Political Correctness (PC) Gone Mad (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

ESL Level: Upper-Intermediate

Lesson Topic: Political Correctness (PC)

Skill Focus: Reading, Vocabulary, Speaking

Lesson Plan Download: political-correctness-upper-intermediate-24082019.docx

Approximate Class Time: Two hours

(Lesson plan written by Alistair Lee (copyright), guest contributor to Englishcurrent.com)

Should you silence yourself?

Political Correctness ESL Lesson Plan: Warm-Up

  1. What does political correctness (PC) mean?
  2. Are there examples of PC in your society?

ESL Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching

rogue (N)Consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted.
makeover (N)A forked stick with an elastic band fastened to the two prongs, used by children for shooting small stones : war machine
catapult (N)A man who is dishonest or immoral : A man who causes trouble in a playful way.
sphere (N)  spherical (adj)A likeable way
reliable (adj) rely (V) reliance, reliability (N) A cultivated plant of the parsley family, with closely packed juicy leaf stalks which are used as a salad or cooked vegetable.
fondly (adv) fond (adj) fondness (N)Completely changing a person's appearance (typically) with cosmetics
celery (N)A round solid figure : An area of activity, interest, or expertise
rogue = A man who is.. / makeover = completely changing... / catapult = a forked stick... / sphere = a round solid figure / reliable = consistently good.... / fondly = a likeable way / celery = a cultivated plant

Can you match the PC expressions on the left with their transactions on the right?

Acharm-free bald
Bnon-traditionally ordered old
Cchronologically gifted tall
Dcosmetically different boring
Ehair disadvantaged disorganized
Fvertically inconvenienced stupid
GMentally challenged ugly
Exercise 2: A-boring, B-disorganized, C-old, D-ugly, E-bald, F-tall, G-stupid

 Reading: 11 Examples of Political Correctness Gone Mad

  1. The BBC has dropped the use of the terms Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD) on one of their programmes and decided that the terms 'Before Common Era' / 'Common Era' are more appropriate.


  1. The European Parliament introduced proposals to outlaw titles stating marital status such as 'Miss' and 'Mrs.' so as not to cause offence. It also meant that 'Madame' and 'Mademoiselle', 'Frau' and 'Fraulein' and 'Senora' and 'Senorita' would be banned.


  1. Throughout several US councils and organisations, any terms using the word 'man' as a prefix or suffix have been ruled as not being politically correct. 'Manhole' is now referred to as a 'utility' or 'maintenance' hole.


  1. Loveable cartoon rogue Dennis the Menace has been given a politically correct makeover. BBC chiefs decided to take away his edge in the remake. Gone are his bombs, catapult, water pistol and pea-shooter - and in their place is a simple boyish grin.


  1. Spotted Dick - a classic English dessert has been renamed to avoid embarrassment. The traditional pud Spotted Dick has been given the title Spotted Richard, after UK council bosses feared the original name might cause offence.


  1. A school in Seattle renamed its Easter eggs 'spring spheres' to avoid causing offence to people who did not celebrate Easter.


  1. A UK council has banned the term 'brainstorming' — and replaced it with 'thought showers', as local lawmakers thought the term may offend epileptics.


  1. A UK recruiter was stunned when her job advert for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants was rejected by the job centre as it could be offensive to unreliable and lazy people.


  1. Gillingham fans had begun to fondly offer celery to their goalkeeper, `Big Fat' Jim Stannard. The club, however, decided that celery could result in health and safety issues inside the ground. As a result, fans were subjected to celery searches with the ultimate sanction for possession of celery allegedly being a life ban.


  1. In 2007, Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia, were banned from saying 'Ho Ho Ho'. Their employer, the recruitment firm Westaff (that supplies hundreds of Santas across Australia), allegedly told all trainees that 'ho ho ho' could frighten children, and be derogatory to women. Why? Because 'Ho Ho Ho' is too close to the American (not Australian, mind you) slang for prostitute.


  1. Some US schools now have a 'holiday tree' every Christmas, rather than a Christmas tree.

ESL Lesson Plan on Political Correctness: Post-Reading Questions

  • Do you agree that these are examples of P.C. gone mad?
  • Do any of them actually make sense?
  • Can you think of any examples of PC in any of the countries which you've visited?

Some expressions introduced for PC reasons have become part of standard English now. Which do you think is the more PC expression in each case?

  1. An unmarried mother or single parent
  2. Children with special needs or educationally subnormal children
  3. A housewife or a homemaker
  4. Third-world countries or developing countries
  5. A refuse collector or a dustman
  6. A fireman or a firefighter
  7. African-American or Black American
  8. Hearing-impaired or deaf
  9. Slum or substandard housing
(A) An unmarried mother or single parent.

(B)  Children with special needs or educationally subnormal children.

(C)  A housewife or a homemaker.

(D) Third World countries or developing countries.

(E)  A refuse collector or a dustman.

(F)   A fireman or a firefighter.

(G) African-American or Black American.

(H) Hearing-impaired or deaf.

(I) Slum or substandard housing.

ESL Lesson Plan on Political Correctness: Discussion Questions

  1. Are the differences between people a reason to celebrate or a source of problems?
  2. Despite the differences, are people basically the same?
  3. Have you been the victim of discrimination? What kind of discrimination?
  4. Do people you know use racial slurs to refer to different groups of people? Or do they use more politically correct language?
  5. What are traditional male and female social roles and responsibilities? Are you a traditional person?
  6. Do you trust men or women more in any particular profession? How do you feel about male nurses? How about a female president?
  7. If someone tells a racist or sexist joke, how do you react? If you laugh, does that mean you are racist or sexist?
  8. Do you know any homosexual people? What kind of discrimination do they face?
  9. Who suffers more discrimination on the basis of age? Old people or young people?
  10. Are you a member of a religion? How does your religion treat members of other religions?
  11. Which types of people suffer the least discrimination? Are you one of them? If not, do you envy them?
  12. Is the level of discrimination in the world rising or dropping? What makes you think so?


Lesson plan written by Alistair Lee (copyright), guest contributor to Englishcurrent.com

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3 comments on “Political Correctness (PC) Gone Mad (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. Bella (Posted on 5-10-2021 at 03:32) Reply

    Thanks for this great lesson. It was really useful for my advanced class especially in conjunction with the video posted by Olga which gave a lighter feel and lots of opportunities for speaking. Great lesson! Thanks to both of you!

  2. urrr mommmmm (Posted on 5-10-2022 at 14:18) Reply

    this did not help at allllllll ???!!!?!

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