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Policy for Training & Testing Prospective GSIs in LSA

Policy for Graduate Students with Non-English Medium Undergraduate Backgrounds Who Seek GSI Positions in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts strongly supports the employment of GSIs from diverse educational, linguistic and cultural backgrounds and values their contribution to the College community. In recognition of the particular challenges of working as a GSI in a different educational system, in potentially new classroom cultures, and perhaps in a different language, the College graduate students from non-English medium undergraduate educational backgrounds who are candidates for GSI positions may be required to attend a training workshop sponsored by LSA and conducted jointly by the English Language Institute (ELI) and the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). Requirement for attendance at this workshop is determined by whether a student has received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. college or university or an undergraduate degree in which English was the exclusive medium of instruction. Students who meet one of these two criteria should be exempted from testing or training for English language classroom competency. The Department Chair can also refer potential GSIs to the Workshop who need additional language and/or acculturation training. If referred, attendance and satisfactory completion is required as a condition of employment as a GSI.

The workshop provides participants with practice in classroom English and in leading discussion sections and labs. It provides perspectives on aspects of the U.S. educational system such as grading and office hours and aspects of the culture of the University of Michigan undergraduate classroom.

As part of the training, the College of LS&A also requires that potential GSIs whose undergraduate medium of instruction is not English be evaluated for competence in classroom English. Competence in classroom English includes the ability to understand the English spoken by the undergraduates in their classrooms and the ability to speak comprehensibly in interactions with their students.

Evaluation of this ability occurs via observation during the weeks of the ELI/CRLT workshops. Students who demonstrate adequate control of the salient characteristics of effective communication in English for the classroom during the workshop are approved for regular classroom assignments. Other students are required to demonstrate their competence by taking the Oral English Test conducted by independent evaluators from the ELI. Those students whose prior education has been English-medium as well as native speakers of any variety of English are not required to take the Oral English Test.

In the event that an international student does not successfully complete the ELI proficiency examination at the end of a workshop, it is incumbent on the department that made admission and support offers to identify alternative support resources that are not GSI positions and that do not require direct contact with undergraduate students. It is not required that these “backup” 2 support systems offer conditions of support that are identical or comparable in level to that which would come from a regular GSI position, but they must be sufficient to meet INS requirements that the international student be able to demonstrate the existence of financial support during the first year of study.

Such alternative support is contingent on the student’s concurrently fulfilling ELI course requirements identified in the Oral English Test. This Test is provided at no cost to the student, and the ELI courses are available from the College to enrolled students.

There are two options for the training workshop/course during the year. There will be a Winter semester workshop/course (ELI 994) and an August workshop/course (both 2 credits). For any graduate student who is required to attend the August LS&A ELI/CRLT workshop, the University provides housing in a designated University facility and a living allowance of $35 per day. For those who do not choose to live in the designated facility, there are no cash alternatives. Please review the tax treaty information to see if you qualify for a tax exemption.

The Rackham Graduate School has instituted a similar support policy for students who are admitted as graduate students in schools or colleges other than LS&A, but who may wish to apply for GSI positions in LS&A or who wish to attend the workshops as a means for improving their own English language profiency. Room, board, and fellowship support will be made available through Rackham on the same terms as it is available in LS&A. Distribution of the cost of the room and board between Rackham and the school or college of enrollment will be negotiated by the Dean of Rackham and the Dean of the relevant unit.