CSE: Teaching and Language Kick-Off (TALK)

CSE: TALK provides first-year international graduate students with discipline-specific information, teaching practice, and English appropriate to your needs as future teaching assistants. The program consists of a two-week in-person session preceeded by a one-week online session.  By participating in the program, you'll develop:

  • spoken English skills for U of M classroom teaching and interaction
  • discipline-specific teaching skills & learn about departmental expectations
  • responsiveness to U of MN student cultural expectations of TAs

Fall Components & 2020-2021 Dates

One week online session:  Participants can choose one of the following online sessions:  October 30 - November 6 or December 4 - December 11. The online component will take you approximately 20 hours to complete and is taught asynchronously.

January Virtual Session:  The January virtual session will take place January 4-8, with testing the following week.  During this session, you'll practice your teaching and language skills, critique your own filmed teaching practice, as well as receive feedback from experienced TAs, undergraduate students, and teaching & language specialists.  The program will be a combination of asynchronous and synchronous classes which be held via Zoom

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I arrive in Minnesota?
There is no date by which you are expected to arrive in Minnesota due to the virtual nature of the program.

What is the schedule for the entire orientation?
The schedule for the January session is still being finalized.

Who is required to attend this orientation?
Most departments in the College of Science and Engineering require their new international graduate students to attend CSE: TALK, and have stated the requirement in their offer letters.
 
Why is CSE: TALK required?
Most participating departments need first-year graduate students to start teaching in their first semester. At the same time, the U of M has a spoken English requirement for all teaching assistants whose home language growing up was not English. The CSE: TALK orientation assists those who are already highly proficient English speakers with teaching skills and cultural adjustment, and promotes spoken English improvement for those who need it so they are more likely to be eligible to teach.
 
How is TA eligibility determined?
At the end of CSE: TALK, you'll perform a 13-minute teaching test during which your English is evaluated. Scores are converted into English Language Proficiency (ELP) Ratings.
 
Can departments exempt students from the CSE:TALK orientation?

Most departments (and students!) have found that the CSE: TALK program is valuable even for students whose English is highly proficient. That said, occasionally some departments do waive the requirement for students who have attended a similar orientation at another North American university or whose English is predicted to be proficient enough to pass the English test upon arrival. However, the University of Minnesota policy still requires these students to demonstrate English proficiency either through their ibTOEFL speaking score or their performance on the SETTA test, during which their English is evaluated. If you are in this situation,  contact the Center for Educational Innovation at cei@umn.edu or 612-625-3041.

How do I register for CSE: TALK?
You'll be automatically registered by your department if you are required to attend. If you will be late or unable to attend, contact your department immediately. Students from departments outside the College of Science and Engineering may participate in CSE: TALK for a fee. For more information, contact Mary Jetter, CSE:TALK Coordinator.

Is there on-campus housing available for CSE: TALK participants?
Yes. You can apply for temporary housing through International Student and Scholar Services.