Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites To Learn About The U.S. Financial Crisis


I obviously believe using resources found on the Internet can be a very useful tool for student learning. However, the financial crisis now occurring in the United States (and which affects the entire world), I believe, is an exception.

None of the sites on The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners list and none of the other links on my website under News have even attempted to explain what”s going on in the financial markets in any kind of accessible way or, even any way at all.

This may be because it’s too complicated for them to explain, or this week’s events have just happened to quickly for them to respond. If it’s the second reason, perhaps this week we’ll see some new resources out there.

So I’ve been looking for some resources that are accessible to me so I can develop an accessible classroom lesson for my English Language Learner students.  And, even with that change, I haven’t been able to find much.

The best ones I’ve found are:

MSNBC has several good, short online videos, particularly one on What Brought The U.S. Economy To The Brink. You can also see and play other good video clips on the same page.

The New York Times has a series of interactive features on The Debt Trap. On the lower right of the screen you’ll see “Series Index.” When you click on that, links to all the different parts of the series show-up.

The N.Y. Times also has a nice infographic called A Year of Heavy Losses that shows that magnitude of money lost by lenders, though it doesn’t explain why.

In addition, the same paper has an online timeline called How A Market Crisis Unfolded.

Time Magazine has a good article entitled How Financial Madness Overtook Wall Street. Again, it’s not accessible to ELL’s, but it does have good background information for teachers preparing lessons.

Please let me know when you find other good sites for teachers or students to learn what in the world is going on with our economy these days.

I might have found a good explanation that might be accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.  However, I can’t figure out how I can make it legible to students. What’s Next: Innovations In Newspapers highlighted a one page comic strip developed by the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper.

However, I can’t figure out how I can easily enlarge it so students can see the words clearly. Any suggestions out there?

CBBC Newsround has “delivered” with a short and simple article entitled World Caught In Huge Cash Crisis.

How To Explain The 2008 Financial Crisis To Your Kids (And Most Adults) is a short video from “Say It Visually.” A closed-caption version, which the link in this post leads to, is available on

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a good infographic called Anatomy Of A Meltdown.

All of the resources I have listed here so far do just that — try to explain why we’re in our financial crisis.

I’m adding a new web tool into that mix that’s a little different (and California-centric).  It’s an online interactive from the Sacramento Bee that, with very little teacher guidance, English Language Learners can see how the downturn is affecting different regions in the Central Valley — including our own.

It’s called The Economy At A Glance.

Our students don’t really need help in seeing how it’s affecting their lives since they experience added financial hardships everyday. However, this kind of graphic begins to provide them with a slightly bigger picture.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Don’t know if this is useful for you, but this morning’s Washington Post had a KidsPost on the economy as an election issue:

  2. Here are some explanations of various aspects of the history and effects of the crisis that students might find helpful:

    First, some programs on PRI’s program “Marketplace”:
    * “Financial Crisis 101: CDOs explained” (3 Oct 08) — . That’s the transcript. The video calls itself “Uncorking CDOs,” and can be found at .
    * “Untangling Credit Default Swaps” (8 Oct 08) —
    * Ron Settle’s third period econ class featured on “Econ class is now in session” —
    Marketplace’s Tess Vigeland wraps up her “Road to Ruin?” trip in St. Louis, where she sits in with a group of high school students as they learn about the economic crisis.

    Here’s another worth a look:
    * Ira Glass (“This American Life”): “Another Frightening Show about the Economy” —

    Students may also find it interesting to look at a particular controversy that developed in the context of efforts to mobilize voters in the coming elections:
    “Private Sector Loans, Not Fannie or Freddie, Triggered Crisis” —
    David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers: “As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail. Commentators say that’s what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They’ve specifically targeted the m*rtg*ge finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial problems. Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren’t true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.”

    Finally, there are a number of programs on PRI’s “The Story” series that offer different windows on the run-up to and fall-out from the crisis. Students might find these personal stories both interest-grabbing and stimulating of curiosity and insight. Start at the first page of the Archive — — and be mindful that there are several successive pages with narratives and interviews that relate to the current situation.

  3. Pingback: Good vid on econ crisis | Reflections on Teaching

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