L&S Spoken-English Proficiency for Teaching Assistants: Policies and Procedures

This document summarizes UW System policies related to spoken English proficiency for non-native English speaking Teaching Assistants.

Non-Native English Speakers as Teaching Assistants in L&S

UW System policy requires that non-native English speakers demonstrate proficiency in spoken English before they are assigned classroom duties as teaching assistants.

It is incumbent on departments to ensure that all potential non-native English speaking TAs have the requisite skills in English to be effective teachers. We recognize and value the contribution that International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) make to our College, and policies here are not intended to be punitive, but rather are necessary to demonstrate publicly that departments within the College of Letters & Science take seriously the issue of spoken-English proficiency among TAs, and that we do an effective job of overseeing their selection and performance.

Each department is required to have procedures in place for ensuring that TAs have demonstrated appropriate proficiency in spoken English.

SPEAK Test Guidelines

International students who score a 26/30 or higher on the speaking section of the iBt TOEFL test are exempt from taking the SPEAK test and are eligible to teach with no further English language testing requirements.

If the SPEAK test is used to evaluate spoken-English proficiency, the following standard applies:
The ESL Program administers the SPEAK Test on a regular basis. Please note that the SPEAK test can only be taken once in any three-month period. 

Contact the ESL Program at 263-3780 or consult the ESL Program web site for the SPEAK test schedule.

For more information or with questions, please contact Brian Bubenzer, brian.bubenzer@wisc.edu  

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