A teaching assistantship (TA) is a half time appointment for lower division instruction available to qualified, registered graduate students in French or related departments (generally Comparative Literature, the School of Education, or Linguistics). These appointments are made by the Department Chair in consultation with the Graduate Committee of the Department and with the Director of the Lower Division. To be eligible to hold a TA position, the student must be enrolled in regular graduate status at UC Berkeley. A minimum 3.0 grade point average in the preceding two years of studies is required by the Graduate Division for all TAs, but the Department generally requires a higher GPA and will, of course, select the most qualified applicants for these positions. Appointments of graduate students from related departments, when available, are normally limited to three years.
Applications for TA positions are available on bSpace (French Graduate Students) and are due early in the spring semester. If a new TA has college level teaching experience in French or a related discipline, evidence of that employment should also be submitted in order for the Department to assess the instructor's placement in the TA title series.
For those applying for a TA position from outside of the French department, an application is required along with two letters of recommendation. To maximize the possibility of securing a position, it’s best to submit your application by February 1 for the following academic year. For those who are unable to submit an application at that time, consult with the French Graduate Student Advisor about possible openings and applying off-cycle.
The TA title series at Berkeley comprises three "steps," with different salary levels. Beginning TAs serve two semesters as TA 1, and are eligible for advancement to TA 2, then to TA 3 after having taught four semesters at UC Berkeley.
TA positions are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the University of California and the UAW. TAsare entitled to a GSHIP premium remission, an educational and registration fee remission, and other applicable benefits as set forth in the Agreement. The Agreement sets forth the specific eligibility requirements and amount of each remission. The full text of the Agreement is available online. In accordance with the Agreement, TAs’ names and departmental addresses are released by the University to the UAW in each term of employment in the bargaining unit.
TAs are normally assigned by the Director of the French Language Program to teach language courses, which include five hours of classroom instruction, correction (outside the classroom) of all written exercises in the textbook and workbook; correction of written compositions and laboratory exercises and regular attendance at a pilot section for new TAs. Other duties include holding office hours and assisting in the preparation of quizzes and exams. These activities are carried out under the active direction of a regular member of the faculty to whom responsibility for course instruction, students’ grades, and the performance of TAs, is assigned. TAs are responsible for reporting any anticipated absences from campus (as well as any missed work), to the faculty member in charge of the course they are teaching. If the absence is for an extended period of time, a substitute teacher may be assigned. The Standing Orders of the Regents of the University of California state that no compensation shall be paid to those holding University appointments unless they are actively engaged in the service of the University. Teaching duties are complete each term when the instructor's final exams have been graded, course grades computed, and all materials turned in to and reviewed by the course director.
The French Department also offers a limited number of Reading and Composition courses in English (French R1A and R1B). Students must normally have taught the entire French language sequence before they are eligible to teach these courses. These courses require native or near-native competency in English and evidence of superior writing skills from the instructor. It is also not guaranteed that these courses will be offered in French every semester.
Graduate Student Instructors are paid on the University's monthly payroll schedule beginning September l (for the fall semester) and February l (for the spring semester). The University requires that all Graduate Student Instructors be registered graduate students, and the Graduate Division verifies instructors' current registration during the course of each semester. TA salaries are subject to all state and federal taxes.
Effective Fall 2007, the Graduate Division requires all students, including TAs, to enroll in at least 12 units per semester. In addition, to retain eligibility for TA positions, the student must have no more than two incompletes on record. Appointment as a TA requires that the student's time be devoted wholly to the pursuit of studies and instruction within the University; no other appointment in the University or elsewhere is permitted.
The Department employs graduate students who perform well in their courses, show steady and satisfactory progress toward their graduate degrees, and are good teachers. Reappointment as a TA is not automatic. All TAs seeking reappointment for the following academic year should submit a TA Application by the announced deadline.
Records considered in the reappointment of TAs include course evaluations, the reports on classroom visits filed by members of the Lower Division Instructor Visiting Committee, TA academic records, seminar evaluations and M.A. Exam results. The Department does its utmost to offer teaching positions to all eligible graduate students within the department.
Reappointment as a TA may be for a full year, or for one semester, with continued reappointment contingent on the student's fulfilling special requirements (for example, removal of Incomplete grades, completion of M.A. or Ph.D. exam or submission of a Ph.D. Program Proposal, or improvement in teaching performance).
Training for instructors in first-year French consists of a required two-semester course sequence in methodology (French 375A and 375B) in which a pilot teacher provides TAs with an analysis of each lesson to be presented the following week, points to be emphasized and ways to present grammatical structures simply and concretely. French 301 and 302, (as well as the second-year methodology course, French 375C), cover Second Language Acquisition theory, general scholarship in Applied Linguistics, and look at best practices and teaching effectiveness examples not only in the Humanities, but in the Sciences as well. The use of technology for language instruction is also covered, as are other aspects of professional preparation in language instruction and writing instruction. Enrollment in French 30l 302, and attendance at its weekly meetings with the Director of Lower Division, are required of TAs who are teaching French l or French 2 for the first time at Berkeley. Four units of credit are awarded each semester (graded on an S/U basis). New instructors also attend a pilot class the first time they teach French l and French 2 in the French Department at Berkeley.
Instructors teaching French 3 for the first time enroll in French 303 and attend weekly meetings with the Coordinator of the Second Year Program. In addition, the training programs for all TAs include periodic visits to teaching assistants' classes by the pilot teacher, the Director of the Lower Division, the Coordinator of the Second Year Program, and other members of the faculty Lower Division Instructor Visiting Committee on an annual basis. TAs are expected to consult each faculty visitor following the visit to discuss the class observed.
Appointments as a TA may be made for a maximum of two semesters at a time; University regulations governing the appointment of TAs state that graduate students may hold these positions for up to four years (eight semesters). Exceptions to the four-year limit on teaching as a TA may, in individual cases, be requested by the Department, and granted by the administration. In any case, service in these titles cannot exceed a total of six years under the terms of the University's Academic Personnel Manual 400 17. Service as a TA on another UC campus counts toward this six-year total. Reappointment in the TA titles is governed by the Graduate Division. TAs must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, be enrolled in 12 units in each semester in which they hold this appointment, and have no more than 2 incompletes on the record.
The Department of French can nominate for this honor one TA for every ten appointed during the current academic year. TAs in French are considered for nomination after a minimum of two years of teaching, and are eligible to receive Outstanding TA honors only once. In selecting each year’s Outstanding TA nominee, the Director of the French Language Program and the Coordinator of Second-Year French review eligible candidates’ Lower Division Visiting Committee evaluations, as well as student evaluation ratings for the two most recent semesters taught. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center hosts a reception near the end of the Spring term to honor recipients, and sponsors a Teaching Effectiveness Award program to which recipients may submit applications.
The Department operates a small Summer Session program. The Chair, in consultation with the Director of the French Language Program, and the Graduate Committee, appoints TAs for this program based on the following criteria: (1) Only French Department graduate student TAs enrolled during the preceding Spring or following Fall semester are eligible; (2) First year TAs , and graduate students who will not be continuing in the graduate program in French, are not normally eligible for on-campus Summer Session appointments; (3) The candidacies of TAswho have never taught in Summer Session are given priority over those who already have taught; (4) Successful applicant(s) for Summer Session appointment will (a) possess a record of prior teaching competence, as evidenced in annual classroom visit reports and student evaluations, which will be reviewed by those making the Summer Session appointments and (b) be making reasonable academic progress toward their degrees. Application forms for 8 week Summer Session TAships are distributed during the fall semester every year. Courses offered in the 8-week Summer Session usually include French 1 2 3 4 as well as R1A and/or R1B.
The French Department also offers an intensive elementary French workshop in the 10 week Summer Session, and it sometimes offers a summer travel study program in Paris. Students may apply to any programs for which they are eligible. Eligibility requirements for the intensive workshop are the same as for other on-campus summer teaching. While first-year TAs are normally not eligible for on-campus teaching, they may apply to the travel study program when it is being offered. An interview will be required of those students being considered for an appointment with the travel study program. The department’s priority will be to staff all the on-campus courses on its summer schedule with qualified instructors. This priority will necessarily take precedence over any preferences applicants may have regarding teaching assignments. Both the Workshop and the travel study program may involve the appointment of instructors other than TAs. The pool of instructors for the French Summer Workshop and for the travel study program thus includes, but is not limited to, interested French Department TAs.