This 2 or 3-hour, non-credit course is required for international teaching assistants. According to Missouri law, international graduate students must be tested for their ability to communicate orally in English in a classroom setting. This ruling was stated in 1986 and was adopted by the Missouri State Legislature and the University of Missouri Board of Curators. The Missouri law requires ITAs to receive linguistic and cultural training prior to beginning a teaching assignment in which they teach alone in a classroom. Graduate students who did not attend elementary school and high school in a country in which English is the first language may not hold a teaching appointment during their first semester of higher education in the state of Missouri and must receive cultural training before beginning a teaching assignment.

This is a variable credit-hour course. Students should typically register for two credit-hours; a student may enroll in three credit-hours to fulfill the nine credit hours required to maintain their international student visa status. Those students enrolled in three credit hours will be expected to submit additional work.

The ITA Seminar prepares an international student for a teaching assignment, with presentation skills, language training and strategies to facilitate teaching. The course consists of:

  • Discussion of cultural differences in education and methodology

  • Pronunciation of vowels and consonants

  • Accent modification: word stress, rhythm, focus stress, intonation, and tone. Students will improve their clarity of ideas and intentions.

  • Teaching skills: presenting ideas, organizing lectures, using visuals and the blackboard efficiently, incorporating relevant examples, improving audience awareness, and dealing with disrespectful behavior

  • Strategies to facilitate communication: interaction with students, organizational cues, paraphrasing terms, and asking and rephrasing questions

  • Feedback of teaching practice is provided by instructor, peers, and self.

  • Some homework is required, which includes preparing short teaching lessons, written self-feedback, language practice, a class observation, and an interview with a colleague.

A course grade is given based upon teaching presentations, class participation and completion of homework. Upon completion of the course, each student will present a 20-minute lesson and will be evaluated for comprehensibility of both teaching skills and language skills. A panel consisting of the instructor, the graduate advisor and one or two undergraduate students evaluate the student and determine whether the student is ready to teach undergraduates or whether further training is required. The course is not for credit, so the grade appears on the transcript but is not counted towards GPA.