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ITA Screening & Course

Academic Spoken English for International Teaching Assistants

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

If so, 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.

SPRING 2022 Information

Spoken English Proficiency Screening

Dates available:

01/27/2022 (Thurs.)

01/28/2022 (Fri.)

01/31/2022 (Wed.)

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP (or copy-paste this link into your browser:

Location*: Herter Annex Room 015 (the basement of Herter in the Translation Center area)

Please bring your student ID with you to the screening. In total, the screening will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and you will need to complete it in one sitting without breaks. You do not need to do anything to prepare for the screening. 

*If you are not located in the Amherst area, please contact Andrea Dallas at for assistance with remote testing.


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

Instructor: Simon Wang,

Timing & Location:

Bartlett Hall, Room 374

Mondays from 5:30PM to 7:00PM (Feb 7th through May 4th)

Course materials on Moodle (check Moodle for ESL600)

Information about the Course

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. The ESL program will notify you within 3 days 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 Moodle.

Other international graduate students, ITAs who pass the screening, or international faculty can also take the course if seats are available. Please contact 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 or