During the first year in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, you will be appointed as a teaching assistant for various courses such as General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. As an International Teaching Assistant (ITA), you must undergo the Maryland English Institute’s evaluation of your spoken English abilities.

As it is stated in the International Students’ website, this assessment is mandatory, unless your entire education has been in the U.S, United Kingdom, Ireland, English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Anglopone Africa, or Commonwealth Caribbean. Students must pass the ITA Evaluation prior to being assigned teaching duties, including duties in labs. This requirement will not be waived.

The ITA Evaluation takes place over several days. It consists of three steps: (1) a screening interview, (2) a listening dictation test, and (3) a microteaching presentation. Examinees are required to attend a brief orientation and registration session before they are interviewed. Those required to continue with the remainder of the evaluation must also attend a prep session for the microteaching presentation.

All this information, plus specific procedures, grading schemes, among others is provided during TA training. More information can be found at MEI – For International Teaching Assistants

Interview process

The interview serves as a screening tool to determine whether the examinee will be required to take the full evaluation. Interview questions are not provided to examinees in advance. Examinees are interviewed individually by two experienced English language evaluators. The interview is rated on a 5-point scale. There are no “right” or “wrong” responses. Examinees who score 5 on the screening interview are exempted from the remainder of the evaluation. Those who score 4 or lower on the interview must continue to steps 2 and 3.

Dictation test

Examinees listen to taped statements of short questions often asked by undergraduate students. After each question, examinees write down what they have heard, and then write an appropriate response to the question. Each question is heard only once and is spoken in rapid colloquial English with normal elisions and shortened forms of speech.

Microteaching

The final step of the evaluation is a 10-minute presentation in which the examinee explains a principle or a central concept of choice in the field in which s/he is most likely to teach. The presentation should be delivered as though to a class of undergraduate students who have no substantial knowledge of the concept. In the final 2 – 3 minutes of the allotted time, evaluators and others ask questions related to the presentation.

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