Jan 31, 2023

4 NGPF Curriculum Tips for Teaching ELLs

Check out these four general curriculum tips from NGPF fellow and veteran teacher of multilingual learners, Courtney Poquette. This is the third in a series of posts with her advice for other teachers of English Language Learners. 


Tip 1: What would you do with a million dollars?

On the very first day of the course, I ask students to write, draw or list their answers to the question: What would you do with a million dollars? 

It is a short activity, but it allows me to get to know the students, it is also a great pre-assessment as students reflect on it at the end of class. This question allows for an open discussion for listening and sharing.  English Language Learners must first grasp what a million dollars means in the United States and apply the question to their own cultural values. 

It’s also an opportunity to get students to see connections. I ask for students to share one thing from their list, if someone says “I would buy a car,” I have other hands go up if someone else would spend their money on a car. I want them to see things they have in common with other students on the very first day of class.

I follow this up by pulling up an investing calculator and running through the idea that if you had a million dollars, you could potentially live off of the returns and we calculate a variety of possible returns to start the conversation around investing on the very first day.


Tip 2: Using the personal finance dictionary

Because the NGPF Personal Finance Dictionary can be overwhelming if presented as a large document, I try to introduce a couple of vocabulary words each class and then see if they can "fill in the blanks" from the words on the board the previous day. For example, yesterday, I talked about the "stool with three legs" for retirement planning. Today, I started class by asking them if they could remember the three legs without opening their notebooks.


Tip 3: Using visuals and videos

The NGPF arcade games can be a great way to utilize visuals.  

I typically rely on NGPF's Video Library, which involves cartoons and lots of visuals. It's a Money Thing and 2 Cents are my most often go to videos, but I also try to find videos that have key speakers that are a reflection of the students in my classroom.

The ELL video series can be helpful for the introduction of topics.


Tip 4: Assessment Strategies

Often, English Language Learners can have higher oral communication skills before reading or writing skills.  This makes projects ideal for assessing content knowledge.  Projects can also be easily adapted to suit the level of the student.

I also want students to practice test taking skills, so I have several tests built into my classes. I am intentional about the wording of these tests and modify some of the tests to include sentence starters for my students, so they know where to begin.  Whenever possible, I will accommodate students by having someone else read the tests to them. I also allow students to utilize their notes on this test, as it encourages them to take good notes through the class.

Since tests are not the only method to assess students, I have another final project where students create an index card of financial advice for high school students based on the Index Card book.  The students present those index cards (and their Salary Based Budget) at our school wide expo to both their peers and teachers.  Many teachers report that they are impressed that the high school students know more about taxes, investing and insurance than they do now!


Read Courtney's previous posts here: 

6 NGPF Curriculum Adaptation Suggestions for English Language Learners

The 7 Personal Finance Topics Most Relevant for English Language Learners


About the Author

Courtney Poquette

Courtney Poquette has been teaching personal finance at Winooski H.S. in Vermont for more than 17 years. Her school is in a refugee settlement area with over 800 students pre-k to grade 12 speaking around 27 different languages! During that time, she's picked up many insights regarding NGPF curriculum adaptation for English Language Learners, or multilingual learners (MLs).

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