Critical Language Scholarship Online Information Session (2019-2020)

October 22, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski

Hi I’m Jay and I’m Natalie. Welcome to
the online information session for the U.S. Department of State Critical
Language Scholarship Program, also known as the CLS Program. Whether you’re a
student who wants to find out more about the program, or you are a CLS advisor or
alum preparing to give your own presentation, we hope that you’ll find
this video useful. A copy of the slides from this presentation are available for
download on the CLS website: in the section labeled
‘Advisors.’ The CLS Program is a fully funded summer study abroad program. It
supports U.S. students in all fields of study to learn what the U.S. Department
of State refers to as ‘Critical Languages.’ Critical languages are those that are
less commonly taught and studied on U.S. campuses, but that are nonetheless
critical to our engagement with the world. They are languages that are
essential to U.S. national security and economic prosperity and that help
prepare students to compete in a globalized workforce. the CLS Program
offers instruction in 15 different critical languages. 9 of the 15
languages offered by the CLS Program require no previous language study.
Students who wish to learn Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, or Russian must complete one
year of study in that language by the beginning of the program. Students who
wish to learn Chinese or Japanese must complete two years of prior study.
Applicants can meet these requirements through formal classes at the college
level or they may substitute other language learning experience for formal
classes such as self-study, tutoring, high school coursework, or knowledge of the
language from their home environment. In either case you must have a plan to meet
the requirement by the beginning of June when the CLS Program starts. Probably the
most exciting thing about the CLS Program, is that it is fully funded by
the U.S. government. The program covers domestic travel from each participant’s
home in the U.S. to Washington, D.C. for a pre-departure orientation as well as
round-trip international travel to your program site. The program also covers
applicable visa fees as well as the cost of tuition, room and board, cultural
excursions, and activities in the host country. Alumni of the program receive
undergraduate credit through Bryn Mawr College as well as a certified ACTFL
OPI test score and a certificate to verify their language progress. Keep in
mind that the CLS Program is more than just a funding opportunity it is an
all-inclusive study abroad program focused on immersive
language-learning. Each of our partner Institute’s hosts up to 30 CLS scholars
and facilitates an intensive eight-week program for students that includes 20
classroom hours each week, cultural activities, local excursions, and one or
two weekend overnight trips. The program is academically challenging, and every
aspect is designed to maximize language gains and students immersion in the host
culture. Throughout the summer, students agree to speak only in the language they
are studying, most live with host families, and each student is assigned a
language partner for practice outside of the classroom. The CLS Program is a
highly structured program on which students participate as a single cohort.
It is not an independent study, research, or internship program and students
should not expect to have time to pursue outside study or work. Students in each
cohort come from all different academic backgrounds, fields, and degree programs,
and this diversity is the strength of the program. We also actively recruit
students from groups underrepresented in study abroad including students of color,
students with disabilities, students from community colleges, and non-traditional
students. The CLS Program is a great opportunity for students regardless of
their level of experience with international travel. Each institute has
a variety of support staff, structures, and programs to ensure a safe and
successful summer for everyone. CLS is a great program for students who want to
make substantial gains in language proficiency over the course of one
summer but that’s not the only reason to apply. Proficiency in a critical language
opens doors to further academic and employment opportunities, and studying
abroad can help you develop and hone skills that all employees are looking
for like problem-solving, flexibility, and adaptability. Because of the immersive
nature of the CLS Program, participants have unique opportunities to build
meaningful relationships in their host communities with friends and colleagues
from the host country and peers in their CLS cohorts and while CLS participants
have no service commitment to the U.S. government after completion of the
program, alumni are eligible for non-competitive eligibility for federal
employment which makes pursuing a career in the civil service much easier if that
is your goal. The CLS application is available now at In order to prepare a competitive application we recommend
starting early and reaching out to resources on your campus for help.
The application deadline is November 19th 2019 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard
Time. You may apply for only one language and please keep in mind that you are
applying for a language rather than a country. Applicants are required to submit an unofficial transcript and two recommendations. 4 short essays and the
statement of purpose form the core of the application. Students are eligible
for CLS if they are U.S. citizens and enrolled in an accredited, degree-granting program at a U.S.-based institution at the time of applying. Participants must be at least 18 years old by May 15 2020, and have completed at least a full year of college-level study by the start of the program. Detailed
eligibility information can be found on our website. We want applications from
students of all majors, and we encourage students of all disciplines to think
about how critical languages can help their careers. Successful applicants for
the CLS Program come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are excited to
represent the diversity of the United States abroad. The program places
emphasis on students who are prepared for the rigorous academic program and
the intense nature of the program. In your application it’s important to show
that you can succeed in the CLS Program. This includes addressing your ability to
study intensively, your skills at adapting to a group program setting where you’re not making all the decisions, and your cultural flexibility and maturity.
You should show that you’re motivated to pursue language study and that you will
continue your studies after you return to the United States. Finally, you will
need to make a clear connection between the language you wish to study and your
academic or professional career goals. Take the time to think about how this
language contributes to your future by doing some research on what people are
doing in your field globally. Also, be sure to watch the full length
application tips video we have prepared. You can find a link to that video at Finally, reach out to resources on your campus for help with your application. Faculty and instructors might have ideas for areas of international interest in your field, a writing center, fellowship, or
scholarship office, study abroad office or honors program may be good places to
start to get feedback on your essays. Applications for the CLS Program are due
on November 19, 2019. By late January every applicant will be notified of
whether or not they advance to the semi-final round of selection. This
notification is done by email so make sure you include a valid email address
in your application. Those who advance to the semi-final round can expect to be
notified by early March of whether they’ve been selected for the award.
Students who are selected for the award will have about two weeks to either
accept or decline the offer at which point the award will be offered to
alternate candidates. This concludes our presentation about the CLS Program we hope you found it helpful. Please visit our website to learn more about the program and let us know by email, phone, Facebook, or Twitter if you have any
questions. Thank you and we look forward to receiving your application.