·         Instructor:  D. Anthony Collins and Isabella Ireland

·         College:  Southwestern Oregon Community College

·         Term:  Winter 2007


CA Competency Area

# 1 Consumer Economics – Banking


Civic Objective

Identify, evaluate, and compare financial service options in the community such as banks, credit unions, check-cashing services, and credit cards.


Language/Literacy Objectives

5. Examine personal spending habits in order to identify ways to create a budget.

9. Name financial institutions in the area.

10. Ask and answer questions about locations, hours, and services of financial institutions in the community.

12. Identify issues of using check-cashing services.

13. Conduct simple conversations with a bank teller or other banking institution employee.



Our 3 hour block classes mixed levels 2 – 5 delivering 30 to 45 minute, project-based EL Civics modules throughout the quarter in a morning or evening session with variable attendance of 2 – 16 learners from an active pool of about 30 families. We guess that about 8 or 9 out of 10 families are residing without legal status, and thus banking institutions and credit link to the fear of discovery.



·         Crossroads Café, 13 “Trading Places” 16 “The Bottom Line”

·         Culture Clip, 4, “The Roles Couples Choose,” and “Raising Children”

·         Spending and Saving Money, Lesson 1 - 3,  pp. 1-9

·         Real-Life English 4, Unit 2, Our Community, p. 16-29

Activity 1

We started with objectives 9 and 10, the directory information. We pre-taught WH-movement and Do-insertion, term-long themes, that led to in-class, paired role plays for telephone calls.

            We liked – spoken-only communication in the safety of our classroom.

            Do differently – our mock “live” telephone calls and direct grammar instruction.

            They reacted –

After the initial lesson in the spirit of choice, we asked for ideas about other agency locations, hours, but especially services. This proved a rich area for discussion expanding into partnering civic/social groups. The hours for the library were easy to find for example; however, the details for the kid’s programs, a favorite, took some questioning. Ss needed more information than hours and locations. Could they bring infants? What kind of stories and songs? Ss volunteered to go out to 4 different branches, eventually attending, and then followed up reporting out on how to engage in these great free activities.












Activity 2

We had two local bankers join the class for L/L’s 12 and 13 reinforcing that accounts could be opened with a social security number, but that the bank did not “investigate” the legal status of that number. The first was early in the term and a friend of Anthony’s. He demonstrated the credit reporting process by running Anthony’s report live in the computer classroom and showing automatic deposit and payment features.


            We liked – using the lab, talking about credit history and how to build it, and having real bankers visit.

            Do differently – stop all use of check cashing/pay day loan businesses.

            They reacted -

We wanted L/L objective 2 using “online services” because Ss wanted to learn about EBay and IP telephony – particularly for international calls. We didn’t move beyond demonstrating, but we’re planning to continue on this topic. Using PayPal, building credit, direct payments and deposits, and online services all require bank accounts.














Activity 3

We had L/L 5 ongoing during the term; it was our main EL Civics activity. To create budgets, we worked on the noun bargain in terms of at least three dimensions: money, time, and quality. The hope was to investigate personal spending habits after working as a class first to furnish a mock family home. And to follow up we hoped to lure them into clothing or food budgets.

We began as usual with introductions creating an “average” home to furnish. We pre-taught content for furniture and used classified and circular ads to negotiate the best bargain for what we “needed.” So for example, great Ss discussion was ongoing on whether we needed a dishwasher or not in the kitchen, and then would the $25 garage saler or the new one be the best deal. Surprisingly, we felt sure that the Ss would be very interested in the best bargains for clothes or shoes, and the second lessons just fell flat. But we can share some good things.


            We liked – having an ongoing project, reporting out in pictures or drawings, using the very popular local ad paper to engage Ss, discussing family earner roles, and US children’s expectations.

            Do differently – that our great plan from follow up flopped.













            They reacted -












One of our best sessions of the term involved shopping for clothes. Ss moaned and groaned with the prospect of another budget project, but jumped into the most animated and still-running topic of driving around Coastal Oregon in the name of a good deal. It’s a common debate on the South Coast at whether it is an advantage to buy locally or go to the I-5 corridor to shop at a better price. Added time and costs come into play naturally, as well as unfamiliarity of road maps, winter weather, transportation reliability, and travel amenities. After arguing for traveling for bargains, several Ss then worked to educate the rest of us on the best routes. We used road maps, made maps, talked local history (like the Old Wagon Road bringing the first large wave of immigrants from Roseburg to Coos Bay), and wrote about shopping trips. This practice continues today.