Language for Discussing Addiction
Addiction can be a heavy topic, but I believe in taking ESL students to heavy places sometimes. On one level, people want to talk about things that matter and to practice doing so in their second language. On another level, most people are familiar with addiction in themselves or someone they know, in some form or another. This is especially true when you consider how broadly we apply the word. People can be addicted to TV shows, to cheese, to shopping, as well as to harmful substances like alcohol.
The above said, it pays to remember that some students could be sensitive around this topic.
If you use the image from the addiction question set to activate vocabulary, you could ask questions like these:
- What can you see here? (cards, chips, table, fingers)
- What are they playing? (a card game, poker)
- When people can win or lose money on a card game, what do we call that? (gambling)
- Where are they? (casino, maybe someone’s home)
Here is some more language that is worth pre-teaching if you're going to use the Addiction Conversation Questions:
Addict (n) - a person who cannot stop doing or using something
Addiction (n) - an inability to stop doing or using something
Addicted (adj) - unable to stop doing or using something
You could elicit the other forms from the first one that you teach.
It’s a good idea to remind students that to is the preposition for connecting addicted to a substance or activity. Elicit to with an example sentence:
My mother is addicted ___ chocolate.
Habit (n) - something a person does regularly, often without thinking
I always tell students that in English a habit can be good or bad because that’s not always the case in other languages. An example of a good habit is washing your hands when you first get home.
Give up (something) (phr. v) / quit (something) (v) - to stop doing something
I gave up smoking.
I quit smoking.
Alcoholic (n) - a person that drinks alcohol often and in large amounts
Students may be aware of how we attach the suffix '-holic' to different words relatively easily to express the idea of addiction or loving something. Sometimes speakers make words that might not exist in dictionaries, like chocoholic or coffeeholic. You could ask them to try making their own ‘-holic words’.
Alcoholics Anonymous (n) - support groups for people that are struggling with addiction to alcohol and other harmful drugs, also known as AA
AA exists outside of North America, but it’s not nearly as well known. Students may be familiar with it via American media.