PeaceSignSyracuse University is proud that it counts some 1,400 international students from 130 countries among its graduate community. Many of them, particularly in doctoral programs, will serve as teaching assistants during the course of their graduate programs. Having international students as graders, course and laboratory instructors, and recitation and review session leaders prepares American undergraduates to think globally, adding immeasurably to the value and relevance of their education.

Recognizing that most international students are not native speakers of English and may have limited experience with American classroom dynamics and communication styles, the Graduate School provides a number of services to help international teaching assistants (ITAs) succeed as students and instructors.

  • Language assessment. All international students with a TA appointment are required to undergo the Graduate School’s English-language-assessment process. This consists of a 30-minute  interview with a panel comprising a representative of the Graduate School, an ESOL instructor, a faculty member in the ITA’s program, and an undergraduate student.. Each examinee is assigned a score using a 4-point scale of English language proficiency. Most assessments take place during the TA Orientation Program in August.
  • English courses for ITAs. Three zero-credit courses, offered in conjunction with the ESOL Program, support ITAs whose assessment results indicate a need for help with English for instructional and conversational purposes. These are ENL 610: Oral Communication in TeachingENL 620: Advanced Oral Communication in Teaching; and ENL 640: English Conversation for International Teaching Assistants.
  • English Conversation Partners. Any full-time international graduate student is eligible to request hour-long weekly meetings with native or near-native English speaking fellow student for one-on-one practice in English conversation. At this time we cannot accept any more requests for partners. Please check back at the beginning of Spring Semester 2020.
  • ITA Accent Addition Program. Designed and delivered by the Gebbie Speech, Language & Hearing Clinic, this 10-week program is designed to help ITA’s who are already proficient in English to identify systematic differences between their pronunciation patterns and those of speakers of American English, and to reduce the barrier to communication those differences may pose.
  • ENL 600: Research Writing. ENL 600 focuses on improving learners’ academic writing. Students will learn strategies to improve grammar, analyze and produce genres used in their disciplines, and develop documents for academic job searches. During the course, students will be able to work on in-progress course papers, theses, dissertations, or job documents.

The Graduate School
304 Lyman Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244