Are you a new International Teaching Assistant here at UMass Amherst?

The ESL program is here to assist you throughout your first semester by offering, though the Graduate School, a non-credit course focused on aspects of academic spoken English, cross-cultural awareness, pronunciation, and best pedagogical practices relevant for teaching in university contexts within the U.S. To find out if you are eligible to partipate in the course, you will first need to take a spoken English proficiency screening. Current information on both the screening and the course can be found below.

Spoken English Proficiency Screening

Dates available: 8/29 through 9/6. 

Screening should be taken by the end of the first week of classes to determine eligibility for the course, which begins week #2. If you miss the screening period, please contact us as soon as possible.  


Location: Herter Annex Language Lab, Room 015 (basement)


ESL600 Academic Spoken English for International Teaching Assistants (NON-CREDIT)

Instructor: Simon Wang

Location: TBD

Dates: Course will begin the week of September 9th, 2024

Day of the week: TBD

Course materials will be available on Canvas. Search for ESL600 after you are enrolled

Who is eligible to take ESL600 ASE for ITAs?

During your first semester of teaching as an international graduate teaching assistant, you will be contacted by your graduate program with information about signing up for a spoken English proficiency screening. Based on the results on this screening, you may be eligible to attend this weekly non-credit course. There is no costs or fees to participate in this course. The ESL program will notify you within 3 days of the screening with your results, and if you are eligible and the course will begin the second week of the semester.

Please do not try to enroll in the course through SPIRE. Your instructor will enroll you via Canvas.

Other international graduate students, ITAs who pass the screening, or international faculty can also take the course if seats are available. Please contact us to find out if there are open seats in a given semester.

What will be covered in the seminar? What activities will you participate in?

The topics covered in this course include, but are not limited to:

  • Sounds of American English: American Phonetic Alphabet
  • Prosodic Features of American English: Stress, Thought Groups, Intonation, Emphasis, Reduction, & Linking
  • Characteristics of a “Good” University Instructor
  • Describing Visuals
  • Rapport Building with Students
  • Interactive Lectures
  • Leading Discussions & Labs
  • Solving Communication Breakdowns
  • Dealing with Difficult Situations
  • Office Hours

Activities you will participate in include discussions, role plays, and self & peer evaluation of teaching. 

For more information, please contact us