Should we talk about terrorism in ELT?

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris were barbaric.
Every news agency in the world covered them extensively.
Social media channels were plastered with related posts.
It was impossible not to see or hear about these tragedies unless you have been living under a rock for the past fortnight.
So, did you use these incidents as conversation topics in your English classes?

I would say that most people in the world have an opinion on this topic. Some will want to express it, others definitely won’t. In English classes, as teachers we are constantly trying to draw out opinions from our students and provide lesson material that will invigorate conversation, aren’t we?

But is such a shocking and horrible news item entirely suitable for discussion in a general English class?

Generally, if our students bring up a topic voluntarily, we are usually very encouraging and are genuinely interested in their opinions and want them to share with the rest of the class, right?
So, if this happens with the terrorist incidents, should we allow students to run with it, or should we put a stop to it?

Currently, I am only teaching one-to-one business English classes, which are specifically focussed on the work requirements of the student. So, I haven’t had to face this conundrum myself.

How have you dealt with terrorism in your classes?
Did you meet it head on or have you turned a blind eye to it?
If you did speak about the terrorism in Paris (or in Nigeria) with your students, how did they respond?
Unfortunately, it seems that such heinous acts are only going to continue in the future, so really as teachers we need to make our own personal decisions on this either way as to whether we are going to include this type of subject matter in class.

Also, is there any other theme that you believe is never appropriate for an English as foreign language lesson?
If you do have a taboo topic that you deem to be unacceptable in ELT, do you believe that your students would agree with you?

Do you agree that PARSNIPs should be taboo topics in English Language Teaching?
(PARSNIP : Politics / Alcohol / Religion / Sex / Narcotics / Isms / and Pork)

Bren Brennan

About Bren Brennan

Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
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One Response to Should we talk about terrorism in ELT?

  1. billionaire says:

    Teacher isn’t allowed to tell the speaker (student) who startle this argument Close this argument in my class.
    Classes in England must have the freedom of speech also say which group they are involving.

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