Resources for ITAs

On this page you will find resources to assist you as you prepare to teach. This page provides several experienced ITAs' tips for classroom teaching, common expectations of students and tools to help you communicate with your students, as well as resources for the English language and improving comprehensibility.

A few experienced ITAs are excited to share some tips with you...


One key component to success in the American classroom is to be "humble but confident."

Dai Zehui, Ph.D. Student in Media and Communication



If your students react in a confused manner, do not jump into the conclusion that they hate you because you are a non-domestic TA. As much as it may be our first interaction with domestic students in an American classroom, it may be their first interaction with a teacher from another country in their classroom. They might be simply nervous.
The bottomline is to "be confident, be happy, and be proud of who you are."

Emi Kanemoto, Ph.D. Student in Media Communication



If you are still practicing a specific sound in the English language and you haven't mastered it yet, use the board as a compensation strategy. In other words, write down on the board any words or phrases you may be struggling to pronounce clearly. This way, students will be able to follow your instruction more easily.
Being comprehensible is vital to effective instruction. So your goal should be for students to be able to understand you. If your pronunciation is clear, students will be able to focus on the content you are delivering instead of them trying to figure out what you're trying to say.

Soha Youssef, Ph.D. Student in Rhetoric & Writing 

Teaching Interactively

In the U.S. classroom, instructors are expected to teach interactively. In other words, the classroom is expected to be student-centered rather than teacher-centered. To teach interactively, make sure to involve your students in the learning process through conducting activities and frequently checking students' understanding of the content. Watch this YouTube video to learn various strategies you can implement in your classroom in order to keep students engaged.

Effective Communication

Cultural norms and expectations may sometimes stand in the way of effective communication between instructors and students. Watch this YouTube video to learn different tips and strategies that can help you communicate effectively with your students.

Student Expectations from ITAs

Student expectations vary across cultures. Watch this video by Vanderbilt University to learn about common American student expectations from ITAs.

Surviving and Thriving in American Academia

Nadine Le Gros, from The University of Western Ontario, created this elaborate resource to familiarize ITAs with the American classroom culture, help ITAs maintain a healthy relationship with their advisors/supervisors, and provide ITAs with some language skills needed in an academic setting. 

Videos: The User-friendly Classroom

A.C. Kemp, a lecturer at MIT Global Studies and Languages, created this series of videos in which she addresses U.S. classroom culture and undergraduate students' expectations of ITAs. In those videos, ITAs can find authentic examples of successful instruction and student-instructor interactions as well as advice from ITAs at MIT.

Vocabulary-related Resources

American Slang

Understanding American Slang is one of the challenges International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) in particular--and English language learners in general--may face. A. C. Kemp's Slang City is a rich resource that can familiarize you with day-to-day American slang.


A collocation is a combination of words that usually come together in speech and writing. For instance, "mistake" is usually accompanied with "make"--not "do." So one would say "I made a mistake"--not "I did a mistake." The English Club website offers plenty of resources on collocations, ways to learn them, and quizzes to test one's knowledge.

Adjective Order

In English, if more than one adjective are used to describe a noun, that list of adjectives is never organized haphazardly. There is a rule:  (determiner-> opinion-> size-> shape-> age-> color-> origin-> material-> type/purpose). Following that rule will make your speech and writing easier to understand.

Pronunciation-related Resources

YouTube Channels can be a quite helpful resource to improve one's comprehensibility. But remember that merely watching the videos will not help. Practice is key. Another effective strategy is to record and listen to your speech. Listening to one's own speech helps in detecting errors and ultimately improving comprehensibility.  

Rachel's English

Here is a link to Rachel's English YouTube Channel.  

Elemental English  

Here is a link to Elemental English YouTube Channel.

YouGlish (

 Use YouTube to improve your English pronunciation. All you have to do is type in a word that is difficult for you to pronounce, and YouGlish will give you authentic examples of how that word is spoken by real people in context. You can also sign up for daily lessons.