Get Your Money in Order for 2020

This article gives advice to the readers on what to do so that everything is ready for 2020.  She even provides a checklist.  Do you have a checklist (at least in your mind) of things you should do in order to improve your economic situation?  Of course, this article is directed to an American audience (from the USA).  Is there much of a difference with what you should do?  How would this article be written if the readers were Spanish?

Basic vocabulary necessary for everyday financial situations is covered – and it’s an easy read, so I highly recommend taking 5 minutes and going over it.  Year end returns to personal budgets – it has it all.  One thing that I do find different – and, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, is the importance that is given to personal credit.  I mean, most people I know in Canada or the States are always looking in to their credit.  Do people do that in Spain? Is it even possible to do a self credit-check?

Suggested homework:  make your own list! Send us the questions to see how you did.  Or – better yet, compare advice to be given to Spaniards, and back your arguments up with facts.

Have a great week!

Has your view on Brexit changed?

How has the world’s perception of how Brexit would affect it?

The most recent explanation of the situation can be seen in this video –

MPs Reject Johnson’s Election Plans… Why? – Brexit Explained


Try comparing thoughts with this explanation taken from an article in CECA in 2016.

Of course, the content of each isn’t along the same line, one isan update on a political situation, another is a previous forcast.  However, what I want you to do with this is to tell me – how has your vision changed?

Personally – I’m somewhat worried about seeing some of my friends less. I do think though that the economical balance of the world is about to change. It will be interesting to see just how much – as London used to be the centre of the ecnomical world.  That is why we all speak English as a second language – right?

Some people have actually made the comment of not wanting to continue with English not being the official second language of the world – but to reverse to Spanish.  What do you think?


What could go wrong with pushing China too far, right?

Everyone agrees that this is a time for deep political thought, for people to react and take action. People ARE actually voting! Changes can be made! We have all become oh too aware, that – for example – the decisions of some country folk in a different land (the main people responsible for Trump being in power) can affect – well, in this case, my son! He just bought a Huawei telephone for a “pretty penny” – just to discover a few days later that it may possibly be worthless, short-term.

This has become a trendy topic on everybody’s lips. How easily the rest of the world can see the power we have given, ignored for ourselves, as we’ve just gone on with our lives. Some say that it’s a test, to see how China reacts, some say it’s a tantrum of Trumps. Just another show of his negotiation “skills”. Yet others describe a complot to rule the world- which we all know is true.

This article sums it up quite nicely. DO ENJOY – especially the parts where it makes sense that – does this trade war continue – we are just giving all the more strength to China, as it is exactly what they needed.

Suggested homework: your thoughts – or – find me the part of the article that cites what I just described, or better yet, answer the title: What could go wrong with pushing China too far?

What comes first, the money or the person?

When you think about this title, what comes to mind?  Consumerism perhaps? Following your dreams?  Never better said:  don’t get fooled by the title!  Such a lovely topic:  money.  Well – it turns out that this study came up with some results that I found to be extremely valid, obvious and quite frankly – surprising at the same time.

So – skim through this article and let me know – what were those findings?  Had you thought about that before, or perhaps lived through any particular situation that you can reflect back on an think:  yeh, I get it.

Link to original article.



JANUARY 28, 2019

We spend a great deal of time thinking about money. We talk about it, worry over it, wonder if we have enough to meet our immediate needs. If we’re lucky and have a lot of money, we think about using it to buy a new car, a new house, or a dream vacation. Since the days of our earliest ancestors, money has been one of our most important tools. But different from most other tools, money — even just thinking about it — influences our behavior in negative ways. We become more likely to prioritize our feelings, desires, and goals over getting along with and helping others. Money creates a tension between individualistic and interpersonal motives.

To understand why money has such a hold on us, it’s helpful to look back at its predecessor: trade. Early humans and Neanderthals overlapped for roughly 5,000 years, and, biologically speaking, Neanderthals should have had the advantage. They were on earth first and they had larger bodies and brains. So how did our human ancestors come out ahead? They traded more than Neanderthals and across longer distances, giving them access to more and varied resources, and improving their chances of survival. Anthropologists sometimes call these early humans “homo economicus” to signify the attribute that set them apart.

The Big Idea

The creation of money made trade much easier. Consider, for example, what would happen if you had oranges and wanted a cow, but no one who had a cow wanted oranges. Finding someone who has exactly what you want and who wants exactly what you have can be challenging. Now consider the role of time: Is what you have to trade perishable, as with milk? Is it time-bound in some way, as with cows, which age past their prime? Now add in exchange rates. If you need a cow, and you have oranges, that’s not a very equitable trade — but the cow can’t be divvied up to create a better deal. Money solved these problems by being a store of value, allowing people to save for and thus plan for the long term. With money, we became the humans we are today — for better and for worse, as I have learned.

My research focuses on how we use and think about money. In an experiment, colleagues and I asked one group of people to perform a task that involved money and another group to perform a similar task that didn’t. For instance, some people mentally tallied up the value of a stack of cash, whereas others tallied up numbers printed on pieces of paper. This and similar experiments have found two broad buckets of effects when people are reminded of money. The first is generally positive: They prefer tasks that allow them to go it alone; resist being helped on tough problems; and perform better, longer, and harder. From an organizational and societal perspective, these are good things. Our second finding reveals a darker side: They share, help, and empathize less than people who have not thought about money. When it comes to the moral fabric of society, these are not ideal behaviors.

We’ve also found these behaviors in children. In an experiment with three-to-six-year-olds, we gave them either coins and bank notes or buttons and paper, and then asked them to do helpful things, such as bringing crayons to an adult, or cognitive tasks, such as completing a maze or puzzle. The children who had played with money were less helpful, though they worked smartly and diligently, for instance persisting on challenging puzzles and finding the correct way through a maze.

Since money has some helpful effects, my more recent work looks at whether we can mitigate its harmful ones. Colleagues and I studied groups of people who care deeply for each other. One experiment looked at romantic partners; the other, people in a collectivistic society (India). In both cases we found similar, familiar effects: After being reminded of money, people were less kind, less helpful, and less generous with each other. When it comes to how money influences us, these results are not the most encouraging.

Which brings us back to the overarching question of why people care so much about money. The answer, in part, is that money is deeply rooted in how we’ve evolved. It has a direct line to the success of our species, which helps to explain why it takes up so much space in our minds. Money also continues to produce powerful effects on our behavior that go beyond the symbolic governmental backing of a coin or bill’s value. As the ways we use and think about money change over time — think credit cards, Venmo, and Bitcoin — we need to keep studying the ways it affects our relationships with others. Money, while integral to who we’ve become, may also play a role in driving us apart.THE BIG IDEA

About the author: Kathleen D. Vohs is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Land O’Lakes Chair in Marketing at the University of Minnesota.

Brexit, gambling and the possible benefits for Spain

It seems that the world has gone mad… politics is just going – crazy! No matter what “side” you are on, no matter what conversation it is – there is no denying it.  So – when I come across a little gem like this article – full forward.  The original title varies, it speaks of the complexity of the situation and doesn’t outright speak of benefits.

Can you tell me what they are, and where does the article begin to change the tone?

It’s also laden with rich vocabulary for the finance industry – so keep your focus and get your pen out!

This is the first part of the article, from the Euro Weekly News.  I strongly suggest continuing onto the link to the original article (at the bottom) to finish it.

Its sheer popularity provides a shot in the arm to economies around the world, but its benefits come in many forms: as well as employing a huge number of people (more than 100,000 in the UK) it generates valuable revenue that can be reinvested in vital public services.

For these reasons, it can be a welcome boost to countries who have struggled in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis of the mid-to-late 00s.

Spain’s economy has been under pressure for some time, having seen increased inflation and huge unemployment rates – the latter rising above 25% in 2013 and still only inching under 20% in present day.

Can the gambling industry provide Spain with the income it needs and a solution to the employment troubles?

A history of gambling in Spain

It was only at the end of Franco’s reign in Spain that the very act of gambling was decriminalised. From 1977, regulatory bodies on an autonomous community level were formed to govern their peoples’ wagers. But it was the emergence of online gambling in the late 1990s that really saw the industry take off.

With operators from all over the world quickly moving in to take advantage of a potentially lucrative market, gamblers found a huge range of online betting possibilities to choose from. New laws to govern the Information Society were added onto a 2007 Bill, which clearly defined what constituted online gambling.

The government introduced additional regulations in 2012, which meant gambling operators in Spain would need a licence to run their business. Along with difficulties becoming established, a number of approved regulated operators began handing back their licences.

Teething problems over with – the Spanish economy began to bounce back with some extremely healthy levels of revenue recorded in gaming. Today it’s estimated the Spanish gamble well over 1.9 billion euros per year, which is equal to around 480 euros per person – 15% of household income.

Click here for the Original article

Brexit – explained

Brexit is an oncoming reality.  Have you thought more as a Spanish person, or more on what that would mean to the British person?  There are quite a few Spanish people working and living there, or vice-versa, British living in Spain.  What does this all mean to them?

Many comments I’ve heard have to do with “whose fault it was”… thinking that it was the young vote who “brought this on”.

This video:

Brexit, explained at a fast pace, including explanations of the process and exactly where they are at and what it means, and what is to be expected (so far).

I suggest that you take the time and print out the transcription, check out the interesting vocabulary, and watch the video a few times.  This is a fast pace, even if English was your first language, so please, do not get frustrated.

Suggestions on how to listen:

  • Lower level:  Print out the trancription, underline key vocabulary.  Listen to the video and detect when those words are said, underlining as you go.
  • Mid – high level:  Read the transcription once through, at a normal pace, not looking up vocabulary.  After doing so, write down some pertinent questions.  These questions can be related to the text, or about things that you are not sure if you read or not, searching for information.
    • Listen to the video without the transcript, looking for this information.
    • The second time around, listen with the trancript, stopping when necessary.
  • High level: listen and enjoy. After having heard it once, write down some questions for yourself, and listen again.  See how you do.








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so it seems that after months of
negotiations the UK has finally reached
an agreement with the EU negotiators
Teresa may present the deal to her
cabinet the reaction was well let’s say
mixed the proposed deal passed through
cabinet but not without casualties
dominic Rob and Esther McVeigh resigned
from their cabinet positions as a result
of May’s deal before we get him the
contents of the deal let’s quickly cover
what will happen to the deal now it’s
been agreed to by EU and UK negotiators
which is the first step then it was
agreed to by Mae’s cabinet the second
step now it needs to be approved by the
EU summit which is set to take place on
the 25th of November then it will need
to pass through the UK’s House of
Commons likelies happen in the beginning
of December we discussed if it will pass
through the house and another one of our
videos and next week we’re set to
release a video on what will likely
happen at the EU summit so subscribe to
make sure you’re kept up-to-date when
that video comes out so what’s actually
in May’s plan what would it mean for the
UK post break set the document dives
into three key aspects of the deal the
financial settlement between the UK and
the EU the rights of UK citizens in the
EU and EU citizens in the UK and the way
that they’re going to prevent a hard
border between the Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland
despite the document being very lengthy
of 585 pages only 7 pages have spent
discussing the future trading
relationship between the EU and UK the
full negotiations of future trade is
still yet to come so the brevity of this
section isn’t exactly surprising let’s
start with an area probably caused the
most problems to the UK and EU
negotiators the border between Ireland
and Northern Ireland I know we’ve talked
about this in a lot of other videos but
let me just cover the background quickly
for more than 30 years there was
conflict at the border between Ireland
and Northern Ireland with unionists and
nationalists fighting for the future of
their nations nationalists wanted to see
Northern Ireland become independent from
the UK while unionists were in favour of
Northern Ireland remaining in the United
Kingdom this conflict continued until
1998 when both sides reached a
the result of the compromise is the Good
Friday Agreement
this deal meant that Northern Ireland
remained part of the UK however Northern
Irish citizens were allowed to hold both
British and Irish citizenship on top of
this the deal permitted the Northern
Irish to leave the UK and join Island in
the future this deal was designed to
keep both sides happy with the
Nationalists being able to gain Irish
citizenship and unionists satisfied that
Northern Ireland was remaining within
the UK the result of the Good Friday
Agreement was that hard borders and
crossing points became a thing of the
the border became more open and people
and goods were able to pass freely
between nations without checks or
borders post brexit that could be set to
change that’s because back in January
2017 may declare that the UK would leave
both the single market and Customs Union
no longer with the Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland be fellow EU nation
sharing common rules and tariffs
instead the border between the two would
be an outer EU border so how does May
proposed resolving this issue well the
deal assumes a comprehensive free trade
agreement will be signed between the EU
and UK’s between March 29 2019 when the
UK actually leaves the EU and the end of
the transition phase at the end of 2020
this means that the free trade agreement
doesn’t need to come into force until
January 2021 as the transition phase is
set to continue until December 31st 2020
during the transition phase the UK will
continue to follow au rules and customs
regulations meaning that while we’re in
the transition phase the border can stay
open as the UK and EU will continue
following the same rules it’s only at
the end of the transition period when
the UK no longer has to follow EU rules
that the whole Northern Ireland border
issue comes back
therefore the EU and UK are hoping to
reach a trade agreement before March
2021 to ensure that the transition can
end and that a hard border doesn’t need
to return now this might just sound like
them kicking the problem down the road
after all they’ve had two and a half
years to reach a deal on leaving was to
say that in the 21 months after the UK
leaves the EU they’ll be able to reach a
free trade agreement because of this
exact issue the EU insisted on having a
backstop in place if there were no
backstop Ireland would still be in the
EU and Northern Ireland would leave
meaning that a hard border would likely
long time the EU suggested a backstop
agreement which left Northern Ireland in
the EU customs union part of the single
market and within the EU svey AC system
until a final deal is reached this would
mean that until a free trade deal is
reached between the UK and EU Northern
Ireland would remain close to the EU and
as such there wouldn’t be any need for a
hard border however May rejected this
deal as it’s only Northern Ireland who
staying close to the EU essentially
shifting the border into the Irish Sea
the concern that many Brits have is this
could potentially damage the overall
Union and could be a step towards
Northern Ireland leaving the UK
altogether the UK’s counteroffer was
that the entirety of the UK would remain
in the customs union instead of just
Northern Ireland a proposal which the EU
rejected both sides ended up reaching a
compromise in the proposed deal the EU
accepted that the entirety of the UK
would remain in the EU customs union
until the end of the transition period
and the UK accepted but they weren’t
allowed to leave until the EU said so
essentially the backstop and Mays deal
means that the whole of the UK stays in
the EU customs union unless and until
the EU agrees that the UK leaving won’t
result in a hard border
this essentially continues the
transition period indefinitely with the
deal rather ominously noting that the
Joint Committee could make a decision
extending the transition period up to
the 31st of December 20xx that’s not a
they simply mean that the transition
period could be extended until the end
of the century while the UK is in this
transition period the agreement requires
that the UK observed level playing field
commitments which means that they have
to stay in alignment with the EU on
competition and state aid as well as
employment and environmental standards
tax and the rulings of the European
Court of Justice okay so you clicked on
a video about trees and Mays deal and
all I’ve done so far is bang on about
how hard it will be for May to pass a
deal backstops and there’s three of the
border surely there can’t be so little
in those 585 pages but I’m forced to pad
this much pad so much in fact that I’m
getting introspective about the fact
that I’m padding so let’s write over
some of the other key points the UK has
agreed in the proposed bill to pay the
EU a 39 billion pound divorce settlement
I discussed the reasons behind a divorce
settlement at length
in another video but essentially the
payment comes in two parts payments
towards the –use budget and outstanding
commitments in 2014 the UK agreed to pay
towards the –use budget until the end
of the current budgeting period in 2020
so some of the divorce settlement goes
towards keeping this promise the UK has
also agreed to fund a large number of EU
projects the divorce payment means that
the UK is continuing to pay what it
promised initially as long as the
project in question is completed before
2030 this means that the UK could
continue paying for projects taking
place in the EU long after leaving
however the reverse is also true with EU
nations forced to contribute what they
promised to pay towards EU projects
based in the UK the rights of EU
citizens in the UK and UK citizens in
the EU seem to be fully protected by
May’s proposed deal which isn’t
surprising considering the UK and EU
have agreed on this for months
EU citizens will be allowed to move to
the UK and until the end of the
transition currently set for 2020
they’ll be allowed to live and work in
the UK and if they stay for five
consecutive years they’ll be allowed to
stay in the UK permanently the same is
true for UK citizens living in the EU
the UK is set to continue stockpiling
medicines without a trade deal in place
the UK can’t rely on the fact they’ll be
able to continue importing medicines
from the EU post brexit so as a
precautionary measure the UK will
probably continue stockpiling drugs the
NHS also will be hit by the loss of EU
staff while EU staff in the UK can apply
to become permanent residents as we just
discussed it’s possible that many won’t
do this and will end up returning to the
EU financial services are incredibly
important to UK with a large percentage
of the UK’s GDP coming from that sector
currently UK companies are able to work
with EU clients using pass porting
rights essentially pass sporting rights
allow UK banks to operate in EU nations
without having to set up subsidiaries in
each country the proposed deal only
gives London’s financial centre basic
access to EU markets known as
equivalents falling short of the access
granted by pass porting rights
equivalents means that countries can
only do business with the EU if the
European Commission determines that
their regulations and standards of the
country are close enough to the EU
this isn’t ideal considering that the
rights of equivalents can be revoked
with just 30 days notice also there’s no
real legal agreement on what constitutes
equivalents so it’s likely that a
commission will force the UK to accept
standards it doesn’t like in order to
remain equivalent
this is especially worrying for sectors
where equivalence isn’t accepted or
recognized as a concept of EU law sex is
including the commercial banking
industry and primary insurance the
financial conduct authority said that if
the UK loses past sporting rights UK
banks could lose up to 9 billion pounds
which would have ripple effects through
the economy and employment when it comes
to travel free movement of people will
end meaning UK citizens will no longer
have the right to move or work the EU
countries without a visa the same
applies to EU citizens coming to the UK
despite this visa-free travel will allow
Brits to visit the EU without the need
for a visa and vice-versa
the deal doesn’t make clear what will
happen to UK universities after 2020
universities in the UK currently benefit
from EU research funding but this is set
to stop when the UK leaves the EU the
deal sets out no provisions related to
this so we don’t currently know what
will happen to UK university funding or
to the EU students and academics
currently at UK unis know brexit video
will be complete without talking about
farming or fish the UK says that when it
leaves the EU it will become an
independent coastal states this means
that the UK will be consulted on fishing
opportunities and invited to comment on
EU fishery policies the new plan likely
means that the UK would be allowed to
choose who has access to their waters
and as such the UK probably won’t allow
the EU to continue freely accessing its
waters however some have complained the
proposed deal lacks clarity with the
Scottish fishing industry saying that
the deal isn’t clear enough this should
be concerning to me as the 13 Scottish
Conservative MPs have said that they
vote against any bill which doesn’t meet
the needs of the Scottish fishing
industry for farming the deal sets the
UK up to leave the Common Agricultural
Policy in March 2019 the future
agricultural relationship between the UK
and EU will then be arranged during the
transition phase in Parliament on
Tuesday Theresa May said that
negotiations had not been a comfortable
and neither the UK or EU were totally
happy with the deal the question is if
both sides are happy enough with the
deal for it to pass to the EU summit and
on to Parliament to stay up to date with
the latest developments in brexit
subscribe to TLDR news this video was
brought to you by our patreon backers to
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Elderly couple wins big and the reaction is priceless

This is the “million dollar question”… and it’s great for level testing in English, so, I’ve heard quite a few responses.  MUCH to my surprise… when I interview a group of people who happen to work in a bank… well, what do you think, are their responses similar?  AS a matter of fact, they are.  And I must say, quite similar to what this elderly couple has done, with a few differences.

When I use this for level testing – I’m looking for your use of the conditional.  This is the classic 2nd condition, which seems to be so difficult for most.  The use of the past to speak about something hypothetical.  hmmm.

Try using this model, and let’s see your responses.  I’m not looking for honesty, I’m looking for a good laugh, or creativity, or just a good conversation.

What would you do if you won two million Euros?

If I won (past simple) to million Euros, I would go (would + infinitive without to) on a trip around the world.  

NOW I’VE USED THAT ANSWER – so you can’t!  Please… try and not repeat previous answers 🙂


Suggestions for more comment:  comment on the Banfield’s reaction to their win.  The vocab is actually quite good for practice!


Link to original article in the Mirror:  Britain’s oldest lottery winners are staying put in house they bought for £2,000


Text for original article:

EXCLUSIVE Dennis Banfield, 87, and wife Shirley, 83, who scooped an £18million jackpot, have been married for 60 years and lived in the same house in Winterbourne, Glos, for most of them.

They could have bought a mansion, but Britain’s oldest lottery winners are returning to their modest home of 57 years – after spending four months living in a budget hotel.

Dennis Banfield, 87, and wife Shirley, 83, have been married for 60 years and lived in the same house for most of them.

They scooped an £18million jackpot in February, but rather than move into a plush new pad, the couple have opted to renovate their family home.

They brought up their two daughters there after buying the property in 1961 – when the average house in Winterbourne, Glos, cost just £2,000.

Speaking outside the hotel yesterday, the couple said they are looking forward to moving back into their home before Christmas.

Shirley said: “We decided to stay in the house and just have the whole of the inside of it completely redone.

“We’ve been there for 57 years now. We know the area, the house is not overlooked, it’s got a lovely big driveway.

“We’ve gone back to see it as it’s been done up.

“There’s still a bit of a way to go on it, but we’re hoping to move back in within the next fortnight – we’ll definitely be back in in time for Christmas.”

The three-bed property has a current estimated market value of £316,000.

The front garden is still full of fittings that have been torn out for the renovations and a large skip in the front garden is full of plasterboard – with a decorator’s van and a skip parked outside.

But the generous couple, who have given away a lot of their winnings to charity, revealed they are simply looking forward to moving back and spending a quiet Christmas at home with family.

That includes their daughters – with whom they split their lottery winnings.

The elderly couple also revealed they had told Tina, 55, and Karen, 52, that they always played for them, to secure their future.

The Banfields split the money three ways, Tina and Karen getting just over £6million each, with Dennis and Shirley keeping the remaining third for themselves.

Shirley said: “They have both bought new houses with their share of the money. It means a lot to us to know they are looked after.”

As to their own share, Shirley explained: “We’ve given a lot of it away in lump sums.

“We’ve been able to give to the cancer units, to the children’s hospital, as well as helping out our community in Winterbourne – and giving to the chapel and the community association.

“I wouldn’t say the money has changed us – it’s only prompted us to better other people.

“We can’t exactly go jetting off on a round-the-world adventure at our age.”

However, when the couple won the £18,139,352 jackpot in February, Dennis had to wipe away tears of joy as his family revealed it was he who had bought the ticket form his local shop.

Dennis, who worked for 40 years at South Western Electricity Board, said at the time: “All that has ever mattered to Shirley and I is that the girls are OK. To know they are, is a wonderful feeling.”

He added: “While I didn’t think I would be interested in a new car, it is rather tempting.

“Although, with my dodgy knee, I might need to get a chauffeur to go with the car.”

Meanwhile, the search for the winner of a £76million lotto prize is intensifying, with just days to go till the 5pm Sunday deadline.

The winning ticket was bought in the Boston and Skegness region of Lincolnshire for the November 2 draw.


Numeracy Skills – the basics

Link to original article

Is there much of a difference between generations of people you know?  When I first came to Spain, I was impressed about the general skills that most anybody had concerning math, culture, language.  It seemed to be like a very sound and broad education.  I’m not quite sure I still think the same.  Read on and lets comment!

Numeracy Skills Count

Improved numeracy skills lead to better paid jobs, greater well-being and a less stressful life.

Numeracy skills are not just for scientists, accountants and the tax man, many professions require at least a basic level of understanding when it comes to numeracy and mathematics. Take some time to develop your numeracy skills – it’s never too late to learn.

Chris Humphries, Chairman of National Numeracy, talking to the BBC said:

It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say ‘I can’t do maths.’”

He continued to suggest that many people cannot get jobs because they struggle to read graphs and interpret documents, while plumbers may find it difficult to do the necessary calculations to install a boiler and as a result lose income.

Careers New Zealand suggests that basic numeracy, needed for the workforce, should include:

  • Counting quantities for a customer.
  • The use of percentages and subtraction when giving a discount.
  • Using division when calculating costs per head.
  • Measuring the area of shapes.
  • Calculating fuel consumption.
  • Understanding tables in reports and interpreting graphs.

It may come as a surprise that almost half of the working-age population (17 million) of England have numeracy skills equivalent to those expected for an 11 year-old child.

This problem is not unique to England or the UK.

In Australia business leaders were asked how poor numeracy affected their businesses.  Over three-quarters of respondents said that their businesses were affected with almost 40% reporting a moderate to high effect.

In the USA over a third of all school-age American students are scoring ‘below basic’ on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Poor numeracy is a huge problem that affects people and organisations in ways that are not immediately obvious.

Adults with poor numeracy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed than those who enjoy some competency in numeracy.  Those adults with at least basic numeracy skills can expect to earn a quarter more than those who lack the necessary skills to solve basic mathematical problems.

Those with poor numeracy skills are less likely to be able to save money on day-to-day affairs, like a visit to the supermarket.

Furthermore they are less likely to be able to find or negotiate the best deals on financial products and therefore more likely to pay higher levels of interest on higher levels of debt.   It is well documented that debt problems can lead to stress and/or depression.  Between a third and a half of people with poor numeracy skills have a desire to improve them and less than 4% have actually attended any numeracy classes.

  • We highly recommend reading the original article (it is more extense).

Foreign Currency and Exchange

The world of foreign currency often seems confusing.  Euro, rubles, yen and krona are terms difficult enough to comprehend on their own without adding the task of trying to figure out what each is worth in terms of United States dollars.

All of these currencies are money, so all serve the same functions.  Money is a medium of exchange, a store of value and a measure of value.

As a medium of exchange, money is accepted as a means for purchasing goods and services.  Both the consumer and producer agree to the form of money.

As a store of value, money can be saved for future use, a characteristic that many items used as barter goods did not have.  Where crops would spoil or animals die, money lasts for a long period of time.

As a measure of value, money allows us to compare the worth of one object with the worth of another.  We can say a car is worth so many dollars, and a CD is worth so many dollars.

Foreign currencies all serve the same three functions.

Now to the important question: How do we know how much any currency is worth?  The simple answer is that money is worth whatever people are willing to exchange for it.  This means it is simply a case of supply and demand.  If there is little demand for a country’s currency and it is in large supply, the money will be worth less than if there is a high demand for it and a small supply.

As an example, if the United States buys more imports, there is a greater supply of U.S. dollars outside the country.  As the supply increases, each dollar is worthless.  Thus we say the money is devalued.  If, on the other hand, there are relatively few U.S. dollars outside the country and/or many foreigners want U.S. currency, each dollar will be worth more.

Currency values and exchanges are usually made at currency markets.  These are places where countries and banks can find out relative values of different currencies.  Each day the values change,  and often change several times during a single day.  In the past, currency values were set at a rate and maintained for a period of time.  Now supply and demand allow constant fluctuations.

The situation of foreign exchange is eased somewhat because many financial deals are calculated in United States dollars. At present, approximately 70% of all international trade is invoiced in United States dollars, because business people have found this practice easier.  A hundred years ago when the British pound was the most important currency in the world, almost all transactions were recorded in British pounds.


Markets – Markets exist when buyers and sellers interact.  This interaction determines market prices and thereby allocates scarce goods and services.

  • An exchange rate is the price of one nation’s currency in terms of another nation’s currency.  Like other prices, exchange rates are determined by the forces of supply and demand.  Foreign exchange markets allocate international currencies.

Money – Money makes it easier to trade, borrow, save, invest, and compare the value of goods and services.

  • Money is anything widely accepted as final payment for goods and services.
  • People consume goods and services, not money; money is useful primarily because it can be used to buy goods and services.
  • Most countries create their own currency for use as money.


Copyright © 2001, Revised 2006 The Foundation for Teaching Economics

Permission granted to photocopy for classroom use

click to original source



How Exactly does binary code work?

Click to original lesson (Ted Ed)

*Trancription below!

The vocabulary and thought with this video allows you to explore new conversations or pathways, using the same constructions that you would with your normal conversations and economic material.

Go ahead and see how much you understand without reading the transcript.

Remember, try answering the questions that you yourself make (who, what, where, when, why, how…?) before watching the video.

After watching for the first time, actually write some questions down to do with material that you should listen for the next time.

I’m quite sure you will be surprised with the results… you can do it!

Additional Resources for you to Explore

The binary system used in computers is a numeric system, like the decimal that we use in our day-to-day lives. The only difference between them is that the decimal uses ten symbols to represent numbers (0 to 9), while binary uses only two (0 and 1). This page has an interesting parallel between the two systems, including the representation of rational numbers. This lesson illustrates how the binary system is used, along with other numeric systems. In decimal systems, we know that any number can be represented—you just add digits as the represented number gets bigger. Hence, a system with “only” ten symbols is enough to represent virtually infinite possibilities. Binary works the exact same way: if you need to represent more information, you can add extra bits to your memory. However, using systems with less symbols is not easy: a number represented in binary requires around three times more digits to be written than its decimal representation.

Wouldn’t it be better to use the widespread decimal system then? Actually, we use binary computers because binary devices are easier to implement than “decimal devices.” Currently, a computer’s central processing units (CPU) are made of electrical components called “transistors.” Check out this lesson to see how transistors are made, how they operate, and how they have changed in the last century. Binary can also be implemented in multiple other ways. An optical fiber transmits data encoded in pulses of light, while hard disks store information using magnetic fields. You can check several examples of binary devices, even solutions that use more than one transistor to implement a single bit, here. The choice of which technology will be used depends specifically on each application and the most important parameters are cost, speed, size, and robustness.

Now that we know how to build devices that can represent numbers, we can expand their scope by mapping those numbers to a set of interest. A set of interest can be literally anything, such as letters in the alphabet or colors in a palette.

The effort to encode letters with industry standards began in the 1960s, when the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) was developed. This encoding used 7 bits, which were mapped to the English letters and special characters. The values corresponding to each symbol are here. As computers became more popular worldwide, the need for tables containing more symbols emerged. Nowadays, the most used encoding is the UTF-8, which was created in 1993 and maps more than one million symbols to binary, including characters in all known alphabets and even emojis. You can navigate through the UTF-8 table here. In this encoding, each character can take one to four bytes to be represented, as shown in the first table here.

Colors are also mapped to binary sequences. Besides the RGB system, other systems were conceived to represent colors. The HSL system also uses three components to represent colors: hue, which varies from 0 to 360, with the color “red” being mapped to 0, “green” to 120 and “blue” to 240; saturation, which is the intensity of the colored component; and lightness, the “white level” of the color. The CMYK uses four components, corresponding to the levels of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in the pixel. This system is called “subtractive,” which means that, as a component gets larger, the pixel emits less light. It is very convenient for printers, where the ink acts as a “filter” for the white canvas of the paper. In this paragraph, the name of each color system has a link to interactive panels that allow you to see the colors corresponding to each possible encoding. If you want to see how those systems compare with each other, check this website.

It is possible to reduce the number of bits without losing information, optimizing data transmission or storage. Strategies that perform compression include the run-length encoding, the Lempel-Ziv algorithm, and the Huffman coding. The Lempel-Ziv algorithm replaces repeated patterns in the data with a token. Both the token and the pattern are added to the compressed file, so the decoder can accurately rebuild the original file. Although this post’s discussion is not related to binary, it illustrates the Lempel-Ziv algorithm. The Huffman coding counts the number of occurrences of symbols in the file and creates a new binary encoding for each one of those symbols. Symbols that are more frequent receive a shorter binary sequence, reducing the size of the file. The ZIP files are created by using a combination of those algorithms.

Binary is a way to represent information like any other language. Engineers use international standards to attribute meaning to states of binary devices; they are able to represent letters, colors and even sounds. Just as a painting of pipe is not the pipe itself, the meaning of each bit is not embedded in itself, but in the program that reads it.

About TED

Guided Discussion from Ted Talks:

  1. Can you explain why a binary encoding of a number has around three times more digits than its decimal representation?
  2. What are the advantages and limitations of using the binary system?
  3. How can technology aid in the development of ethics?
  4. Are technological developments and ethics development independent?


Transcription English:

Imagine trying to use words to describe every scene in a film,

every note in your favorite song,

or every street in your town.

Now imagine trying to do it using only the numbers 1 and 0.

Every time you use the Internet to watch a movie,

listen to music,

or check directions,

that’s exactly what your device is doing,

using the language of binary code.

Computers use binary because it’s a reliable way of storing data.

For example, a computer’s main memory is made of transistors

that switch between either high or low voltage levels,

such as 5 volts and 0 volts.

Voltages sometimes oscillate, but since there are only two options,

a value of 1 volt would still be read as “low.”

That reading is done by the computer’s processor,

which uses the transistors’ states to control other computer devices

according to software instructions.

The genius of this system is that a given binary sequence

doesn’t have a pre-determined meaning on its own.

Instead, each type of data is encoded in binary

according to a separate set of rules.

Let’s take numbers.

In normal decimal notation,

each digit is multiplied by 10 raised to the value of its position,

starting from zero on the right.

So 84 in decimal form is 4×10⁰ + 8×10¹.

Binary number notation works similarly,

but with each position based on 2 raised to some power.

So 84 would be written as follows:

Meanwhile, letters are interpreted based on standard rules like UTF-8,

which assigns each character to a specific group of 8-digit binary strings.

In this case, 01010100 corresponds to the letter T.

So, how can you know whether a given instance of this sequence

is supposed to mean T or 84?

Well, you can’t from seeing the string alone

– just as you can’t tell what the sound “da” means from hearing it in isolation.

You need context to tell whether you’re hearing Russian, Spanish, or English.

And you need similar context

to tell whether you’re looking at binary numbers or binary text.

Binary code is also used for far more complex types of data.

Each frame of this video, for instance,

is made of hundreds of thousands of pixels.

In color images,

every pixel is represented by three binary sequences

that correspond to the primary colors.

Each sequence encodes a number

that determines the intensity of that particular color.

Then, a video driver program transmits this information

to the millions of liquid crystals in your screen

to make all the different hues you see now.

The sound in this video is also stored in binary,

with the help of a technique called pulse code modulation.

Continuous sound waves are digitized

by taking “snapshots” of their amplitudes every few milliseconds.

These are recorded as numbers in the form of binary strings,

with as many as 44,000 for every second of sound.

When they’re read by your computer’s audio software,

the numbers determine how quickly the coils in your speakers should vibrate

to create sounds of different frequencies.

All of this requires billions and billions of bits.

But that amount can be reduced through clever compression formats.

For example, if a picture has 30 adjacent pixels of green space,

they can be recorded as “30 green” instead of coding each pixel separately –

a process known as run-length encoding.

These compressed formats are themselves written in binary code.

So is binary the end-all-be-all of computing?

Not necessarily.

There’s been research into ternary computers,

with circuits in three possible states,

and even quantum computers,

whose circuits can be in multiple states simultaneously.

But so far, none of these has provided

as much physical stability for data storage and transmission.

So for now, everything you see,


and read through your screen

comes to you as the result of a simple “true” or “false” choice,

made billions of times over.


Transcription Spanish:

Traductor: Sonia Escudero Sánchez Revisor: Sebastian Betti

Imagina usar palabras para describir cada escena de un film,

cada nota de tu canción favorita,

o cada calle de tu ciudad.

Ahora imagina hacerlo usando solo los números 1 y 0.

Cada vez que usamos Internet para ver una película,

escuchar música,

o comprobar direcciones,

eso es exactamente lo que hace tu dispositivo,

al usar el lenguaje del código binario.

Los ordenadores usan el binario por ser una forma fiable de almacenar datos.

Por ejemplo, la memoria principal del ordenador está hecha de transistores

que cambia de niveles altos a bajos de voltaje,

como 5 voltios y 0 voltios.

Los voltajes a veces oscilan, pero dado que solo hay dos opciones,

un valor de 1 voltio sería aún considerado “bajo”.

El procesador del ordenador lleva a cabo la lectura

mediante los estados del transistor para controlar los dispositivos informáticos

siguiendo las instrucciones del software.

Lo brillante de este sistema es que la secuencia binaria dada

no tiene un significado predeterminado por sí sola.

Al contrario, cada tipo de datos está codificado en binario

siguiendo un conjunto independiente de normas.

Tomemos los números.

En una notación decimal normal,

cada dígito se multiplica por 10 elevado a su posición,

empezando por el 0 a su derecha.

Así 84 en forma decimal es 4×10⁰ + 8×10¹

La notación de un número binario funciona de forma similar,

pero cada posición basada en 2 elevado a una potencia.

Así que 84 sería escrito como sigue:

Mientras tanto, las letras son interpretadas según el estándar UTF-8,

que asigna cada caracter a un grupo específico de 8 dígitos binarios.

En este caso, 01010100 corresponde a la letra T.

Pero, ¿cómo puede saber si una instancia dada en esta secuencia

significaría T o 84?

Bueno, no puedes viendo la secuencia por separado

como no puedes saber qué significa el sonido “da” por sí solo.

Necesitas un contexto para decir si escuchas ruso, español o inglés.

Y necesitas un contexto similar

para saber si estás mirando un número o texto binario.

El código binario también se usa en formas más complejas de datos.

Cada fotograma de este video, por ejemplo,

está hecho de cientos de millones de píxeles.

En las imágenes a color,

cada pixel está representado por tres secuencias binarias

que corresponden a los colores primarios.

Cada secuencia codifica un número

que determina la intensidad de ese color en particular.

Entonces, un driver de vídeo transmite esta información

a los millones de cristales líquidos de tu pantalla

para crear los diferentes tonos que ahora ves.

El sonido del vídeo también está almacenado en binario,

con la ayuda de una técnica llamada modulación por impulsos codificados.

Las ondas de sonido continuas se digitalizan

tomando “instantáneas” de sus amplitudes cada pocos milisegundos.

Estos se registran como número en forma de cadenas binarias,

con hasta 44 000 por cada segundo de sonido.

Cuando el software de audio del ordenador las lee

los números determinan cómo vibran los altavoces

para crear sonidos en diferentes frecuencias.

Todo ello requiere miles de millones de bits.

Pero puede reducirse esa cantidad con formatos de compresión inteligente.

Por ejemplo, si una imagen tiene 30 píxeles adyacentes en un espacio verde,

se puede grabar “30 verde” en lugar de separar cada pixel por separado,

un proceso conocido como codificación RLE.

Estos formatos comprimidos también están escritos en código binario.

¿Así que el binario es el punto final de la informática?

No necesariamente.

Ha habido investigaciones sobre ordenadores ternarios,

con circuitos en 3 posibles estados,

e incluso ordenadores cuánticos,

cuyos circuitos pueden estar en múltiples estados en simultáneo.

Pero hasta ahora, ninguno ha dado

tanta estabilidad física para el almacenamiento y transmisión de datos.

Por ahora, todo lo que ves,


y lees en tu pantalla

es el resultado de una elección simple de “verdadero” o “falso”,

hecha miles de millones de veces.


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