Spanish and French Immersion Teacher Trainee Programs


Information only – not currently active

The primary objective of the CHF trainee program was to offer teacher trainees the opportunity to practice and hone language-teaching skills to non-native speakers of Spanish or French in a full-immersion setting.   By taking part in this structured training program, foreign nationals obtained valuable exposure to the American system of immersion teaching as well as a wonderful opportunity to improve their fluency in English.  The young trainees sponsored by the Cordell Hull Foundation have a genuine interest in American culture and need to obtain this specialized teacher training as an asset in their future careers.

Currently, CHF is no longer actively sponsoring teacher trainees but would consider a new program with a minimum of 7 or more trainees per year.

The multiple advantages of the teacher trainee program were summarized by a Cordell Hull Foundation trainee who already held several university degrees before applying to CHF.  He expresses his reasons for participating in CHF’s  program ?

Teaching is indeed at the core of my plans for the future from a professional point of view, as I am already approaching my field in that perspective.  My opinion is that the teacher, or professor, being surrounded by young people, has the ability to hand down a knowledge, to provoke their desire to learn and be interested in the way the world is evolving, and to discover the place where they belong.  Taking part in the CHF immersion teacher trainee program would give me the opportunity to express these ideas and to be at the service of my mother tongue.

Furthermore, I am willing to discover another culture.  I wish to share my own culture as much as possible but also feel the need for close contact with a different culture.  I consider that not being interested in our differences would mean looking at the world through a keyhole, and being narrow-minded.  To work and live abroad seems to me the most appropriate way of getting to know a different way of life.  I consider the American culture specifically worth studying, as it is the most powerful state in the world.  It is also an especially interesting and diverse one, as it entails many states and communities as it constantly evolves.

One great benefit of living in another country is biculturalism: learning how to adjust to living in another set of values and customs, and by contrast obtaining a more objective view of one?s own country and culture.  The overall goal of the Cordell Hull Foundation Teacher-Trainee Program was to give young trainees the opportunity to develop their personalities, expand their capacities, broaden and deepen their outlook, increase their objectivity, and acquire a more realistic, practical sense of how the world works.  It was not an easy adjustment, but the end rewards are immeasurable in possibilities for the growth of human potential.  The foreign-language immersion-teacher training program was one of CHF?s most vital programs for achieving its mission to facilitate understanding of the foreign national for American culture and vice versa.

The Cordell Hull Foundation trainee program began in 2003 with recruiting French-speaking trainees to participate in public French Immersion School programs.  CHF was approached to provide this service because previous trainees, for the most part, had been young people interested in enjoying living in a different culture but without the motivation to develop teaching skills for professional careers.

The mission of the Cordell Hull Foundation (CHF) is to promote peace and to improve understanding between nations of the world through international educational and cultural exchange and training programs.  Thus, the new foreign language teaching immersion internships provided an opportunity to expand opportunities to accomplish our mission.

For SY 2004-05, CHF recruited and sponsored trainees from France, Cameroun and Vietnam for the French program.  The diversity of cultures and backgrounds of the group was designed to match the mix of the student population.  Two of the CHF trainees in this year?s French group were finishing their PhDs, two spoke fluent Japanese, and one fluent Chinese.  All have some command of English before arriving in the U.S.  Spanish trainees have been natives of South American Countries:  Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.

The CHF trainee handbook was written in French and translated into Spanish so that vital information needed during their first month in the U.S. is clear and accessible in the trainees? own native languages.  Foreign-national trainees receive monthly stipends from the schools? Parent-Teacher organizations.  Other opportunities to earn money, such as tutoring, are possible.  Most Interns ride the school bus every day with the students.

The opportunity for prospective second-language teachers to be trained by experienced French-as-second-language or Spanish-as-second-language teachers in the United States also benefits American pupils, who can get to know the French and Spanish culture and speech directly through these native speakers while the participants acquire hands-on experience that would be impossible to obtain while remaining in their native countries.   Trainees are required to make periodic reports to CHF during the year to receive a certificate of completion in May.

In this particular training program, trainees? knowledge of American culture was further enhanced by the opportunity to be hosted by American families, where they are given a private room and meals, at no expense to the trainee.  The Parent-Teacher organizations locate and place trainees in host families.  Interns live with one or two host families during their stay, possibly switching homes after the winter break in mid-January.  Living with host families gives interns an opportunity to experience American lifestyle first-hand and share their own culture daily.  Host families are very committed to the program and offer room and board voluntarily.  Interns are expected to live as family members but are not expected to speak Spanish or French at home.

The placement and matching of trainees with host families was a critical aspect of the program.  Some trainees are pursuing correspondence courses, or doing doctoral research, during the year and need a certain amount of free time to complete their assignments.  Other trainees prefer to participate more actively in the life of the family, especially where there are young children – playing with the children, and helping them do homework, for which trainees are compensated at a pre-established, agreed-upon hourly fee.

Responsibilities of trainees during the 20 hours they contribute at school during the week are many and varied.  Their activities include second-language modeling, interactive role-play and dialogue between the teacher and trainee, presentations on culture and country, preparing and assembling materials, and assisting students in research and other information needed for class assignments.  Trainees may volunteer time to participate in after-hours or weekend school activities, but are not obligated to do so.

Under the Cordell Hull Foundation trainee program, CHF can approve up to ten extra hours of paid employment.  The work must be evaluated by CHF to make sure it applies to the individual trainee’s program.  The Cordell Hull Foundation, as sponsor, was the only authority equipped to make an assessment on the number of hours of work and type of work authorized.  The H-3 training visa required an individualized petition, and the Foundation presented  over a dozen petitions over a period of 10 years that were approved by USCIS.  Most importantly, the H-3 is not like other visas in that the guidelines and work authorized by are individually designed by the training sponsor.  Only the entity (the Cordell Hull Foundation) who successfully obtained approval is qualified to tell you what work is authorized and what is not.  But in 2013 USCIS turned down every Chinese new H-3 trainee petition, forcing CHF to discontinue the trainee program using H-3 trainee visas as a vehicle.

Schools were not permitted to require trainees to “volunteer” or contribute extra time beyond the 20 hours in their contracts unless they make an arrangement with the trainee to allocate time off from the regular 20-hour per week schedule and the trainee agrees.  Volunteering time to attend school-promotion functions or weekend teaching camps was an individual trainee’s choice, not a requirement.

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CHF Work Authorization Request
Contact: Marianne Mason
Executive Director
cordellhull@aol.com
Tel: (646) 289-8620
Fax: (646) 349-3455
The Cordell Hull Foundation
for International Education
45 Rockefeller Plaza, Floor 20
New York, NY  10111    (by appointment only)