So, you want to apply to the Instituto Franklin to teach and learn in Spain. With the help of current participant Clare Boerigter, we walk you through the application process for 2017-18. Check out why Clare chose the Instituto Franklin in her last post.
Other than having to gather documents and putting a good deal of thought into my two essays, I did not find Instituto Franklin’s application process to be that harrowing. But it did take time – so the earlier you start the better. I got in touch with one of the contacts listed on Instituto Franklin’s website about a few questions I had during the application process, and they were generally prompt to reply. The new website has a Contact Form with the FAQs – don’t be afraid to get in touch.
I contacted the Teach & Learn Office after submitting my application to confirm they had received all of my supporting documents; other than that, they did not contact me until I was notified of my acceptance.
Note that each program has slight variations depending on the nature of it’s study plan, so be sure to check the Admissions tab under the program that you’re interested in applying to; we’ve chosen the M.A. in International Education as an example.
Early Application Period: November 2-28, 2016 (decision by December 20th, 2016 via email)
Regular Application Period: January 16 – February 24, 2017 (decision by April 28th, 2017 via email)
- Have a B.A.
- Be a native English Speaker
- Have a cumulative 3.0 GPA in university (on a 4.0 scale)
- At least a B1 level of Spanish
How to Apply to Instituto Franklin:
The application includes filling out a basic web-based application and scanning the following documents onto the application form:
- Placement Form: Asks for your preferred age group for your practicum. Must write about your education background and experience working with children, and can be written in Spanish or English.
- Health Questionnaire
- Color photocopy of your passport: Passport must be valid for 12 months after the program’s end date
- One passport-sized picture
- Photocopy of your Bachelor’s Degree diploma
- Official university transcript copy
- Registration form document (downloadable)
- Two Recommendation Forms completed by your recommenders
- Statement of purpose
You must also send a statement of purpose as a short video of yourself through WeTransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org in place of essays. You can find more detailed information about what constitutes the required documentation on the Instituto’s webpage.
All applicants must pay a $100 non-refundable application fee through PayPal.
A hard copy of all documents must also be mailed to Instituto Franklin.
I’ve been accepted! Now what?
I found the acceptance confirmation process to be quite painful. Once accepted into one of the M.A. programs, you’ll receive an email with an attachment (“Acceptance Confirmation Steps”) listing additional documents you need to send Instituto Franklin, as well as a deposit – most of which is returned to you at the end of the year when you graduate – to be wired to them. Below I’ve broken down the steps you need to take to secure your placement.
*Please note, the information below is relevant for US citizens living in the US, but possibly not for others.
Acceptance Confirmation Documents:
- Wire the program deposit of €500 to Instituto Franklin’s Spanish bank account. €400 will be refunded to you once you’ve successfully completed your M.A. The “Acceptance Confirmation Steps” document will include much more information on where the wire is going, but you must email Instituto Franklin a PDF of the payment receipt once the wire has gone through. You will probably be charged a fee by your US Bank for sending the wire AND by the Spanish bank you’re sending the wire too. Make sure you calculate these fees into the wire so that Instituto Franklin receives the correct amount. Remember, send the deposit in euros, not dollars.
Fee: €500 + bank fees
- Certificate of Residency – This is an IRS Tax Form (Form 6166 to be specific) proving your residency in the US. In order to get it, you must file Form 8802, Application for US Residency Certification. You can read more about and gain access to these forms here.
- A medical certificate stating you are in good health – This document must be typed on doctor’s stationary/letterhead and verify that you are in good health to travel and study abroad. The certificate should also state that the applicant does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005.
Fee: check with your medical provider
- Criminal Background Check (possibly with the Apostille of the Hague) – If you’ve only lived in one state for the last five years, then call up the State Police Department and request a criminal background check from them; you’ll have to go in and get your fingerprints taken. However, if you’ve lived in two or more states then it’s easier to just get an FBI background check which will cover everywhere you’ve been – otherwise you have to get a state background check from every state you’ve lived in during the last 5 years. In order to get my FBI background check efficiently, I went through an approved channeler to save time. I highly recommend you order two at the same time – one for Institiuto Franklin and one for your student visa – as this is the cheapest/fastest way to do it. I would also suggest you go ahead and have the FBI channeler send your background check(s) to the Feds so that they can affix an Apostille of the Hague to both of them, as again you will need this for the student visa and this is the most efficient/cost effective method.
Fee for fingerprint cards: varies – I got mine for about $10.00
Fee for FBI background check: varies depending on FBI channeler – I paid about $50.00 for two background checks
Fee for Apostille of the Hague: $8.00 per document
- Evidence of Financial Support/Letter of Financial Backing certified by Bank Officer – You need a letter from your bank stating that you have at least €3,000 to cover expenses for the academic year. My bank sent me a statement on official letterhead with a bank officer’s signature which stated the amount of my account.
- A sealed, official copy of your academic transcript – This document must be sealed and embossed by your higher education institution and fees can vary.
If you have a TIE, you must send a PDF of the front and back of the card; sending a passport style photo in JPEG form is also necessary.
I am overwhelmed and I need HELP!
Luckily, the Coordinator for the Teach & Learn Programs, Iulia Vescan, is usually on top of things and generally responds promptly to emails. She will also invite you to join a Facebook group with other accepted students, so you can all help each other out.
In addition to the “Acceptance Confirmation Steps” document, you will also receive documents that will help you with the student visa process, the apartment search and creating a budget for yourself.
Start early! Tackle your documentation with plenty of time to keep your stress levels low. Unfortunately, Instituto Franklin’s acceptance confirmation process is just the beginning of the paperwork headache – next up is the student visa process, which is quite manageable if you’ve got time but will get stressful if you’re crunched.
Also, look on Facebook for expat groups in Spain. These forums can offer a lot of insight and answer many questions, especially about the student visa process.
When do I learn my school placement? When do I get my school schedule?
I received my teaching placement on May 25, 2o16, a couple of weeks later then Instituto Franklin had indicated but still way sooner than other English language assistant programs. The placement included the number of hours I’d be working at the school, contact information for the language coordinator there, subway and bus maps to help me find my way and a form filled out by the English language teachers stating the needs of their classes. I was contacted a few weeks later by one of the teachers I’ll be working with and have since been in contact with two teachers about the school year and their curriculum.
School schedules will be provided during the first month of practicum at school. Be aware that the schedule can go between 8AM and 6PM. Become familiar with the school’s overall vibe by perusing their website and by emailing with teachers.
Is there an orientation for the M.A. programs? What information do I get about my classes?
Yes, there is a week of orientation on the Universidad de Alcalá campus, typically during the first 15 days of September. I received an email in early August with a lot of information about orientation, including the Teach & Learn Program Booklet (a 43-page document discussing everything from dress code to the final thesis) and a detailed schedule for orientation week. A few of the things on the schedule are the Master’s degree presentation; informational session about the residency card; tour of the Universidad de Alcalá campus; an introduction to Spanish education system and placement in Spanish schools, among others.
In mid-July, expect a document titled Horario y Calendario, which includes information about when certain university classes will be held, when you’ll have online work and when holidays will be. However, for a complete rundown on all of the courses in your M.A. program, you can read a short description about each class on Instituto Franklin’s website. Go to institutofranklin.net, select “Teach & Learn” under the “Academics” drop down, choose the M.A. program you’re interested in, then explore the courses, faculty, practicum and thesis under the “Academic Information” menu.
Remember that schedules will vary by program.
What does Instituto Franklin’s M.A. mean for my future teaching goals?
Before I decided that Instituto Franklin’s Teach & Learn Program was the one for me, I spent a lot of time thinking about this question. After all, an M.A. in teaching does not equal a teaching license; I still can’t go straight back to the US and work as a teacher there.
I contacted the coordinator for the Teach & Learn Program about some of my concerns, and she connected me with two people: a student currently in the Teach & Learn Program and a former student now working as a teacher in an international school. The current student had nothing but positive praise for his experience with Instituto Franklin; the international school teacher called the program “extremely rewarding and useful” and believed that “the degree does give you an edge in the international school markets” – although she did make me aware of some of the hurdles I would face as an American hoping to work in the EU, namely the difficulties of securing visa permits and sponsorships.
I also looked into accreditation to gauge how my Spanish M.A. would be viewed back in the US. As stated on Instituto Franklin’s website, The Master in International Education lasts one year and is worth 60 European Credit Transfer System credits. It is accredited by the Department of Estudios Propios of the Universidad de Alcalá.
OJO: If you’re interested in having your M.A. accredited in the US, Instituto Franklin will send you a useful 3-page document detailing this process. A word of caution, however: don’t think that this M.A. will allow you to directly enter a Ph.D. program – it won’t. Some, possibly many, of the credits may transfer, but be sure to contact Instituto Franklin about this if your endgame is a doctorate degree.
I also had a discussion with a woman who serves as a coordinator for an International Students Office on a college campus and has also has an M.A. in teaching. She said that this training would definitely open up job opportunities in administration working with international students or international affairs on college campuses.
Why Instituto Franklin’s Teach & Learn Program is right for me – and maybe you, too
In the end, it comes back to what I wanted from the start: to spend a year in Spain improving my Spanish, exploring a different country and tackling a new career path. I believe that the Teach & Learn Program will help me to become an effective teacher while providing me with insight into the world of international education. Unlike other English language assistant programs, there will be the added rigor of coursework and a thesis with the bonus of a supportive administration and – hopefully! – enthusiastic and encouraging peers. I’m excited for this adventure and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year unfolds!
Bio: Clare Boerigter graduated from Grinnell College in 2014 with a B.A. in Spanish. She has studied abroad in Mexico, worked as an intern for an environmental NGO in Costa Rica and WWOOFed on a small farm in País Vasco, Spain. For more about her experiences abroad and as a wildland firefighter, visit her site at clareboerigter.com.