August 2020

English Language Resources for Graduate Instructors teaser image
Our university has a Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and in my opinion, it is a must-use resource for all graduate students. Having worked as a graduate teaching consultant and collaborator of multiple CTE programs, I personally benefitted a lot from this experience, and also heard many positive feedbacks from my peers, including both domestic and international graduate students. Whether you’re currently a teaching assistant or an instructor, or you will become one sometime in the future, you should all take advantage of our CTE resources.
There are many ways the CTE can help you, and in this post I’m sharing with you some opportunities provided through the English Language Proficiency (ELP) program. First and foremost, the ELP is NOT ONLY for international graduate students. Although their primary goal is to help people meet the language proficiency requirement to become a TA, they also help graduate students who are native English speakers to become more effective teachers!
You can request a trained teaching consultant to conduct classroom observations, which basically is for them to sit in your class, observe, take notes on your behavior and your students’ reactions, and later in a consultation session, provide you with suggestions to improve. If you have some specific questions about teaching strategies, classroom management, and creating a teaching plan, you can also request a private consultation session with the ELP consultants.
If you are going to give a conference presentation, either poster or oral, or you’re job hunting and you need to give a teaching demonstration, you will love their microteaching and videotaping feedback service! No matter in what field or format your teaching will be delivered, they can work with you on not only the content and logic, but also body language and your usage of visual materials. The ELP can also give you advise on how to video record your presentation since many of us are presenting virtually in a pre-recorded format nowadays.
For English as a second language speakers, the ELP has a more formal weekly practice group where a consultant can help you with fluency and pronunciation in a roundtable environment. They also have a relatively informal conversation partners program that will pair you up with another participant, so you can have a more relaxed setting to talk in English and learn each other’s culture.
Remember that all CTE-ELP programs are free and open to all graduate students. On top of all the above mentioned programs, CTE also offers many workshops and webinars that focus on a pre-defined topic. For most events, you will need to register ahead of time so they can have a more accurate head count. As the new semester’s around the corner, if you have any concerns about teaching, or would like to learn more about a specific program, email them directly at They will help you to identify a way that you would feel most comfortable to participate, whether it’s online or face-to-face, and benefit from our very supportive community of graduate scholars!

----Mingqian Liu

Mingqian Liu is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Architecture


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