Teaching financial English vocabulary is one of the most difficult vocabulary topics to teach (not only to non-native speakers, but also to native speakers as well).

Any teacher attempting to teach any financial English topic (whether it be about banking, the stock market, accounts, taxes etc...) has to have an understanding of the topic and know the meaning of the vocabulary they are teaching. If they don't, they'll find it extremely difficult to teach and explain (I know from experience).

As a result, many teachers try to avoid this topic altogether in class. This would be a mistake, because for many business students this vocabulary is essential for their jobs.

To make matters worse, many of the exercises on financial English are either badly written or overly complex. Fortunately, there are some financial English exercises which have been designed to easily explain financial vocabulary and terms.

Once you find a good exercise, always read through it before the class to understand the vocabulary and terms you are going to teach. If there are any financial term you are unclear on, look for a definition of the term on the web.

To give you some ideas on financial topics you can teach your students, have a look at the list below:


Topics to teach:

Topic Levels

  • Elem: Elementary
  • Low-Int: Lower-Intermediate
  • Int: Intermediate
  • Upp-Int: Upper-Intermediate
  • Adv: Advanced

Although some topics can be taught to most business students (e.g. Basic English Financial Vocabulary or Basic Mathematics Vocabulary), others should only be taught to students or groups who have a specific need for it (because of their job (e.g. an accountant) or the type of company they work in (e.g. a bank)).

For specialised financial topics make sure (by asking them) that your students know what the vocabulary is in their own language. If they don't, it will make the vocabulary very difficult to teach.

  • Basic English Financial Vocabulary: Low-Int or Int
    Commonly used financial vocabulary connected to money and finance.
  • Basic Mathematics Vocabulary: Low-Int or Int
    Understanding vocabulary for doing calculations in English.
  • Explaining Charts and Statistics: Int or above
    How to describe trends and the parts of charts or tables in English.
  • Banking Vocabulary: Low-Int or above
    Vocabulary connected to banks and bank accounts for both business and non-business use.
  • Tax Vocabulary: Int or above
    Vocabulary connected to taxes and the names of different types. Especially useful for people involved in sales, accountancy etc...
  • Stock Market Vocabulary: Int or above
    Vocabulary connected to the buying and selling of shares and companies on the stock market.
  • Financial Documents: Upp-Int or above
    The names and vocabulary used in the different types of financial documents that companies create (e.g. profit and loss account etc...).

Teaching the vocabulary

The method you use to teach the vocabulary in class depends on the financial English topic you are teaching.

For Basic Mathematics Vocabulary and Calculations, you can just write the calculations on a white/black board and then explain their names and how we say them in English.

For the Explaining Charts and Statistics, use a more visual approach. Draw or display a chart or table from an exercise on the board and then describe them (writing down the vocabulary). After this, show another chart or table and get the students to describe it using the vocabulary they have learnt.

With the other topics, the best way is to use specially written texts where they have to work out the meaning of vocabulary/terms themselves from the context (better for understanding and remembering). Again it is important that they should already know the majority of the terms in their own language before doing it.

Practising the vocabulary

Like with teaching the vocabulary, the method you use to get the students to practise the vocabulary in class depends on the financial English topic.

For Basic Mathematics Vocabulary and Calculations, just get them to practise in pairs. One writes a calculation and the other has to read it out in English.

For the Explaining Charts and Statistics, get the students to create their own chart (better than a table) and then get them to describe it front of the other students.

It's a little more difficult to get the student to practise the other topics. With Basic English Financial Vocabulary, you can get them to either talk or write about spending, earning and saving money. With the other topics, get the students to use the vocabulary in a piece of writing from either their own personal experiences or on how things are done in their own country on the topic.