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College of Arts & Sciences

Oral Proficiency Assessment for Teaching Assistants

Non-Native English Speakers Becoming Cleared for Teaching

Who Should be Tested?

According to Ohio University policy and state law, all students who have been offered a graduate teaching assistantship must be certified as proficient in oral English. This includes graduate students who have responsibility for laboratory, online, and classroom instruction.

Students who speak a native language other than English need to produce test scores that will clear them for teaching assignments, and they need to be deemed by their graduate chairs and department chairs as having English skills that are adequate and appropriate for their teaching and instructional assignments.

Note that the scores below are not regarding the student’s admission to a program at Ohio University. Students would still need to meet the university and program’s English proficiency requirements before they would be eligible to be a teaching assistant.

What Tests Can Clear a Student to be a Teaching Assistant?

The SPEAK test, the iBT, or IELTS can now clear potential teaching assistants. Note that only test scores can clear a student to be a teaching assistant. Course grades cannot clear a student.

The on-campus SPEAK test will be an option for three groups of students:

  1. Students without an iBT or IELTS score. The SPEAK test will continue to be offered each semester.
  2. Students who received a score of 20 or less on the Speaking section of the iBT or less than 6.5 on the IELTS will be able to take the SPEAK test on campus if the department desires this option. In this case, the student’s SPEAK test score would be used to determine eligibility for teaching.
  3. Students who have an iBT Speaking section or IELTS score that clears them to teach, but the department still would like their speaking proficiency evaluated upon arrival on campus. In this case, the student’s SPEAK test score would be used to determine eligibility for teaching.

Option 1: Speaking iBT Score Clears Potential TA to Teach

Students must meet all requirements in order to use iBT scores to clear for teaching at OHIO:

  1. Official iBT scores in the OHIO system that are from within one year prior to admission to OHIO
  2. iBT overall score ≥ 80 and ≥ 17 on section scores in Writing, Reading, and Listening
  3. iBT Speaking score ≥ 24 to be completely cleared for teaching; iBT Speaking score 21-23 to teach with a required ITA course, ELIP 5220. Note, students must re-take a speaking test at the end of the term.

Option 2: Speaking IELTS Score Clears Potential TA to Teach

  1. Official IELTS scores in the OHIO system that are from within one year prior to admission to OHIO
  2. IELTS overall score ≥ 6.5 and ≥ 6.5 on section scores in Writing, Reading, and Listening
  3. IELTS Speaking score ≥ 7.0 to be completely cleared for teaching; IELTS Speaking score of 6.5 to teach with a required ITA course, ELIP 5220. Note, students must re-take a speaking test at the end of the term.

Option 3: SPEAK Score Clears Potential TA to Teach

  1. On-Campus TOEFL score ≥ 550 and ≥ 52 on section scores in Listening, Grammar, and Reading
  2. SPEAK test score ≥ 230 to be completely cleared for teaching; SPEAK test score 190-220 to teach with a required ITA course, ELIP 5220. Note, students must re-take a speaking test at the end of the term. 

What if a Student Doesn’t Receive Scores Cleared to Teach?

Students who don’t receive scores that clear them to teach can take courses for International TAs:

For More Information

  • Questions about SPEAK test times, location or procedure should be addressed to Dr. Dawn Bikowski at bikowski@ohio.edu or 740-593-0201.
  • Questions about compliance with these standards should be addressed to Dr. Katherine Tadlock at tadlockk@ohio.edu or 740-597-2860.

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