Information for Faculty/Departmental Advisors
International Teaching Assistant Workshop Information
The workshop is designed to provide English training and classroom communication skills for ITA candidates, as well as evaluations of candidates' speaking and listening English proficiency.
All international students with teaching assignments whose spoken English proficiency has not already been evaluated and approved by ITA training program staff are required to attend the workshop.
ITA Workshop Coordinator: Carla Burrus, CMLL Graduate Program Coordinator
Notification of ITA Training Program
Please e-mail all attending teaching assistant candidates information to Carla Burrus as soon as possible. Include student's e-mail address, phone number and contact information for their advisor.
If your student is newly arrived and will be residing on campus during the workshop, please include date and approximate time of arrival to campus in your e-mail to Carla Burrus. Please also list students as "Ms./Mr.", for housing purposes.
Screening caveats for all faculty members making decisions about English proficiency
The TOEFL total test score frequently does not include a spectrum score nor a listening sub-score and is therefore not a helpful indicator.
For admissions decisions at the departmental level, advisors should insist on students disclosing their subtest scores such as the speaking or listening subtests. On the TOEFL, speak subtest scores below 24 suggests the ITA candidate will need to spend a semester or more in ESL classes before they have sufficient English to teach.
Tests such as the IELTs or Celta also offer subtest scores. If the speaking or listening subtest scores are substantially lower than writing or reading scores, it would be unfair to assume an ITA candidate will arrive "ready to teach".
Screening by telephone is not a good idea. There is no security (another student could be 'replacing' the interviewee; the interviewee may be being coached or may be reading.) Also, a person who is not trained in oral proficiency interviewing is not likely to know how to control the interview or to know what genuinely represents proficiency. It is also unfair to the interviewee, who has all of his or her non-verbal communication resources stripped away.
Department faculty members are not ideal assessors of the English proficiency of their international teaching assistants. This is because faculty members, like their ITAs, are extensively and intensively schooled in a given field. This makes it possible for them to understand what their ITAs are saying because they share a rich context of meaning. Faculty members are sometimes surprised that what was perfectly clear to them during a student presentation was incomprehensible to everyone else in the audience not immersed in the field. ITAs need to be comprehensible to freshmen students.
Faculty members are not ideal assessors, also, because there is a profound difference between the ability of a student to maintain chat with a professor during office hours and the ability to maintain long periods of sustained discourse about academic topics in a classroom or laboratory setting.