The Indiana University TEPAIC is administered by the Department of Second Language Studies at the request of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. It is required for currently enrolled graduate students whose mother tongue is not English and whose academic departments have encouraged them to apply for the position of Associate Instructors (AIs). As a pre-requisite to the TEPAIC, as well as having the possibility of an assistantship from a department, AI candidates must meet minimum TOEFL requirements, which include overall TOEFL scores, sub-scores, and written scores.
The goals of TEPAIC are:
Candidates are required to have minimum TOEFL scores and sub scores (See TOEFL Requirement) and take the 15-minute oral interview TEPAIC only. There is no written exam. If candidates successfully complete the oral interview, they will have successfully completed the TEPAIC and will be certified "to engage in the direct instruction of students at Indiana University."
If they do not successfully complete the oral interview their first time and receive an "NC4," they may wish to take the optional Appeal Exam in order for their English to be certified for teaching purposes.
The TEPAIC is free of charge to the candidates.
Once English proficiency has been certified, individual departments have the sole responsibility of hiring international graduate students as AIs.
For the TEPAIC interview, a Holistic Rating System is used, as in well-known oral interviews such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Oral Proficiency Interview (ACTFLOPI) and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) interview. Separate evaluation forms help examiners remember specific candidates after the interview. When the candidates finish the interview and leave the room, the interviewers complete the evaluation form. There is little if any discussion necessary and no "coming to terms or agreement". Both interviewers must individually and separately decide whether or not the candidate successfully completed the interview.
Holistic evaluation is generally used in language testing for open-ended production skills, such as composition grading and oral interviews; otherwise, given the constraints of time and material, the number of areas which discrete-item scoring would need to consider are so numerous as to make such scoring untenable. This is particularly true with oral interviews since the evaluation is being done as candidates proceed through the interview. As Buck (cited in Cohen, 1994) notes "language comprehension is, by its very nature, multidimensional, and testing it only increases the number of dimensions involved in the process. In such a case it is obviously not possible to say what each item measures" (p. 261).
Before new candidates may sign up for the TEPAIC, they must have taken the TOEFL within the past two years and met the minimum TOEFL requirements, including the overall score, sub-scores, and writing score. If they do not have a TOEFL score which is two years old or less or if they do not have the minimum TOEFL score or sub scores, candidates have the option of retaking or taking a TOEFL or the Indiana English Proficiency Exam (IEPE). The department should verify these requirements are met prior to sending the memo to the email below.
For a student to register, their department must send an email memo to firstname.lastname@example.org stating the department's wish to have the student take the TEPAIC exam. Please send the student's full name, department, and university ID. This memo needs to be received no later than one week prior to the first day of sign-up for the session. A student who has been given permission by their department with a memo will need to come in person to register for their exam time. All students will need to present a picture ID. The sign-ups are first come, first serve and we strongly recommend a student come to sign-up during the first week as sessions fill up. While registering at Ballantine Hall 802, candidates will schedule a future 15-minute interview appointment. The 15-minute oral interviews are usually held in Ballantine Hall between 1:30 and 9:00 p.m. on a specific date, four times a year.
Associate Instructor candidates must meet minimum TOEFL requirements before they register for the TEPAIC. IELTS scores are not accepted for TEPAIC requirements.
For either the Paper-based TOEFL (PbT), the Computer-based TOEFL (CbT), or the Internet-based TOEFL (IbT), candidates must have minimum scores in the following three areas: the overall TOEFL score, the sub-scores, and (on both the PbT and CbT) the essay component.
|Test Type||Minimum Scores|
|Paper-based TOEFL (PbT)||Overall score: 550|
Sub-scores (listening, structure, and reading): each 55
Essay score: 4
|Computer-based TOEFL (CbT)||Overall score: 213|
Sub-scores (listening, structure and reading): each 22
Essay score: 4
|Internet-based TOEFL (IbT)||Overall score: 79-80|
TOEFL scores may not be more than two years old. If candidates do not have TOEFL scores which are less than two years old, they may retake the TOEFL or take the Indiana English Proficiency Exam (IEPE).
Admitted students who do NOT satisfy these minimal are required to take IEPE (and possibly the Second Language Studies T101 courses related to performance on that exam).
The Indiana English Proficiency Exam (IEPE) is an Indiana University entrance exam required of all undergraduate international students whose first language or mother tongue is not English, and all those graduate students who do not present minimum TOEFL scores (see the "TOEFL Requirements" Sidebar for details) or whose departments require the IEPE in addition to TOEFL scores. The IEPE is given several times a year, including August and early January.
The IEPE is an intermediate-level proficiency test of English, designed to expose basic English language problems which might hinder success in students— academic pursuits. The approximately four hour exam includes a 45-minute composition, 5 minute oral interview, an integrated skills task, and a multiple choice sections for listening and reading comprehension.
There are three possible results of the IEPE. The results for many international students permit them to proceed into full time academic studies with no classes in English needed. The results for some students require that they take one or a few support courses, called Second Language Studies (SLST) T101 (undergraduate) or T501 (graduate), which are designed to give students more practice in certain areas of English, for example in writing. Most of these courses are 8 weeks in length and may be taken at the same time as other academic classes. The results for a very few students, however, place them into a 7-week session in the Intensive English Program, where they study full time English and do not begin their academic coursework.
For more information about the IEPE, please contact Linda Abe at Second Language Studies or the Office of International Services.
The TEPAIC is given officially four times a year: early January, mid-April, late August, and mid-November. Although individual students may not request make-up tests or special tests, a departmental advisor may request a make-up test or a special test at Second Language Studies at any time.
For all sign up dates below, the Second Language Studies office in Ballantine Hall 802 is open for sign-ups 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM.
Departmental memos for student permission to sign-up need to be received one week before the sign up process begins.
|Sign Up||Interviews||Appeal Exam|
|August 1–4 and 8–11, 2016||August 15–16|
|October 24-28 & Oct. 31 - Nov. 3rd, 2016||November 8-9, 2016||November 15|
|**December 5-9, 2016||**January 3, 2017||**January 5, 2017|
|Feb. 27 - March 3 & March 6-10, 2017||March 21-22, 2017||March 28-29, 2017|
** Please note the January exam is a small session and focused towards AI Candidates whose departments are intending them to teach for the upcoming January session.
The Oral Interview is administered in order to determine whether international candidates for AI positions at Indiana University have a minimally acceptable level of general oral proficiency in English. More specifically, the test aims to assess the "readiness" of AI candidates to conduct classes in English, a matter which entails using English both to give lectures and to interact with students, many of whom may not have had previous contact with nonnative English speakers, and hence may not be accustomed to "accented" speech. The interview provides candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate that they can communicate freely in English. Although candidates are not expected to communicate in English exactly like native speakers, it is expected that their proficiency level of spoken English will not hinder undergraduate student comprehension of any given subject/lecture.
The pool of interviewers consists of approximately 20 instructors from the Intensive English Program in the Department of Second Language Studies. All have advanced degrees in linguistics and/or second language instruction as well as many years of experience in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and testing. Their training as interviewers, moreover, is on-going, with training and calibration sessions conducted quarterly, to coincide with each TEPAIC. Apprentice interviewers, besides undergoing the training, are paired with experienced mentors for their first two interviewing sessions. The training includes: a review of interviewing skills, including types of questions and methods of employing "probes" i.e. questions which progressively probe more complex topics and demand more sophisticated language skills); discussion of criteria employed in rater judgments; and calibration (i.e. focused adjustment and standardization of raters' employment of the measuring instrument) using previous interviews to confirm that all interviewers have internalized the rating criteria and that they apply the criteria in the same way.
Two raters (one male and one female), whenever possible) conduct a fifteen-minute interview with each international graduate student. During an initial introduction, candidates are asked to show a picture identification and give their current contact information (address, student identification number, telephone, department, etc.). The raters also mention that the session is not a "test" per se, as there are no correct or incorrect answers. Rather, it is a conversational setting designed to give the candidates the optimum opportunity to express themselves in a wide variety of topic areas. Since candidates are often extremely nervous, interviewers attempt to establish a casual atmosphere and a modicum of rapport.
After the initial procedures, the interviewers may proceed in a number of directions, often dictated by the candidates' responses. At some point, there is usually a discussion of the candidates' experience with various cross-cultural issues, ranging from comparing the climate and living conditions of their own country with those in the U.S. to comparing the educational system or student conduct in each country.
A second common thread of conversation is a discussion of the candidates' fields of study, giving them the opportunity to present some simple technical information to the raters, who, as a relatively naive audience, need simple, coherent, yet adequately detailed explanation in order to understand the specialized topics.
Besides these two major conversational threads, candidates are given probes which require that they project themselves into both future and hypothetical situations, each of which require specific grammatical devices to indicate the difference between real and possible situations.
If interviewers notice specific problems with a particular area of competence, they may probe this topic further to discern whether this problem will be an impediment to understanding for a prospective undergraduate audience.
In an English proficiency exam for instructors of English-speaking undergraduate students, an oral proficiency measure is needed, because AI's, in addition to lecturing, must be able to comprehend student questions and respond to them with intelligible explanations. Secondly, a measure of candidates' spoken English, separate from a written examination, is needed, because of results from an examination that emphasizes written English (c.f. Dandonoli and Hennig, 1990; ETS, 1992). This is not surprising, given the research has demonstrated that speaking and listening are separate skills (Bachman, 1981; Dandonoli and Henning, 1990).
A measure of general English proficiency, as opposed to specific or special purpose English (e.g. English for chemists, or English for mathematicians) is included in the battery for several reasons. First, a field-specific approach would require separate examinations for each area of specialization. This would be very difficult because it would require the involvement of content-area specialists who were quite knowledgeable about language use and who had extensive experience in applied linguistics and in language testing. The participation of such uniquely qualified individuals would be needed both for input in the test development stages and for interviewing and rating purposes at every single administration of the test. Furthermore, the status of such specific-purpose tests is still controversial in the language testing profession. However, the TEPAIC Oral Interview does provide opportunities for candidates to discuss topics on general themes within their specialization, in the relevant context of explaining a general concept in their field to a novice learner. Such explanations typically do not go into technical depth required in true specific-purpose tests, and hence do not require expert judges in each content area to rate the performance. Furthermore, since the interviewers are not specialists in the candidates' fields, a candidate would not be marked down for providing inaccurate technical information in responding to such a question. The purpose of this type of question is simply to provide a thematically relevant context in which the candidate may speak to demonstrate her or his English language proficiency.
A second reason that general oral proficiency (as opposed to field-specific language ability) is targeted by the AI test is that in many aspects of their teaching, teachers need to use general English that does not relate directly to the content of lectures. For example, they need to be able to explain what homework is to be done, when it is due, how it can be submitted, what chapters to study for a test, how much each section of the test counts toward the students' grade, and so forth. Teachers also need to be able to comprehend questions raised by students, and students typically use general or colloquial language, as opposed to, or at least in addition to, formal or special purpose language specific to the subject being taught.
Appropriate personnel in departments, the Graduate School, and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs will be notified as soon as possible about TEPAIC oral interview results. If the Appeal Exam is taken, a second announcement to the same individuals will be made. Exam results are sent to individual candidates by email if they wish; otherwise, they can find out their results through their respective departments.
The Oral Interview for the TEPAIC is adapted from several common models of Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). It is a test of oral proficiency, as opposed to a placement, achievement, or diagnostic test. Thus, it is designed to give a measure of the overall communicative competence of the interviewee, not to test retention and comprehension of specific material (achievement tests), to assign speakers to a particular level of instruction (placement tests), or to give impressions of specific deficiencies in discrete aspects of oral production (diagnostic tests). One of the best known OPIs, the ACTFL, on which the TEPAIC Oral Interview is loosely based, is mainly a placement test, placing speakers into one of 10 levels of competence (3 intermediate levels each for novice, intermediate, and advanced, with an added category superior). In the IU TEPAIC, however, there is no need for such fine distinctions across all levels, since we are only concerned with ascertaining that candidates have the necessary communicative competence to give lectures, lead discussions, answer questions spontaneously, and negotiate communicative breakdowns. Therefore, all candidates for the TEPAIC interview should be at or above ACTFL Advanced Level. A detailed explanation of the competence required for each of the ACTFL proficiency levels is available at actfl.org.
Immediately after the interview, the two raters independently assign a holistic rating (high pass, pass, borderline pass, borderline fail, fail) and then compare their findings. In the majority of cases, they agree on the holistic rating. In the case of disagreement, there is no negotiation; each rater simply assigns a separate score, and the lower rating is given for the overall evaluation.
Having given the rating, interviewers then assess problem areas of individual language skills by means of the analytical assessment form. This assessment has no relation to the holistic score already assigned, and serves only to give the candidate additional information about possibly areas in need of training. It must be stressed that candidates rarely fail on the basis of one particular flaw in language use; usually there are problems in many areas, some of which, such as a lack of sophistication in vocabulary or grammar, are difficult to describe, precisely because they are indicated by the absence of more sophisticated vocabulary or grammar rather than the presence of any inappropriate elements.
The categories used on the analytical instrument are:
The holistic evaluation groups the candidates into one of five levels:
When the candidates complete the oral test, they must receive one of the three passing ranks for both the Oral Interview in order to be certified for teaching. If they receive a failing rank for the Oral Interview, their English will not be "certified" for the purpose of "engaging in the direct instruction of undergraduate students."
Since cases of "borderline" passes inevitably occur ("C3" below), and since decisions about cases near the cut-score are less reliable than decisions for cases far from the cut-score (i.e., clear passes or clear failures—for example, see "C1" and "C2" below.), the degree of certainty of the raters' decisions is explicitly reflected in score reports that specify the degree of pass for successful candidates. This procedure serves a function similar to that of "confidence intervals" for standardized tests with fixed-response formats. The final ranking codes are given below.
C1 candidates have achieved outstanding results in the oral interview. If these candidates are hired, we predict, based on their exam results, that English will not be a problem in the classroom nor will it hinder communication of ideas between instructor and students.
C2 candidates have received satisfactory results on the exam. If these candidates are hired, we predict, based on their exam results, that English will not be a problem in the classroom nor will it hinder communication of ideas between instructor and students.
C3 Candidates have passed the exam with minimal/marginal scores. We predict that if these candidates are hired, there may be complaints from students. We suggest that the AI's classes be carefully supervised by a faculty member who can monitor student response and be responsible for guiding the instructor during the course. The candidate's English proficiency level might occasionally hinder communication with students, especially if the students are unwilling or unable to extend themselves to try to understand their instructor.
In some of these "borderline" cases, it is possible that the candidates would pass the exam one time, but not the next time. As with any exam, "borderline" results may vary somewhat from one administration to the next.
Candidates who receive a score of "NC4" do not yet have an English proficiency level high enough for "the direct instruction of undergraduate students." These candidates are not qualified to teach, lead classroom discussions or issue course grades. They may, however, with a waiver from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, be hired to assist a faculty member by performing such tasks as answering individual student questions in a lab where a faculty member is present, passing out papers in large lecture sections, helping to correct and evaluate tests, and conducting some tutorials and one-on-one meetings with students outside of the classroom setting.
Candidates who receive a score of "NC5" are not certified to engage in any phase of instruction.
These results are sent as soon as possible to the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and the department which has supported the candidate by sending a memo of intent to hire.
The Appeal Exam is available to TEPAIC candidates who receive an "NC4" on their 15-minute oral interview. The registration process to take the Appeal Exam will begin 24 hours after the TEPAIC oral interviews are completed. Students must come to Memorial Hall 315 to choose their 30-minute appointment time and receive a description of the Appeal Exam. The Appeal Exams will be given as soon as possible after the 15-minute TEPAIC oral interviews and will continue until all students have been tested.
The Appeal Exam provides candidates who score NC4 (borderline fail) with a second opportunity to demonstrate their English skills. Students who feel that their performance in the initial TEPAIC oral interview did not accurately reflect their readiness to use English to carry out the duties of an AI may register to take a teaching performance exam.
This exam evaluates English language skills in the context of the classroom and the office hour. The Appeal exam is not a test to determine pedagogical skills. However, competent public speaking and teaching skills, familiarity with field specific vocabulary, and effective communication strategies can sometimes compensate for language limitations.
In addition to a short interview, candidates demonstrate their ability to teach at an undergraduate level, answer questions in an office hour role play, and respond to typical student questions.
The Appeal Exam consists of 4 components:
A team of three evaluators conducts the Appeal Exam. The team consists of two language specialists from the Intensive English Program in the Department of Second Language Studies, and an undergraduate student. Each candidate's department is invited to send a representative to observe the interview and join the team.
Immediately after a candidate finishes his/her exam, the evaluators individually rate the exam, discuss their evaluations and determine a group rating. The evaluators decide how effectively the candidate communicates in an instructional setting. Evaluators take into consideration that newly arrived candidates may not be familiar with all the conventions of teaching and classroom specific idioms used in the various settings.
Generally, candidates receiving scores of C1, C2, and C3 are considered acceptable for a range of teaching duties; they have exhibited the following characteristics during the Appeal Exam:
Candidates use field-specific vocabulary that promotes clear expression of concepts; use some colloquial and idiomatic terms and expressions; use expressions and terms to link concepts and highlight key points; may show some word choice variation but this does not inhibit communication of concepts; grammatical deviations, when present, are minor and not particularly distracting.
Candidates are fluent and understandable; they may have phonological variation or some variation in rhythm or rate but are intelligible; speech is clear and projected adequately.
Candidates are appropriately concise or elaborate depending on context, frame or preview concept or link concept to prior knowledge, convey a coherent explanation of a concept, offer relevant examples or analogies, define terms, summarize or rephrase points, understand student perspective, provide relevant suggestions and guidance.
Candidates' gestures, eye-contact, and body language promote intended communication; blackboard use or other visuals promote communication of concepts; candidates anticipate what might not be understood; they are attentive to communication and monitor the communication; they understand spoken English well.
Clarity, fluency and intelligibility of speech. Whether candidates are active participants in the dialogue and their ability to understand the interviewers' questions.
Clarity, fluency and intelligibility of speech. Presentation skills including voice projection, organization of the lesson, appropriate transitions, highlighting of important information, use of field specific vocabulary, use of board work or other visuals to promote communication, and ability to understand and respond to questions.
Clarity, fluency and intelligibility of speech. Interactional skills, ability to understand the questions and negotiate for meaning and clarify misunderstandings.
How fully the candidates understand questions and how appropriate their replies are.
Candidates will receive detailed instruction on how to prepare for the Appeal Exam when they register for it.
Before the exam, prepare a 7-10 minute mini-lesson in your field. It should be suitable for undergraduates in an introductory class. You may find a suitable topic in a course textbook or lab manual. You may use the blackboard. Expect impromptu questions typical of those you might receive from undergraduates.
One of the evaluators will play the role of a student at an office hour appointment. He will ask a question or express a concern about the subject, a class management issue (tests, absences, homework, grades) or problems (illness, problems with group work). You will respond to the question or concern as you might in a real office hour appointment.
You will respond to 10 typical student questions presented on videotape (e.g. "When are your office hours?").
This exam is an adapted version of the University of Michigan's AI exam.
In the fall of 1978, Indiana University at Bloomington began efforts to address the issue of Language proficiency among its Associate Instructors (AI's) whose native language is not English. The AI Affairs committee of the Bloomington Faculty Council as well as an ad hoc committee in the Graduate School were charged to investigate allegations that, at times, undergraduate students encountered difficulty understanding the English of some AI's. In November 1979, a report from the AI Affairs Committee was given to the Faculty Council. As a result, the Committee recommended that a screening procedure be established. A motion to do so was introduced and passed unanimously.
Subsequently, the former Center for English Language Training (now Second Language Studies) has since developed the Test of English Proficiency for Associate Instructor Candidates (TEPAIC). The test, which was initially administered in the fall semester of 1980, determines whether or not international graduate students are proficient enough in English to "engage in the direct instruction of students" (Bloomington Faculty Council Minutes, Nov. 20, 1979).
With several different forms over the years, the exam originally consisted of a 15-minute oral interview and a two-and-a-half-hour written component, including a 45-minute composition and multiple choice TOEFL-like questions covering grammar, reading and vocabulary. In spring of 2002, the multiple choice portion was dropped, changing the exam to a one-hour test with a 15-minute interview and a 45-minute composition. Candidates were required to pass both the oral and written parts of the test.
In August 2003, it was decided to drop the 45-minute composition portion of the TEPAIC. It was assumed that if candidates completed the Indiana English Proficiency Exam (IEPE) process, which is required for all non-native English speaking undergraduate and graduate students and which includes a written test, candidates would not need to have their writing abilities tested specifically for the TEPAIC. In addition, as a new policy, all candidates were required to have a departmental memo or be included on a list from a department which intended to hire them as AIs before they could register for the exam. Included in the 2003 changes, a second exam was designed. Candidates who did not complete the TEPAIC successfully and received an "NC4" score are given the option of taking the Appeal Exam.
An optional test, the Appeal Exam last 30 minutes and includes a 5 to 10-minute oral interview, a 10-minute teaching segment, 5-minute office-hour role play, and a 5-minute question period. The Appeal Exam is given within a few days after each TEPAIC. The student who passes the Appeal Exam successfully is certified "to engage in the direct instruction of students at Indiana University."
In April 2006, a policy was introduced which waives the taking of the IEPE exam (and possible T101 language support courses) for those candidates meeting minimum TOEFL requirements. Students who meet those requirements and have a department memo indicating that the department expects to hire them are qualified to register for the TEPAIC.
Since 1980, thousands of AI candidates have been screened. Once English proficiency has been certified, individual departments have the sole responsibility of hiring international graduate students as Associate Instructors.
The new Appeal Exam is closely designed after the University of Michigan's Graduate Student Instructor Oral English Examination. It is greatly appreciated that the University of Michigan agreed to lend their materials, which have been slightly changed, for use during the 2003-2004 transition year for the Indiana University TEPAIC. Our special thanks go to Dr. Sarah Briggs, the University of Michigan contact, who has generously helped us put the Appeal Exam in place.
The learning of second and foreign languages is a rich and fascinating process involving linguistic, psychological, cultural, and social dimensions. The Indiana University Department of Second Language Studies is dedicated to teaching and research on the structure, acquisition, and use of nonnative language in both instructed and contact contexts.