You Can Bank on It: 5 Strategies to Teach the How-Tos of Banking

You Can Bank on It
5 Strategies to Teach the How-Tos of Banking

Mary Bishop
by Mary Bishop 4,899 views |

Banking is a very important subject for adult English learners.

It is a challenge to manage one’s money when the business is being conducted in a language you are still learning. From filling out forms to reading bank statements to having a conversation with a bank teller, these strategies will help your students navigate the banking system using English.

Help ESL Students Get Comfortable Using Banking Procedures

  1. 1

    You Can Bank on Banking

    To start a discussion about banking, you will want to find out your class’s experience with banking in their native country and in their current one. Some students may be very comfortable using a bank, while others may not trust the banking system to safeguard their money. If applicable, you may want to briefly explain about the history of banking where you are (about the FDIC if you are in the United States) to help those students understand the precautions that are in place.

    If necessary and possible, you may want to have someone from a bank who speaks the language of the majority of your students to explain exactly how banking works when you start this topic. That person can speak in whatever language necessary to explain the reason why using a bank may be a good choice, and what they may need to open a bank account. Banks are often eager to form bonds in the community, so you will most likely be able to find someone to do so enthusiastically. After covering these activities, it would be great if that person could allow your class to visit the bank. This will be discussed at the end of this article.

  2. 2

    First Thing’s First

    As with any new topic, you will need to lay the groundwork by covering basic banking terminology. As this is such a “real-world” topic, it would be wise to have as many authentic materials as possible, such as a checkbook, checking and savings withdrawal and deposit slips, and a debit card. Introduce the terms which you feel are most important for the group you have by showing them the item and having the name of the item in large, clear print so they can easily see it. Review pronunciation as you go along, checking for any major errors and trying to correct them in the beginning. The amount of vocabulary words you will introduce at this time will depend on the level of your class.

  3. 3

    Filling Out the Forms

    The next step would be to practice filling out the various forms necessary when banking. You will want to have ahead of time: a form to apply for a bank account, checking and savings deposit slips and a blank check (please do not use a real account number; you will have to make a check). Demonstrate filling out these forms. Provide students with samples of these forms, along with a list of fake names, addresses and other necessary information so they may use it to practice filling in the forms. It is very important that students become comfortable filling out forms in English as they may need to do so at a time when no assistance for them is available.

  4. 4

    Bring on the Action

    You want your students to feel comfortable doing banking before they actually go into a bank. Set up your classroom to look like a bank, with stations for tellers. If possible, have several volunteers act as tellers in those spots. Begin by demonstrating how to fill out the proper paperwork as you arrive at the bank. Next, show them how to approach and interact with the teller appropriately. Introduce some short scripts to your students to help them know what to say. Have them practice those scripts together. Then have them take turns going to the tellers and making a transaction. With the more advanced students, you may tell the teller to veer away from the scripts after a while so the student is required to react spontaneously in English. Afterwards, have the students share how they felt doing the role plays, what their strengths were, and what they thought they could improve on.

  5. 5

    Pay a Visit

    The ultimate culmination to the topic of banking would be to take your students on a trip to the bank. If you have made that contact in a bilingual person from a neighborhood bank, then get in touch with that person again to arrange a visit. If not, as stated in the beginning of the article, most banks are looking to connect with the community. Contact your local bank and explain what you are doing. Even if they do not have a community liaison, they should have someone who is willing to work with you. Let them know that you have covered the topic of banking and would like to bring your ESL students in to practice their skills. Ask if your students can have a tour of the places in the bank where they are permitted. They can let you know a time that will work for the both of you. The representative from the bank will probably be happy to speak with them and if it is not too busy a time, let the students do some mock transactions with the representative. This visit would be a great conclusion to this topic. If you cannot arrange a visit, look for a virtual tour or video online that would give your students a look at being inside a bank to increase their comfort level.

Banking is a very important skill for every ESL student.

It is a valuable skill. It will definitely make the students more successful in their personal banking endeavors. Banking is one of those ESL topics which, once conquered, will make the student more independent. This independent functioning in English is, of course, the goal of every ESL teacher. The strategies in this article will help you to start teaching about banking to your students. Moving through them, and if possible visiting a bank, will certainly assist your students in becoming the confident banking customers they can be.

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