Opportunity of a lifetime: Critical LANGUAGE Scholarship Program (CLS)

By Jamila Cherif


If you’ve always wanted to travel the world but couldn’t afford it, you have the chance to travel, learn another language, and get academic credit for it through the critical language scholarship program (CLS). CLS is a Program of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational, and Cultural Affairs which will cover short-term intensive language instruction and cultural profitable experiences overseas every summer for U.S undergraduate and graduate students. You have to apply in the fall for the following summer’s program.

There is a good diversity of languages learned in the CLS program such as Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. From the March 25 presentation, key speaker Marlene said that Arabic and Chinese are the most demanding languages these days. Because you get to travel to specific areas, you experience the realities of that geographic region in a more concrete way. In 2014, some of the CLS locations were China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Baku, Russia, Turkey, Morocco, Oman, Bangladesh, India, Tajikistan, and so on.

Remember this is a government program; so all measurements are well taken care of, most importantly your safety. There will be weekly meetings with program leaders, to bring support and build a stronger communication. The learning program is about 20 hours a week of formal language instruction for 8-10 weeks; which is equal to one full year of language study. Moreover, CLS participants are able to benefit from academic credit from Bryn Mawr College. There is no requirement after the student’s accomplishment, just surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

In addition, CLS participants will be formed through a preprogram diagnostic Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) test and a postprogram OPI assessment developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Here are three specific application keys to consider while submitting your application:

1. Be specific on your purposes of studying. For example, you can say that you want to be part of the CLS because you need to learn Arabic, in order to work with a group of uneducated Middle East women. Give more details to show if it is an organization or something else.

2. Show that you’ve been prepared through your academic experience. Thus, you should mention your ability to work with others. Talk about your successful campaign in an organization you’re part of.

3. Present a letter of recommendation, and build relationships with your professors because that can have a big impact on it.

Nearly 4,500 CLS participants have learned new language skills since the emergence of the program. They’re pursuing different careers, and this further demonstrates the globalization of workforce and American competitiveness.

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