Language Activity

This activity raises students’ awareness of group stereotypes in everyday language.


The purpose of this activity is to bring awareness to many commonly used words and phrases found in everyday communication that exhibit stereotypes. Many English speakers use the example phrases without fully understanding the meaning behind them (or their history). This exercise is intended to educate participants about these phrases and why they can be harmful to the targeted group. People who are aware of these biases may use fewer stereotypes in their everyday language.

Estimated Time

20-30 minutes

Group Size

This activity works well with groups of all sizes.  For larger groups (20 or more people), have the students break into smaller groups to discuss their answers on the questionnaire and to answer the reflection questions before the entire group does so.


Students first individually complete the Language Stereotype Questionnaire (either version). Students can answer by describing their own views or the views of a close friend or relative. Next, divide students into groups of 4-5 and have them discuss their answers. After they have done so for a few minutes, provide each group with a copy of the dictionary definitions of the terms. Be sure to point out that linguists have verified that these definitions represent how the term is defined in the English language. Next, have students answer the Discussion Questions as a group. Have each group report their answers to the larger class.

Language Stereotype Questionnaire (Long Version)
Language Stereotype Questionnaire (Short Version)
Dictionary Definitions
Discussion Questions