students doing a hook em in front of the tower

International Teaching Assistants (ITA)

In order to be eligible for a TA or AI appointment, non-native speakers of English must receive ITA English Certification.

The goal of ITA English Certification is to assess and enhance the skills ITAs need to be effective educators in the classroom. Certain exemptions apply and some departments may have additional requirements.

ITA Department Information

Graduate Advisers and Graduate Coordinators are encouraged to read over our ITA Department Information page for cost information, instructions, and best practices specific to departments.

What's the process?

  1. Register

    The Graduate Adviser or Graduate Coordinator of the employing department must register you in the ITA Program database. You must be registered in order to begin the certification process. If you have a TA offer, some departments may pay the screening fee. If you do not have a TA offer, your department will register you in the ITA system, but you will have to pay the $80 assessment fee on your own. Check with your department if you have any questions.

    For Departments: Please check our ITA Department Information page for comprehensive instructions specific to Graduate Advisers and Coordinators.

  2. Schedule

    If your native language is not English, you will need to schedule an appointment to take the Oral English Proficiency Assessment.

    Foreign language TAs are exempt from the English Proficiency Assessment; however, Foreign language AIs are not exempt and must take the assessment.

    All assessments are conducted by the English Language Center. For spring 2021, we will offer screenings by appointment Nov. 9 - 13, Dec. 7 - 11, and Jan. 4 - 15click here to schedule an appointmentAll screenings will be done online via a secured platform. 

  3. Prepare

    Familiarize yourself with the directions for all four sections of the assessment and practice responding to each section. It is very helpful to record yourself on tape and then listen to how your speech actually sounds. Suggested practice activities for each of the sections follow:

    1. Brief conversation - For the introduction, practice saying a greeting, your name, EID, and major. For the conversation, practice talking about the following kinds of topics: what's been going on in your life recently, your studies, your future plans, daily life, and current events. 
    2. Explanation of a basic concept in your field — Practice speaking for 5 minutes about your concept. Be sure to use organizational expressions to help your listeners follow your ideas. Think about questions that the raters might ask you, and practice potential answers. 
    3. Explanation of a visual — Practice describing and discussing information presented in a graph or chart. This usually involves talking about numerical data, percentages, and trends. Be especially careful about verb tenses with this task. 
    4. Syllabus role play — Imagine you are an instructor on the first day of class and need to give your students information about the class schedule, location, test dates, textbooks or lab materials, etc. Make sure that your message is clear and that you emphasize the key points.
  4. Results

    The Assessment is scored by two English Language Center professionals and the two raters' scores are averaged.

    Scores range from 0-300 as follows:

    250-300 = Passed

    230-245 = Conditionally passed

    0-225 = Did not pass

    If your score on the assessment is 230 or higher, then your next step is to complete the ITA Workshop, which is offered online. You must have a user name and password to access the workshop; this will be provided to you when you receive your results.

    *Note: You do not have to complete the workshop in the same semester as the assessment, but you must take the assessment before you can complete the workshop.

    If you have conditionally passed the assessment (with a score of 230-245) and if you will be appointed to a position with student contact, you must be enrolled in the ITA course, ESL 389T, during the semester of your appointment.

    If you did not pass your initial assessment, you may schedule an appointment to take an additional assessment the following semester. Students may take the assessment only once per semester and are limited to three attempts per year, with a maximum of five total assessments. In order to receive unconditional English Certification as a TA or AI with student contact, you need to obtain a score of 250 or higher on the Oral English Proficiency Assessment and complete the ITA Workshop.

    Note: After the initial assessment, the student must pay for all additional assessments. You will also be charged the assessment fee if you schedule an appointment but do not show up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact

For more information, please email us.