Topic: Affirmative Action (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

ESL/EFL Level: Upper-Intermediate
Lesson Topic: Affirmative action policies, diversity, hiring decisions
Skill Focus
: Speaking, Reading, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 1.75 hours
Lesson Plan Download: Topic-Affirmative-Action-upper-intermediate.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • The reading passage defines affirmative action, explains its introduction in the U.S., and presents some of its benefits and drawbacks.
  • Post-reading activities include a debate about the admissions of a white student to a medical program and a hiring scenario with three candidates.
  • All lessons come with warm-up questions, comprehension questions, a vocabulary section, and discussion questions.

A child helping another up a hill
Note: This lesson was revised considerably on 12/2022.

Affirmative Action & Diversity ESL Lesson Plan

Warm-up Questions (Pair-work)

  • How did you get your current job? Did you compete with many other people?
  • Would you say that your workplace or school is a diverse place? In other words, are there people of differing backgrounds?
  • Do the below minority groups face discrimination in your country? To what extent?
·       Women                                (Yes/No)

·       The disabled                        (Yes/No)

·       Visible minorities                  (Yes/No)

·       Gays                                 (Yes/No)

·       Religious groups                (Yes/No)

·       Other: ________

Membership is required to view this post. Please support EnglishCurrent by becoming a member today. Members, please log in.

-- Lesson plan on affirmative action by Matthew Barton of (copyright). Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

Debate scenario taken from Bakke vs. California, 1978. Verdict: the court upheld the legality of affirmative action based on race, but outlawed the inflexible quota system which had unfairly discriminated against Bakke. Bakke was later accepted into the program.

Possible answers to comprehension questions:

  • It requires preferential treatment.
  • They believe that giving minority groups advantages means that the majority group will be disadvantaged.
  • It exemplifies a fault with meritocracy, namely, that people with privilege (in this case, money and fame) rise to the top at the expense of others.
  • The statement does not mention its effects.
  • They feel that university admission process in the U.S. discriminates against them and favors Black and Latino applicants.
  • It shows that the crux of the issue, which can be described by two (incompatible?) desires: wanting fairness for all but also desiring to uplift the disadvantaged.

Vocabulary Answers: 1-k, 2-g, 3-i, 4-b, 5-a, 6-L, 7-j, 8-h, 9-d, 10-e, 11-c, 12-f


  • [1]
  • [2]
  • [3] The bones for this paragraph were created by OpenAI’s text-davinci-003’s model. See
  • [4]
  • [5]
  • [6]
  • [7] Roles generated by OpenAI’s text-davinci-003’s model and later modified. See

6 comments on “Topic: Affirmative Action (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

  1. Brett Leonard (Posted on 3-11-2012 at 00:40) Reply

    The genius of the good leader is to avoid him a predicament which sound judgment, devoid of the grace of genius, can handle successfully.
    When the career you’ve chosen has some unexpected inconvenience, console yourself by reflecting that no career is with out them.

  2. Jessica (Posted on 3-24-2012 at 03:20) Reply

    As English is my second language, this site is really helpful to me . I would like to say thank you very much

  3. mb (Posted on 3-24-2012 at 09:52) Reply

    Jessica: You are very welcome. Thank you for visiting.

  4. A. Rahman (Posted on 5-9-2015 at 06:29) Reply

    very nice and appropriate. needed more questions to practise in language classes.
    Developing it can be fruitful of teachers n students.

  5. kathy (Posted on 6-23-2018 at 18:29) Reply

    Very good. Combining reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking

  6. JEffrey Epstein (Posted on 3-25-2022 at 00:49) Reply

    Very good article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *