English Language Requirement for International TA's and AIs
1. Is the English Language Proficiency Requirement for TAs and AIs the same as the First-Year English Requirement?
NO. While the first-year English course requirement involves multiple language skills, the TA/AI English proficiency requirement concerns only oral English proficiency. The Office of Graduate Studies requires all graduate students, except those with an undergraduate degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction, to demonstrate oral English proficiency before they are appointed to Teaching Assistant (TA) or Associate Instructor (AI) positions.
2. What is the TOEP?
The TOEP is the Test of Oral English Proficiency. According to the IAE website, “The TOEP is used to test the oral English ability of non-native English speaking graduate students in order to determine their eligibility for working as teaching assistants (TAs) or Associate Instructors (AIs). Teaching and communicating effectively with students requires exceptional oral English skills, and the TOEP assesses these skills in a 20-minute classroom simulation.”
For more information about the TOEP, visit https://iae.ucdavis.edu/graduate/toep.
3. When should I take the TOEP?
Any students who are not yet eligible to work as a TA/AI can take the TOEP as soon as possible to determine their eligibility. Your score will help you determine what your next steps are.
Students must register for the TOEP at least one week prior to the exam date. Registration closes seven days before each exam date.
- The TOEP is offered at the end of each quarter. It is recommended that students take the TOEP as early as possible and not wait until the quarter before they want to work as a TA.
- TOEP Registration is first come, first served. Students who register early will have the best opportunity to find a time that works the best for their schedules.
- TOEP scores are made available to all test takers and their departments about a week after the test date.
4. If I plan to take the TOEP, and I have satisfied my first-year requirement, do I have to take UWP 391?
NO. Students may take the TOEP without 391, but this class is designed to help prepare them for the TOEP. If they do not take UWP 391 before taking the TOEP and they receive a “conditional pass,” they will then be required to enroll in approved English language instruction, which can be satisfied with either UWP 391 or a combination of workshops, seminars, and/or language and culture coaching offered by International & Academic English.
5. How is the TOEP scored?
Test takers are assessed in the following six categories:
Phonetic & Phonological Competence Grammatical Competence
Fluency/Speech Flow Lexical Competence
Rhetorical Organization Question Handling
Students receive their results by email and have the option to meet with staff from IAE for feedback and to discuss next steps. There are three possible results:
- Pass: Students who earn a pass are eligible to hold a TA or AI position. They DO NOT need to take UWP 391 or any other course.
- Conditional Pass: Students who earn a conditional pass may hold a TA or AI position for up to two quarters while concurrently enrolled in approved English language instruction. The two quarters they are permitted to serve as a TA or AI are only allowed once, after the first conditional pass is received. For example, if a student receives a conditional pass then work as a TA for two quarters, if they then retake the TOEP and receive another conditional pass, they will not be eligible to continue working as a TA until they receive a pass on the TOEP
- Fail: Students who earn a failing score have not met the English language requirements for a TA or AI position. They are encouraged to take graduate-level ESL courses and/or participate in support programs provided by IAE.
6. When is the TOEP offered? How do I see my scores?
The TOEP is offered on multiple dates at the end of each quarter and in the weeks prior to fall quarter. It is recommended that students take the TOEP as early as possible and not wait until the quarter before they want to work as a TA. The above information is from the TOEP Overview PDF. For access to this document and other resources, including an informational video series, go to: https://iae.ucdavis.edu/graduate/toep.
7. What is UWP 391?
- For teaching assistants and potential teaching assistants, that provides intensive work in oral English to increase fluency, accuracy, and use of appropriate discourse strategies in academic settings (e.g., seminar, discussion, laboratory). This course can help TAs and potential TAs increase their ability to use English effectively in teaching and other speaking situations common in the academic environment. This course is highly recommended for students who are working to pass the TOEP exam.
- For students who are interested in presenting at conferences or other venues by addressing a number of skill areas, including explaining concepts clearly, comparing, describing visuals and explaining trends, participating in group discussions, using the whiteboard while explaining in English, giving a slide presentation effectively, stating a point of view on something, and disagreeing with someone on something.
UWP 391 is offered Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters.
Measured Learning Outcomes for UWP 391
- Show awareness of own strengths and needs in producing clear spoken English
- Clearly pronounce important and common words used in their fields of study as well as those used in general conversation.
- Make clear, formal presentations to professionals both inside and outside their fields of study
- Increasing ability to use the language needed in teaching and in common speaking situations in academia.
- Improve confidence and clarity for teaching and/or participating in a US classroom.
- Speak clearly about their research or area of interest to people both in and outside their fields.
- State their teaching philosophy.
- Explain and highlight key information from a course syllabus or other handout
- Demonstrate strong listening and comprehension skills
- Expand use of precise vocabulary and understanding of idioms and expressions
- Give constructive feedback to classmates to help them improve.
Students are graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis given completion of ALL required assignments and a score of 80% or higher for total course points.
Major Assignments Overview
Video-Recorded Formal Presentations
Self-Recorded Audio Assignments
Short, Informal Presentations
Reading Quizzes and Discussions
8. Does UWP 391 satisfy the English Language Proficiency Requirement?
No. It can help students prepare for the TOEP exam. As stated earlier, the Office of Graduate Studies requires all graduate students, except those with an undergraduate degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction, to demonstrate oral English proficiency before they are appointed to Teaching Assistant (TA) or Associate Instructor (AI) positions. Passing the TOEP is necessary to demonstrate this proficiency. Completion of UWP 391 does not demonstrate proficiency, but is one way to help you prepare.