Communication Skills

A primary goal of Penn State’s entomology program is to produce graduates who are highly successful—and competitive—in all their future endeavors. In this respect, there can be little doubt that excellent communication skills are a significant positive attribute.

However, the process of instilling these skills is made difficult by the sheer diversity of our student body, though this diversity in itself increases the overall quality of the program. All students must become proficient in Standard English and, beyond that, excel in its usage.

The entomology department requires that all of its graduate students serve as teaching assistants. Penn State requires that all teaching assistants for whom English is a second language must be certified as fluent in English before formally teaching in the classroom. This certification is administered by Penn State’s Linguistics and Applied Language Studies Program.

The Entomology department has developed these guidelines to assist international students in achieving certification.

  • Students should serve as teaching apprentices in their first and second semesters.
  • Within two semesters, international students must take the American English Oral Communicative Proficiency Test (AEOCPT) . Students passing the test can begin teaching, but those falling short may either matriculate in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses or take the Test of Spoken English (TSE) offered by Educational Testing Service. The course of action will depend on the AEOCPT grade. Proficiency codes can be found at Penn State’s Linguistics and Applied Language Studies web page.
  • International students are encouraged to take the TSE, since passing it eliminates the need to take the AEOCPT or register in remedial (ESL) courses.
  • Faculty advisers should attend all linguistic evaluations of students, particularly the AEOCPT.
  • Students failing to achieve English competency are subject to dismissal from the program.

The candidacy examination, administered in the third semester following admission to the Ph.D. program, will serve as the final evaluation of English competency. Students who do not demonstrate English competency at this point will not be permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program. The specific written evaluation of English competency demonstrated during the candidacy exam is provided to students along with evaluations of their performance in subject matter areas.

Tutoring to Improve Writing Skills

The Graduate Writing Center is open year-round to provide free individual consultations for graduate students to discuss their writing. Consultations aim to help students improve both their writing and their critical thinking skills. Students working on any writing project from any graduate discipline are welcome.

You can schedule an appointment by calling (814) 865-4211. All consultations are held in the Graduate Writing Center, located in 111-L Kern Building.