TESOL Responds to Arizona Teacher English Fluency Initiative (May 2010)

Association concerned over initiative targeting nonnative English speaking educators

Alexandria, Virginia –Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL), and its Arizona affiliate, AZ-TESOL, have issued a joint statement expressing great concern over the actions by the Arizona Department of Education targeting nonnative English speaking teachers in Arizona schools. According to recent media reports, the Arizona Department of Education has mandated that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English.

As a global education association, TESOL values individual language rights, respect for diversity and multiculturalism, and professionalism in language education. TESOL Executive Director Rosa Aronson states:

“TESOL has long opposed discrimination against nonnative English speakers in the field of English language teaching. Nonnative English-speaking educators should not be singled out because of their native language, nor evaluated based on arbitrary standards of language fluency. All educators should be evaluated in a transparent manner along the same criteria based on clearly articulated and valid standards.”

The joint statement goes on to address the undertones upon which this particular initiative unfolds: “With the other recent legislative initiatives in Arizona targeting undocumented immigrants and ethnic students, TESOL is deeply troubled by what appears to be an environment of fear and xenophobia being fostered by lawmakers in the state without consideration of the consequences upon student learning and achievement.”

The full text of the joint statement is available for download here (PDF).

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ABOUT TESOL: Incorporated in 1966, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL), is a global association for English language teaching professionals headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. TESOL encompasses a network of over 50,000 educators worldwide, consisting of more than 12,000 individual members and an additional 40,000 educators within the 100 plus TESOL affiliate associations. Representing a multifaceted academic discipline and profession, TESOL offers members serial publications, books, and electronic resources on current issues, ideas, and opportunities in the field of English language teaching. TESOL also conducts a variety of workshops and symposia, including an annual convention, regarded as the foremost professional development opportunity for English language educators worldwide. TESOL's mission is to develop and maintain professional expertise in English language teaching for speakers of other languages worldwide.