Language Competency for Teaching Assistants Policy

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University of Miami Policy on Language Competency for Teaching Assistants

  1. Each teaching assistant will be interviewed (in English) by the chairperson or his or her designee to ascertain basic competency in the English language.
  2. All international teaching assistants must take and pass the SPEAK (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit). The passing score is 55. In addition, international teaching assistants who are non-native speakers of English must have scored 79-80 or above on the IBT (Internet Based TOEFL- Test of English as a Foreign Language) (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or have successfully completed the advanced level of the University of Miami Intensive English Program.
  3. International teaching assistants who score between 40 and 50 on the SPEAK will be given the opportunity to record a 10 minute video (5 minutes of instruction and a plan for up to 5 minutes of Q&A as needed) for a review panel. The sample lesson should contain a short presentation in the ITA’s field followed by a brief question-and-answer period to elicit both prepared and spontaneous speech. The review panel, consisting of representatives from the ITA’s department and the Intensive Language Institute, will consider and recommend that the ITA be employed in one of the following categories:

    1. Teaching
    2. Teaching with assistance of professor
    3. Lab assistant
    4. Lab assistant paired with a TA with native-speaker fluency in English
    5. No teaching or lab duties
    Moving from one category to another in subsequent semesters must be based either on SPEAK scores or on a recommendations of the review panel after viewing another sample lesson.
  4. An English language course will be available for those teaching assistants who fail to meet the above criteria. This course in spoken English, offered through the Intensive Language Institute, will emphasize fluency, pronunciation, intonation and classroom presentation skills. Teaching assistants who have a more severe language deficiency should enroll in the full-time Intensive English Program.
  5. After ITAs have met the above English requirements, the academic departments can collaborate with the IEP to develop specialized workshops and trainings that meet the ITAs' needs in areas such as American classroom behavior, teaching style, and cultural issues which might influence their effectiveness in the classroom.

(Note: Testing and specialized ITA training is provided at no cost to ITAs or their departments. If an ITA registers for regular Intensive English Program courses, tuition and fees must be paid.)

Revised 11/22/96