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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on the US Economy (2005)

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Surprise upswing in US economy


Date: Dec 2, 2005
Level: Harder (Try the easier lesson.)
Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening
Audio: (1:51 - 217.4 KB - 16kbps)
 
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THE ARTICLE

America’s economy greatly surpassed all expectations in the third quarter of the year, despite calamitous hurricanes, record oil prices and interest rate rises. Economic growth surged to an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the three months from July to September, according to US Commerce Department figures. This is an upward revision from initial estimates of 3.8 percent and is the strongest growth since the first quarter of 2004. Analysts hailed the unexpected swing into more positive territory as “awesome”. They said the performance was concrete proof that the US economic situation was on the rebound and moving towards more sustained growth. Republicans are hoping the good news will help revitalize President George W. Bush’s sagging popularity.

Fears had been widespread among economists that the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita would have taken their toll on economic activity. Businesses were relatively hard hit, with profits falling by 3.7 percent. However, overall growth was boosted by consumer spending, the lifeblood of the US economy, and greater business investment. The US Federal Reserve also reported that economic activity increased during November. It said: “Consumer prices remained stable or experienced generally modest increases.” Other indices reveal that inflation was lower than expected, although the rate used in the Commerce Department’s figures is adjusted to take account of the more volatile food and energy prices. The Government has also raised interest rates a dozen times since mid-2004 to keep inflation in check.

WARM-UPS

1. ECONOMY ME: You are an economy. Spend a minute writing down what kind of economy you are and what areas are strong and weak. Talk to the other “economies” in the classroom about the matters that affect you most. Give each other advice on how to improve. What fears do you have for the future?

2. ECONOMICS: Which of the things below interest you? Which of these things affect you? How much do they affect you? In pairs / groups, talk about them. What are their current levels, rates, outlooks, etc. in your country?

  • Inflation
  • Gasoline prices
  • Economic growth
  • Company profits
  • Inflation
  • Interest rates
  • Unemployment
  • Exchange rates

3. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

America’s economy / hurricanes / oil prices / interest rates / estimates / awesome / concrete / proof / profits / investment / Federal Reserve / inflation / food prices /

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

4. COMMENTS ON THE US ECONOMY: What do you think of these comments on the US economy? Talk about them with your partner(s).

  1. It won’t always be number one.
  2. When the US economy sneezes, the world gets a cold.
  3. It’s a perfect model of capitalism at its best.
  4. There are too many barriers imposed on other countries.
  5. It’s the envy of the world.
  6. It’s helping to destroy the world.
  7. It is the American dream.
  8. It both produces billionaires and forces people into poverty and destitution.

5. ECONOMIC GROWTH: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with economic growth. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

6. QUICK DEBATE: Have a quick debate with your partner. Which economy will be most important in ten years? Students A think America’s will be, Students B think China’s will be.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

Recently announced U.S. economic indicators met all expectations.

T / F

b.

Economic growth stagnated at 4.3 percent in the latest quarter.

T / F

c.

Analysts hailed the swing into more positive territory as “awesome”.

T / F

d.

Analysts say the strong performance is great for concrete companies.

T / F

e.

Economists had thought the hurricanes would not affect the economy.

T / F

f.

Consumer spending is the lifeblood of the US economy.

T / F

g.

Other indices reveal that inflation was lower than expected.

T / F

h.

Interest rates have risen half a dozen times since mid-2004.

T / F

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

a.

surpassed

altered

b.

calamitous

definite

c.

surged

vital part

d.

concrete

beat

e.

sagging

adversely affected

f.

taken their toll on

climbed

g.

lifeblood

indicators

h.

indices

flagging

i.

adjusted

unstable

j.

volatile

catastrophic

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

a.

greatly surpassed all

into more positive territory

b.

Economic growth surged to

more volatile food and energy prices

c.

This is an upward revision from

expectations

d.

Analysts hailed the unexpected swing

among economists

e.

revitalize President George W. Bush’s

initial estimates of 3.8 percent

f.

Fears had been widespread

experienced generally modest increases

g.

boosted by consumer spending,

in check

h.

prices remained stable or

sagging popularity

i.

adjusted to take account of the

an annual rate of 4.3 percent

j.

keep inflation

the lifeblood of the US economy

WHILE READING / LISTENING

WHOOPS: Five of the ten words in bold are incorrect. In pairs / groups, delete them and find a good replacement.

Surprise upswing in US economy

America’s economy greatly surpassed all expectations in the third half of the year, despite calamitous hurricanes, record oil prices and interest rate rises. Economic growth surged to an hourly rate of 4.3 percent in the three months from July to September, according to US Commerce Department figures. This is an upward revision from signature estimates of 3.8 percent and is the strongest growth since the first quarter of 2004. Analysts hailed the unexpected swing into more positive territory as “awesome”. They said the performance was asbestos proof that the US economic situation was on the rebound and moving towards more sustained growth. Republicans are hoping the good news will help revitalize President George W. Bush’s sagging polarity.

Fears had been widespread among economists that the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita would have taken their poll on economic activity. Businesses were relatively hard hit, with profits falling by 3.7 percent. However, overall growth was booted by consumer spending, the blue blood of the US economy, and greater business investment. The US Federal Reserve also reported that economic activity increased during November. It said: “Consumer prices remained table or experienced generally modest increases.” Other indices reveal that inflation was lower than expected, although the rate used in the Commerce Department’s figures is adjusted to take account of the more volatile food and energy prices. The Government has also raised interest rates a dozen times since mid-2004 to keep inflation in chuck.

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Surprise upswing in US economy

America’s economy greatly __________ all expectations in the third quarter of the year, despite calamitous hurricanes, record oil prices and interest rate rises. Economic growth ________ to an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the three months from July to September, according to US Commerce Department figures. This is an upward _________ from initial estimates of 3.8 percent and is the strongest growth since the first quarter of 2004. Analysts _________ the unexpected swing into more positive territory as “awesome”. They said the performance was _________ proof that the US economic situation was on the _________ and moving towards more sustained growth. Republicans are hoping the good news will help _________ President George W. Bush’s sagging popularity.

Fears had been _________ among economists that the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita would have taken their toll on economic activity. Businesses were _________ hard hit, with profits falling by 3.7 percent. However, overall growth was _________ by consumer spending, the lifeblood of the US economy, and greater business investment. The US Federal Reserve also reported that economic activity increased during November. It said: “Consumer prices remained _________ or experienced generally modest increases.” Other _________ reveal that inflation was lower than expected, although the rate used in the Commerce Department’s figures is adjusted to take account of the more _________ food and energy prices. The Government has also raised interest rates a dozen times since mid-2004 to keep inflation ___ ______.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘concrete’ and ‘proof’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. WHOOPS: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “ECONOMY” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about your country’s or the world’s economy.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • greatly
  • surged
  • upward
  • awesome
  • positive
  • sagging
  • widespread
  • 3.7 percent
  • lifeblood
  • stable
  • indices
  • in check

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  2. What are your thoughts on the American economy?
  3. How does a strong or weak U.S. economy affect the rest of the world?
  4. Has the U.S. economy strengthened or weakened under George W. Bush?
  5. Do you think the U.S. economy is a perfect model of free enterprise?
  6. What are the strongest areas of the American economy?
  7. Do you think the U.S. economy encourages people to be greedy and materialistic?
  8. If you did some fine-tuning to the U.S. economy (or the economy in your own country), what would you do?
  9. Would you like to be an economist?
  10. Are you good at handling your own financial affairs?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Why is the American economy so strong?
  4. What lessons can other world economies learn from the U.S. economy?
  5. What kinds of things could cause the U.S. economy serious trouble?
  6. Do you think China’s economy will be stronger than America’s one day?
  7. Do you think the good economic news will revitalize President George W. Bush’s sagging popularity?
  8. Do you think the American economy bullies other world economies?
  9. What will happen to the U.S. economy after Alan Greenspan retires?
  10. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  2. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  3. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  4. What did you like talking about?
  5. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

ECONOMICS TEACHER: You are an economics teacher. It is your job to explain the economic terms in the table to students who know very little about economics. In pairs / groups, think of all the information the students need to know about these terms:

 

YOUR EXPLANATION

Inflation

 

GDP

 

Budget deficit

 

Economic growth

 

Investment

 

Interest rates

 

  • Change partners and compare and share your explanations.
  • Give each other feedback on how to improve your explanations.
  • Give presentations on your explanations to other groups. Were there any holes in the explanations?

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY 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 more information on the American economy. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson. Did you all find out similar things?

3. NECESSARY MEASURES: Make a poster outlining the measures that are necessary to boost your country’s economy. Show your posters to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all think of similar things?

4. NEW WORLD ECONOMY: Write a short report on how the world economy might look twenty years from now. Where will the strongest economies be? What will African economies be doing? What countries will be faring badly? Show what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all write about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. F

b. F

c. T

d. F

e. F

f. T

g. T

h. F

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

surpassed

beat

b.

calamitous

catastrophic

c.

surged

climbed

d.

concrete

definite

e.

sagging

flagging

f.

taken their toll on

adversely affected

g.

lifeblood

vital part

h.

indices

indicators

i.

adjusted

altered

j.

volatile

unstable

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

greatly surpassed all

expectations

b.

Economic growth surged to

an annual rate of 4.3 percent

c.

This is an upward revision from

initial estimates of 3.8 percent

d.

Analysts hailed the unexpected swing

into more positive territory

e.

revitalize President George W. Bush’s

sagging popularity

f.

Fears had been widespread

among economists

g.

boosted by consumer spending,

the lifeblood of the US economy

h.

prices remained stable or

experienced generally modest increases

i.

adjusted to take account of the

more volatile food and energy prices

j.

keep inflation

in check

WHOOPS:

Surprise upswing in US economy

America’s economy greatly surpassed all expectations in the third quarter of the year, despite calamitous hurricanes, record oil prices and interest rate rises. Economic growth surged to an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the three months from July to September, according to US Commerce Department figures. This is an upward revision from initial estimates of 3.8 percent and is the strongest growth since the first quarter of 2004. Analysts hailed the unexpected swing into more positive territory as “awesome”. They said the performance was concrete proof that the US economic situation was on the rebound and moving towards more sustained growth. Republicans are hoping the good news will help revitalize President George W. Bush’s sagging popularity.

Fears had been widespread among economists that the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita would have taken their toll on economic activity. Businesses were relatively hard hit, with profits falling by 3.7 percent. However, overall growth was boosted by consumer spending, the lifeblood of the US economy, and greater business investment. The US Federal Reserve also reported that economic activity increased during November. It said: “Consumer prices remained stable or experienced generally modest increases.” Other indices reveal that inflation was lower than expected, although the rate used in the Commerce Department’s figures is adjusted to take account of the more volatile food and energy prices. The Government has also raised interest rates a dozen times since mid-2004 to keep inflation in chuck.

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Copyright © 2005 by Sean Banville