ITAIS Newsletter

ITAIS News, Volume 12:1 (March 2007)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter from the Chair
  • Articles and Information
    • Highlights from the ITAIS Academic Session- TESOL 2006
    • What’s Out There: Dissertations & Articles on International Teaching Assistant Research
    • The Fulbright Senior Specialist Program: One Instructor’s Experience Teaching in Turkey
    • Podcasts to Check Out
    • Highlights in Seattle
  • Announcements
    • Editors Note

Leadership Updates Letter from the Chair

Cathy Jacobson, Georgia Tech,

Hello from Georgia!  With the 2007 TESOL Convention in Seattle right around the corner, this issue is full of information about the event. 
A big Thank You is due all of the members who have contributed to 
the wonderful variety of sessions that will be presented there.

This year there will be 15 papers, demonstrations, and workshops and 
11 Discussion Groups presented by the ITA IS.  A list of all the ITA IS sessions is available elsewhere in this newsletter, but let me point out some of our IS highlights beginning with the first day of the conference, Wednesday, March 21.

Our IS Meeting and Dinner

Wednesday, March 21, 5:45 - 7:00 p.m.  meeting
Seattle Convention Center, Room 614

I encourage all of you to attend the ITA-IS open business meeting and enjoy a few snacks to counter the late afternoon blahs! (Note: Although the web may show that the meeting begins at 5:00 pm, we are beginning our meeting later because one of our ITA presentations was also scheduled at 5:00 pm and we didn't want to conflict.) This is a chance to discuss issues of importance to our Interest Section, hear updates on current projects and suggest changes or topics for TESOL 2008.

After the business meeting, you are all invited to our annual ITA Dinner, which will be held Wednesday evening beginning at 7:45 pm at a nearby restaurant. The details are still being finalized, but information about the location and cost will be sent to the ITA-list.

Thursday, March 22, 2:00-3:45 p.m.  InterSection Session:
"Using Technology in ITA Training Programs"

ITA IS will be co-present with the Computer Assisted Language Learning IS and we will consider the overlap between technology and ITA training. With limited resources, what technologies should we prioritize? Instructional technology resources that are useful for ITA training will be surveyed, including video-editing, web-based materials, and course management systems.

Friday, March 23, 8:30-11:15 a.m.  Academic Session:
"World Englishes for International Teaching Assistant Trainers"

The Academic Session this year will focus on the issue of World Englishes and the role of ITA programs in creating tolerance for a diversity of Englishes on US university campuses. What is "professional English" in a global sense?  Building awareness of World Englishes issues among various stakeholders in academia--ITA trainers, colleagues in other depts., deans, ITAs, and undergrads--will be addressed.

My thanks to Allison Petro and Gordon Tapper who organized
these sessions for our Interest Section, and my thanks also to all
the professionals who have agreed to participate in both sessions.


The ITAIS Booth is a focal point for our members, in the midst of a busy conference—a place to meet colleagues, get handouts, read about various ITA programs, and engage in old-fashioned face-to-face networking. This year Pamela Pollock from Cornell University will be coordinating the ITAIS Booth, and she will need lots of volunteers. You can help by: (a) by volunteering to sit for an hour or two at the booth and inform people about ITAIS and (b) by bringing information or handouts to the booth to pass out. Pamela will be sending a reminder to the ITA-list, so that people can sign up for time slots. If you want to help with the booth, please e-mail Pamela at
As Allison noted last year, whether you are able to attend this year or not, you are also invited to view this newsletter as an opportunity for participation.  One week in March is not the only time to take an active part in the ITA Interest Section!

You can post questions you have about topics that interest you to the ITA-list ITA-L@LISTS.UFL.EDU.  Look at the list of sessions and find ones that interest you, then e-mail the presenters and ask for handouts (or get them off the ITAIS Web site, when they are posted there later this spring). .Add your opinions and experiences to any questionnaires or surveys on the ITA-list.  Finally, you can write to next year's chair (Gordon Tapper, to volunteer for some ITAIS activities that do not involve attending the convention.

I look forward to hearing from you, either by email or in person.  It is an honor to be part of such a dynamic professional group!

Cathy J

Articles and Information Highlights from the ITAIS Academic Session- TESOL 2006

Pamela Pollock, Cornell University,

International Teaching Assistants: Update on ITA Pronunciation Research and Instruction

The ITA-IS Academic Session at TESOL 2006 provided a valuable update on ITA pronunciation research and instruction.  With the demands, limited resources and ambitious nature of most ITA programs, it is helpful to consider priorities in pronunciation instruction.  Clearly, pronunciation is an important part of the work of an ITA trainer, but how big of a role should it have?

Cathy Jacobson organized the session, which was divided into four main sections.  First, Laura Hahn introduced the debate over the importance of pronunciation instruction and suprasegmentals.  Then, Colleen Myers and Lucy Pickering presented their research on key and tone choice.  Next, Linda Grant considered how to construct a list of pronunciation priorities.  Finally, Janet Goodwin shared her work on embedding instruction into the discourses that ITAs need. 

Laura Hahn started by sharing differing points of view about the relative importance of pronunciation.  While pronunciation is not the only key to ITA success, it is clear that it is important.  She pointed out that more empirical research is needed in order for us to move beyond broad generalizations about pronunciation.  Because of the value ITA trainers placed on the teaching of suprasegmentals, she conducted a study to investigate their relative impact on ITA comprehensibility.  She was interested in how the effect of stress on how well listeners processed discourse, understood content, and evaluated the speaker.  She found that the correct use of primary stress did improve comprehensibility and overall perceptions of the speaker. 

Colleen Myers and Lucy Pickering continued with updates on their research.  They were particularly interested in the role of discourse intonation on ITA comprehensibility and rapport building.  They explained pitch range in terms of high key, mid key and low key, and which speech functions native speakers tend to associate with each key.  Key choice conveys certain messages to undergraduates.  For example, if an ITA simply increases volume without changing key, the students may perceive him or her as aggressive.  An ITA's high key choice might cause undergraduates to think that they have given the incorrect answer, when the ITA really did not intend to convey such a meaning. 

They found that despite the importance of tone choice, it is complex and difficult to teach.  Their conclusion is that the specific key may not be as important as variability: ITAs should be taught to vary their pitch.  They quote Cauldwell (2003): "…most often, in most contexts, it doesn't matter which tones you use, as long as you keep varying your choices, and that there is a falling tone somewhere" (p. 106).

Linda Grant discussed priorities in pronunciation instruction.  She began by highlighting the importance of clear goal setting for students.  Many perceive that native-like speech is the goal.  We need to be realistic about what types of goals are reasonable for students, and she pointed out that there is "no clear correlation between accent and understanding."  She divided the priorities into two main categories: suprasegmental features and segmental features. 

While the research confirms the priority of focusing on suprasegmentals, she noted that teaching thought groups is perhaps the most important, because they are the basic intonation unit.  Also, while segmentals are often seen as less important, they can be crucial, depending on the student.  She pointed out that final consonants and consonant clusters are important because they mark grammatical distinctions.

Finally, Janet Goodwin presented her work with an ITA communication course in which she specifically addressed the issue of how to make ITA pronunciation instruction efficient and effective.  She pointed out that embedding the instruction into the type of discourse ITAs need to build may be the most efficient way.  She noted that is important to target high priority pronunciation features, illustrate them through authentic discourse, provide listening and/or video models, have students adapt the patterns to their own context, and provide oral and written feedback.

She gave an example of a communicative function, giving instructions, which an instructor could use to build a lesson.  First ITAs should listen to someone giving directions, specifically for pauses and prominent words and syllables.  Next, the students should analyze the pattern, and create their own instructions.  Finally, they should evaluate themselves and judge how well their pattern matched the model.  

In conclusion, the academic session offered different perspectives on pronunciation in ITA training.  The main theme that emerged is that despite the rhetoric about compensation strategies, pronunciation (both segmentals and suprasegmentals) is important to ITA comprehensibility.  ITA trainers should continue to strive to balance efficiency and effectiveness, and embed pronunciation instruction in authentic activities.  The more research we do, and the more innovative ideas we share as ITA professionals, the more successful we will be with our students.


Cauldwell, R. (2003, June). Grasping the nettle: The importance of perception work in listening comprehension. Developing Available online at:





What’s Out There: Dissertations & Articles on International Teaching Assistant Research

Dissertation Title: Verbal and nonverbal immediacy: Sex differences and international teaching assistants
Author: Saechou, Tiwa
Institution: Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
Date: 2005
Pages: 86
ISBN: 0-542-25481-6
Source: DAI-A 66/07, p. 2442, Jan. 2006
Summary: This dissertation explains theory and research involving international teaching assistants, intercultural communication, nonverbal and verbal immediacy, cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning, and gender differences. One research question and give hypotheses were tested using MANOVA and correlation tests. A sample of 670 undergraduate students completed instruments measuring verbal and nonverbal immediacy, and cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning. The results supported the research question and three of the five hypotheses. In particular, US Teaching Assistants used more nonverbal immediacy than did International Teaching Assistants. In addition, students' attitudes toward International Teaching Assistants correlated with students' learning. Finally, students' perceptions of ITAs and USTAs on verbal and nonverbal immediacy correlated positively with students' learning.

Dissertation Title: Attitudes and beliefs of international teaching assistants regarding teaching practice: A case study
Author: Tavana, Shiva
Institution: University of Connecticut
Date: 2005
Pages: 114
ISBN: 0-542-03237-6
Source: DAI-A 66/03, p. 965, Sept. 2005
Summary: There have been significant increases in the numbers of graduate teaching assistants who come from non-Western cultural and educational traditions, and who are nonnative English speakers. These International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) generally work at research universities to teach undergraduate courses. These ITAs may have limited experience speaking English and/or being familiar with US culture and educational practices. As a result, teaching practices used by ITAs in the classroom, as well as their attitudes and beliefs regarding teaching are significant components of effective undergraduate instruction. This study was designed to examine which specific teaching practices ITAs believed to contribute effectively to their teaching. Additionally, the study attempted to determine ITAs' expectations of and their attitudes toward teaching and toward their students, and how these factors contributed to their effectiveness as teachers. In other words, did ITAs believe that using interaction in the classroom and having a positive attitude and motivation contributed to their teaching effectiveness?

The methodology used was a naturalistic case study approach, employing the constant comparative method in order to develop grounded theory. A sample of 10 ITAs from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds participated in this study. These ITAs had a range of teaching experience in the US and represented various academic departments. Nine ITA mentors also participated in this study. The data were collected from the ITAs through qualitative classroom observations, interviews and teaching-related documents. The data were also collected from ITA mentors using interviews. The results indicate that the ITAs used certain strategies in order to increase their comfort level while teaching. First, the ITAs believed that careful preparation for their classes was essential in their success as teachers. Secondly, ITAs adjusted their expectations of their students and developed an understanding of their students' expectations of them as teachers. Thirdly, the ITAs adjusted their teaching styles to make them more interactive for US students. Finally, the ITAs sought feedback regarding their teaching from their students and colleagues. The ITA mentors believed that having a caring attitude was the single most important factor for ITAs' effective teaching. The implications of these findings on future research and policy changes are also included.

#7 New ITA Publication

Article Title: Who speaks "broken English"?  US undergraduates' perceptions of non-native English1
Author: Stephanie Lindeman
Institution: Georgia State University
Date: June 2005
Source: International Journal of Applied Linguistics Volume 15 Issue 2 Page 187 - June 2005

The Fulbright Senior Specialist Program: One Instructor’s Experience Teaching in Turkey

Colleen Meyers, University of Minnesota,

Colleen Meyers, an ESL expert from the University of Minnesota, had long wanted to teach abroad. "I had always to give workshops abroad rather than just be a tourist," she said. When she told her idea to a Turkish colleague, the two of them came up with an idea in which Meyers could pursue her goal: the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program.

In this program, experienced instructors teach all over the world in a variety of disciplines. Meyers was put in touch with the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. This university was interested in having someone with Meyers' expertise come to conduct workshops in teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Meyers spent approximately three weeks in Turkey, not only giving workshops at METU, but also at an affiliated primary/secondary school and INGED, Turkey's TESOL division. Her workshops included working in pairs and groups in teaching pronunciation, diagnosing, prioritizing and teaching pronunciation issues, using free software (such as Praat, based in the Netherlands) to record and analyze English pronunciation, and a workshop in Mirroring, a special technique that she and her colleagues had previously presented at TESOL, showing how nonnative English speakers could improve their overall spoken English by "mirroring" scenes from movies.

"The experience was life changing in many ways," Meyers said. She said she found it rewarding to learn so much from her students while she was providing her own expertise in teaching English pronunciation. The hospitality was unparalleled as well, she said.

"I was treated like a queen," she said, remembering all of the restaurants and homes to which she had been invited. One memory stands out for Meyers: one day she was at an open market near the city Izmir. "I stopped by this woman's stall and bought about $35 worth of goods from her," she said, including some hand-made tablecloths. "She invited me and my other two Turkish friends to her home for tea. She was so excited and moved that she wanted a picture with me."

Of course, there were challenges to living abroad, even if only for a short time. "I was trying to learn the language, and I kept having trouble pronouncing the 'ö' sound in Turkish," she said. Meyers remembered how her students would always smile whenever she attempted to call on a student with this particular sound. "They kept trying to help me again and again until I could say it clearly," she said.

In fact, one day, Meyers decided to try out her mastery of the "ö" vowel sound. "I was in a car, and I just happened to say the word 'köfte' to the chauffeur, which is Turkish for meatball" she said, wondering if he would understand her. Apparently, the chauffeur did. He turned around, looked at her and said with the little English he knew, "You think I'm a meatball?" Meyers remembered everyone in the car breaking out in laughter.

Meyers also had the opportunity to visit several places in Turkey, including Istanbul, Izmir, Ataturk's Mausoleum, and Ephesus, a village with a 2,500-year-old history. When it was finally time to go home, Meyers said all she could think about was when she could come back again as soon as possible. "I fell in love with the people, the country and the food," she said. She highly recommended this experience for other ESL instructors. "I really liked co-creating the workshops with my Turkish colleagues so that I could put my ESL expertise into an EFL context," she said.

ESL instructors interested in teaching short term in another country can go to the following website for more information on the Fulbright Senior Specialist program:

Instructors in the Senior Specialist Program fill out an application, and an institution abroad requests and supports their stay there, including transportation, room and board. The Fulbright Program pays specialists a stipend after they finish their stay (between 2-6 weeks) and submit a report of their experience.

Different countries have various deadlines, so interested individuals should check this information on the website.


Podcasts to Check Out

Podcasts, the latest craze in computing, are a great way for ITAs to work on their language skills, and also to  gain insight on American popular culture! Following are a selection of podcasts compiled by undergraduate ITA employee Mimi Roscini and ITA instructor Mary Jetter..
This site features a comprehensive list of podcasts arranged by category.  Podcasts get on this site by being voted for by listeners.
A podcast by a grad student at Colorado State.  Great examples of the relevance of math to daily life.
  This podcast is designed for non-native speakers of English.  The speech on this podcast is slow and clear and not overly authentic, but good for practicing listening.  Many of the podcasts center around a function; for example, how to clarify what was said, making these podcasts useful for TAs from a variety of fields.  There are also transcripts. 
Exactly what the title implies - a person is given one minute to explain how to do something. Topics range from how to taste dark chocolate to how to read a story aloud. 
This is a favorite!  Host Ira Glass interviews everyday Americans about their own extraordinary true stories. The language can be a bit fast and challenging for those with out advanced English skills, however it is great practice and an extremely entertaining to listen to these quirky stories! 
Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl is an excellent example of good phrasal stress and clear thought groups. She releases a weekly podcast that discusses the nuances of English grammar! Even I, as a native English speaker, have learned a lot from Grammar
Mr. Manners

Like Grammar Girl, Mr. Manner's concise, but interesting podcasts offer great models for phrasal stress and thought groups. Mr. Manners discusses all facets of American etiquette, therefore I recommend this podcast if you are particularly interested about American cultural values. I suggest listening to the following episodes:
Splitting the Bill
Movie Moves
Introduction to Introductions 
Don't Show up Empty Handed
Just Say No
Tips on Tips
An Open Door Policy

Of course, these podcasts are also great ice breakers to use in your
discussion groups as well! 
5 Takes USA Webisodes

Takes chronicles the journey of five young travelers sent on the adventure of a lifetime. With limited resources ($50 a day each), the five travel journalists (TJs for short) will visit eight cities across the United States in 10 weeks. There's no "voting off" or scheming to win the big prize; there is no "winner" as there is no prize to win. At its core, 5 Takes is an immersion into little over a two-month-long trip by five young travelers, the story of their adventures in these
incredible cities, and the life-changing experiences they have along the way.

See the United States from the eyes of travelers from Hong Kong,
Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore!

NOTE: This resource is not recommended as a language tool as the accents seen are very different from the American dialect, but is a great insight into American culture! 
NPR Story of the Day

Funny, moving, exceptional, or just offbeat -- the NPR story people
will be talking about tomorrow. The best of Morning Edition, All Things
Considered and other award-winning NPR programs

Link to Berkeley lectures:



Highlights in Seattle

Wednesday, March 21

7:30 AM–8:15 AM 

Evaluating ITA Program Success  
Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room212 

  • Shannon McGrath 
    Cornell University
  • Theresa Pettit 
    Cornell University

Determining the success of an international teaching assistant (ITA) program is no simple task. Participants will consider longitudinal data from an ongoing, comprehensive program evaluation, focusing on study design, implementation, results, and potential implications for programmatic changes.

What Really Matters in Undergraduate ITA Interactions 

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle/Washington State Conv Center/Room 214 

  • Barbara Gourlay 
    Brown University 
  • Joan Lusk 
    Brown University

This discussion reports on a research project examining the undergraduate perspective of successful communication in science labs taught by international teaching assistants (ITAs). Suggestions for ITA instruction and evaluation are derived from data collected in recorded lab interactions and follow-up interviews. 

8:30 AM–9:15 AM

Using MiCASE and Praat to Teach Pragmatics  

Room:  Sheraton Seattle - Sheraton Seattle/Capitol Hill Room 

  • Kate Martin MATESOL
    Asst. Director, University of Minnesota 
  • Barbara Beers MA Applied
    Teaching Consultant, ITA Program, Center for Teaching and Learning

Presenters demonstrate their use of free online resources to enhance student learning of pragmatics in academic settings. Together, MiCASE and Praat increase learner awareness of how word choice and intonation work jointly to produce intended meanings in English. 

9:30 AM–10:15 AM

Difficulties ITAs face when Interpreting Students' Emails

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room302 

  • Caroline Rosen Ph.D.
    Education Specialist, University of Minnesota 
  • Olena Stetsenko 
    University of Minnesota

International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) must often communicate with students via e-mail. However, they may face difficulties when interpreting the spirit or tone of these messages. This session presents specific difficulties ITAs encounter when "reading between the lines" of student e-mails

A Comparison Study of ITA Assessment Methods  

Room:  Sheraton Seattle - Sheraton Seattle/Capitol Hill Room 

  • Theresa Pettit 
    Cornell University 
  • Pamela Pollock 
    Cornell University

The presenters compare different types of international teaching assistant (ITA) assessments in a survey that identified common ground. The study identifies the level of English proficiency needed to assume TA duties and the language functions needed to perform these duties adequately. 

10:30 AM–11:15 AM

A Corpus Informed Pedagogical Innovation for ITAs

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/ Eliza Anderson Amphitheater 

  • Jonathon Reinhardt 
    Ph.D. student, Pennsylvania State University 
  • Paula Golombek 
    Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, Penn State University 
  • Steve Thorne 
    Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics, Pennsylvania State University

Many international teaching assistants are challenged by the pragmalinguistic demands associated with lecturing, leading discussions, and conducting office hours. This project uses corpus analysis to identify these demands and to inform curriculum redevelopment based on sociocultural theoretic principles.

4:00 PM–4:45 PM

Breakthroughs via Individualized Syllabi in ITA Courses 

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/ Eliza Anderson Amphitheater 

  • Pamela Bogart MA TESOL,
    Lecturer, University of Michigan ELI

Often international teaching assistants (ITAs) experience pressure to demonstrate high language proficiency very quickly. One solution is shared: Those ITAs whose language has not progressed quickly can accelerate the process in a language course where students each develop individualized syllabi

5:00 PM–5:45 PM

Using Theater to Enliven the ITA Classroom

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/ Eliza Anderson Amphitheater 

  • Margo Sampson MS
    ESOL Language Coordinator, Syracuse University 
  • Stacey Lane Tice Ph.D.
    Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and, Syracuse University 
  • Vel Chesser Ph.D.
    Research Consultant, Professional Development Prog, Syracuse University

Using theater in international teaching assistant (ITA) classes affords instructors the opportunity to introduce classroom issues such as gender, race, and ethnicity while also providing additional communication practice. Sample scenes that ITAs have acted out in class are provided as a handout

Thursday, March 22

7:30 AM–8:15 AM

Examining ITA Self-Assessment of Video

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room605 

  • Kimberly Kenyon 
    Cornell University 
  • Pamela Pollock 
    Cornell University

This discussion explores a method for helping international teaching assistants (ITAs) develop techniques for self-observation using a language production evaluation tool. This model provides ITAs with a language improvement mechanism they can use in their future language development

Setting Our ITAs Up for Failure

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room203 

  • Cheryl Ernst 
    Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Complaints often arise about ITAs regarding their oral proficiency and acculturation in the classroom. After a comprehensive evaluation of ITA processing, academic administrative factors beyond the institutional training and testing were found to be a contributing factor to these complaints. Discussion participants will consider how to respond to this revelation

9:30 AM–9:50 AM

Comprehensibility of International Teaching Assistants

Room:  Sheraton Seattle - Sheraton Seattle/Admiral Room 

  • Alison McGregor 
    ESL Instructor, University of Texas at Austin

Prospective international teaching assistants are evaluated through various oral proficiency assessments, but what phonological characteristics impact rater perceptions of comprehensibility? This session attempts to identify primary characteristics in the speech of international students that influence their ratings of comprehensibility

New Resources for ITA- Undergraduate Collaboration

Room:  Sheraton Seattle - Sheraton Seatttle/Madrona Room 

  • Diane Cotsonas MA
    ITA Program Coordinator, University of Utah

Involving undergraduates in international teaching assistant training is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. A new international baccalaureate graduation requirement at the University of Utah has the potential to help increase undergraduates' interdisciplinary involvement.

10:30 AM–11:15 AM

Co-constructing Respect in ITA Classroom Discourse      

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room302 

  • Virginia LoCastro 
    Associate Professor, University of Florida
  • Gordon Tapper 
    University of Florida

Communicating respect is a cross-culturally sensitive behavior that may be problematic for an international teaching assistant (ITA) to enact in a manner appropriate for the U.S. academic context. This session microanalyzes how one ITA communicated respect and concern

2:00 PM–3:45PM: Intersection Session ITA/Computer Assisted Language Learning

Using Technology in ITA Training Programs

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/ Eliza Anderson Amphitheater 

  • Kathi Cennamo 
    The Ohio State University 
  • Jules Gliesche 
  • Mary Jetter 
    Associate Education Specialist, University of Minnesota 
  • Greg Kessler 
    Director, Ohio University 
  • Kimberly Kenyon 
    Cornell University

This session considers the overlap between technology and international teaching assistant (ITA) training. The variety of available technological tools is intriguing and overwhelming. With limited resources, what technologies should we prioritize? This session focuses on useful resources for ITA training, including video editing, Web-based materials, and course management systems.
on Session ITA/Computer Assisted Language Learning

3:00 PM–3:45 PM

Role of Personal Epistemologies for ITAs' Teaching  
Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room306 

  • Eunhee Seo M.S. Ed.
    Doctoral candidate, Temple University

This dissertation study challenges the essentialist perspectives of universal teaching practices across different educational cultures by examining ITAs' personal epistemologies and the role of human agency in U.S. undergraduate classrooms where the norm of classroom culture needs to be negotiated.

5:00 PM–5:45 PM

Assessing Prospective International Teaching Assistants  
Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room606 

  • Kathleen  Clark PhD
    Director, Texas A&M University 
  • Kent McLeod MA
    Lecturer, Texas A&M University 
  • Sema Pulak MA
    Lecturer, English Language Institute-Texas A&M University

Participants compare the English of prospective international teaching assistants in presentation and interview modes. Video clips demonstrate the students' progress from the beginning to the end of a semester. Using our rubrics, you judge the progress that you see.

7:00 PM–7:45 PM

TA Certification Using TOEFL Versus Performance Exams     

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room306 

  • Timothy Farnsworth 
    University of California, Los Angeles 
  • Lauren Mason 
    University of California, Los Angeles

The new TOEFL iBT speaking section has been considered as a potential replacement for authentic ITA performance exams. Participants share information about the new TOEFL and compare it to successful ITA exams to illustrate some practical issues in using each type of test.

Simplification of Teaching Materials in ITA Instruction  
Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room2B 

  • Olena Stetsenko 
    University of Minnesota 
  • Zeynep Altinsel 
    Michigan State University

This discussion treats key aspects of teaching ITAs to design lesson plans effectively in order to meet American undergraduate students' cultural and educational expectations, with simplification of teaching material being one means of enhancing effectiveness of ITA instruction

Friday, March 23

7:30 AM–8:15 AM

Designing Effective ITA Appropriate Course Materials  
Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room605 

  • Colleen Meyers 
    University of Minnesota 
  • Mary Jetter 
    University of Minnesota
  • Laurie Frazier 
    University of Minnesota

A plethora of published and web-based pronunciation materials exist to support the ITA classroom. However, ITA-specific texts and resources addressing most other language skills, such as spoken grammar, vocabulary, and fluency development, tend to be relatively scarce. Discussion moderators and participants share ideas for generating these essential course materials

At Risk International Students in ITA Programs  

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room203 

  • Theresa Pettit 
    Cornell University
  • Shannon McGrath 
    Cornell University

The participants share ideas about how cultural differences, varying language abilities, and lack of a campus-based support system result in graduate students' mental health being at risk and share thoughts about an international teaching assistant program's plan for supplemental mental health support for graduate students.

8:30 AM–11:15 AM: ITA Academic Session

World Englishes and ITA Training?

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room206 

  • Catherine Ross Ph.D.
    Professor, University of Connecticut 
  • Gordon Tapper 
    University of Florida
  • Donald Rubin 
    University of Georgia 
  • Lucy Pickering 
    Georgia State University

A revolution is occurring (the product of almost 30 years of growth) in the practice and analysis of English use around the world. This is simultaneously a political and a second language acquisition/sociolinguistic revolution. Does it have consequences for how U.S. trainers of international teaching assistants view English language/culture teaching?

2:00 PM–2:20 PM

Becoming Successful International Graduate Teaching Assistants

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room 202 

  • Felicia Lincoln Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas 
  • Kumiko Shiga M.Ed.
    Ph.D. candidate, University of Arkansas

Many U.S. universities today hire international teaching assistants (TAs) with different perspectives and teaching styles. What are the essential knowledge and skills TAs need to be successful in the United States

5:00 PM–5:45 PM

Language Counseling for ITAs  

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/Blewett 

  • Peggy Allen Heidish 
    Director, Intercultural Communication Center, Carnegie Mellon University

ITAs required to attend language workshops may lack motivation or feel resentful. What can ITA trainers learn from social work practices developed to build internal motivation? This discussion focuses on language counseling, a technique designed to help build student motivation. 

Saturday, March 24

7:30 AM–8:15 AM

Evaluating an ITA Training and Development Program

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room203 

  • Yun Shi 
    Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

The moderator provides an overview of current international teaching assistant (ITA) programs nationwide, and then she facilitates a discussion about the challenges encountered in ITA training and development, and the best practices offered by ITA training administrators and staff.

Self Reflection in ITA Development  

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room3B 

  • Gwendolyn Williams 
    University of Georgia

Discussion participants consider a study that examined the role of self-reflection in ITA development. After a description of the methods that the ITAs used for self-assessment, the session participants consider strategies for teaching self-reflection to ITAs.

9:30 AM–10:15 AM

ITA Training a la Carte    

Room:  Seattle/Washington State Convention Center - Seattle - Washington State Conv Center/Room306 

  • Peggy Allen Heidish 
    Director, Intercultural Communication Center, Carnegie Mellon University

How can ITA training programs meet students' diverse needs and schedules? This presentation suggests an alternative model of ITA training that allows flexibility, innovation, and more in-depth training by offering a wide selection of workshops and classes

2:00 PM–2:45 PM

Developing Discipline Specific Pronunciation Though a WIKI  

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/ Menzies Suite 

  • Barbara Gourlay 
    Brown University 
  • David Kanig 
    Manager, Technical Services, Brown University 
  • Joan Lusk 
    Brown University 
  • Stewart Mader 
    Instructional Technologist--Science & Math, Brown University

The presenters describe a collaborative pronunciation project designed to help ITAs increase their facility with the terminology in their discipline. ITAs access these discipline-specific materials through a WIKI to improve their pronunciation of terminology and expressions used in teaching

3:00 PM–3:45 PM

Trends and Changes in ITA Programs  

Room:  Grand Hyatt Seattle - Grand Hyatt Seattle/Blewett 

  • Susan Sarwark 
    Director, Spoken English Program, The Ohio State University
  • Ingrid Arnesen 
    Senior Lecturer, Cornell University

Over the last years, several international teaching assistant (ITA) programs have undergone administrative change: some were dismantled and several new ones were developed. Presenters report on a nationwide survey undertaken to provide for ITA professionals current, accurate comparative data and to capture recent trends.

Announcements Editors Note

A brief note since this is a pretty full issue!  Please Let us know what other things you'd like to see in future issues. 

Best wishes,

Jane and Caroline