Bias and Prejudice Wrap Up

Hey guys!  Thank you for checking out the blog.  I hope you’re finding it useful!

Every week on Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 3pm, and Tuesday at 8pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic.   These classes are open to any and all students, but the Sunday and Monday classes are recommended for intermediate and advanced students.  The Tuesday class is for high beginner to intermediate.  We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students, and students can ask questions to each other (and the teacher, too!). 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 the scheduled days, 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!

So here’s what came up during the lesson!

New vocabulary

  • Rational/Irrational (adj): 合理的な・不合理な

– Based on reason; logical

Ex: Smoking is not a rational habit.

  • Patriotism (n): 愛国心

– Love of one’s country

Ex: Having a national flag in one’s home shows patriotism.

  • (a) glass ceiling(s) (n): 女性がリーダーシップの地位に対するのを防ぐ労働人口で態度の天井

– A discriminatory barrier that prevents women from rising to higher positions, especially in a corporation.

Ex: The only reason she hasn’t become a manager yet is because of this company’s glass ceiling.

Slang expression

  • Be going on: continue, happen

A lot of English learners overuse the words continue and happen.  While they may be correct in many cases, they often sound quite formal, and go on (a phrasal verb) is often more common because it is informal.

Specifically, “go on” is used when a person continues an action or state or when something has been happening over a period of time.  In other words, its definition is narrower. Here are some examples of “go on” as “continue”:

  • The rain continued.  O
  • The rain went on.  X

In this case, the subject is not a person, so go on sounds odd.

  • Even after everyone went home, he continued working.  O (but formal)
  • Even after everybody went home, he went on working. O (informal)

Here is a common example of a question with “go on” as “happen”:

Person A: My neighbor always plays loud music until after midnight.

Person B: Really?  How long has that been going on?

Person A: Since I moved in, so about six months.

In this case, you could say “happening”, but since it is an informal situation and it happened more than once, “go on” sounds more natural.

Word differences

1. Bias vs. Prejudice

My students asked me what the difference between bias and prejudice is.  This is a great question because not even native speakers always know the difference!  They are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences.

Difference #1: Bias tends to be unconscious, prejudice tends to be conscious.  Everyone has biases, but we are not always aware of them.  On the other hand, we usually know about our prejudices.

Difference #2: Because we are often unaware of our bias, we often don’t have any reasons (good or bad) for them.  But since we are aware of our prejudice, we often have irrational reasons for them.  For example, if someone likes one person more than another, and you ask them why, they might say “I just do” or “No reason.”  But if someone has a prejudice towards another person, they might say “I always read on the news how Muslims are terrorists, so we can’t trust them.”

Difference #3: Prejudices are about other people or other groups, but biases do not have to be about other people.  Sometimes we are biased about ourselves!  For example, have you ever thought “I know a lot of people get lung cancer from smoking, but I’ll be okay!”  That’s bias!

Difference #4: Biases can be positive, but prejudice is always negative.  Yes, a bias can be positive!  For example, if we think to ourselves “Musicians are so cool”, and we meet a musician and admire them, that’s a positive bias!

2. So what about discrimination?

Very simply, discrimination is an act, but bias and prejudice are feelings or mental states.  So discrimination is something you do, but bias and prejudice are things you feel or have.

Some examples:

  1. You can’t hire him just because he’s also Japanese, that’s discrimination!
  2. How come you never date Asian men?  Are you biased against them or something?
  3. My dad always has prejudice against my boyfriends; he doesn’t think any man is good enough for me.
  4. He expects his wife to do all the cooking and cleaning.  I think he has some gender bias.
  5. Some people say discrimination comes from a lack of education.
  6. Sometimes during a war people’s prejudice gets worse.

That’s it!  Hope that helped!  I will be posting the lexis and questions for next week’s topic tomorrow.  Please check them out!

Take care!


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