English Language Institute

Services for International Teaching Assistants (ITAs)

Since 1987, the State of California has required “that each campus of the University of California should require all prospective teaching assistants who will be placed in classroom settings to demonstrate competence in oral communication, including those for whom English is not a native language who should demonstrate competence in an oral exam comparable to the written Test of English as a Foreign Language examination, including but not limited to, the Test of Spoken English examination, and demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively before a group.” (Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 41)

The English Language Institute (ELI) facilitates the university’s compliance with this state mandate for incoming international teaching assistants (ITAs) through the following services:

  • Evaluate students upon their arrival to UC Merced by means of an on-campus evaluation and student presentation process
  • Recommend whether the ITA may teach without further English support or whether additional workshops and English language coursework is required, based on the results of the test and on-campus evaluation
  • Provide semester-long workshops to enhance English proficiency in speaking and listening comprehension
  • Assist in the cultural adjustments sometimes required to teach and study in an American university through workshops and individual consultations
  • Observe and, optionally, videotape ITAs teaching and from this evidence assist ITAs to enhance their language and instructional skills
  • Provide one-on-one support for students using pronunciation software
  • Collaborate with ITAs to develop individual plans for improving English language use
  • Coordinate conversation partnerships for students wanting to practice their language skills in an informal arrangement with native speakers of English

Promoting the Teaching and Learning of English Language Learners

Non-native speakers from U.S. high schools

Since its inception, UC Merced has had a significant group of undergraduates whose first language is not English. These students had to be highly successful in high school in order to meet the admissions requirements for UC Merced; however, many were doing double the work of mastering subjects such as math, chemistry, and science that were taught in a language they were still acquiring — English. For some, this additional cognitive load means they arrive in the UC Merced classroom in various stages of academic language acquisition. The English Language Institute works to raise awareness among faculty and TAs about how to facilitate the language growth and academic success of these students (see the Tips Sheet and References for Working with Generation 1.5 Students).   

Updated May 2016