The goal of the English Programs for International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) is to provide ITAs with the skills they need to be effective oral communicators in the classroom. Instructional focus is on English pronunciation, vocabulary, and structure.
The International Teaching Assistant (ITA) program:
- Evaluates the spoken English of ITA’s
- Offers courses to improve English speaking
Who Has to Take the ITA Evaluation?
The Graduate School requires that ITAs who are non-native speakers of English be evaluated to have their proficiency in spoken English assessed. The ITA Evaluation is not required of students who serve only as graders or researchers, or whose entire education has been in the U.S., United Kingdom, Ireland, English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Anglophone Africa, or the Commonwealth Caribbean. Candidates must pass the ITA Evaluation prior to being assigned teaching duties, including duties in labs.
ITAs can be exempted from the evaluation if they have already achieved the required minimum scores from the speaking section of the following standardized English tests:
TOEFL: 26 or higher, IELTS: 8 or higher, or PTE: 80 or higher
These scores must be submitted to MEI by the ITA’s academic department as described below.
How Can I Take the ITA Evaluation?
Candidates must be referred by the Graduate Director of their department. Graduate Directors:
Due to the current COVID-19 situation and Distance Learning for the remainder of the semester, the oral interview screening for November 18, 2020 will take place remotely.
MEI is currently accepting registration for the November 18, 2020 screening.
The deadline for November testing is Friday, November 13, 2020.
What Is the ITA Evaluation?
The ITA Evaluation happens in two or four steps:
|Step 1||Orientation||For all ITA Candidates. Bring:
|Step 2||Interview||For all ITA Candidates
The interview is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 indicating high proficiency. Candidates scoring 5 are passed to teach without restriction. Candidates scoring less than 5 are tested in two further steps:
|Step 3||Listening Dictation||Candidates:
The results of these tests determine an ITA candidate’s eligibility for teaching and what, if any, English courses are required:
|Interview||Listening Dictation||Microteaching||Result||English Course|
|5||n/a||n/a||cleared to teach||not required|
|4||16-20||5||cleared to teach||not required|
|3-4||16-20||4||conditional pass||UMEI 006|
Candidates who receive a conditional pass:
- must enroll in UMEI 006 to assume teaching duties
- can only teach 300-400 level undergraduate courses
Candidates who receive a fail:
- are directed to enroll in UMEI 008
- may not be assigned teaching duties
When Is the ITA Evaluation?
The evaluation schedule can be found here.
MEI will attempt when possible to honor requests for out-of-schedule testing when an appointed ITA cannot attend the evaluation on the scheduled dates. However, because ITA testing requires the participation of administrative staff and several faculty members, additional out-of-session testing costs are incurred and must be covered. The cost is $75 for the oral interview and an additional $100 ($175 total) if the ITA needs to continue screening beyond the interview. These charges are payable by the department that requests the out-of-schedule testing and are in addition to the normal ITA evaluation fees.
What Does the ITA Evaluation Cost?
- fee for steps 1-2 – $75
- fee for steps 3-4 – $100
The Graduate School pays the fee for the ITA Evaluation for students who have been formally appointed as TAs. All other students are responsible for paying this fee. If the department wishes to cover the cost of the evaluation for those students, the Graduate Director must indicate this in writing on the referral form.
English Pronunciation (UMEI 006)
Advanced Oral Communication Skills (UMEI 008)
If a student is required to take an English course based on the results of the ITA evaluation, and that student has been formally appointed as a TA, the department is responsible for the course fee. The department may not pass the cost of this instruction on to the student. If the student fails the ITA evaluation and is not a TA, the student is responsible for the course fee. Tuition remission cannot be used for UMEI courses.
How Can I Be Cleared To Teach?
At the end of the semester, candidates will complete another microteaching evaluation. A score of 5 on the evaluation is needed to be cleared to teach.
Candidates who do not score a 5 on the end-of-semester microteaching evaluation can take another semester of UMEI 006. They will be tested again after that semester. Again, a score of 5 is needed to be cleared for teaching assignments.
A Note to Departments
Appointed ITAs who have already achieved certain scores on the speaking subsections of the TOEFL or IELTS tests can now be cleared for teaching without needing to be tested by MEI. To be exempt from testing, the ITA must have achieved a score of 26 or higher on the speaking sub-section of the TOEFL, or a score of 8.0 or higher on the speaking sub-section of the IELTS or a score of 80 or higher on the speaking subsection of the PTE
The ITA referral form includes a separate section at the bottom for the names of appointed ITAs who meet the requirement for exemption from testing. MEI will verify the ITAs’ test scores in their SIS records and enter the teaching clearance.