International Teaching Assistants: Testing and Training

Language Proficiency Requirements for International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Appointments

The WSU Executive Order 86-6 mandates that Teaching Assistants (TAs) whose native language is not English must achieve a score of  50 (out of 60) on the SPEAK (taken at WSU) to be awarded an assistantship. The SPEAK test is administered by the English Language Institute (ELI) numerous times per year, and rating is performed by the ELI staff of trained raters. The test costs $50.00 and is paid by the prospective ITA's department if the department has given the student a GTA contract; otherwise, the student must pay for the test.

ITA Training

Students whose scores are 40 or 45 may take ELI 0520, the ITA training course offered Fall and Winter semesters.  This two-hour-a-week course consists of one seminar discussion and two small-group language tutorials each week taught by two ESL professionals and four seminars per semester.

According to the WSU University Policy 2002-1, the hiring unit must assume the tuition for the course if the student has a signed GTA contract. The final exam for this course is a 15-minute teaching performance, involving a presentation, and question/answer period; the raters for this exam are one representative from the student's department and two ESL professionals not currently working with the student. Passing the class is considered equivalent to passing the SPEAK.

Additional TA Training

The Graduate School conducts a two-day, pre-teaching workshop in August for all new TAs on contract; all non-native-English-speaking TAs must attend a second day that is facilitated by the Coordinator of ITA Testing and Training.  This workshop covers expectations of American undergraduates, the culture of the American classroom and interactive communication skills.

For more information on ITA Testing and Training, contact:

Sara Tipton, ITA Coordinator
English Language Institute
Wayne State University
367 Manoogian Hall
Detroit, MI 48202
Phone:  (313) 577-7706
Fax:  (313) 577-2738
E-mail:  s.tipton@wayne.edu