The Experiences of International Teaching Assistants in the US Classroom

A Qualitative Study




accent, classroom communication, intercultural competence, international teaching assistants


Most research focusing on the challenges that international teaching assistants (ITAs) encounter in U.S. classrooms employs a linguistic perspective. The present study furthers that research by examining other challenges unique to ITAs, through the lens of an intercultural competence framework. Through individual interviews with 15 ITAs, the study highlights the challenges related to competencies in knowledge and skills faced by ITAs in U.S. classrooms. Findings reveal that knowledge about the U.S. education system, expectations of the classroom culture, and assumptions about student–instructor relationships pose the greatest difficulties. Additionally, the ability of an ITA to demonstrate communication skills remains a significant challenge, including the negative perception of speaking with a foreign accent and selecting effective word choices to accurately represent content. The study findings present practical implications for training ITAs for their pedagogical duties at U.S. colleges.

Author Biographies

Comfort Tosin Adebayo, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

COMFORT TOSIN ADEBAYO is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Her major research interests lie in the area of intercultural communication in instructional contexts, health context, and other interpersonal relationships.

Mike Allen, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, USA

MIKE ALLEN, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His major research interests lie in the area of social influence in personal, relational, organizational, media, and public contexts.


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How to Cite

Adebayo, C. T., & Allen, M. (2020). The Experiences of International Teaching Assistants in the US Classroom: A Qualitative Study. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 69–83.



Research Articles