It is Penn State's policy that international students be certified as competent to teach in English by the Department of Speech and Communication (of course, this is a mere formality for students from Canada, UK, Australia etc.). TAs who score below the minimum proficiency level are not permitted to teach. They are assigned other duties (such as grading) and are required to improve their English by taking specially designed English as a Second Language courses. Since such course work is time consuming, incoming international students are urged to work hard on their oral English proficiency before their arrival at Penn State. TAs who are not allowed to teach by their second year of study may be be dropped from the program.
Please note that a high score on the TOEFL exam does not guarantee the necessary degree of fluency. Hence international applicants are advised to take the Test of Spoken English (TSE). This test, which is given by the Educational Testing Service, can usually be taken at the same office abroad as the one at which the TOEFL is offered. Students with a score of at least 55 are permitted to teach and do not have to take the Department of Speech and Communication test.
All Ph.D. candidates are required to demonstrate high-level competence in the use of the English language. Every student should prepare a short expository paper (approximately 4 pages) on topics related to proposed dissertation research. The adviser and one other mathematics graduate faculty member evaluate the paper. Students whose written competency is judged to be substandard will be required to take and to pass a certain English course (see List of Requirements for details).