Here are the different tasks that I regularly ask Teaching Assistants to perform in a Level 1 ESL class:


Model all pair-work and other interactive activities with the instructor

At this level, explaining is generally not an effective way to guide student exercises. The teaching assistant regularly demonstrates with the instructor on how we would like students to interact and complete pair work and other interactive activities. Individual engagement is also modeled by both the instructor and the teaching assistant.


Help guide students in the classroom

Depending on student needs, both the instructor and the teaching assistant guide students in the following areas:

Writing:  spelling of basic vocabulary; basic spelling-sound correspondence (such as for short and long vowels); sentence formation with Capital letter, subject/verb and end punctuation; the “to be” verb; simple present tense with affirmative, negative and question sentences; pronouns; articles; possessives; capital v. lowercase letters; and on occasion, letter formation

* Help students individually.

* If time, direct students who are finished to write a sentence on the board.


Reading & Speaking:

* Help students to pronounce and remember the vocabulary.


Pair Work & Group Work activities:

* Work with the instructor to match students together for pair-work and group-work exercises.

* Guide student pairs in how to do pair work activities


All class interactive activities:

* Help direct students to converse with other free students during interactive activities.

* Provide additional guidance if necessary.


Reading vocabulary cards:

* Guide students in reading through the vocabulary cards, and acting out the vocabulary on each card, as needed based on the student.


New students

Welcome new students as they trickle into the classroom.

Make sure they are in the right classroom, as new students arrive each week.

Find out the names of new students, especially their first names.

Create name cards for new students. Make sure that the first letter of the name is capitalized; all others should be lowercase. The name should be big enough to be seen anywhere in the classroom. In theory, students can make their own name cards, but in practice, the TA (and sometimes the instructor) do it in order to ensure good size and correct capitalization.


Be the second voice in the classroom

As students learn vocabulary, listening, pronunciation and basic sentence structures it helps them to regularly hear a second voice. This happens informally, one-on-one and with pairs or groups, and also more formally, in all-class activities with with target vocabulary, target phrases, target sentence structures and/or target letters and target sounds.


Administrative activities

These administrative activities are directly linked to program funding.

Registration forms:  Work with the instructor to guide students in completing registration forms (generally once a quarter)

Refugee documentation:  Take refugee identification cards (I-94 or green cards) or passports with special visa stamps (Students from Afghanistan only), along with colored half-sheets from the office, to be copied in Building 19.

CASAS test administration:  Work with the instructor or instructors to administer CASAS tests (Reading CASAS and Listening CASAS), distribute and recollect testing materials, and help students find their Listening test rooms (once a quarter for each test).


Materials organization

Sign-in Sheet: Ensure that the sign-in sheet keeps moving around the room, and in the established pattern; writing activities or individual work is the best time. After completion, count the number of students to be sure everyone signed in.

Handouts:  Check to make sure that handouts and homework are making their way around the room or down/across each row, depending on the established pattern.

Reusable materials:  Help re-collect re-usable materials used in pairwork and interactive activities.

Big pictures:  Help remove big pictures taped up to the white board and prepare for storage.

Picture pass-cards: Ensure that the picture pass-cards keep moving around the room; assist in showing students the gestures for each word and with pronunciation. Remind students to put their pencils down during passing activities to avoid blockage.

Other tasks as needed to support specific activities, address administrative requirements and student needs.