Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT
On March 26th, ELT practitioners from across Canada and beyond connected on Twitter for #CdnELTchat to talk about Dealing with Sensitive Topics in ELT. Bonnie Nicholas (@EALstories) kept the conversation moving by posting questions, while Augusta Avram (@LINCinstructor) helped out by replying and retweeting, and Svetlana Lupasco (@stanzasl) and Jennifer (@jennifermchow) provided background support.
We’ve also collected the discussion around each question using Wakelet. Click to read all the questions and replies. You can also search for the hashtag, #CdnELTchat, on Twitter to read the full discussion and to continue adding to the conversation.
Having diverse students in our classrooms means that there are usually diverse perspectives, especially when it comes to sensitive topics. Discussing sensitive topics can be a minefield, but it can also be a rich educational experience. Click below to read the conversation around each question.
Q1: What are some examples of sensitive topics that you have encountered in your classroom? How did you deal with them?
- Click here to read the conversation around Q1.
Q2: Do you try to avoid all things PARSNIP (politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, -isms, pork)? What do you do if a students brings up one of these topics?
- Click here to read the conversation around Q2.
Q3: Do settlement teachers have different responsibilities with regards to sensitive topics than teachers in general ESL or EAP programs?
- Click here to read the conversation around Q3.
Q4: Is it better to wait for students to raise issues or is it an expected part of our work in ELT?
- Click here to read the conversation around Q4.
Q5: How do you handle disagreements among students about sensitive issues?
- Click here to read the conversation around Q5.
#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. We collect questions in advance of each chat on Padlet, and then choose 5 or 6 for the hour-long chat. Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for comments. Here are all the great questions we received but didn’t have time to use.
- In a multicultural class, many topics need to be handled with sensitivity. Are there any resources that you can recommend to help teachers navigate difficult conversations?
- In your class, how do you handle tragic world events like the cyclone in Africa, the airliner crash in Ethiopia, or the mosque shootings in New Zealand?
- Do settlement teachers have different responsibilities with regards to sensitive topics than teachers in general ESL or EAP programs?
We always have this final question ready, although we rarely have time to post it. This is something that I use for my own reflective practice after our chats have ended:
- What are you going to do differently as a result of our chat?
#CdnELTchat is held about every two weeks during the school year (we take the summers off) on Tuesday nights at 6 Pacific, 7 Mountain, 8 Central, 9 Eastern, and 10 Atlantic. We encourage you to continue the #slowburn conversation after the live chat. Check out the hashtag if you’re on Twitter, and please continue adding to the conversation.
And please contact any of the team members if you have ideas for chats or if you’d like to help out, maybe by co-moderating a chat or collecting the tweets for a summary like this one.