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English for Speakers of Other Languages

ESOL for AS&E Graduate Students

CAS 085 Academic English and Communication for International TAs

Who is eligible? How much does it cost?

This is a graduate-level course, but others outside of the University of Rochester may be eligible to enroll, space permitting. The cost for the semester is $650. Please contact the Graduate Studies Office ( for more information.

Instructor: Hoang Pham

Course Description

This course is designed to support international graduate students to 1) develop and refine their academic English and communication skills in classroom discourse; 2) develop teaching strategies in American higher education; 3) hone their pedagogical skills as a TA. Primary areas covered will be graduate school expectations, academic English, verbal and nonverbal communication in English, presentation, and various teaching techniques.

When and Where

Wednesdays from 4:50 until 7:30 in Lattimore Hall room 413

Note: there will be no class on the Monday of Fall Break.

Instructor Contact

Phone - 1-585-276-7426
Email -

Office: LeChase 445

Course Materials

We will be using the following textbook for this course:

  1. Sarkisian, E. (2006). Teaching American Students: A Guide for International Faculty and Teaching Assistants in Colleges and Universities (3rd edi.). Cambridge, MA: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. (ISBN: 0-674-02141-x)
  2. Other materials available on Blackboard.

Course Grades

This is Pass or Fail course. To receive a grade of "satisfactory" or “S” ("not fail") you must score 75% or above;

1. Attendance, preparation, and participation  (20%)

Learning is a social endeavor and we will depend on one another to develop understanding and encourage multiple perspectives. Students are expected to attend all classes, prepare by doing readings and projects, and actively participate in class.

In the case of illness or an emergency, please call or email me as soon as you know you won’t be able to attend. Missing more than two classes will lower your participation grade, even for excused reasons.

2. Mini-presentation on Idiomatic expression or new vocabulary teaching: 5% (Due in class every Monday)

As proficient users of English you may be aware of encountering new idiomatic expressions and vocabulary words. Often these words and expression are crucial to understanding and developing cultural awareness. You will encounter these as you speak with others, watch television and movies, listen to music or the radio, and read. Keep a small notebook or file on your computer where you jot down these words or expressions. Each day 1 student will briefly share one of their expressions or new vocabulary words with the class so we can learn from each other. During your talk (5 minutes), you will present the word or phrase, explain or show the context in which you encountered this word or phrase, and define it to the best of your ability. 

In the first class, you will sign up for the day you want to share the idioms.

3. Transcription (10%) (Due before every Monday class, but will grade two of them)

Purpose: To help you become more aware of listening and speaking problems, to build fluency, and to practice free speech.

  1. Listen to a 3-minute video/audio and transcribe it.
  2. Use these as opportunities to incorporate your pronunciation goals and the items we work on in class.
  3. Materials will be posted on Blackboard each week.

4. Teaching Observations and Follow-up Interviews (20%)

Purpose: To observe different aspects of an instructor teaching a course in your field, and to gain insights into questions or concerns you might have about teaching.

  1. Conduct one observation of a class and take notes.
  2. Conduct follow-up interviews with an instructor and one student who does not speak your first language in that class.
  3. Write a 2-3 page reflection essay to reflect on your experiences, take a ways and your own plans as a TA. 

5. Formal Teaching Demonstration (20%) (Every Wednesday)

Purpose: To develop basic techniques in university classroom teaching, and to practice pronunciation targets, presentation skills and responding to students’ questions

  1. Prepare necessary materials (handouts, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc).
  2. Present for 15 minutes and audio-record it so you can analyze your  performance afterwards, including speaking, communication and teaching.
  3. Your peers will fill in a feed-back form and give feedback to your teaching demonstration.
  4. Complete the self-evaluation form after watching the video of your presentation and reading the feedback.

6. Final oral and written tests (25%) (Details TBD)

Oral test: you will choose one or two tasks. you will have up to seven minutes to finish the task.