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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on Billionaires

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Who wants to be a billionaire?


Date: March 12, 2005
Level: Pre-Intermediate +
Downloads: This Lesson (Word Doc) | Class Handout (Word Doc) | Class Handout (PDF)

THE ARTICLE

Forbes magazine has released its nineteenth annual list of the world’s richest people. It comes as no surprise that Bill Gates tops the list for the eleventh straight year. His wealth, at $46.5 billion ($46,500,000,000), was slightly down on last year’s $46.4 billion, although he probably isn’t losing sleep over this. Second richest was American investor Warren Buffet ($44bn), and third was India’s Lakshmi Mittal ($25bn). Other unbelievably rich people in the top 100 include Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (#21), Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (#25), E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar (#35) and Benetton boss Luciano Benetton (#35).

Forbes said the number of billionaires increased to a record 691 this year (341 from the USA) compared with last year's 587. Of these, 68 are women, including disgraced American businesswoman Martha Stewart. The billionaires are from 45 different countries, including first-timers, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine and Iceland. The youngest is Germany’s Prince Albert von Turn und Taxis, who is just 21. Next are Google’s co-founders Larry Page, 32, and Sergey Brin, 31. Forbes says it takes more than “brilliance and elbow grease” to become a billionaire, and that certain personality types are more likely to make it to their list. They have an interactive quiz on their website to test if you have a billionaire personality (www.forbes.com).

WARM UPS

1. CHAT:  Talk in pairs or groups about money / Bill Gates / being a billionaire / E-Bay / Silvio Berlusconi / Martha Stewart / 21-year-old billionaire / billionaire personality / …

To make things more dynamic, try telling your students they only have one minute (or 2) on each chat topic before changing topics / partners. Change topic / partner frequently to increase conversation.

2. BILLIONAIRE BRAINSTORM: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘billionaire’. Share your words with your partner / group and talk about them.

3. BEING A BILLIONAIRE: Talk in groups about being a billionaire. Write down five questions you would ask a real billionaire.  Role play being incredibly rich. Walk around the class talking to other billionaires about your life and ask your questions  (Are you a self-made billionaire? What do you do every day? Are you wonderfully happy? etc.).

4. 2-MINUTE MONEY DEBATES: Students face each other in pairs and engage in the following (for-fun) 2-minute debates. Students A are assigned the first argument, students B the second. Rotate pairs to ensure a lively pace and noise level is kept:

  1. Money is the root of all evil. vs. I love money.
  2. Money can’t make you happy. vs. Honestly, really, truly, it can.
  3. Rich people are stingy. vs. Many rich people are very generous.
  4. Rich people forget about their old friends. vs. That’s not true.
  5. Capitalism is wonderful for giving us all a dream. vs. For most people in the world it is a nightmare.
  6. Rich people are great role models. vs. You mean Silvio Berlusconi and Martha Stewart?
  7. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. vs. But this won’t make you a billionaire.
  8. Bill Gates should give $44bn to charity. He can survive on $1bn. vs. He’s worked hard for his money.
  9. It’s great the wealth is spreading to other countries. vs. There are no African billionaires in the top 50.
  10. We can all be billionaires. vs. How?

 
 

PRE-READING IDEAS

1. WORD SEARCH: Students look in their dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … of the words ‘annual’ and ‘list’.

2. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the headline and guess whether these sentences are true or false:

  1. Forbes magazine has released its annual list of the world’s richest people.  T / F
  2. Bill Gates tops the list for the twentieth straight year.   T / F
  3. Bill Gates is poorer than last year.  T / F
  4. Americans were ranked in the top three on the billionaire list.  T / F
  5. Thirty per cent of the billionaires are women.  T / F
  6. The youngest billionaire is just two years old.  T / F
  7. To become a billionaire you just need brilliance and elbow grease.  T / F
  8. Certain personality types are more likely to become billionaires.  T / F

3. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

(a)

released

worrying

(b)

tops

shamed

(c)

wealth

conceivably

(d)

losing sleep over

genius

(e)

unbelievably

fortune

(f)

disgraced

hard work

(g)

first-timers

heads

(h)

brilliance

astonishingly

(i)

elbow grease

newcomers

(j)

likely

issued

 

4. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

(a)

It comes as

year

(b)

Bill Gates tops

with last year's 587

(c)

for the eleventh straight

it to their list

(d)

slightly down on

the list

(e)

he probably isn’t losing

co-founders

(f)

compared

more than “brilliance and elbow grease”

(g)

disgraced American

sleep over this

(h)

Google’s

last year’s $46.4 billion

(i)

it takes

businesswoman Martha Stewart

(j)

more likely to make

no surprise

 

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. GAP-FILL:  Put the words on the right into the gaps.

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Forbes magazine has released its nineteenth __________ list of the world’s richest people. It comes as no surprise that Bill Gates tops the list for the eleventh __________ year. His wealth, at $46.5 billion ($46,500,000,000), was slightly down on last year’s $46.4 billion, although he probably isn’t losing __________ over this. Second richest was American investor Warren Buffet ($44bn), and third was India’s Lakshmi Mittal ($25bn). Other __________ rich people in the top 100 include Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (#21), Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (#25), E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar (#35) and Benetton boss Luciano Benetton (#35).

Forbes said the number of billionaires increased to a record 691 this year (341 from the USA) __________ with last year's 587. Of these, 68 are women, including __________ American businesswoman Martha Stewart. The billionaires are from 45 different countries, including first-timers, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine and Iceland. The youngest is Germany’s Prince Albert von Turn und Taxis, who is just 21. Next are Google’s co-founders Larry Page, 32, and Sergey Brin, 31. Forbes says it takes more than “__________ and elbow grease” to become a billionaire, and that certain personality types are more likely to make it to their list. They have an interactive quiz on their website to test if you have a billionaire __________ (www.forbes.com).

 

 

sleep
annual
compared
personality
straight
disgraced
brilliance
unbelievably

2. TRUE/FALSE:  Students check their answers to the T/F exercise.

3. SYNONYMS:  Students check their answers to the synonyms exercise.

4. PHRASE MATCH:  Students check their answers to the phrase match exercise.

5. QUESTIONS: Students make notes for questions they would like to ask the class about the article.

6. VOCABULARY:  Students circle any words they do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find the meanings.


 
 

POST READING IDEAS

1. GAP-FILL: Check the answers to the gap-fill exercise.

2. QUESTIONS:  Students ask the discussion questions they thought of above to their partner / group / class. Pool the questions for all students to share.

3. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

4. STUDENT-GENERATED SURVEY: Pairs/Groups write down 3 questions based on the article. Conduct their surveys alone. Report back to partners to compare answers. Report to other groups / the whole class.

5. ‘ANNUAL’/ ‘LIST’: Students make questions based on their findings from pre-reading activity #1.

6. DISCUSSION:  Students ask each other the following questions:

  1. What was interesting in this article?
  2. Do you want to be a billionaire?
  3. How many billions is enough?
  4. Do you like Bill Gates?
  5. How do you feel about Martha Stewart, going to prison, and still being a billionaire?
  6. What would you do on the first day of being a billionaire?
  7. Who would you give money to?
  8. Would you be very happy forever?
  9. Can you see any problems in being so rich?
  10. Would you have any new friends?
  11. Would you keep all of your old friends?
  12. What do you think would be your biggest lifestyle change?
  13. Would you keep a close check on your spending?
  14. How rich do you want to be?
  15. Would you be an extravagant or careful spender?
  16. Would you still look after the pennies?
  17. Do you respect billionaires?
  18. Are billionaires generous people?
  19. Do you like looking at “top-100”, or “top-10” lists?
  20. Do you lose sleep over money?
  21. What does it take to be a billionaire?
  22. Do you have what it takes to be a billionaire?
  23. How much cash would you keep in your wallet when you go out?
  24. Would you work?
  25. How would you help people?
  26. What would you invest in?
  27. Teacher / Student additional questions.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCAB EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find information on billionaires. Share your findings with your class next lesson.

3. BILLIONAIRE ME: Write your journal / diary entry for your first day of becoming a billionaire.

4. SHOPPING LIST: Make a shopping list of how much money you will give to five different charities. Write the reasons for choosing the charities beneath the amounts.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

  1. Forbes magazine has released its annual list of the world’s richest people.  T
  2. Bill Gates tops the list for the twentieth straight year.   F
  3. Bill Gates is poorer than last year.  T
  4. Americans were ranked in the top three on the billionaire list.  F
  5. Thirty per cent of the billionaires are women.  F
  6. The youngest billionaire is just two years old.  F
  7. To become a billionaire you just need brilliance and elbow grease.  F
  8. Certain personality types are more likely to become billionaires.  T

SYNONYM MATCH:

(a)

released

issued

(b)

tops

heads

(c)

wealth

fortune

(d)

losing sleep over

worrying

(e)

unbelievably

astonishingly

(f)

disgraced

shamed

(g)

first-timers

newcomers

(h)

brilliance

genius

(i)

elbow grease

hard work

(j)

likely

conceivably

 

PHRASE MATCH:

(a)

It comes as

no surprise

(b)

Bill Gates tops

the list

(c)

for the eleventh straight

year

(d)

slightly down on

last year’s $46.4 billion

(e)

he probably isn’t losing

sleep over this

(f)

compared

with last year's 587

(g)

disgraced American

businesswoman Martha Stewart

(h)

Google’s

co-founders

(i)

it takes

more than “brilliance and elbow grease”

(j)

more likely to make

it to their list

 

GAP FILL:

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Forbes magazine has released its nineteenth annual list of the world’s richest people. It comes as no surprise that Bill Gates tops the list for the eleventh straight year. His wealth, at $46.5 billion ($46,500,000,000), was slightly down on last year’s $46.4 billion, although he probably isn’t losing sleep over this. Second richest was American investor Warren Buffet ($44bn), and third was India’s Lakshmi Mittal ($25bn). Other unbelievably rich people in the top 100 include Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (#21), Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (#25), E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar (#35) and Benetton boss Luciano Benetton (#35).

Forbes said the number of billionaires increased to a record 691 this year (341 from the USA) compared with last year's 587. Of these, 68 are women, including disgraced American businesswoman Martha Stewart. The billionaires are from 45 different countries, including first-timers, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine and Iceland. The youngest is Germany’s Prince Albert von Turn und Taxis, who is just 21. Next are Google’s co-founders Larry Page, 32, and Sergey Brin, 31. Forbes says it takes more than “brilliance and elbow grease” to become a billionaire, and that certain personality types are more likely to make it to their list. They have an interactive quiz on their website to test if you have a billionaire personality (www.forbes.com).

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