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Ministry of Education.

Money and percentage

Adapted from NZ Maths Unit Money and percentage

Adaptions for ESOL students: Pat Boyle


Year: 10

Level: 5

Duration: 2-3 weeks

Achievement objectives being assessed 

Number Level 5:

  • solve practical problems involving decimals and percentages
  • express one quantity as a percentage of another
  • increase and decrease quantities by given percentages, including mark up, discount & GST.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • explain the use of percentages in day to day living
  • explain concepts such as GST, commission, discount, bonus, net pay, gross pay, PAYE and use these concepts in applied problems

Teacher background reading


  • Newspapers
  • Card or paper for students' questions
  • Masters for student work stations or class tasks
  • For information about GST in New Zealand click on the site below to enter the NZ GST Homepage or use the quick reference summary sheet that accompanies this unit. Up-to date information about PAYE is also available at:

Teaching sequence

This unit explores the use of percentages in real-world contexts. It assumes students know how to calculate percentages, but may be unfamiliar with the term 'percentage.'

Getting started

 Revision of percentages, introduction of terms.

  1. Introduce the topic of percentages. Depending on your class this may involve a quick brainstorming session, an extended revision, or one or two directed questions.

     Two of the most important things to realise and understand when working with percentages are:

    • Percent (%) means per 100 (per century), or a fraction with the number over 100, this can be thought of by looking at the symbol. Explain that it derives from the fraction over 100, and is made up of the / and the 00 from this fraction.

      Percentage can be demonstrated with a 100 square grid. Shade a number of the squares within the grid and write the corresponding percentage figure beside it. Be sure to point out and verbally label the significant aspects.

      This demonstration is further enhanced by the use of a 100 square grid within the outline of a recognised shape, for example a bottle or cup. This illustrates that the concept of percentage is not purely hypothetical.

      With all such demonstrations, the critical aspect is the linking of models to their corresponding words and figures. The words and figures must be displayed and their relationships pointed out. The class can be led to recite these relationships aloud, fill in the space style.

    • ‘Of’ means ‘multiplied by’. 20% of 50 means 20% times 50, and since from (1) above we know that % means per 100 or a fraction over 100, 20% of 50 means 20/100 times 50, or 1000/100, which is 10.

      The 'Maths form' and the 'English Language form' of this need to be displayed one over the other to demonstrate that the 2 forms of expression refer to the same process. 20% of 50 20 over 100 multiplied by 50.

  2. Give students the PercentageWorksheet (PDF 55KB) . This contains a mixture of types of questions involving percentages and will give you some idea of your class's strengths and weaknesses. The worksheet could be used either as an individual activity, or students could work in pairs. Students who need assistance could be paired with more able students or could stay and work through some examples as a group with the teacher.

    When evaluating process on the worksheet, try to determine if mistakes are due to language difficulties (as opposed to errors in calculation and process). If a student achieves well in parts A and B, but not in other sections, this implies a language issue. In such cases a teacher can read the first one or two problems from each set, and model how each is solved.

  3. Gather the class back together and go over the answers to ensure that everyone understands how to work them out.

Newspapers, money and percentages

  1. The aim of this activity is to revise skills and develop an awareness of the role of percentages/money in every day life.

    Make a wall chart of the words and definitions. More vocabulary revision exercises.

    Give each student a copy of the Some Terms Defined (PDF 53KB) and go over it with the class. Cut the lists into "words" and "definitions" and ask the students to match them up.

    1. Students could be in groups of up to 4 for this task or it could be a whole class activity.
    2. Each group/pair/individual will need access to a newspaper and a copy of Newspapers-Money-Percentages (Word 36KB) .

      Read this sheet aloud and check that the class understand what is required of them. It may be beneficial for the teacher to model what is required by working through an example on large flipsheets. If this is done, number each step with the 4 numbers of the task. Where possible post the flipsheets on the wall so students can use the examples as a basis for developing and assessing their own attempts. Include examples of the vocabulary you expect the students to use. Construct a WritingFrame (Word 35KB) for students who need this writing support.For more information on writing frames see ESOL teaching strategies and approaches.

    3. Explain to the students that they will have the week to research the task and will be given some time to write it up but must be ready to present their findings to the class on Friday.
    4. Allow some time to discuss the task and provide direction and support as to the form the results are to be presented in. There is the opportunity to develop some skills of statistical data presentation (especially pie charts), or the students could just write down the percentages they find.


Over the next 3-4 sessions the students work on tasks involving money and percentages in daily life. These tasks aim to build on earlier skills and further develop an awareness of the role of percentages and money in every day life.

  1. Revisit the definitions sheet. This is an information sheet which explains some relevant terms.
  2. The question sheets for the five tasks have been designed so that they can be used in a variety of ways. You may wish to print and laminate them and use them in a workstation format with different groups working on different tasks. Alternatively, you may prefer to have a copy for individual students or groups of students to work from.
  3. Although the questions are fairly self explanatory it is wise to go over each with the class before they split up to work on them. You will need to be available to help with individual enquiries while students are working.
  4.  The five tasks cover different areas in which percentages and money may be used.

    Each text contains a significant language component. These exercises should be viewed as opportunities to expose students to our English mathematics vocabulary. Be prepared to spend some time explaining the requirements of each task - either to individuals/groups, or to the class as a whole. While the rest of the class is working independently the teacher could use a guided reading approach to each text.

  5. Allow some time in each lesson to refer to the week's newspaper research task. It is essential that you ask students what they have found, check on their methodology, and provide support as required. Remind them that they will have to report their findings on Friday. Some time could be allocated in class to writing up, make yourself available for assistance at this time.


This final session is to be used to tie together the previous sessions in the unit, and to report back on the class's newspaper investigations. Get several groups to share their results with the class. Discuss whether they found the same things. What are possible reasons for any differences? Whose method of estimating percentages is most accurate? Whose is easiest? Ask if any of the other groups did it differently. Share their findings. Some groups may wish to share how they worked on some of the in class tasks.

Be sure to encourage all students to participate in the oral presentation work. Pair the ESOL students with a native speaking buddy to practise report backs and then make sure all students report on their findings to a small group before the whole class report back. In whole class report backs, first encourage ESOL students in areas you know they have some familiarity with. This will increase confidence and encourage them to speak on areas they may not be as confident with in the future.

Published on: 09 Jan 2018