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Hot Button Issues

  • level: advanced
  • type: content class


The America you see on TV, in movies, and even in the nightly news is an illusion. It’s not real. The real America is much more complex and nuanced. This class is designed to understand the people and stories that lie under the surface.
To do this, we will look closely at the most important issues of today. In this class, you will learn how people think about these issues and why they are important to them (and important to us in Taiwan, too).
No topic is off-limits or taboo for us to discuss. We will look at all sides of the issues as well, not just focusing on one perspective.
This class is designed for an intermediate to advanced student (B2 / C1). The main skills practiced are speaking, reading, and listening. Writing skills generally will not be covered.


Each Section of courses (between 4 and 8 class sessions) will one or two hot button issues. The particular topic of the current course will be in the description. We will cycle through topics, so check back later to see what subject will be taught.
Examples of possible topics are covered below:
  • Guns
  • Racism and race relations
  • Immigration
  • Drugs
  • Free speech
  • Political Correctness (PC culture)
In class, we will conduct open-ended discussion based on what you read at home and any questions you have while reading. In addition to this discussion, we will examine historical contexts for the issues presented via a short lecture about the topic.

Student Expectation

I expect my students to come to class with an open mind, ready to challenge their preconceived notions about America. The level of our course documents is high, and this class will challenge you both in terms of concepts and vocabulary. However, the challenge will lead to rewards in terms of being able to deeply understand important concepts and see the US--and hopefully Taiwan and the rest of the word--in a new way.
Each week I will provide you with a pre-reading / pre-watching assignment and discussion questions. How long this takes you will depend on your reading speed and time invested. If you just read the article through, it might only take you five or ten minutes. Generally, students spend between 30 minutes to 1 hour per week on the pre-class assignment.

Class aims are:

  • to build speaking confidence on a variety of important topics;
  • to understand different sides and perspectives on today’s most important debates;
  • to build your critical reading skills using primary-source material;
  • and to improve your listening skills.