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Graduate Teaching Assistant English Communication Program

This course is designed for graduate teaching assistants (TAs) to assist them in English communication proficiency, to introduce cultural issues and pedagogy in the university classroom, and to practice various instructional techniques.

Students sitting in a study circle
Student standing in between the Weary Wil and Dirty Lil Hobo Day Statues
Two students sitting in a classroom being helped by their professor

Focus 1:English Language Proficiency

Through practice and practical applications, TAs will focus on developing and improving fluency, pronunciation, stress, intonation, and academic, colloquial and idiomatic phrases.

Focus 2:Cultural Understanding

TAs will learn about cultural behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and values that they might observe in the classroom. TAs will also learn appropriate and expected presentation styles as a way to inform their teaching practices.

Focus 3:Teaching and Pedagogy

TAs will be introduced to current issues in pedagogy, lesson planning, and methods for presenting information using a variety of strategies as a means to practice communication for academic and professional purposes.


  • Placement
    • For Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Summer 2018, Graduate Teaching Assistants will take a short, verbal assessment. The English Language Communication Assessment (ELCA) will focus on English language proficiency as well as delivery skills and organizational strategies that are commonly used in university classrooms. The outcome of the assessment will determine whether completion of the Graduate Teaching Assistant English Communication Course is recommended.
    • Assignment of GTA positions for Fall 2017, Spring 2018 or Summer 2018 will not be dependent on participation in, or successful completion of, the ELCA or the Graduate Teaching Assistant English Communication Course.
  • The English Language Communication Assessment:
    • To schedule an appointment for the ELCA, please contact Becky Carpenter-Barnes at or call 605-688-6410.
    • All ELCA sessions will take place January 8-11 in Briggs 003.
    • The GTA should prepare a 5-6 minute oral presentation about a topic in his/her field of study. The assessment will focus on English communication proficiency and professional delivery skills. The specific skills that will be assessed include: fluency, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, discourse cues, organization, vocal variety, volume, rate of speech, eye contact and body language. The GTA will not be assessed on content knowledge.
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Rubric
  • Enrollment
    • GTAs and their departments will be contacted with their scores on Friday, January 12. GTAs who do not satisfactorily complete the English Language Communication Assessment should consider completing the GTA English communication course. Confirmation of the GTA's participation in the course must be received by 5pm on Friday, January 19.
  • The Graduate Teaching Assistant English Training Course
    • This course is only open to Graduate Teaching Assistants and is being offered free of charge.
    • This course will not provide academic credit and cannot be used toward a graduate degree or certificate.
    • This course meets Wednesday from 1 - 2 pm and Thursday from 5:30 - 7:30 pm in Briggs Library, room 003. The first class will meet Wednesday, January 24, 2018 and the final class will be Friday, April 20, 2018.
    • Syllabus
    • Successful completion will earn the student a Certificate of Recognition.


Fall 2017

                Screening: August 21st- 24th

                Enrollment: August 28th- 31st

                Class: Sept. 5th - Nov. 21st

Spring 2018

                Screening: January 8th - 11th

                Enrollment: January 16th- 19th

                Class: January 24th - April 20th


Becky Carpenter-Barnes