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Communication and Teaching Methods for International Teaching Assistants

GC 510, Basic communication and presentation skills for international teaching assistants in the culture of the American college classroom. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. May be repeated for credit. Students may register for more than one section per term. No graduation credit. Prerequisite(s): Graduate or professional standing. Incoming International TAs with a TOEFL iBT speaking score of below 23 and a listening score below 22 or a conditional oral language proficiency status and consent of instructor.  The course is offered for 3 hours credit with Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing.

Note:  Previous to Fall 2015, this course was known as ESL 401.

Overall Course Objectives:
  • To improve students’ overall ability to communicate in English in an academic setting
  • To assist students with a conditional status to complete the Oral English Proficiency Certification Process
  • To assist students in producing clear, efficient, and comfortable English
  • To improve students’ overall sound, rhythm, intonation, and fluency
Course Elements:
  • Weekly two-hour class session: The focus is on useful communication and teaching strategies necessary for the classroom. Students will get practice, feedback and advice on presenting information in their field of study, as well as on adjusting sound, rhythm and overall intelligibility. We will also focus on developing language compensation skills that are useful when interacting with students.


  • Weekly one-hour presentation sessions: Throughout the semester, students will attend one hour practice presentation sessions to be scheduled outside of regular class time. During each session, students complete a 10-minute video recorded presentation and receive feedback from peers and the instructor. Students are then expected to incorporate this feedback into future presentation sessions and soundwork assignments.


  • Independent soundwork: Soundwork is assigned by the instructor each week to be completed via Blackboard. It is designed to improve students’ general intelligibility and use of language. It gives the student the opportunity to focus on specific language-production difficulties and receive individualized feedback from the instructor. Soundwork consists of two parts: an initial recording, and a second recording that incorporates the feedback given by the instructor. Completing each soundwork assignment on-time is important for ongoing improvement.
Course Requirements:
In order to receive a satisfactory grade students must have:
  • 75% attendance of both scheduled class and presentation session times
  • 75% completion of independent soundwork assignments:
    • To be considered completed, each soundwork assignment must consist of TWO parts:
      • An initial recording as assigned by the instructor
      • A re-recording based on the individualized feedback given for the original recording
  • 75% completion of homework and class participation
  • Three or four presentation sessions
  • Final Performance Evaluation (see FAQs) to be completed at the end of the semester

***There are no exams. Your grade (Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) depends on the amount of participation and satisfactory work you complete throughout the semester.

During the Semester students will:
  • practice teaching and language compensation strategies
  • conduct instructional presentations
  • evaluate and analyze communication and information exchanges from both the perspective of the audience and as a student instructor
  • define terms, present field information, lead and participate in discussions, and support explanations with examples and analogies
  • ask and field questions
  • receive and use peer and instructor feedback
  • make small talk with students, native-speaker colleagues, and classmates
Course Materials

English Communication for International Teaching Assistants (2013) by Greta Gorsuch et. al.