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Building Fluency: What Are The Biggest Societal & Political Issues?

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

These materials below will help you to prepare for fluency building lessons on the topic: What Are The Biggest Societal & Political Issues?


How to use the materials:

Firstly, look at the questions that relate to the topic and the contents of the article, then read the article and look at the vocabulary exercises - Any new vocabulary can be learnt most effectively using Anki flashcards.


The main focus of fluency building lessons is to use natural conversation to give you the opportunity to really develop your speaking skills, identify missing vocabulary, correct grammatical and pronunciation errors and actively learn the skills that will bring your English forwards. By basing the lessons on different source materials we are able to have a clear structure to the contents of the lesson as well as giving you some excellent exposure to good English to learn from as preparation for the lesson.


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Questions

  • What are the main social issues facing the UK, Germany and wider Europe at the moment?

  • For each of the social issues, what has caused this social issues? What is being done to address to issue, and what more could be done to address the issue?


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Selected texts on the topic:


Firstly, I asked ChatGPT what the main social issues In Europe were, here is the answer;

  • Immigration and refugee crisis: Europe has been dealing with a large influx of migrants and refugees in recent years, which has created social and political tensions and challenged the continent's ability to integrate new arrivals.

  • Aging population: Many European countries are facing an aging population, which can strain social services and impact economic growth.

  • Economic inequality: Despite being one of the wealthiest regions in the world, there are still significant economic disparities within Europe, with some regions and populations facing high rates of poverty and unemployment.

  • Political polarization: The rise of populist and far-right movements across Europe has contributed to political polarization, which can undermine democratic institutions and social cohesion.

  • Climate change: Europe is experiencing the impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe natural disasters, changing weather patterns, and rising sea levels.

  • Terrorism: Europe has been targeted by a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, which can threaten individual safety and social stability.

  • Social welfare: While many European countries have strong social welfare systems, there are still concerns about access to healthcare, education, and other services for marginalized communities.

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Secondly, a survey was carried out in the UK asking people what they thought were the most important issues facing the country at this time? The results are below;


In July 2023, 63 percent of British people thought that the economy was one of the top three issues facing the country, compared with 44 percent who thought that health was one of the top three issues. The ongoing Cost of Living Crisis afflicting the UK, driven by rampant inflation is clearly one of the main concerns of Britons going into 2023. Health is also a major issue for people in the UK. The share of people seeing health as a top three issue in January 2023 was the highest it has been since the Omicron wave of COVID-19 the previous winter. Staffing problems, along with increased demand for services have plunged the National Health Service (NHS) into a deep crisis, possibly the worst since its creation in the 1940s. Due to these ongoing problems, it is likely that the economy and health will remain the main issues for Britons throughout early 2023.

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Lastly, below is an extract from the Human Rights Watch report on the UK;


Right to Social Security, Adequate Standard of Living

People with lower incomes were particularly hard hit by a cost-of-living crisis precipitated by sharp increases in energy and food prices, and slow government efforts to mitigate these impacts. Inflation reached a four decade high of 10.1 percent in July, with single-parent households (overwhelmingly women-led), households led by a Black, Bangladeshi or Pakistani person, and single pensioners worst affected. A study projected that inflation would reverse the modest decrease in child poverty recorded the previous year.


Restrictive social security policies continued to negatively impact the right to an adequate standard of living, to food, and to housing for families with children and other recipients of social security support, including many people in paid employment. An overall cap on the amount of social security support a household can receive affected 123,000 families, while a cap on social security payments to larger families affected around 400,000 households and 1.4 million children.


A below inflation increase in social security support levels in April’s budget and a failure to reverse a 2021 cut to the main social security program left people who rely on social security worse off in real terms. The government refused to review disability-linked benefits, ignoring a July recommendation made by a parliamentary committee.


Right to Food

The country’s largest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, said in March that it had distributed 2.1 million emergency food parcels to people in need, an 81 per cent increase since 2017. The Independent Food Aid Network reported in October that 91 percent of its member organizations had experienced an increase in demand since July, and that one in four was reducing the size of food parcels because their supplies had been affected.


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Useful Language Exercises:


The following exercises are all taken from the book English Collocations in Use.





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