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Information for Directors of Graduate Studies

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Effective Fall 2016

Beginning in summer/fall 2016, some changes have been made to our English Oral Testing and Certification policy. We now require that all incoming current and prospective ITAs are tested for their English oral proficiency.

Previously, students whose scores fell below: TOEFL iBT: Speaking: 20/Listening: 17 or IELTS: Speaking: 6.0/Listening: 6.0 would be placed directly into class (GC 510/511). By testing all incoming ITAs we will be able to more thoroughly assess their language needs as well as provide better recommendations for their teaching assignments. In addition, we will be able to readily identify students who may not need to take our course/s.

As before, the Oral Certification Process will incorporate the use of required graduate admissions test scores (iBT: internet-based TOEFL, IELTS: International English Language Testing Systems, or PTE: Pearson Test of English) to filter newly appointed ITAs. However, students will now only fall into one of two tiers:

A brief Oral Verification Check with the ITA program and immediate full certification if the students’ sub-scores are:


An in-house Oral Certification Interview (OCI) if the students’ sub-scores are:

Based on the OCI, students may be recommended for:

  • full certification or
  • conditional certification and a minimum of one semester of GC 510, 509, or 511

As you know, state law (State of Illinois Bill 1516) requires all international teaching assistants that provide instruction in a classroom, discussion group, laboratory, or office hour situation to be certified as orally proficient in speaking and communicating in English.

All certifications must be done by the ITA Program staff in collaboration with faculty in the various programs. In addition, the ITA Program office maintains a database that contains information on the certification status of international graduate students appointed as teaching assistants for possible audit by the state. Departments are expected to make assignments according to the certification status of the student and ITAP’s recommendations.

To assist you, the ITA Coordinator, Vandana Loomba Loebel ( is available for assistance with any issues related to the English Oral Proficiency of ITAs and other communication issues. The ITA Program can also help you schedule pre-offer Skype interviews, which can improve the department’s chances of being able to offer unconditional teaching assignments to students who demonstrate English oral proficiency at the advanced level.

If you have any questions concerning the English oral certifications or need a consultation, please contact Vandana Loomba Loebel at (312) 413.2235 or

To schedule a verification check or OCI follow the link: