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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ETCS

ETCS international students studying

A state law requires the certification of English proficiency for instructors who have learned English as an additional language and are employed at institutions within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. Read the law here - Oklahoma State Statute ยง70-3224. This English proficiency certification is in addition to admissible English proficiency test scores.

Furthermore, the language competence required for instructing in a university setting is more advanced and nuanced than the language competence required to be a student. Hence, many states in the U.S. have a law similar to the one linked above, requiring additional screening of instructors for whom English is an additional language.

Individuals who meet the following two criteria must be certified:

  1. Have completed all requirements and graduated from high school in a country other than one listed here - OU Approved English-Speaking Countries.
  2. Will hold a position that involves direct instructional interactions with students in English. 

Such positions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Graduate Teaching Assistants
  2. Tutors / Consultants
  3. Instructors
  4. Lecturers
  5. Adjunct and Visiting Faculty Members (See here for their process)
  6. Tenured Faculty Members (See here for their process)

Note: Instructors of courses taught in a language other than English do not need to be certified for English capacity. 

Individuals who meet on of the following criteria do not need to be certified for English capacity.

  1. Individuals with a GTA appointment teaching in languages other than English
  2. Individuals serving as Graduate Research Assistants
  3. Individuals who have completed high school in one of OU's approved English-speaking countries
  4. Individuals who have completed a Ph.D in the U.S. with at least one year of teaching experience during or after that degree
  5. Individuals who have completed a bachelor's and a master's degree in the U.S. and are moving directly into their Ph.D program at OU or have been working in the U.S. continuously since finishing their master's degree
  6. Indviduals who have spent the last 7+ years engaged in some combination of academic and professional work in the U.S.
  7. Individuals who have exceeded certain speaking and writing sub-scores on one of the accepted English proficiency tests for OU admission. For more details, see the Alternative Certification page.

All individuals requiring certification must complete the process in the semester before a potential instructional appointment, to be able to hold that appointment. 

Note: The time to acquire fluent English teaching speech capacity varies by individual, depending on a variety of factors, both linguistic and paralinguistic.

For a specific testing cycle, the certification process usually takes no more than a few weeks. The time-to-certification may be extended if an individual chooses an ECC Test date long after their advising appointment. 

We highly recommend contacting the ETCS office as early as possible to get the certification process started.

  1. Email the ETCS staff to set up a time to be advised and plan your certification trajectory.
  2. Read about the ETCS certification process and the current training options to begin identifying the most appropriate activities for your individual needs both pre and post-certification.

Read over the ETCS website information and contact the ETCS staff to be advised about requirements for completing the certification process. After that, that following steps can be completed:

  1. Take the appropriate training and/or assessment 
  2. After the required assessment has taken place, ETCS will notify you and  your academic unit of your certification level.
  3. You can begin teaching in a capacity that matches your certification level.

Note that your certification is valid throughout your OU career, meaning it does not expire before the end of your degree program at OU.

  1. The best way to prepare is to practice using English in a classroom setting if possible. 
  2. ETCS offers free, 10-week, non-credit courses every semester to train individuals for the certification tests and GTA/instructional appointments. 
  3. The English Resources page on this site also provides remotely accessible materials for individual practice.
  4. We recommend reading about the English certification process, to get an overview of the certification requirements, and exploring the webpaged about the required English capacity tests.
  5. Finally, keep in mind that language acquisition is a lengthy, individualized, and continuous process, so be patient with yourself and use the many resources at OU to practice English (in particular, teaching speech) in this specific context.

There are four certification levels: A / B / C / D.

Level D means that an individual is not certified to deliver instructional content but can be a grading-only teaching assistant. More details about these levels can be found on the certification requirements page.

Individuals must earn a higher score on the certification test, the English Communication Capacity (ECCTest, to improve their certification level and instructional capacity. The ECC Test is offered toward the end of every semester. 

More information about the ECC Test scores required for each certification level can be found here.

The training options offered by ETCS are excellent ways to improve English communicative competence to achieve higher scores on the ETCS tests.  

ETCS certification applies to all academic units at OU and is valid for the duration of an individual's OU degree program.

ETCS also offers support options, such as classroom observation and speaking pragmatics coaching, to develop English teaching speech post-certification. Contact the ETCS Office if interested in these support options.

No, ETCS only certifies individuals for English capacity in instructional contexts at OU. Academic and non-academic units offer GTA appointments, and these appointments must be appropriate for an individual's certification level.

For adjunct and visiting faculty certification information, click here.

For tenured and tenure-track faculty certification information, click here.