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International Teaching Assistants

URI English Proficiency Policy
As stated in our Mission Statement, the University of Rhode Island is committed to effective learning that encourages close student-faculty interaction. The University attracts talented undergraduates, graduate students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and from around the world. To ensure effective collaboration in this diverse intellectual community, the University requires that all graduate teaching assistants have the necessary English proficiency to communicate effectively in their instructional duties.
  • Each graduate teaching assistant is responsible for certifying that he or she has the necessary English proficiency required for the teaching assignment. This certification of English proficiency becomes part of the student’s record. The certification requirement can be met in several ways:
    • 1. Demonstrate completion of three or more years of undergraduate study at a university in an English-speaking country.* Transcripts must be on file at the Graduate School. (e.g. *U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Belize.)
    • 2. Submit an Overall score of 65 or higher on the PhonePass SET-10 test, or submit a score of 50 or higher on the SPEAK test or TSE (Test of Spoken English).
    • 3. Submit an Overall score of 55-64 on the PhonePass SET-10 test or a score of 45 on the SPEAK test and demonstrate teaching effectiveness, either through a departmental teaching evaluation or through a teaching assessment administered by the English Language Studies Program.
  • International Teaching Assistants who do not meet the above requirement must enroll in ITA courses offered by the English Language Studies Program.
    • 1. If they score below a 65 on the PhonePass SET-10 test or below a 50 on the SPEAK test, ITAs may be assigned teaching tasks, but they must complete ITA coursework and pass a teaching assessment before their English proficiency can be certified. Students who are not yet certified must take steps to improve their oral communication skills until certification is achieved.

  • Each department is responsible for checking that this English proficiency requirement is met. This requirement applies to all graduate assistants employed in classroom or laboratory settings, whether as teaching assistants, instructors, or lecturers.
Approved by the URI Council of Deans on August 25, 2004
Revised to include PhonePass SET-10 scores on August 5, 2005

Testing for International Teaching Assistants

If you are an International Teaching Assistant (ITA) this spring and a non-native speaker of English, you MUST take a test to demonstrate your oral proficiency in English in order to be certified to fulfill your TA position.

For additional information and to schedule a test appointment, contact the Office of International Students and Scholars: e -mail issoff@etal.uri.edu or call 874-2395. Be prepared to give your full name, student I.D number, and contact information (phone, e-mail, home address) when you call or e-mail.
  • Testing will take place Tuesday, September 1st and Wednesday, September 2nd from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It will take 30 minutes to complete the test.
  • On your appointment day and time, come to Swan Hall, Room 152 where you will be redirected to your specific testing site by the staff.

Based on your test score, you may be required to take ELS 512 as mandated by the URI Council of Deans (Memorandum on August 25, 2004):
    “If they [International Teaching Assistant] score below a 65 on the PhonePass SET-10test or below a 50 on the SPEAK test, ITAs may be assigned teaching tasks, but they must complete ITA coursework and pass a teaching assessment before their English proficiency can be certified….”


      Fall 2009, ELS 512: Oral Communication Skills for ITAs. Day: Tuesday. Time: 4 – 6:45 PM. Instructor: Mary Jo LaRocco.
      • Intensive focus on pronunciation skills
      • Develop oral presentation skills
      • Complete micro-teaching presentations and reflective writing assignments
      • Focus on American education and cross-cultural communication

      Please note: International RAs do not need to take the test to fulfill their positions; however, they will need to take the test at a later time if given a TA position in future semesters.

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