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International Teaching Assistants Program

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Click here to register for the SPEAK test or to submit exemption documents


Temple University administers the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test to evaluate the English speaking ability of teaching assistants whose native language is not English.

The SPEAK takes approximately 20 minutes, and is delivered via audio recording equipment and a test book. All responses for the test are spoken; examinees do not write at any time during the test. The test itself consists of 12 items, each of which requires examinees to perform a language function. The time allotted for each response ranges from 30 to 90 seconds. The questions on the test are of a general nature and are designed to inform the raters about the examinee’s communication skills.

You may also schedule a Practice SPEAK Test which takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. This is not required.



1. If you have received a score of 28 in the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT, you are exempt from the SPEAK test. A copy of the official TOEFL score is required for this exemption.

2. If you are a graduate from a native-English speaking university, you are exempt from the SPEAK test. A copy of your diploma is required for this exemption.


SPEAK Scores

Each test is scored independently by two raters. The 12 item scores are averaged across raters, and the scores are reported in increments of five (i.e., 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60). The minimum score is 20; the maximum score is 60.

Scores are reported to the graduate school, departments, and the student via e-mail within two weeks from the test date. An English proficiency certification letter is also generated, if warranted. The certification letter is then mailed to departments as a record of compliance with the PA fluency act; a copy is also available for pick up for the successful examinees.


SPEAK Score Categories

English Proficiency: Passing Scores*

SPEAK Test Score TOEFL iBT Speaking Score Outcome Approved Activities


Unrestricted Pass
ITA may assume instructional duties without restriction.
Restricted Pass
ITA may assume instructional duties for one semester, but must also be simultaneously enrolled in ITA 5221 course; certification is contingent upon passing ITA 5221.
ITA must complete and pass ITA 5221 course prior to assuming instructional duties; ITA may assume restricted duties with no direct interactions with students; e.g. as a grader.

*Effective June 2005.

SPEAK Appeal Procedure

The SPEAK test cannot be retaken. Students who feel that their proficiency was not fairly assessed should ask a departmental representative to contact the ITA Program coordinator. After receiving the appeal request, an interview with the director of the ITA Program will be scheduled. The student's score will be upheld or changed at the discretion of the director.

Important: Appeal requests must be submitted within four weeks from the day the test is taken.