Stereotypes: An ESL Discussion Activity

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This is actually from two different classes that I did. I decided to combine them since they are very closely related. I’ll put a break in between both of the pages so you can separate the classes into two days if you’d like. The first exercise has a 5-minute video that goes along with it. Depending on the level of your class you might have to play it a few times.

The video’s topics are covered in questions 1 through 8. Have students answer those questions among themselves first and then play the video after they have had enough time to cover the questions. It is quite a fun class and the answers are enlightening. Have students discuss whether they agree after and then what do they think people would say about them. There is another video in which students talk about how they can recognize Koreans that is really funny as well.

American Stereotypes

  1. Do you think you can distinguish Americans from people from other countries? If so, how? _____________________
  2. What are some different features of Americans that set them apart from other countries?_____________________________________
  3. Are Americans generous?
  4. Do Americans like to drink?
  5. How would you describe the typical American clothes/fashion?
  6. Are they soft-spoken? Why or why not?
  7. Overall would you say most Americans are pessimists or optimists?
  8. If you see some people out at a restaurant is there any quick way to tell they are Americans?
  9. Watch Video!
  10. What do you think after watching the video?
  11. What do you think people would say about Koreans? (Fill-in the ethnicity of the people you are teaching)

“Don’t Judge a book by its cover”

Sterotypes Judge a bookStereotypes

We are all taught what my title says, yet we still do it. In your book there is an exercise to stereotype Americans. Let’s expand that to other countries.

Choose two adjectives that you think describe the nationalities listed 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


  1. What other stereotypes do you have?
  2. How is your country stereotyped?
  3. Another thing we do is form our opinion of someone very quickly. I’ve heard it said that we form 90% of our opinion of someone in the first 90 seconds of meeting them. Below I have a list of different types of people. What might be the opinion you form about them? What kind of jobs might they do? What do you think about their personality?
    • a guy with lots of tattoos
    • a girl with a nose ring
    • a woman wearing lots of make-up
    • a 60-year-old man with a ponytail
    • someone who is always laughing
    • someone with bright colored hair
    • a man with an earring
    • someone wearing brightly-colored clothes
    • fill-in your own ideas ________________________________________________
  4. Make-up your own question: ______________________
  5. Are there any truth to some stereotypes people have? Do you think stereotyping can help you in some way?



Judge That Book

I just heard someone say today that their professor that actually we do judge a book by its cover to decide whether we want to read it. I hope that your students have fun with these two exercises. I really loved both of these classes. It was eye-opening to see what other cultures feel about your country as well.

Enjoy and have a great class and remember to have fun!

~ Jim

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