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When I was fourteen, I heard my father speaking English fluently to a group of Spanish tourists as part of his job as a bookstore owner in Aswan. I thought to myself, ‘how could people of different countries, cultures and mother tongues understand each other?’ I was sure that my father was not speaking Arabic and that he did not know Spanish, so there must be a common language between my father and the tourists. That language was, and still is, English. I knew English at that time but I did not speak as fluent as my father neither did I understand every word he said. I promised myself that one day I will speak English confidently with any foreigner, whether they are from an English speaking country or not. Since that day, I have developed an avid interest in learning English. Accordingly, I chose my major to be English language and literature with translation studies at the faculty of Al-Alsun, Ain Shams University. In addition, I decided to earn an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the American University in Cairo (AUC) and become a professional English teacher.
To me, learning English assumes a great importance because it is a lingua franca, abridge language used by speakers of other languages as a means of communication, just like the abovementioned situation. Learning English is not just knowing how to pronounce words and form sentences accurately, but also to communicate fluently and express ideas effectively in addition to learning about an English-speaking country, its people, and its culture. It is clearly evident that English is a highly demanded language all over the world and particularly in Egypt.
For example, in order to obtain a position in a preferred work field, employers will demand a good command of English. Unfortunately, many people in Egypt do not get their dream job because their English is not good enough. This is the main reason for which I want to provide a wide range of students with professional English teaching services that would help them meet the language requirements of this global world. By being a professional English teacher, I will have the opportunity to influence student’s lives and help them break the boundaries between them and other people in the whole world.
Concerning my academic achievements, I was able to maintain high grades throughout my education. As an undergrad, I studied English linguistic studies such as phonetics, sociolinguistics and morphology; Arabic language and literature; and translation studies. My hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed as I graduated from college with an overall grade of ‘very good with honors’. A year later, I have joined the MA TESOL program at the AUC and have been able to earn exceptional achievements in the courses I have taken so far with accumulative GPA of 3. 9, despite having a full time job at the AUC Press Bookstores. I believe my proven academic hard work and perseverance qualify me to be a Fulbright FLTA candidate.
It was my junior and senior years at college, when I participated in extracurricular activities, that I acquired a set of skills that developed my personality. I joined a student activity called REACT, in which I served as a project head. It mainly focuses on subtitling and translation. In my capacity as a head, I mentored and tracked the workflow within a team of members and participants; gave several sessions about how to use a subtitling program; and supervised the process of movies subtitling. I managed to influence my team and create a new effective leader out of them by providing them with unwavering motivation and support. In addition, I was able to establish professional contacts with professors and people working indifferent cultural centers and co-working spaces. Being part of such an entity has helped me Salma Mohamed, Egypt FLTA2develop self-confidence, leadership skills, efficient time management and social responsibility needed for success in future career endeavors.
Regarding professional experience, I currently volunteer as an English tutor at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS), beside my full-time job as a sales assistant at the AUCPress Bookstores. Teaching English to refugees in Egypt is one of the noblest voluntary works that could be done. By providing refugees a high-quality English education, they will be able to find better employment in Egypt. In case they are seeking asylum to an English-speaking country, they will be able to interact easily outside their home and prove academic success. In addition, learning English will open doors to social acceptance, cultural understanding and economic security. My job as a volunteer tutor is to help the students understand their lessons and do their assignments. Mostly, I tutor individual adult students of different English levels, but sometimes I work with a group of students of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.
Through this experience, I’m able to share and pass on my passion for English teaching and learning with the students, to implement the theories I learn in my courses as an MA student, to discover my strengths and weaknesses in my English teaching techniques and to experiment the effectiveness of different teaching methodologies. Moreover, recently I have had a growing interest in teaching Arabic as a foreign language, so I started tutoring two international students who are learning advanced Arabic in Cairo. I also volunteer, when suitable, at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) to help with different activities they offer to the students. The FLTA program will enable me to gain more classroom experience in teaching Arabic language and culture, improve my English teaching skills and increase my English language proficiency.
My career plan generally is to help more students in Egypt to learn English and improve their English language proficiency by providing them with creative, enthusiastic and innovative way of teaching. The FLTA program will give me the opportunity to increase my understanding of the American culture and improve my teaching skills to share my experiences with my future students upon my return. After finishing my MA TESOL, I will seek a teaching position at are putable university where I can apply what I have learned from the FLTA and MA programs, put my new skills and professional knowledge in use and be a more sophisticated teacher and researcher. In addition, I would like to found an English teaching school in my hometown, Aswan, which will provide my Nubian people with high-quality education that meets global demands and standards of the 21st century.
It is with this academic and professional background that I am applying for the FLTA. I believe that my passion for helping people to understand and learn English and Arabic makes teaching a suitable career for me. Fulbright FLTA will grant me the opportunity to improve my skills, increase my knowledge to give back to my community, gain experience and
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