International Teaching Assistants Program

Are you, or will you be, a Teaching Assistant (TA)? Is English your additional language? And would you like to improve your teaching and communication skills? Then this free program is for you!

In small groups, graduate students learn about Canadian (academic) culture and colloquial North American English. At the same time, you will reflect upon your own cultural influence on communication and interactions. On this basis, the class develops an understanding about the meaning of good teaching, the roles and responsibilities of a TA, and how to present effectively in today’s diverse classrooms. Together with group discussions, exercises and student presentations, the interactive format will help you with spoken English as well as its social and cultural context. You will practice skills that will help you be a better TA.

Who should participate

Teaching Assistants (TAs), future TAs and graduate students who identify with one or more of the following:

  • are new to the Canadian (academic) context or are English as an additional language (EAL) speakers
  • would like to learn more about Canadian (academic) culture
  • wish to enhance their English communication skills
  • aim to improve their teaching and presentation skills
  • are eager to participate actively and try new things as there will be many in-class exercises to help prepare you for your role as a TA
  • are willing to focus on language fluency rather than language perfection
  • commit to a minimum of 8 out of 10 classes to earn a completion certificate and get a refund on their 100$ deposit

Grad students are encouraged to participate as early in their program as possible in order to gain the greatest benefits.


The 10-week ITA Seminar is designed to help you:

  • Understand academic culture in Canada in the context of the duties and responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant at SFU
  • Develop your skills in leading and participating in tutorial style group discussions
  • Improve your ability to use and understand spoken North American English, particularly colloquial and idiomatic usage
  • Increase your awareness as to how your cultural influences can affect your intercultural interactions
  • Deepen your understanding about cultural history in Canada, especially in regards to Canada’s Indigenous peoples
  • Experience a sense of belonging in your current context as a student and a TA at SFU


The ITA program is offered every term, starting at the end of the first month of the term.

Fall: End of September – December

Spring: End of January – March

Summer: End of May – August


To register for the seminar, please visit the webpage of the ITA program.

Just-in-time ITA seminar

Does your TA-ship start sooner than expected? Consider the free Just-in-time ITA seminar with 3 sessions focused on academic culture & communication and essential skills for TAs.

The sessions are designed to offer timely orientation and support to graduate teaching assistants and are offered on 3 Saturdays at the beginning of each term.