Research in Higher Education

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 511-531

First online:

Nonlanguage factors affecting undergraduates' judgments of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants

  • Donald L. RubinAffiliated withSpeech Communication and Language Education, The University of Georgia

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In response to dramatic changes in the demographics of graduate education, considerable effort is being deveoted to training teaching assistants who are nonnative speakers of English (NNSTAs). Three studies extend earlier research that showed the potency of nonlanguage factors such as ethnicity in affecting undergraduates' reactions to NNSTAs. Study 1 examined effects of instructor ethnicity, even when the instructor's language was completely standard. Study 2 identified predictors of teacher ratings and listening comprehension from among several attitudinal and background variables. Study 3 was a pilot intervention effort in which undergraduates served as teaching coaches for NNSTAs. This intervention, however, exerted no detectable effect on undergraduates' attitudes. Taken together, these findings warrant that intercultural sensitization for undergraduates must complement skills training for NNSTAs, but that this sensitization will not accrue from any superficial intervention program.