Graduate Student's Page for ITA SCREENING
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APPLICATION for Graduate Studies

International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Language Screening

Please see the Graduate School www page:

Language screening is a way to make sure International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) have the needed English language abilities to successfully present information, read, and interact with students. It does not screen for teaching ability.

Language screening protects ITAs from the stresses and frustrations of being in an inappropriate teaching situation, and from students who blame the ITAs' language skills for their difficulties in class.

Language screening protects departments by decreasing student complaints about instruction and providing a mechanism for documenting ITA language proficiency, by providing a neutral evaluation of language skills, not subject to departmental issues and pressures, and by sending the message to ITAs and undergraduates that ITA language skills and undergraduate instruction are important.

Language screening protects undergraduate students by assuring a basic level of English language skills in instruction/grading, and by providing ITAs with resources and support for improving their language skills and developing pedagogy skills to account for any language/accent difficulties.

Language assessment scores determine the types of duties ITAs can perform (teaching, recitation or laboratory instructor, grader, non-instructional roles).

The screening committee consists of:

* Undergraduate student representative
* Departmental representative (often a director of graduate studies or department head)
* ESL specialist

All screenings are videotaped.

The screening process includes:

1. Teaching simulation

* A 7-10 minute, planned presentation that simulates a classroom teaching situation.
* In the simulation ITAs teach the committee some content that they are comfortable in teaching.
* ITAs should teach introductory-level content that they enjoy or might teach early in the school year.
* Teach introductory-level material, not sophisticated content.
* Departments may provide advice on topics.
* There will be an overhead projector and a white board in each room. ITAs may bring in prepared overhead transparencies.
* No computers or video.


................. Here is how to do it correctly: MOVIE Present WIN (MPEG format- 47 MB)

................. Here is how to do it to fail: MOVIE Present FAIL (MPEG format - 34 MB)

Here is a copy of a power point file and the text (download ppt, download text. MSword)

Note: Make your ppt file into overhead transparencies at Kinko's.


2. Reading

* ITAs will be asked to read a short ( 5 minute) section from a selection of reading materials.
* Readings come from non-technical articles written for a general audience, from discipline-specific materials, or university materials


................. Here is how to do it correctly: MOVIE Read WIN (MPEG format- 20 MB)

................. Here is how to do it to fail: MOVIE Read FAIL (MPEG format - 15 MB)


3. Role playing

* A role play is an opportunity to assume or act out a particular role (for example, a teacher/student interaction).
* ITAs do a 5-minute role-play of a typical instruction-related incident

PLEASE SEE A SAMPLE VIDEO of Nico Badre & Sonya Bierbower

................. Here is how to do it correctly: MOVIE Role WIN (MPEG format- 13.6 MB)

................. Here is how to do it to fail: MOVIE Role FAIL (MPEG format - 18 MB)


The rating process

Each committee member rates ITA communication skills separately on each of the three activities (teaching simulation, reading, role playing)

Rating scale

* 4 - completely comprehensible, no impediments to communication
* 3 - generally comprehensible, minor impediments which do not block communication
* 2 - partially comprehensible, major impediments to communication
* 1 - not comprehensible

Weightings of the activities

* Teaching simulation - 40%
* Reading - 20%
* Role playing - 40%

Determining a final score

After the screening is complete, members combine their ratings to develop an overall rating.

Levels of approval

* > 3.5 -- any assignment, including teaching a course
* 3.0 - 3.49 -- recitation instructor or laboratory instructor who interacts with students or a grader who makes subjective decisions of written work. You may NOT teach a course.

Conditional approval

* A rating of 1.5-2.9. With conditional approval TAs must be re-screened after one semester has passed.
* ITAs may work under the "conditional approval" category for a maximum of two semesters. They may not circumvent this requirement by switching departments.


* A rating of < 1.5. Only non-teaching duties.
* With a non-approval rating, ITAs must be re-screened after one semester has passed.

Official scores will be available from departments in 1-2 days. Your department may provide ITAs with unofficial scores earlier.

If you want to move to a different teaching assignment, you must be re-screened if the new assignment requires a higher ranking than the one you received during the initial screening.

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