Effective March 16th until further notice, the ELP staff will be working remotely to comply with University protocols regarding COVID-19. Please expect delays in our office being able to receive mail, process checks, and process I-20s in a timely manner. Visit coronavirus.upenn.edu, the University's dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 web page, for the latest updates.

ITA Testing and Training for PhD Candidates

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted legislation in 1990 requiring that every member of an institution of higher learning who teaches undergraduates be tested and certified as fluent in English. At Penn, the English Language Programs (ELP) is responsible for testing and certifying all teaching assistants who use English as a second language (International Teaching Assistants or ITAs).

Testing and Certification

Prospective International TAs whose first language is not English may demonstrate fluency by receiving a rating of Advanced-Mid on an ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) or a score of 27 or higher on the Speaking component of the iBT TOEFL. Prospective international TAs who have not taken the TOEFL or an OPI must take the Interactive Performance Test (IPT) administered by the English Language Programs. The IPT consists of a ten minute lecture with a question and answer component on a topic in the candidate's academic discipline. Prospective international TAs who pass this test are certified as fluent in English. Prospective international TAs who do not pass will be counseled to take some language training before trying again. Read more about certification here.

For a schedule of test dates and instructions on how to sign up, click here.

Training

The ELP organizes a seven-week language training program during the summer on behalf of Penn's School of Arts & Sciences (SAS). This program is open to prospective ITAs from all schools at Penn.

Click here for more information about the Summer Training Program.