ESL Lesson Plan to Teach Students About National Stereotypes

man with assault rifle in front of American flag
An example of a national stereotype is that Americans love guns. MichaelSvoboda/E+/Getty Images

In a perfect world we would use national stereotypes less often. However, it is true that national stereotypes are used when discussing other countries and peoples. This subject often comes up in English classes and can be used to advantage to help ESL students reconsider their own use of national stereotypes. Use this lesson to encourage a healthy and open discussion of the topic, rather than shy away from the use of stereotypes in class.

Stereotypes Lesson for ESL Students

Aim: Discussion of stereotypes, explaining, improving character adjective vocabulary

Activity: Discussion and comparison of national stereotypes

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Outline:

  • Write the word 'Stereotype' on the board and ask students what the word means. If students are unsure, help them by asking them to finish the phrase, "All Americans..." or something similar.
  • Once students have understood the concept of what a stereotype is, ask them to mention a few of the stereotypes about their own country.
  • Include a few provocative stereotypes of your own at this point in order to get students thinking about the negative or shallow aspects of thinking in stereotypes. Examples: American food is fast food or Americans love guns.
  • Ask students to divide into pairs and choose two of the listed adjectives to describe each nationality. Tell them that they will need to explain their reasons for the adjectives provided.
  • Go through the sheets asking different students to explain their reasoning for the adjectives they have chosen. Ask other students whether they agree or disagree to promote conversation.
  • Once you have finished your discussion of stereotypes, ask students why stereotyping can be often be bad and which stereotypes of their own country or region they do not like. Ask them to explain why.
  • As homework, have students write a short composition comparing their own region or country to another one. Ask them to include various stereotypes, as well as examples from their own experience that either confirm or refute the stereotypes they mention.

Stereotypes Worksheet

Prepare a worksheet with the content below to help your students further understand the concept of stereotyping.

Choose two adjectives from the bulleted list that you think describe the nationalities mentioned below. Choose two countries of your own to describe.

  • punctual
  • tolerant
  • romantic
  • respectful
  • hard-working
  • emotional
  • outgoing
  • nationalistic
  • well-dressed
  • humorous
  • lazy
  • sophisticated
  • hospitable
  • talkative
  • sociable
  • serious
  • quiet
  • formal
  • aggressive
  • polite
  • rude
  • arrogant
  • ignorant
  • casual
  •  

American

_____

_____

_____

_____

British

_____

_____

_____

_____

French

_____

_____

_____

_____

Japanese

_____

_____

_____

_____