Teaching assistants play an important role in the educational experience at Georgia Tech. With their disciplinary expertise and intercultural competencies, international teaching assistants (ITAs) bring a unique set of skills to this position. At the same time, supporting student learning in a new language and academic culture is challenging. To ensure international graduate students are prepared and supported in their TA role, the Board of Regents requires Georgia Tech to “assess competency in English and, if needed, provide training in English language proficiency.” Georgia Tech has adopted the following procedures to address this policy.
Oral Proficiency Assessment
International graduate students who come from non-English-speaking countries are required to submit TOEFL scores for admission to Georgia Tech. While subscores of 19 are the minimum admissions standards, a score of 26 on the speaking subscale (or 8.0 on the IELTS) is commonly accepted as the minimum qualification for a teaching assistantship. For those students below 26, a secondary oral proficiency assessment is administered to better gauge the students’ preparation for a teaching assistantship.
The International TA Communications Assessment (ITACA) was developed by TESOL experts in the Georgia Tech Language Institute to assess prospective ITAs’ ability to communicate with sufficient accuracy and interpersonal communicative competence to successfully work with undergraduate students at Georgia Tech. This assessment is administered via web conference in the semester prior to the students’ arrival on campus. ITACA is scored on a standard rubric by a trained TESOL expert. The results of the assessment are communicated to the student and the student’s academic unit at Georgia Tech to be used to determine the ITA’s development needs.
In summer 2019, the ITACA administration will be coordinated by Karen Tucker with the Georgia Tech Language Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Communication and Culture Support
The ITACA results will be used to refer ITAs for enrollment in one or two short courses to support language and culture development: a) Language Clarity for ITAs and/or b) Interpersonal Skills for ITAs. The assigned course(s) should be completed in the first semester of the ITA assignment. Successful completion of these courses will be required for continued assignment to TA positions. For fall 2018, this coursework will be delivered as non-credit 7-week courses through the Center for Teaching and Learning. [Register here button]
Serving as a TA can be an exciting and challenging opportunity for any graduate student. International graduate students have unique needs as they begin these new responsibilities, often in a new language and a new educational culture. Through assessment and support, the International TA Program insures international TAs are prepared for success in this role.
Questions about the ITA Program should be directed to Kate Williams with the Center for Teaching and Learning at email@example.com.
Questions about the ITACA assessment should be directed to Karen Tucker with the GT Language Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.