ITAIS Newsletter

ITAIS News, Volume 11:2 (November 2006)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • ITAIS Annual Report
  • Articles and Information
    • Adapting Social Work Theory to ITA Training
    • Hot off the Presses
    • Reports on Recent Conferences
    • Web Sites to Check Out
    • We’re Not the Only ITA Out There!
  • Announcements
    • Editors' Note
    • News From the Region
    • Call for Contributions

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Cathy Jacobson, ESL Consultant, Georgia Tech School of Math,

Greetings from the South where fall means football games and newsletter deadlines! How are your terms progressing? Watching the email exchanges on our ITAIS elist, I always have a sense that we are moving through the academic year together, irrespective of our geographical location. It seems that someone else out there is often pondering the same thing I'm musing about, and being a one-person band in my institution, I am very grateful for this wonderful exchange. If any of you have not yet joined the elist, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this amazing resource and join posthaste!

Take some time to read Allison Petro's very thorough 2005 2006 IS annual report in this edition of the newsletter. She has noted the various hot topics that have been raised on the elist in the past including defining our student population, assessment, technology, and program administration.

Since her June summary, you have shared information about multiple-course sequencing in your programs; testing foreign language TAs; international undergraduate academic adjustment; current testing issues (TSE, TOEFL iBT); assessment scores needed to assign ITA duties; which international students are required to participate in TA training programs; and working with international faculty/MBAs/medical students and doctors.

You have been incredibly generous with your information, suggestions, and follow-up, which is one of the aspects of the ITA Interest Section that I find so amazing. At the click of a mouse, one can have a tremendous support system available for consultation.

As Allison said last year, I too feel very lucky to be part of this dynamic group of teachers, trainers, innovators, and scholars. These open exchanges reflect the pulse of where we are as a discipline, and strengthen each of us professionally-so thank you to all, and keep up the wonderful participation.

Thanks are also due to the editors of the newsletter–Jane O'Brien and Caroline Rosen–who have put together an informative and interesting newsletter for us. Our next newsletter will have information about the sessions at the March conference in Seattle, and by late October the Central Office should begin to notify those whose presentations have been accepted.

Also, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who served as ITAIS proposal readers for us this year, and finally, a great big thanks to the past chairs who have helped me along the road of chair duties and graciously filled in when my travels took me out of reach of the TESOL Central Office. Allison, Barbara, and Diane . . . muchas gracias!

Cathy J


ITAIS Annual Report

Allison Petro, Chair 2005-2006,

I. Professional Issues

Most issues in the International Teaching Assistants Interest Section (ITAIS) are raised via the ITA discussion list. This year, several key topics were raised, with multiple responses from members. The theme with the most messages was in response to a query about who our students are–are they mostly international teaching assistants, research assistants, other graduate students, international faculty members, or members of another category? It is interesting that even though the subfield of ITA training has been around for 30 years, we are still asking who our target population is, and the answer varies greatly from campus to campus. Some ITA programs work only with ITAs before they teach, others work with them while they are teaching, and still others work with international graduate students, regardless of whether they will be teaching assistants or not. A growing number of ITA trainers are also being asked to work with international faculty who are already teaching and may need quick tips to improve their speaking skills or teaching effectiveness. The goals of working with each of these different populations may be somewhat different (from pronunciation to overall oral fluency to teaching skills to cross-cultural communication skills–the focus can change somewhat from group to group).

A second key issue raised on the discussion list was assessment. This is a hot topic in our field because the assessment tools are changing. On many campuses we are in a time of transition and are trying to understand what the scores on a variety of new tests indicate. Over the past year, there were questions on the discussion list about the TOEFL iBT, TOEIC, and TAST (an Educational Testing Service [ETS] test, roughly equivalent to the Test of Spoken English [TSE], which is the speaking part of the new TOEFL test. It will be made available to institutions for internal assessment). ITA programs are typically test-driven (we use either standardized tests or in-house assessments) and one commonly used test has been the SPEAK test (the institutional version of the TSE) but it will no longer be available from ETS. Thus, issues of assessment have been on our members' minds for the past few years as we go through this transition. Many of us have been asked by our universities to set new TOEFL standards for admissions or for teaching assistantships. There are questions about what score cutoffs indicate the level of oral fluency that is the critical factor for certifying ITAs. During the transition from one TOEFL test to another, people are looking at the range of testing instruments–TOEIC, ACTFL, IELTS, PhonePass–to see what other options exist for assessing oral fluency. Occasionally, graduate students are now submitting tests other than the TOEFL for admission, which challenges universities to accept various tests, each of which has a different cutoff score. High-stakes testing has always been a fact of life in our field, but with the changes ETS has made in recent years, our whole approach to testing is in a state of flux right now.

Other issues raised on the discussion list were more typical of previous years–questions related to research on ITA issues, program administration, use of technology in ITA programs, discipline-specific curriculum, and training for undergraduates who work as ITA evaluators. These ongoing issues are of interest to most of our members. Because ITA trainers typically wear multiple hats–we are often responsible for curriculum development as well as program administration, for example–certain key issues get raised over and over again.

Our IS leadership has responded to these issues by organizing related sessions at TESOL 2005 and TESOL 2006. Prominent sessions at both conventions were related to assessment issues, including a 2005 colloquia on the new TOEFL test, which reported on benchmark scores for ITA placement. The 2005 convention also had sessions on ITA performance tests and on strategies for training and calibration to ensure inter-rater reliability. A 2006 colloquia focused on whether passing requirements at different universities are equivalent, which is a burning issue in our field. There were also sessions in 2006 on effective feedback for ITAs and on peer evaluations of microteaching presentations, which are issues related to performance-based testing.

A variety of convention sessions over the past few years have responded to the various ongoing issues in our interest section: ITA-related research, instructional technology, curriculum design, and use of undergraduates. Related to program administration, our 2005 InterSection focused specifically on program administration, with experts in ESL, EFL, and ITA program administration outlining key factors in determining administrative effectiveness. A related demonstration in 2006 offered a case study of one specific ITA program and described the program review process it went through.

Major professional issues that affect our members, and that we would like TESOL to continue to be involved in, are as follows:

  • Visas for international students and scholars (If they don't have visas, we don't have students.)
  • The teaching of pronunciation to adults (Keeping current on pronunciation research and best practices is vital to our members.) 
  • Tolerance for people with other cultural perspectives (Most of our students are from Asia, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East. They are not always treated with respect by students and/or faculty on our university campuses, which is cause for concern.)
  • Part-time employment issues (More and more universities are moving to part-time, adjunct positions for ESL professionals, including ITAIS members. This threatens the long-term viability of our field, because we are losing talented people who can't afford to work part-time indefinitely.)
  • Research on second-language acquisition in adults (We need more data on how adults learn, what they do and don't learn easily, and what we can do as teachers to improve their acquisition of English. There are many myths about language learning; we need real evidence.)
  • The internationalization of higher education (We need more information about what is going on globally in higher education. What are the Bologna Accords and how are they affecting the structure of higher education in Europe? What are the changing trends in higher education throughout the world, which may affect our enrollments down the road?)
  • World Englishes (There is a growing awareness in our field that the globalization of English has an impact on our field. The more we know about the use of English as a global language, the more we need to rethink our curriculum and its goals. This will be our Academic Session topic in 2007.)
  • High-stakes testing (Our students may not be affected by NCLB, but we have our own version of high-stakes testing-if an ITA doesn't get a certain score on an oral proficiency exam, he or she may lose funding for graduate school. Our field is moving toward having multiple assessments to allow students who don't perform well on a given test to have other viable options for demonstrating their oral proficiency or teaching abilities.)

Sample actions TESOL could take:

1. Continue to advocate for issues such as transparent visa application procedures, cultural tolerance, and part-time employment, as you have done in the past.
2. Continue publishing cutting-edge research on pronunciation issues; continue supporting the work of SPLIS-IS, which has many interests and members that overlap with ours.
3. Sponsor a TESOL Quarterly issue on the theme of "Adult Second Language Acquisition: Myths and Realities."
4. Publish something (book or journal articles) about the Bologna Accords and their impact on European higher education.
5. Publish something about global trends in higher education, especially as they affect the enrollment of international students in U.S. universities.
6. Continue publishing on topics related to World Englishes, and especially how our understanding of the globalization of English affects our teaching of English in the United States (specifically at U.S. universities). 
7. Publish on a related issue: What do American undergraduates and faculty members need to know in order to be prepared for an increasingly globalized world? Most American universities already emphasize that we need to know about other cultural perspectives, but we also need to become aware of the linguistic diversity of the world, including the variety of Englishes used throughout the world.
8. Advocate for multiple assessment tools, so that high-stakes testing does not become a roadblock for our students.

Our Interest Section is small but very active, so it is relatively easy for our leaders to identify and keep track of professional issues throughout the year. Through our discussion list and other email exchanges with leaders, members are able to raise questions and concerns. For those who can attend the convention, the dialog continues there. A key concern, however, is for ITAIS members who are unable to attend the convention–we need to be able to get summaries of convention sessions to them in a quick and useful way. The newsletter helps, but it is not enough. It would be helpful to have some mechanism for summarizing the convention sessions and getting them to members in a timely manner. Any suggestions from TESOL Central would be welcome.

For example, it would be helpful if TESOL could help us gather handouts and get them onto our ITAIS website. Every year we try to get presenters to send in handouts, but it doesn't work well. At the same time, TESOL gathers a collection of handouts for the copy center. Is there some way to access that collection so that Interest Sections don't have to duplicate the process? Or perhaps there would be some quick-and-dirty way to package convention handouts and sell them as a bound volume? What happened to the On TESOL series (On TESOL '82 and '84, for example), which included highlights from past conventions? Is it possible to re-create such a publication so that those who cannot attend the TESOL convention (or who spend so much time in meetings that we miss key sessions) can have an idea what happened? If space is limited, maybe we could just include summaries of the Academic Sessions and InterSections, which are so valuable and important to our field. Once the convention is over, it's a shame that the wisdom shared in those sessions is largely lost to TESOL members who weren't able to attend.

II. 2005-06 Activities

40th annual TESOL Convention in Tampa, Florida

ITAIS Open Meeting

Approximate number of attendees: 50

Major agenda items: 

  • Approval of the minutes from TESOL 2005
  • Introduction of IS leaders 
  • Thanks to proposal readers and other active members
  • Introduction of new members
  • Committee reports (Web, Governing Rules, Nominating)
  • Update on regional groups (ITA programs that meet regionally during the year)
  • Convention issues (Booth, ITAIS social, next year's convention)
  • TESOL updates (Research IS, resolution on part-time contracts, TESOL Journal)
  • Introduce president of POD (Professional & Organizational Development) Network
  • Brainstorming session-ideas for next year

Ideas and Topics of Interest for 2006-07: (From written feedback forms)

  • Evaluation/assessment–we need to keep current on tests and assessment issues
  • Corpus-based research in ITA training and implications for curriculum/materials design
  • Ties between International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Training and other TA development
  • World Englishes and implications for ITA testing and training
  • Implications of TOEFL iBT on ITA programs
  • Using the Web as a tool for listening and speaking
  • Interviewing from a distance (video conferencing, phone interviews, etc.)
  • Successful intercultural communication skills for ITAs
  • Undergraduate bias toward ITAs
  • Performance-based testing
  • Materials development for ITA training
  • Teaching writing to graduate students

Concerns and Feedback: (From written feedback forms)

  • Use more short reports/short sessions for TESOL 2007–it's a good format
  • Try to avoid overlap in sessions with similar themes—it keeps happening year after year
  • Avoid double-booking ITA sessions (too many sessions in same time slot and then no ITA sessions for hours) 
  • Have more ITA sessions (regret that we had only 12 sessions chosen out of 50)
  • Create an ITA database (profile of ITA programs across departments/institutions-who are our students? Where are programs housed? How are they organized?)
  • Have the Academic Session earlier in the week
  • End the Business Meeting earlier so the ITA social can be earlier 
  • It was difficult to staff the ITAIS booth this year–what worked in the past?
  • We need snacks during the Business Meeting
  • Please include more interaction in the Business Meeting
  • RE: TESOL 2006–nice variety of topics and representation from different institutions
  • Business meeting is always informative and fun
  • Business meeting ran very smoothly this year–we got a lot done and with good humor
  • Some materials in the ITA booth are out of date, but it is well-organized and welcoming
  • It is very helpful to get the preview of ITA sessions before the convention (via the e-list)
  • The ITA discussion list is an excellent resource for our IS
  • The ITAIS has a welcoming, supportive environment that is great–I can approach and learn so much from the veterans
  • The ITAIS social is a highlight of the convention every year–keep it up!


Articles and Information Adapting Social Work Theory to ITA Training

Rebecca Oreto, Intercultural Communication Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA,, and Marjorie Carlson, MSW, Academic Resource Center, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar,

How can ITA trainers help students tap into their own internal motivations? How can they optimize student participation in ITA training programs and help students prioritize the language work that will best further their professional development? Because ITAs are often overwhelmed by conflicting demands and the enormity of the task of language learning, ITA trainers must sometimes work hard to get students to invest in the language changes that will help them succeed.

Increasing client motivation is an issue that social work programs continually grapple with, so similar questions have been heavily researched by social workers and other helping professionals. Consequently, social work theory can help ITA trainers convince students that the time and effort they spend on language changes will help them succeed.

ITA Training: A Helping Process

ITA training, like social work, can be conceptualized as a "helping process": a collaborative and facilitative process in which a helping professional assists a client in identifying, implementing, and maintaining positive changes in his or her life. The concept of a helping relationship was first developed in the counseling professions, where it stands in contrast to the "medical model," which views helpers as experts who can "fix" clients' problems for them. However, the principles of the helping relationship have since been used to characterize and inform the ways in which many other helping professionals work with their clients, including teachers, doctors, nurses, coaches, pastors, and tutors (Brammer & MacDonald, 2003). Like these professionals, ITA instructors use their expertise to help students adapt to and meet the challenges of a new life situation.

Helping relationships are characterized as having three major phases: an exploration or relationship-building phase in which a working alliance is established and goals are set; an implementation phase in which the helper assists clients in implementing mutually agreed-upon changes; and a termination phase in which changes are consolidated and the helping relationship draws to a close (Hepworth, Rooney & Larsen, 2002). After briefly addressing the particular concerns of semi-voluntary clients, we focus on the relationship-building stage of ITA training.

Working with Semi-voluntary Clients

One similarity between social work and ITA training affects the helping relationship in all phases: semi-voluntary clients. Social workers frequently work with "semi-voluntary" or "referred" clients, people who seek help not of their own volition, but rather because they face formal, external consequences if they do not. In some ways, ITAs might be considered semi-voluntary clients for language work, as they have been referred by their departments or schools and may not agree with the assessment that they need continuing language support. The news that they must continue working on their English fluency may be a source of confusion, disappointment, resentment, or anger to students who have already spent many years studying the language. Social work theory informs us that mandated and semi-voluntary clients are less likely than fully voluntary clients to be highly internally motivated to work on the problem areas identified by the system that referred them. At the Intercultural Communication Center (ICC), we find that students are sometimes not motivated to work on the problem areas in their language, and may not even believe that they have a problem.

Helpers who work with referred clients must often balance responsibilities to the individual client with those to the referring agency. In social work, it is common for helpers to have somewhat conflicting obligations; for example, a child protective caseworker might provide support to at-risk parents while simultaneously reporting to a referring agency on the safety of the home. ITA trainers must also balance a supportive role with an evaluative one, helping students improve their communicative competence while simultaneously evaluating their proficiency and weighing the needs of the graduate school or department for which the students work, or the undergraduates they will teach.


One fundamental similarity among all helping relationships is the importance of the relationship-building phase, in which two processes take place: the establishment of rapport and motivation, and the execution of assessment and goal-setting (Hepworth et al., 2002). The importance of this stage of the helping process is difficult to overstate. Recent research on therapy has found that nonspecific factors established during relationship building, such as client motivation and the strength of the client/therapist relationship, are extremely predictive of client outcomes–more so even than the form of therapy used (S. D. Miller & Duncan, 2000). Similarly, in other helping professions, the establishment of a solid working relationship is essential to success in later phases, particularly when the helper may have to give critical or disappointing feedback to the client.

When considering relationship-building in the ITA context, it is important to remember that, as stated above, the ITA trainer has multiple clients. Relationships must be built with both the individual student and the department, school, or dean referring that student for help. Both the student and the department must develop trust in the ITA training process, and the needs of both must be taken into consideration in goal-setting.
Building Rapport and Motivation

Establishing a strong working alliance with students is absolutely crucial to ensuring that they will use support services and be motivated to work on addressing their language difficulties. A good working alliance helps ITA trainers convince reluctant students that the changes the trainer advocates will help them to be successful, and that the trainer's methods will support them in making these changes. Building rapport and motivation are thus essential for an ITA trainer to facilitate students' learning.

ITAs' semi-voluntary status may affect not only rapport but also their level of motivation. Like other helpers working with referred clients, ITA trainers may overestimate their clients' motivation to change and thus fail to spend enough time building motivation (W. R. Miller & Rollnick, 2002). Then, when the student does not follow through on established goals, the trainer may incorrectly assume that the student just "doesn't care" about improving his or her language. Social work theory is extremely helpful here, because it reminds us that all clients/students are motivated to work on some problem, even if not the one identified by the system that referred them (Hepworth et al., 2002). Helpers must develop the ability to enhance clients' motivation by tapping into existing motivations and linking suggested changes to the client's existing motivation. ITA instructors can use students' internal motivations, such as the desire to become a successful professional or the need to pass the ITA test, to enhance their motivation to work on externally identified problem areas, such as a lack of fluency to talk about their research, an accent that hinders comprehensibility, or a lack of cultural understanding that hinders their ability to function as successful academics.

In addition to building motivation, ITA trainers must help students to maintain motivation. For students to stay motivated to participate in classes and one-on-one sessions, it is vital that all ITA work have a direct link to the student's short- and long-term goals. For example, ITAs must understand that working on pronunciation will improve their research presentations, or that being able to concisely define concepts in their fields is a crucial aspect of one's professional persona. Building and maintaining motivation is key in working with students who have little free time and energy (Hilles & Sutton, 2001). Also, explicit links should be made between the language skills practiced in the classroom and the ways successful professionals in academic fields use language. ITA trainers must emphasize how the students' language development work will improve their interactions in venues outside ITA training.

This motivation is especially essential in ITA work because ITAs are adult learners. They face many complexities in their lives: They often have jobs and families in addition to their academic responsibilities. In addition, they are expected to be able to take care of and support themselves, as well as to function on their own within the systems in which they find themselves when matriculating at a U.S. university (Hooker, 2003). ITA classes are similar to adult education classes in other ways: The students tend to be at different levels of competence, and attrition may be a problem. For motivation to remain high, classes must be structured in such a way that students of different levels can all feel that they are making progress in each class session. If the students feel that they have not made progress, or that they cannot apply the lessons to their particular situation, they will not feel invested in the class and, eventually, the departments may lose investment in the ITA program. (For a good discussion of adult education, please see Hilles & Sutton, 2001.)
Assessment and Planning

The second half of the relationship-building phase is assessment and planning. These are vital steps in the helping process, because every helping relationship must be tailored to fit the needs of the client. The social work dictum "Start where the client is" applies to the ITA training relationship in the sense that "everyone is on an individual affective/cognitive trajectory in language learning" (Hilles & Sutton, 2001, p. 397). There is no one-size-fits-all curriculum that will help everyone. The individualized and eclectic approach favored in social work offers ITA trainers a model for taking into account affective and cognitive differences that could greatly affect students' ability to make rapid progress in the short amount of time usually allotted to ITA development.

Social work provides a clear model for assessment. Effective assessment should be multidimensional, considering all aspects of the problem and identifying client strengths as well as weaknesses (Hepworth et al., 2002). Assessment should also be collaborative, taking into account the client's own understanding of his or her situation (Beck, 1995). Collaborative assessments allow clients input into the areas they will focus on in their development, in recognition of the fact that ultimately the client is responsible for his or her own growth, with the helper being merely a facilitator of positive change. If trainers follow this social work model and engage students in the goal-setting process, they can place the impetus for development into students' hands, where it most belongs. (More information on this approach can be found in Smith, 1994.) Finally, assessment should be ongoing: Throughout the entire helping process, helpers should never stop revising their understanding of the client's difficulties and strengths (Hepworth et al., 2002).

Case Study: The ICC at Carnegie Mellon

Mirroring the social work model, ICC assessments are multidimensional, collaborative, and ongoing. The multiple assessments include an initial placement assessment; individual meetings at the end of classes and workshops, and in individual tutoring; and the ITA test. A detailed feedback component is present in each assessment, focusing on a specific performance (often a videotaped performance) that is discussed at length in feedback sessions. Students receive feedback in several areas of competence: linguistic, cultural, discursive, and sociolinguistic. During these ongoing assessments, the ICC works as an evaluator as well as helper (whether by providing informal feedback, assigning grades, or acting as a rater during the ITA test). It is during this phase that the strong working alliance built earlier with the student (and his or her department) is most crucial. This alliance that built trust between the student and the ITA trainer now enables the student to view feedback as constructive (and in the student's best interest) rather than critical and negative.

The ICC's assessments are highly collaborative. We not only inform the students of our perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses, but through careful guidance we also help the students identify problem areas on their own. Students' assessments of their own language skills are usually quite perceptive and very often parallel the instructor's assessment. This collaborative process gives students ownership of their own development, and is useful in helping them to identify and address problem areas. When students are part of the feedback process, they can more easily understand their problem areas and leave the feedback session feeling that their problems are manageable. Naturally, this process also reinforces student motivation.

Students' academic and career goals may also affect the goals collaboratively established during assessments. Students' individual departments and job requirements make a significant difference in how quickly they must develop the necessary language skills and, therefore, how much of their free time they need to dedicate to language development. Trainers at Carnegie Mellon need to know the requirements of individual departments well so that they can guide the students appropriately.

The three tasks of the relationship-building phase–rapport-building, motivation-building, and assessment–are ongoing, recursive processes. With each class or appointment, students and trainers work together to develop and strengthen the student's learning goals and assess progress, which in turn builds a stronger rapport.

Because the ICC at Carnegie Mellon has developed a highly individualized and comprehensive ITA training program built around workshops, seminars, and individual tutoring and self-guided work, it is geared toward facilitating students' attainment of their individual language-learning goals. This individualized approach is time- and labor-intensive for the staff. However, the ICC supports this approach because it helps students focus on their specific growth areas: becoming more effective presenters, becoming more culturally competent, improving pronunciation, becoming better writers in the American academic style, and so on. This individualized system is also a time-saving device, allowing both the ICC and the students to spend their limited time and resources where they can realize the largest gain.

Successful ITA training requires an understanding of what is important in each individual's language development, as well as access to comprehensive methods of encouraging that development. The concepts and techniques used by other helping professions offer valuable insights into building a solid working alliance with each student, supporting motivation as needed by each student, and implementing goals specific to each student. Social work literature suggests that the relationship-building phase is essential in ensuring that ITAs connect with the services that will most benefit them, and that they become full partners in their language development. ITA trainers can benefit from examining the available literature on helping relationships and incorporating complementary techniques and methods from those fields into their teaching and training styles.

For learning more about social work theory, helping relationships, and techniques useful to ITA trainers, the following books may be helpful:

Brammer, L. M., & MacDonald, G. (2003). The helping relationship: Process and skills. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., & Larsen, J. A. (2002). Direct social work practice: Theory and skills. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change. New York: Guilford Press.

Discussion questions for the electronic discussion list:
1. How do you view social work principles as part of ITA training programs? Are there specific principles you have used in your own teaching/training of ITAs?
2. How much time/effort should be spent on building rapport and motivation, particularly in cases where an ITA is semi-voluntary or explicitly averse to being in an ITA program?
3. How can ITA trainers reconcile the seemingly discrepant roles of supportive encourager versus language/teaching evaluator?
Beck, J. S. (1995). Cognitive therapy: Basics and beyond. New York: Guilford Publications.

Brammer, L. M., & MacDonald, G. (2003). The helping relationship: Process and skills (8th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., & Larsen, J. A. (2002). Direct social work practice: Theory and skills (6th ed). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Hilles, S., & Sutton, A. (2001). Teaching adults. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp. 385-399). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Hooker, J. (2003). Working across cultures. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.

Miller, S. D., & Duncan, B. L. (2000). Paradigm lost: From model-driven to client-directed, outcome-informed clinical work. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 19, 20-34.

Miller, W. R. & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change. New York: Guilford Press.

Smith, J. (1994). Enhancing curricula for ITA development. In C. G. Madden & C. L. Myers (Eds.), Discourse and performance of international teaching assistants (pp. 52-62). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.


Hot off the Presses

Gorsuch, G. J. (2006). Discipline-specific practica for international teaching assistants. English for Specific Purposes 25(1), 90-108.

This article discusses the benefits of implementing collaboration between ITA programs and specific departments via practica in which novice ITAs attend and participate in courses taught by mentor teaching assistants. An ESL specialist paired 15 preservice ITAs with mentor TAs in their designated departments to assist in teaching courses for a semester. Student- and response-based evaluations were used to determine the extent to which ITAs' participation in the practica would provide opportunities for them to practice discipline-specific English speech. In addition, two of the ITAs were observed twice during the semester to see specifically how much they actually participated in the courses. Results of the study showed that both the preservice ITAs and mentors found the practica to be helpful and that ITAs had chances to teach and interact with students. However, on the basis of the actual observations of the two ITAs, the author concludes that opportunities for practicing discipline-specific language in courses depend to a large extent on the format of the course (e.g., lab vs. lecture) and on the ITAs' personal attributes. Gorsuch suggests the need for further research in fine-tuning discipline-specific practica as well as the need for further investigations into ITA second language acquisition as constrained by sociocultural situations.

Reports on Recent Conferences

The 4th International Conference of the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG) took place July 12-15, 2006, in Vancouver, British Columbia. This year's theme was "Connecting Theory to Practice." Presentations focused on the following areas:

  • Evaluating Imaginative Learning
  • Imagination in Science and/or Mathematics Teaching
  • Imagination in Arts and/or the Humanities
  • Implementing Imaginative Education
  • Imaginative Curriculum Design
  • Theory of Imaginative Education
  • Research Symposium

Next year's IERG Conference will take place July 18-21, 2007, in Vancouver. The theme will be "Provoking Excellence Across the Curriculum." For more information regarding this conference, please visit
after November 1, 2006.

The 11th International Working Class/Poverty Class Academics Conference took place July 28-29, 2006, in San Pablo, California. The conference focused on class issues in higher education and the interaction of class with race, gender and other diversity dimensions. Next year's conference does not have a definite date or location, but the following Web site will provide information once a date and location have been established:

ANUPI-TESOL, the National Association of University English Professors, A.C., in Mexico, held its Fourth International Congress on "Pragmatics, Semantics, and Cultural Awareness in ELT" at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Acapulco, Mexico, from Sept. 28 to October 1, 2006. The mission of ANUPI-TESOL is to better the quality of the teaching of English as a foreign language in Mexico, to promote the professional development of those involved in the profession, and to initiate and support research in this area. The conference Web site is located at

Canada TESL 2006 took place October 19-21 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Keynote speakers included Dr. Anne Burns of Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Hetty Roessingh, University of Calgary, Alberta. For more information please visit

The 31st Annual Professional and Organizational Development Network (POD) in Higher Education took place October 25-29, 2006, in Portland, Oregon. The conference's theme this year was "Theory and Research for a Scholarship of Practice." The conference tracks included assessment and evaluation; diversity; faculty and instructional development; graduate student professional development; learning theories and research; organizational development; small colleges; STEM; and technology. For more information please visit

To keep up with the latest conference information, please visit

Web Sites to Check Out

Berkeley Lectures:

Limericks (over 30,000 indexed by topic, including math, physics, chemistry). Great for practicing rhythm!

Praat On-line Tutorial

Sounds and Noises for Engineers

Scenes From a Classroom: Making Active Learning Work (online workshop)


We’re Not the Only ITA Out There!

FYI:  A quick Google search on an ITA topic turned up the following:

  • International Trombone Association
  • International Tube Association
  • International Tunneling Association
  • Institute for Transactional Analysis
  • Intercollegiate Tennis Association
  • Interlake Retired Teachers Association
  • Intermountain Therapy Animals
  • Interior Taxpayers Association
  • Institute for Transnational Arbitration 
  • Instrument Testing Association

Are these future InterSection possibilities, perhaps?

Announcements Editors' Note Welcome to the first ITAIS Newsletter by Editor Jane O'Brien and Editor-Elect Caroline Rosen. We hope that you enjoy our first newsletter, and we welcome any comments or suggestions you may have about upcoming ITAIS newsletters. We are interested in hearing from you! If you have any comments or suggestions, please refer them to either Jane ( or Caroline ( Thank you!

News From the Region

The MidAtlantic ITA group met on October 20, 2006, at Temple University. The plenary speaker was Dr. Paula Golombek who gave a talk on "Corpus-informed instruction and academic discourse awareness in an ITA Program: Learning to use symbolic power responsibly in the classroom" based on PSU's ITA program's best practices. More information on the meeting can be viewed at one of the following links <> or <> Anyone interested in future meetings of this group should contact Eunhee Seo, Graduate ITA Program coordinator, Temple University at

International Teaching Assistant Program
453 Ritter Hall
1301 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Call for Contributions

The ITAIS newsletter is seeking papers for publication in its future newsletter. Relevant and timely topics in ITA training, teaching, and scholarship are welcome. Please send all correspondence and/or questions to Jane O'Brien ( or Caroline Rosen (

In addition, the ITAIS newsletter would like to publish profiles of new TESOL members and new ITA programs/initiatives. If you would like to nominate a candidate or program for an upcoming profile, please contact Jane or Caroline at the above contact information. Thank you!