TEFL teaching materials

teaching professional people english

Easy online content – 25$ edition

Today I am suggesting a lesson constructed around a charming article from the personal finance blog ‘Wise Bread’, so you should probably go there, and read said piece :


I’ll bet there are suggestions there you’d never thought of, but more than that I think this article has definite potential for a productive lesson.

  • Cultural elements  Be aware that Mr. Michael is american, and that there are elements here which are culturally specific.  Here in France I don’t think that there is a word for ‘frugality’ and it certainly wouldn’t be a hot topic if there were.  ‘Goodwill stores’ or their british equivalents ‘charity shops’ are another idea which doesn’t quite have the same overtones here in Europe.  While I wouldn’t start the discussion with these themes, you should be prepared to deal with them when they come up.
  • Grammar  This subject is obviously made for second conditional practice.  Or whatever you would call it.  We’ll come to that.  It is also good for the first conditional; ‘What can you do with $25 if you’re in Paris?’  ‘What can you do with $25 if you’re in Kinchasa?’.  I would also use this topic to work on comparisons.  Of these possibilities, which would be your most likely choice??  What would you do first?  etc.  With more advanced students, you may be able to push the boat out and revise the third conditional; ‘What would $25 have been worth in 1950?’ ‘What could you have done with $25 when you were a kid?’.
  • Vocabulary  Specific items of vocabulary will almost certainly be required at some point, including ‘cost of living’  ‘value/value for money’ ‘leisure’ ‘ standard of living’ ‘lifestyle’  I could go on.  I recommend making a note of anything which springs to mind during your lesson preparation, because students are more likely than usual to ask you to translate such terms directly.

Pre-reading activities

Prior to reading I would either write on the board, or (my favourite) give the group cards with different money-spending ideas on them.  I would include everything in the article and add a few of my own.  Some of the ideas would be silly ones.  When using cards I usually just ask students to organize them as seems logical.  If I have a large enough group, I divide it into sub-groups and give each sub-group a set of cards.  It is always fascinating to see how different people organize their thoughts.  Some will look at the grammar, some at the vocabulary.  Often, classifications are proposed which would never have occured to me.  I try not to get involved in the ‘making sense’ stage – the point of it is to allow students to engage with the subject as well as consider the grammar and vocabulary.  I can deal with new words or structures easily at this point.  When groups are happy with their classification, they can explain their reasoning to the group.  Obviously, in this case the most obvious categories would be ‘things I think are a good idea’, and everything else.

You can get my suggestions on the sheet here;  things to do with $25

It is quite possible that a discussion about the relative merits of the different spending ideas will take place spontaneously.  If not, some prompting will be required.  As a last resort I will chip in with ‘if you found $25/15 euros, what would you do with it?’  But it’s far more fun to take the long way round and start with questions like ‘How much would it cost to do these things?’ ‘Which would be the most expensive?’ etc. etc.


Beyond the obvious task of reading through the article and agreeing or disagreeing with what it says, there are elements here which you may want to look at.  Firstly, there is some specialized vocabulary such as ‘speying and neutering’.  Secondly, the article is peppered with americanisms.  I suggest taking the time to identify these and write more standard alternatives.  Thirdly, the ideas given are quite suitable for a city-dwelling american to try, but how many of them are feasable where you are?  (You should probably do a little research before class – can one get one’s hair cut for free at the school of hairdressing in your town?  You have the internet and yellow pages, so it’s hardly a herculean task).  This leads to another grammar revision point ; have you ever had a free haircut?  etc. etc.

What would you add?

As always, you’re taking your life, so to speak, in your hands when you throw a topic like this open to a group.  Some groups will enlighten you on the subject of what procedures the local beauty salon can perform, others will want to give you the details of their personal development coach’s services.  You may discover things about your students you never imagined.  If you have internet access in the classroom then students can take a few minutes to research one of the possibilities mentioned and then report back to the class.

There are lots of other ways this article, or others like it can be put to good use.  Feel free to share your ideas.


About Catherine Kennedy

Second year undergrad (super-mature) at Sheffield Uni doing single honours Religion, Theology, and the Bible. (Formerly TEFL teacher in France)

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This entry was posted on 22/02/2012 by in lesson plans, source material, Teaching tips and tagged , , , .

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February 2012
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