AAE 451 – Oral Communication for ITAs

The goal of this course is to prepare non-native English speaking international graduate students to be effective teaching assistants at Michigan State University by focusing on improving oral language skills, with special emphasis on improving pronunciation and fluency and the ability to perform necessary speech acts for classroom instruction. Students will practice conveying ideas using clear, comprehensible, fluent speech. The course is designed for students who have not yet passed the MSU Speaking Test and who would benefit from additional oral language instruction, with special emphasis on pronunciation and fluency.

Students in AAE 451 will work to achieve the following student learning outcomes:

  • Recognize the suprasegmental features of English (word stress, sentence stress, rhythm, intonation, pausing, phrasing, linking) that contribute to comprehensibility and the factors that govern the use of these 
  • Demonstrate effective employment of suprasegmental features of English in both rehearsed and more spontaneous speech to convey information clearly
  • Identify individual sounds (segmentals) that hinder their own communication
  • Demonstrate and apply phonological awareness (such as point of articulation, aspiration, etc.) of problematic sounds
  • Identify and accurately produce a range of field-specific vocabulary and vocabulary of instruction and classroom management
  • Employ effective strategies to compensate for linguistic weaknesses
  • Utilize a wide range of active listening and negotiation strategies to indicate comprehension, lack of comprehension, and to resolve and/or avoid miscommunication
  • Contribute effectively to the development of a topic by appropriately taking, holding, and relinquishing the floor, asking relevant follow up questions, bringing the conversation back on task and sharing the conversational load
  • Establish a personalized plan for prioritizing and improving comprehensibility
  • Identify ways in which teacher and student roles in American universities are similar to and/or different from teacher and student roles in their own cultures.
  • Recognize strategies and culturally appropriate language for dealing with common TA situations.
  • Effectively explain terms and concepts from one’s field of study while demonstrating audience awareness.

AAE 451 & 452 Eligibility

Students with an MSU Speaking Test score of 40 or 45 may request enrollment in AAE 451 or 452.  The ITA Program coordinator will work with students to determine whether AAE 451 or 452 best suits their needs.

Registration & Tuition

Students do not enroll directly into ITA support courses.  To request an ITA support course, eligible students must first initiate a request online through the MSU Speaking Test System. Prospective students in the course will then be contacted by the ITA Program coordinator with further information and instructions.  In most cases, students will be invited to attend an ITA advising session where the ITA Coordinator will gather information in order to make the most appropriate course recommendation.

AAE 451 meets three times per week for ten weeks.  Tuition is calculated at the rate of a 3-credit course and students may use part of their tuition waiver if they have one.  The prerequisite for enrolling in the course is an MSU Speaking Test score of 40 or 45 and placement by the ITA Coordinator.  Priority in enrollment is given to students who already have TA appointments.

ITA Program Course Policies

  • Students in ITA support courses will be assigned grades for coursework on the 4.0 MSU scale.  However, AAE 451, 452, and 453 are in the university Pass/No Grade system, which means that the final semester grade that appears on students’ transcripts will be a P (Pass) or an N (No Grade).
  • Students in any  ITA language support courses are required to maintain at least 90% attendance and 80% satisfactory completion of all coursework. If students are absent more than 10% of the course, including time missed due to coming late or leaving early, they will not be able to achieve a score of P (Pass) in the course.  Similarly, if they fail to complete course assignments or do not do so satisfactorily, they will not be able to achieve a final semester score of P (Pass).
  • Successful completion of AAE 451 and 452 makes a student eligible to take the ITAOI (International Teaching Assistant Oral Interaction).  This test is administered and scored by the ELC Testing Office.  Students will receive information about this test directly from the testing office toward the end of the semester.  For more information about the test or testing policies, please visit the ELC Testing Office ITAOI website or email the office at testing@elc.msu.edu.
  • Achieving a P (Pass) in an ITA support course does not clear a student to teach at MSU.  In order to teach at MSU, students must demonstrate adequate proficiency on one of the oral proficiency exams administered by the ELC Testing Office.  For more information on these policies, please see the MSU Policy page for ITAs at https://grad.msu.edu/tap/speak or the ITA Program home page.

For questions about ITA support courses AAE 451, 452, or 453, contact ITA Program Coordinator Alissa Cohen at ITAprogram@elc.msu.edu.

For questions about the MSU Speaking Test or ITAOI, contact the ELC Testing Office at testing@elc.msu.edu.