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 screening assessment was developed by TESOL experts to assess prospective ITAs’ ability to communicate with sufficient accuracy and interpersonal communicative competence to successfully work with undergraduate students at Tech.
This assessment is administered via web conference in the semester prior to the students’ arrival on campus, and 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 Tech to be used to determine the ITA’s development needs.
The screening assessment will be used to refer ITAs for enrollment in CETL 8802, International TA Development, a language and culture support course, as well as to determine follow-up professional development as needed.
The assigned course should be completed in or before the first semester of the ITA assignment and will be required for continued assignment to TA positions. For Fall 2020, International TA Development will be delivered as a two-credit hour, 10-week course through the Center for Teaching and Learning: CETL 8802.
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 ensures international TAs are prepared for success in this role.
Questions about the ITA Program or assessment procedures should be directed to Sarah Kegley with the Center for Teaching and Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org
International graduate students who wish to be appointed as teaching assistants (TAs) should be screened for readiness to use English in a teaching role.
Note: In accordance with current university policy, all TA screenings will be conducted remotely using a free web conferencing platform (such as BlueJeans). You will need a microphone and camera. Screenings are offered on a rolling basis.
The most important factor for the ITA screening is confidence and command of the appropriate level of speaking and listening proficiency to take on the challenging responsibilities of teaching in academic English within the Georgia Tech environment. Students who believe they need extensive language training (in writing and/or speaking and listening) are strongly encouraged to contact the Georgia Tech Language Institute at https://esl.gatech.edu/ for more options.
About the Screening
This half-hour English screening involves the following three components:
- Introductory question/answer segment.
- Sample delivery of a field-specific concept.
- Simulation of an office-hour interaction between a TA and student with follow-up questions.
During the screening, the prospective TA's accuracy, fluency, and communication style are evaluated.
No advance preparation is needed. The result of the exam, along with recommendations, is given to the student and the student’s departmental TA coordinator.
Retesting prior to fulfilling the requirements is normally not allowed until at least one semester has passed, and students may ask to be retested only once before fulfilling their requirements.
Questions about the International TA Program and assessment procedures should be directed to Sarah Kegley at email@example.com.