Racism – Past vs Present

woman in green t-shirt
Type: Vocabulary
Originally published on July 23, 2019 and last updated on August 7, 2023

The topic of racism, particularly in the present context, serves as a vital conversation topic for English learners, offering them an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions on social issues and cultural understanding. Exploring racism allows learners to develop empathy, challenge stereotypes and expand their worldview. Moreover, it enhances language skills by delving into vocabulary related to discrimination, social justice and equality.

Discussing racism fosters critical thinking, encourages respectful dialogue and empowers learners to become agents of change, promoting inclusivity and equality in their communities and beyond.

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.

Racism Overview

Obviously, racism in Western society has dramatically decreased over the last 100 or so years. Most people in today’s society like to think of themselves as inclusive to all races, and would certainly not describe themselves as being racist.

However, more recently racism and accusations of racism in the news seem to have increased, which leads to the question Is society more racist now than 20 years ago?

Useful Vocabulary

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

  • racism (noun)
  • racist (adjective)
  • prejudice (noun)
  • dramatically (adverb)
  • overused (adjective)
  • accusation (noun)

Conversation Questions

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  • Is society more racist now than 20 years ago?
  • How would you define racism?
  • Do you consider the area you live to be racist to some degree?
  • Have you personally witnessed or experienced instances of racism?
  • Do you feel there is more racism now than 20 years ago? If yes, why do you think this is?
  • Do you think the term “racist” is overused?
  • How can individuals challenge and combat racism in their everyday lives?
  • Do you think racism can ever be completely eradicated?
  • Is racism primarily a result of ignorance or systemic factors?
  • Is racism more prevalent in certain areas or societies compared to others?
  • Are individuals born with racist beliefs, or are they influenced by societal factors?
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.