International Teaching Assistant Training Program



The University of Delaware’s International Teaching Assistant Training Program is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and administered by the English Language Institute (ELI). The program is held for four weeks in July/August and for two weeks in January before the international teaching assistants (ITAs) assume their instructional duties.

Note: This is not a program that students can apply for.

Program Description

Linguistically-oriented, the program focuses on language use for instructional purposes and provides an orientation to American classroom culture and basic pedagogy.

Linguistic Training

The program’s linguistic training activities include:

  • A drama-based oral intelligibility class which addresses specific aspects of ITA speech that affect comprehensibility: intonation, stress, rhythm, pitch, projection, reductions, fluency, idiomatic language, etc. This class works in close conjunction with afternoon tutoring.
  • Daily afternoon small group tutoring sessions of 1 1/2 hours, which focus on improving the individual pronunciation of ITAs whose speaking proficiency is particularly low.
  • Daily classroom communication activities during the culture/pedagogy class such as: listening and paraphrasing; compensating skills (use of the chalkboard, handouts, questioning); non verbal communication; humor; and idiomatic, colloquial, and student language.

Cultural Orientation

Cultural orientation to the American university classroom is addressed in mock teaching situations and feedback on these sessions. Additional presentations by members of the University administration and faculty address such topics as:

  • Issues of concern in American higher education and at the University of Delaware;
  • The background and selection of University of Delaware students;
  • Acceptable and unacceptable student behavior, and campus resources available for problem students;
  • The ITA experience and American students’ expectations of foreign instructors.


The pedagogical component of the program focuses on practicing skills such as:

  • Making effective oral explanations;
  • Asking and answering questions and leading discussions;
  • Tutoring and conferencing techniques;
  • Establishing rapport and a good classroom environment;
  • Preventing and handling cheating;
  • Recognizing and handling acceptable and unacceptable student behavior.

For observing teacher/student interaction and teaching styles, participants may also visit available summer session classes and/or laboratories in their departments, if available.

All instruction is contextualized in a series of videotaped sessions made by the participants in a variety of simulated teaching situations. Taped performances are reviewed and critiqued with the instructors for linguistic clarity, cultural appropriateness, and pedagogical effectiveness.

The ELI tests participants at the beginning and again at the end of the program for their oral English competency, using the SPEAK, a test of spoken English proficiency and the UDIA, a teaching test, which supplements the SPEAK by assessing overall language skills, cultural skills, questioning skills and basic teaching skills as the ITA teaches his/her subject to a group of students. Final testing determines participant readiness for instructional duties. Results of final testing will determine an ITA’s instructional duties.

Find out More

For more information, contact:
Ken Hyde, Coordinator
English Language Institute University of Delaware
108 East Main St. Newark, Ste. 200, DE 19711
Telephone: (302) 831-2567

Revised SPEAK and UDIA Scores for Instructional Assignment
Revised by a faculty committee in 1998

I 55 250 Instructor of record, i.e. full responsibility for semester, winter, or summer session class. No appeal into this category permitted.
II 50 250 Laboratory, discussion, review, problem solving section for non-majors. No appeal into this category permitted.
III 50 230 Laboratory, discussion, review, problem solving section for majors.
IV 45 240 Instructional responsibility for foreign language class where language of instruction is a language in which the ITA is fluent.
V 45 230 Grading, tutoring, holding office hours, assisting in computer or language laboratory
VI 35 215 Laboratory set-up/assist instructor with preparation of class materials. No verbal interaction with English-speaking students.

ITAs whose scores fall below 35 (SPEAK) or 215 (UDIA) will not be permitted to perform any ITA duties.

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