You may know that I received a Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) with along with my Fulbright Grant (2019 – 2020) in Indonesia. This means that I received additional funding to intensively study Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) for approximately three months prior to the start of my research. Now that I’m just over 25% complete with my language training, I thought I’d share a bit more about the my CLEA award and how to apply for a CLEA in conjunction with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Wisma Bahasa is a “home for language.”

What is a “Critical Language?”

The concept of “critical languages” was established by the United States National Security Education Program (NSEP) to emphasize the study of languages critical to national security. These languages are less-commonly-taught, non-Western European languages for which the demand of proficient speakers exceeds the current supply. While there are currently more than 60 languages on the list, the Fulbright U.S. student program recognizes ten of these languages for a Critical Language Enhancement Award: Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Mandarin (Chinese), Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Russian, and Urdu. For more detailed information on critical languages, click on the links below:

What is a Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA)?

A Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) is administered exclusively by the U.S. Student Fulbright Program and is meant to complement or enhance the initial Fulbright grant. The duration of the award is 3-6 months, depending upon the language and country. The purpose of the award is to encourage higher proficiencies of less-commonly-taught languages in Fulbright grantees both during and after their grant periods. Critical language training fulfills Fulbright’s goal of fostering cross-cultural exchange.

CLEA grantees often receive one-on-one private tutoring sessions to learn the language.

CLEA Eligibility

Students applying for Fulbright Grants in mainland China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, or Russia are eligible for CLEAs. In order to be awarded a CLEA, applicants must first receive a Fulbright Grant. Personally, I was awarded by Fulbright Grant in March 2019 and my CLEA in April 2019, approximately one month later. CLEAs are usually awarded to Fulbright Study/Research grantees, but in some cases ETAs may receive CLEAs as well. Applicants must also meet the minimum language requirement for their respective countries and express interest in continuing language training in the future.

CLEA Application Requirements

Fulbright U.S. Student applicants interested in applying for a CLEA need not complete an additional or separate application. Rather, the CLEA application is included within the Fulbright U.S. Student application. Applicants must complete a supplementary statement to indicate their reasons for applying for a CLEA and how it will relate to their research or study. This information can and SHOULD be included in the statement of grant purpose as well. I chose to include a sentence in my statement of grant purpose about how language proficiency is critical to the community interview portion of my research. I highly recommend including a similar statement if you choose to apply, because it will reinforce your intent and reasoning for receiving the grant. Applicants also need a Foreign Language Evaluation (FLE) performed by a native speaker. This can be completed by a certified language instructor or a university faculty member. My evaluation was completed by the latter. A language self-evaluation is also required.

What Happens After Receiving the CLEA Grant?

Fulbright U.S. Student Grantees should complete their CLEAs prior to starting their Fulbright grant periods. Start dates are flexible and vary with country, program, visa approval, etc. The most common time to start a CLEA is during September of the grant year. I started my grant at the tail end of December because I didn’t arrive in-country until mid-December and needed to finalize things with immigration prior to beginning my language training. The amount and duration of funding is also not set. You’ll receive more information about this from your Fulbright Commission after your grants are awarded.

Lesson plans and materials vary between language programs.

In Indonesia (at least for the current 2019-2020 grant year), CLEA grantees receive funding for 120 training sessions with private tutors. We (the CLEA grantees) are able to chose from four site options for our language training: Universitas Negeri Malang in Malang, Satya Waycana Christian University (UKSW) in Salatiga, Wisma Bahasa in Yogyakarta, or Alam Bahasa in Yogyakarta. I am currently in Yogyakarta at one of the language schools devoted entirely to teaching Bahasa Indonesia as a foreign language. I currently take 15 training sessions per week, split into 3, one-hour-and-forty-five-minute sessions per day. This amounts to just over 26 hours of private language sessions per week and a total study duration of 210 hours. At this rate, I’ll be finished just before March! Stay tuned to learn some Indonesian words!

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