Here are some exercises for Canadian and American English language learners to prepare for the real world task of asking for change.
Start by making sentences used in asking for change. (Click on the image below to download this worksheet.)
Brainstorm with students what they may need change for: a washing machine, a parking meter, a bus, a shopping cart, a pay phone and a vending machine are common answers.
Here is the Canadian worksheet with the answer YES. (Click on it to view it large on your computer and download it.)
Click on the flag for the American version of the worksheet with the answer YES.
Here is the Canadian worksheet with the answer NO. Click on the image below.
Click on the flag for the American version of the worksheet with the answer NO.
Once students have mastered these dialogues in class, they may be ready to leave the classroom and practice asking for change in the real world. I take students to a gas station convenience store. I approach the clerks first to ask if they are willing to assist in the activity. I assure them we will move aside if customers enter. I provide lots of change for the clerks, so they are not required to give away change. I exchange my coins for the clerk’s bills and hand them to the students.
Students often tell me that their hearts are racing before they head up to the counter. What a feeling of success when they return with correct change! For many of them, it’s the first time they have used English in a real life setting to accomplish a task. It’s a memorable activity that brings the classroom study into a practical, useful context.