FLL Graduate Student Manual

Welcome to the Foreign Languages and Literature Graduate Program!

Please know that graduate students are an important part of our department and that it is essential that you understand its workings, as well as your responsibilities, in order to have a positive, enriching experience. This also helps to transmit a consistent message to our undergraduate population. This manual is meant to serve as both a guide and a reference for you to successfully navigate the program. It is not meant as a “be all / fix all” document and we anticipate its evolution over time. Please read this in its entirety and always feel welcome to come to the appropriate individuals named within if you have any questions or concerns. We also encourage feedback over the course of your time here so we can assist future graduates in their time of transition. We look forward to working with you.

New Student Orientation


New student orientation usually takes place the week before classes start, or the days before classes start in a semester in which the semester starts on a Wednesday or Thursday. Be advised that there is a NCSU-wide orientation, but the FLL orientation is both separate from this and on a different date, typically the Thursday and Friday before classes begin. Dr. Despain will send you information about online tasks to complete PRIOR to the face-to-face component of the orientation. The FLL orientation is mandatory, but we strongly encourage you to attend the NCSU-wide orientation as well, as there you will receive important information about different, useful resources for graduate students.

A second component of pre-semester meetings in FLL includes a compulsory meeting for all members of the department on the Monday before classes start. This meeting typically begins at 10 am and includes introductions, as well important information about university policies and procedures for those involved in instruction. In the afternoon after the plenary meeting, the French and Spanish sections typically meet to introduce new arrivals and to discuss policies and events relevant to the new academic school year.


The location will be announced during the summer since room availability is always questionable. You will receive advance notice via e-mail, so please be sure to check your NC State email account regularly.

FL 507

FL 507, or College Teaching of Foreign Languages, is taught each fall semester by Dr. Wust. It is a requirement for TAs, but recommended for all students interested in pursuing work or careers in teaching. It covers theoretical understandings of second language acquisition and the practical application of language learning knowledge to lesson planning, assignment creation, etc. FL 507 is a useful class even for those with prior teaching experience.



As a graduate student (and for some, as a Teaching Assistant), you are representing NC State University to those with whom you come into contact, and acting as a role model for younger and prospective students. If you suspect that a particular item of clothing is inappropriate, err or the side of caution and select something more professional.


It is important to remember that the individuals with whom you are working may well be future colleagues of yours.  Always attempt to maintain a professional demeanor when interacting with anyone in the department. This environment is reflective of the work environment outside of the university as well, and at times, you may be required to work with individuals with different perspectives and attitudes than your own.  We can all gain from each other and an open mind will really serve you well both here and in the future. And, as always, you are representing FLL and the university on campus and around colleagues. Also, please be careful that any conversations you have with colleagues about your students and/or their performance are not overhead by the students.

Getting along with peers

This section applies not only to both TAs sharing an office as well as general graduate students in classes together, as graduate classes are often styled as seminars or require group work in class on projects. Your officemates and classmates are your teammates, and their varied opinions, experiences and perspectives are invaluable resources for your academic and professional growth, as an individual student and as a class. All classmates and officemates should be treated with respect as fellow graduate students, fellow teaching assistants, and fellow colleagues.

Interpersonal Issues

In the case of interpersonal issues that need to be resolved, it is recommended that students try to solve problems while maintaining a high level of professionalism and respect for all parties involved. If a problem cannot be appropriately resolved between the two parties involved, it may be wise to call in a third party to mediate a discussion and help find a solution. If the problem stems from the mega section, you may contact either Dr. Despain or Mr. James McConnell (Spanish) or Dr. Valerie Wust or Mr. Jeffrey Allen (French), depending on who is the principal instructor. If the problem stems from administration or the office, contact Dr. Wust. Ms. Batta in the main office is also a trained mediator and a great resource for conflict-resolution help if you feel that there will be bias toward a particular party.

Who Does What in the Department

Ms. Batta

Ms. Valerie Batta is the Graduate Services Coordinator. Her office is Withers 313, in the FLL Main Office, Withers 310, to the right of the main desk. She will contact you for administrative reasons, such as signing your TA contract, etc. and can answer general questions about the graduate program and your studies.

Dr. Despain

Dr. Despain is the Director of Graduate programs. He presents portions of the New Student Orientation, teaches the fall mega section of FLS101, approves the classes you plan to take, and is available by e-mail for specific questions you have. His office hours and contact information can be found at Dr. Despain’s website.

I Need Help!


The Graduate School page can provide important resources for graduate students, such as information for international students, rules and regulations, fellowships and grants, etc., as well as a list of graduate programs.

Head of Foreign Languages and Literatures

The Main Office of FLL is located at Withers 310, on the third floor. Dr. Ruth Gross serves as the Department Head for all languages. Within the office TAs can find the mailroom, as well as the department’s website.

Counseling Center

The NCSU counseling center provides various services such as personal counseling, academic counseling, group counseling, career counseling, among others. They are located at the second floor of the Student Health Center. Their address can be found at their website. We recommend all students take advantage of this service when needed, and also try to maintain a healthy lifestyle to aid in managing the sometimes-stressful workload of graduate classes.

Culminating MA Project Advisor

Your Culminating Project Committee Advisor is chosen by you sometime near the end of your first year or the beginning of your second.

Last updated 08/2016