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CTE-ELP Certification

Graduate students achieve English Language Certification when they earn a Level 1 score on an approved Global Standardized Test or on the English Language Proficiency Exam. Students who receive a Level 2 score and are employed as a teaching assistant must work with the CTE-ELP program until they achieve a certifying score.

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English Proficiency Certification makes an international graduate student eligible to teach in positions such as Graduate Assistant-Teaching, Instructor, Lecturer, etc., following the State of Texas requirements.


If an international graduate student takes a global standardized test (such as the TOEFL iBT) and earns a high score that corresponds to Level 1 (such as a 28 on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT), that student is automatically certified once the score is officially reported to the university. Alternatively, a student may take a locally-administered oral exam (the ELPE speaking section) from Testing Services at Texas A&M. If the student earns a high score that corresponds to Level 1 (an 80), that student is automatically certified.


If the graduate student earns a lower score (placing him/her into Level 2 or 3), he/she is not certified and must re-take a language test (the ELPE or a global standardized test) until he/she earns a Level 1 score. (In rare cases, a graduate student may qualify for alternative certification. Departments may initiate the request for alternative certification following the steps provided by the Grad School.)


To accelerate improvement in English oral skills, graduate students may receive personalized instruction from English Language Proficiency Consultants in the CTE-ELP, at no additional cost. Level 2 students who are currently teaching assistants are required to receive instruction from CTE-ELP and therefore have priority. As resources permit, Level 3 and Level 1 students are also welcome to attend CTE-ELP events.


To begin taking advantage of CTE-ELP programs and resources, the TA (or faculty member) first schedules an intake assessment either in person or virtually. In that hour-long appointment, the ELP consultants listen to the TA’s speech and identify strengths and weaknesses. In a follow-up appointment, the TA and an ELP consultant will co-draft a unique Individual Improvement Plan by selecting programs from the menu of CTE programs that best address the TA’s unique language needs.


For as many weeks or months as the TA needs, he/she participates in CTE instruction, such as a conversation partnership, a weekly discussion group, and pronunciation practice using a software program. (A TA who has a Level 2 score must reach a Level 1 score by the end of the semester to receive another teaching assignment in the future.)


Periodically, the ELP consultants will assess the TA’s speech (as a formative, not a summative, assessment). They may recommend an appropriate time for the TA to attempt a retest of the ELPE and can even authorize an early retest of the ELPE if the TA has been adhering to his/her Individual Improvement Plan and has demonstrably improved in oral English proficiency.


After a graduate student retests and earns a Level 1 score, he/she is English Language Proficiency Certified and is no longer required to attend any CTE-ELP programs, but may choose to continue and is welcome to continue, space permitting.