University of Minnesota  FAQ

Language Proficiency Requirements for Teaching Assistants


Expand all


Table of Contents

TOC placeholder


Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

  1. I'm interested in offering a teaching assistantship to a graduate or undergraduate student who is a nonnative speaker of English. What policies pertain to this situation?

    University policy requires that all prospective nonnative English speaking TAs take the TOEFL iBT, SETTA test, or IELTS test. As an alternative, they may take the SETTA test upon arriving at the University. Responsible administrators are to make sure that prospective TAs meet the proficiency requirements. Results from these exams will determine a student’s initial eligibility for a TA assignment. Refer to Appendix: English Language Proficiency Requirements for additional information.

  2. How do you define "nonnative" speaker?

    A nonnative speaker of English is a multilingual person for whom the primary language in the home during childhood was not English, and who received all or most of their elementary, secondary, and undergraduate education outside the United States.

  3. How can both graduate and undergraduate students increase their eligibility for TA duties?

    Students may increase their eligibility for TA duties by successfully completing coursework (Foundations, GRAD 5102, GRAD 5105) with the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) or by improving their score on the SETTA test.

    At such time a new ELP rating will be assigned.

  4. Do departments/colleges have access to the speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT

    Only a one-minute sample of the speaking portion is available to departments/colleges. To gain access to a sample, contact CEI at 612-625-3041.

  5. What do classroom communication courses entail?
    CEI provides three different courses to meet the various language needs of prospective TAs. In general, courses meet several times a week and include seminar, tutoring, and practice teaching components. There is no charge to the department for these courses.
  6. How do I find out the English Language Proficiency rating of students in my department?

    The ELP rating for individual graduate or undergraduate students is available on a password protected web report. To access this information go to UM Reports in MyU. Log in, click on “Key Links”, then “Reporting Center”.  Search for “English Language Proficiency - Eligibilty for TAs” to get the report.  You may then search by Emplid (if you are searching for a specific student) or by institution and then academic program.