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 (view list of countries considered 'English-speaking'). In order to teach, these international students must be able to show documented evidence of the state-mandated level of proficiency in speaking English.

This proficiency level 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 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. 

ITAs who cannot show documented evidence that they 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 Language Assessment of their oral proficiency which is accepted as meeting the state-mandated requirements. To be eligible to teach as a Graduate Instructional Assistant (9550 job code) in their first semester of teaching, students must either show the required TOEFL or TOEIC scores or be registered for the internal ITA Language Assessment. To be eligible to be registered for the assessment, students must have the appropriate TOEFL iBT, TOEIC, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test score: 

  • TOEFL iBT Speaking subscore of 20 - 25
  • TOEIC Speaking subscore of 110 -150
  • IELTS Speaking subscore of 6.5 or higher
  • Duolingo English Test score of 130 or higher

Register your Student for the Spring 2023 ITA Assessment

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 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.

OPI or IELTS scores are not accepted for demonstration of English proficiency.

2. ITA Assessment and Registration of Students

2.1. Assessment Description

Students who meet the English proficiency requirements for entry into the ITA Language Assessment will be contacted to participate in the ITA Language Assessment. This is a twenty-minute session which includes interview questions and prepared and unprepared explanations of academic topics appropriate for undergraduate classes. 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 and to interact comfortably with students. This assessment is conducted, and the ITA’s language evaluated, by two INTO USF instructors, trained in the rating of spoken and pragmatic English proficiency. The session is also video recorded to allow for evaluation by a third trained instructor in case of a borderline score. 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 is needed, if the student fails to obtain the required score of 80% in the assessment. In this case, the student is required to attend the ITA Support course to develop their academic culture, teaching and communication skills (see below). 
  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 (9183/9184 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 Academic Culture and communication, and Speaking Skills courses developed and delivered by INTO USF. These courses 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 6 weeks of the semester, plus six 1.5-hour speaking skills development sessions over the same period. This course is open to all ITAs – those who passed the ITA Language Assessment and those who already have the required TOEFL or TOEIC scores. INTO USF also offers opportunities for individual support for ITAs to review and receive feedback on their ITA Language Assessment performance, and for all ITAs to receive individualized pronunciation and intelligibility support, as well as observations of teaching with feedback sessions. These courses and support opportunities are open to all ITAs who wish to develop their teaching, intercultural, and language skills, regardless of ITA Language Assessment outcome. For more information, contact INTO USF University Support Coordinator, Dr. Jane Harvey.

2.2 Enrollment

Department personnel wishing to offer Teaching Assistantships (9550) 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) for the ITA Assessment. Please note that the assessment must be successfully completed by the student during a semester prior to beginning their 9183/9184 job code. (Lack of documented evidence of required language proficiency and 9183/9184 employment will not be allowed).

Departmental staff may register these student(s) using the registration button at the top of this webpage. 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 subscore of 20 - 25
  • TOEIC Speaking subscore of 110 -150
  • IELTS Speaking subscore of 6.5 or higher
  • Duolingo English Test score of 130 or higher

3. ITA Employment Information

3.1. Human Resources

International Student Employment Information

Generally, international students with F-1 and J-1 visas, who are full-time enrolled are allowed to accept on campus employment for 20 hours per week during the regular semester. They can be employed on-campus 40 hours per week during official breaks, such as the winter break and summer. 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.

Please visit the Office of International Services for guidelines to assist with the hiring process of USF international students.

Increased Work Hours during Breaks & Vacations

Employment must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session, but the 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. Each semester, the Office of Graduate Studies conducts an audit of Teaching Assistant appointments to ensure all state-mandated requirements are met. Graduate Studies staff also facilitates the inputting of SPEK scores within Banner and distributes Assessment Completion Certificates to students. 

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