This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
We continue our series of reports about how foreign students
can study at an American college or university. Today, we discuss
one way foreign students earn money while attending graduate
school. They can work as teaching assistants.
Teaching assistants are known as T-A¡¯s for short.
They usually work about twenty hours each week. They are paid
to help college professors teach large numbers of students in
lower level classes. Generally, the professor gives a talk or
lecture to all the students in a large class one or two times
a week. The teaching assistant leads another, smaller, class
each week. The teaching assistant gives tests and reads any
homework or reports the students may be required to write. T-A¡¯s
also meet with individual students seeking help. They attend
teaching meetings. And they help organize laboratory equipment
if they are helping to teach a science class.
Most American colleges and universities must honor legal requirements
when employing international students as teaching assistants.
One of these is that the T-A must speak good English. Many university
departments require all T-A¡¯s from non-native English
speaking countries to take one of two English speaking tests.
One of these is the Test of Spoken English, or TSE. It is offered
by the Educational Testing Service. Foreign students can take
the test before they arrive in the United States. The other
test is the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit, known
as the SPEAK test. The college or university usually gives this
test to make sure that students will be able to understand the
foreign teaching assistant.
For example, the University of West Virginia in Morgantown
uses foreign teaching assistants. The university requires a
good score on either test before an international student is
permitted to teach. The university also suggests that foreign
graduate students give a short talk to a group of people to
make sure they will be understood. Foreign graduate students
whose English is not good enough are given duties that do not
require communication with students. They are expected to get
the necessary help to improve their spoken English.
Information about becoming a teaching assistant can be found
on the Internet web sites of the universities that offer such
This V-O-A Special English Education Report
was written by Nancy Steinbach, courtesy of VOAnews.com