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 ITAs 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 ITAs 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 ITAs who pass this test are certified as fluent in English. Prospective ITAs who do not pass will be counseled to take some language training before trying again.
View a schedule of test dates and instructions for signing up.
The ELP organizes a seven-week program during the summer on behalf of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences (SAS). This program is open to prospective ITAs from all schools at Penn and focuses on teaching pedagogy for teaching assistants and language skills for non-native English speakers.
See more information about ITA Summer Training.