International Instructors Working Group

Are you interested in finding a supportive community that will allow you to build relationships with international colleagues from across the university?  Do you want to tackle practical problems, learn from each other, and develop a shared repertoire of experiences, tools, and ways of addressing educational challenges that you encounter as an international instructor?

As part of the Center for Teaching & Learning's (CTL) Teaching & Diversity Professional Development Series, the International Instructors Working Group brings together international faculty, graduate students, and postdocs to engage in vibrant group-directed discussions and learning. The group meets three times over the course of the semester and will enable you to reflect, to learn from and with each other, and to implement new ideas into your teaching practices. Facilitated by CTL’s Director of Programming for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Kirsten Helmer, participating in the working group will provide you with opportunities to explore in a safe and supportive space how your cultural, social, and linguistic identities impact your teaching and your interactions with students.

The International Instructors Working Group meets once a month on a Tuesday from 2:30PM – 4:00PM at the Center for Teaching & Learning in 301 Goodell, unless otherwise noted. Join us for coffee, tea and some snacks and engaged learning from and with each other!

To register for the Fall 2019 sessions: September 10; October 8; and November 5.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching & Learning and the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development. For more information and to join the International Instructors Working Group mailing list, so that you will get detailed information about each session throughout the semester, contact Kirsten Helmer.

Topics Discussed During Previous Sessions

During previous sessions participants explored a wide range of topics, including: Adapting to Teaching at UMass, Decoding UMass Student Culture, Combatting Linguistic Bias, Searching for Our Authentic Teaching Persona, Teaching as an Outsider, Becoming Culturally Aware in Your Teaching Style, Navigating the Hidden Curriculum in STEM, Managing Dis/Comfort in the Classroom, Putting Your Teaching Philosophy into Practice, Teaching Challenges – The 5 Why’s Process, International Café, Case Scenario Discussion, Building Connections with Your Students, Supporting Your Students in Group Work.


On Campus Resources

International Faculty and Staff Group. Contact:

English as a Second Language (ESL) Program: The ESL Program offers specialized English courses in academic writing, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary. The courses are open to currently registered undergraduate and graduate students, exchange students, international teaching assistants, and - based on availability - international faculty and visiting scholars.   

Resources for instructors working with EAL students:

Information about Walk-in Tutoring:

Information about ITA screening & course:

Center for Counseling & Psychological Health (CCPH):,

Support for International Students

UMass Translation Center:


Online Resources

Stanford University Series for International TAs

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara's international TA handbook 



Teaching American Students: A Guide for International Faculty and Teaching Assistants in Colleges and Universities, Third Edition by Ellen Sarkisian. Reference: Sarkisian E. (2006). Teaching American students: A guide for international faculty and teaching assistants in colleges and universities. Cambridge, Mass: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

Learning and Teaching from Experience: Perspectives on Nonnative English-Speaking Professionals by Lia Kamhi-Stein. Reference: Kamhi-Stein, L. D. (2004). Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on nonnative English-speaking professionals. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Strategies for Teaching Assistant and International Teaching Assistant Development: Beyond Micro Teaching by Catherine Ross and Jane Dunphy. Reference: Ross, C., & Dunphy, J. (2007). Strategies for teaching assistant and international teaching assistant development : beyond micro teaching. Jossey-Bass.



Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Interrogating the “native speaker fallacy”: Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 77-92). London: Earlbum.

Casanave, C. P., & Li, X. (Eds.). (2008). Learning the literacy practices of graduate school: Insiders’ reflections on academic enculturation. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Cook, V. (2005). Basing teaching on the L2 user. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non­native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 47-61). New York: Springer.

De Oliveira, L. C., & Lan, S.-W. (2012). Preparing Nonnative English-Speaking (NNES) Graduate Students for Teaching in Higher Education: A Mentoring Case Study. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 23, 3, 59-76.

Kang, O., Rubin, D., & Lindemann, S. (December 01, 2015). Mitigating U.S. Undergraduates' Attitudes Toward International Teaching Assistants. Tesol Quarterly, 49, 4, 681-706.

Joshua C. Nwokeji, J. C., Boulder, T., Ohu,I.,  & Okolie, N. C. (2016). Language as an instructional barrier: Towards support for international faculty. 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE),

Reis, D. S. (2012). “Being underdog”: Supporting nonna­tive English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) in claiming and asserting professional legitimacy. Journal on Excel­lence in College Teaching, 23(3), 33-58.

Seloni, L. (2012). Going beyond the Native-Nonnative English Speaker Divide in College Courses: The Role of Nonnative English-Speaking Educators in Promoting Critical Multiculturalism. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 23, 3, 129-155.