Phrases for talking about commonly discussed political issues

By Emily Hitz, contributor


If you’re interested in politics, you may want to try talking about them in English. However, it’s a difficult topic in any language, so the more accurate your vocabulary is, the better. Here are some words and phrases to get you started.



Immigration is the issue of who should be allowed to enter a country. Some people complain about illegal immigrants — people who enter a country without following the proper process.

On the other side, people say that we should value diversity, meaning that we should be happy to have people with different backgrounds living together.


Civil Rights

This issue is about treating all people equally, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Recently racial profiling has become a major issue. This is when someone like a police officer treats someone differently based on their race.

Gay rights is another common conversation topic. This is the idea that a gay couple (two men or two women) should be treated the same as a straight couple (a man and a woman.)



Unemployment is about people needing jobs. If many people are unemployed, or jobless, it can cause serious problems for the government. Since the 2008 global recession, unemployment has affected many people in the U.S. Unemployment is a very common talking point in discussions about the economy. The success of a country's president or prime minister is often measured by whether employment rose or fell during their term.


The Environment

Environmentalism means protecting the living things and natural resources of the earth. Some people care a lot about the environment, while for others it’s not an important issue. You’ll hear the word "green" before any project that helps the environment: "green jobs" or "green energy", for example.

Some projects that hurt the environment could help the economy, because they create employment. Because of this, some politicians who do not want to protect the environment talk about jobs instead.  


Women’s Issues

There are some issues that affect women in particular. For example, sometimes women receive lower pay than men for the same job. This is called income inequality.

Becoming a mother is a major issue: people disagree about a woman’s right to choose when she wants to have a baby. This right includes access to birth control and abortion.



Emily HitzEmily Hitz lives near San Francisco, California, but she taught English in Vancouver for four years. She now works as a freelance writer, educational consultant, and occasional teacher. She's interested in all things English and linguistics, and Spanish too.

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