Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI)

[Formerly the English Proficiency Interview (EPI)]

Formerly known as the English Proficiency Interview (EPI), the Oral English Assessment Interview was renamed and moved into its new hosting department, Linguistics, in December 2022

What is the Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI)?

The OEAI is an interview-based assessment for graduate teaching assistants. This assessment is used to ensure that graduate teaching assistants have attained the necessary proficiency level to provide quality teaching in courses at Illinois. 

Illinois policy requires the following:

Graduate students who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships – which include TA appointments for face-to-face classes, blended and online instruction, accompanying/coaching, and office hours -- must provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency.

This campus policy applies to all prospective graduate teaching assistants regardless of country of origin, nationality, the language of instruction in any high school, undergraduate, or graduate degree program they may have previously completed, or previous professional or teaching experience.

Exemptions

Graduate students are exempt from demonstrating oral English proficiency if:

  1. they have attended English-medium schools continuously since age 13 (or younger) in any of the following countries: Australia, Anglophone Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States (except Puerto Rico);
    OR
  2. they are hired as Graders and have no oral interaction with students. Graders who have oral interactions with students (e.g., through office hours) must demonstrate oral English proficiency.

Students who do not meet the above criteria must obtain a qualifying score on the TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or the OEAI to be considered for teaching assistantships. We encourage new students to fulfill the oral English proficiency requirement for teaching prior to arriving on campus for the first time by obtaining a qualifying speaking score on the TOEFL or IELTS. Graduate students may also take the TOEFL or IELTS after arriving on campus, keeping in mind that the speaking subscore is utilized for proficiency determinations.

As a service to the campus community, our office offers the campus-based Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI) as another means by which prospective graduate TAs can demonstrate oral proficiency in English and fulfill campus policy and Illinois state law. To be eligible to take the OEAI, students must have obtained a bachelor's degree and also must be admitted to an Illinois graduate program.

The following are score requirements. PLEASE NOTE: Individual academic programs may require a higher score; contact your proposed program of study office for the minimum TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or OEAI requirement.

English Proficiency Scores Required for TA Appointment
English Proficiency Test Required Scores Additional information
TOEFL iBT 24 or higher (speaking sub-section)

http://www.toefl.org

Scores must be less than two years old from the first day of class at the proposed term of entry into an Illinois graduate program in order to be valid. Scores must be officially reported to the university. Scores remain valid as long as the student is continuously enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois.

Note: The University is accepting qualifying speaking scores from the TOEFL iBT Home Edition. The TOEFL ITP Plus for China test and the Duolingo English Test do not provide a scored speaking component and cannot be used to satisfy the English proficiency requirement for teaching assistants.

IELTS (academic exam) 8 or higher (speaking sub-section) 

http://www.ielts.org

Scores must be less than two years old from the first day of class at the proposed term of entry into an Illinois graduate program in order to be valid. Scores must be officially reported to the university. Scores remain valid as long as the student is continuously enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois.

OEAI 4CP1, 5, or 6

Administered at Illinois to students who have completed an undergraduate degree and have been admitted to a graduate program at Illinois. No fee is charged for this exam, and it is conducted online via Zoom. Scores remain valid as long as the student is continuously enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois.

A score of 4CP is a “conditional pass” which allows the student to be a TA provided he or she successfully completes ESL 508 before or during the first semester of teaching.
To register graduate students for the exam, program administrators and academic advisors should visit our registration form. Limited seats are available for February 1st through February 10th. Regular interviewers will resume for Summer and Fall appointments in mid March.
For questions regarding the Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI), please email oeai-illinois@illinois.edu and/or Rurik Tywoniw (rtywoniw@illinois.edu), interim coordinator for the OEAI.

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