Experiences of an English Language Teacher

The Value of Money: Post Lesson Review

The material used in the classroom.

I was teaching a group of Upper Intermediate adult learners on Tuesday and for some reason we looked at the value of numbers briefly (million, billion, etc).  The learners mentioned that they wanted to review the value of billion as it was different between the UK and the USA.  Here is what Oxford Dictionary mentioned about the value of a billion:

In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.

The same sort of change has taken place with the meaning of trillion. In British English, a trillion used to mean a million million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Nowadays, it’s generally held to be equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), as it is in American English.

US Debt Visualized website

I was left on Wednesday wondering how to introduce this topic of a million, billion and trillion.  I remember looking at an Infographic about the size of a ten thousand dollars to around 114 trillion dollars.  The Daily Infographic is a wonderful website that reviews statistics, finance and consumption using images and it has some wonderful prospects for Upper Intermediate or Advanced learners.  I looked online for the dollar Infographic and found it eventually on the US debt visualized website.  There was a lot of information so I decided that I would print out the raw images and cut these up.  The accompanying text would also be copied and pasted into Word and will also be cut up.  What I ended up doing was handing out the images in groups of three to four students first and getting groups to guess the value of the ever increasing size of money.  Next, I decided to handout the accompanying text and learners had to match the text with the images (a sort of jigsaw activity).  Before checking answers, I got each group to compare their answers with another group and then elicited the correct answers.  It was a wonderful activity and it really brought on a new opportunity to review large numbers and it was also more visual.

When reviewing the lesson, quite a boring subject (introducing numbers) was brought alive by the use of an Infographic image and the accompanying text.  After the main activity, there was a discussion about US Public Debt and whether the USA will face a total credit meltdown, as those are experiencing in Greece currently.  Nevertheless, I have found that some of the Infographic websites have some wonderful illustrations and hope to use these in the future with various other classes.

Nevertheless, have you used Infographics in your class?  How did you use them?  Would you consider using them in IELTS preparation classes?


  1. What a great website for classroom use. I think you would have to be quite selective for IELTS use, as many of the infographics seem to have a lot of text on them, which students could just 'lift', though there may well be some which could be used that way. But a lovely resource, and the lesson sounds good too.

  2. Thank you Rachael for the comment. As you mentioned, to successfully incorporate infographics in the classroom they will need to be selected and used appropriately. I have found that infographics are a great resource to prompt and develop conversation with particular learners: they are topical yet informative, a great resource for debates.

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