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Level: Upper Intermediate
Age: 18 years +
Length: 45 minutes
TESOL Methodology: Eclectic Approach
Language Skills: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening
Lesson Objective: To develop banking vocabulary and develop an understanding of banking terms
Resources: Computer, Internet, Worksheet Instruction for each activity, printer
Teaching 1: Alternative Banking Reading and Writing Activity
Banking: Reading Activity
The concept of banking may have been a good one initially but I can’t help feeling that in today’s world there are fewer people benefiting. Of course, it’s good to know that your money is safe and sound, but it does seem strange to pay an organization for having your money when they make a profit from this. The charges nowadays in some banks (and different banks in different countries vary enormously) are incredible. Some charge for an overdraft facility even if you don’t go overdrawn, some charge every time you take money out (your money!) while others charge for closing an account! If you’re not careful, it’s a way of losing money rather than keeping it safe.
Perhaps because of this there are some interesting alternative money systems. In fact, there are some banks that don’t use money at all. Time banks are an example of this. Instead of Pounds, Dollars, Euros etc., the currency is ‘time’ – issued in the form of time credits. As this is an egalitarian system, everyone’s time is valued equally so one-time credit is equivalent of one hour’s work, whatever the work. The idea is that whenever you do something to help another person you are given a time credit for this rather than cash. So, for example, if you spend an hour looking after the kids next door you’ll be given onetime credit. This you can then spend on an hour’s yoga class or having your front door painted. Time banking believes in ‘give and take’ and it helps to form a feeling of community. It’s free and you don’t have to pay tax. There are now many time banks all over the world. In the UK there are more than 100 but they can also be found in the US, Japan, Spain, New Zealand and Brazil among others.
Another money system that guarantees that currency remains in the community – thereby benefiting people who live and work locally – is local currencies. Those who are part of the scheme (and this can be individuals or businesses) use a ‘local’ currency, for example, a Toronto Dollar rather than a Canadian Dollar, or a Kyoto Yen rather than a Japanese Yen. To get your local currency you exchange, for example, 10 Canadian Dollars for 10 Toronto Dollars. You then go shopping and spend the money as usual but in local grocery stores rather than national ones, or at local farmer markets rather than in a supermarket chain. You can also spend the currency on local services, for example, the dry cleaner’s or getting your car fixed. Some shops may even use the currency as part of an employee’s wages. The employee uses this to buy things in the community. If anyone has too much local currency they can exchange it for ‘real’ money again – although they will lose 10%. This goes towards a fund that gives local currency to volunteers in the community and encourages people to keep the money. The scheme limits people’s choices but supports the local neighbourhood, and many have really prospered from financial support.
One man who has recognized that banks don’t help the poor is Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus of Chittagong University who set up the Grameen Bank (‘village’ bank). He realized that one reason that poor people were remaining poor was that they could not borrow any money from ‘normal’ banks. The people then had no choice but to borrow money from unscrupulous money lenders who charged enormous interest rates. So the professor and his colleagues lent very small amounts of money to people with very low-interest rates. They simply had to trust the people to return the money as agreed. To his surprise, he found that poorer people are much more reliable in returning money than those who are richer and borrow from a bank. Grameen Bank has a proven repayment rate of around 98% – much better than any high street bank! The money is mainly lent to women, 95% of the borrowers are female, and as a result, small businesses are booming and people have a much better opportunity of breaking out of their poverty. Professor Yunus’s bank turned against the banking principle of ‘the more you have, the more you get’ and there are now well over 1,000 branches in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, in the UK clients are taking their banks to court. They claim that the charges for being overdrawn are unfair. Thousands of cases have already been settled out of court, costing the banks millions of pounds. A court case involving the Office of Fair Trading is taking place to clarify the situation. Perhaps the result will also turn against another banking principle: ‘the less you have, the more you lose’.
Task 1: Students are to read the activity above and to send the tutor an email highlighting the gist of the article in 100 words
Teaching 2: Internet Banking
Task 2: Student to go onto the webpage on a bank of their choice and to describe to the group the process of accessing internet banking using a short powerpoint presentation
Teaching 3: Transferring Money
• Students to listen three times to the audio at http://www.audioenglish.org/english-learning/english_dialogue_banking_international_transfers_3.htm without being given the written transcripts.
• They have then to write the gist of the conversation
• They are then given the transcript of the dialogue and to assess their own understanding
• Identify new vocabulary and ensure students understand the new vocabulary and if not to go on-line to the on-line dictionary.
Follow up: Questions from the students that allow discussion on banking difficulties they have encountered.
Homework: Go into a bank and ask for information on a topic of your choice and bring it back to the class