• Margaret van Naerssen Email

Margaret van Naerssen

Communicating across cultures, across communities, can help reduce hatred in the world

Across her 50+ year-long career she’s worked in language teaching, teacher training, research,

program development and language assessment. She’s worked in both the USA and international settings across Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North Africa. She was Chair of the TESOL English for Specific Purposes Interest Section and continues promoting ESP best practices.


Since 1997 her experience has also converged in forensic contexts with non-native speakers in legal cases and orienting law enforcement and the courts, including speaking at the Smithsonian Institution and at a state trial judges conference. Her PhD is in Applied Linguistics. Vegetable gardening keeps Margaret grounded, along with kayaking and hiking.

Guidelines for Communicating Rights to Non-native Speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales and the USA

Margaret van Naerssen

Suspects’ interview rights, police cautions in Australia, England and Wales and the US Miranda Rights, are country-specific legal mechanisms for protecting due process in criminal investigations and trials. An international treaty underlies these rights. The guidelines articulate recommendations in terms of 

  • Wording of the Rights/Cautions and 

  • Communication of the Rights/Cautions to non-native speakers of English. The Wording is of additional interest to the Clarity community: 

  1. Use a standardized version in Plain English (Clear English); and 

  2. Develop standardized statements in other languages.

Participants are reminded of critical issues including: 

  • The combination of Plain (Clear) language and effective communication of rights is critical for both native and/ non-native speakers, and rights should not be “read” or “delivered” like a pizza.

  • Communication of rights should be interactive. Participants will be introduced to updated references supporting the Guidelines.


Two useful resources include:

Copy of Guidelines is hosted for the independent group developing the Guidelines at > Outreach>Guidelines  (Download pdf for full copy and references)


Rogers, R., Harrison, K., Shuman, D., Sewell, K. & Hazelwood, L. (2007). An analysis of Miranda warnings and waivers: Comprehension and coverage. Law and Human Behavior 31, 177-192.