Theory and Methods in TESOL


Theory and Methods in TESOL


By the end of the course, students will write a set of personal ethical guidelines which will help further facilitate their growth as reflective practitioners in the field of TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages.)



Scenarios and readings which reflect the current ethical concerns in TESOL

Learning Activities


Students will begin by examining the mission statement of TESOL, the professional organization of teachers of English to speakers of other languages, as a way of introducing the notion of ethics.


Throughout the course, I will ask students to post their reactions to a number of scenarios, most of which are derived from the TESOL Mission Statement. On the discussion boards on Blackboard.   I don’t expect to take up too much classroom time with this discussion.


At the end of the course I will ask students to write a list of their own personal ethical guidelines in TESOL with reference to the discussions.


I will make available links to short position statements from TESOL literature which are relevant to the scenarios the students will be asked to respond to.


Given the individual nature of the ethical guidelines and the aim of creating awareness of ethical issues, I do not think it is appropriate to grade this assignment.   I would prefer students to write a brief self-assessment report about how the ethics module helped or didn’t help their development as teachers.

A sample of materials to be used in the module

1.             Here is the Mission Statement of TESOL, the professional organization of teachers of English to speakers of other languages.

2.             Would you describe any of the issues that TESOL values as ethical positions?   Do you agree or disagree with any of these positions?

3.             Can you think of examples of these issues in your classroom teaching?

4.            Are there any ethical positions you would like to add to this mission statement?

TESOL Mission Statement

TESOL’s mission is to ensure excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages.

TESOL values

*          professionalism in language education

*          individual language rights

*          accessible, high quality education

*          collaboration in a global community

*          interaction of research and reflective practice for educational improvement

*          respect for diversity and multiculturalism



Individual language rights

You teach English in a college on one of the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. You learn that the indigenous language – Unangan, is slowly dying. The young people you teach would rather speak English as their first language.

Q: How responsible do you feel for helping to contribute to killing off the indigenous language?


Accessible, high quality education

You are teaching English as a second language in Cote d’Ivoire in a public high school.   You learn that that half of the children leave school at the age of 11.   Of those who continue in secondary education, only a small fraction of those students will have a chance to study English.   The students in your class are mainly male and come from a small elite group in society.


Collaboration in a global community

You teach an adult education second language class in a community college in New York.   In your class you have several Muslim students and Jewish students.   You even have a Palestinian and an Israeli Jew.

Q:   Given the composition of your class and your desire to create meaningful communicative discussion opportunities, do engage your students on the issues in the Middle-East or do you avoid the issue completely for fear of opening a can of worms which would create an intolerable classroom situation


Respect for diversity and multiculturalism

You teach English in a university in Japan. You learn that your students are unhappy about your use of first names with them.   Usually, first names are used only in the family or amongst close friends. Your choices are to use their Japanese family names with the honorific san – Fukuda-san, or use the English honorific – Mr. Fukuda. Or you could insist on using first names as this is part of the culture of the target language.

Q:   What would you do in this situation?

Here is one more scenario.   What is your response to this situation and what ethical position could be drawn from your response?


You work for a language school in Indonesia that does mainly company courses and short language training sessions.   The company offers you the following two assignments:

a.    You are to teach a short course in English for specific purposes to a group of sex-workers in Thailand. Their customers are mainly middle-aged American and European males.

b.    You are to teach English for specific purposes to a group customer service workers in a new Bank of America call-center in Indonesia. The existing call-center in Atlanta, Georgia will be outsourced as soon as the Indonesian workers are trained.


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