Graduate Assistantships Resource Center

International Teaching Assistant Handbook

International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) are teaching assistants seeking employment in the 9550/9183/9184 job codes at USF who are from countries which are not predominantly English-speaking (list of countries considered 'English-speaking' - see the section on English proficiency requirements). In order to teach, these international students must demonstrate proficiency in speaking English. This has been established by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) as a minimum score of 26 on the spoken portion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) or a 160 on the spoken portion of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). The Office of Graduate Studies will consider these scores valid for up to 5 years after administration, so long as the student has dated supporting/official documentation. At this point, USF is not accepting equivalencies with the IELTS test for establishing English proficiency.

ITAs who fail to meet these requirements should not be assigned a TA position where the primary responsibility is to assist or teach in university classes at USF. However, USF does provide an ITA Workshop that is designed to enhance teaching skills, communication, and cultural expectations in an American University classroom. To be eligible to teach as a Graduate Instructional Assistant (9550 job code) in their first semester of teaching, these students must have the appropriate TOEFL iBT, TOEIC, or IELTS score and be simultaneously enrolled in the ITA Workshop:

  • TOEFL iBT speaking sub score of 20 - 25
  • TOEIC speaking sub score of 110 -150
  • IELTS Speaking subtest score of 6.5 or higher

1. Related Florida Statutes

1.1 Statute and Interpretation

1012.93 Faculty members; test of spoken English: All faculty members in each state university, other than those persons who teach courses that are conducted primarily in a foreign language, shall be proficient in the oral use of English, as determined by a satisfactory grade on the "Test of Spoken English" of the Educational Testing Service or a similar test approved by the Board of Governors.

History: s. 781, ch. 2002-387; s. 164, ch. 2007-217.

The University of South Florida and the Office of Graduate Studies have interpreted this statute to also apply to those charged with teaching duties, whom shall be held to the same standards for English proficiency as faculty members. As there is little distinction between faculty and teaching assistants when it comes to the rationale for requiring demonstrated English proficiency when teaching a course in English at USF, it is important that the University ensure that the same standards are applied to all engaged in similar teaching activities. Further, requests for waiver of this requirement may only be made for those Teaching Assistants who will be teaching in a language other than English that qualifies as their first language or can otherwise demonstrate proficiency that language; such requests should be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies Associate Dean, Dr. Ruth Bahr, and include a concise description of the course with relevant documentation.

1.2 Definition of Demonstrated English Proficiency

Two standardized speaking score measures are acceptable for demonstration of English proficiency as approved by the Board of Governors:

  • TOEFL iBT 26-30, which is described as evidence of a "Good" level of English proficiency by the TOEFL score scales.
  • TOEIC 160-200, which is described as an appropriate level of English proficiency for professional and work settings.

IELTS or OPI scores are not accepted.

2. ITA Workshop and Registration of Students

2.1. Workshop Description

Students who meet the English proficiency requirements for entry into the ITA Workshop will be contacted to participate in the ITA Language Assessment. This is a ten-minute simulation of a teaching scenario. These assessments are scheduled early in the Fall and Spring semesters. During this assessment, ITAs display their ability to use English and verbal strategies needed to teach a lesson in a USF class of undergraduate students in their field. This microteaching session is video recorded to allow for a structured evaluation by at least two INTO USF instructors, trained in the rating of spoken and pragmatic English proficiency. The results of this assessment lead to a recommendation regarding the student's eligibility for a TA-ship. These recommendations may include:

  1. More individual development needed (see below). When a student is his/her first semester at USF in a graduate program, this student may hold a TA position in the 9550 job code, but he/she must be simultaneously enrolled in the ITA Professional Development and Language Training modules.
  2. Recommendation for unconditional TA-ship with sufficient proof of English spoken and pragmatic teaching proficiency. If the ITA falls into this category, they can then be appointed (in a future semester) as either a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Associate (9183 and 9184 job codes). This student’s record will be updated to reflect sufficient English proficiency for teaching.

These scores will be entered into the student’s record so that the level of English proficiency is documented.

ITAs who do not pass the ITA Language Assessment are required to attend the ITA Professional Development and Language Training modules developed and delivered by INTO USF. These modules focus on presentation and interactive teaching skills, classroom culture and rapport, intercultural interaction, and English pronunciation and intelligibility training. The sections meet twice a week for 1.5 hours over 9 weeks of the semester, plus five 1.5-hour pronunciation development sessions over the same period. During training, INTO USF offers individual support for ITAs to review and receive feedback on their ITA Language Assessment performance, receive individualized pronunciation and intelligibility support, as well as observations of teaching with feedback sessions. These modules and support opportunities are open to all ITAs who wish to develop their teaching, intercultural, and language skills, regardless of ITA Language Assessment outcome.

Exit Assessment: At the end of the semester, an exit assessment (i.e., a microteaching session) will be required of each student who attended the ITA Professional Development and Language Training modules. This assessment will be rated by at least two experienced ESL instructors from INTO USF. The results of the assessment will lead to a recommendation regarding the student's eligibility for a TA-ship the next semester. These recommendations may include:

  1. No recommendation for TA-ship; more individual development needed. This student may re-enroll in the ITA Professional Development and Language Training modules, but he/she cannot hold a TA position during the next semester.
  2. Recommendation for unconditional TA-ship. A passing score will be entered into the student’s record documenting sufficient English proficiency for teaching. They will be eligible to hold a TA position in the following job codes: 9550, 9183, 9184.

2.2. Workshop Objectives

In this course, students will:

  1. Build their oral fluency by developing strategies for improving their English pronunciation and intonation.
  2. Develop presentation skills and learn how to effectively use practical language for classroom instruction.
  3. Learn about and discuss the intercultural issues related to communicating with students and colleagues in an American university.

2.3 Workshop Outcomes

By the end of the Workshop, students will have:

  1. Demonstrated improvement in oral fluency, pronunciation, and intonation.
  2. Demonstrated the ability to accurately select and use language for classroom instruction through focused speaking tasks and micro‐teaching presentations.
  3. Led and participated in observations, interviews, reflections, and discussions about intercultural communication issues as related to the American university environment.

2.4 Enrollment: Fall 2021 (Open)

Department personnel wishing to offer Teaching Assistantships (9550/9183/9184) to ITAs that have not demonstrated the minimum required English proficiency (26 on the spoken portion of the TOEFL iBT or 160 on the spoken portion of the TOEIC) must register their student(s) in the ITA Workshop. Department staff can register these student(s) using this link: Students may not enroll themselves and the assessment and modules are not available in Banner/Oasis.

To be eligible for the ITA assessment, students must meet the minimum English proficiency scores:

  • TOEFL iBT speaking sub score of 20 - 25
  • TOEIC speaking sub score of 110 -150
  • IELTS Speaking subtest score of 6.5 or higher

3. ITA Checklist (only for 9183/9184 Teaching Assistant job codes)

3.1. Human Resources

International Student Employment Information

Generally, F-1 students are only allowed to work on-campus for 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters (40 hours during breaks and annual vacation). For a job to be considered "on-campus" the student must receive a USF generated paycheck or the on-campus location must offer essential services to students, such as the Yuengling Center or the USF Bookstore.

Below are guidelines for USF employers to assist with the hiring process of USF international students:

  • International students with F-1 and J-1 visas who are enrolled full-time are allowed to accept on-campus employment for 20 hours per week. They can be employed on-campus 40 hours per week during official breaks, such as the winter break and summer. Students must request permission by completing the Full-time On-Campus Work Request for Breaks and Annual Vacations.
  • J-1 students need written permission from International Services (or the Fulbright Advisor) to work on-campus. This permission must be requested for each on-campus job and each semester. The student will need to do the following:
    • Bring employment offer letter to International Services
    • Complete International Services request form for an authorization letter
    • Take authorization letter to employer prior to starting employment
    • Note: written authorization is not needed if employment is listed on DS-2019
  • For an international student to apply for a social security number, they must first have a job offer letter. Once the job offer letter and letter from International Services are received, the student can go to the Social Security Office and submit an application. The student will receive a receipt from Social Security. Typically, the social security number will be issued and released to the student, over the phone, within 72 hours. However, in some circumstances there may be a delay of up to 2 months.
  • The job offer is not a binding contract. The letter states that the employer is willing to consider this student for a position contingent upon their receipt of a social security number. There is no obligation to issue such a letter to an international student. Rather, if there is a genuine interest in employing an international student, then the letter may be issued.
  • Each international student hired must go through normal HR Right Start processes.

If you would like further information regarding hiring an international student, please call International Services at (813) 974-5102.

Increase Work Hours during Breaks & Vacations

Employment must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session, but an F-1 student may work on campus full-time when school is not in session or during annual vacation.

United States Income Tax

Paychecks may be lower than the anticipated amount due to tax withholdings. The amount withheld from your paycheck is dependent upon your tax status which, in turn, is determined by your visa classification and the amount of time you have been in the United States.

3.2. Office of Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies oversees the assessment of English proficiency for International TAs. In order to serve as a TA at USF, international students from non-English speaking countries must demonstrate English proficiency. The levels of English proficiency required of a TA at USF are greater than those prescribed for admission to the University. TAs in job codes 9183/9184 must meet the following standards to serve as the instructor of record for a class or laboratory section at USF:

  1. Score of 26 on the spoken portion of the TOEFL iBT or of 160 on the spoken portion of the TOEIC recorded in Banner.
  2. Before making a TA offer to an international student, Departments must ensure that the student meets the English proficiency requirements.

For ITAs that scored 20 to 25 on the TOEFL iBT or 110 to 150 on the TOEIC or a 6.5 on the IELTS

  1. Enrollment and successful completion of the ITA Workshops by the department during a semester prior to beginning their 9183/9184 job code. (Concurrent enrollment and 9183/9184 employment will not be allowed). This student can hold a 9550 appointment for one semester if they are simultaneously enrolled in the ITA Workshop.
  2. Passing score will be placed in banner (SPEK of 50). Unsuccessful completion will require the course to be repeated until all course requirements are met and the ITA is deemed able to teach at USF.
  3. Teaching Certificate may be retrieved from the receptionist in ALN 226 or the Teaching Certificate will be emailed directly to the student. Certificates will only be given to students who complete the ITA Workshop.

3.3. Department

Each Department/College may have their own internal processes and requirements for the employment of International Teaching Assistants. 

4. Graduate Assistant Guidelines Matrix