Diversity & Discrimination

“The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection”

Thomas Berry (1914 – 2009), American cultural historian
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on diversity and discrimination has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Everybody has prejudices and biases, this is natural. But when those prejudices and biases interfere with our capacity for thinking logically and rationally, we are liable to discriminate. While everyone can be the victim of discrimination, there is no denying that it affects some groups more than others. In the modern day, thanks to social media and certain ideologies promoted on these platforms, the society we live in appears to be more divisive than diverse. Will this change in the future? In this ESL lesson plan on diversity and discrimination, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the benefits of diversity, forms of discrimination, and what can be done to tackle this problem.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Zero Discrimination Day, which takes place in March, and the International Day of Tolerance, which takes place in November. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

The Conversation | Humans are wired for prejudice but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story

The article looks at the biological and psychological reasons that people are prejudiced. While prejudice is likely to be a by-product from our survival instinct earlier on in our evolution, evidence suggests that these prejudices develop in adolescence. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “Why Diversity Is More Important Than Meritocracy: Quotas, Talent, Wall Street” by Big Think which looks at the concept of meritocracy and why this might not lead to diversity in the workplace.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the benefits of diversity in the workplace, how people can learn to understand others better, and whether or not humans are essentially the same.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with diversity and discrimination such as privilege, stereotype and prejudice. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about discrimination. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why people discriminate, whether affirmative action is an effective way to deal with underrepresentation, and what equality laws exist in the students’ countries.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of diversity and discrimination. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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