunity to teach English in Bulgarian public high schools for one year as teaching assistants. The program aims to improve the quality of English language instruction in Bulgarian schools and to expand the educational and cultural exchange between Bulgaria and the United States.
Thanks to the generous support from the America for Bulgaria Foundation, the ETA program in Bulgaria currently consists of 30 English Teaching Assistants placed in 25 cities across Bulgaria. The Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation ETA program has had a tremendous role in the improvement of the English language instruction in all participating schools, as evidenced by the evaluations of thousands of students and feedback from ETA mentor teachers and school principals. The program also benefits local communities, where ETAs often initiate or are involved in various public service projects such as organizing fundraising activities for charitable causes, starting sports, arts or cooking clubs, giving consultations on college application and serving as judges or coaches for English language competitions. Perhaps the most notable initiative started by Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation ETAs to date is the Bulgarian English Speech Tournament (BEST) Foundation. Finally, the program offers its participants the unique opportunity to acquire invaluable intercultural, professional and life experience and the chance to make genuine impact in their local community.
Grants begin on September 1, 2024 and end on July 1, 2025.
A week-long in-country orientation in the beginning of September provides grantees with professional and cultural training as well as intensive basic Bulgarian language classes. The school year officially opens on September 15.
Prior to arrival in country, Fulbright Bulgaria staff and ETA alumni offer webinars and opportunities to discuss pre-departure concerns. The Commission also offers an online summer course in Bulgarian language and culture.
Grant Length: 10 months.
A week-long in-country orientation in the beginning of September provides grantees with professional and cultural training as well as intensive basic Bulgarian language classes.
Applications from candidates holding Bachelor's or Master's degrees in any field will be accepted. Preference is given to students with some English language teaching experience and intercultural skills. Some level of proficiency in Bulgarian or in another Slavic language is considered an advantage. Previous experience in the region or country is not considered a disadvantage.
The ideal applicant is committed to community engagement outside the classroom, willing to lead and take part in extra-curricular activities and clubs. Successful ETAs are self-starters who are proactive, resilient and seek flexible solutions to challenges.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time of application. Permanent residents are not eligible. Dual citizens (American and Bulgarian or other European citizenship) are accepted. Applicants must be articulate, fluent English-speakers.
Degree Level of Applicant
Special Application Instructions
While the core of our ETA program remains focused on high school teaching, the Commission continues to experiment with new models and partnerships with the goal of expanding the reach of the program. If you have experience and interest in working with elementary school students, teaching at the college/ university level, or teaching in underserved communities, please indicate this in your application in case such opportunities arise.
In addition to the 30 Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation ETA grants, there may also be the possibility for corporate-sponsored ETA positions in vocational-technical high schools in smaller communities in Bulgaria. Please indicate in your application's "Abstract/Summary of Proposal" whether you would like to be considered for a corporate-sponsored ETA grant in the event that such awards become available. These positions differ from the standard ETA assignment in a number of ways: the students generally have a lower level of English mastery and may come from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus teachers may need to invest additional effort in lesson-planning and community engagement. Candidates for such positions should have previous English-language teaching experience, especially with lower-level learners, as the assignment may include both teaching at a vocational high school and teaching adult professionals. Candidates with experience in youth leadership, community-building projects, technical skills and project-management skills are encouraged to apply. Experience or specific interest in community empowerment and particularly projects for girls‘ empowerment will be considered an advantage. Knowledge of basic Bulgarian or another Slavic language is not necessary but will be considered an advantage.
ETA candidates to Bulgaria are not required to submit a supplementary research proposal with their application. Once in Bulgaria, ETAs are encouraged to support the activities of the BEST Foundation or to develop their own extracurricular projects involving the students and/or the local community. The Commission supports small-scale projects financially through competitions in the beginning of each school term.
Candidates should be aware that a short online interview may be requested by the Commission as part of the selection process.
Foreign Language Proficiency
Bulgarian language proficiency is not required, but some level of proficiency in Bulgarian or in another Slavic language is considered an advantage. Some study of Bulgarian prior to arrival is encouraged in order to promote deeper engagement with the host community. Grantees will be provided with basic language instruction in Bulgarian as part of an online summer course and during the in-country orientation. The Commission also provides support for continuing Bulgarian-language training during the grant period.
- Secondary School
Grantees will be placed in high schools (grades 8-12), mostly schools with intensive English language instruction in cities and towns all over Bulgaria. In limited cases, ETAs might teach middle school or university level students. Schools provide free housing for the ETAs. Assignments will depend on the respective schools' needs and will consist of 14-18 hours per week of teaching English, independently or with a co-teacher. Class hours are scheduled Monday through Thursday, with Fridays left free of classroom responsibilities. Details of assignments will develop through communication between selected candidates and designated host institutions. Extracurricular activities such as working with the school's English Speech and Debate team, leading clubs, community service, and volunteer projects are encouraged.
Based on performance, ETAs can apply for a second year; however, second-year renewal awards are limited and not guaranteed.
- Regional City
ETAs in Bulgaria are primarily placed in mid-sized regional towns, with a few exceptions in larger or smaller communities.
ETAs have significant teaching loads and are strongly encouraged to engage with their local communities, thus a supplementary research project is not feasible. However, we expect ETAs to develop or continue local community engagement initiatives.
ETAs are provided with private apartments free-of-charge by their host schools, but they are responsible for covering utility costs. All apartments should be furnished with the basics (bed, wardrobe, table and chairs, sofa, etc.) and equipped with working household items and appliances, such as a stove, a washing machine, a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, heating units. Pets are not allowed in school-sponsored housing.
Fulbright Program Management Contact
Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy Website
Grant benefits include:
- Monthly stipend – $1,000 per month
- Round-trip air travel allowance – $2,000
- Relocation and incidentals allowance – $1,000
- Bulgarian language learning stipend - $500
- Health benefit plan (for grantees only)
The basic amount of the Fulbright/America for Bulgaria Foundation grant is not increased for accompanying dependents. Housing is provided to grantees by their respective host schools free of charge. Grantees are responsible for covering utility bills.
Bulgaria Country Overview
A mountainous country of seven million people located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria boasts a rich archaeological heritage and vibrant artistic culture, including its unique folk music and dance traditions as well as contemporary literary and performance practices. Thanks to its striking natural landscape, rich agricultural roots, and four-season climate, Bulgaria is an increasingly popular destination for outdoor and culinary tourism. Bulgaria also has a strong ICT and start-up sector, based primarily in Sofia, and some Bulgarian companies have started receiving international recognition for their innovations.
Bulgaria has a relatively homogenous majority population of Slavic-speakers who traditionally identify as Orthodox Christian; however, the country is also home to Turkish and Roma communities and has a sizeable Muslim minority (more than 10%). While Bulgarians are known for their warm hospitality, some communities may hold conservative views and may not have extensive experience interacting with foreigners. Younger Bulgarians often have solid levels of English-language competence thanks to access to digital and online resources, while older generations, who had limited access to English instruction under communism, may have studied Russian, German or French instead.
Since the fall of communism in 1989, Bulgaria has been a parliamentary democracy, joining the EU in 2007. Although Bulgaria has the lowest standard of living in the EU and struggles with challenges such as emigration/brain-drain and rule-of-law issues, the country has nevertheless generally been politically and economically stable. All applicants are urged to consult the most recent State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices, which offers the most exhaustive and up-to-date description of political, social and cultural trends in Bulgaria.