Dan Saunders & The ATM Glitch (Upper-Intermediate Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Upper-Intermediate (B2/C1)
Lesson Topics: money, indulgence, stealing, ethics
Skill Focus: Reading, Speaking, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 2 hours
Lesson Plan Download: atm-glitch-saunders-upper-intermediate-052024.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • After warm-up questions, students read a 303-word passage that tells the fascinating story of an Australian man who withdrew 1.6 million dollars via an ATM glitch. Post-reading, students complete complete comprehension questions. Finally, students match vocabulary from the video to definitions and then form discussion questions using the target vocabulary.
  • There is one debate topic about money and happiness. After, students complete a budget sheet on what they would purchase if they had 1.6 million dollars. There is one role-play scenario involving a friend trying to convince Dan (the man who withdrew 1.6 million) to give up his unethical lifestyle.
  • Other speaking activities include an Off the Grid survival scenario and a pair-work roleplay interview for High-End Magazine.
  • After famous quotations, the lesson ends with a review of vocabulary and collocations before presenting some final discussion questions.

Money shooting out of an ATM

UPPER-INTERMEDIATE (B2/C1) Lesson on Dan Saunders & The ATM Glitch


  1. What are the most expensive items that you sometimes buy?
  2. Have you ever found money or received a large financial gift? What did you do with it?
  3. How much money do you need to be happy in life?

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This lesson plan was created by Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com (copyright). Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. ChatGPT was used to generate answer keys and some famous quotations. For questions, contact the author.

Comprehension Question Answer Key

  1. Dan discovered that by transferring funds between his credit and savings accounts during a brief window when the bank’s systems were offline, he could withdraw money that wasn’t actually debited from his account.
  2. He spent approximately 1.6 million dollars.
  3. People began to offer him investing opportunities, and women were more attracted to him.
  4. Saunders decided to stop because he felt guilty and the anxiety of living a lie took a toll on him. The consequences were that he turned himself in, was charged with obtaining money by deception, and was sentenced to a year in jail, followed by an 18-month community corrections order.

Vocabulary 1-b, 2-L, 3-a, 4-d, 5-j, 6-e, 7-g, 8-m, 9-h, 10-c, 11-I, 12-k, 13-f

Collocations 1-f, 2-I, 3-c, 4-a, 5-h, 6-g, 7-d, 8-c, 9-e

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