Finances in English – Loans

a loan lend borrow

Let’s talk about financial loans in English.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
for loan oft loses both itself and friend…”
– Shakespeare’s Hamlet

When we translate the quote above into modern English, it goes like this:

Don’t borrow or lend money, because it often results in losing both your money and the friend you lent it to.

1.) What do you think of this advice?
2.) Have you ever regretted lending someone money? What happened?
3.) Have you ever been very grateful for a loan? What was the situation?
4.) Think of a situation where a loan could strengthen a friendship and help both parties.
5.) Think of a situation where a loan could ruin a friendship and hurt both parties.

Learn and practice finances and loans vocabulary.

Perspectives on the Concept of Lending Money for Profit

Money Lending as Morally Wrong

  • Human civilizations have long held usury as a morally corrupt practice. It is referred to as evil and sinful in many ancient texts from around the world.
  • Lending money for profit to people who are poor and in crisis is to trap them in a cycle of servitude. They are never able to pay back the money, and fall further and further into debt as the interest piles up.

Money Lending as Good and Beneficial

  • The ability to borrow money allows people to get ahead. They can buy homes and start companies when they couldn’t afford it otherwise.
  • Lending money helps society, because it means that good ideas can be financed and developed. We wouldn’t have many of the technologies we do today, if wealthy people hadn’t invested their capital.

What other pros and cons can you think of?


1.) A pay day loan company:
Student A – You are the owner of a payday loan company in a low income neighbourhood. Your enterprise is very profitable, and you don’t appreciate anyone meddling in your business.
Student B – You are a politician dedicated to ending poverty. You see how low income people in your community are forced to turn to pay day loan companies, and how it leads into more and more debt. You want to shut down businesses that prey on the most vulnerable.

2.) Why is it okay when bankers do it?
Student A – You are a new loan shark in town who charges 10% interest on your loans. You do your best to work with people who are having trouble repaying their loans, but, at the end of the day, you get what you are owed, one way or another.
Student B – You are a banker who charges 19% interest on your loans. You suddenly have far fewer clients than before, because people are going to the loan shark for their loans. Not only is it illegal, it is dangerous. And most importantly, it’s hurting your bottom line.

3. A friend in need
Student A – You lent a friend a lot of money when s/he became unemployed 6 months ago. But now your friend has a great, high-paying job, but still refuses to pay you back.
Student B – Your friend has really changed. S/he used to be so cool, and fun to be around. Now s/he seems annoyed all the time, and keeps bothering you about some money you owe. How boring.

Microloans – An elegant and empowering alternative to charity

Select one of the following organizations and read about their microloan programs:
Together Women Rise

Select one of the following writing exercises.
1.) Creative writing: Write a short story about a person who received a microloan, and how it changed everything.
2.) A Not For Profit: Imagine that you want to start your own microloan program. What community would your initiative serve? How would it work?