Lesson of the week: Cover Letters and Personal Statements

Cover Letters and Personal Statements by Charlotte Simpson (Argentina, British Council, ELA) and Libby Dvir (Argentina, ETA)

This week we have a lesson taken from San Luis, Argentina where Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Libby Dvir and British Council English Language Assistant Charlotte Simpson teach in a English teacher preparatory institute.  Libby has this to say about the placement and lesson,

“In the institute where I work, each of the four years of the licensiado de inglés (Bachelor’s in English) has an English language class called Practicas Discursivas (Reflective Practice). My advisor teaches the last year of Practicas Discursivas but she went to Australia for a conference so she asked me and my British Council roommate Charlotte to lead her class in her place. The class is once a week for three hours, and we’re covering for our advisor for a month. She gave us the topics in advance, but we had complete autonomy to lead the classes as we like. We took the approach of trying to give our students as much information as possible during class, so we planned four lectures with a little bit of discussion sprinkled in for fun. Our classes were: 1. the different scholarships available for Argentines in English-speaking countries, 2. how to write a cover letter and a personal statement, 3. how to write a resume, and 4. how to ace an interview. For homework we had our students write their own cover letters, personal statements, and resumes, plus create timelines for applying to the scholarship program that appealed most to them. Our advisor told us that we can’t stress enough the fact that each and every one of them is qualified and has a real chance at winning a scholarship, so that was a main point from the beginning.”

The powerpoint presentation is taken from their second focus of “Cover Letters and Personal Statements.”  In this presentation, the examples are taken from actual cover letters used to secure jobs in the public sector in both the U.S. and U.K., such as mental health and education.  Libby and Charlotte used actual examples of their personal statements for the Fulbright application and the British Council Program (a UK program similar to Fulbright English Teaching Assistant).  These statements were provided as a handout to the students and together they discussed how both Libby and Charlotte used their personal experiences to craft their statements.  Please feel free to use your own personal statement from your Fulbright application or other applicable application essays.

The most powerful aspect of this lesson is their encouragement of the students and belief in their potential.  This lesson would be an excellent opportunity to encourage students to apply to scholarship opportunities, Fulbright or otherwise, and demonstrates how to embed personal experience in an application.  This will help your students stand out from the crowd while also following English conventions of language and formatting.

Link to presentation: Cover Letters and Personal Statements (PP)-University-Argentina-Libby Dvir-2018

Please come back for more useful lessons and tools to use with your students!



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