Graduate Assistantships receive a stipend per academic year in addition to covering the cost of tuition for the entire program. This award is offered on a competitive basis. Students interested in obtaining a teaching assistantship must be officially admitted into the MA program in Romance Languages. Part-time students or students who have a full-time job or any other activities that may interfere with their academic responsibilities are not eligible for these assistantships. There is no stipend for the summer. Graduate students who obtain a graduate assistantship are usually supported for two academic years provided their academic and teaching performance are satisfactory.
In addition to satisfying all the requirements set by the Graduate School and the Department, students interested in obtaining a graduate assistantship should submit a letter of intent to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Prospective candidates will be interviewed by the Spanish faculty to determine their command of the language. Candidates are also interviewed by the Chair of the Department.
Duties and Responsibilities of Graduate Assistants
Each semester Graduate Assistants (GAs) must register for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours of graduate work chosen from courses taught in the Department of World Languages and Literatures unless an exception is approved by the coordinator. All courses must be approved by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
GAs are not permitted to teach during their first and second semester unless they have eighteen (18) credit hours of graduate work in Spanish, teaching experience in the field, and the approval of the graduate coordinator. First-year GAs receive training in the teaching of lower-division courses, totaling 20 hours per week for two semesters. As part of this training, they are required to visit classes taught by the faculty and submit written observation reports to the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants. [Please refer to specific guidelines regarding class visitation]. GAs also assist Spanish faculty with the teaching of lower- and upper-division courses for six hours per week, assigned according to current department enrollments. GAs are also required to complete additional responsibilities to assist the Spanish program including, but not limited to, tutoring, activity design and assessment building, and participation in the Language Fair. All these activities constitute a significant part of the graduate assistant training. Starting with their third semester, GAs teach one or two courses per semester depending on department enrollments. GAs teaching courses are instructors of record; the total number of hours related to teaching is 20 per week, includes in-class hours for 1-2 courses, class preparation, office hours, participation in online and on-campus workshops, and meetings with the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants.
GAs are monitored every semester by the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants. This supervision includes weekly meetings, seminars and class visitations. The Supervisor of Graduate Assistants determines the teaching schedule of each GA.
Non-native English speakers must pass the SPEAK test or score 26 (or higher) on the speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT before they can be appointed as instructors of record. For further information you can visit SPEAK Test.
Visitation Guidelines for In-Training Graduate Assistants
During their first year in our M.A. program, Graduate Assistants (GAs) do not have full responsibility for teaching their own classes. This first year is devoted to providing appropriate pedagogical training in order to ensure that GAs are qualified to assume full responsibility of their own classes during the first year. According to the University of Memphis Graduate School and Human Resource Department's regulations, GAs are required to devote 20 hours of significant academic activities outside any class that they take.
GAs assist faculty members in their classes, including attending class every day as well as a certain degree of preparation and communication with the faculty members. Through their participation in these classes, GAs experience first-hand what it means to be a world language educatorby learning useful and practical teaching techniques and developing an understanding of how to cope with unplanned situations and student issues that occur in everyday teaching. In these classes, GAs complete various teaching demonstrations, an essential element in the training which allows the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants to make sure GAs are ready to take full responsibility of their classrooms beginning in the third semester. Mini and full class demonstrations are used for this purpose.
Apart from the classes for which GAs are the graduate assistant, GAs completeat least three (3) additional class visitations each semester, led by a fellow GA, an instructor or a professor, both in Spanish as well as in other languages. First semester class visitations are Spanish classes, and during the second semester, GAs complete class visitations for other languages such as French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. This gives GAs the opportunity to understand how different teaching strategies work across languages and to understand the position of a student learning the language for the first time. After each class visitation, GAs complete a report and reflection about the class visitation and discuss their observations with the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants (individually or as a group), including what they have learned from the experience and how to apply this new knowledge in their own teaching. GAs also assist the Spanish Basic Language Program by creating activities, lesson plans, and creative assessments. GAs also learn about the theories and foundations of second language acquisition and second language pedagogy. GAs are therefore required to read scholarly articles and texts on the most recent methods in language pedagogy in order to create a solid theoretical background. GAs may also be required to attend the Department's Pedagogy Workshop Series as well as the annual Tennessee World Language Teaching Association Regional Conference that takes place in Memphis every Spring.