Wednesday, January 18, 2017

5 Language Biases to Avoid during the IELTS Exam

Biased language pertains to words and phrases that can degrade individuals because of their gender and sexual orientations, race, ethnicity  and religious affiliations. 

“Biased language insults the person or group to which it is applied. In denigrating others, biased language creates division and separation. In using biased language about races and ethnic or cultural groups, speakers and writers risk alienating members of those groups, thus undermining the communication and shared understanding language should promote.” (Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II, The Scribner Handbook for Writers, 2001)

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All the best IELTS review centers out there will tell you that using biased language in the exam is a fatal mistake. Enroll in the IELTS review centers in Davao, Cebu, Makati and Manila; and their instructors will teach you never to use expressions that emphasize biases and stereotypes.

The usage of biased language is not always deliberate. Many people unconsciously use these expressions without knowing that they may be offending others. In fact, you may be applying it to your daily conversations as well. To help you grasp the concept, here are five language biases that you encounter daily:

1.    Sexism – Possibly one of the most difficult biases to avoid, gender-based language is ingrained in most societies. Using “man” or male-based titles for occupations and generalizations is a sexist social norm. Likewise, the unconscious convention of describing women based on their age and appearance in contrast to describing men according to their accomplishments is another solid example. 

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 2.    Race and Ethnicity – Some expressions about different racial and ethnic groups are considered demeaning and offensive. Most labels come from historical context. For instance, the term “oriental,” which refers to people of eastern descent, is associated with the time when Asians were excluded from entering the America. For Asian Americans, the word questions their legitimacy to reside in the U.S.  Other stereotypes are considered derogatory for similar reasons. As much as possible, use specific terms.
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3.    Age – Some words and phrases regarding age are considered condescending. The most prominent stereotype states that with seniority comes not only wisdom but also the failing of a person’s strength and wits (senile). Likewise, the prejudices against youth and their “impulsiveness.” 

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4.    Health and Disabilities – A disability does not define a person. Some people prefer words such as “special,” “challenged” and “differently abled,” but others find them discriminatory. Never highlight an individual’s difference. 

 
5.    Sexual Orientation – Nowadays, sexual orientation can either empower or degrade a person. For instance, drawing attention to a politician’s homosexual orientation in a lawsuit report is irrelevant, but including this information in an LGBT-focused case is justified.  The latter situation is offensive since it implies that the politician’s orientation affected his decisions While an individual’s sexual preference has no effect on his mental faculties, not everyone shares this belief. The politician might experience discrimination, and, worst scenario, get fired.  

To learn more about the application of language biases in the exam, find the best IELTS review center in your area. Practice your English skills under the tutelage of qualified instructors from IELTS review centers in Davao, Cebu, Makati and Manila.

In conclusion, be careful when using expressions referring to a person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and health difficulties or disabilities. Remember that these factors do not define an individual’s whole being. Thus, always be mindful of the context and your word usage.

 

REFERENCES:

Nordquist, Richard. "What Is Biased Language?" About.com Education. December 11, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/biased-language-term.htm.

"Avoid Language Bias." IELTS Mentor. September 28, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://www.ielts-mentor.com/ielts-secrets/245-avoid-language-bias.

"IELTS Boss – Free IELTS Exam Materials." IELTS Boss -- Free IELTS Exam Materials. September 12, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://www.ieltsboss.com/index.php/2016/09/12/ielts-avoid-language-bias/.
Driscoll, Dana Lynn, and Allen Brizee. "Stereotypes and Biased Language." Purdue Online Writing Lab. July 13, 2010. Accessed November 23, 2016. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/608/05/.
"Choose Your Words: Avoiding Biased Language." Cengage Learning. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://college.cengage.com/english/raimes/digitalkeys/keyshtml/choose_7.htm.

Nittle, Nadra Kareem. "Why You Should Avoid These Five Racial Terms." About.com News & Issues. August 16, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016. http://racerelations.about.com/od/understandingrac1/a/racialnamestoavoid.htm.

Thorpe, JR. "9 Mental Illness Phrases You Should Banish From Your Vocabulary." Bustle. Accessed November 23, 2016. https://www.bustle.com/articles/142965-9-mental-illness-phrases-you-should-banish-from-your-vocabulary.

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