Group Discussion: Age

Hello and thank you for checking out the Start Gate English blog! Sorry it’s been a long time since I added a new post.

Every week on Monday at 3pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. This class is open to any and all students, but recommended for intermediate and advanced. We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students. You are welcome to bring a dictionary or ask the teacher if you need help! One lesson is 1500-2500 yen, depending on how many tickets you buy. If you are interested, please check out the website or contact me directly. If you are not available on Monday at 3pm, but would like to join, please tell me your available days and times and I will be happy to set up another class for you!

On to the discussion!

First, here is the lexical set (a group of words and expressions necessary for the discussion):

Age Lexical Set:


(an) Adult(s)



(a) Limit(s)

(a) Payer(s)

(a) Population(s)

(a) Member(s)























Patterns, Collocation and Idioms

Teach s/o a lesson

The best N to be

In order to

Make way (for N)

Be out of touch

Some people say…

Face a problem

Now, here are the questions and answers:

1. Should adults try to teach young people lessons?

The students didn’t seem to think so.  They both said no.  One reason was that it can go both ways; older people can teach younger people, but younger people can teach older people, too.  Also, one student made a distinction between skills and opinions.  He said older people can teach younger people how to do things (skills), but not what they think about things (opinions).

2. What do you think is the best age to be? Explain.

The students thought this depended on what aspect of your life you were speaking about.  For example, one’s 20’s were best for being physically active, like playing sports.  They also thought that being younger was better if you wanted to learn a language (I disagree, though!).

3. Do you think that any of the age limits need changing?

The students seemed to think that the current age limits are good.

4. Should people of between 50 and 55 be forced to retire from their jobs in order to make way for younger workers? Explain.

One student said he retired early because of this!  Another student disagreed, saying that older people can offer their knowledge and experience to younger employees.  He also suggested that rather than forcing older employees into retirement, companies should simply cut down on higher-level employee salaries in order to provide more jobs to new employees.

5. Are there the old hopelessly out of touch?

The students seemed to think that the old are, generally, out of touch, especially with technology, but also with current trends.  However, if they make an effort they can get back in touch.  Being out of touch isn’t a big problem, but it can make it more difficult to talk to younger family members, like children or grandchildren.

6. What things were you taught by your older family members? How have they been useful to you in your life?

This was a tough question for the students.  We considered our answers to the first question.  One student said his grandmother taught him ethics – good and bad behavior.

7. Should the elderly be expected to pay for residential care or should it be provided by the tax payer? Explain.

The students didn’t seem quite sure.  They realize that most people don’t want to pay taxes, but they believed that taxpayers should pay for at least some residential care.  One student pointed to Northern European countries’ health care systems that seem to work very well.

8. Some people say that men age better than women, and remain attractive longer. Do you agree?

The students were conflicted on this one.  Part of the conflict was due to misunderstanding the word “age” as a verb.  It means “to physically become older” so “age well” means to “look good as one physically becomes older”.  One student who disagreed said that women focus more time and energy on their appearances, choosing clothes carefully and continuing to put on make up.  The other student thought being intelligent and wise was attractive, so he agreed.

9. Some people say that women are usually more mature than men. Do you agree?

The students all answered with an adamant “yes!”  One student said his wife was very rational and calm, while he gets excited and worried about things.

10. In most countries women live five to six years longer than men. Why do you think this is?

Interestingly, one of our students is a doctor!  So there was some pressure on him to offer an answer for the rest of us.  He believed it had to do with increased stress, work and bad habits, like smoking or drinking.  Also, women have more time to go to the doctor so it’s easier for them to keep up their health.

11 & 12. Many countries are facing the problem of an “aging population”, i.e. there will soon be more old people than young people. What problems will this cause? What can be done to prepare for them?

One student said it might be impossible to upkeep the health care system as well as retirement funds provided for by the government.  Another student added that infrastructure will have problems, and that the government would need to use more funds to install additional infrastructure for the elderly, like elevators, escalators or vehicles for transporting the elderly.

Students agreed that the younger generations need to increase the birth rate in order to provide for the older generations.  One student made an interesting suggestion: become more lenient on immigration in order to bring more citizens into Japan.

That’s it!

Again, we have these discussion groups every Monday at 3pm, and anybody is welcome to join!  If you would like to join, but aren’t available on Monday at 3pm, please contact me! Next week’s topic will be Food, Eating and Cooking!  Hope to see you there!

New vocabulary used during the lesson:

Adamant (adjective): 断固とした

– very determined, not willing to shake, definite

Attractive (adjective): 魅力的な

– Physically pleasing to look at

Birth Rate (noun phrase): 出生率

– The ratio of total births to total population; how many babies are born compared to the population

(a) Distinction(s): (n) 区別

– Being different in a unique way

Ethics (n): 道義

– a set of principles of right behavior

Infrastructure (n): インフラストラクチャー

– The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for a society.  Examples: transportation, water, electricity, gas, etc.

Longevity (n): 寿命

– length of life

Pass Away (phrasal v): なくなる

– to die (polite, formal)

(a) Skill(s) (n): 技能、技術

– trained or developed ability

Take care of (phrasal verb): 大事にする

– take control of, make sure s/t or s/o is ok

(a) Trade-off (n)

– Accept something bad in exchange for something good.

Value (v): 大事にする、尊ぶ

– regard highly, think s/t or s/o is important


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