The Masa Teaching Fellows Program in Israel is a unique initiative designed for native English-speaking Jewish teachers from around the globe. This government-sponsored program offers an opportunity to start or enhance a teaching career while providing an enriching life experience. Participants volunteer as ESL teachers and are placed in public schools across various Israeli communities. The program caters to both first-time teachers and those with prior teaching experience. As part of their role, teachers work with small groups of students, focusing on improving their conversational English, reading, writing, and grammar skills.
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The Masa Teaching Fellows Program has several eligibility criteria. Open to native English speakers aged 20 to 35 from any country, applicants must identify as Jewish and have completed a Bachelor's Degree by mid-September of the application year. Accepted participants engage in a 10-month commitment, usually from late August to early July, working 30 to 35 hours weekly in both classroom teaching and community volunteering.
A program fee of $1,000 covers accommodation, orientation, Hebrew courses, teacher training, seminars, cultural excursions, and health insurance. Notably, fluency in Hebrew is not required; participants receive Hebrew lessons during their stay. The program welcomes both experienced teachers and novices, providing comprehensive training. While a TESOL qualification is not mandatory, it may enhance an application due to the program's popularity, demonstrating commitment and teaching methodology understanding.
Also read: Do TESOL teachers need a second language?
The Masa Teaching Fellows Program operates in 14 different locations across Israel, including Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Netanya, and Bat Yam. You are able to specify your preferred location, although your choice cannot be guaranteed as placements are based on availability. Who you will actually be teaching will also vary with the location. Your class may contain secular or Israeli Jews and children of immigrants from countries worldwide such as Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union, as well as Christian or Muslim Israeli Arabs.
As the program is primarily aimed at overseas volunteers it is not generally open to Israeli citizens. The official line is if you have Israeli citizenship you must have left the country before the age of 14 and have lived outside of Israel for at least four consecutive years prior to applying to the program.
The Masa Teaching Fellows Program in Israel offers a wealth of cultural, educational, and personal benefits. Participants have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Israel's rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural landscapes. Financially, as it is a volunteer program, the stipends are modest but supportive. Certified teachers receive a monthly stipend of 4,000 NIS (approximately $1,000), while those without certification receive 1,750 NIS (around $480) per month. Additionally, upon completing the 10-month program, fellows are reimbursed up to $1,000 for their flight expenses. Beyond the financial aspect, the program enriches the experience with regular excursions and cultural activities, allowing participants to fully engage with and appreciate the unique environment of Israel during their stay.