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NALCAP series

NALCAP series: The documents you need to apply to NALCAP

A pretty girl of African decent smiling while sitting on a city bench and using her laptop

You’ve decided to apply to NALCAP– congrats! But the application documents are looking scary. What the heck is a statement or purpose? Who writes the letter of recommendation that I need? How do I make a copy of my college degree when my printer isn’t that big??

I’ve been through the entire application process and come out unscathed, so this post is here to dive more into detail, provide my successful experience with these documents, and help answer common questions you might have. This post will simply cover the document requirements and my own experiences, and it will not cover the actual submission process into Profex, because that requires its own post another day due to how involved it is.

Related reading: The Great Escape: How I decided to leave the USA for Spain

But please note: always double check the NALCAP website’s application documents page for updated document requirements when following this post. Checking with the official source is always the best way to go, as requirements can change suddenly and at any time.

So let’s get to know the documents that you need to apply to NALCAP, and then we will dive in to some common questions!


Document #1: A copy of your passport’s main page

An image featuring the main page of a United States passport. The bottom half features the personal information and a photo of the passport holder, while the top half has intricate artwork of an American bald eagle, the American flag, and 3 strands of wheat. "We the People" is written in large letters in the top left corner, along with the first few sentences of the United States Constitution's preamble underneath in smaller, italicized script.
Example: the main page of a US passport

This document is the easiest of all of them if you own a color printer- we’re just going to pop our passport into the printer with the passport open on its main page (the page with your photo and legal information on it) and make a color scan of it!

I scanned mine myself with my own printer, but if you don’t have a printer, you can pay to print securely at a local office store, or you can call and ask your local FedEx location if they offer color photocopy services. Mine scanned in perfectly readable quality, but my photo looked a little scary and unclear. Despite this, my copy was accepted with no issue in the NALCAP application portal called Profex.

If you are having issues with the quality of your photocopy or you cannot get a photocopy made at another location, consider taking a high-quality photo on a blank white background as a last resort. Submission of a photo rather than a photocopy (or submitting a poor, unreadable photocopy) could result in someone contacting you after you submit your application to re-submit a better copy of your passport. This is why it is good to start preparing these documents ahead of applications opening, so you can sort out sourcing your photocopy prior to the application date.

The image in this section is an example photo of what the USA passport’s main page looks like. If you are from another country, the appearance of your passport will change.


Document #2: An official college transcript OR a copy of your college diploma

To start with this requirement, you need to know your official student status. You either need to be in one of these two situations to apply to NALCAP. Both situations require a differing document.

Image is of an example college diploma. "Replica College Diploma" is written in large letters in a downward sloping arch. Underneath reads a presentation of the diploma in much smaller script, along with "student name" and "degree and major" written in slightly bigger script than the presentation. At the bottom is an example college seal with the Board of Trustees and college president signatures on either side of it.
Example: college diploma/degree scan
  1. You’re in your last semester of college and will be finished with your degree by the time the program starts in October of whatever year you are teaching. If this is you, you will be uploading an official college transcript to apply to NALCAP. An official college transcript is almost always one you need to pay for. My university offered official transcript copies to students for a fee of $25. Contact your university or access transcript services through your student portal. You need a digital copy in PDF format.
  2. You have already graduated college and have your official college diploma/degree. This was me! If this is you as well, you most likely need to seek out photocopy scan services from a place like Office Max to make a photocopy of your college diploma unless you have an industrial-sized photocopier at home, as college degrees are huge. You need a digital copy in PDF format.
More about this document and my experience

I had already been graduated for almost a year by the time applications opened. At the time I got my diploma photocopied into a digital file, I was working right next door to an Office Max. I did not need an appointment; I just walked in with my physical college diploma, told them I needed a color scan of it in PDF form, gave them my email address, and paid $2.99.

No matter if you need the official transcript copy or a copy of your official diploma, it must be in PDF format for submission when it comes time to apply, and make sure the file is clearly legible to avoid application delays. If you can’t get either in PDF for some reason, investigate how to convert your file into PDF. Software like Adobe may be able to help, or an online PDF converter.


Document #3: A signed Statement of Purpose

In plain terms, this is a letter that you write to the Ministry of Education of Spain explaining why you would like to participate in NALCAP and why you would do well in the program. You might think this sounds easy at first, and then start overthinking it, but it’s not very difficult. Don’t worry!

I’ve included a censored screenshot of my actual Statement of Purpose below, with my personal information redacted. The text in the image will be accessible through the alt-text for those with visual needs. Feel free to use my Statement of Purpose as any inspiration for yours. Try not to copy anything directly, since I’m not sure if you can get into trouble with NALCAP for that.

According to NALCAP’s official application guidelines, this document must meet the following requirements:
The image is of the blog writer's Statement of purpose, and it reads: 

Dear Ministry of Education of Spain,

My name is Beka and I am a native English speaker born in [CENSORED LOCATION] in the eastern
United States. I have a college degree in business from [MY UNIVERSITY] and I am a
certified TEFL teacher.

I long to put my passion for language teaching to use and learn more about Spain's
beautiful culture from my students. I believe cultural exchange can inspire people and help
positively influence the way they treat others. I want to become fluent in Spanish in order
to strengthen my connection to one of the world's biggest populations so my future career
can help others outside of my native language and culture.

My dream since starting college has been to be an asset where I work, so I have looked
for work opportunities in charity management and in education. Currently, I am a
volunteer English teacher at a local immigrant center known as [CENSORED NAME OF
IMMIGRANT CENTER]. I received my legitimate TEFL certification from
[CENSORED ORGANIZATION NAME] in January of 2022. I love teaching others my native
language and love learning foreign languages myself. I believe my TEFL certification
will help me succeed in the classroom and in this program.

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what this program teaches me and where it
takes me!

[CENSORED FULL NAME]
14th of January, 2023
[CENSORED MY DIGITALLY SIGNED SIGNATURE]
A screenshot of my submitted Statement of Purpose, with my personal information redacted for this public post.
  1. It must be 250-300 words max. Not counting the greeting to the Ministry of Education and my signature and date, I wrote about 230 words in my Statement.
  2. It must be written in English. So do not go through the trouble of translating it into Spanish. It’s not necessary!
  3. It must be addressed to the Ministry of Education of Spain. I simply headed my letter with, “Dear Ministry of Education of Spain.” Can’t get any simpler than that!
  4. You must state in the letter that you are a native-like speaker of English. I mentioned that English is my native language and mentioned where I am from: the eastern United States. However, mentioning where you’re from is not required. It’s something I mentioned to reaffirm that I am a native speaker.
  5. It must be signed and dated by you, & digital/electronic signatures accepted. I typed out my complete letter in Microsoft Word, exported it as a PDF, and then digitally signed it with Samsung Notes on my tablet so I wouldn’t have to print it, sign it, and then scan it again. NALCAP reiterates how important this is that this document has to be signed, so please don’t forget to sign it with an actual signature, not just a typed one!
More about this document and my experience

As you can see from my Statement of Purpose, I included where I was born, that I have a native level of English, and my educational history. I included that I wanted to be in the program because of my passion for learning about other cultures and also my passion for education. I also mentioned my volunteer history in a teaching setting around Spanish speakers since any teaching history you have is a plus! Any information you have as to why you should be in the program is very beneficial.

If you don’t have any teaching history, you can consider doing some volunteer work or private tutoring before writing your Statement. You can ask around for immigrant education opportunities, after-school programs, et cetera. I now do bi-weekly private tutoring that would have been a good addition to my letter. I don’t have much experience with childcare, but if you do, consider adding it into your Statement since you will most likely be teaching children in NALCAP. Any experience with teaching can only help you in the classroom!


Document #4: A letter of recommendation from a college professor, instructor, or employer

This is most likely going to be the most time-consuming document required to apply to NALCAP. It involves figuring out who you want to write your letter, contacting that person and asking them, and then waiting for them to finish writing it to NALCAP’s standards.

I got my Letter of Recommendation from a longtime family friend who is an administrator in the educational field. Unfortunately for her (and to my embarrassment), I didn’t quite explain to her just how many requirements the Letter has because I was too excited to educate myself on them too much, so she was pretty shocked at seeing the list after agreeing to write the letter for me! It was my fault and I was so embarrassed, so please don’t be like me. Make sure your writer knows what they are getting into and just how grateful you are to them!

Image is a gif of Adam Levine sitting in a red chair and looking embarrassed while hiding his face with his sweater.

And if you’re reading this, my dear Letter-writing friend, thank you so much for your understanding and your time! I’m very sorry. :’)

Get going on this Letter of Recommendation process no earlier than the date in the requirements (usually September 1), but as early as you can. You don’t want to put something so sudden on your writer, and you don’t want to have to wait to apply because you weren’t ready! Planning ahead is necessary if you’re wanting to apply to NALCAP.

I have included my personal Letter of Recommendation, but there’s some redacted for privacy for not just my writer, but me as well. Sorry! The text in the image will be accessible through the alt-text for those with visual needs.

Your Letter of Recommendation must meet the following requirements:
A letter of recommendation written for me that reads:

January 9, 2023
Dear Language and Cultural Assistants in Spain,

My name is [CENSORED NAME]. I am the director of the [CENSORED PROGRAM NAME] at [CENSORED SCHOOL NAME] in
[CENSORED LOCATION]. The [CENSORED PROGRAM NAME] is a program that works specifically with students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and other learning differences. I have been on staff at NAME since 2018.

I have known [CENSORED MY NAME] since she was in first grade at [CENSORED SCHOOL NAME] and followed her all the way through middle school, high school, and through her college years. During her elementary, middle, and high school years, I worked at the school where she was a student, as well as interacted with her in many different social circles. Our paths crossed quite a bit from different areas of our lives. She is a fine young lady who has worked hard at all of her endeavors.

For as long as I have known her, she has always had a sense of wonder and excitement about learning
about the world around her. [CENSORED MY NAME] is very brave which makes her a great candidate for you. Learning about the world around her seems to come naturally to her. She is very smart and teachable.

She graduated from the [CENSORED UNIVERSITY NAME AND PERSONAL STUDY DETAILS]. In addition to having wonderful grades, she also started study groups and helped lead others in studying which shows she is someone who likes teaching others and helping them succeed.

I do believe that [CENSORED MY NAME] would be a great addition to your organization and would bring life and energy to any classroom setting. Living in Spain among a culture other than her own is an environment she not only would thrive in but has been excited to do her entire life. Her willingness to learn, excitement about the culture, and curiosity about the world are three good reasons why she would be an asset to your program. If you have any further questions, you can reach me at the phone number and email address listed below.

Sincerely,
[CENSORED NAME, CONTACT INFO, & SIGNATURE]
A screenshot of my Letter of Recommendation, censored for privacy.
  1. Be on an organization’s official letterhead. My Letter writer works in administration for a school, so it will be quite fitting for your teaching job with NALCAP!
  2. Include the writer’s name, job title, and contact information. It is highly unlikely that NALCAP will take time to contact your writer because there are thousands of applicants. My Letter writer was not contacted, and from what I’ve heard from others in the program, theirs weren’t contacted either.
  3. Explain how the writer knows the applicant and for how long. My dear writer has known me since first grade, so she had more material to work with. Pick someone who has known you for a while, or someone you interact with often, such as an employer.
  4. Assess the applicant’s qualifications and qualities towards their success in NALCAP. My Letter included testament to the personality I’ve been stewing since first grade and my college accomplishments.
  5. Have a final statement where the writer speaks to the applicant’s ability to be a language assistant in Spain. My mother had recounted my cultural and linguistic study abroad journey in Spain over Facebook for all to see, so my passion for other languages and cultures was apparent. From watching me grow up, my writer had also seen how interested I was in teaching others.
  6. Be written in English.
  7. Be no more than 1 page in length.
  8. Be addressed to the Ministry of Education of Spain. My Letter was addressed, “Dear Language and Cultural Assistants in Spain”.
  9. Be signed and dated by the writer no earlier than September 1. This date, like other requirements, may change per school year! Check the requirements under the “Application guidelines” section of NALCAP’s application info page. Make sure it’s signed by the writer. Some applicants have gotten away with just a typed signature, while others have had their applications delayed.

You’ve finished!

And those are the required documents! Hopefully, you’re not feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got this! Make sure you have the finished docs in one place and that they are the final versions of each document. I had a specific folder on my desktop titled “final nalcap docs” that solely contained the final version of each document so submission was easy and error-free. If you do something similar, there’s no chance you’ll submit the wrong thing when applications open! And remember, to apply to NALCAP, all of the documents need to be in PDF format.

I will post an application tutorial post with some tips and tricks to navigate Profex’s inevitable, hours-long crash after applications open. Just know that you should get your documents in order weeks prior to the application date. This ensures you have time to make corrections if necessary and leave plenty of time for your recommendation letter writer to write without pressure.

Once again, always double check the NALCAP website for updated document requirements. This post is simply here to dive more into detail, provide my successful experience with these documents, and help answer common questions you might have. And speaking of common questions, I’d like to list some commonly asked questions here that contain information that you need to know.

If you’d like to read on to see the Q&A before you apply to NALCAP, read on below! Otherwise, thank you so much for reading. Happy document collecting!

Beka


DOCUMENT FAQ

When should I begin preparing the documents needed to apply through application portal, Profex?

And the answer to that is simply as soon as possible. The NALCAP application cycle typically opens early February. But with one of the documents requiring the time of someone else (our trusty Letter of Recommendation!), you don’t want to wait until January to begin this process. You’ve also got that Statement of Purpose to draft yourself!

What happens if my documents aren’t ready by the time applications open?

Don’t rush! Rushing can cause you to submit the wrong files or submit documents that don’t meet the requirements. You might hear from other auxes to just upload a placeholder document in the application portal and just email them the correct document when you get it, but the truth is, this does NOT help. It only causes traffic on the website for people who are ready to submit.

Profex crashes for hours every year due to the number of people going online at the same time. The portal was down for 8 hours when I went to apply to NALCAP! Submitting a placeholder document in the portal does NOT get you ahead of just waiting and submitting the right docs. Your wait time to hear back stays the same or lengthens when the application reviewers have to contact you for the correct documents. This is just wasting the application reviewers’ time.

The person who wrote my Letter of Recommendation didn’t sign it! What do I do?

If you’re not near the application deadline, don’t worry. Just contact them again and ask for a signature. If they don’t have the time to go back and sign it, or the deadline is here and you feel you have no time, forging a signature is an option but not something I should recommend here. But if it saves you from a panic attack, then it’s up to you what you do.

Image is a gif of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad awkwardly and innocently sipping water from a glass and looking from his left to his right.
Is it okay if my mom/dad/sibling/friend I met 2 weeks ago writes my letter?

As NALCAP says, that’s not recommended. The person you pick is recommending you to the program, which provides you a monthly grant. That’s money. In the eyes of an application reviewer, it is a much more reliable testament to your character if someone outside your household that has a history with you (personal or academic) writes that Letter. Try to find a favorite college professor, former instructor, or employer that knows you. Tell them that you’re going to apply to NALCAP, and if they don’t know what that is, tell them about it!

Can my Letter writer upload the Letter to the application portal for me?

Unfortunately, the Profex application portal doesn’t allow the writer to upload it themselves. They will have to send you a physical copy that you scan into a PDF, or send you the PDF file (or a file you can convert into a PDF yourself). NALCAP states that no exceptions can be made to this. It is just not possible at this time due to how the portal works.

Submit more questions in the comments!

I can’t guarantee that I will know the answer, but I can give it a shot and help you find the answer!

Thanks for reading!

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