ALS 5780

About ALS 5780

Who can participate? | Registration information | Course structure | Learning outcomes

ALS 5780 (the International Teaching Assistant Program Course) is designed to support and accelerate your learning at Cornell.

Over the past five years, over 450 students speaking 26 different languages have taken ALS 5780. More than 46% of students in ALS 5780 can TA while taking the course. Most of these students only need to take the course once. Just under 54% must take ALS 5780 before TAing. Most of these students need to take the course fewer than two times to reach the oral English proficiency standard set by the University.

ALS 5780 helps international students who have been appointed to be teaching assistants build and refine their oral English proficiency. It is designed to equip students to meet Cornell University's standards for academic proficiency necessary to serve as a teaching assistant, while also better preparing them for success at Cornell and across their careers.

Course strategies include small group seminars, bimonthly conferences with instructors, audio journals, and teaching practica. The focus is on oral communication and incorporates discussion activities on topics related to the student, intercultural classroom communication, and teaching techniques.

ALS 5780 is a deliberately experiential course focused on improving oral English proficiency. This structure is based on evidence and experience that show oral proficiency is developed most rapidly through practice. The course is highly interactive and designed to give you a maximum number of opportunities to practice English language speaking skills. It is a 2-credit course graded on an S/U basis.

Who can Participate?

The course is open to graduate international teaching assistants. Enrollment space in ALS 5780 is based on the immediacy of the teaching assistant appointment, as well as the language assessment outcome. The goal is to provide as much support as possible to refine oral English proficiency to meet Cornell University expectations for teaching.

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Registration information

ALS 5780 is offered fall and spring semesters. It is a 2-credit course graded on an S/U basis. Please check the Student Center for this semester's meeting times.

Graduate students should register for ALS 5780 via the Student Center. As the course fills quickly, we encourage pre-registration and early registration.

Because the course is designed to offer interactive practice in oral English proficiency, it is not possible to audit the course.

For additional information, please contact the ITAP team.

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Course structure

ALS 5780 meets twice weekly for 75 minutes. it also includes bi-monthly conferences with your instrctor.

ALS 5780 is an opportunity for you to practice communication skills to refine your oral English proficiency. To do so, it incorporates activities in authentic language contexts. These activities are designed to give you "real-world" experience and include:

  • audio journals and video-taped teaching practica
  • pair work
  • role-play scenarios
  • leading discussions
  • peer feedback opportunities
  • consultations with undergraduate language consultants (optional)

Additional support

Optional weekly sessions with undergraduate language consultants are available. At the beginning of the term, you may sign up to meet weekly with an undergraduate consultant. Past experience has shown that typical students need approximately 200 hours of practice to improve their oral English proficiency by one sub-level (For details on English proficiency levels, see the ACTFL guidelines).

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Learning outcomes

The International Teaching Assistant Program’s (ITAP) foundational course, ALS 5780, provides an opportunity for multilingual graduate students to develop the oral communication skills necessary to be successful in their graduate programs, with emphasis on the skills they may need for teaching in the Cornell classroom. Through weekly classes, conferences with instructors, peer feedback and weekly assignments, students will work on advancing their oral English comprehensibility, pronunciation accuracy and improve their impromptu speaking skills.This course is designed to assist students who are working towards meeting the Language Proficiency requirement for teaching at Cornell University.

Through participation in ALS 5780 and 5790, students will:

  • Narrate and describe in major time frames- past, present, and future
  • Engage in conversation about topics of personal and general interest/current events   
  • Clearly communicate ideas so they can be easily understood by others who are not accustomed to interacting with non-native speakers  
  • Speak in paragraphs, using connected discourse
  • Identify and prioritize areas of personal strengths and areas for growth related to language proficiency, and engage in corresponding self-directed, targeted practice 

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