Bailout for Greece while Portugal Struggles (Upper-Intermediate News Lesson)

With Answers! | Download the ESL Lesson plan here: Greece-Portugal-Bailout-UppIntermediate-06072011.doc

Greece ESL News Lesson Plan: Warm-up

  1. What do you think of when you hear the names of these countries: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain?
  2. When do you plan to retire?
  3. Have you lent money to a friend or family member? Did you get it back?
  4. Have there been strikes in your country recently? Why?
  5. What is the stereotype of people from your country?

Bailout for Greece while Portugal Struggles (July 6th, 2011)

Greece - The Greek government has recently approved an austerity plan to help the country get out of debt. This plan calls for pay cuts for Greek public workers, stricter tax compliance, and toughened eligibility for disability benefits. These changes are in addition to a sales tax increase, pension cuts, and a hike in retirement age (from 61 to 65), which were required to qualify for a $156 billion bailout package last year. Angered citizens took to the streets last week to protest. Many of them blame rich tax-dodgers for their nation's economic problems. Strikes from angry public workers were also held across the country.

The approval of the new austerity plan qualifies Greece to receive $17 billion dollars of assistance. This money should allow the country to operate until the end of 2011, after which, it is unclear whether it will be able to avoid defaulting on its loans.

Portugal — The situation in Portugal, another country that received a bailout along with Ireland and Greece, may be worsening. A recent rating of Portugal's credit by Moody's Investment Services suggests the country may need a second bailout.

PIIGS — The financial acronym PIGS referring to Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain has become PIIGS to include Ireland. This acronym, considered pejorative by Portugal's Finance Minister, continues to fill news headlines as the economic struggle continues in Europe. (225)


Greece ESL News Lesson Plan: Comprehension Questions

1)    What did Greece do to get its new $17 billion loan?
2)    Who do many Greek protesters blame for their problems?
3)    According to Moody's Investment Services, how has the situation changed in Portugal?
4)    What does the term PIIGS refer to?
1 - It passed a new austerity package requiring pay cuts for public workers and changes to disability benefits and tax compliance rules.
2 - They blame the rich, who avoid paying taxes.
3 - It has become worse. The rating of Portugal's credit has worsened.
4 - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Greece ESL News Lesson Plan : Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
hike (verb)
dodge (verb)
default on sth (verb)
  • austerity - a poor economic condition
  • compliance - agreement, conformity
  • eligibility - qualification, entitlement
  • pension - money for retirees
  • hike - increase suddenly or largely
  • bailout - emergency financial help
  • dodge - avoid, escape
  • default on sth - fail to pay back although legally required
  • acronym - word formed from the first letters of words
  • pejorative - insulting, abusive, derogatory

Greece ESL News Lesson Plan: Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
austerity / plan / government
compliance / law
eligibility / pension/ 65
hike / taxes
Portugal / bailout
dodge / arrow
loan / default
A.I.D.S. / acronym
minister / consider / pejorative
Possible answers
  • The government has passed a new austerity plan in Greece.
  • The government requires all companies to be in compliance with the new tax law.
  • Eligibility for pension begins at age 65 in many countries.
  • After the government hiked taxes, people started to protest.
  • Portugal may be in need of another bailout.
  • The cowboy dodged the arrow shot by the Indian chief.
  • A.I.D.S. is an acronym that stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
  • The minister of Portugal considers the PIIGS acronym pejorative.

Greece ESL News Lesson Plan: Two Opinions

#1 - David, Brookline, MA, on Greece
“A few Greek friends I know depend on their girlfriends to support them. They once said, "why do people work so hard?" when they saw people in other countries work from 9 to 5. They also said that after a long lunch in Greece, they may or may not return for work in the afternoon. Greeks are lazy. When I went there on vacation, people were just sitting around drinking ouzo.”
Do you agree with the above opinion? Why or why not?
#2 - Josh on Public Workers: “For some reason public workers seem to think they should be protected from the dangers private workers face, for example, lowered salaries or cuts when a company is having problems, being fired for not performing, going above and beyond to make the customer happy, etc. The public workers who are striking are being babies.”
Do you agree with the above opinion? Why or why not?

Greece ESL News Lesson Plan: Role-Play

You and your partner(s) have been asked by the government to decide the retirement age for workers in your country. Discuss the factors that should be considered then make your decision. You must come to an agreement. When you're finished, present your plan to the class.

ESL News Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

(Write your answers in the Comments section below if you wish).

1)    What do you think will happen in Greece in the next year?
2)    What do you think is the best way to deal with the problems in Greece?
3)    Work Hours: Can countries that have a shorter workweek stay competitive?
4)    Stereotyping: Do national stereotypes hold any truth? If so, how much?
5)    Retirement: Should women who've had children be allowed to retire earlier?
6)    Are public jobs sought after in your country? Why or why not?



News lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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