International Teaching Assistant Testing

Overview

By USG and UGA policy, to be eligible for a teaching assistantship (TA), international students must demonstrate an adequate level of spoken English proficiency before they are given instructional responsibilities. The International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Testing Program assesses the effectiveness of ITA English communication in typical everyday, academic, and classroom situations. ITA testing results help UGA departments and graduate programs make informed decisions when assigning teaching duties to their ITAs.

In 2020-2021, the ITA Testing Program will provide two spoken English proficiency assessments for international students seeking teaching positions:

  • ITA Test of English Proficiency (ITA-TEP)
  • Duolingo English Test (DET) video assessment

The ITA-TEP will be conducted via Zoom. The ITA-TEP takes around 25 minutes and consists of three sections: a casual conversation (4-6 minutes), an office hour role-play (5-7 minutes), and lecture role-play (5-7 minutes). Testing appointments will be scheduled for one hour. The cost for the UGA ITA-TEP is $95.

Additionally, in the 2020-2021 school year, because of COVID-19-related problems and limited availability of TOEFL and IELTS testing in some parts of the world, the University has authorized the use of student videos from the Duolingo English Test to assess international teaching assistant preparedness. The Duolingo English Test is an online English proficiency assessment. Duolingo provides test takers up to 3 minutes to respond to one of two prompts in the video interview; this will be used as a speaking test sample. The cost for the assessment of DET videos is $25.

Do you need to take one of these tests? Learn more.

Learn more about test dates and how to register.

Preparing for the ITA-TEP

On the day of your assessment, please make sure you have your passport or UGA ID card to verify your identity.

The test consists of three sections: 1. casual conversation (4-6 minutes), 2. office hour role-play (5-7 minutes), and 3. lecture role-play (5-7 minutes). You will join Zoom in a "waiting room." The tester will check in with you briefly to check your internet connection and give you a topic to prepare for Section 3 of the test. You will then be sent back into the waiting room for approximately 30 minutes until the beginning of the test to prepare. The test itself will last approximately 25 minutes. The overall assessment will last about one hour.

Section 1: Casual conversation

The purpose of this section is to see how well you can speak informally but may relate to academic and professional life. The tester will tell you the topic question, and you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and after the 30 seconds, you are encouraged to speak freely. You may use your notes to prepare your response. The tester will ask follow-up questions to initiate interaction. This conversation will last approximately 4-6 minutes.

Section 2: Office hours role-play

The purpose of this section is to assess your ability to communicate and discuss course-related issues. The tester will share a scenario on the screen, and you will have 45 seconds to prepare your response. In this task, a student comes to your office hours to discuss a matter related to the course. You will be expected to do your best to help the student with whatever issue they present to you. This section will take approximately 5-7 minutes.

Section 3: Lecture role-play

The purpose of this section is to present a brief lesson on a common or basic concept from your field of study. You may share your prepared slides or notes on the screen if you have some. The tester may interrupt you to ask questions during your teaching and also ask questions after you have finished. These questions may be related to the content of your teaching or to the teaching itself. This section will take approximately 5-7 minutes.

The assessment will be video recorded. At the end of the assessment, the rater will tell you that the assessment is over. The rater will not provide any information about your score or your ratings at this time. After the assessment, two raters will view your video and evaluate your ability to speak and understand spoken English demonstrated during the assessment. The results of the assessment will be posted on an eLC site called "UGA ITA Testing Program" within two workdays.

Learn how to access your score.

Rating Procedures

Two trained raters will assess your video using the English proficiency rating rubric.

Raters do not judge the content, but the way ideas are expressed (e.g., how freely ideas are communicated, how comprehensible the speech is, how appropriate and complex the language is, and how accurately it is spoken and understood).

Raters score independently; they do not know the score given by the other raters. Individual ratings are averaged.

Please note that the ITA-TEP is not a test of the student's topical knowledge or an indication of how successful the student will be as an instructor. The ITA-TEP is used only to assess how well ITAs are able to communicate in English and to determine their oral English proficiency status.

Score Reporting

Scores are reported to students through the eLC site "UGA ITA Testing Program" under "Grades" as one of the four categories:

  • ITA Level 4: Ready to be the instructor of record (equivalent to at least 26 on the TOEFL speaking sub-test or 8 on the IELTS speaking band score)
  • ITA Level 3: Ready to be TA while taking 7769 (equivalent to 24-25 TOEFL speaking sub-test or 7.5 IELTS speaking band score)
  • ITA Level 2: May TA after taking LLED 7769 (equivalent to a 23 TOEFL speaking sub-test or 7.0 IELTS speaking band score)
  • ITA Level 1: Need to take LLED 7768 before proceeding to 7769 (equivalent to 22 or below TOEFL or 6.5 or below on IELTS)

See Understanding Test Results for more detailed information on scores and recommendations.

Who Needs to Take the Test?

Teaching excellence is at the forefront of the University of Georgia's priorities. To support this mission, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) works closely with several units, including the Graduate School, Faculty Affairs, and the Department of Language and Literacy Education (LLED) to provide training and resources for all teaching assistants.

TA Policy was established to prepare and support all graduate students, including international students, for their various instructional roles. For international students from non-English speaking countries, in addition to the TA Policy requirements to attend TA orientation and complete a GRSC 7770 course, there is a requirement to demonstrate English proficiency.

Please complete the Placement Evaluation for International Student TAships survey to determine whether you need to register for one of these assessments. You might also contact Zoe Morris at CTL or Linda Harklau in the language and literacy education program for more information. Also, see the table below.

If you got this test score... You should:
TOEFL speaking score IELTS speaking score Duolingo English Test (DET) score
26 or higher 8.0 or higher 135 or higher Register for GRSC 7770 or approved equivalent course and attend the TA orientation. No further evaluation is required and you may be an instructor of record or a TA.
23-25 7.0-7.5 115-130 Complete the placement evaluation survey
No test score because of a prior master's degree from the U.S. or other English-speaking institution.* Complete the placement evaluation survey
22 or below 6.5 or below 110 or below Register for LLED 7768; no further evaluation is required at present. You may not hold a TAship at present.

*If you are an international student from an English-speaking country, then this evaluation is not required of you. Please use the UGA Graduate School's recognized English-speaking countries list to determine if you are required to submit testing scores. You should proceed to take GRSC 7770 or a departmental alternative and attend the TA orientation.

It is important to note that TA Policy requirements differ from UGA admission requirements.

Testing Dates and Registration

International Teaching Assistant (ITA) testing dates (2020-2021 academic year)**

Test type Test dates* Registration fee
Duolingo English Test (DET) Assessment for ITAs July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 19, Aug. 21, and Dec. 17, 2020; and May 17, 2021 $25
International Teaching Assistant Test of English Proficiency (ITA-TEP) Aug. 13, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2020; Dec. 17, 2020; and May 17, 2021 $95

*This schedule is subject to change. Please keep checking this page for updates.

Note: If you have already completed the ITA screening survey, we will be contacting you with instructions on how to sign up for these tests as soon as the application and procedures are finalized in July.

Yearly ITA Testing Schedule

Three campus-wide ITA-TEP testing sessions are scheduled yearly:

  1. One week before classes begin in the fall and one week before the end of the drop-add date
  2. One day in early January before classes begin
  3. One day in mid-May immediately after spring semester concludes

Due to the COVID pandemic, all ITA-TEP testing for the 2020-2021 school year will be conducted online through Zoom.

Test registration is first-come, first-served. Dates for the coming school year will be posted on the program website in late May. They will be reassessed yearly and adjusted as necessary to meet demand. Departments with numerous ITA candidates may also arrange a special assessment session for an added fee per test.

How to Register

Registering for the Duolingo English Test assessment:

  1. Complete the Placement Evaluation for International Student TAships.
  2. If the Placement Evaluation notifies you that you should take the DET Assessment, you will be emailed a link to pay for the assessment. You will need a credit card to pay for the assessment. You must pay for the assessment at least two business days in advance of your preferred assessment date. We encourage you to register and pay as soon as possible.
  3. Once you have paid, you will be added to the eLC site, "UGA ITA Testing Program" within one business day. Please follow these directions to download your Duolingo English Test certificate and video, and upload them to the eLC site for evaluation.
  4. Your assessment results will be posted on the same eLC site. Please allow at least two working days after the assessment date for results to be posted.
  5. See Understanding Results for more information on what your scores mean for course registration and teaching duties.

Registration information for the International Teaching Assistant Test of English Proficiency (ITA-TEP) will be available shortly.

Registering for the ITA-TEP assessment:**

  1. Complete the Placement Evaluation for International Student TAships.
  2. If the Placement Evaluation notifies you that you should take the ITA-TEP assessment, you will be emailed a link to pay for the assessment when it becomes available.
  3. You will need a credit card to pay for the assessment.
  4. When you have paid for the ITA-TEP assessment, you will be sent a confirmation email with a weblink to schedule your appointment. Appointments must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. Appointment times are available on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage you to register and schedule as soon as possible in case there is high demand.
  5. When you have scheduled your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email from our program that includes instructions for your Zoom appointment.
  6. Please review the ITA-TEP Guide carefully to prepare for your test.
  7. Please see Getting Your Scores for instructions on how to access your test scores on eLC.

Please note:

  1. ITA testing is designed for assessing international teaching assistants' oral English proficiency. Native speakers of American English or undergraduate students are not eligible to take this test.
  2. Only international graduate students seeking teaching appointments are required to take the test. International students without a teaching assistantship OR on a research assistantship are not required to take this test.
  3. International students who are unable to register or pay for an assessment on the designated testing dates should register for LLED 7769 and may not teach until they are assessed at the end of the semester.

Test Guide for ITA-TEP

The following instructions are for students preparing for the ITA-TEP.

The test consists of three sections: 1. casual conversation (4-6 minutes); 2. office hour role-play (5-7 minutes); and 3. lecture role-play (5-7 minutes). You will join Zoom in a waiting room. The tester will briefly join you to check your internet connection and make sure you have a topic to prepare for Section 3 of the test. You will then be put back into the waiting room for approximately 30 minutes to prepare. The test itself will take approximately 25 minutes. In all, the assessment will last about one hour.

As part of the assessment, the tester will do the following:

  • Introduce him/herself
  • Tell you that the assessment will be recorded and retained for University records and placement purposes
  • Ask you to show your passport or UGA ID card to verify your identity
  • Begin the assessment

ITA-TEP Assessment

Section 1: Casual conversation

The purpose of this section is to see how well you can speak informally but may relate to academic and professional life. The tester will tell you the topic question, and you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and after the 30 seconds, you are encouraged to speak freely. You may use your notes to prepare your response. The tester will ask follow-up questions to initiate interaction. This conversation will last approximately 4-6 minutes.

Section 2: Office hours role-play

The purpose of this section is to assess your ability to communicate and discuss course-related issues. The tester will share a scenario on the screen, and you will have 45 seconds to prepare your response. In this task, a student comes to your office hours to discuss a matter related to the course. You will be expected to do your best to help the student with whatever issue they present to you. This section will take approximately 5-7 minutes.

Section 3: Lecture role-play

The purpose of this section is to present a lesson on a common concept from your field of study. You may prepare up to three PowerPoint slides, graphics, drawings, or notes to give a better explanation of the concept. These should only include keywords, phrases, or/and pictures/drawings, but not complete sentences. The tester may interrupt you to ask questions during your teaching and also ask questions after you have finished. These questions may be related to the content of your teaching or to the teaching itself. This section will take approximately 5-7 minutes.

At the end of the assessment, the tester will tell you that the assessment is over. The tester will not provide any information about your score or your ratings at this time. After the assessment, two raters will view your video and evaluate your ability to speak and understand spoken English demonstrated during the assessment. The results of the assessment will be posted on eLC within two workdays.

Learn how to access your scores.

As you prepare for Section 2, you must assume several things:

  1. You are teaching an undergraduate class to UGA students.
  2. Your lesson is happening sometime during the course of a semester rather than at the very beginning. It is not the first class of the semester, so you should NOT begin your presentation by saying "Welcome to this course. My name is..."
  3. The students in your class may find the content difficult as some of them may not have had good preparation in this area; therefore, you should put this lesson in context and may need to give some background information to the topic. Begin by announcing the topic that you will be teaching. Remember that students generally need examples and details to help them understand more abstract ideas.
  4. The "class" has been told to ask questions about the content of your presentation and also about classroom procedures during the Q&A section. Since this lesson is part of an imaginary semester-long course, your "class" may also ask you different kinds of questions about the course, such as the kinds of questions that will appear on the next test.

Advice:

  1. Your lecture presentation will take place in a Zoom meeting room, which doesn't have a chalkboard or a whiteboard.
  2. Remember, reading directly from your slides is not a good way to present your topic and will lower your score, since the task focuses on your ability to interact with your audience.
  3. Remember to speak clearly and not to rush through your concept; it takes time for students to absorb new material. It is better to cover part of your concept thoroughly than to go quickly through the entire concept and confuse your students. However, do not oversimplify the material, so that it is more suitable for an elementary or primary school class than a university class.
  4. In the Q&A section, you are not being tested on whether you have the precise knowledge to answer every difficult question, but on whether you can handle typical U.S. undergraduate student questions. We want to see how easily you can understand questions and respond appropriately and how freely and clearly you can explain ideas without preparation. Before answering, be sure you understand the question and, if needed, ask for it to be repeated or clarified.

Getting Your Scores

Your test results will be posted on the UGA ITA Testing Program eLC site within two business days of your test.

You can access your test results by:

  1. Logging into UGA's online learning platform eLC using your MyID and password
  2. Looking for the "My Courses" widget and finding the "UGA ITA Testing Program" tile
Screenshot of ITA Testing Program tile

If you are unable to find the course, please use the eLC help page to search for it.

  1. Look for your score under "Grades"
S[Screenshot of Grades area of ELC menu

See Understanding Results for more information on what your score means.

Scoring Guide

Raters are professionals in the field of teaching English as a second language, language assessment, or language education. At least two raters independently rate each section of the test (raters will not know the scores being assigned by the other).

ITA-TEP

Your performance on each task will be evaluated in four categories:

  1. Acoustic features (pronunciation, intonation, syllable and word stress, pausing, etc.)
  2. Language use (grammatical and vocabulary choices and errors)
  3. Topic development (amount of information and explanation provided and connections among ideas)
  4. Question handling (how you understand and answer questions from the interviewer)

DET

Your performance will be evaluated in three categories:

  1. Acoustic features (pronunciation, intonation, syllable and word stress, pausing, etc.)
  2. Language use (grammatical and vocabulary choices and errors)
  3. Topic development (amount of information and explanation provided and connections among ideas)

Understanding Results

Scores on the ITA-TEP or DET are reported as one of four levels.

Level 4 – Exempt

  • You are exempt from LLED 7769; you may be instructor of record and should register for GRSC 7770 (or department equivalent) and attend the TA orientation

Note: LLED 7769 may be taken to fulfill the University GRSC 7770 requirement; however, please check with your department to see if they have additional requirements for teaching assistants.

Level 3 – Placement into LLED 7769 WHILE acting as TA

  • You must take LLED 7769 and attend the TA orientation; you may serve as a teaching assistant while taking the course

Level 2 – Placement into LLED 7769 BEFORE acting as TA

  • You must complete LLED 7769 before taking a teaching assistantship

Level 1 - Placement into LLED 7768

  • You must complete LLED 7768 and then proceed into LLED 7769 before taking a teaching assistantship

Read course descriptions for LLED 7768 and LLED 7769.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Duolingo English Test (DET)? What is the difference between DET and UGA's ITA-TEP test?

The International Teaching Assistant Test of English Proficiency (ITA-TEP) is a test developed by the University of Georgia College of Education's Department of Language and Literacy Education's TESOL and world language education program. It is specifically designed to measure candidates' oral/aural English proficiency in the context of U.S. undergraduate instruction. Testing is by appointment and takes approximately an hour. The cost for UGA ITA-TEP is $95.

The Duolingo English Test is also an English proficiency assessment. The Duolingo English Test provides you up to 3 minutes to respond to one of two prompts in the video interview. Because of COVID-19-related problems and limited availability of TOEFL and IELTS testing in some parts of the world, UGA has authorized the use of student videos from the Duolingo English Test during the 2020-2021 school year to assess international teaching assistant English language proficiency. You will download your video from the Duolingo English Test website and upload it to our eLC site "UGA ITA Testing Program" to be evaluated. The cost for the assessment of DET videos is $25.

Please note: Because the video interview speaking sample on the Duolingo English Test is very brief and was not designed to be a measure of classroom communication skills, scores on this measure may underestimate a speaker's English abilities.

When does ITA-TEP testing take place?

We will provide three regularly-scheduled campus-wide ITA-TEP testing sessions yearly:

  • One week before classes begin in the fall and one week before the end of the drop-add date
  • One day in early January before classes begin
  • One day in mid-May immediately after spring semester concludes

Dates for the coming school year will be posted on the program website in late May. They will be reassessed yearly and adjusted as necessary to meet demand. Departments with numerous ITA candidates may also arrange a special assessment session for an added fee per student.

Where will ITA-TEP testing take place?

In the 2020-2021 school year, due to the COVID pandemic, all ITA-TEP testing will take place online. In future years, we hope to offer both online and in-person testing.

What questions will I be asked on the ITA-TEP?

The assessment contains three parts:

  • Section 1 assesses your ability to talk about your personal background and everyday matters.
  • Section 2 assesses your ability to discuss concepts in your academic field.
  • Section 3 focuses on your ability to discuss a problem with a student.

The rater will listen to your answers and then ask you follow-up questions based on what you said. The rater is paying attention to how you speak and also to whether or not your answers show that you understand what the rater said.

Please see the ITA-TEP Test Guide for more details.

How long is the ITA-TEP assessment?

You should plan on spending an hour preparing for the test and taking the test itself.

What do I need on the day of the assessment?

Please be sure that you have your passport or UGA ID card to verify your identity. You should also download Zoom (UGA provides you with a free Zoom account).

You should have a topic chosen for Section 3 of the test. You may also prepare up to three Powerpoint slides, graphics, charts, or drawings to help you explain your topic.

Please see the Test Guide for more details.

Can I reschedule or cancel the test because of unexpected plan changes?

You may reschedule your exam up to 24 hours before the test, subject to appointment availability. You may cancel the test at any time. However, please note that we do not issue refunds once you have paid the test fee. If you miss your scheduled appointment, no refund will be issued.

Can I re-take the test if I'm not satisfied with my score?

Retesting is only allowed once per year. You or your department may initiate a retest through the UGA web ITA screening form. If there are special circumstances that you believe must be taken into consideration, please contact us at ugaita@uga.edu.

How is the test scored?

Two trained raters will assess your speech sample using a rating rubric. The video is evaluated based on your ability to speak and understand spoken English during the assessment.

Please see the Scoring Guide for more details.

When and how can I get test results?

Your test results will be ready within two workdays after your test. You can access your test results by:

  1. Logging into UGA's online learning platform eLC
  2. Navigating to the "UGA ITA Testing Program" course
  3. Checking the result under the "Grades" section.

Please see Getting Your Scores for more details.

What if I have questions about my score?

If you or your department has questions about the assessment results, you may email us at ugaita@uga.edu.