Chapter 5 Money



This topic is so fundamental to our culture and to the learners' needs that I try to cover it early and thoroughly. I have had learners who asked for a lesson on banks, banking terms, how to get an appointment with a bank, credit versus debit cards (not all countries have credit cards) and filling in cheques. The spelling of ‘cheques’ came as a surprise to one group as they all thought it was ‘checks’, which might explain why they were having trouble getting hold of some!

Money is written using a decimal point in the UK, for instance ‘four pounds, fifty pence’ is written £4.50. It will be common to find learners using a comma where we use the decimal point, as this is what happens throughout Europe at the least. Learners may also be inclined to put ‘p’ on the end, but this is incorrect- we have a decimal point there so do not need the pence symbol. Sometimes learners will miss off the zero at the end, especially if they have used a calculator to work out a sum, because unless they have used the money function, the ‘0’ will not be there. When you challenge this you may find you are told it is ‘four pounds, five pence’, which is also wrong. Normally learners will realize something is wrong and be able to figure it out for themselves, given a bit of time.

The next area of confusion is the word ‘change’ as change has a number of meanings, and the idea that someone might hand me some change when I hand over a £5 note for an item which costs less than that is one that will need some practice. Worksheets at the back, usual procedure. This is good for a speaking and listening exercise and paired work. It cross references with shops and shopping work required in the ESOL Core Curriculum, which comes in at Entry 1, so the maths work can be embedded in the ESOL work, or vice versa. You could even set up a pretend shop and do some practice buying and selling….

In English we use the word ‘pounds’ in two different ways, for money, and for an old imperial measure of weight; it isn’t confusing at all really. I do seem to spend some time every lesson apologizing to learners and reassuring them that it is not their fault, we just seem to like having two systems if we possibly can.

JMS 2013/14