Level: Pre-Intermediate +
Primary Focus: Money Idioms
Secondary Focus: Awareness of Money and Cost
Main Activity: Gapfill and Discussion
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (depending upon level)
Key Language: pay through the nose, cost an arm and a leg, cheapskate, loaded, bring home the bacon, make ends meet, pour money down the drain, tighten (someone’s) belt, loaded, bread and butter
The other week, I prepared material on Money Idioms in response to a lesson that I was teaching to adults. Their main teacher taught vocabulary associated with money and the theme in the coursebook was related to money and shopping. I have found that this topic is quite common in coursebooks with various listening and speaking activities. The learners which I was teaching last week were Pre-Intermediate learners and their coursebook is a newly published book. Their main teacher is half-way in the book but I thought I would consolidate their learning and introduce them to more colloquial language through the use of money idioms. It was the first time that I had taught money idioms and it is usually more reserved for Intermediate and Upper Intermediate learners.
- The first thing to do is to generate interest and activate learner schema by introducing the theme of money and shopping. I would recommend that teachers write a couple of questions on the board for learners to discuss or to respond to with the teacher directing the questioning. Write the following questions on the board:
- What was the last thing you bought?
- Have you bought anything online before? If so, what have you bought?
- “Money is the most important thing in the world”. What do you think of this statement?
- Which is more important health or money? Why?
- Monitor learners’ language and scaffold correction or lexis where appropriate. Provide some feedback. There might pronunciation, collocation or grammar issues so correct when required.
- The next stage is to introduce learners to the money idioms and it is best to write an example sentence is context (i.e. a direct quote): “My friend bought a new car the other day and it cost an arm and a leg“. Underline the idiomatic expression and elicit from learners what they think it might mean. If they are unsure, provide the meaning on the side of the board. Go through each of the idioms with the learners and try to
- Hand out the Idiom Matching exercise to the learners and get learners to match idioms to their corresponding definitions. Let learners work alone and then compare together in pairs, then finally check all together as a class (answers are below):
- Pay through the nose: to pay too much money for something.
- Cost an arm and a leg: to pay a lot of money for something.
- Bring home the bacon: to earn money for your family to live on.
- Cheapskate: a person who does not like to spend money.
- Make ends meet: to earn just enough money to be able to buy the things you need.
- Pour money down the drain: to waste money.
- Tighten (someone’s) belt: to spend less money because there is less available.
- Bread and butter: a person or company’s main source of income.
- Loaded: very rich.
- After the matching exercise, get learners to create their own sentences using the idiom expressions. Use the example sentence (mentioned before) as a suitable sentence. Let learners to work in pairs so that they are able to help each other. Write up some of the student generated sentences on the board and either correct or use as other examples.
- The next part of the lesson is to get learners to fill in the gaps with the second handout (Money Idioms Gapfill). Let learners complete the activity by themselves before checking their answers in pairs or groups. Just monitor and support where necessary.
- The final stage of the lesson is to develop conversation about money and shopping by allowing learners the opportunity to incorporate the new language within a spoken context. Either write the questions below or get students to generate their own questions on the board.
|Board work from the lesson after students create their own sentences.|
- What was the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
- What is the average salary in your country?
- Who do you often go shopping with?
- What do you normally save money for? Why?
- How many credit cards to you have? Why?
- What do/don’t you like spending money on? Why?
- Monitor the class during the discussion and make a note of any language that emerges for correction or reviewing at the end of the speaking.
- A final activity, if time permits, could be comparing the costs of different things (milk, bread, butter, coffee, etc) in the UK compared to the learners’ home country/countries. It provides additional discussion if you are looking for a filler. If you are based abroad teaching English, you could get learners to complete a web-style quest to find the cost of particular items in the UK and then report back at the end of the class.