1. Who can participate in the ELP-ii?
Only graduate students who have taken the ELCE may participate in the ELP-ii classes. Additionally, faculty are welcome to use ELP-ii services for individualized support. To learn if you are eligible to participate, click here.
2. Can I take the ELCE?
Nonnative English-speaking graduate students who have been proposed as TAs by a hiring department are required to take the ELCE before accepting a TA offer.
3. What is the ELCE?
The English Language Certification Exam is not a paper-and-pencil test. It is a 15-minute live interview and teaching simulation assessing spoken English language competency for teaching. Students are rated by a linguist and faculty representative for language skills including pronunciation accuracy, listening comprehension, use of general and technical vocabulary, grammatical accuracy, smoothness of speech, and organizational clarity. An overall ELCE score determines the level of qualification for a TA assignment. Click here for more information on What You Need to Know About the ELCE and Process.
4. But I took the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE test. How is the ELCE different from the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE?
The TOEFL/IELTS/PTE tests are used to assess a student’s readiness to begin studies in a university. The ELCE is used to assess a student’s readiness to teach.
5. I want to TA. How can I sign up for the test?
Students DO NOT sign up for the test. A hiring department representative submits a list of proposed TAs who must take the ELCE. Those students will be contacted by the hiring department with the test date and time.
6. Where is the ELP-ii located?
The ELP-ii is a program within the Center for Engaged Teaching, a unit of the Teaching & Learning Commons. We are currently located in 307 Center Hall, which is on the third floor, in the part of the building closest to Gilman Drive.
7. How do I prepare my English before I arrive?
UC San Diego welcomes students from all over the world, many of whom speak English as an additional language. International students often ask how they can develop their English skills before they arrive. If you want to improve your spoken English for teaching, there are a range of options that can help meet your needs.
- Consider developing your communication skills by taking a presentation skills class to focus on speaking rate, a strong voice, eye contact and gestures.
- Improve your conversational English by using online resources such as listening to podcasts and lectures, watching movies in English, and taking a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). Check out the Language and Teaching Resources on the English Language Resources page.
- For additional advice, watch this video featuring international graduate students who have been successful TAs.
Both university policy and California state assembly resolution require that all graduate students who are nonnative English speakers demonstrate proficiency in the use of English for teaching, a professional communication skill, before they can work as a teaching assistant who will meet with students. Since this policy went into effect, we have had tremendous cooperation from hiring departments, and both the undergraduates and the ITAs have benefited from this system.
Some departments have raised questions about the interpretation of this requirement.
1. What is a nonnative English speaker (NNES)?
Nonnative English speakers are international or domestic students whose native language (first language/mother tongue) is not English. This can include:
- Newly arrived international students
- Students who attended all or part of college in the US
- Students who attended an English speaking college in another country
- Students who are speakers of another variety of English (e.g. from India, Singapore, Hong Kong)
2. Do US residents/citizens have to take the ELCE?
By Graduate Division policy, any graduate student who is not a native speaker of English, whose undergraduate degree is not from an English-speaking college or university* (*see item 4 below), or who have serious English pronunciation problems, must be tested, regardless of citizenship. US residency or citizenship is no guarantee of English proficiency. A Canadian student who is a native English speaker does not need the test; a native French-speaking Canadian does.
3. Do speakers of other varieties of English (e.g., students from India, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.) need to take the ELCE?
Clearly, many students in this category speak fluent English. However, there have been complaints about language problems with some students who were not originally tested and later found to need a significant amount of language training to develop English comprehensibility. While we realize it may seem unnecessary to test these students, we must have a uniform policy and test everyone.
4. Does a student still need to be tested if he or she has been studying in the US for several years and/or has received a TOEFL waiver for admission?
We have tested students who completed undergraduate and graduate work in the US and still have basic problems with speaking and listening skills. Even a student who has worked as a TA at another university many not have the language skills necessary to function successfully as a TA at UC San Diego. Again, to ensure a uniform policy, a hiring department can require that all nonnative speakers take the test. However, if a hiring department chooses to exempt a TA applicant who has an undergraduate degree from an English-speaking college or university from this requirement, then it must apply this exemption consistently.
5. Does this English language policy apply to students who submit a TOEFL Speaking subscore of 28-30, an IELTS Speaking subscore of 8.5-9.0, or a PTE Speaking subscore of 83-90?
A hiring department may choose to exempt a TA applicant who has a TOEFL Speaking subscore of 28-30, an IELTS Speaking subscore of 8.5-9.0, or a PTE Speaking subscore of 83-90, but it must apply this exemption consistently.
6. Does this English language policy apply to students who serve as language assistants in courses conducted in their native language?
No. This policy does not apply to students serving as language assistants in courses conducted in their native language. This policy applies when these students serve as TAs in courses conducted in English.
7. Who can participate in the ELP-ii?
Graduate students with a TA requirement who have taken the ELCE may participate in the ELP-ii classes. Graduate students without a TA requirement and who have an ELCE score of 2.5 or higher may also participate. To learn if a student is eligible to participate, click here. Additionally, faculty are welcome to use ELP-ii services for individualized support. Click here for information students should know about the ELCE and Process.
8. What are the language screening guidelines?
Graduate Division guidelines state that a screening consists of a 15-20 minute impromptu interview and teaching simulation, during which the student must respond to general and discipline-specific questions typically asked in undergraduate courses. The testing panel, consisting of at least one faculty representative from the department and an ELP-ii linguist, reviews, evaluates and scores the responses for level of communication skill ability and overall language proficiency, including pronunciation accuracy, listening comprehension, use of general and technical vocabulary, speech flow, grammatical accuracy, and organizational clarity. The testing panel then makes a recommendation as to whether the TA candidate qualifies to TA.
9. Who schedules the ELCE?
The hiring departments first notify the ELP-ii of TA candidates who must be screened. The ELP-ii coordinates screening dates and times with the hiring departments. The hiring departments coordinate the exam schedule with the prospective TAs and faculty representative. Students DO NOT schedule the exam.
1. Can I participate in the ELP-ii?
Yes, faculty are welcome to use ELP-ii services for individualized support.
2. I’m an instructor teaching nonnative speakers. Can you help me address the pedagogical challenges of teaching in a multilingual, multicultural classroom?
Yes, please come see us! For more information, please contact us.
3. I’ve been assigned to be the ELCE Faculty Representative. What should I do?
According to Graduate Division language screening guidelines, the ELCE screening panel consists of at least two members, a faculty member and a linguist. The faculty member plays an important role in determining whether a nonnative speaking graduate student meets the minimum level of proficiency necessary for a TAship. The faculty member is the expert in the student’s discipline. This person will ask questions typically asked by undergraduates in class, prompt the student for further explanation or clarification, and assess for appropriate and clear responses. For more information, please contact us.