Jan 25, 2023

6 NGPF Curriculum Adaptation Suggestions for English Language Learners

Courtney Poquette, a veteran teacher of multilingual learners, shares her tips for adapting six popular activities within the NGPF curriculum for English Language Learners. This is the second in a series of posts with her advice for other teachers of ELLs. 


1. PROJECT: 5 Stocks On Your Birthday

Modify for ELL students to 3 Stocks on Your birthday and offer stocks 4 & 5 for extra credit. Often, students are learning how to use a computer for the first time or will need more time to read and decipher information. Doing 3 stocks still allows the students an opportunity to see the impact of investing long term.

I also provide students with links to many “popular” stocks as in the past I had students struggle with what was a publicly traded company and where to begin. I tell students they can select something off of my menu, if they decide, but I wanted to remove the barrier that was preventing some students from starting the activity.


2. INVESTIGATE: Mystery of the $8 Million Dollar Janitor

This appeals to students at any income level. We work through this as a class. There are usually so many questions and spots where students get hung up, that we go through this together. I’ve added in videos of Ronald Read’s life to help them better visualize it. This sets the stage for everything that will come in our investing and then retirement lessons. I also try to walk students through mini percentage lessons during this activity.


3. NGPF Arcade Game: STAX

I tell students when I first introduce this that I want them to be confused and that I’m not going to give them a lot of information. I login from another tab and play against them as “Ms Pocket Cash.” Sure enough, throughout the game they are confused, frustrated, overwhelmed and ready to quit (the signs of many investors who might not understand what they are doing.) 

But if all turns out as it usually does, they all outperform Ms. Pocket Cash (because she didn’t invest anything) and they usually don’t beat the computer.  We can talk about how they felt playing the game and how someone might feel not joining the market and someone might feel just investing in index funds with every paycheck. They all want to play again and I reward any student who won with a can of STAX potato chips.


4. INTERACTIVE: FICO Credit Scores

I supplement this activity and all my units by telling personal stories. Some fun ways that we have had discussions around credit scores were asking students if they have ever been to a store where someone asked them to save a certain percentage on their purchase that day. Some of my students have gone to the mall and said “yes” at every single store in a day. This provides an example of how their credit scores could have been negatively impacted.

The conversation gets even better when you find out if any student works at a retail job and they try to get people to sign up for those cards. After taking the class, some of my students have opted out of pushing for those bonuses and monthly quotas knowing the people most likely to say “yes” are those that know the least about how credit works. 

I have colleagues who have given me permission to share stories about how they “did everything right” by never getting a credit card and paying cash for all of their cars and saving enough for a down payment on a house. Then they went to a bank, shocked to be denied a mortgage. So, we talk about the benefits of having credit and using it responsibly.


5. CALCULATE: Impact of Credit Score on Loans

As mentioned in a previous post, students need to see this and understand that they will be paying much more in life with a subprime credit score. This is one of the most important things a high school student can understand.


6. CREATE: A Salary-Based Budget

Have students research an actual vehicle and housing situation for their area. I use this activity as a final project where students apply the actual prices they found throughout the semester when creating the budget.



Check out the first post in this series: 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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