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International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) account for a large proportion of teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ITAs bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the classroom and contribute to a rich intellectual exchange among students and instructors.
The University requires a high level of English proficiency for everyone involved in teaching. In order to ensure that ITAs have a successful teaching experience, Illinois policy requires the following: International and non-native English-speaking graduate students at Illinois must demonstrate oral English proficiency prior to being appointed as classroom instructors. This includes TA appointments for face-to-face classes, blended and online instruction, accompanying/coaching, and office hours.
This campus policy was initiated in response to Illinois state law and applies to all prospective international and non-native English-speaking teaching assistants regardless of country of origin, nationality, the language of instruction in any high school, undergraduate, or graduate degree program they may have previously completed, or previous professional experience.
Please note that requirements regarding English proficiency for teaching are different from requirements for admission to the Graduate College.
A student qualifies for an exemption from demonstrating oral English proficiency for teaching if one of the following criteria is met:
New Illinois graduate students are encouraged to fulfill the oral English proficiency requirement for teaching prior to arriving on campus for the first time by obtaining a qualifying speaking score on the TOEFL or IELTS. Scores are valid if received within two years of the first day of enrollment at UIUC.
As a service to the campus community, CITL offers the campus-based English Proficiency Interview (EPI) as another means by which prospective TAs can demonstrate oral proficiency in English and fulfill campus policy and Illinois state law.
Use the links to the left to learn more about the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) for TAs.
The following chart provides score requirements for international and non-native speakers of English to be considered for teaching assistantships:
English Proficiency Test
4CP*, 5, or 6
Administered at Illinois
24 or higher (speaking sub-section)
IELTS (academic exam)
8 or higher (speaking sub-section)
*A score of 4CP is a “conditional pass” which allows the student to be a TA provided he or she successfully completes ESL 508 during or before the first semester of teaching.