Critical Language Enhancement Award
The Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) promotes the Fulbright Program's goal of cross-cultural exchange and dialogue through language study. Fulbright grantees capable of communicating in the local language in their host countries are likely to form stronger bonds with their peers, conduct more meaningful research, and develop a greater understanding of a foreign culture. The experience grantees bring home after their Critical Language Enhancement Award and Fulbright grant will serve them in their chosen careers and throughout their lives.
CLEA is a feature of the U.S. Student Fulbright Program, which provides an opportunity for selected Fulbright U.S. Student grantees to typically receive three to six months of intensive language study in their host country as an enhancement to their Fulbright grant. Language instruction providers and duration of individual programs are subject to change and vary by eligible country. They must be approved by local Fulbright Commissions, Foundations or U.S. Embassies in the host countries. CLEA is offered to students once they have been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student grant which requires that they use one of the eligible languages for their Fulbright project and beyond.
The purpose of the Critical Language Enhancement Award is to cultivate higher levels of language proficiency prior to and during the Fulbright grant period and beyond. Ultimately, Critical Language Enhancement grantees will achieve a high level of proficiency in a targeted language and will go on to careers or further study which will incorporate the use of the language studied and/or related languages.
Eligible Languages and Countries
The Eligible languages and countries for the 2024-2025 award include:
|Study-Research Award||English Teaching Assistantship Award|
|Egypt: Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and/or dialect)||Jordan: Arabic (all dialects)|
|India: Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, and Urdu|
|Indonesia: Bahasa Indonesia|
|Jordan: Arabic (all dialects)|
|Morocco: Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic and Darija)|
|Taiwan*: Mandarin Chinese *(for partnership English-taught MA degree awards)|
The number of eligible countries and languages supported by the CLEA is subject to change based on future budget allocations and U.S. Department of State priorities.
Eligibility and Requirements for Applicants
For the 2024-25 academic year, the CLEA competition is open to semi-finalists for the Fulbright Study/Research and ETA awards to Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, and Taiwan MA partnership awards.
CLEA grantees must:
- Be selected for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant (or ETA, in some cases) by the eligible country for which they applied.
- Meet the minimum CLEA language requirement of the host country by the start of the Fulbright grant. See the Fulbright country summary for minimum requirement.
- Demonstrate an interest in continuing their language training in future professional activities.
Application and Selection Process
Application for a Critical Language Enhancement Award is made in conjunction with the Fulbright U.S. Student application and reference to the language award application should be included in the Statement of Grant Purpose.
For the 2024-25 academic year, applicants to eligible awards can apply to CLEA by responding to the CLEA prompts on the Language Self Evaluation page of the application.
Commitment to the Language
Applicants should demonstrate and detail their commitment to developing their language skills through current study, during their Fulbright grant tenure, in their future career and/or educational plans, and in their supplemental Critical Language Enhancement Award statement.
Language award recipients are selected by local Fulbright Commissions/Foundations or U.S. Embassies in the host countries and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Award recipients should propose their own language training programs and duration of study based on the guidelines of the host country; however, final approval is the responsibility of the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in the host country. Changes to program assignment, schedule, or length may occur.
CLEA is a competitive grant program and applicants selected to receive a Fulbright grant will not automatically receive a CLEA. Please note that consideration for CLEA will not impact the Fulbright Semi-Finalist status or selection for Fulbright US Student Award in any way.
Additional Grant Requirements
To monitor and evaluate grantee and program achievements, language proficiency tests and grantee reporting are required. Failure to complete these stipulations could result in delayed Critical Language Enhancement Award or Fulbright grant payments until the requirements are fulfilled.
Language Proficiency Evaluations
To track grantee language ability, grantees are required to take pre- and post-grant language tests. Language tests should take place within two weeks or less of starting the CLEA and within two weeks after completion of the CLEA period. All costs of CLEA-related testing will be assumed by the CLEA program, except in the case of charges incurred for missed test appointments. Charges that are incurred from missed test appointments may be deducted from the grantee's stipend. Grantees may not begin their Critical Language Enhancement Award until they have completed the pre-testing component.
All grantees are required to submit a Final Report detailing their experience, language growth, and feedback on program administration and general policies. An electronic report format will be made available to grantees as they near the end of their language grant. Language award recipients with grants for longer than four months will also be required to submit a Mid-term Report.
Language Award Funding
Monthly Maintenance Stipend
Critical Language Enhancement Award recipients receive the same monthly maintenance stipends as for other Fulbright Student grants in the host country.
The tuition allowance covers the total tuition for the approved language program and/or tutoring.
All grantees receive approximately $100 to use toward the purchase of books and other related educational expenses. The book allowance is included in the first stipend payment. No further reimbursements for books are permitted.
Costs for round-trip airfare to the host country are provided through the Fulbright Study/Research or ETA grant. All air travel must comply with the Fly America Act/Open Skies Agreement. The Critical Language Enhancement Award does not provide for costs of passports, visas, immunizations, or other costs incidental to travel abroad. Additionally, the grant does not cover excess or overweight baggage fees.
Health and Accident Coverage
Health and accident coverage (ASPE) for the Critical Language Enhancement Award is the same as for the Fulbright grant. Grantees should be aware that any travel outside of the host country is not covered under ASPE. Click here for more information on this policy.
Expenses not included
The Critical Language Enhancement Award does not provide funding or reimbursement for school application or placement test fees, bank transfer/wire fees, or local transportation.
Depending on the country to which a CLEA grantee applies, language studies may be completed through formal classroom instruction, private tutoring, or a combination of the two. Language instruction and programs are selected by grantees prior to beginning their Critical Language Enhancement Award. All language instruction, including formal courses and/or private tutors, must be approved by the Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy in the host country.
All private tutoring must be provided through an approved language institution that provides documentation for services provided (receipts).
For the purposes of educational continuity, changing programs during the language award is discouraged. Any changes must be approved by the Critical Language Enhancement Award administrator, either IIE or the local Fulbright Commission/Foundation, in advance. Grantees to countries that have only one approved language program or that pay tuition directly to language institutes, cannot change their language program during the Critical Language Enhancement Award.
Classroom Instruction and Tutoring
It is preferred that grantees receive most of their language training through formal classroom instruction. Tutoring is an option available to supplement language program instruction, to fulfill the award period, if a language program falls short of the language award length; to fill gaps of more than three days between courses; or to provide instruction if there is no language course available at the award recipient’s proficiency level.
Grant Duration and Schedule
The Critical Language Enhancement Award grant period is typically 3-6 months in duration and varies by host country. CLEA grantees must plan their CLEA in coordination with the local Fulbright Commissions/Foundations or U.S. Embassies in the host countries. In some countries, the entire CLEA must be taken prior to starting the Fulbright grant. Intensive study is typically defined as 20 hours per week of classroom study or 10 hours per week of tutoring and must be approved by the local Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy. In some cases, this option will require grantees to receive visas for more than one year. In some countries, CLEA may be arranged to include intensive study before the Fulbright grant, followed by a period of tutoring or coursework concurrent with the Fulbright grant.
The Critical Language Enhancement Award does not alter the duration of the Fulbright Study/Research grant. For example: a 3-month language award plus a 10-month Fulbright means a commitment of 13 months. Recipients of an award must begin their Fulbright grants immediately following the language training. Grantees may not begin working on their Fulbright research projects until the Fulbright grant period begins.
The Critical Language Enhancement Award start date depends on many factors including: the availability of a suitable language program on requested dates; conditions set by the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy; academic affiliations requiring the Fulbright Study/Research or ETA grant to begin on a specific date; and completion of mandatory U.S.-based pre-departure orientations. Applicants should comment on their flexibility with respect to start dates when considering the entire length of time abroad.
Depending on the country, July is the earliest that one can begin the Critical Language Enhancement Award. Most grantees begin in September. The last day the Fulbright Study/Research grant can begin is March 31, 2025 for the 2024-2025 program year.
The purpose of the Critical Language Enhancement Award is to provide supplemental language instruction with the goal of better preparing grantees for the successful completion of their regular Fulbright grant. Therefore, grantees cannot shorten the duration of their Fulbright grants to increase language study afforded by the Critical Language Enhancement Award for any reason.
Absolutely no flight departure will be allowed for the Critical Language Enhancement Award before Fulbright and Critical Language Enhancement Award grant documents are signed and received by IIE or the Fulbright Commission; all medical documents are submitted and medical clearance has been issued; and, research clearance and visas, as required by some countries, have been received.
Holidays, Recesses, and Break Periods
International travel is permitted during holiday/recess periods. However, grantees will not be covered under the U.S. Department of State Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) when traveling outside of the host country.
For Intensive Study Periods (completed prior to the Fulbright Study/Research or ETA grant) of less than 3 months: No vacation will be authorized.
For Intensive Study Periods (completed prior to the Fulbright Study/Research or ETA grant) of 3-4 months: The grantee may take up to one week (7 days including weekends) of vacation without deduction in grant benefits if such absence is approved by either the local Fulbright Commission/Foundation or the Cultural Affairs Officer or other appropriate officer of the U.S. Embassy, and by the host institution. Insofar as possible, any vacation period should correspond with a local holiday period or recess at your language and/or teaching institution.
For Intensive Study Periods (completed prior to and/or concurrent with the Fulbright Study/Research or ETA grant) of over 4 months: The grantee may take up to two weeks (14 days including weekends) of vacation without deduction in grant benefits if such absence is approved by either the local Fulbright Commission/Foundation or the Cultural Affairs Officer or other appropriate officer of the U.S. Embassy, and by the host institution. Insofar as possible, any vacation period should correspond with a local holiday period or recess at your language and/or teaching institution.
Tuition Payment and Reimbursement
Payment for tuition fees for language courses or private tutoring provided by the Critical Language Enhancement Award varies by country. CLEA grantees should check with the Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy in their host country about the protocols associated with paying for tuition.
Please reach out the appropriate regional contact for inquiries regarding CLEA.