The Ethics of TESOL a quarter century on


  • Alan Williams University of Melbourne, Australia



Ethics in TESOL, Professional practice in TESOL, Australian TESOL, impact of TESOL on learners, changes in Australian TESOL


Discussion of ethical considerations in Australian TESOL began 25 years ago, with arguments about the need for TESOL professionals to be aware of the potentially harmful consequences of their work, the loss of first language proficiency, and even the loss of languages themselves (Williams, 1992, 1995). The intervening quarter of a century has seen sweeping changes to the context in which TESOL professionals work and developments in our professional knowledge about the processes and consequences of TESOL professional practice (Canagarajah, 1999; Phillipson, 1992, 2013). In this paper developments in the sociocultural context of TESOL, the general education context and the TESOL professional context are explored. This article revises the arguments about ethical directions in TESOL presented a quarter century ago to take account of these changes. Guiding principles for individuals and professional bodies are identified. It is argued that our role is to sensitively help our learners to explore the potential consequences of the learning of English, and for professional bodies to take an active role in advocacy given the impact of globalization processes, more centralized curriculum and assessment frameworks, and the relatively reduced capacity of individual teachers to influence the institutions that employ them.


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Author Biography

  • Alan Williams, University of Melbourne, Australia

    Dr. Alan Williams has worked in TESOL teacher education and research for over 25 years, including at La Trobe University, Bundoora and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. He has taught in Australia, Canada, the UK, Vietnam and recently in China. He was the ACTA Policy Convenor in the early 1990s.


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How to Cite

The Ethics of TESOL a quarter century on. (2018). TESOL in Context, 27(2).
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