ITAIS Newsletter

ITAIS News, Volume 13:2 (October 2008)

by User Not Found | 10/27/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter from the Chair
  • Articles and Information
    • Summary of the ITA-IS 2008 TESOL Academic Session
    • Talking the Talk: Professional Fluency for ITAs
    • Web 2.0 Tools in ITA programs
    • Topic Mining: Getting there is Half the Battle
  • Announcements
    • Editor’s Note
    • Call for Contributions
  • About This Member Community
    • TESOL International Teaching Assistants Interest Section
    • ITAIS Steering Committee 2008-2009

Leadership Updates Letter from the Chair

Mary Jetter, University of Minnesota,

Hello everyone!

It was great to see so many of you in New York for TESOL 2008. While I know the conference presented many challenges, I hope that those of you who were able to attend found it useful. As I write this, we're in the process of putting the final program together for TESOL 2009 in Denver. We had many, many outstanding proposals and I hope you will be as excited as I am about the conference. I'm also very excited that Pamela Pollock and Krystyna Golkowska were able to put together a fall newsletter. Thanks to them for their hard work in doing this.

Let me share a few updates regarding TESOL. Members now have "open access" and may add additional Interest Sections at no cost by going to the TESOL web site, logging in, selecting My Communities, and reviewing the options. This will allow you to receive the newsletters of other interest sections. The TESOL Resource Center (TRC) is always looking for both submissions as well as reviewers. The TRC can be accessed through the "Education" tab of the TESOL web site. Finally, TESOL has published several new position papers. Of particular interest to the ITA-IS are the Position Statement on the Status of, and Professional Equity for, the Field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and the Position Statement on English as a Global Language. These can also be accessed through the TESOL web site.

I also would like to encourage everyone to remember to use the ITA-IS listserv not only to get answers to burning questions, but also to share ideas, tips and activities that have worked for you and your students. Many of us get to share these with each other at the conference, but it would be great to have these year round as well as help connect those who can't attend the conference with the interest section at large.

Thanks again to Pamela and Krystyna for putting together a fall edition of the ITA-IS newsletter. Look for the next one in March as we get closer to Denver!

Have a great 2008-2009 academic year!

Mary Jetter


Articles and Information Summary of the ITA-IS 2008 TESOL Academic Session

Pamela M. Pollock, Cornell University,

The 2008 ITAIS academic session covered a broad range of information from a diverse group of presenters.  April Ginter, from Purdue University, discussed “Temporal Measures of Fluency as Indices of Oral English Proficiency” Keiko Samimy and Soonyang Kim presented on their “ITA Enhancement Grant Project: Oral Proficiency Focused Graduate Seminar” and Keith Otto talked about the changes in his program at the University at Buffalo, particularly with regard to the way students are evaluated and receive feedback.

First of all, April Ginter described a study they conducted at Purdue to examine the relationship between components of fluency and test performance.  The results are of interest to ITA professionals.  Using their in-house test, the OEPT, the presenter looked at characteristics of temporal measures of fluency and how they correlate with OEPT scores.  She underlined the complexity of evaluating fluency and its multiple definitions.  Does it mean communicative competence or effortless and efficient delivery?  Ginter argued that we need to overcome holistic views of fluency in order to make the variables more explicit and easier to evaluate.  She found that response time does not correlate with OEPT scores. At the lower levels, students tend to talk too much and repeat themselves without moving the story forward.  Their perceived fluency really has no effect on the quality of the English produced.  By looking at a measure called mean syllables per run (the number of syllable between pauses) they found that a successful speaker does not necessarily speak rapidly, with few pauses.  Ginter concluded by arguing that successful performance is best considered on multiple sub-levels: fluency should not be associated with narrow, temporal variables, but with more complex features of language.

Next, the session shifted to Samimy and Kim’s project, an oral proficiency focused graduate seminar that they created for non-native speaking students in the College of Education at Ohio State University. Their primary interest was in confidence building, and the question of whether the course activities helped students develop their confidence as non-native speaking teachers.  They found that students in the course improved their English language ability, but perhaps even more importantly, they became aware of language anxiety and empathized with classmates experiencing similar challenges.  Ultimately, the participants did build confidence because they learned about language ideology and how to deal with discrimination and criticism related to their language ability. The presenters concluded by pointing out the need to create more courses for non-native speaking teachers and suggested some strategies for established such courses.

Finally, Keith Otto moved on to discuss his initiative to move from teacher-centered feedback to student self-assessment for ITAs. He described his frustration with the limited feedback that students sometimes get, as well as their inability to internalize and act upon the feedback.  He also discussed students’ tendency to focus on language weaknesses instead of teaching skills, and emphasized the struggles that native speakers have as well.  He concluded by offering some strategies for how to help students focus on their individual linguistic and pedagogical priorities and make the most of their time in an ITA course.  Useful tips included focusing more on peer assessment to reduce the role of the teacher as expert, and getting students to plan a quiz question for their microteaching so that they could better gauge how well participants understood their presentation of the material. 

Overall, the Academic Session brought together a range of information, from fluency assessment, to course development, to teacher and student evaluation of student performance.  We look forward to next year’s Academic session!

Talking the Talk: Professional Fluency for ITAs

Rebecca Oreto, Intercultural Communication Center, Carnegie Mellon University,

ITAs spend many hours developing the fluency needed for teaching, but they seldom have sufficient opportunities to develop other kinds of professional fluency. For example, they often lack the ability to talk about their fields as professionals: to simplify their complex research work, to discuss the background and reasoning behind their research or general research trends in their field, or to engage in small talk with other researchers and academics.

As part of the training for ITAs at Carnegie Mellon, the Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) has developed three 2-hour workshops that address the cultural and linguistic fluency needed to handle the above tasks. These workshops, Elevator Talk, Hallway Talk, and Small Talk, each address this professional fluency from a different perspective, looking at both linguistic and cultural aspects of the issue.

Elevator Talk: Developing the Skills to Talk With a Broad Audience
Elevator Talk focuses on the need to make research topics and projects understandable for the layperson so the basic goals and applications of the research can easily be grasped during a quick conversation (e.g., a conversation in an elevator at a conference, thus the term elevator talk). The students who come to this workshop often give unclear or confusing answers when asked about their research or work. They may give very detailed information about projects but no general overview or background for the work, so it is hard for a person outside of the field to follow. Elevator Talk addresses this problem.

Sample exercise from Elevator Talk workshop:
Students focus on defining and simplifying technical terms and concepts. For example, we created an exercise using dissertation titles, in which we ask students to simplify their own titles:
• A Hierarchical Probabilistic Model for Novelty Detection (Computer Science)—Using what you already know to identify what you don’t know
• A Mechanism to Mitigate Adverse Selection in Capital Budgeting (Business)— How managers can choose projects for the benefit of the shareholders
• Scheduling K Power Control in Wireless Networks (Electrical & Computer Eng.)—Efficient sharing of limited resources in wireless communication networks

Hallway Talk: Learning to Tell Your Professional Story
Hallway Talk focuses on the need for ITAs to be able to tell their professional stories: to give the narrative of their fields, professional interests, and past professional experience (e.g., at job talks and interviews, with colleagues from different departments, or at professional conferences). The students who come to this workshop often do not realize that telling one’s professional story is a crucial skill in the United States, and that this is how professionals convey the skills and experience that they have accumulated throughout their years of work. They also need to become aware that it is important to tailor the content and style of their story to each audience. Experienced academics discuss their stories differently for different audiences—for example, they speak to colleagues differently than they do to funders or undergraduates.

Sample exercise from Hallway Talk workshop:
Students watch a videotape of a graduate student discussing his professional interests, then answer questions about the context or background of the student’s work, the applications of his research, and the way he uses rewording and defining of concepts to simplify technical information for his listeners. Students then practice discussing professional topics (e.g., What is the context for your current work or research project? What are some of the important recent trends in your field? How does your work fit into those trends?)

Note: In order to provide relevant models for our students, we videotaped native-speaking graduate students at Carnegie Mellon talking about their fields in response to questions such as What kind of work are you doing? What would someone do with that kind of research?

Small Talk: Why Does Everyone Always Talk About the Weather?
Small Talk focuses on developing the cultural awareness and techniques for participating successfully in small talk in departments, at conferences, and events around campus. Small talk is important in the United States for developing relationships in the workplace, forming networks, and distributing important professional information. Fluent nonnative English speakers who are unfamiliar with small talk can find themselves “out of the loop” and may end up missing out on important professional opportunities. Nonnative English speakers are perceived as more fluent if they can converse with other professionals in informal situations. This workshop raises awareness of the importance of small talk and the unwritten cultural rules and customs surrounding it, and then offers practice of useful techniques and phrases for making successful small talk in the United States.

Students typically make a couple of fundamental errors when attempting U.S. small talk. They often misunderstand that openers such as “It’s hot out there today” are not statements of fact but are invitations to begin a conversation. They also don’t realize that the speaker is waiting for them to “jump in.” The student tends to wait (and wait) politely until the speaker is “done,” while the speaker meanwhile is often talking desperately, trying to find a statement that the student will respond to.

Sample exercise from Small Talk workshop:
Here is one technique we discuss for maintaining small talk and the exercise that accompanies it.

The technique below is used to connect one thought to another. It is used to start a conversation, then to keep it going. A good way to connect thoughts is to volunteer an assumption about the person. Here is an example: 
A: Oh, you’re from China, aren’t you?
B: Yes, I am. I’m from Beijing, which is a much bigger city than Pittsburgh. 
A: Oh, it must have been hard to adjust when you came here!
B: Yes, especially to the food! But now I like it. Are you from Pittsburgh?

Notice that person A volunteered two assumptions about person B (he is from China; it was probably hard to adjust). This helps to maintain the flow of conversation. Look at how A used phrases like “aren’t you?” and “that must have been . . .” to encourage a response from B. Person B volunteered some “free information” rather than give just a “yes” or “no” reply to each statement (from Beijing, a bigger city; hard to adjust to food). This is a good way to maintain the conversation. 

Web 2.0 Tools in ITA programs

Kimberly Kenyon, Cornell University,

On my way into the office last week I ran into an ITA. She was sitting on the steps outside the building, leaning over her iPhone to watch something online. When I asked her what she was watching, she told me it was a video one of her friends had just posted to from a cell phone.

It’s hard not to notice that we are in the midst of an explosive expansion of technology. As the semester begins, it is uncommon to see a student walking to class alone and not being engaged with a cell phone, iPod, or another gadget. In class students often use their laptops or recorders, and one of the first things they do as they leave class is reach for another gadget. Many of the devices we see them using to communicate with friends and family are related to an ever-growing number of tools loosely defined as Web 2.0. 
According to Wikipedia:

Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. 

If you are unfamiliar with some of the terminology in this definition you are not alone. However, it is possible that your students know many of these terms, so asking them to explain the concepts to each other, and you, is a good language exercise. Fortunately, excellent benchmarks available online can enable them to later self-assess their performance. The “plain English explanations” of Web 2.0 concepts at Common Craft ( are one such resource. In addition, a Google search will often yield definitions of the tool and its usage, YouTube videos, and blog posts.

Why should we use consider using Web 2.0 tools as ITA trainers?
By and large, our ITAs’ language growth depends on their opportunities for meaningful interaction, input, and output outside of the classroom. As adults, students are usually most motivated when they have some control over and personal choice in what and how they learn. What is particularly exciting about Web 2.0 tools is how well-suited they are for personalized learning. They offer tools for creative and extended personalized learning spaces as well as collaborative learning and assessment environments. ITA instructors and ITAs can use these spaces to expand their knowledge. These tools also provide ITAs and instructors with the opportunity to create and use authentic materials. Students can choose to build their language in informal contexts and reflect on their speech outside of the ITA classroom. In addition, students can collaboratively develop cultural knowledge and shared language resources using personal experiences, current events, and more.

Wed 2.0 tools do have some limitations. Open access, security, free tools becoming fee based, or companies dissolving and no longer offering a service can be problematic. It is also important to explore your options for exporting your data or for using some of these tools combined with a course management system such as Blackboard, WebCT, or Moodle at your institution.
Tapping into Web 2.0 tools can be a gradual or total plunge. Here are some tools to explore:

  1. 43 Things ( is a social networking Web site where users list a number of goals. These goals link the user to other people’s goals by connecting similar words or ideas. A good preliminary activity is to have your students build a class list of 43 things and share what they are doing to achieve these goals via the Web site.
  2. Netvibes ( is a free Web service that offers your students, and you, the opportunity to create a personalized web page to organize your favorite media sources and online services such as blogs, podcasts, and e-mail.
  3. Podcasts ( are audio or video files that have been converted to an audio file format for playback on a computer or portable media player.
    Anyone can podcast. A free recording and editing tool that can be used for creating audio podcasts is Audacity ( Another free tool that is available for recording directly to MP3 is Cornell’s ITADP program’s MP3 recorder (

    In addition to student-created or teacher-created podcasts there are a wide variety of podcasts for students to use as tools for improving their language and teaching. Using a RSS (really simple syndication) feed (, students can subscribe to automatically receive a podcast. A podcatcher like iTunes, free software used for playing and organizing digital audio, music, and video files, “records” the shows. 

    If you are new to podcasting, please visit for a complete overview. 

    If you are overwhelmed by the number of RSS feeds that you currently receive, check out Nextfeeds (, a feed service provider that will help you to deal with information overload by offering a way to organize new types of feeds (private, community, reminder, and RSS) with some unique features. 
  4. Jing (, by Tech Smith, is free utility software that allows you to capture video, screen movements, or snapshots. Students or instructors can use this tool to create short instructional videos with audio (less than 5 minutes). It is possible for students and instructors to send them to each other or store these Flash files online.
  5. VoiceThread ( is a Web-based digital-storytelling application that enables students and instructors to share comments on pictures, MS PowerPoint slides, documents, and so on, through audio, images, videos, or text with others online. Pictures can be uploaded from a computer, Flickr (, an online photo management and sharing application), or Facebook or by typing in their web location. VoiceThread also allows visitors to make comments on the uploaded materials using a phone, computer, text, audio file, or webcam video.  
  6. Gabcast ( is an online mobile blogging tool that lets students or instructors use a cell phone to capture an audio reflection on their language during their day. It is possible to post theaudio to an online space (blog, Web site, Blackboard, etc.). 
  7. BlogTalkRadio ( is a web-based service that allows students or instructors to host a live Internet radio show and take calls using their phones. Hosts can copy and paste a Flash player on their blog or Web site so listeners can click to listen. The shows are also made available as a podcast via RSS and iTunes. Your audience can listen online or on any MP3-friendly device. 
  8. Ning ( is an online platform for creating social Web sites and social networks and is designed for users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills. It allows students or instructors to create their own social networks.
  9. Twitter ( is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows students or instructors to send up to 140-character text updates to a class. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Users can receive updates on the Twitter Web site; through instant messaging; via their cell phone, RSS, or e-mail; or through an application such as Facebook. Students or instructors can use this tool to comment on their English outside of class, build vocabulary, brainstorm, or share thoughts or links rapidly. Students would be able to speak, rather than type, by using Jott (, a 15-second free transcription service that transcribes words to text that can be posted to their Twitter space. 
  10. Bubble Comment ( is a free service that enables students and instructors to share personal video comments with each other about virtually any web page. This is a nice resource if you want students not only to share resources but also offer explanations to each other.

After exploring one or more of these tools, you might want to try a quick language assignment such as asking your students to discuss what they have learned about this tool that can help them as teaching assistants. In addition, you can ask them to create a podcast summarizing their impressions of learning with this Web 2.0 tool and talk about how they will or will not use them in the future and why.

A learning curve and start-up time are potentially involved with all of these resources, so here are some quick activities you can do to start off the semester:

  • Assign students to pick a poll at Fotoll (, an online polling site, and compare and contrast the comments people have made about both sides of the topic. You can also have students create their own opinion polls and share them with the class using the site’s notification service. 
  • Have students watch “Electing a US President in Plain English” by Common Craft ( and ask them to summarize the process and talk about whether the process is similar or different from what they originally thought. Next, ask them to explain their countries’ political systems to each other.
  • Have students sign up for Pandora (, a free personalized Internet radio, and ask them to describe one of their favorite artists and compare their description with the resource information on Pandora. For an additional assignment ask them to find the artist performing on YouTube and describe what happens in the video.


Topic Mining: Getting there is Half the Battle

Peggy Allen Heidish, Carnegie Mellon University,

In ITA performance tests, raters are challenged to find the most valid procedures to assess the true extent of a candidate’s teaching fluency. At first glance, finding an appropriate topic for the candidate to present may seem simple, but this can present a major hurdle.  At Carnegie Mellon University, we have had over 20 years to experiment with a number of testing formats.  We have tried a variety of techniques to deal with the challenge of finding a topic, and have, only in the past few years, found a method that satisfies both our testing needs and student concerns.

In the early days of testing, we assigned candidates topics in advance. However, feedback from departments and course evaluations indicated that this method produced too many false negatives and false positives. We came to believe pre-assigned topics too often led to overly prepared and memorized language and did not reveal the authentic fluency TAs needed to use on a daily basis.  Some readers may argue that ITA test candidates should be allowed to prepare because instructors prepare lessons in advance.  However, planning the content of a lesson is not the same as preparing, and partially memorizing, a test presentation.  Prepared topics can be deceptive in ITA testing: if an ITA knows only one way to explain a topic, how will she/he handle the real world communication challenges of the classroom?  The real test (and often the real failure) of a nonnative speaker’s teaching fluency comes when he or she must respond to the unexpected questions and comments from students (a key component of labs, review sessions, recitations and office hours).

In an attempt to move to unprepared presentations, we tried assigning topics on the spot from a list of topics collected from each department, but again found drawbacks: e.g., topics were often overly simple, too complex or inappropriate for a particular candidate, and nervousness noticeably increased, negatively affecting performance.  In addition, the raters were often in the artificial position of trying to imagine if students (with background in the field) would be able to understand the presentation.

A new approach
About eight years ago we began to experiment with different ways of selecting a topic and, through trial and error, developed a testing procedure we call “topic mining”.   Topic mining refers to a way raters can navigate through a conversation with a candidate to find a topic that could be expanded upon in the teaching simulation. This term nicely taps into two useful metaphors: 1) data mining in which data is processed from different perspectives and useful information is extracted, and 2) physical mining in which miners dig to uncover hidden resources.  Topic mining makes finding a topic part of the general conversation at the start of the test, leading raters to a topic from the candidate’s field that he/she can explain without preparation.  By tapping into unprepared language and using a topic that the student knows well, the test can more accurately assess authentic teaching language. 

Benefits of this method
Topic mining provides a more authentic language sample and eliminates assessments based on a student’s ability to memorize or willingness to overly prepare.  In addition, the topic mining process itself reveals key aspects of the speaker’s fluency often hidden in prepared presentations such as the ability to understand and respond appropriately to questions, negotiate meaning (which requires both language and cultural skills), clarify meaning for listeners  - in short, the same language skill set required to succeed as an ITA.

Another important (and unexpected) benefit of topic mining is that since raters and candidates are in an authentic interaction, there is no need to  “guess” what actual students would or would not understand. Through the negotiation of the topic, raters have firsthand experience of whether or not the speaker can communicate in an academic conversation. Through conversation we discover a student’s area of interest and uncover a topic appropriate for the audience (in this case, language teachers who are not experts in the student’s field) and which the student can explain without preparation.

In the final analysis, topic mining provides a more authentic and spontaneous way both to find ITA test topics and to assess academic communication skills. We believe this technique would be valuable to other ITA testing programs for use in performance-based tests, and, in the appendices linked below, have included a set of specific steps as well as a sample transcript. 


The steps of “topic mining”
Through trial and error we have developed the protocol below that allows our raters to effectively use topic mining.  We believe this technique can be adapted by ITA test raters in other institutions. 

Here are the steps you can use to “mine” for a topic:

  • The test begins with candidate and the test raters seated at a table.
  • Start with general conversation, e.g., name, country, academic department, advisor, time in US, etc.
  • Clarify student’s specific area of interest.
  • Hone in on student’s particular areas of interest/ research to see if this yields a topic (may or may not).     E.g., You said you are working “in Polymers”, but what specific research question are you exploring? or Tell us more about your research.
  • If no topic yet, continue conversation.  Look for clues, e.g., student mentions a new/interesting term, concept, device, etc., suggest this as the topic.  E.g., Youmentioned X; this is something new for us.  Could you explain X to us as the topic for your test? or What class will you TA? What are some of the issues covered in that class?  Note: several follow-up questions may be needed to get to an appropriate topic.
  • Watch for a “break-through” moment when a likely topic is revealed.  Pay attention to body language; does the candidate look excited and relaxed when chatting about a particular issue?  If so, that’s a likely topic for this particular candidate.
  • Before suggesting topic explain that topics can be refused; this is crucial as students should never feel forced to accept a topic.  E.g., This is not a test of knowledge, so if the topic is not a good topic for you, tell us. After we get the topic, we will then have you stand at the board and explain it to us
    Note: Be aware that students may try to introduce a prepared topic (e.g., I want to give you an overview of my research); do not allow this to happen.

Case-study: Topic mining in practice
To give readers an experience of the process, we have included an edited transcript of the topic mining part of an actual ITA test.  The text below has been condensed and partially edited for grammar and word choice; the “rater” represents a team of four raters.

  1. After some general conversation, raters look for student’s specific area of interest:
    Rater: Have you been doing experiments? Or research? Do you think you’re pretty close to getting a topic for your dissertation?
    Student:  uh yah, you know, in my department we have to present two papers before dissertation proposal. So it’s really tough requirement. So now I am working on my second paper. 
  2. Clarify student’s specific area of interest and hone in on student’s particular area of research to see if this yields a topic
    Rater: What’s the topic for your paper?
    Student: Uh, so the topic is how “stay- regulation”, called community rating, affects number of uninsured people.
    Rater: Sorry, what kind of regulation?
    Student: How state regulation affect how many uninsured people each state has. 
    Rater:  Uninsured in terms of health insurance? 
    (Notice what the candidate does not say and consider how this might confuse learners)
    Student: Ah, yea, sorry, it’s Health Insurance.  So, its how state regulation on health insurance companies can set premium.  So a state prohibits health companies from charging different premiums based on age or different history medical history. So by doing that they hope to decrease the number of uninsured people.  Then high-risk people will get lower premiums, but adversely, regulation could increase number of uninsured people because low risk people, like young people, will face higher premiums than before. So they might choose not to buy health insurance.
    Rater: I didn’t realize that different states regulated this in different ways.
    Student: Right, but not many state regulate  -- just New Jersey, New York, and Oregon and other few states did that. But actually in Pennsylvania there is regulation also. But it’s a moderate one so you might not realize it much  -- but I don’t know many details.
  3. Previous steps did not yield a topic and candidate has looked uncertain about most issues mentioned; raters ask about the class candidate will TA 
    Rater: Is there a particular class that you think you might have the opportunity to TA?  
    Student: Uh, I want to teach something like either introductory microeconomics or health economics. 
    Rater: Health Economics? Is there a class that deals entirely with health economics?
    Student: Oh, yes.  Right.
    Rater: What are some of the things that they look at in this class? I mean how are health economics different than regular economics? What are some of the issues?
    Student: Right, so there are lots of differences. Like regular economics deals with perfect competition that satisfies some assumptions.  But in health economics that assumptions are not always satisfied.
  4. “Break-through” moment (and candidate looked excited as soon as health economics was mentioned); topic is offered and procedures explained
    Rater: Okay, this may be a possible topic, but first let’s review how this test works. We’ll give you a topic from your field and ask you to teach it to us. This is not a test of knowledge, so if for any reason the topic is not good for you, tell us. We can find another topic. After we get the topic, you’ll then stand at the board and teach. We’ll stop you in approximately 5 minutes. You are not going to finish, so don’t feel any pressure to rush and try to cover everything.  So, would you feel comfortable expanding on what you just said about how a health care market is different than a perfectly competitive market? 
    Student: Okay, if you could give me 30 seconds, I can.


Announcements Editor’s Note Welcome to the ITA-IS Newsletter compiled and edited by Pamela Pollock and Krystyna Golkowska. Please join us in welcoming all the new and returning members of our interest section as well as newly elected members of the Steering Committee.  As editors, we want to thank the contributors for finding the time to share their ideas. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the ITA-IS; we are so grateful to be part of such a rich and dynamic community.  As always, comments and suggestions for the upcoming issue are appreciated. Send us not only new articles but also information about interesting projects, publications or conferences. Submissions for the spring newsletter are due by January 15, 2009. Thank you!
Call for Contributions

The ITAIS newsletter encourages submission of articles and book reviews on topics of significance to ITA professionals.

Articles, including program descriptions, course descriptions, best practices, teaching techniques, or editorials on any topic of interest to ITA practitioners are all 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 for the next issue to Krystyna Golkowska at or Pamela Pollock at before January 15, 2009.

About This Member Community TESOL International Teaching Assistants Interest Section

The International Teaching Assistants Interest Section (ITAIS) serves TESOL members who work with nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants as researchers, teachers, and program administrators.

ITAIS 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.


ITAIS Steering Committee 2008-2009 Chair: Mary Jetter, University of Minnesota,

Chair-Elect: Cheryl Ernst, Southern Illinois University,

Past Chair: Gordon Tapper, University of Florida,

Secretary: Marilyn Seid-Rabinow, UC Berkeley,

Members at Large: Kimberly Kenyon, Cornell University,
          Peggy Heidish, Carnegie Mellon University,

Historians: Theresa Pettit, Cornell University,
        Susy Sarwak, Ohio State University,

Webmaster: Diane Cotsonas, University of Utah,

Editor-Elect: Kate Martin, University of Minnesota,

Editors: Krystyna Golkowska, Cornell University,
   Pamela Pollock, Cornell University,

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

Websites: and