Affirmative Action

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Type: Vocabulary
Originally published on May 9, 2023 and last updated on May 13, 2023

Engaging in thoughtful and dynamic conversations is a crucial aspect of mastering any language, and for high-level English learners, exploring topics such as affirmative action can greatly enhance their speaking and conversation skills.

Delving into the complexities surrounding affirmative action fosters critical thinking, empathy, and the ability to articulate nuanced perspectives. This contentious topic challenges learners to express their thoughts effectively, practice active listening, and develop cultural sensitivity while navigating potentially polarising discussions.

By embracing affirmative action as a conversation topic, English learners can strengthen their linguistic proficiency and cultivate the essential skills needed for meaningful intercultural exchanges.

Go through the vocabulary below with your students and ask them to try and use this vocabaulry where possible when discussing the different conversation questions.

What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action is a policy or set of practices aimed at addressing historical inequalities and promoting equal opportunities for underrepresented groups. It involves taking proactive steps to increase the representation and participation of marginalised individuals in areas such as education, employment, and public services.

Sometimes referred to as positive discrimination, affirmative action acknowledges that systemic barriers exist and attempts to rectify them. This approach may include measures such as preferential hiring, scholarships or targeted admissions to provide certain groups with a fair chance. By prioritising diversity and inclusivity, affirmative action seeks to create a more equitable society and challenge long-standing patterns of discrimination.

Useful Vocabulary

Try and use the following vocabulary when answering the question. Click to look up the definition in the dictionary

  • quota (noun)
  • diverse (adjective)
  • underrepresentation (noun)
  • implement (verb)
  • bridge the gap (idiom)
  • address (verb)
  • bring about (phrasal verb)
  • level the playing field (idiom)

Conversation Questions

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  • What is your understanding of affirmative action, and how do you think it aims to address inequality?
  • Do you believe affirmative action is necessary in today's society? Why or why not?
  • What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of implementing affirmative action policies?
  • Should affirmative action be based solely on race and gender, or should it consider other factors as well?
  • Does affirmative action undermine the principle of meritocracy?
  • Do you think affirmative action is a necessary measure to address historical injustices?
  • Can affirmative action inadvertently create divisions and reinforce stereotypes?
  • At what point is affirmative action no longer necessary?
  • What role should the government play in encouraging or enforcing affirmative action in the business sector?
  • What are some alternative approaches to addressing inequality, besides affirmative action?
This conversation topic was prepared by Gregory

Gregory is a qualified TEFL teacher who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (ESL) for over a decade. He has taught in-person classes in Spain and to English learners around the world online.