English Language Testing (MSU Speaking Test)

Important Information For Fall 2017


Three weeks prior to the testing dates in August (see below), students will be able to register for the test online, which will generate an “action request” email to the department representative for approval. Results will be available within five business days after the test and be viewable online by authorized representatives from departments, the graduate school, and Human Resources. You will receive an e-mail in July notifying you that the system is open for Fall 2017 testing.


Date:               Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Time:               3:00pm-5:00pm
Location:         A108 Wells Hall

Dates:             Wednesday, August 16 & Thursday, August 17, 2017
Times:             By Appointment Only
Location:        English Language Center, Wells Hall

Testing (Late Arrivals Only)
Dates:              To Be Announced

Notification of Results
Results will be available within five business days after the test and be viewable online by authorized representatives from departments, the graduate school, and Human Resources.

** IMPORTANT:  Requests for appeals must be made no later than Wednesday, August 23, 2017 (one-week before classes). All appeals must be completed by Tuesday, August 29, 2017 (day prior to the start of classes).**

General Information (updated as of April 2016)

Basic Policy. MSU ITAs who are not native speakers of English are required to demonstrate that they meet a minimum standard of fluency in spoken English before they can be assigned teaching work that involves oral communication with undergraduate students. TAs may meet this requirement by:

  • A score of 50 or higher on SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, given by the English Language Center (ELC)
  • Taking English 097 (the ITA Speaking and Listening Class) and getting a score of 50 or higher on the ITA Oral interview (ITAOI). The ELC gives the ITAOI.

SPEAK and the MSU Speaking Test. SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, and the ITA Oral Interview (ITAOI) are given free of charge to eligible students at MSU by the ELC. Students have four (4) opportunities to meet the university's requirement via SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, or the ITAOI. To be eligible to take a speaking test on campus, students must have regular admission and must have proof of TA status. Students who do not receive a sufficient score on a speaking test in a given attempt must wait at least two months before retesting. The MSU Speaking Test sample can be seen online at http://elc.msu.edu/files/4714/6566/0000/MSU_Speaking_Test_Sample_Questions_1.pdf

English 097 and the ITA Oral Interview. English 097 is a course in English pronunciation and teaching skills for current or prospective international TAs. The course is offered both fall and spring semesters. The prerequisite for enrolling is (a) SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, score of 45 or (b) SPEAK, or MSU Speaking Test, score of 40 and permission of the 097 instructor. Priority in enrollment is given to students who already have TA appointments. To enroll, eligible students must sign up with the instructor at the TA Program Office (130B Chittenden Hall) before the first day of class. The class starts in the third week of each semester. At the end of the course, students must take the ITA Oral Interview (ITAOI). Students who get an interview score of 50 or higher satisfy the TA English requirement and can be cleared for teaching. Students who score below 50 on their first interview may retake the ITAOI only once to meet the requirement.

Appeal Procedure by Review Board. If a student obtains a 45 on the MSU Speaking Test or the ITAOI and the department wishing to hire the student feels the test result inaccurately reflects the student's speaking ability, the department may ask a Review Board to independently evaluate the student's spoken English. Furthermore, the review request must be based on the score from the most recent administration of the test. Each hiring department may also request an appeal for a student who received a 40, but only for one such case per academic year (August – July), and that student can have no subsequent reviews by any department unless he or she retests and scores 45. The Review Board will consist of (a) a departmental representative with faculty status (b) two ELC representatives, and (c) a representative of The Graduate School. The Graduate Director of the student’s hiring department must request the review on the student’s behalf. The Review Board can grant interviewees a full or partial waiver to teach. They can also make a determination that interviewees’ language skills do not merit any waiver. REQUESTS FOR APPEALS MUST BE MADE WITHIN 2 WEEKS OF THE DATE THE SCORE WAS REPORTED OR WITHIN NO MORE THAN 1 WEEK OF THE FIRST DAY OF CLASSES, WHICHEVER IS EARLIER.

Work Assignments for TAs who fail to meet the University English Requirement. If a TA does not receive the minimum university score on SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, or the ITAOI, the student's department has the option of giving the TA a work assignment that does not involve direct oral communication with undergraduates.

Overseas Preadmission Screening. Each winter, the ELC administers the SPEAK test at locations in China. Each winter, the ELC administers the SPEAK, or MSU Speaking Test, at locations in China. Departments wanting more information about the English competency of Chinese applicants for graduate teaching assistantships can have them take the SPEAK, or the MSU Speaking Test, during this ELC visit. Departments are strongly encouraged to utilize this option because they may use overseas test results when making TA appointment decisions. Departments will receive a memo before the end of the Fall semester with instructions to submit names of applicants they want tested. Names must be submitted no later than one month before the test date. A flyer that can be sent to students will also be provided.