Rationale | CESL | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts


Proficiency Testing
Why does SIU have to do it?

First and foremost, English language proficiency is mandated by the State of Illinois.

Proficiency testing will ensure that each international teaching assistant (ITA) has the English language skills that are necessary to successfully convey information to students. The test does not have a “teaching ability” component. The test certifies a specific language ability so students cannot use an ITA’s language skills as an excuse for poor academic performance.

International teaching assistants do not function in isolation. They must interact with departments and students within the confines of American academic culture. Recognizing that the emphasis of a graduate degree is on the acquisition of key content, teaching is one part of the graduate student’s professional preparation.

The Center for Graduate Teaching Excellence wishes to ensure that:
ITAs are placed in situations where they have the language skills to convey information to students.

Departments can be assured that ITAs have the necessary language ability to convey the needed information to the intended audience. Complaints regarding the incomprehensibility of ITAs should decrease.

Students can accept responsibility for their own learning, knowing that ITAs have been certified as language proficient.

Oral proficiency testing requirements can be found at: