Working as an International GTA

Serving as an international GTA can be a challenge.  Some international GTAs are self-conscious about their proficiency in spoken and written English and may be unsettled by certain U.S. student attitudes toward school, work, teachers, and classmates.  However, with time and assistance international GTAs are able to address these challenges and use their internationality to their advantage in the classroom.  To make the most of their teaching experience, international GTAs should consider doing the following:

  • Discuss teaching concerns and expectations with supervising professors, mentors, graduate directors, the staff at the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center, and other GTAs, both international and domestic.
  • Consult Learning Assistance Services’ free ESOL Conversation Program, which helps international students expand vocabulary, improve pronunciation, and increase speaking and listening abilities.  A description of this program is found at www.counseling.umd.edu/LAS/.
  • Look into the editorial service program administered by the Graduate School.  Information about English editing for international graduate students is found at www.english.umd.edu/academics/writingcenter/graduate/international.
  • Read through the International Teaching Assistant Handbook: An Introduction to University and College Teaching in the United States, which is available at oic.id.ucsb.edu/international-ta-handbook.
  • Apply for International Teaching Fellows Program. The Graduate School, in partnership with the TLTC, offers a fellowship program to support the professional development of international graduate students. The International Teaching Fellowship pairs international graduate teaching assistants who have recently joined the University with a mentor who observes and consults with the international students to facilitate their development as future faculty and as current teaching assistants.  The International Teaching Fellows meet as a learning community several times each semester under the guidance of the TLTC.  They write, share, and discuss reflections on teaching and strategies for improvement of their understanding of effective undergraduate teaching.  Candidates for this fellowship are nominated by their departments.  Further information on the program expectations is available at tltc.umd.edu/programs