Who Needs to have a Language Certification
Both university policy and PA law require that all nonnative English speaking students, undergraduate as well as graduate, have their language skills assessed before working as teaching assistants who meet with students.
Commonly Asked Questions About Language Certification
Who is a nonnative English speaker (NNES)?
- Newly arrived international students
- Students who attended all or part of high school or college in the US
- Students who attended English speaking schools in another country
- Students who are nonnative speakers but live in an English speaking country, e.g., a Canadian student who is a native English speaker does not need this certification; a native French speaking Canadian does
- Students who are speakers of another variety of English, e.g. from India, Singapore, Hong Kong
Do US residents / citizens need a language certification?
Do speakers of other varieties of English, e.g. students from India, Singapore, Hong Kong, need a certification?
Do graders need a certification?
Graders who work with students need to have the ITA certification.
Department defines "grading" in many ways: different skill sets are required for
- quantitative grading only with no student contact
- grading while also meeting with students to explain and discuss grade
- grading that requires the ability to communicate effectively in written English, e.g., grading lab reports or journals, essays, responding to discussion boards, writing test questions.
Use the chart below to determine what type of assessment would be appropriate for a specific grading job. However, be aware that the TOEFL Writing score does not give information about the ability to respond in a culturally appropriate way to students.
Type of Grading Assignment
|Method to Certify Appropriate Language Skiils for Job|
|Grading that requires meeting with students to explain and discuss grade, answer questions, etc.||Language assessment required, Restricted II minimum.|
|Grading that requires ability to communicate effectively in written English, e.g., grading lab reports or journals, essays, writing test questions, responding to discussion boards.||Recommend minimum TOEFL Writing score of 24 along with department assessment of the necessary skill set, including ability to respond in a culturally appropriate way to students.|
|Quantitative grading only with no student contact||TOEFL Speaking score of 18 (minimum recommended for academic work at CMU).|
What about a student who has been studying in the US for several years?
Students who have completed undergraduate and graduate work in this country may still have basic problems with speaking and listening skills. Even a student who has worked as a TA at another university may not have the language skills necessary to function as a TA at Carnegie Mellon University.
To insure a uniform policy, please insist that all nonnative speakers complete the language certification.