International Teaching Assistants/Milwaukee International Teaching Assistant Assessment (MITAA)

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Information for International Teaching Assistants

Background: The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System established policy 20-17 in December 1991 concerning the selection, training, and evaluation of teaching assistants. Section 1.B states: “Non-native English speakers must be required to demonstrate proficiency in spoken English before they are assigned classroom duties as teaching assistants.”

The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee International Teaching Assistant Assessment (MITAA) is a requirement for some international teaching assistants who are non-native speakers of English and who will be assigned classroom duties as part of a graduate teaching assistantship.

The English Language Academy (ELA) Office has established the MITAA as the tool for assessing spoken English proficiency of international teaching assistants. The MITAA evaluates English language proficiency, cultural competency, and teaching skills for the classroom. The assessment is administered by the English Language Academy International Teaching Assistant (ITA) coordinator, Mark Sullivan. Please email Mark Sullivan to determine if you are required to take the MITAA, to schedule a MITAA, and to receive feedback on the MITAA assessment and exit reporting. If Mark is not available, please email the English Language Academy (

Note: Not all prospective International Teaching Assistants must take the MITAA. You do not have to take the assessment if you have a recent (within the last 2 years) standardized test score:

  • 23 or better on the Speaking section of the internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) or
  • 7.0 or better on the Speaking section of the IELTS
  • 185 or better on the Speaking section of the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) or the Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

The MITAA is conducted by a panel of three evaluators: one department representative and two ELA representatives. The department representative needs to be a content specialist and/or faculty member who teaches in your department. There is no charge for the MITAA.

You must have a department representative attend your MITAA. You may not take the MITAA exam on your own. You must have permission from your department to register for the MITAA.

Department Representatives

If you are a Department Representative and you have not gotten email announcements for MITAAs, please contact Mark Sullivan at

International Teaching Assistants

To schedule your MITAA, please complete the following steps: 

  1. Contact your department to ask if you are required to take the MITAA.
  2. Identify your department representative. Make sure the department representative is a content specialist, such as a faculty member who teaches courses. If you do not know a representative in your department, please contact your department directly. Do not contact the English Language Academy for this information.
  3. Complete the MITAA Registration Form
  4. Consult with your department representative on which time and date best suits both of your schedules.
  5. Once the MITAA Registration Form has been completed and you or your department representative has signed up for an available time slot, you will receive a confirmation email from Mark Sullivan.
  6. Appear for your MITAA on the date and time selected. Please do not be late. If you believe you will be late or if you need to reschedule, please email Mark Sullivan 24 hours ahead of time.

Before your MITAA:

  • Prepare a 5-minute presentation (without the aid of a Powerpoint/PPT or handout) in your field geared towards a first-year or second-year level class (a topic of your choice). A whiteboard, markers, and eraser will be provided, which we strongly encourage the presenters to use.

The assessment consists of three components:

The MITAA lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.

  • a short (1-2 minutes) introductory conversation (e.g. warmup questions) on personal, academic, or professional topics. These questions are designed as a warmup prior to the test
  • TWO role play scenarios, each lasting about 1 minute. These scenarios simulate a conversation with a student during office hours. The scenario/topic will be provided on the day of your exam. These scenarios will help us assess your speaking, listening, conversation, and interaction skills.
  • a presentation of approximately 4-5 minutes on a self-selected topic related to the field of study and suitable for first or second year undergraduate students
  • a question and answer period of about 2-3 minutes following the presentation

Assessment Criteria

Each category is assessed on a 1-4 scale (with 4 being the best). International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) must receive a 12 average by all raters to pass. If the ITA does not meet these criteria, then they do not pass the MITAA and will be required to complete English for Academic Purposes (EAP) coursework either prior to OR concurrently with their TA teaching duties, depending on the scores in other categories. A summary of the requirements to pass, as well as a brief description of each category, is outlined below:

  • ITA needs a 12 average by all raters to pass
    • 36-48: No restrictions (no additional coursework needed)
    • 30-35: Provisional pass – required to take EAP 435 concurrent with classroom teaching
    • 29 or below: Required to take EAP 435 before beginning classroom teaching.

Overall language ability (a score of 3 in this category is recommended)

  • vocabulary (word choice & complexity)
  • grammar
  • fluency

Pronunciation (a score of 3 in this category is recommended)

  • Stress and intonation patterns

Interaction with committee (a score of 3 in this category is recommended)

  • Able to understand and interact with the committee as demonstrated by response to presentation follow-up questions and role play scenarios
  • Basic listening ability
  • Response to and handling of questions

Organization & Content of Presentation

  • Main ideas clear
  • ideas logically organized
  • ideas supported with details and examples
  • ideas paraphrased, repeated, and reinforced
  • cohesiveness

Note: After taking the required EAP coursework, the student must sign up for an exit MITAA to determine whether or not they have demonstrated marked improvement.