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TESOL Board of Directors Endorses Guidelines for Communicating Rights to Non-Native Speakers of English in Australia, England, Wales, and the USA

by David Cutler | 04/28/2016
At its meeting in April, the TESOL Board of Directors voted to join the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAL), the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), and The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) in the endorsement of proposed guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in the United States, Australia, Wales and England. The guidelines were authored by the Communication of Rights Group, an independent, international group of linguists, psychologists, lawyers and interpreters. The document is being hosted by AAAL.

These recommendations aim to ensure that the rights of non-native English speakers are protected when being interviewed by law enforcement. Known as Miranda Rights in the US and police cautions in Australia, Wales and England, non-native English speakers do not always understand their rights, including the right to protect themselves from self-incrimination and maintain their silence when speaking with authorities. Some of the recommendations set forth in the proposed guidelines include: the use of plain, conversational English when reading a suspect their rights, making legal documents available in native languages, providing interpreters to non-native English speakers, presenting each of a suspect’s rights individually, and recording the interviews of non-native English speakers to ensure their rights were being protected.