group of police looking for criminals
Type: Vocabulary
Originally published on September 28, 2022 and last updated on July 25, 2023

Exploring the topic of crime can be a highly effective learning strategy for English language learners. The topic is globally relevant, making it an engaging platform for discussion. By dissecting complex narratives, using legal vocabulary and debating moral or ethical dimensions, learners can significantly broaden their language skills.

Additionally, such discussions can foster critical thinking, enhance fluency and build confidence in expressing viewpoints in English.

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 Crime?

Crime, in its simplest form, refers to any action that violates the laws established by a society. These laws are rules set by governments to maintain peace, order and protect the rights of individuals.

Crimes can vary widely in nature and severity, from minor offences like traffic violations to serious ones like murder or robbery. The consequences of committing a crime also differ, often depending on the severity of the act. These may include penalties such as fines, community service, imprisonment or in some countries, even death.

Understanding crime also requires acknowledging its societal impacts. Crimes often make people feel unsafe and scared. They also cost a lot of money because of the need for police, court trials and help for the victims.

Useful Vocabulary Related to Crime

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

  • criminal (noun)
  • punishment (noun)
  • clamp down on (phrasal verb)
  • deal with (phrasal verb)
  • perpetrator (noun)
  • victim (noun)
  • commit (verb)
  • measure (noun)
  • generally (adverb)

Conversation Questions About Crime

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  • Do you think the government should do more to prevent crime?
  • Have you ever committed a crime?
  • Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
  • Would you say there is a lot of crime where you live?
  • How important is it for you to live in a low-crime area?
  • Why do you think people commit crimes?
  • What are the different types of punishments for crimes in your country?
  • What do you think the government can do to prevent crime?
  • What do you think the general public can do to help reduce crime?
  • What types of crime are most common in your country?
  • What do you think is the most serious crime? Why?
  • What is your opinion about the death penalty as a punishment for a serious crime?
  • Do you believe that prisons are effective in stopping crime?
  • Should juvenile offenders be treated the same as adults in the criminal justice system?
  • Does the media's portrayal of crime affect public perception and create fear?
  • Should non-violent criminals receive alternative forms of punishment, such as community service, instead of imprisonment?
  • Do you think strict gun control lead to less crime?
  • Does poverty lead to crime or is it a lack of moral values?
  • Is it ever okay to commit a crime? Under what circumstances?
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.