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Teaching Associates — Duties and Responsibilities in Modern Languages

The Department of Modern Languages trains Graduate Teaching Associates to help them become better teachers and to ensure that high-quality instruction is offered in our basic courses in Spanish.


All (first and second year) Graduate Teaching Associates are required to attend orientation activities during the designated time prior to the Fall semester. Fall orientation normally takes place during the week prior to the beginning of the semester. Orientation is mandatory for ALL TAs and no exceptions will be made. It is the responsibility of every TA to make the necessary arrangements to be on campus promptly. Occasionally, a brief orientation might be necessary before Spring semester.

Hours per Week/Semester

Students on graduate stipends provide a minimum of 15 hours of instructional service to the department per week. Description of duties and what is expected from every TA will be given during orientation and will be reinforced in SPAN 6920 and SPAN 5640.

  • One important duty is Spanish Conversation Hour (La hora de conversación), which graduate students organize. Each TA is responsible for leading at least two sessions each semester and at least one TA will be in charge of organizing it.
  • TAs are expected to attend organized events that contribute to their professional development. These might include preparing undergraduate students to perform well on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) each semester in mock telephone interviews; the Coloquio, to which the department invites scholars to campus for several days of lectures and presentations, class visits, as well as formal and informal interaction with students and faculty; OLAC, at which the department encourages TAs to attend and/or present a conference paper; an occasional Department Meeting when invited guests or agenda items are relevant to TA professional development, and Workshops on Language Instruction, in which an outside speaker leads a session on theory and/or practice of language teaching.

Course Assignments

During the first year, TAs are assigned to teach one class per semester. During the second year, TAs are assigned to teach two classes (two sections of the same class) in the fall and one in the spring. TAs usually teach the first-year Spanish level: SPAN 1110 or 1120 but might have the opportunity to teach 2110 or 2120 based on need.


All Teaching Associates have assigned offices, which they may share with other TAs. Teaching Associates receive a key that will open the building, some classrooms, and their office in Gordy Hall. This key must be returned before the teaching associate leaves the department permanently. It is VERY important that every TA understand offices are a shared space and they need to respect the presence of others.


TAs will have access to shared computers which are connected to a departmental printer. Printing is limited to teaching-related copies for the classes TAs are teaching.

Telephone Land Line

Each TA office is equipped with a land line. Students should make sure the phone is registered and working as it will be used during the OPI practice interviews.

Office Hours

TAs are required to hold a minimum of two weekly office hours: one hour on two separate days and two different times (for example, Tuesday 2-3 p.m. & Friday 10-11 a.m. or by appointment). TAs are expected to be flexible and willing to meet their students during office hours and to make the necessary arrangements if a student has a conflicting schedule and requires an appointment outside of the regular hours. TAs are expected to be flexible with officemates and hopefully coordinate office hours so they do not overlap. Rooms are very small, and crowded offices are unfortunately uncomfortable, TAs should be understanding of this situation and cooperate with officemates.


As a Teaching Associate, you are an employee of the Department of Modern Languages at OHIO. Your behavior should reflect in a positive way all the policies, goals and objectives of the department. A TA shows professionalism by doing simple things like turning on the lights when entering the class, making sure that seating is arranged appropriately, arriving on time, dressing professionally, and preparing for class. Your decisions about appropriate behavior should be based on university policies and common sense. In addition, although OHIO does not have a dress code, you are expected to dress appropriately for the classroom. A TA is both a student and a teacher. Do not lose sight of the fact that you are responsible for objectively evaluating your students and assigning them a grade at the end of the semester.

Socializing with students is risky, and dating a student is unacceptable behavior under university policies. Sexual harassment is subject to disciplinary action – even in sexual relationships of mutual consent, there is a clear conflict of interest. Teachers who initiate such relationships or who take part in relationships initiated by the student will be dismissed from the program. Every TA is strongly encouraged to read all the information concerning sexual harassment on the Ohio University website.

Classroom Procedures

  • Language Placement: TAs are not authorized to allow students to enroll in their section. Refer all students who request entry to the online registration system, where openings appear frequently and where they have the option of adding their name to a wait list. There is no placement test required for students who either have had no previous Spanish language instruction or who wish to begin in SPAN 1110. If a student has studied Spanish previously, he or she must take the placement test. Please refer them to this website.
  • If a student in your section believes he or she is over prepared and would like to move up to a higher-level class, please refer the student to Dr. Muriel Gallego for SPAN 1110 & 1120, Ms. Carisa Trapp ( for 2010 & 2011, or Dr. Bärbel Such.
  • Multi-section Courses: Carefully read the course objectives so that you are fully aware of the language-learning principles that drive the curriculum. As part of the instructional staff, you contribute to the overall quality of the multi-section course you teach, which lays the foundation for the next course in the sequence. The success of the language program depends on your students having achieved the specified goals of your course.
  • Lesson Plans: TAs are responsible for developing lesson plans in accordance with the course syllabus, creating supplemental materials, and collaborating with fellow TAs and their supervisor to write materials. Activities such as whole-class lab work or full-length movies are not permitted.
  • Spanish in the Classroom: Instructors must use the target language exclusively in class. Avoiding English takes practice and planning: as part of your daily preparation for class, you should think ahead to how you will introduce activities and give instructions in Spanish. You should aim to use cognates, repetition, redundancy, and circumlocution, in order to get your message across to students. If you need a model, consult with your coordinator who can recommend a class for you to observe.
  • Substitutes: For any necessary absence during the semester, you are required to arrange for another TA to substitute and to inform your supervisor that you will not be in class. Class cancellations are NOT allowed. You should identify potential substitutes early in the semester. You must follow the procedures indicated during orientation. For a pre-planned absence, you should get authorization from your supervisor first. For any absence, you are required to download an absence form, fill it out and submit it to your supervisor.

Photocopying & Printing

TAs will have access to the copier/printer in Gordy 280 (the mail room). Copying and printing are for instructional purposes only; you are NOT permitted to copy or print materials related to the classes you are taking. You can purchase such personal copies/printouts in the library. In order to save paper, learn to make double-sided copies or printouts and scan materials to send directly to your students instead of printing them out at the department’s expense. Also, the computer and projector in your classroom allow you to project documents on the screen for students to follow instead of distributing a paper handout. You will have a limited number of copies assigned to you. Once you have reached the allotted amount you will no longer be able to make copies.

Classroom Observations

The TA supervisor will observe TA classes during the academic year. Through this process, TAs get feedback on their teaching, and the department obtains a record of the TA's performance, which can be used for future reference such as recommendations for jobs or Ph.D. programs. We aim to achieve consistency and uniformity in all steps delineated by the syllabus and program guidelines. Observations are one of the ways of making sure the program is proceeding smoothly and consistently. After each observation, meetings between individual TAs and the Language Program Director will be scheduled for the Director to share the observation evaluation with each TA and to address any concerns, questions and/or suggestions so that the TA and the Director may work together comfortably. All constructive criticism will be taken into consideration, and all TAs can expect the director’s permanent support as long as the guidelines and professional behavior are observed. Observations can occur in the form of class visits or videotaping/recording the class.


For tutoring in Spanish or any other class, refer students to the Academic Achievement Center in Alden Library 230. If a Spanish TA wishes to tutor for extra income, a few rules apply:

  • 1120: You may not tutor a student taking a course in the series you are teaching. For example, if you are teaching SPAN 1110, you cannot tutor a student enrolled in any section of 1110 or 1120. You may, however, tutor SPAN 2000 level.
  • 1121:You may not tutor students currently enrolled in your classes and receive payment for such tutoring.


TAs will be trained on how to proceed with students with documented disabilities. Any questions or concerns should be first discussed with the supervisor. For further information contact or visit the Accessibility Services website.