Should We be Talking about Parsnips in the EFL Classroom?
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Parsnips. Those interesting little root vegetables, delicious when roasted with honey.
Oh wait, that’s not what we mean.
We’re talking about PARSNIPS in the EFL classroom. Does that make sense now? No, probably not.
What are PARSNIPS?
PARSNIPS might just be the most ridiculous acronym we’ve ever come across but it actually stands for politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, -isms, and pork. These refer to the so-called taboo topics in the EFL classroom. Many teachers believe that these topics should not be broached in the EFL classroom. This is because they may cause offense to sensitive students or students may not feel comfortable speaking about them. As a result of this belief, coursebook publishers generally won’t include any material related to these topics in their coursebooks, even though they make up a fair amount of our daily language.
Read more: The Case For and Against Coursebooks
If you have some experience using coursebooks in the EFL classroom, you’ve probably realised this. After all, there are only so many times we can talk about natural disasters, health and fitness, recycling, and Britney Spears before we start to wonder if there really is nothing else to talk about. If you think about the juicy conversations and debates you have with your friends and family, and the stories you are likely to see on the news or in newspapers, they probably all revolve around a topic that has been deemed unacceptable for the EFL classroom. Never mind the fact that our students are probably having those same conversations outside the classroom in their own language!
Should we be talking about PARSNIPS in the EFL classroom?
Now, we totally understand that there are a few no-nos in the classroom, and upsetting our students is high on that list, so we will never condone talking about issues that will make your students uncomfortable. It is important that our learners’ affective filters are low during our lessons and they are comfortable and at ease, or else they won’t participate in the activities or engage with the language. Asking them to speak about a topic they are not happy to do is a sure way to take our students out of their comfort zones. But we also believe that you know your students and you can make a good decision regarding what is off-limits in the classroom based on that knowledge.
So, should we be talking about PARSNIPS in the EFL classroom?
We think so, but with a few caveats.
- PARSNIPS can make for some really interesting discussions. However, you do need to keep your students and your teaching situation in mind. Speaking about alcohol if you are teaching in a Muslim country is obviously a no-no. On the other hand, if you are teaching a Saudi student in Spain, there could be room to approach the topic in a tasteful and sensitive manner. After all, the student would be exposed to alcohol (or the topic of alcohol) when outside the classroom anyway.
- PARSNIPS are not suitable for Young Learners and even while these topics may be a part of their lives due to the society we live in these days, talking about them in the classroom is not a good idea. Young students are impressionable and don’t have enough life experience to contribute meaningfully to most related conversations.
- Bear in mind that it’s not always easy to talk about these topics, even in your own language. Topics like these require some thought to be able to contribute to discussions so it may be difficult for your learners not only linguistically but also in terms of content. So when you do tackle a tricky subject in the classroom, make sure you have enough activities to scaffold the lesson and make it easier for your students to participate in the lesson.
How to talk about PARSNIPS in the EFL classroom
- Keep your students in mind. Each class is different and you will need to judge the suitability of a topic to your particular class.
- Try not to get too controversial on the topic. Even controversial topics can be dealt with in a very neutral way. You might want to focus only on one specific aspect of the topic, which will make it more palatable.
- Give your students time to prepare what they want to say on the topic. Let them speak to other students before expecting them to contribute meaningfully in open class. Give them time to think and the necessary language to communicate their thoughts appropriately.
- Be prepared to move on from the topic if it’s not working. Maybe your students get too excited about the topic or someone makes an insensitive comment. Be aware of the possibilities and make provisions for alternative activities should your activity flop.
- Don’t talk about them every day. These are heavy issues to discuss and we cannot expect our students to be able to engage in such serious topics all the time.
- Maintain a sense of humour. Don’t let any discussion get too serious. This is to avoid any inflammatory situations. If you notice the learners are getting a little hot under the collar or if the conversation is heading in a dangerous direction, either stop the activity or steer it back to more neutral territory.
- Have fun with it! No matter how interesting, no learner wants to participate in activities that are too serious and heavy.
Times are changing
To be fair, even though coursebooks still get a bad rap for being rather vanilla, times are a-changing. More and more teachers are braving PARSNIPS in the classroom and coursebook writers and publishers are taking note. While they are still not brave enough to tackle very sensitive issues – which is maybe not a bad thing – at least they are a tad more politically- and socially-aware than before. In fact, there are even books now with lesson plans focussed only on PARSNIPS topics. So if you’re looking for a challenge and your class is up for it, why not spice up your classroom and introduce a PARSNIP – and see what happens!
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.