UIUC Policy Statement
Regarding the Appointment of Non-Native English Speaking
Teaching Assistants

Since 1980, at the direction of the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the monitoring of non-native English speaking teaching assistants has been the responsibility of each academic unit. Effective fall 1988, only those non-native English speaking students who passed initial, prescribed oral English proficiency screening assessments and who participated fully in the pre-semester training programs are eligible to teach. The following policy was created to respond to Illinois Senate Bill 1516.

The UIUC policy incorporates three major programs:

A. Screening
B. Development and Improvement
C. Monitoring

A. SCREENING PROGRAM

All non-native English speaking students applying for appointments as teaching assistants at UIUC must first satisfy the English proficiency admission requirements of the Graduate College and the appointing academic unit. In addition, the students must be screened for oral English proficiency, either off-campus or on-campus. 

1. Off-Campus Screening

Prospective ITAs are strongly encouraged to take off-campus oral proficiency exams before applying for assistantships. The following chart provides minimum score requirements for International Teaching Assistantship consideration (effective Spring 2006)*:

English Proficiency Test

Minimum score required for International Teaching Assistants

TOEFL iBT

speaking sub-section score: 24

IELTS (academic exam)

speaking sub-section score: 8

TSE

50


* Please note: TOEFL iBT, IELTS, and TSE scores must be less than two years old from the first day of class at the proposed term of entry in order to be valid. In addition, individual academic programs may require a higher score; contact your proposed program of study office for the minimum TOEFL iBT, TSE, or IELTS requirement.

The costs of that assessment (fees imposed by the testing service) may be borne by the prospective teaching assistant or the admitting academic unit of the UIUC.

2. On-Campus Screening

In those cases when a prospective teaching assistant has not taken or passed the required proficiency tests specified in section A.1. of this document, effective Summer 2010, he or she can take the English Placement Interview (EPI). A score of 5 or 6 (on a six-point scale) is necessary for a teaching assistantship; a score of 4CP (“conditional pass”) qualifies a graduate student to teach with prior or concurrent enrollment in an approved ESL class. Further information about the EPI is available at http://cte.illinois.edu/testing/oral_eng/main.html.

B. DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM

There are two components to this program: the campus-wide Graduate Academy for College Teaching, and the on-going campus, oral English proficiency activities and classes.


1. The Graduate Academy for College Teaching. All prospective non-native speaking teaching assistants who have passed one of the oral English proficiency tests as described in Section A. are required to participate in the Graduate Academy for College Teaching the semester before they teach. This training program takes place before every fall and spring semester.

2. Ongoing Campus Improvement Activities. All prospective teaching assistants who have not passed the screening program are not qualified to teach in the classroom. These individuals are required to participate in at least one semester of language improvement activities before they are eligible to retake the EPI. The activities can include one or more of the following:
a. Registration in ESL courses which are specifically designed for current and prospective non-native English speaking teaching assistants, e.g., ESL 504, ESL 506, and/or other courses that may be recommended in individual cases by the Department of Linguistics.
b. Special tutoring programs arranged by the student or the department, with verification of an acceptable level of participation.


C. MONITORING PROGRAM

The non-native speaking teaching assistant's oral English proficiency is to be monitored and documented by the academic unit in which instruction takes place. It is recommended that the faculty member selected to supervise the non-native teaching assistants be responsible for the following monitoring activities:

1. Visit or videotape the instructional setting, e.g. laboratory, lecture, discussion, recitation, studio, office hours, of the non-native English speaking teaching assistant during the first two weeks of the semester in which they provide instruction. Follow-up sessions with evaluation and feedback by a faculty member, supervisor or CTE/Linguistics staff member is essential.

2. Distribute, collect and summarize student feedback surveys at the end of the first three weeks of the first semester in which the non-native English speaking teaching assistant provides instruction. The feedback forms must include items which address the oral English proficiency of the teaching assistant. CTE has surveys designed to assist in this monitoring activity.

3. Collect, review and respond to student comments (solicited or unsolicited), early semester surveys and end-of-semester evaluations. If a problem in oral English proficiency is detected, it is to be dealt with immediately by the academic unit providing the instruction. Assist the teaching assistant in reviewing the- feedback and modifying oral English use which might be significantly and negatively affecting instruction. Follow the "Procedures for Review of Instructor's Ability to Communicate in English" in the UIUC Code on Campus Affairs and Regulations Applying to All Students. (See attachment for current code.)

4. File all screening, improvement and monitoring information in the office of the academic unit in which the non-native English speaking teaching assistant provides instruction.

Revised 9/01 and 11/08 and 4/10