Is there a word in English for a person who conducts practice lessons in a university?

In Russia, we call these kinds of lessons "семинар", and people who conduct them "семинарист". Unfortunately, the English words "seminarian" and "seminarist" have different meanings (as I understand, they are connected with study of theology, not with study in general).

  • What kind of practice lessons? In a particular field of study? Something that requires practicing like music lessons? – Kristina Lopez Feb 27 '14 at 19:48
  • tutor ought to work. – Oldcat Feb 27 '14 at 19:50
  • @KristinaLopez practice in mathematical analysis or programming. Dot no know about music. – Kostya Bazhanov Feb 27 '14 at 19:52
  • instructor would work. – ermanen Feb 27 '14 at 19:54
  • lecturer, speaker – philshem Feb 27 '14 at 19:55

I am guessing that the Russian sense of seminar is analogous to a recitation or tutorial in Anglo-American universities.

In the lecture + recitation classroom format, class time is divided between two types of meetings: a large group, the lecture; and a small group, which may be known as recitation, section, tutorial, workshop, seminar, review, or discussion among many others— the terminology varies not only by country, but in North America, by institution and indeed by department and instructor. In the lecture, the instructor delivers a presentation to the entire class. It is not interactive, as the audience may number in the thousands. The small group, however, is designed to be interactive, and as there may be only 10 or 15 students in each, there is time to discuss the lecture or the texts, ask questions, review exam answers, and so on.

In U.S. higher education, the leader of the small group is usually referred to as a teaching assistant, or T.A. for short. The T.A. is usually a graduate student (hence the alternative term graduate teaching assistant), and the teaching assignment part of his or her program. Occasionally, the terms facilitator or section instructor were used at my university, and where the small group was a laboratory session, lab instructor.

In the U.K., I believe tutor is the usual term for this role.

We did have courses known as seminars, in which there is no lecture, and the course instructor (usually a professor) himself leads an interactive discussion among 5-15 students. We had no special word for the instructors of such courses.

  • Thank you for such a detailed answer! I also asked this question to my friend who now studies in Germany and he said that they call this kind of teachers as "tutor" too. – Kostya Bazhanov Feb 27 '14 at 20:44

In Russia, we call these kinds of lessons "семинар", and people who conduct them "семинарист".

It's not so actually. It's very unformal, uncommon, and slang name. Usually such persons are called "ассистент" - or exactly T.A. in English.


I looked up your example Russian words and and found that they relate to what in US English would be a seminar or workshop. A leader of such an event is often referred to as a facilitator; this term is commonly used in academic settings.

  • We would also use those words in Britain. Further the word 'tutorial' is used for one to one sessions with a tutor. – WS2 Feb 27 '14 at 20:26

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