Social Issues- Brainstorming and Speaking


Vocabulary related to social issues brainstorming and oral practice

By: Alex Case
Level: All Levels
Topic: Society
Grammar Topic: Vocabulary
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Lesson Plan Content:

Social issues review brainstorming and speaking

Without looking below, brainstorm as many social issues as you can in pairs.

Find social issues in the list of collocations below by joining words in the same section.

Ageing                                                                       marriages

Assisted                                                                    suicide

Brain                                                                          labour

Breakup of                                                                population

Censor                                                         -ship

Child                                                                          drain


Community                                                               standards

Data                                                                           protection problems

Domestic                                                                  equality

Drinking and                                                              activism

Falling educational                                                  driving

In-                                                                                violence


Falling birth                                                              -ness

Gambling                                                                  rate

Glass                                                                        addiction

Health                                                          scares

Homeless                                                                  ceiling

Human                                                                      trafficking


Lack of local                                                              -term unemployment

Lack of respect                                           immobility

Social                                                                       for elders

Social                                                          isolation

Long                                                                          democracy

Mal-                                                                           nutrition


Organised                                                                  drug addiction

Old                                                                             people’s homes

Political                                                                     extremism

Prescription                                                              crime

Runaway                                                                   harm

Self-                                                                            children


Sexual                                                                       violence

Single member                                                        families
Stress-related                                            harassment

Single parent                                              households

Union                                                                         action

Youth                                                                          illnesses


Compare your answers to the collocations task and your original brainstorming ideas to the big list below.


Ageing population


Assisted suicide


Body image problems (e.g. anorexia/ bulimia)

Brain drain

Breakup of marriages (e.g. divorce and separation)



Child labour

Children in care

Community activism

Control of the internet

Corruption (e.g. bribery and nepotism)

Dangerous dogs

Data protection problems


Discrimination (e.g. sexism, racism, ageism)

Domestic violence

Drinking and driving

Drop in belief in religion

Dropping educational standards

Dropping out of corporate life

Falling birthrate

Gambling addiction


Glass ceiling



Hard drug use

Health scares


Human trafficking

Illegal gambling

Illegal weapons, e.g. firearms

Immigrants not assimilating

InequalityLack of affordable quality housing

Lack of blood bank blood/ donated organs

Lack of giving to charities

Lack of health insurance

Lack of local democracy

Lack of respect for elders

Lack of respect for teachers

Lack of social mobility

Loneliness/ Social isolation

Long term unemployment


Multilingual classrooms


Neighbourhood watch organisations/ Vigilantism


Old people’s homes

Organised crime (e.g. mafia and gangs)


People released from prison not being able to fit back in to society

Political extremism


Post-industrial society

Poverty, e.g. the Working Poor

Prescription drug addiction

Problems with pest control (e.g. rats and cockroaches)

Protests/ Demonstrations


Rise in crime

Runaway children/ Missing children

School absenteeism

School violence


Sex industry

Sexual harassment

Shrinking middle class

Single member households
Stress-related illnessesSingle parent families


Soft drug use



Teenage pregnancy


Underage sex

Union action (strikes etc)

Youth violence

Ask about anything above which you don’t understand, etc, then share any ideas you had which are not above.


Brainstorming Part Two – checking understanding

Try to think of at least two examples of these:


Addictive prescription drugs

Body image problems



Child labour

Community activism

Control of the internet


Data protection problems


Dropping educational standards

Dropping out of corporate life

Financial problems


Glass ceiling


Hard drugs

Health scares

Illegal weapons

Immigrants not assimilating


Lack of respect for elders

Lack of respect for teachers

Lack of social mobility

Loneliness/ Social isolation


Organised crime


Petty crime

Political extremism


Problems with pest control

Relationship problems

School violence

Sexual harassment

Single member households
Stress-related illnessesSingle parent families


Union action



Youth violence


Brainstorm/ Agree

Work together to find at least five things in the list above or your own list which:

  • Aren’t (really) problems
  • Are problems but also have positive aspects
  • You are interested in but didn’t mention before.
  • You are totally uninterested in
  • Aren’t much of an issue in this country
  • Aren’t the government’s job to sort out
  • You would put on your manifesto if you were a politician.
  • Are likely to become bigger problems in the future
  • Could be solved by teachers
  • Should be studied/ talked about in schools
  • Could be solved by parents
  • Should be studied/ talked about by parents
  • Are likely to become worse/ less of a problem in the future
  • Are impossible/ too difficult to change much
  • Could easily be changed
  • Should be covered more by the media


Brainstorming phrases

Brainstorm suitable language for the discussion above with these functions:

Asking for opinions



Giving strong opinions



Giving weak opinions/ Speculating



Other opinions phrases (neither strong nor weak)



Strongly agreeing



Strongly disagreeing



Politely disagreeing



Other agreeing phrases



Compare your lists with another group, agreeing or disagreeing with the social problems that they have chosen using language like that above.

Choose one of the topics below and give your opinion on it using language like that which you brainstormed above. What does your partner think?

  • Alcoholism is not a serious problem in my country
  • All abortion is wrong
  • Assisted suicide is a good idea in theory but would never work in practice
  • Banks are to blame for people’s debt problems
  • Body image problems (e.g. anorexia/ bulimia) are increasing
  • Breeds of dogs which can be dangerous should just be banned
  • Bullying is an unavoidable part of childhood
  • Child labour laws are too strict – there is nothing wrong with a thirteen year old having a part-time job
  • Community activism will never have a great effect in this city
  • Corruption (e.g. bribery and nepotism) is becoming less of a problem
  • Drinking and driving should have an automatic jail sentence
  • Educational standards are falling because people have comfortable lives and so aren’t ambitious
  • Everyone has an equal chance to become successful
  • Gambling is addictive and so it should be made difficult for people to bet
  • Globalisation has mainly been positive for this country
  • Graffiti is art
  • Health scares happen because they help sell newspapers
  • Inequality is the main cause of social problems
  • Most claims of domestic violence are false
  • Most homeless people have chosen that life
  • Obesity is a medical problem, not a social one
  • People don’t give to charities because people’s taxes are too high
  • People dropping out of corporate life will force companies to change for the better
  • People shouldn’t be ashamed of bankruptcy
  • Putting children in care should be the last resort – it is always better for children to be with their parents if at all possible
  • Social isolation is made worse by technology
  • The breakup of marriages (e.g. divorce and separation) is mainly due to unrealistic expectations of married life
  • The government should limit abortion to the absolute minimum number of weeks
  • The lack of affordable quality housing should be solved by local governments
  • The main reason immigrants don’t assimilate is because local people don’t welcome them
  • The most serious kind of discrimination in this country is racism
  • The only solution to the ageing population is immigration
  • There is a continual danger of government control of the internet that we have to fight
  • There is no need for any kind of censorship
  • There is no reason to respect all people who are older than you
  • There is nothing the government can do to affect the falling birthrate

Choose one of the topics above and whether you want to be for or against that proposition. Your partner must take the opposite point of view and debate it with you.

Choose questions from the list below to discuss with your partner:

  • Are the Working Poor responsible for their financial situation?
  • Are the reasons for sending the elderly to old people’s homes usually good ones?
  • Are there any solutions to teenage suicide?
  • Can single parent families raise healthy and happy children?
  • Do the pros of outsourcing outweigh the cons?
  • Does organised crime (e.g. mafia and gangs) affect ordinary people?
  • Has the government overreacted to the threat of terrorism?
  • How worried should parents be about underage sex/ teenage pregnancy?
  • Is it better for the sex industry to be open rather than hidden?
  • Is people feeling guilty for smoking taking things too far?
  • Is the rise in the number of single member households inevitable?
  • Is there ever any reason for a prison sentence for soft drug use?
  • Should school absenteeism mean that the parents are punished?
  • What are the consequences of school violence?
  • What are the main stress-related illnesses in this country? Why?
  • What are the positive and negative aspects of a post-industrial society?
  • What are the reasons for youth violence?
  • What can be done to make sure people don’t suffer from false claims of sexual harassment?
  • What can be done to reduce recidivism?
  • What do you think about safe shelters for runaway children?
  • What is a reasonable level of control of pornography?
  • What is your view on squatters who take over the building which hasn’t been used for years?
  • What things are most likely to lead to protests/ demonstrations in this country? Why those things?
  • Which kinds of political extremists have more influence in your country? Why that side?
  • Why are people more worried about crime even when it isn’t rising?
  • Why do governments worry more about illegal drug addiction than about prescription drug addiction?
  • Why is self-harm more common among women than men?
  • Why is the middle class shrinking?
  • Why is union action (strikes etc) so much greater in some countries than others?

Use the underlined parts of the questions above to ask each other about other social issues.

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