Learning Outcome 12

TESOL Portfolio Menu

Demonstrated ability to identify and discuss ethical issues entailed in English language teaching.


Description

The artifact provided, Ethical Considerations in Church-Based Adult ESL Programs, was created for TESL 537: Critical Perspectives on Christianity and English Language Teaching, taken in the Fall 2016 term with Dr. Mary Shepard Wong. This paper addresses the ethical issue of the inclusion of Christian content within church-based ESL classes. The artifact explores the question of whether some ESL programs which include faith- or Bible-based content may violate ethical principles of truthfulness, genuine service to participants, and respect.

Reflection

As a result of this research project, I came to the conclusion that although it is not necessarily unethical to include Christian content in a church-based ESL program, it becomes unethical if students are 1) unaware of this faith emphasis within classes, 2) not effectively served by the course content, or 3) coerced into accepting Christianity. The first situation violates the biblical value of truthfulness (2 Corinthians 13:8, Ephesians 4:25) and fails to follow the example of Christ, who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV). The second fails to meet learners’ needs and therefore violates the biblical principle of servanthood established by Christ’s example (Luke 22:27). Finally, any type of coercion to accept the gospel—whether intentional or unintentional—is a violation of the biblical principle of sharing our faith with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Application

In programs where Christian community and ELT practice intersect, it is important to keep the ethical considerations of truthfulness, service, and respect at the forefront of whatever we do. In the future, if I participate in organizing or advising a church-based ESL program, I will prioritize the following guiding principles: 1) Teachers and administrators must be transparent with learners regarding class content and avoid hiding elements of what will be taught, especially if it could be unexpected or objectionable to some learners (Pergason, 2009; Robison, 2009). 2) Careful consideration of students’ needs must always guide decisions about what, if any, faith-based content to include (Edge, 2003; Pergason, 2009). 3) Students must never be pressured or coerced in any way to accept Christianity (Payne, 2012; Baurain, 2007; Smith, 2009). By following these biblical and ethical principles, my desire is to uphold a standard of Christian witness that is above reproach.


Baurain, B. (2007). Christian witness and respect for persons. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 6, 201-219.

Edge, J. (2003). Imperial troopers and servants of the Lord: A vision of TESOL for the 21st Century. TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), 701-709.

Payne, J. D. (2012). Strangers next door: Immigration, migration and mission. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.

Pergason, K. B. (2009). Classroom guidelines for teachers with convictions. In M. S. Wong & S. Canagarajah (Eds.), Christian and critical English language educators in dialogue: Pedagogical and ethical dilemmas (pp. 185-192). New York, NY: Routledge.

Robison, R. (2009). Truth in teaching English. In M. S. Wong & S. Canagarajah (Eds.), Christian and critical English language educators in dialogue: Pedagogical and ethical dilemmas (pp. 255-264). New York, NY: Routledge.

Smith, D. (2009). The spiritual ecology of second language pedagogy. In M. S. Wong & S. Canagarajah (Eds.), Christian and critical English language educators in dialogue: Pedagogical and ethical dilemmas (pp. 193-204). New York, NY: Routledge.