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.

The ITA Testing Program provides 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 is 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, because of COVID-19-related problems and the 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 assistants' 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? (opens new window).

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)
  3. lecture role-play (5-7 minutes)

You will join Zoom in a "waiting room." The tester will check your internet connection and make sure you have prepared for Section 3 of the test. The test itself will last approximately 25 minutes.

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 up to 3 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 within two business days.

Learn how to access your score.

Rating Procedures

Two to three trained raters will assess your video.

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.

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.

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) (opens new window) 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 (opens new window) 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.

To determine whether you need to take one of these assessments, please consult CTL's Guide to Demonstrating English Language Proficiency (opens new window).

Testing Dates and Registration

International Teaching Assistant (ITA) testing dates (2021-2022 academic year)*

Test type Test dates* Registration fee
Duolingo English Test (DET) Assessment for ITAs July 16, Aug. 2-13, Oct. 15, and Dec. 21, 2021; March 18, March 25, April 5, April 29, and May 17, 2022 $25
International Teaching Assistant Test of English Proficiency (ITA-TEP) July 16, Aug. 2-13, Oct. 14-15, and Dec. 20-21, 2021; March 17-18, March 24-25, April 4-5, April 28-29 and May 16-17, 2022 $95

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

Test registration is first-come, first-served. 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. Consult CTL's Guide to Demonstrating English Language Proficiency (opens new window) to see if you need to take this assessment.
  2. Complete the Request for ITA-TEP/DET Testing (opens new window).
  3. 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.
  4. 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 (opens new window), and upload them to the eLC site for evaluation.
  5. 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.

Registering for the ITA-TEP assessment:

  1. Consult CTL's Guide to Demonstrating English Language Proficiency (opens new window) to see if you need to take this assessment.
  2. Complete the Request for ITA-TEP/DET testing (opens new window).
  3. You will be emailed a link to pay for the assessment.
  4. You will need a credit card to pay for the assessment.
  5. When you have paid for the ITA-TEP assessment, you will be sent a confirmation email with a web link 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.
  6. When you have scheduled your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email from our program that includes instructions for your Zoom appointment.
  7. Please review the ITA-TEP Guide carefully to prepare for your test.
  8. Please see Getting Your Scores for instructions on how to access your test scores.

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.

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 first check your internet connection and make sure you have a topic prepared for Section 3 of the test. The test itself will take approximately 25 minutes.

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 should choose a topic in advance and 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 within two workdays.

Learn how to access your scores.

As you prepare for Section 3, 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

For students admitted in Fall 2020 or before:

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

  1. Log into UGA's online learning platform eLC (opens new window) using your MyID and password
  2. Look 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. 3. Look for your score under "Grades"

Screenshot of Grades area of ELC menu

For students applying and/or admitted in spring 2021 and after:

Your test results will be sent to the Graduate School within two business days. To view your scores, please log into your SLATE account (opens new window). Your results will be listed under the "Tests" section in your dashboard. Please allow up to 3 additional business days for your scores to be posted by the Graduate School.

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.

Please consult Table 2 of CTL's Guide to Demonstrating English Language Proficiency (opens new window) to understand your score and see whether you need to take LLED 7768 or LLED 7769.

Read course descriptions for LLED 7768 and LLED 7769 (opens new window).

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 the limited availability of TOEFL and IELTS testing in some parts of the world, UGA has authorized the use of students to assess international teaching assistants' 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.

Where will ITA-TEP testing take place? 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 focuses on your ability to discuss a problem with a student.
  • Section 3 assesses your ability to discuss concepts in your academic field.

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?

The test takes approximately 30 minutes.

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 (opens new window) (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 semester. You or your department may initiate a retest through the Request for ITA-TEP/Duolingo Testing (opens new window) link. 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.

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.