ITAIS Newsletter

ITAIS News, Volume 10:1 (January 2005)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
Leadership Updates Letter From Our Chair

By Barbara Schroeder, Princeton University

Happy New Year everyone! I know you're all hard at work wrapping up classes and preparing for testing. For those of you who don't know, I am busy tackling my new position as language educator at Princeton. I am very impressed and excited about the quality of ITA training here, although it was tough to find an apartment for less than the gross national product of Togo.

On to the important things . . .


John Bro, our former webmaster, moved to France in May. On behalf of the interest section, I would like to thank John for all of his hard work-especially his efforts to ensure that we have an electronic mailing list and a Web site open to all ITA trainers (including those who are not members of TESOL). John, we'll miss you.

Jules Gliesche (, University of Florida, has agreed to take the cyber-reins. Jules has a PhD in Germanic linguistics and began working with ITAs in the fall of 2002. He promises that he will stick around a long, long time. Visit his web page at

TESOL 2005 will be held in San Antonio, Texas, March 30-April 2, 2005. Information on the convention is available at and is updated often, so check back from time to time.

Proposal Selection

The selection of TESOL proposals was extremely difficult again this year. Forty-six proposals were submitted and we were given only sixteen 45-minute slots. I would like to thank all 20 of the proposal readers for their help in the adjudication process. I would especially like to thank Janet Goodwin and Colleen Myers, who helped with the final adjudication.

Academic Sessions

The ITA Academic Session (organized by Allison Petro, our chair-elect) is entitled "Second Language Writing Issues for ITAs." This session will explore the process of developing writing courses for international graduate students and consider successful models of graduate writing curricula. Panelists will reflect on their personal experiences as academic writers, teachers of writing, and program administrators. Allison has also organized an Intersection session with the Program Administrators Interest Section entitled "How to Become an Effective Program Administrator." Topics will include appropriate systems of communication, effective assessment of students, useful models of program assessment, and creative management of staff, budgets, and change. Panelists come from a variety of settings, including ITA, ESL, and EFL programs.

The Speech/Pronunciation/Listening Academic Session

This session (organized by Laura Hahn, SPLIS chair-elect) is called "Perspectives on Accent and Identity." In this session, experts will discuss the notions of accent and phonological accuracy and how these relate to nonnative speakers' attitudes, self-perceptions, and social identities (including group/community loyalty and NNS ESL teachers' experiences).

Online Discussions

Caroline Rosen has bravely volunteered to lead our interest section's first Electronic Village Online Discussion Session. Her session will be on "Involving Senior Citizen Volunteers in ITA Programs." I will also be leading an online discussion session on how to strengthen ITA programs in the face of budget cuts and falling enrollment.

If you are interested in participating, registration will be in January. Participation is free and open to all. The discussions will be held from January 17 to February 27.

More information on the online discussions can be found at


Jules Gliesche (the new webmaster) spent five years living in and around San Antonio and has already agreed to put on his thinking cap and come up with a place for our annual social. If anyone has any ideas, or lives close enough to check out locations, please contact me.

Please don't hesitate to call (609) 256-1687 or email ( me with any questions or concerns you have in regard to ITA-IS or TESOL matters. I look forward to hearing from you.

Editor's Note

I am very pleased to serve as the ITA-IS newsletter editor for the 2004-2005 year and thank you all for the opportunity to serve you and our interest section. Congratulations to all of you who took on new and exciting positions this year-and to those of you who are still doing excellent work at your not-new-but-still-really-rewarding jobs!

Chris Ashley Fox,


Articles and Information Continued Scaffolding Outside the ITA Classroom

Review of TESOL 2004 Session

By Dr. Barbara Brownworth, SUNY at Stony Brook

David Smith and Barbara Carvill’s paradigm, as described in The Gift of the Stranger: Faith, Hospitality and Foreign Language Education, was the inspiration for the external program design for international teaching assistants (ITAs) at The State University of New York at Stony Brook (SBU).

The TESOL 2004 session entitled “Continued Scaffolding Outside the ITA Classroom” explored ideas to foster ITA development outside the classroom. Four collaborations developed ITA pronunciation, pedagogical skills, and cultural awareness while celebrating the “gift of the stranger.”

After the context of the program was described, the following four collaborations were presented: a professional workshop, a tutoring session for the ITAs by the students in the MA TESOL Program, planned social interaction with peers and senior citizens studying at the university, and, last, involvement of MA TESOL candidates in the ITA program exit mini-teaching. This is a 15 minute interactive teaching before a panel of faculty, peers and department guests done by those wishing to exit the ESL program. The session ended with future directions for further support as well as a challenge to other universities.

In spring 2004, 120 internationals took ESL courses in the program at SBU. The ITAs were placed into three levels of ESL instruction depending on their IELTS, TSE, or SPEAK test scores: ESL 591 for intermediate speakers, ESL 596 for high intermediate speakers, and ESL 598 for advanced speakers. All three courses focused on pronunciation improvement, pedagogical skill development, and awareness of North American academic culture. There were 31 MA TESOL candidates in our LIN 578 Field Experience in Adult and Tertiary Contexts course and 31 students in the LIN 571 Curriculum Design and Evaluation on the College Level course. For LIN 578, teacher candidates must complete 50 hours of fieldwork in adult and tertiary contexts.

The first collaboration was the professional workshop run by MA TESOL students for the ITAs. These workshops varied in nature, but they covered topics such as “American Ways for ITAs” and included such topics as individualism, privacy, time, ways of reasoning, customs, family life, sports, and communication issues, to name but a few. The ITAs, who were mostly PhD students, gained a lot from the MA TESOL American graduate student interaction. The MA TESOL group also started to appreciate the many gifts and talents of the international population.

The second collaboration also involved the MA TESOL population. They helped the ITA population through weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions. Each MA TESOL student needed to tutor three hours a week for 12 weeks. Each ITA was tutored for one half hour per week. These sessions focused mostly on pronunciation improvement while forming bridges between American graduate students and international graduate students. This one-on-one interaction greatly enriched both the tutors and the tutees.

Conversation partners and social activities outside the classroom formed the third collaboration. Senior citizens studying at the university volunteered to meet and talk with ITAs. Many wonderful friendships were formed as a result of this collaboration, making this a win-win situation for both populations. Teachers of the ESL courses also arranged get-togethers outside the classroom to further social interaction and cultural awareness.

The last collaboration involved MA TESOL teacher candidates who evaluated the final mini-teaching presentations of the ITAs who needed to exit the ITA Program. These MA TESOL students provided part of the audience for the ITAs. The ESL faculty and colleagues of the ITA formed the rest of the audience. This experience gave the teacher candidates practice evaluating college-level academic oral discourse. During these sessions, the university was greatly enriched by the diversity and talents of the “strangers” among us.

In the future, the undergraduates and young children in the university day care center will also be approached as further possible collaboration populations. The challenge is to look around at our university contexts and explore areas for future collaborations while realizing that the real gift to our universities is the “stranger” within.

Literature Support

Best, R. (Ed.). 2000. Education for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. London: Continuum.

Bigger, K. (1999). Spiritual, moral, social and cultural education In S. Brown & E. Brown (Eds.), Spiritual, moral, social and cultural education: Exploring values in the curriculum. London: David Fulton.

Civiklh, J., & Muchisky, D. (1991). A collaborative approach to ITA training: The ITAs, faculty, TAs, undergraduate interns, and undergraduate students.InJ.D. Nyquist, R.D.Abbott, D.H.Wulff, and J.O.Sprogue (Eds.), Preparing for the professoriate of tomorrow to teach. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Smith, D., & Carvill, B. (2000). The gift of the stranger: Faith, hospitality and foreign language education. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Stevick, E. W. (1990). Humanism in language teaching: A critical perspective.Oxford: Oxford University Press. Assignment

By Mary Jetter, Center for Teaching and Learning Services, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( is an interesting Web site that allows university students to evaluate their professors in four categories. To better help my students understand what U.S. students like and dislike in an instructor, I created the following activity.

In class, I introduced my students to the Web site by showing evaluations of the faculty of a TESOL graduate program. We discussed the categories, what the ratings and symbols mean, and why students might have written what they did about the professors in question. I then brought the discussion back to the concepts of rapport and teacher presence, which were the focus of the lecture that week. For homework, the students were given a handout with the following instructions:

The Assignment
  1. Go to the following Web site: This Web site allows students from colleges and universities across the country to rate their professors in the following areas: easiness of class, helpfulness of the instructor, clarity of the instructor, and “hotness.”
  2. Choose your state, then select your school from the list. Then look up the professors in your department by clicking on “Department” at the top of the list of professors. An alphabetical list of departments will appear. If your department is not listed (hint: many of the engineering fields are listed under “Engineering”), find a related field.
  3. Look at the ratings for at least five professors. Choose professors that are both positively and negatively rated and professors that have more than three ratings. Read the comments for those professors and pay attention to what the students have written in the comments section. As you read the comments, think about what we have learned so far about teacher presence and rapport. What do students value in an instructor? What qualities do students dislike?
  4. Go to the bulletin board in our course WebCT site. Post a summary of what you have learned by investigating this site. Again, think in terms of teacher presence and rapport. Be prepared to lead a discussion on this topic in class.

The assignment was one of the most successful of the semester. Not only did the ITAs enjoy doing the assignment and reading each other’s comments on our bulletin board, but the assignment also reinforced the concepts that I had been teaching in the lecture. The ITAs became much more aware of the importance of rapport and teacher presence and how they could demonstrate these qualities.

News From Our Regions

If you would like to have announcements for regional events and activities listed in our next newsletter, please send the detailed information to Chris Fox ( no later than Feb. 15, 2005.


Call for Contributions

The ITA-IS newsletter encourages submission of articles and book reviews on topics of significance to ITA practitioners:

  • Articles, including program descriptions, course descriptions, best practices, teaching techniques, or editorials on any topic of interest to ITA practitioners are welcomed.
  • Book reviews that provide the reviewer's analysis of books that are relevant to the practice and theory of ITA education are strongly encouraged.

Please send your contributions to Chris Fox at before February 15, 2005, for the next issue.


About This Member Community ITA-IS Steering Committee 2004–2005 Click to view the article. [PDF]
About ITAIS International Teaching Assistants Interest Section (ITAIS)

The International Teaching Assistants interest section (ITA IS) serves TESOL members who work with nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants as researchers, teachers, and program administrators.

ITA-IS seeks to encourage the sharing of expertise and specialized knowledge among ITA practitioners, to promote research into the spoken discourse of ITAs and the nature of classroom communication, and to foster communication between researchers and practitioners.

International Teaching Assistants Interest Section Community Leaders, 2004-2005

Chair: Barbara M. Schroeder, e-mail
Chair-Elect: Allison N. Petro, e-mail
Editor: Chris A. Fox, e-mail

Discussion e-list: visit to subscribe to ITAIS-L, the discussion list for the community, or visit if already subscribed.

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