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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 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 admissable TOEFL/IELTS scores.

More broadly, 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, most 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
  3. Instructors
  4. Lecturers
  5. Adjunct Faculty Members (See here for their process)
  6. Visiting Faculty Members (See here for their process)

Note: Instructors of non-English language courses do not need to be certified for English capacity. 

  1. Individuals with appointments teaching languages other than English
  2. Individuals serving as Graduate Research Assistants
  3. Individuals who are from one of OU's approved English-speaking countries

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 test cycle, the certification process usually takes no more than a few weeks. The time to certification may be extended if an individual chooses a very late test date or does not earn a qualifying score on a screening test or the ECC Test.

Contacting the ETCS office as early as possible to plan your individual trajectory through the English language certification process is highly recommended. 

  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.

Read over the ETCS website information and contact the ETCS Administrator to be advised about your individual plan to complete the certification process.

  1. Take the appropriate training and/or assessment 
  2. After the required assessment has taken place, ETCS will notify your academic unit of your certification level.
  3. You can begin teaching in a capacity that matches your certification level.
  4. Note that your certification is valid throughout your OU career and does not expire within that parameter.
  1. The best way to prepare is to practice using English in a classroom setting. ETCS offers free, 10-week, non-credit-bearing courses every semester to train individuals who need to take the certification tests. 
  2. The English Resources page on this site also provides remotely accessible materials for individual practice.
  3. Becoming familiar with the ETCS certification process and purposes of the certification tests is extremely useful. We recommend reading about the certification process, to get an overview of the certification requirements, and exploring the test information pages about the required English capacity tests.
  4. 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 local context.

There are three certification levels: A / B / C.

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 here.

Individuals must earn higher scores on ETCS Certification test, the English Communication Capacity (ECCTest, to improve their certification level. This test is offered every semester at particular times. More information about what scores are 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 career.

ETCS also offers support options, such as classroom observation and speaking/pragmatics coaching, to address any English communication issues that may arise for a certified individual teaching an OU course. Contact the ETCS Office if interested in these support options.

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

For special circumstances, click here.

For adjunct and visiting faculty certification information, click here.

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