What You Can Do With Money: 10 Activities For Your ESL Classroom

What You Can Do With Money: 10 Activities For Your ESL Classroom

Money plays an important part in our everyday lives.

Why not kick off a lesson about money by asking your students to explain what these statements mean: Money makes the world go round. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Can they think of some others? Do they have similar sayings in their own language?


Here are some other tried and tested activities that also build on the theme of money:

10 ESL Activities with Money

  1. 1

    Currencies of the World

    List as many as your students know. They could do this in pairs or even make it a game - see who can come up with the longest list. Students should also be able to tell you which country the currency belongs to.

  2. 2

    Empty Your Pockets

    Ask students to empty their pockets and count how much money they have. Ask them to tell you what they could buy for this amount of money. For example; for 50 cents I could buy an ice cream or for $150.00 I could buy a television. Is it a lot of money or not? What do they plan to spend this money on? Do they always carry money? Why or why not? Take a look at the coins and notes. Talk about what is on them. Who or what is it? What do they represent? How old is the money? If they are from another country - what is the money like in their country? How many coins and notes do they have?

  3. 3

    Bank Terminology

    Talk about going to a bank. What can you do with your money in a bank? Invest, withdraw, deposit, borrow. Talk about the products and services a bank provides - mortgage/home loan, credit card, savings card, insurance. Talk about interest rates, fixed and variable. What are all these things? Discuss each one and any others that your students have heard about. It’s worth taking a trip to the bank yourself or asking students to go to a bank before this lesson to collect withdrawal and deposit slips, and any brochures. This will give you ideas for further discussion around money and banks. Try to read some of the brochures together. This can be very difficult – discuss why they are often difficult for even English speaking people to understand. Students can fill in loan applications, withdrawal and deposit slips. It’s all good real life practice.

  4. 4

    Money Role Play

    Role play – Handling money in a shop. Ask students to work in pairs. Together they should decide on a type of shop. One student becomes the shop keeper while the other is the shopper. Practice asking for items, adding up and giving change. Swap roles and do the same again. Elicit some common phrases on the board together before they start. You could use real or play money or make some of your own.

  5. 5

    Saving and Wasting Money

    What do students do to save money? What could they do to save more money? If they saved 10 cents a day, how much would they have saved in a year, in 10 years, in 100 years? What do they consider to be a waste of money? What sorts of things do they save money for? Is there one thing that they would most want to buy but can’t afford right now? How much money do they think is enough money?

  6. 6

    Million Dollars

    Ask students to write or discuss in pairs or small groups, what they would do if they had a million dollars. Share their ideas with the whole class.

  7. 7

    Heads or Tails?

    Play a game of heads and tails. Talk about when and what this game is used for? Why is it called heads and tails? Students play in pairs, the best of five wins. Keep playing until you have a class champion if you have time. Talk about who won. How many times did they get heads? How many times they get tails?

  8. 8

    Bartering... Haggling... Bargaining...

    Bartering, haggling and bargaining. What’s the difference? Practice haggling and bargaining. It’s traditional in some countries. Do you know which ones? China, Egypt and Turkey are a few examples.

  9. 9

    Virtual Shopping Spree

    Collect some shopping catalogues and ask students to go shopping using the catalogues. What would they buy and for how much? They love to go through and compare prices.

  10. q

    Discuss & Sing Along!

    Find the lyrics to the song Money from the musical Cabaret on the internet. It includes the words ‘money makes the world go round’. Talk about what the lyrics mean then sing the song!!

Raising money for charity is a fantastic team building exercise as well as a great ESL experience. Ask students to do some research into local charities for homework. Then discuss how, as a class, they would go about raising money to support one of these charities. For example; host a cake stall, sell second hand clothes and other house hold items, or host a morning tea. Decide as a class which charity you will support and hold one of the activities at your school to raise money.

Invite someone from your chosen charity to be a guest speaker - ask them to talk about their charity and how the money you have raised will be used. You could present them with your donation at this session too – make it a ceremonial event. Why not delegate the job of contacting the charity and organising the guest speaker to some of your students!

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