International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Workshops & Seminars

ITA Workshops & Seminars

IAE provides workshops and seminars for multilingual graduate students who are TAs or prospective TAs. The purpose of these workshops and seminars is to give students flexible opportunities to learn and practice their language and teaching skills in a supportive setting. Any prospective or current UC Davis TAs are welcome to attend. Participation is free.

Note: Multilingual associate instructors, postdocs, and domestic graduate students are also welcome!

Winter 2018 Seminars

Each seminar meets for more than one session. You must be able to attend every session to participate in a seminar.

Mastering American English Pronunciation (5 sessions)


Tuesdays: January 16,  January 23, and  January 30, February 6, and February 13


2:10 - 4:00 p.m.


1352 The Grove (Surge III)

In this seminar, students will learn about the rules and conventions of American English pronunciation. The first two weeks will focus on individual consonant and vowels sounds in English and help participants to distinguish between those sounds when listening and be able to produce them when speaking. Later weeks build on to this foundation and address syllable stress, sentence stress, and intonation.

Making Presentations (3 sessions)


Tuesdays: February 20, February 27, and March 6


2:10 - 4:00 p.m.


1352 The Grove (Surge III)

In this seminar, students will build the skills to deliver effective presentations. Topics covered include organization, visual aids, audience, audience questions, and more. Participants will also practice making presentations in front of an audience and have the opportunity to do a recorded presentation. Student will receive feedback and coaching from other participants and the instructor.

Winter 2018 Workshops

Focus on Pronunciation

Sentence Peaks & Valleys

Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

In this workshop, participants will learn the special intonation that academic presenters need to make complex grammar, word strings, and multi-syllabic words comprehensible to the audience. Attendees will learn about intonation principles and practice them.

Linking Sounds

Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

In this workshop, participants will learn how words are linked together in English. Attendees will study consonant-vowel and vowel-to-vowel links, practice links, and improve their listening comprehension.


Focus on Grammar

Nouns & Determiners

Thursday, January 18, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

When we use nouns in English, we also commonly use words called determiners before them that help to contextualize or specify something about the noun. Determiners may be articles like a/an and the, which indicate whether the noun is definite or indefinite. They can also be words that indicate a quantity like seven or many. Another related concept is whether or not a noun is countable, which affects how and when determiners should be used. Since nouns are used in every single sentence, learning more about nouns and the determiners that go before them can help non-native English speakers speak with more accuracy.

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use count and non-count nouns. They will also learn about and practice using determiners with nouns in different types of sentences.

Passive Voice

Thursday, January 25, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

Knowing when and how to use the passive voice in English can be crucial in certain situations. In fact, in some fields, passive voice is preferred in academic writing. TAs can also use the passive voice to modify their language for different purposes and tones.

In this workshop, participants will review the form of the passive voice using be and also learn about other passive voice structures using get and have. Participants will also learn about when and how the passive voice is used and which types of verbs tend to occur in passive voice and which don’t. Finally, students will learn about another structure called the middle voice and learn how to choose between using the active, passive, and middle voices. Time will be spent practicing both form and use.



Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

A clause is a grammatical unit that contains both a noun phrase and a verb phrase. Some clauses are complete sentences on their own while others may be attached to or embedded within other sentences. The grammatical rules for clauses can be complex, so non-native English speakers may struggle with consistently using clauses accurately. However, being able to use different types of clauses is an important skill in both spoken and written English.

This workshop reviews what independent and dependent clauses are and how to join them together using connectors and punctuation. Next, participants learn about relative clauses, how they are used, and how to use punctuation with them. Finally, participants review and practice noun clauses. Resources for further study and practice will also be shared.


Verb Tense Overview

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

Verb tenses can be a difficult aspect of English grammar to master. In this workshop, participants will review the form, meaning, and use of the different tenses and aspects used in English.


Focus on TA Communication Skills

Foundations for TA-Student Communication **strongly recommended for new TAs**

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 from 2:10-5:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

International TAs often have different linguistic, cultural, and educational backgrounds from many of their students. Sometimes, these differences can lead to misunderstandings. At the same time, undergrad students may have negative stereotypes of international TAs; without even realizing it, undergrads may have expectations that they will not be able to communicate well with their international TAs before they even speak with them.

In this workshop, participants will learn how to lay the foundations for successful TA-student communication by learning how to reduce the effects of language barriers, mitigate linguistic stereotypes, and manage student expectations. Participants will learn strategies for teaching in a second language, building rapport with their students, and training their students how to communicate with them. Ultimately, international TAs can create a learning environment where students not only learn the course material but also improve their intercultural communication skills.

Leading a Discussion Section

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1353 The Grove (Surge III)

The primary responsibility for many TAs is to lead discussion sections. Discussion sections provide students with active learning opportunities to engage with the course material. However, TAs may experience challenges with motivating their students to participate or choosing the best methods for teaching different parts of the course material.

In this workshop, participants will discuss ways to structure and plan for discussion sections. They will also learn how to lead several learning strategies that can be adapted and used in a variety of different ways. Finally, participants will practice leading a short interactive lesson, using these methods and strategies.


Handling Student Questions

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

Handling student questions can be one of the most intimidating aspects of teaching. Since many international TAs don’t have much experience teaching and don’t speak English as a native language, question handling can be a little stressful.

In this workshop, participants will learn about different types of questions in English so that they can use them with accuracy. They will also learn and practice strategies for answering student questions.  Finally, participants will discuss ways to use questions as teaching tools.

Requests & Refusals

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

Pragmatic competence refers to an individual's ability to use language that is appropriate to the situation and conveys the intended message. When we make requests or refusals, small changes to the language used can make a big impact on the tone and the implied meaning of what is said. If nonnative English speakers aren’t aware of these differences, they may unintentionally use language that is perceived as rude, overly formal, or too friendly.


In this workshop, participants will work on improving their pragmatic competence by learning ways to adjust requests and refusals using modifiers and different grammatical structures. They will also practice adjusting their language to suit different situations they will likely encounter as TAs.

Using a Whiteboard

Thursday, February 1, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

The whiteboard can be a really helpful classroom tool, especially for teachers who are non-native English speakers. In this workshop, participants will learn strategies for using a whiteboard effectively while teaching to help improve student comprehension and learning. Each participant will have the opportunity to practice these strategies.


Diversity & Inclusion

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

It’s important that TAs use language that creates an inclusive classroom where all students feel safe, comfortable, and welcome. However, TAs who speak English as a second language may not be aware of some of the nuances of language used when talking about different identities, and this could lead to unintended consequences. For example, a TA could accidentally make a student feel like an outsider or mistakenly offend a student by using an insensitive word or phrase.

In this workshop, participants will talk about language and topics related to identity, diversity, and inclusion. Participants will learn strategies for making students feel welcome and accepted; they will also learn which words and phrases may be insensitive or inappropriate for the classroom and preferred terms to use.

Classroom Vocabulary

Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

This workshop will focus on vocabulary, idioms and two-word verbs that are common in university classrooms. We will also focus on saying students’ (and professors’ and fellow graduate students’) names as clearly as possible. Students who come to the workshop will participate in activities and interact with each other as we review this useful vocabulary for international TAs and graduate students.

Giving Student Feedback

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 from 2:10-4:00 pm

1352 The Grove (Surge III)

Every TA will need to give feedback to students in one way or another. Some TAs may provide written feedback on essays while others may provide verbal feedback during a lab or office hours. Critiquing someone else’s work with tact can be difficult since subtle differences in language can make a big difference in how the feedback is perceived.

In this workshop, participants will learn about language strategies used to provide feedback that is perceived as sincere and helpful. Participants will also practice giving different types of feedback to different audiences.