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Home-Buying Readiness Sourcebook

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Home-Buying Readiness Sourcebook Powered By Docstoc
					           Tools for Teachers

Expanding Your Resources: Tools for Teachers
What is a teacher tool?
Unlike an entire curriculum or series of lesson plans, these teacher tools are a collection of teacher-developed assessments,
activities, handouts, and reflections. Their purpose is twofold: to provide teachers with supplemental home-buying readiness
materials to use with their students in the classroom, and to model how home-buying materials can be developed.Because
these tools were created by teachers, each tool’s voice reflects the persona and style of the teacher who developed it.

To aid in searching for appropriate tools, each tool is labeled with one of the following headings:
       Assessment: helps determine what students already know about the home-buying process.

       Activity: guides teachers through a particular classroom lesson.

       Handout: is designed for duplication and use in classroom settings. For instance, some of the handouts are reproductions
                                                                             20
       of students’ writings about various aspects of home-buying readiness.

       Reflection: includes a teacher’s thoughts about her practice or recounts events that happened in the classroom.

In addition to identifying the nature of the material, each assessment, activity, and handout begins with a “Note to the teacher,”
which provides teachers with directions about how to use the particular tool, possible modification, and overall guidance.

How are these tools meant to be used?
Teachers can adopt or adapt the materials in this section:
•   Adopt: Many of the materials here, such as pre- and post-tests, math and literacy activities, and student writings, can be
                     21
    used as they are. Teachers should feel free to photocopy the tools, as long as they remember to credit the colleagues who
    developed the material.
•   Adapt: Teachers can use the content or organization that another teacher has developed and make it specific to the needs
    and interests of certain students. For example, people in the Boston area might speak of “triple deckers,” or three-story
    houses, when considering first-time homeownership, while people in the southern states might talk about a double-wide
    trailer as a starter home. Local organizations that provide resources and information on home buying will differ from town
    to town and region to region, but teachers can borrow an approach and plug in the specifics relevant to their communities.
    Similarly, some of the language and grammar lessons may not be at the right level for students, but sample lessons here
    can inspire teachers to develop new home-buying readiness lessons and even new approaches to teaching about home buying.

In either case, whether teachers adopt or adapt the tools, the tools are an adjunct to, not a replacement for, the Fannie Mae
Foundation ESL (English as a Second Language) and ABE (Adult Basic Education) curricula, How to Buy a Home in the United
States and How to Buy Your Own Home.

Please keep in mind that these materials are written by teachers who are not experts on home buying but have taken the
initiative to facilitate learning about the home-buying process as a content area covered within their classroom. The teachers
have done their own inquiry and research in order to answer possible questions and concerns of their students. None of the
material replaces legal counsel. The content of the materials is not necessarily endorsed by the Fannie Mae Foundation, nor
by the institutions the teachers represent.


The tools are arranged by content as follows:
    I. Your Students’ Situation 133
    II. Money Matters 159
III. Consumer Protection 183
IV. Student Stories 199
    V. Language and Literacy Lessons 209
132




      As teachers we are not the authorities on a given topic,
      but rather facilitators meant to learn how to engage in
      the process of formulating, researching, answering,
      and then revisiting our students’ questions.
                 — Nancy Coffey, teacher, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA
I. Your Students’ Situation



   Intended to help teachers launch a home-buying readiness class, this first section of tools introduces the topic of home buying
   in nonintimidating and meaningful ways. Within this section you will find materials that assess students’ prior knowledge about    133
   home buying, support students as they express some of the many images and ideas they hold about “home,” and invite students
   to probe the costs and benefits of owning a home. When and if they choose to do so, there are activities that encourage students
   to begin the actual search for a home.

   As mentioned, a number of tools will help you determine what your students already know about home buying and what your
   students would like to know more about. For example, pretests assess students’ knowledge of the home-buying process and
   can be used again at the end of the class as post-tests to assess what students have learned. True/false questionnaires may
   reveal misconceptions about home buying and can serve as useful catalysts for discussion. Using inquiry as a process where
   students and teachers generate questions about a topic and then conduct research to find the answers is another approach
   to determining what your students know and what they want to know more about.

   The collection of guided-imagery prompts and other writing activities will encourage your students to reflect on the concept of
   “home.” A teacher reflection provides a guided writing sample that moves through a series of writing exercises, and a collection
   of student writing models how other students have responded to the activities within the curriculum. These tools will help
   your students think about housing and home in new ways. In addition, the student writing samples illustrate how peers have
   approached the critical decision to pursue homeownership.

   Teachers can help their students safely navigate through the costs and benefits of owning and maintaining a home by using a
   series of tools within this section. Listing the advantages and disadvantages of homeownership and responding to a fictional
   family that is thinking of buying a home are two of many activities that can prompt a serious consideration of homeownership.

   Concrete tools such as checklists and vocabulary exercises provide good methods of homeownership exploration and round
   out the Your Students’ Situation section.
           Assessment:

      Home-Buying Quiz
      Cathy Anderson, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

134
      Note to the teacher: This simple quiz can be used to begin an in-class discussion on home buying. Students’ responses can
      give the teacher an idea of what they already know about owning a home, the cost of renting, and mortgage requirements.
      The answers provide points of departure about topics that students might find interesting and useful.

      To begin the assessment, teachers should explain to students that they are going to make a statement about home buying
      or housing and that the students will have to determine if the statement is TRUE or FALSE. Teachers can also make this quiz
      specific to their students by adding true/false questions about the average cost of renting or owning in their town or city and
      by providing telephone numbers of local affordable-housing organizations.

      The answers to the questions on home buying are from the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, 1995, and the Fannie Mae
      Foundation ESL curriculum, How to Buy a Home in the United States.


      1. You must have a credit history (credit cards or loans) to buy a home.
         FALSE! If you have never had a credit card or taken out a loan you can demonstrate a nontraditional credit history by
         keeping a record of all of your rent and utility receipts. Look on page 12 of How to Buy a Home in the United States for an
         explanation of nontraditional credit.

      2. You have to be rich to buy a home.
         FALSE! A 1995 Fannie Mae survey found that 17 percent of first-time home buyers had an income of $30,000 a year or
         less. The average price of the homes they were buying was $130,100. (In some major cities like Boston, prices of homes
         have skyrocketed. However, it is still possible to find affordable homes outside the city.)

      3. You must have a job to get a mortgage.
         TRUE! You have to show a mortgage lender that you have a job history, and that you currently have a source of income.
         (This is explained on page 7 in How to Buy a Home in the United States.)

      4. You must have money for a down payment.
         TRUE! In some cities, you can get assistance with paying the down payment and/or the closing costs if you are a first-time
         home buyer. With assistance, you would pay 5 percent or 3 percent of the total cost of the house for your down payment.
         For that dream house costing $130,000, a 5 percent down payment would be $6,500. A 3 percent down payment would
         be $3,900. Call a local affordable housing organization to help you locate assistance.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
      Assessment:

Home-Buying Questionnaire
Cathy Anderson, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                  135
Note to the teacher: This yes/no questionnaire can be used as a pre- and post-assessment tool. By administering it at the
beginning of the class, you can assess how much students know about the home-buying process. By administering it at the
end of class, you can assess how much students have learned.

You should begin the activity by asking students if they know what a questionnaire is. After describing the function of a ques-
tionnaire (to get information about what a group of people think and know about a topic), you should explain that you want to
understand what the students know and don’t know about home buying. You will also want to ensure that the students under-
stand the meaning of the words and concepts in order to get the most accurate information from students. If students are just
beginning to learn English, you may want to have this questionnaire translated into their native language(s). Most of the terms
used in the questionnaire are defined in Appendix 1, Glossary of Home-Buying and Money Management Terms.


A. Planning to buy a house

Please circle “yes” or “no” in response to the following statements:
1. I know the pros and cons of buying a house.
   yes      no

2. I know how to research homes and neighborhoods.
   yes      no

3. I know how to ask questions about a house, such as what it costs, how big it is, and what condition it is in.
   yes      no

4. I know how to decide what is important to me in selecting a house to buy.
   yes      no

5. I understand real estate ads in the newspaper.
   yes      no


B. Home-buying terms

I understand the meaning of these terms and phrases (circle “yes” or “no”):
1. First-time home buyer                          6. Government subsidy
   yes      no                                       yes    no

2. Mortgage                                       7. Credit report
   yes      no                                       yes    no

3. Mortgage lender                                8. Credit history
   yes      no                                       yes    no

4. Down payment                                   9. Savings account
   yes      no                                       yes    no

5. Closing costs                                 10. Home inspection
   yes      no                                       yes    no




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Assessment:

      Pre- and Post-test
      Melissa Wilhoit, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Santa Ana, CA

136
      Note to the teacher: Intended for students with an advanced level of English, this more detailed survey assesses how well
      students understand vocabulary specific to the home-buying process. By administering the survey before the home-buying
      readiness class or unit and then again when the class is finished, you can determine, in part, what students have learned
      throughout the course.

      You should carefully model this activity with students to ensure that they understand the activity. For example, you can read
      the first section of questions out loud and give the correct answers.

      The answer sheet follows.



      Vocabulary Terms
      Write the letter of the term that correctly matches the definition below:


      Definitions
      Unit One

       1.__ A report of your credit history.                                                           a. closing costs

       2.__ A list of the places you have worked, your job title, the dates of employment,             b. credit report
            and your salary.
                                                                                                       c. debts
       3.__ The expenses of transferring ownership of a property, above and beyond
                                                                                                       d. down payment
            the sales price.
                                                                                                       e. job history
       4.__ The section of the purchase price of the house that the buyer pays in cash.

       5.__ The money you owe on long-term loans such as car loans, student loans,
            mortgage loans, and possibly the payments you owe on credit cards.



      Unit Two

       6.__ A plan for a house showing the location and measurements of rooms,                         f. asking price
            windows, doors, and appliances.
                                                                                                       g. commission
       7.__ A person who helps you find a home to buy and receives a commission
                                                                                                       h. floor plan
            from the sale of the home.
                                                                                                       i. market value
       8.__ The advertised amount of money the seller wants for a home.
                                                                                                       j. real estate agent
       9.__ The expected value of the home for sale based on recent sales prices for
            similar homes that are nearby.

      10.__ The percentage of the sales price that the real estate agent receives.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
Pre- and Post-test continued


    Unit Three

    11.__ A credit history you can prepare if you do not have credit cards or never   k. adjustable-rate mortgage
          had a loan.                                                                                                    137
                                                                                      l. fixed-rate mortgage
    12.__ Your total monthly income from all sources before taxes are taken out.
                                                                                      m. gross monthly income
    13.__ A mortgage that has an interest rate that can go up or down periodically.
                                                                                      n. net monthly income
    14.__ Your total monthly income after taxes are taken out.
                                                                                      o. nontraditional credit history
    15.__ A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire
          term of the loan.



    Unit Four

    16.__ Federal income tax deduction of the interest you paid on your home loan.    p. budget

    17.__ A device that alerts residents to smoke and fire.                           q. fire alarm

    18.__ A plan that lists all your monthly income and expenses.                     r. routine maintenance

    19.__ Servicing things around the house to prevent problems from occurring.       s. tax advantage

    20.__ Public services such as the supply of water, electricity, and gas.          t. utilities




     I. Your Students’ Situation
      Pre- and Post-test continued


          Answer Sheet

138       Vocabulary Terms
          Write the letter of the term that correctly matches the definition below:

          a. closing costs               f. asking price         k. adjustable-rate mortgage            p. budget
          b. credit report               g. commission           l. fixed-rate mortgage                 q. fire alarm
          c. debts                       h. floor plan           m. gross monthly income                r. routine maintenance
          d. down payment                i. market value         n. net monthly income                  s. tax advantage
          e. job history                 j. real estate agent    o. nontraditional credit history       t. utilities

          Definitions
          Unit One
           1. b A report of your credit history.
           2. e A list of the places you have worked, your job title, the dates of employment, and your salary.
           3. a The expenses of transferring ownership of a property, above and beyond the sales price.
           4. d The section of the purchase price of the house that the buyer pays in cash.
           5. c The money you owe on long-term loans such as car loans, student loans, mortgage loans, and possibly the payments
                you owe on credit cards.


          Unit Two
           6. h A plan for a house showing the location and measurements of rooms, windows, doors, and appliances.
           7. j A person who helps you find a home to buy and receives a commission from the sale of the home.
           8. f The advertised amount of money the seller wants for a home.
           9. i The expected value of the home for sale based on recent sales prices for similar homes that are nearby.
          10. g The percentage of the sales price that the real estate agent receives.


          Unit Three
          11. o A credit history you can prepare if you do not have credit cards or never had a loan.
          12.m Your total monthly income from all sources before taxes are taken out.
          13. k A mortgage that has an interest rate that can go up or down periodically.
          14. n Your total monthly income after taxes are taken out.
          15. l A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.


          Unit Four
          16. s Federal income tax deduction of the interest you paid on your home loan.
          17. q A device that alerts residents to smoke and fire.
          18. p A plan that lists all your monthly income and expenses.
          19. r Servicing things around the house to prevent problems from occurring.
          20. t Public services such as the supply of water, electricity, and gas.




           I. Your Students’ Situation
      Assessment:

True/False Survey
Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

                                                                                                                                    139
Note to the teacher: This short assessment is designed to initiate discussion and to examine possible misconceptions about
home buying and homeownership. To illustrate the activity, you can give students a few simple statements and ask if they are
true or false (for example, “It’s raining today”). Then you can tell students that you are going to ask them true/false questions
about buying a home. If you print out the statements in advance on newsprint or the board, you will provide more oppor tunities
for students to practice reading and writing.


Very few foreign-born Americans own their own homes.

FALSE. Almost the same percentage of U.S.-born and immigrant heads of household own their own homes.

The national statistics: 67.4 percent of U.S.-born heads of household, 66.9 percent of foreign-born citizen heads of
household, and 33.1 percent of U.S. noncitizen heads of household own their own homes.


If you have had credit problems, it will be impossible for you to buy a home.
FALSE. Your credit problems will make it more difficult, but there are ways to improve your credit rating, and there are some
different choices for getting a mortgage.


Owning a home is not a good investment because if the economy collapses, you will lose your home.
FALSE. No matter how bad times are, you have to pay for housing.


Most people have trouble getting loans.
FALSE. About 66 percent of all home purchase mortgage applications are approved.




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Activity:

      Generating Students’ Questions: A Brainstorming Session
      Lee Haller, International Institute, Boston, MA

140
      Note to the teacher: As well as providing a chance to learn actual real estate terms, a real estate agent’s visit will afford
      students an opportunity to practice everyday, “real-life” English. You can present the following students’ questions as
      examples, or you can have students ask their own questions.

      Here’s one way to generate student questions: Before the guest speaker’s visit, engage students in a brainstorming session.
      Have them think about questions they would like answered, and explain to them that the guest speaker is a good person to
      answer many of the questions they might have. You can have them work in small groups to come up with questions and then
      share them in front of the class, giving you a chance to go over grammar with them.

      Below are unedited questions that students asked of a speaker from the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance.*



      Students’ Questions

       1. What is low income?

       2. How many years I can finish pay a house if I buy a house?

       3. Does the bank have the right to take your money if you cannot pay the house anymore?

       4. Does the land belong to you when you finish to pay the house?

       5. After you finish to pay all your mortgages, can you destroy the house to build another one?

       6. Which advantages do you have in buying a house rather than renting?

       7. What is the lowest price one family house, two bedroom?

       8. My credit report is no good. I want to buy a house. I can’t buy in my name or another name?

       9. If I want to buy a house, how much money I suppose to have for down payment?

      10. If I have bad credit when I buy the house, is it possible?

      11. How do you know you can afford a house?

      12. How much money you might need to buy a three bedroom?

      13. If you make [$26,000] a year are you low-income?

      14. If I want to buy a house, how can I find a house to buy?

      15. My question is: If I want to buy a house, what’s the first stage I must attempt?


      *To view samples of other students’ questions and answers about home buying, go to the online student home-buying
       readiness manual at www.alri.org/fannie/fnma3/FM99a/QuestionPanel.htm.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
     Activity:

Learning Through Inquiry
Cathy Anderson, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                         141
Note to the teacher: When classroom conditions allow it, the students themselves can drive the lesson. This activity is designed
to help students begin their own research on homeownership.

During the first couple of classes write down some of the questions students have regarding homeownership. Match the questions
with resources you are familiar with, such as homeownership counselors in your area, the local newspaper, Web sites, and pamphlets.
Hand out the questions with the matching resource and inform students that they will be doing research to find answers to some
of the questions they have asked. Share with them some of the examples below. When they return to the classroom, have them
share their questions and answers with the rest of the class.


1. Question: Does homeowners insurance cover floods, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters?
Assignment: Read a section about homeowners insurance and report back to class.
Student’s response: Pasqual took this assignment on with gusto and came back with ideas for the rest of the class about the
responsibilities of owning rental property. His ability to read English was much more advanced than his ability to speak English,
so this assignment was an opportunity for him to show off a bit.

2. Question: Where can I buy an affordable home?
Assignment: Read the real estate section of your local Sunday newspaper and compare the prices of homes in different areas.
Use a map.
Student’s response: Hugo looked over ads from a range of high- to moderate-income towns outside of Boston. He demonstrated his
knack for deciphering abbreviations and showed everyone the locations of the homes on a map he brought to class.

3. Question: What do you learn in first-time homeownership classes?
Assignment: Call the Boston Home Center and ask about the content of the course and dates and times for the next series of
home-buying classes in East Boston and Chelsea. Report back to class.
Student’s response: José made the initial call and left his name and address on the Boston Home Center’s answering machine.
Unfortunately, the Boston Home Center did not get back to him before the class ended, but I provided information on upcoming
courses in East Boston, where José and his family live.




     Reflection: Teacher’s Reflection about the Inquiry Challenge
      One evening, José brought to class fliers advertising very inexpensive foreclosed property up for auction. He wanted to show
      us that it was possible to buy a house for as little as $30,000 or less. When I saw these fliers, my inquiry-based teaching
      style and Socratic ideals flew out the window. I stated emphatically that you cannot trust auctions because hidden costs often
      accompany such ventures: second mortgages, liens, etc. I didn’t rant but I lectured him, which was probably worse. A few
      days later, I witnessed a much better approach to the hot topic of auctions. After our speaker from the Cambridge Community
      Development Center introduced herself, José pulled out another flier announcing auctions and foreclosed property and said,
      “Look at all the homes you can buy cheap.” Instead of responding with warnings and cautions the way I had, the speaker quietly
      asked, “Why should you buy something you know nothing about?” This question made José stop and think. She suggested
      that he investigate any property by calling the appraiser first. Her style was not to zealously discourage him but to inform him
      of the realistic consequences of buying auctioned property.

      José, like the other students, was deeply engaged by the issues and conflicts of homeownership. Even though I was worried that
      he would be taken in by an auction, I was delighted that he pursued the topic with thoughtful questions and reasoned arguments.

      I admire the tenacity and persistence of all three students in learning about such a complex topic. I am confident that in a
      few years, or when they are ready, they will make good decisions about home buying. The course helped them, I believe, to
      know where they can go for assistance in home buying and to understand the home-buying process in more detail.




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Activity:

      What Do Students Already Know about Buying a Home? A Mapping Activity
      Eunice Allman, Quincy College, Quincy, MA

142
      Note to the teacher: A mapping activity asks students to brainstorm ideas about a particular topic or question, and then to
      organize them into categories and subcategories by drawing overlapping, concentric, and/or independent circles around related
      words and concepts. This particular mapping activity compares renting and owning. Not only is it a great vocabulary builder
      and discussion starter, but it also allows students to view themselves as experts and to learn from one another.

      In order to gauge how much my students knew about home buying, we did a whole-class mapping exercise. I wrote the terms
      “to rent” and “to buy” on the blackboard and recorded the terms that my students came up with. I explained that these terms
      were real estate jargon. We had already explored the notion that every discipline and setting has its own jargon and vocabulary.
      Thus I was able to connect this new topic to my overall syllabus. The words generated from the mapping exercise included
      the following: loan, bank, owe, lease, contract, security, deposit, mortgage, deed, record, probate court, evict, multifamily,
      condominium, commission, taxes (federal and state), and foreclosure.

      The three students who own homes generated most of these words based on their own experiences with the housing market.
      One of these students in particular, a Vietnamese woman named Ha, works in a bank and was familiar with the bank’s role
      in the home-buying process. She discussed her experience of buying her home in Dorchester and contributed a lot of useful
      information to the discussion.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
     Activity :

Guided Writing: Unlocking the Door to Your Dream House
Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                     143
Note to the teacher: The goal of this activity is to have students imagine and write about their dream houses using a
tangible catalyst (a key) and guided imagery.


Gather keys of different sizes, shapes, and ages, one for each student in the class. If possible, include old brass skeleton
keys, broken keys, tiny keys to diaries and suitcases, and modern brass and stainless steel keys.

 1. Lay the keys on a desk or table. Make sure you have enough for all the students in the class.

 2. Let each student come up and select a key.

 3. Have students return to their desks or tables.

 4. As students hold their keys, explain that the keys will help them to imagine and to write about the house of their dreams. Ask
    them to close their eyes and relax. Have them take a few deep breaths. They will not be writing at this point, only imagining.

 5. Tell students they are standing in front of the house that this key will unlock. What does the front of the house look like?
    What color is it? How many stories does it have?

 6. Ask students to imagine the front door that their key will open. What does the door look like?

 7. Ask them to imagine putting the key in the lock and turning it. Does the door unlock easily? Ask them to open the door.

 8. Ask them to describe the room they see behind the door. What does it look like? Are there windows? Is there furniture?
    What color are the walls?

 9. Ask them to sit in the room for a moment. What does it feel like? Do they hear anything? Can they smell anything?

10. Ask them to look out of a window in that room. What do they see?

11. When they are ready to leave that room, ask them to move on to another room of the house. Which room is this? What
    does it look like? How does it feel to be in the room?

12. Ask them to open their eyes and begin writing, using the images they have just generated. Give them about 12 minutes. If
    there is enough interest, take them back to the guided imagery to imagine as much about the rest of the house as they
    would like, and write some more.

13. Ask students to discuss what it feels like to do this activity. Did they like it?

14. Have students share their drafts by reading aloud, if they want to. This should be entirely voluntary.

15. To carry this through as a writing activity, the teacher can give feedback on each draft with suggestions for revision, and
    students can revise their drafts.




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Activity:

      The Home I Knew as a Child: A Guided Paragraph Writing Exercise
      Cathy Anderson, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

144
      Note to the teacher: During this guided writing activity, students will learn how to produce a descriptive paragraph. Have
                                                                                22
      students prepare to write by reading examples of descriptive paragraphs, and have them answer a series of questions to
      help organize their thoughts and clarify their ideas.


      Instructions for the Student

      A long paragraph is almost an essay. It has about five to eight sentences and is about one topic. Often, the paragraph
      states an opinion.

      Write a paragraph describing the house you lived in as a child. Here is how you do it. First, answer “Questions for Writing” below
      with one sentence or more. You don’t have to answer every question, only the ones that interest you. Second, after you have
      proofread your sentences, rewrite them on a separate piece of paper without the numbers, one sentence right after the other.
      When you finish, you have a long paragraph. If you feel like adding more words as you are copying, do that. The last questions
      require an opinion or ask you to express a feeling. They are the conclusion to your paragraph. Many students like to change
      their essays after hearing what others have written. Feel free to change and rewrite your paragraph. Each time you will be more
      pleased with what you have written.

      Don’t forget: Begin your sentences with a capital letter and end them with a period.
                    Please write your responses on a separate sheet of paper.


      Questions for Writing
      1. What country, city, and neighborhood are you from?

      2. When you were a child, did you live in a big city, a small town, or the country?

      3. Did you have a large or small house when you were a child?

      4. What were other houses like in your neighborhood?

      5. Did you have trees and land by your house?

      6. Did your house have a basement, or was it built above the ground?

      7. What do you think of the houses you see in this country?

      8. Do you miss your old home? Write down what you remember and miss the most.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
     Activity:

Revisiting Your First Home: A Three-Part Writing Exercise
Deborah Schwartz, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                     145
Note to the teacher: This three-part writing exercise begins with a prewriting activity to be done without pen or paper, then
asks students to draw or graph their memories, and finally encourages students to write.

The activity is adapted from a writing seminar given by the poet and teacher Mark Doty. Sometimes referred to as “automatic
writing” or “writing down first thoughts,” this kind of writing process asks that the writer (in this case, the students) record
uncensored, stream-of-consciousness thoughts and impressions.



Part I
Ask your students to close their eyes and picture walking through the first house they ever lived in.


Tell them:
If you cannot remember the first house you ever lived in, be content to imagine the first house you do remember. Or perhaps,
the house you live in now is the only house you ever lived in. Whatever the circumstances, you are going to imagine slowly
walking through each room and looking carefully at each detail in that room.

First enter the front or side or back door. Do you have a key? Is the door open? Are there smells of cooking or food coming
from the kitchen? The sound of a TV or radio? What or who greets you as you walk through the front door? And where do you
end up once you’ve walked through the door? A hallway? A room?

In the next few minutes you will walk your way through the house, trying to remember as much detail as possible. What colors
are the walls? Are there pictures on them or photographs? What kind of furniture sits in each room? As you slowly walk through
the house, remember as much as you can about each room. You can pan the room or scan from the bottom of the floor to the
top of the ceiling. You can also look out windows, under the cushions of sofas, or through magazine racks. Or you can just enter
the room and see what strikes you about it—see what first comes barreling through the filter of your memory.

The point is to go as slowly as possible and to observe what you see as if you are actually visiting the house. You will have at
least 10 minutes of undisturbed time to do this exercise. You will not have to report back what you’ve found. You will walk
through the house slowly and take as much time as you like in each room.


Possible Modifications for Part I
1. As a class, brainstorm possible questions to help draw out details about each room. Do this before you begin the visualization.

2. Ask the student to walk through the house at various ages and times of his or her life—for instance, as an eight-year-old
   coming home from school on a rainy day.

3. If a student is having a hard time visualizing the house, you can work with him or her individually, asking him or her to
   describe the rooms in the house to you while you record the descriptions. You can prompt the student’s memory with
   questions that ask for a detailed and a specific kind of recall.
  What room are you in right now?
  Are you standing or walking on a hardwood floor? A carpet? Linoleum?
  What do you see when you stand in the center of the room and look straight ahead?
  Does the room smell a particular way?
  Are there windows? Are they open?
  What’s the temperature like in the house?

4. You can also ask students to work in pairs, taking turns recording and narrating.




 I. Your Students’ Situation
      Revisiting Your First Home: A Three-Part Writing Exercise continued


          Part II
          This part of the activity asks students to refine further and expand their memory of their first house through drawing and
146
          graphing. It relies on Part I of the activity.

          Materials: Graph paper and unlined paper, pencil, or pen

          Ask students to draw a floor plan of their remembered houses (if there is more than one level to their remembered house, let
          them know they can draw each level on a separate piece of paper or choose just one level to draw). When students are done
          drawing the floor plan, ask them to place an object of significance in each of the rooms.


          Part III
          This part of the activity consists of a timed free-writing exercise.

          Materials: Paper and pencil or pen, or a computer

          Ask students to choose three objects that they placed in their house. Ask students to write about the objects, spending five to
          seven minutes on each one.




           I. Your Students’ Situation
             Activity and Handout:

Student Writings: Dream Houses and Places That Feel like Home

Note to the teacher: These nine short pieces of student writings can be used in a variety of ways with your students: to generate
                                                                                                                                       147
similar kinds of writings by your students, to stimulate discussion about language use and style differences in beginning writers,
or to provide an authentic student text for reading comprehension. Following the readings are comprehension questions you
can print out as worksheets.*


1. A place that makes me feel at home would be like a very quiet neighborhood in the middle of the woods where I don’t know
   anybody, but where everybody living there is very nice and helpful. A place where I could sit in my yard and fall asleep without
   anybody trying to kill or hurt me. I think Puerto Rico would be a good place for me to live. The weather is nice and there is a
   lot of woods and animals. Out at night, looking up at the clear sky, watching a shooting star, thinking what is the universe
   really like, and are we the only ones here?
                                                                                     —Josue Morales, WAITT House, Roxbury, MA


2. I always dream about a house in white color, with the red Japanese maple tree in the front yard. I love to have a big kitchen,
   so we can eat and cook at the same time. A family room is in my dream too; we need that for the kids playing anytime we
   have family coming over. I like to have a garden. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just the place for me to plant something and cut
   some flowers or pick some tomatoes and peppers. Some of my dream already come true, some still far away, but I still love
   to dream about my house.
                                                                                         — Ha Nguyen, Quincy College, Quincy, MA


3. I hate a city, crowds of people, somewhere going, fastest car, pollution, higher living expense, and others make me crazy. I
   love the music, fresh air, quiet place voice of water current my people and family, and female. But I live in city because I do
   not have a choice about my future. I am just trying to make my life. I have ability to live anywhere, I would live, in summer, on
   the beach and in deep and quiet mountain place with my only one best wife.
                                                                                    — Kim Sung-Mook, Quincy College, Quincy, MA


4. I would like to have my own house, but it is not easy to reach it. In my mind it is a one-family house located on the top of
   some hill with a view to a mountain or sea. Many tree and flowers grow around. This house has only two floors. Downstairs
   we can find a large kitchen, a living room with a fireplace, a guest’s room, and a bathroom. The sun can easily find a way in
   because the windows are big. If we walk upstairs, we will get into a big hall that is used for relaxing. In night it is beautiful
   view to the sleeping city, which is distant around ten minutes by car. There is also a terrace where we can sit and have
   breakfast, read a book, discuss with our friends, or watch mountains. From this room leads four doors to other rooms.
   One of them is to the master bedroom with bathroom. Others are for children. There are also flowers everywhere.

                                                                                  — Romana Jurikova, Quincy College, Quincy, MA


5. I would like to have a house big enough for me and my family. The house must be in a quiet area and near public transportation.
   The house has to be close to schools and stores. The house should have a basement and an attic. It should have a yard for
   kids to play. It must have two bathrooms and a dining room. The house does not have to be new, but it must be nice and
   attractive. Finally, the house should be Victorian style.
                                           —Jeannette Mealance, Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experience (SCALE), MA




 I. Your Students’ Situation
      Student Writings: Dream Houses and Places That Feel like Home continued


          6. My dream house is a ranch style house. My house must be in a quiet area close to the T, schools, shopping, and the hospital.
             My house must be a two family house. It should have five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big kitchen, and a big living garage. The
             house doesn’t have to have to have a swimming pool, but it would be nice. I am hoping that I will have my dream house one day.
148
                                                                                                                                — Anonymous


          7. My house must be for one family. It has to have three bedrooms with walk-in closets and two bathrooms. It should be near
             public transportation. It must be in a quiet neighborhood with a big yard. It has to have a two-car garage and should not be
             close to a shopping center. It would be nice to have a swimming pool, but it does not have to.
                                                                                                              — Evilyne Schettini, SCALE, MA


          8. I want to buy a house for my family, and I am looking for it. My house must be in a nice place and must be a three family
             house. Every floor must have three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and two bathrooms. It must not be on a busy
             street, near the airport, restaurants, or clubs. The house should have a garage, and a driveway, and it should have a big
             yard. The house doesn’t have to have a swimming pool or a big yard with trees, but it would be nice.
                                                                                                           — Gjinovefa Ndrenika, SCALE, MA


          9. I want to tell you about my dream house. When we buy our house, I want the house to be near schools, shopping, a park,
             and other facilities. I prefer that the house be new or not very old. It should have three bedrooms, one or two bathrooms,
             a living room, a dining room, a big kitchen, a deck, a fireplace, air-conditioning, and a balcony looking over the yard. The style
             of the house I want is Victorian or ranch. The exterior that I want is brick. When I buy the house, I will check that I don’t need
             more money for repairs because I don’t have much money in my pocket at the moment. I understand that buying a new house
             is more expensive (than an older house) but it is better because it is insulated better and the heating system is better. To do
             this I must have a good job. That is all for now, but when I buy my house, you will know.
                                                                                                                                — Anonymous

          *For more student writings about the topic of home, see www.alri.org/fannie/fnma3/studentwriting.html.




           I. Your Students’ Situation
Student Writings: Dream Houses and Places That Feel like Home continued


    After reading the student writings about dream houses, answer these questions: [Note: some questions will have more than
    one answer (e.g., more than one person mentioned ranch-style houses).]

    1. Who would like to have a ranch-style house?                                                                             149




    2. Who would like to have a yard?



    3. Who wants a three-family house?



    4. Who wants a yard where he can fall asleep and feel safe?



    5. What style house does Jeannette Mealance wish for?



    6. Who wants a balcony overlooking a yard?




     I. Your Students’ Situation
           Activity:

      Housedreaming: A Drawing Activity
      Lee Haller, International Institute, Boston, MA

150
      Note to the teacher: This activity uses drawing to encourage student expression. It is especially suitable for students with a
      beginning literacy level.


      Instructions: The first thing I did in class, before I handed out the home-buying readiness materials, was to ask the students
      to draw a picture of their house now, their house in their country, or their dream house. I brought many colored pens and gave
      them about 20 minutes to draw. Then I had them break into groups and describe what they’d drawn to the group. I unfortunately
      underestimated their interest in this activity, and class ended long before they were finished! Nevertheless, I found it a nice
      way to begin, because it grounded the whole experience in what they knew well—their houses and their dreams.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
     Activity:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Home
Ashley Dumas, Project Hope, Dorchester, MA

                                                                                                                                 151
Note to the teacher: Meant to encourage students to articulate the costs and benefits of homeownership, this full-class-period
activity will certainly provoke discussion.


Instructions: On the blackboard or a sheet of newsprint, create two columns: Advantages and Disadvantages (of buying
and owning a home). Ask students to brainstorm possibilities for each column and discuss them. Not everyone will agree.
For example, some students may think yard work is an advantage (gardening, etc.), while others may be too busy for it and
consider it a disadvantage. Below are some ideas from other students.

ADVANTAGES                                            DISADVANTAGES
You can remodel                                       You have to pay a monthly mortgage
You can have guests and parties                       You have to fix everything yourself or pay to have things fixed
You don’t have a landlord to set rules                You have to pay your water bill
You can have pets                                     You have to do yard work




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Handout:

      Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Home: Student Letter

      Note to the teacher: This is an individual writing activity. By writing letters to fictional characters, students have an oppor tunity
152
      to articulate their own thoughts and feelings about homeownership in a nonthreatening venue. Below are other students’
      examples that you can have your students read before or after they write their own. Following the examples is a worksheet
      students can use to write their letters.

      This exercise is an adaptation of the Fannie Mae Foundation’s ESL curriculum. The original exercise can be found on page 5
      of the student guide How to Buy a Home in the United States.


      Student Examples
      Dear Rosa and Manuel,

      I would like to give you advice about buying your own house. If you decide to buy a home, you have to be sure you can pay the
      mortgage every month.

      The advantages are that you don’t have to pay the landlord. Also there are no rules, but there are zoning laws. Anyone can live
      there. You can make changes and remodel.

      The disadvantages are that you must pay for the mortgage, and also interest, taxes, insurance, water, and utilities. You could
      lose the house if you don’t have enough money to make these payments. You must fix things yourself, cut the grass, do yard
      work and other maintenance.

      You have to be thinking about all of these things.

      Sincerely,

      Tanya




       I. Your Students’ Situation
Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Home: Student Letter continued


   Dear Rosa and Manuel,

   The present letter is to tell you some things about the house that you want to buy.
                                                                                                                           153
   First the advantages: when you have your own house you can do whatever you want, and you don’t have to pay rent.
   You can have the things that you want in your house.

   But when you buy a house you have disadvantages too. You have to fix the problems in your house by yourself. You have
   to pay taxes every year, and you have to pay all utilities.

   My advice for you is to look for a good house for you and your family. If you want to buy that house you must borrow
   money. You have to pay back that money, but the house is for you and your family.

   Sincerely yours,

   Roxanne Figueroa



   ________________________                    (Your Address)
   ________________________
   ________________________


   ________________________                    (Date)



   Dear Rosa and Manuel,




   Sincerely,

   ________________________                    (Your Name)




     I. Your Students’ Situation
             Activity:

      Needs Versus Wants
      Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

154
      Note to the teacher: This three-part activity begins with a whole-group discussion on needs versus wants and is completed by
      individual students as they write a paragraph that describes their housing needs and wants.


      Part I: Discuss the difference between needs and wants and give a few examples. (For example, we need clothing; we may
      want the latest fashions. Direct the discussion toward buying a home. What are the needs and wants of a family?) As you
      discuss, write the students’ answers on the blackboard.

      NEEDS                                                WANTS
      3 bedrooms (many children)                           Fireplace
      Yard                                                 Quiet street
      Close to subway or bus                               Walk to schools, stores, library
      Parking                                              Big fenced-in yard
      No lead paint                                        Many windows

      Part II: As not every student will have the same needs and wants, have each student create his or her own needs/wants list
      to consider when buying a home. This activity helps students to establish priorities when doing a home search. Students can
      use this list as they conduct a home search.

      Part III: Have students use their needs/wants list to write a paragraph about what they need and what they want in a house.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
     Activity:

Find Your House
S. Rodriguez, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Santa Ana, CA

                                                                                                                                       155
Note to the teacher: Involving student interaction and movement, this activity is appropriate for beginning-level literacy students.


Instructions
1. Find pictures of various kinds of houses (page 39 of the Longman Photo Dictionary [Rosenthal, Marilyn S. and Daniel B.
   Freeman. Longman Photo Dictionary. Longman: White Plains, NY, 1987] provides a nice selection).

2. Cut out each house and enlarge to poster size (make enlargements of the pictures in sections and tape together).

3. Display houses by taping to walls around room. Label style of house.

4. Ask students to stand under their current style of home.

5. Form groups of three to four students to discuss the pros and cons of their current home.

6. Ask students to discuss the location, style, and size of their dream home.

7. Have students stand under the poster that most resembles their dream home.

8. Ask students to discuss the pros and cons of their dream home.




 I. Your Students’ Situation
           Handout:

      Visiting Open Houses
      Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

156
      Note to the teacher: The following checklist can be used as students begin to visit open houses. You might use it to discuss
      housing criteria with your class after you visit an open house, or you might provide it as a resource once individual students
      are ready to look for homes. Either way, this tool will help your students keep track of the houses they visit and think fur ther
      about their housing criteria.

      The checklist is meant as a jumping-off point and may need to be altered as students visit actual houses.


      Address of House:
      Realtor’s Name:
      List Cost of House:




      HOME                           Good    Average      Poor            NEIGHBORHOOD               Good        Average      Poor

      Square footage             ____        ______       ____            Safety                     ____        _______      ____
      Number of bedrooms         ____        ______       ____            Appearance of
      Number of bathrooms        ____        ______       ____              nearby houses            ____        _______      ____
      Practical floor plan       ____        ______       ____            Traffic                    ____        _______      ____
      Interior walls condition   ____        ______       ____            Noise level                ____        _______      ____
      Number of closets          ____        ______       ____            Special security           ____        _______      ____
      Usability of storage space ____        ______       ____            Age mix                    ____        _______      ____
      Basement                   ____        ______       ____            Number of children         ____        _______      ____
      Fireplace                  ____        ______       ____            Pets                       ____        _______      ____
      Exterior condition         ____        ______       ____            Parking                    ____        _______      ____
      Lawn/yard space            ____        ______       ____            Neighborhood rules         ____        _______      ____
      Fence                      ____        ______       ____            Fire protection            ____        _______      ____
      Patio/deck                 ____        ______       ____            Police                     ____        _______      ____
      Garage                     ____        ______       ____            Snow removal               ____        _______      ____
      Screens                    ____        ______       ____            Garbage service            ____        _______      ____
      Storm windows              ____        ______       ____
                                                                          CONVENIENCE TO             Good        Average      Poor
      Condition/age of roof      ____        ______       ____
      Gutters and downspouts ____            ______       ____            Supermarket                ____        _______      ____
                                                                          Work                       ____        _______      ____
      SCHOOLS                        Good    Average      Poor            Schools                    ____        _______      ____
                                                                          Other shopping             ____        _______      ____
      Age                            ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Child care                 ____        _______      ____
      Condition                      ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Hospitals                  ____        _______      ____
      Reputation                     ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Doctor/dentist             ____        _______      ____
      Quality of teachers            ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Restaurants                ____        _______      ____
      Achievement test scores        ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Entertainment              ____        _______      ____
      Play areas                     ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Place of worship           ____        _______      ____
      Curriculum                     ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Airport                    ____        _______      ____
      Class size                     ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Highways                   ____        _______      ____
      Busing distance                ____    _______      ____
                                                                          Libraries                  ____        _______      ____



       I. Your Students’ Situation
      Activity:

Reflecting on Neighborhoods
Lisa Garrone, ABCD’s (Action Boston Community Development) Southside Head Start Adult ESOL Program, Roslindale, MA

                                                                                                                                   157
Note to the teacher: One aspect of buying a home is investing in a neighborhood. This activity builds vocabulary related to
neighborhoods. It also provides students with a way to prioritize what is important to them as they look at buying homes in
a given neighborhood.


Instructions
To begin the lesson, broaden the concept of home to include neighborhood. Then emphasize the difference between “neighbor”
and “neighborhood,” as many students confuse the two. Next, ask the class, “What’s in a neighborhood?” Write their responses
on an easel or the blackboard.

Ask students to choose the 15 most important items (from the student-generated list) to have in a neighborhood (in the
example, these items are in bold). Of course, everyone will not agree, and some interesting arguments will begin.

In our class discussion, for example, the Haitian, Latin, and Lebanese students felt that it was very important to have a church
in the neighborhood. This met strong opposition from an Albanian student, who said she didn’t care about having a church
because she is from a communist country. A Haitian man responded, “It’s very important. Sometimes when you have a
problem and you can go to the church, it helps you to change your mind.”

Each of the chosen neighborhood elements reveals something about the person who selects it. Within the sample list, a man
chose yards and trees because he had been a farmer and now finds it important to have enough land to grow some tomatoes.
A couple chose dry cleaner because they both worked as pressers at a dry cleaner. When asked why it was important to have
houses and not apartments in a neighborhood, a student explained that there are too many people living in apartment buildings,
which would make the neighborhood crowded.

You can ask your students what people (neighbors) they want living near them. This can reveal what types of neighbors your
students have had in the past. In our discussion, a few students had lived next door to or downstairs from neighbors who
were constantly fighting and had police called on them nearly every night. All students agreed on the importance of having
good neighbors.

Our list is below, with the students’ choices in bold type.

People                                        Dry cleaner                                  Laundromat
Fire station                                  Yards                                        Police station
Health center                                 Convenience store                            Gas station
Subway                                        Library                                      Office building
Apartments                                    Playground
Restaurant                                    School
Church                                        Dogs and cats
Bus stop                                      Park
Houses                                        Funeral home
Beauty salon                                  Market
Trees                                         Bakery




 I. Your Students’ Situation
                  Activity and Handout:

      Living in the City Where the Shopping Is Easy
      Students’ writing, Community Learning Center, Cambridge, MA

158
      Note to the teacher: These student writings can be used as prompts to encourage your students to write about or discuss
      where they would choose to live and why. The writings can also be used as reading comprehension exercises.


      Instructions

      Students respond in writing to this question: If you were to buy a home in the United States and could choose between the city
      and suburbs, which location would you choose? Give at least two reasons for your answer. Also give at least two reasons why
      you would decide against the other location.


      Sample student writings
      1. If I could choose between the city and the suburbs, I would choose the suburbs. In the suburbs you don’t have to deal with a
         lot of traffic. It’s very quiet and relaxing and it’s very nice to live in peace. If you live in the city you have to deal with traffic and
         a lot of noise. In the city you have to live in buildings and you don’t have too much privacy. What I mean by living in peace is
         when you have your own house and there’s not a person living next to you like in one complex building always people back
         and forth. That is what I mean by not having much privacy because you don’t have your own house.

      2. I’d like to buy a house in the suburbs; I’d like to have a house with a big yard to grow plants, flowers and vegetables, I would
         like the water to come from the earth, to have a very healthy spring water and build up a nice pool. I could locate my house
         in one state where the climate was very delicious, I mean, not too cold not too hot. I think a house like this will make me
         feel comfortable and happy. Having a house in the suburbs could have some disadvantages, like to be far from the shopping
         store, to get my daily stuff. To buy a house in the city is good too, but the pollution, the noise, etc., probably don’t make me
         feel comfortable and happy.

      3. I would choose the suburbs. Because in the suburbs it’s a lot safer than in the city. You don’t see many people in the street.
         It’s more quiet, and secure. Life in the suburbs is very expensive, too much money. I would like the life in the suburbs because
         it’s more private, and the neighborhood is more peaceful. Life in the city is very different from living in the suburbs. We have
         huge buildings, many people in the street, very noisy life in the city, is not too expensive, the stores are very close, the shopping
         is easy, it’s not like you know everybody like the life in the suburbs. But I do like the city, just for transportation, you have
         choice of school, because there are many. I like being in the city for many reasons. But I do like to buy my house in the suburbs.

      4. When I was a little kid I have been thinking of buying a home in the city. I have lived in the city and I love the city very much.
         I think buying a home in the city is important in that it reduces transportation costs. It helps you to move free without any
         restriction. If you don’t own a car the availabilities of public transport at reasonable costs will be a great help to you. As you
         think of uniting with your families from your native country to the United States, having a home in the city will assist your
         families and friends accommodation. If you don’t have cash it is important for you to have a job before thinking of buying a
         home. In the United States most jobs are located in the city and it’s significant to buying a home in the city. Contrary to buying
         a home in a city it’s very costly and expensive to buy a home in the suburbs. A lot of people find it difficult to get jobs in their
         community where they live. For others who are able to find one it became difficult for them to commute due the shortage of
         public transportation available to their community. I think buying a home in the city is economical and I prefer to live in the city.




       I. Your Students’ Situation
II. Money Matters


   As you cover the steps of home-buying readiness with your students, you will inevitably bump into the topic of personal finance
   and money management. This next set of tools includes learning activities that address basic budgeting and credit, general              159
   banking procedures, and the consumer practice of financing a home through a mor tgage.

   The tools addressing budgeting and credit present basic money management concepts, including methods that facilitate
   self-awareness about spending patterns and models of how to create spreadsheets that make it easy to track expenses.

   General banking procedures are introduced through teacher reflections. The reflections illustrate how teachers have introduced
   their students to the services of U.S. banks and provide ideas for you to adapt. You will also find reflections on using bankers,
   brokers, and lawyers as resources to help answer complex housing questions.

   Toward the end of this section you will find handouts, activities, and reflections that clarify the specialized vocabulary associated
   with obtaining a mortgage. These tools will provide your students with practice in calculating monthly mortgage costs. In addition
   to the tools included here you may also want to refer to the Fannie Mae Foundation’s consumer guide Choosing the Mortgage
   That’s Right for You. The guide contains comprehensive information about the mortgage process, the various available mortgages,
   and worksheets. To receive a free copy of this booklet in English call (800) 688-HOME (4663). For a free copy of the booklet
   in Spanish call (800) 782-2729.
           Activity:

      A Dollar Here, a Dollar There
      Sarah Emilio, Head Start Summer Institute, Community Action Program, Haverhill, MA

160
      Note to the teacher: Many credit counselors begin the process of personal finance management by asking their clients to
      keep track of every single expense in a given week. The first step in changing spending patterns for students who wish to save
      money or clean up credit is realizing how they are spending their money and how much of it they are spending.


      Instructions

      In this activity, one teacher shares how she and her students started to track their expenses and create a budget using a
      spreadsheet. Although this sample activity relies on the students’ comfort with sharing personal spending information, you
      may find that students are more comfortable keeping track of their expenditures in a small, private notebook. In some cases,
      students may choose to keep this information private. That should be respected. What is most important is that students,
      themselves, are encouraged to record their expenses over a given period of time so that they grow more conscious of their
      spending habits.

      Among other potential lessons, students’ spending information can form the basis of a math class on percentages, decimals,
      charts, and graphs.


      Sample Activity
      On Monday, I asked how many students had stopped at the convenience store on the way to school that morning. Amazingly,
      80 percent of the students had visited the convenience store and had spent an average of $4.50. Next, the group computed
      the cost of stopping at the convenience store every weekday during an eight-week period. The class members were astonished
      by the thought that they would spend $180 each during the duration of the program! Having realized the amount of money that
      was being wasted by buying coffee or muffins on the way to school, the group brainstormed about how to save money. All students
      quickly realized that if they had bought the items at the grocery store and packed a lunch daily, the cost over an eight-week
      period would drop by 80 percent.

      This exercise sparked a conversation about spending habits and how to curb them but still maintain a fulfilling life. As an exercise,
      the students were asked to create a spreadsheet of daily expenses for the next week. Students were asked to input items
      and their cost, and through simple addition the spreadsheet recorded the total spent for the day. These totals could easily be
      tallied as weekly and monthly expenses as well.

      In other words, each time students spent any money (even small change—each penny adds up!), they wrote the amount
      spent and the item bought on the spreadsheet. The group reconvened one week later to discuss what was bought and how
      one might cut back on expenses.




      II. Money Matters
       Activity:

Combining Computer Literacy and Budgeting
Jose Gonzalez, Spanish Education Development Center, Washington, DC

                                                                                                                                      161
Note to the teacher: You can incorporate computer literacy into your classes about budgeting. This activity explores how to do
that by using the most common and basic computer software: Windows NT, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Netscape.


Instructions

Begin by identifying resources on the World Wide Web that will provide specific knowledge on local home costs (try www.realtor.com)
and needed income for purchasing a home (a number of banks have mortgage calculators on their Web sites). Then create a
simple spreadsheet that calculates students’ monthly expenses. Now the students are in a position to know how much they
need for a down payment and how much they can save toward it.

Below is a sample spreadsheet, complete with examples of what students would list in each column:

EXPENSE                     COST                    DATE PAID               FORM OF PAYMENT                  BALANCE

rent                        $900                    June 1                  Check #146                       $1,000–900=$100

clothes

food

children’s school

credit cards

car payments

insurance

entertainment

savings




II. Money Matters
           Activity:

      Credit Activity Using Authentic Materials
      Dulany Alexander, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

162
      Note to the teacher: Your students can learn about credit card terms through this multiclass activity. To make this unit a
      realistic exposure to the world of credit cards and debt, try to use a variety of authentic materials.


      Description of the Process

      The students worked in small groups to compare credit card applications I had collected from various banks and from my own
      collection of junk mail. I wanted them to understand the questions that a potential credit card holder would be asked to provide,
      and I wanted them to critically analyze why the creditor might want this information. The students’ responses were sharp and
      on the mark. For instance, one student knew that sharing a Social Security number with the creditor would give the creditor
      access to the applicant’s credit history. Another student noted that the company would want to know where to send the bill
      and that that was the simple reason for asking for an address.

      Later, the students and I collected bank brochures describing the personal banking services offered by different banks. We
      compared the costs of checking and savings accounts. Many of the students were surprised to see that bank fees varied, not
      only from bank to bank, but also from one checking account to another within the same bank. We talked about the factors to
      consider in choosing which account is best suited to one’s personal financial habits.

      During the next lesson, the students used a copy of the Suburban Real Estate News to familiarize themselves with listed house
      prices and the kinds of down payments that a given selling price would require. And for one of our final lessons, we viewed a
      videotape of the Lynn real estate cable channel. The students watched the video clip for selling features of the houses. They
      rewound the tape and listened, repeatedly, to catch words and phrases. They helped each other interpret “real estate-ese”
      into English, and they analyzed misleading and coded adver tising.

      One of the most significant lessons was the eye-opening “28 percent rule” that another class had also confronted during
      these lessons. As students looked over two bank pamphlets about the mortgage process and mortgage financing options,
      they were struck by the bank’s assertion that “one’s mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of one’s gross annual
      income.” We hypothesized what that would mean for a person working full-time at $10/hour. We calculated the maximum
      mortgage payment allowable under the “28 percent rule,” and having already completed the amortization table exercise in
      which the class looked up the monthly payments at current interest rates for houses on the market locally, students’ “dream
      houses” seemed even more like dreams. We were grounded, reminded that affordable housing is limited. This was an important
      step in learning about the value of one’s money and the cost of home buying.




      II. Money Matters
     Activity:

Creating Nontraditional Credit Histories
M.J. Natalie, Bunker Hill Community College, Chelsea, MA

                                                                                                                                       163
Note to the teacher: In order to build a credit history, it’s mandatory to create a “paper trail.” The following three-part activity
describes how one teacher began that process with her immigrant students.



Description of the Process

First, the entire class took a field trip to the Boston Public Library so that students could get a Boston Public Library card and
begin to build an alternative credit history. Also, students were asked to get a Bunker Hill Community College identification
card. Along with helping students think about the importance of documenting and validating themselves for further banking
and credit approvals, I also wanted to help instill a sense of community spirit, a feeling of belonging in their new country.

Later, we spoke about the importance of paying bills on time and creating a paper trail. One student shared the story of how
he had to collect his receipts from a day care program to prove that he and his wife had paid for a whole year of day care for
their child. This led to a further discussion about the possibility of establishing a nontraditional credit history.




II. Money Matters
           Activity:

      Writing Letters to Credit Bureaus
      Dulany Alexander, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

164
      Note to the teacher: The following activity combines the skills of word processing and letter composing. During your home-
      buying readiness course, students can request and receive their credit report.



      Description of the Process

      The students used a word processor to write a letter to a credit bureau requesting a copy of their credit history. They followed
      a format suggested by a local TV channel: full name, date of birth, Social Security number, spouse’s name, spouse’s Social
      Security number, five years of previous addresses, current employer, day phone number, and evening phone number. They
      then used the cut-and-paste tool on the computer to revise their letters.

      Students who had a credit history made copies of a utility bill or driver’s license to establish their identity and then mailed the
      letters, but even those who had no credit history chose to go through the entire process.

      They sent their requests for credit histories to the following companies:

      Equifax
      P.O. Box 740241
      Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

      Experian (formerly TRW)
      P.O. Box 9600
      Allen, TX 75013-0949

      Trans Union Corp.
      P.O. Box 1000
      Chester, PA 19022




      II. Money Matters
     Handout:

True and False Questionnaire: Credit Reports
Lavaun Moulten, San Diego Community College, San Diego, CA

                                                                                                                                 165
Note to the teacher: You can use this true and false questionnaire to teach important information about credit reports as well
as to prompt discussion about the role of building credit and credit checks in the home-buying process.

The information is taken from How to Buy Your Own Home, Lesson 3 “Your Credit Report” and “100 Questions and Answers
About Buying a new Home,” HUD Brochure.

 1. Your credit report is a history of the way an individual pays his/her debt.                      True             False

 2. There are three major credit reporting bureaus.                                                  True             False

 3. It is a good idea to get a credit report from each of the three major credit companies.          True             False

 4. The credit reports always show accurate information about your credit history.                   True             False

 5. Lenders want to see a history of paying bills on time.                                           True             False

 6. If an individual finds simple errors on a credit report, the mistakes should be pointed          True             False
    out to the credit reporting agency.

 7. It is probably a good idea to get a credit report at least every five years.                     True             False

 8. A credit report helps the lender determine the ability of an individual to repay a loan.         True             False

 9. Names of credit reporting agencies can be found in the yellow pages.                             True             False

10. A credit report shows amount of money an individual owes and length of time that                 True             False
    money has been owed.

11. The fees charged for a credit report by credit reporting agencies are the same.                  True             False

12. A credit report shows both present and past addresses.                                           True             False


Answers: 1. True       2. True     3. True     4. False      5. True    6. True    7. True     8. True      9. True   10. True
        11. False     12. True




II. Money Matters
           Handout:

      Questions You Might Want to Ask if You Are Applying for a Credit Card
      Lavaun Moulten, San Diego Community College, San Diego, CA

166
      Note to the teacher: As students learn about the dangers and benefits of using credit and, in particular, credit cards, it’s
      important to work with real, or what is sometimes called “authentic” material. The following handout is meant to guide
      students through an actual credit card application form.

       1. What is the interest rate on the credit card?

       2. Is the rate quoted a promotional or introductory rate?

       3. If it is an introductory rate, what is the length of time of the promotional rate?

       4. Does the credit card company charge an annual fee on the credit card?

       5. Are there any penalties if the card is not used for a period of time?

       6. Is there a penalty if the credit card holder goes over the limit?

       7. Can the payment due date be changed if the card holder needs to for some reason?

       8. Is the interest rate for the credit card a fixed rate or is it a variable rate?

       9. Would the interest rate be different if I needed cash advances?

      10. What is the length of time of the grace period?

      11. How do your rates compare with other institutions?

      12. Who would I talk to if there were problems or questions I might have about my credit card bill?




      II. Money Matters
           Activity and Reflection:

Navigating the Banking System
Nancy Coffey, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

                                                                                                                                   167
Note to the teacher: The following activity is an example of how a seemingly unsuccessful homework assignment became a
way for the teacher to address her students’ anxiety about banking and to help them feel more confident as banking consumers.
Throughout your home-buying readiness project, you will want to take the lead from your students’ actions, stated and unstated
anxieties, and strengths in designing lessons. As in this case, when the teacher created lesson material based on her students’
needs, you can explore how best to make a seemingly difficult situation into a “teachable” one.


Background

Independent of the home-buying readiness project, a centerwide Student Health Action Team program on stress was being
held at Operation Bootstrap. During the course of the health team’s project, it became clear that many ESOL students
experienced great stress when negotiating with banks.


Original Teaching Goal
Because one of my teaching goals was to help students navigate financial systems more easily and because the ESOL students
had revealed how stressful financial negotiations could be for them, I decided that for homework, I would send everyone to a
bank for practice. I also asked students to collect printed information about different checking and savings accounts at that
bank. Those who were feeling really brave were encouraged to discuss accounts with the customer service representative. In
preparation for the task, we had an in-class discussion about anxiety and how to cope with it. Students were encouraged to go
in pairs to support one another, although surprisingly none did.

In fact, the homework activity was not terribly successful, although it did lead to a wonderful discussion about why most people
hadn’t done the assignment and how the few who had successfully entered a bank had coped with the anxiety. One student
got inside the bank and then left without getting anything. Another talked to the customer service representative and opened
a checking account on the spot.


Revising the Lesson
I then printed up information from one bank’s brochure so that students could compare that bank’s offerings with those of
their own banks. Several students proved to be very savvy consumers. Some had even discovered the no-cost banking offered
by a very reputable local credit union. This discovery led to a sophisticated discussion about the difference between credit
unions and banks. Several students changed their accounts as a result of this activity.




II. Money Matters
           Activity:

      Introducing Students to U.S. Banking Culture
      Victoria Natalie, Bunker Hill Community College, Chelsea, MA

168
      Note to the teacher: The purpose of this mini-banking unit within the home-buying readiness classes was to introduce the
      students to the U.S. banking system. In addition, this unit introduced important basic budget awareness and personal finance
      skills. Once again, this activity went in a different direction than what the teacher had planned.



      Description of the Process

      We began the unit by defining basic banking vocabulary (definitions can be found in Appendix 1, Glossary of Home-Buying
      and Money Management Terms). We then reviewed some basic math skills, such as percentages, decimals, and averages.
      The students role-played going to the bank to set up an account, and the discussion following the role-play was active and
      enlightening; students learned budgeting methods from each other.

      Because their expenses almost always included “sending money home,” we took an informal in-class survey as to the percentage
      of their earned incomes that they sent to their native countries. The results were tallied from a total of 20 students. The overall
      amount of money sent home was 25.4 percent of the class’ total earned income. The following is the breakdown of the number
      of students that sent percentages of their income home: 3 students/5 percent, 6 students/10 percent, 3 students/15 percent,
      1 student/20 percent, 1 student/30 percent, 4 students/50 percent, and 2 students/70 percent. The discussion that followed
      revealed that students were sending money to their native country mainly to support family still living there. In some cases
      that money was being used to buy land or houses in the student’s native country, and always, some of the money was being
      used to help the student’s family with everyday living expenses.




      II. Money Matters
     Activity:

Visits from Bankers, Brokers, and Housing Counselors

Note to the teacher: Invite realtors, bankers, and credit counselors into your classrooms to answer students’ questions and
                                                                                                                                      169
to make contact with your students. Please note that it is important to invite bankers and brokers who are certified and belong
to the appropriate professional associations. Once teachers and program coordinators are certain of a realtor’s or banker’s
credentials and motives, class visits by these professionals can be a very effective way to link students with services and to
help students learn about the home-buying process. In the following stories, teachers explain how they incorporated housing
professionals into their home-buying readiness projects.



Dwight Jarrat, ABCD’s South Side Head Start, Roslindale, MA
For our final activity we invited a realtor to come talk to the class. He, in turn, brought a mortgage originator from one of the
local cooperative banks. Both the realtor and the bank representative are immigrants themselves and have a good reputation
in the community. It was a dynamic meeting that took the entire three-hour class period. Not only were students introduced
to the complicated Offer to Purchase form and Purchase and Sales Agreement, but they were reminded of the excellent soft-
second mortgage programs (refer to Appendix 1, Glossary of Home-Buying and Money-Management Terms) available to low-
income city residents. The importance of hiring a real estate lawyer was emphasized, given that even nice realtors represent
the seller. Students had a lot to say and had a lot of questions.


Deborah Marquardt, We’re All in This Together (W.A.I.T.T.) House, Roxbury, MA
A community educator/liaison from a local bank and trust spoke to the class about finance and money management issues. He is
a frequent presenter at W.A.I.T.T. House and a particular favorite with the students. In the past, he has been able to make banking
seem accessible even to people who express suspicion about the motives of large financial institutions. Upon hearing of the
students’ interest in home buying, he offered to explain the loan process from the bank’s point of view. He described what criteria
the bank deems important when reviewing loan applications, and he offered advice about how to prepare for the loan application
process. He also focused on fixing credit problems and how students can obtain their credit reports to begin to do that. As always,
his information was clear and practical, and it added another important perspective to the home-buying process.


Sam Bernstein, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Boston, MA
In early March, a realtor based in Chinatown came to the class to meet students, make a presentation, and answer the questions
they had generated earlier in the semester. This particular realtor knows our student population well because he’s been a
substitute and part-time teacher at our school for many years. He speaks fluent Cantonese and some Mandarin. That day he
spoke mostly in Cantonese. He had excellent bilingual materials. He compared the advantages and disadvantages of renting and
owning, highlighting the tax advantages of owning a home. He showed pictures of different kinds of homes so students could
compare them. He explained in detail how a broker functions. And he presented a monthly payment chart based on a 30-year
fixed-rate mortgage. The students were prepared for and welcomed this new information, and they asked even more questions.


Shelly Rieman, Housing Activists, El Centro del Cardenal, Boston, MA
We finished the home-buying unit by inviting a banker and a housing activist from a tenant rights group to come speak to the
class about home buying. These speakers, along with the Fannie Mae Foundation and Adult Literacy Resource Institute (ALRI)
materials that I distributed to the students (Choosing the Mortgage That’s Right for You/Abriendo La Puerta De Su Propio Hogar,
published by the Fannie Mae Foundation, and a list of home-buying resources and agencies from the ALRI’s 1997 home-buying
readiness project), provided students with a good jumping-off point to begin the home-buying process.




II. Money Matters
              Handout:

      The Lawyer
      Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

170
      Note to the teacher: The following activity is meant to be used as a stand-alone lesson, but it can also be incorporated into a
      larger unit on lawyers and legal issues. For instance, students can discuss criteria they will use in choosing which lawyers to
      work with, or they can role-play interactions with lawyers so that they will make well-educated and informed decisions about
      which professionals they want to work with in the future.



      You can find a real estate lawyer* (don’t use any other kind when you are purchasing a house) by doing the following:
      •    Asking your real estate agent

      •    Asking a mortgage lender

      •    Calling the local bar association (ask for real estate specialists)

      •    Using word of mouth


      Before you hire the lawyer, ask questions:
      •    Do your fees cover the entire process of home buying, including reviewing documents?

      •    Are your fees hourly?

      •    Do your fees include the closing?


      Likely charge: between $200 and $750 or more depending on your neighborhood and which part of the country you live in
      (e.g., New York City will be more expensive).

      * In most states, you don’t have to have a lawyer, but it’s a good idea for first-time buyers. The only exception to this rule is on
        the West Coast, where it is unnecessary for lawyers to be part of the home-buying transaction because the mortgage insurance
        company ensures that all the documents are in order. However, especially for immigrants and first-time home buyers, it is
        recommended that in all other parts of the country, new home buyers work with a real estate lawyer, especially if a condominium
        or co-op is being purchased.




          II. Money Matters
         Activity:

Looking for a Mortgage Vendor
Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

                                                                                                                                       171
Note to the teacher: The following information and accompanying form can be used in a number of ways. Here are two possibilities:
the teacher can review the terms in class and assign particular students, or groups of students, to research banks and then come
back and share the information with the rest of the class; or the teacher can collect the information and ask students to compare.



Who? Lending institutions

•    Savings banks

•    Savings and loan associations
•    Commercial banks

•    Credit unions
•    Mortgage bankers

•    Mortgage brokers
•    Government agencies (Department of Housing and Community Development)


How? The search
•    Your own bank or credit union

•    Real estate agent
•    Friends, coworkers

•    Real estate section
•    Yellow pages (under mortgages, banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and financing)


What? Defining and understanding the mortgage
•    PRINCIPAL: How much; depends on your down payment

•    INTEREST: How much the lender charges to borrow the money
•    TIME: 15–30 years

•    Longer time means smaller monthly payments but more interest
•    Shorter time means larger monthly payments but less interest

•    POINTS: A percentage of the loan. You can pay additional percentage at closing, and this will reduce the interest payments
     you make over the course of the loan.

Which? The two most common ways to borrow
•    FIXED-RATE (15, 20, 25, or 30 years) MORTGAGE: You agree to pay the same interest throughout.

•    ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage): At the beginning of the loan, you get a lower interest rate (between 1 and 3 percent less),
     but the figure can rise after the first year. Some mortgages will protect you from very high increases. The mortgage will limit
     how high the interest can go. This is called a cap. It is either 5 to 7 percent over market rate or a certain percentage.




    II. Money Matters
      Looking for a Mortgage Vendor continued

                              23
      Lender Survey Sheet

                                                       Lender #1   Lender #2   Lender #3
172
         1. Lender and contact information:

         2. Mortgage type (fixed rate, ARM):
            Length of loan:

         3. Interest rate and points:
            Quoted rate:
            Date of quote:
            Number of points for this rate:

         4. Down payment:
            Minimum down payment needed:

         5. Early repayment penalties:
            Prepayment penalty on the mortgage loan?
            If yes, how much?

         6. Closing costs and fees:
            Credit report fee:
            Application fee:
            Appraisal fee:
            Other costs:

         7. Loan processing time:
            Locked-in interest rate availability:
            How long lock-in lasts:
            Time needed after approval to get money:

         8. Lock-ins:
            When lock-ins are available:
            Any charge for lock-in?
            What happens if rates drop?

         9. Starting interest rate:

       10. Rate adjustments:
            Time before interest?
            Rate changes?
            Frequency of rate changes after that?
            ADJUSTMENT CAPS:
            Maximum amount the rate can
              change at one time?
            Total amount rate can change over
              the term of the loan?

       11. Change to fixed rate:
            Can ARM be turned to fixed rate?
            When?
            Is there a fee for change?

          II. Money Matters
         Handout:

Negotiate for the Best Price
Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

                                                                                                                                   173
Note to the teacher: If students have all their paperwork in order and have found a house they would like to purchase, they will
want to make sure that they are comfortable with the negotiation process and etiquette. This handout provides a checklist for
students as they prepare to make an offer on a house they wish to buy. Also, be prepared to discuss what it means to negotiate
or work with another person to reach an agreement.



Before

Have:
•    The selling prices and addresses of houses in the neighborhood that are like the house you want to buy
•    The “fair market value” (fair price of the home: highest price someone who wants the house, and can afford it, will pay;
     the lowest a seller who wants to sell will accept)

•    A notebook to write down what happens when you and the seller make offers back and forth through the realtors
•    A list of things that have to be fixed or will need to be fixed soon (make this list on your own—the home inspector goes
     to work later)
•    Reasons why the house could be hard to sell

•    An exact range of money that you can afford to spend on the house (including down payment, mortgage, taxes, insurance,
     utilities, repairs)

If the seller says, “your offer is too low”

Talk about:
•    Prices of similar houses in the neighborhood (You want the seller to think that the house isn’t so valuable.)

•    Things that need to be fixed
•    Reasons why the house could be difficult to sell (on a busy street, at the bottom of a hill)

If the seller says, “your offer is too low”

Don’t talk about:
•    Things you don’t like about the decorations inside, such as paint, wallpaper (This will insult the seller.)
•    How the house compares to another house you’re looking at (The seller could say, “Just buy the other house.”)

•    The fact that you can’t afford it (Do this for only your last offer.)




    II. Money Matters
           Handout:
                                              24
      Putting Together a Down Payment
      Shelley Emmer, New York Association for New Immigrants, New York, NY

174
      Note to the teacher: When students first apply for a mortgage, they will be asked to list all their sources of income that can
      be used toward the down payment. With this handout, students can identify how much money they have and from where that
      money will come.



      Source                                                                   Amount

      Savings                                                                  $________

      Cash in securities or valuables                                          $________

      Borrowed funds                                                           $________
      (from insurance or pension)

      Parents, relatives, or friends                                           $________

      Other                                                                    $________

                                                                               $________

                                                                               $________



      TOTAL                                                                    $________




      II. Money Matters
     Activity:

How Much Will It Cost?
Deborah Schwartz, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                   175
Note to the teacher: This lesson asks students to review the Fannie Mae Foundation’s home-buying curricula in order to gain
an understanding of the costs of buying and keeping a home. It can be used to assess students’ knowledge of the home-buying
process, or it can be used as a group project where students can practice research—forming questions and finding answers.

The teacher should provide an amortization chart that calculates interest rates paid on a specific amount of money over a
period of time. These charts can be found in amortization handbooks at the public library or by speaking directly to a mortgage
originator at a bank.



Section I: Narrative
Shawnda Williams lives in Lynn, Massachusetts. She is tired of paying rent for an apartment that she doesn’t have any
control over. Together with her sister Michelle, who has two children; their mother, Mrs. Williams; and their grandmother,
Mrs. Foote; they have decided to look for a house to buy for the whole family. They have spoken many times about what they
would like in a house.

Michelle wants a unit with at least two bedrooms and a smaller alcove that can be used for her youngest daughter’s bedroom.
Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Foote want to stay in the neighborhood they have lived in most of their lives, as it’s close to the bus,
the train, their friends, the church, and the clinic whose doctors and nurses they trust. Shawnda wants a big yard for the kids.
She dreams of setting up a hammock and reading her favorite books during her two weeks of vacation in August.

Shawnda feels optimistic after visiting the mortgage broker at her bank. With her mother’s and grandmother’s bit of savings,
along with Michelle’s and Shawnda’s work history as employed nurses, they might just be able to pull this off. She’s so excited
that she has signed up for a first-time home-buying class at a local community center. For the past nine Sunday mornings, after
everyone else has left for church, she has looked at the real estate section of the paper to see what kinds of houses are on
the market. Last Sunday she read about a triple-decker in good condition that was selling for $225,000. The next day after
work, she stayed on the bus for a few more stops and strolled down the street to look at the house.

First of all, the house needed a paint job. The lawn was so overgrown that it looked like a forest. But then Shawnda noticed a
fruit tree alongside the dilapidated fence; she swore there were small pears growing from it—egglike and golden—and she
could imagine living there. She could imagine cutting back the weeds to let the tree get plenty of sun.


Section II: Questions
1. If the Williams/Foote family qualifies for a 5 percent first-time home buyer’s down payment program, how much money will
   they need to have in order to cover the costs of the down payment, home inspection, mortgage application, lawyer fee, and
   closing fees?

2. If they don’t qualify for the first-time home buyer’s program, how much money would they need for the above costs?

3. If they need to borrow only the money for the mortgage payments (since they have been able to save the money for the down
   payment) and they are approved for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at a 7.0 percent interest rate, what will be the total costs
   of their monthly payments?

4. If Shawnda is paying only one-third of the mortgage, what will her monthly payments be?




II. Money Matters
      How Much Will It Cost? continued


         Use the following information about the home-buying process to help answer your questions:

           1. Making an offer: Your offer will be made contingent upon your satisfaction with the home inspection, conventional
176           financing eligibility, condo association budget review, and credit eligibility.

           2. Deposit at offer: The amount is negotiable, between $500 and 5 percent of the price of the property. Keep it as low as
              possible (this is counted toward your down payment).

           3. Accepted offer: Check all the dates for reasonableness; an accepted offer must be in writing. You have 10 days to get
              the inspection, 5 days to apply for the mortgage, 21 days (from application) to receive approval, and 7 days to closing.

           4. Home inspection: Once you have an accepted offer, schedule a home inspection right away. Be at the inspection so you
              can ask questions.

           5. Purchase and sale: This is the big contract. Hire a real estate attorney to review it with you. Negotiate the attorney fee in
              advance. You will have to write another check as part of the down payment at this point. Again, this amount is negotiable.
              You have now written two checks toward the down payment. The first one was when you made the offer.

           6. Mortgage application: Phone a city or a local community development corporation to get the latest information on
              mortgages. Schedule your mortgage application with an “originator.” The application process will take about 1.5 hours.
              The originator will want to know everything about your life and money! Don’t apply for more than one mortgage.

           7. Follow-up to mortgage application: During the following week, the mortgage originator will continue to phone you and
              ask for more information.

           8. Loan approval: After three to four weeks you should receive a Loan Commitment letter. Read it. Make sure there are no
              new contingencies. Sign it and return it to the bank.

           9. Fire and hazard insurance: Now you can buy your homeowners insurance.You will get your insurance binder. Take it to
              the closing. (If you are buying a condominium, you may not need homeowners insurance. Ask if it’s included in the
              condominium fee.)

          10. Final walk-through before closing: This is your last chance to check that all is as it should be with the property before
              you close. Do this on the closing date, or as close to it as possible.

          11. Closing cost sheet: Usually about 48 hours before closing, the bank attorney will tell you what amount to write your final
              check for. You must use a certified check. The following are approximate costs on a $100,000 loan:

                     Balance 5% down payment………………..….                    $2,000

                     Closing costs……………………………..……                         $1,200

                     Escrow (2 months’ tax/insurance)…..…...…….           $350

                     Prepaids (interest)………………………….……                     $600

                     *Private mortgage insurance (PMI)………......……         $0

                     TOTAL…………………………………………..                              $4,150

                     *No PMI for this first-time home buyer’s program

          12. Closing day: You will attend the closing, taking with you the insurance binder and your final certified bank check.




          II. Money Matters
     Activity:

Amortizations: Using Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheet
Nancy Coffey, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

                                                                                                                                  177
Note to the teacher: The following activity explains how to use a spreadsheet to help your students calculate a given monthly
mortgage payment. You can also bring in an amortization handbook from the library or a bookstore and have students work in
pairs to calculate monthly mortgage payments with variable interest rates.



A staff member created a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program so that students could figure out monthly mortgage payments for
the houses they had chosen. We used a fixed 30-year mortgage program at a 7.25 percent interest rate. Using the Lotus
software, students determined the total coat of the house over the 30-year period. Those who had time figured payments and
overall costs for a 20-year mortgage as well.

Every student loved this activity. The computer program worked like magic. Using it gave students a real feeling of power. For
all students, this was an excellent opportunity to practice reading large numbers in English and to learn a new computer skill.




II. Money Matters
              Activity:

      A Lesson on Discount Points
      Jenia Walter, Asian Resources, Sacramento, CA

178
      Note to the teacher: Many home-buying readiness projects offer interested students an opportunity to join a one-day intensive
      home-buying readiness workshop or a series of workshops. In these “stand-alone” home-buying readiness workshops, you
      will most likely have to teach the more technical terms involved in purchasing a home. With such technical information sharing
      in the classroom, you can offset students’ anxiety by explaining that mortgages are packages that in particular circumstances
      and for particular consumers have varying costs and benefits associated with them.

      Most important, when you are expected to teach the more technical aspects of home buying, you and your students should
      work directly with trustworthy bankers and housing counselors. For instance, all students who participated in this workshop
      had access to follow-up, individualized sessions with a community home-buying counselor as they pursued homeownership.



      Background: In this particular one-day stand-alone model of delivery, workshop participants are typically members of a specific
      language group, usually immigrants or refugees who have been in the United States long enough to develop an interest in buying
      a home. Because levels of literacy, math skills, and formal education in the native language also vary widely depending on
      the group of learners, it can be helpful to do some reading/math activities early in the day to assess the group, and then tailor
      lessons to student needs. This lesson was developed for low intermediate–level English students with previous math education,
      although it can be adapted for different levels.

      Objectives: Students will

      •    Develop an understanding of the concept of points and how they relate to mortgage loans
      •    Develop the ability to read real estate listings of current loan rates

      •    Review/solidify their understanding of interest rates, closing costs, and annual percentage rate (APR)
      •    Practice expressing fractions and decimals in English

      •    Practice pronouncing key vocabulary words

      •    Develop confidence in their ability to ask questions and gather information on mortgage loans, especially by telephone

      Rationale: The concept of points has been chosen as a focus because

      •    Most students who attend the workshop have already developed a basic understanding of interest rates and down payments
           but find concepts such as points, balloon payments, or adjustable-rate loans more challenging
      •    Understanding points involves math concepts of decimals, fractions, and percents, which students may know but need
           practice in expressing/pronouncing in English
      •    Charts listing current loan rates can be used as a teaching tool: on their own, to review interest rates and mortgage payments,
           and to teach APR as a subsequent lesson

      •    The information on points can be combined with previously covered concepts to practice conversation on shopping for a loan
      •    The lesson familiarizes students with using the Fannie Mae Foundation ESL home-buying curriculum, Internet resources,
           and local newspapers for information and/or practice

      Materials: Overhead projector (OHP); whiteboard; real estate section of local newspaper, with copies of the weekly listing of
      current loan rates; flashcards with examples of fractions and decimals; fraction/decimal worksheet (optional); Fannie Mae
      Foundation ESL student book, How to Buy a Home in the United States, and guide, Choosing the Mortgage That’s Right for You
      (available in English and Spanish); calculators; and telephones for dialogue practice.




          II. Money Matters
A Lesson on Discount Points continued


   Notes from earlier lessons: Students have reviewed numbers and measurement in vocabulary related to floor plans and square
   footage. Also, they have worked with percentages and vocabulary related to interest rates and down payments. And they were
   introduced to the concepts of fixed-rate versus adjustable-rate loans, closing costs, and APR.
                                                                                                                                        179

   Procedures
     1. Ask students to list, in pairs or groups, mortgage loan terms covered thus far and put them on the board.

     2. Hand out copies of (and display on OHP) a local newspaper’s real estate loan rate sheet, demonstrating (or asking a
        student to demonstrate) how to find this sheet in the real estate section of the local newspaper.

     3. Let students decipher the columns on the sheet. Elicit a definition of points, referring students to glossaries in the
        Fannie Mae Foundation ESOL student guide and on the Web at www.homepath.com. Explore how points might be linked
        to interest rates.

     4. Read together, or in small groups, the section on points in Choosing the Mortgage That’s Right for You (pp. 15–16).
        When assigning this reading, ask students to look for reasons why a buyer may or may not want to pay discount points.
        (For very beginning level English-speaking groups, reading can be done in their native language guide if needed; for other
        beginning English-speaking groups, the material may need to be presented by an interpreter or a more advanced student.)

     5. Put a simple example on the OHP or on the board, assuming a $100,000 loan with 8 percent interest and 1 point/2 points/
        0.5 points. For this example, use the estimate that one point will lower the interest rate one-eighth of a percent. Discuss
        the concept as a group, letting students answer each other’s questions when possible; if necessary, use translations.

     6. Next, use the same, then varied, loan amounts with rates and points that students choose from the rate sheet. Note
        fractional examples such as 1.875 points (1-7/8) and how the decimal form can be multiplied by the loan amount to
        calculate the total cost of points.

     7. Check student comprehension with questions: Are points a part of your down payment? Do you pay points monthly? If
        students are still unsure, allow time for further explanation by other students or interpreters. Take time to remind students
        that real estate concepts are not easy for native speakers either; understanding the basic concepts is enough—a trusted
        agent or lender will take charge of complex calculations and details.

     8. Using the rate sheet, note that some lenders may require points to be paid, while in other cases points are optional.
        (Required points are sometimes called an “origination fee.”)

     9. Note that in the real world, each point is not always worth the same percentage of interest: the first point may lower the
        rate from 8 percent to 7.75 percent; the second point to 7.625 percent; the third point to 7.5 percent. Explain that this is
        “market driven.” (The banks tell the mortgage companies what percentages to use.) A Realtor or lender can help a buyer
        to calculate how the number of points offered might affect interest rates and payments over time.

    10. Elicit/point out (from the reading) advantages: the buyer can sometimes negotiate for the seller to pay some of the
        points, points are tax deductible; and the disadvantage: the buyer needs more cash at closing time. Discuss when
        paying points, or extra points, may be beneficial to a buyer, and when not (especially, length of time the buyer plans to
        own the house; cash available).

    11. Expressing fractions and decimals: When all students are comfortable with the concept, focus on correct expression of
        fractions and decimals in English. Use OHP or the board to model pronunciation of _, _, _, _, and then whole numbers
        with fractions: 1 _ (1-7/8), 2 _, etc.

    12. Practice with flashcards showing further examples. If more time is available, have students use sets of flashcards
        in small groups.

    13. Move on to decimals (2.38, 1.875, 0.25): practice variations of 0.5, .5. Use flashcards as above.




    II. Money Matters
      A Lesson on Discount Points continued


          14. If time permits, hand out worksheets with examples from daily life to build student confidence in expressing fractions and
              decimals (e.g., a pound and a half of apples, a three-and-a-half-year-old child, one and a quarter inches, three point five miles).

180       15. Pronunciation: Model major pronunciation issues that arise with the specific language group, choosing two or three useful
              points to practice. For example, emphasize the importance of pronouncing (not dropping) final consonants/clusters,
              especially on the telephone: discuss rules for pronouncing s versus es endings; or practice production of sounds such as th.

          16. Return to the rate sheet and ask students to read (in pairs, if time permits) interest rates and points for different companies.

          17. Fluency practice: If time permits, turn to the loan-shopping dialogue in the ESL book (p. 52). Model pronunciation with
              students’ repetition; then ask students to practice in pairs.

          18. Discuss telephone behavior and communication strategies to ask for repetition, clarification, and slower speech. If time
              permits, focus on question structures: I’d like some information on…, What are…, How much…, How many…, Is
              there…, Are there…?

          19. Next, turn to the mortgage rate chart oral practice on pp. 57–58 of the ESL book. Model the dialogue format, using
              student “lenders.” Ask students to practice in pairs. More advanced students can practice telephone skills sitting back
              to back, or develop an original dialogue using the local rate sheet. Emphasize fluency, at this point using humor and a
              playful tone to help students to feel free to try. (If time is limited, model the structure for this information gap exercise
              and encourage students to practice at home.)

          Wrap-up: Ask pairs of students to demonstrate their dialogue for the class, using practice telephones and sitting out of view of
          one another if possible.

          Review important concepts by asking the class questions: How does paying points change your interest rate? What percent
          of your loan is 1 point? 3 points? _ points? _ points? When do you pay for points? Do you think you would want to pay points
          on a house?




          II. Money Matters
     Activity :

What You Should Know about Mortgage Loans
Van Chau, Santa Ana College, CA

                                                                                                                                       181
Note to the teacher: This advanced home-buying readiness lesson requires a basic understanding of mortgage terms. This
activity will be most successful if you use it as a follow-up to lessons that introduced students to the following terms: principal,
interest, fixed mortgage loan, adjustable mortgage loan, term, points, down payment, and closing costs.



On completion of this activity, students should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the terms used when shopping
for a mortgage loan. They will also be able to figure out how expensive a house they can afford.

In addition, students should show competence in using modals (must, have to, may, should):

1. Have students review terms: principal, interest, fixed mortgage loan, adjustable-rate mortgage loan, term, points, down
   payment, closing costs.

2. Have students scan Sunday newspaper to find a house in the area of their choice that they like and feel they can afford.
   Have them cut out the ad and paste it on a piece of paper.

3. Have students figure out how much their down payment is going to be (5–10 percent of asking price).

4. Have students figure out the mortgage amount by subtracting the down payment from the asking price.

5. With closing costs at 1 percent and interest at 7 percent, ask students to figure out how much their mortgage payments
   will be and if they can afford the house.

6. Finally, ask students to write down how much money they need to purchase a house, using the following modals: must,
   have to, may, should.




II. Money Matters
182
III. Consumer Protection



   Because students, often first-time home buyers, confront myriad issues as they enter the housing market, they need help
   understanding discrimination and fair housing law, landlord/tenant rights, protection from the predatory market and fringe banking,   183

   and the abatement or containment of hazardous construction substances. The tools in this section address these topics.

   By describing and paraphrasing the laws that protect potential home buyers from discriminatory housing practices and
   that describe the responsibilities of landlords and tenants, the following tools will aid students as they prepare to become
   homeowners and, in some cases, landlords.

   The predatory market and fringe banking are other areas that should be brought to the attention of your students. With the tools
   provided, along with some of the other resources listed below, you can help your students avoid falling prey to any kind of
   unsavory lending practices. Other resources are available from the following organizations:

   •   The Fannie Mae Foundation offers a free consumer guide, Borrowing Basics: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You. The toll-free
       Foundation number is listed in Appendix 2, Fannie Mae Foundation Free Home-Buying Resources.

   •   Consumer Federation of America Foundation
       www.consumerfed.org

   •   Consumers Union
       1666 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 310
       Washington, DC 20009
       www.consumersunion.org

   •   Council of Better Business Bureaus
       4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 800
       Arlington, VA 22203

   •   Federal Trade Commission
       600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
       Washington, DC 20580
       (800) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
       www.ftc.gov


   As your students prepare to buy, and in some cases renovate, their new houses, they may encounter lead paint and other
   hazardous substances. Additional tools in this section will help your students detect hazardous substances in their new
   homes and take appropriate measures to abate and/or alleviate the potential harm these substances can cause.
            Handout:

      The Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act
      With discussion questions by Deborah Schwartz, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

184
      Note to the teacher: The topic of fair housing is critical for students. There are many ways to introduce the topic of fair
      housing into classes, and you may find that the topic makes its way into your discussions about housing naturally. Either way,
      it is useful at some point during your home-buying readiness class to formally introduce the topic by explaining the ways that
      people are protected against housing discrimination as defined by the Federal Housing Act and the Equal Credit Oppor tunity
      Act. The handouts below will you help you do that.



      Under the Federal Housing Act, people are protected based on the following categories:

      Race or color              This includes all races and every color. Members of one race cannot be discriminated against by
                                 members of any other race.

      National origin            National origin refers to the country where you were born or where your parents, grandparents, or
                                 ancestors are from. People are not allowed to discriminate against you because of your last name,
                                 your accent, or the way you dress.

      Religion                   No religion may be used as a reason to exclude an applicant from or include an applicant for any
                                 loan or home available to the public.

      Gender                     Gender refers to your sex: female or male. During all stages of the home-buying process, women and
                                 men must be treated equally. You have a right to be free from sexual harassment as you buy a home.

      Familial status            This term is used to describe whether you have children. You cannot be treated differently because
                                 you have children or don’t have children, or because of the number of children you have (or who are
                                 in your care).

      Disability                 A disability can be physical or mental. Disabilities include a loss of hearing, a loss of sight, a disability
                                 requiring the use of a wheelchair, long-term mental illness, mental retardation, and HIV/AIDS.


      Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, when you borrow money for a home loan, you are also protected based on your —

      Age                        You cannot be discriminated against based on your age. For example, you cannot be denied housing
                                 because you are a senior citizen.

      Marital status             Marital status refers to whether you are married.


      Questions:

      1. The Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act protect people based on the following categories:




      2. Are there any categories of people who are not explicitly addressed within the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit
         Opportunity Act?




      III. Consumer Protection
     Handout:

Discrimination
Students at Quincy College, ESOL Department, Quincy, MA

                                                                                                                                      185
Note to the teacher: “What is discrimination?” “How does it occur?” “What is the Fair Housing Law, and how does it protect
you from discrimination?” “Have you ever been discriminated against, and what were the circumstances?” These were the
questions posed to students in an advanced ESOL college writing class in the context of studying home buying. Their answers
provide a good starting point for a discussion of discrimination.



Discrimination begins when a group of people think they are better than another group of people. In my life, I was discriminated
against one time. My company paid men more than they paid women for the same work. In Lithuania, where I worked, there
were 15 employees: 2 women and 13 men. I worked as an accountant and my boss was always telling me that women do not
need as much money as men. I think that his thinking came from the past. He believed a man should be the boss in the family
and that women should listen to men. In fact, we cannot say that men are worth more than women, or that women are worth
more than men. It depends on people’s intelligence and work ethic.

I was trying to change his opinion, but I could not. In his head, he made a set of opinions which came from ignorance of the
facts. When people have ideas embedded in their minds, it is difficult for them to let go of those ideas. I think that an effective
response to this problem is to educate ourselves and communicate with different cultures, people and genders.

                                                                                                             —Rima Indreliunaite


Discrimination occurs when one is treated different than others. In general, my opinion is that even if laws exist that protect
people, there will never be a world free from discrimination. Religion, status, relationships, power and money are some
important causes for discrimination.

As I have no practical experience in buying a house in the United States, I haven’t faced housing discrimination. However, in this
essay, my objective is to describe different forms of housing discrimination and how people can protect themselves.

Housing discrimination occurs when a buyer is shown only a few number of neighborhoods of low-quality houses, given
incomplete information about a house, or kinds of laws.

In the United States, the Fair Housing Act protects people from such discrimination. These federal laws protect people based
on color, race, national origin, religion, familial status or disability. Although these laws have been enacted, many people may
not be aware of the fact that they have been discriminated against. To escape from discrimination, or to seek justice, a person
must be aware of his/her rights and should do his/her homework before going to a real estate agent or mortgage lender.
Homework means checking newspapers and learning about the best interest rates. A person can also attend a counseling or
education class which is provided by local community development corporations.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this essay, a discrimination-free world does not exist, but one can reduce the degree of
discrimination by doing a little homework.

                                                                                                              —Romana Jurikova




III. Consumer Protection
           Handout:

      “Mortgage Lending Shows Race Disparity,” Boston Globe, Sept. 2000
      With discussion questions and adaptation ideas by Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA
      Reprinted with permission
186

      Note to the teacher: Following is a newspaper excerpt that explores the topic of discrimination in mortgage lending. The reading
      level is a fairly high one, so you may need to simplify the language and explain some of the vocabulary. Following the article are
      adaptation ideas and discussion questions that you can look at before students read the ar ticle.



      The racial disparity in home-mortgage lending worsened in the Boston area between 1998 and 1999, with black and Hispanic
      applicants denied loans at 2 to 2.5 times the denial rate for whites, according to a study released yesterday.

      Of the 50 metropolitan areas studied, the Boston area was one of five in which upper-income blacks were more likely than
      low-income whites to be denied home mortgages and in which upper-income Hispanics were more likely than moderate-income
      whites to be denied mortgages.

      While the disparity grew in metropolitan Boston, it declined nationally.

      The study was based on data gathered under the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. It was released by the Association
      of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN), a national grassroots association that seeks access to credit for
      low-income and minority neighborhoods. The group has chapters around the country, including Massachusetts.

      “We keep hearing these big boom stories, (that) people are doing much better,” said Maude Hurd, national president of ACORN
      and a Dorchester resident. But this study shows “the gap is just widening more and more,” Hurd said. “It really troubles me.”

      In 1999, black applicants for conventional loans in metropolitan Boston were denied 2.45 times more often than whites,
      and Hispanic applicants 1.84 times more often according to the study. In 1998, Boston-area blacks had 2.26 times the denial
      rate of whites, and Hispanics had a denial rate 1.82 times that of whites.

      Nationally, blacks were denied at 1.96 times the rate of whites in 1999, and Hispanics were denied at 1.41 times the rate of
      whites, an improvement over 1998. In 1998, blacks were turned down at 2.09 times the rate of whites, and Hispanics were
      denied at 1.51 times the rate for whites.

      Officials from the Massachusetts Bankers Association and the state Division of Banks cautioned that the federal data used
      in the ACORN study do not include the credit histories and overall assets of applicants, and those factors may explain some
      of the disparity in the Boston area. The federal data consist of mortgages for home purchases made by banks, mortgage
      companies, and other lenders.

      “One of the concerns I have about the study—I don’t know if I’d say it’s a flaw—it’s only focusing on income levels,” said
      Daniel Forte, president of the bankers association, which represents about 210 of the 230 banks in Massachusetts, ranging
      from big commercial banks to small community institutions.

      Tanya Duncan, director of federal policy for the bankers association, said, “You can have a high income and not have
      accumulated wealth.”

      Steven Antonakes, senior deputy commissioner for the Massachusetts Division of Banks, said to get a truer picture of denial
      rates, “you also need information about credit history, property values, and other things,” which are not available through the
      federal mortgage disclosure data.

      But ACORN’s Hurd said while differences in credit history and overall wealth accumulation may explain some of the racial
      disparity, “I don’t think it would make a great big deal of difference.” She pointed to the study’s finding that Boston-area blacks
      earning more than $78,600 were denied mortgages more often than whites earning less than $32,750. Twenty percent of
      high-income blacks were denied conventional mortgages, while only 18 percent of low-income whites were.




      III. Consumer Protection
“Mortgage Lending Shows Race Disparity,” Boston Globe, Sept. 2000 continued


   “It’s certainly a statistic that’s alarming and bears review,” agreed the state’s Antonakes.

   But Forte of the bankers’ association disagreed. “Unfortunately, from a statistical standpoint, African-Americans and other
   minorities have not had the benefit of building up capital in general, as whites have in general,” he said. “They almost start in    187
   a tougher position, and that’s why you get some of the higher denials.”

   He said the recent increase in real estate values in the Boston area may have something to do with the higher denial rates
   among minorities.

   The ACORN study also found that in the Boston metropolitan area, high-income blacks were denied mortgages 3.44 times
   more often than high-income whites, and high-income Hispanics 2.57 times more often than high-income whites.

   In August, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which compiles mortgage numbers, announced that the
   racial disparity in denial of conventional mortgages had lessened or stayed the same nationally, across all minority groups.

   Between 1998 and 1999, denial rates for black applicants dropped from 53.7 percent to 49 percent; for Native Americans,
   from 52.9 percent to 42.1 percent; and for Hispanics, from 38.7 percent to 35 percent. For Asian-American applicants, the
   denial rates stayed the same, at 11.8 percent.

   Nationally, white applicants also saw their denial rates drop between 1998 and 1999, from 26 percent to 25.5 percent,
   according to the data.

   While differences in income may have accounted for some of the disparity, the agency noted that the disparity occurred even
   if blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics had the same income as white applicants.


   Suggestions for Adapting the Boston Globe Article to the Classroom
   1. Discuss the word “disparity” and what it means.

   2. As a class, read the headline and ask students to predict what the article will be about.

   3. Break students into pairs or small groups and assign a small amount of reading (two to three paragraphs) to each pair or group.

   4. Have students read their assignments silently, then discuss them in their pairs or group. Have each group select a recorder
      to summarize the main idea of the group’s reading in one or two sentences. (Students may need modeling in this skill before
      you assign the task to avoid having them simply rewrite the entire paragraph.) Students can discuss unfamiliar vocabulary
      and try guessing the meaning. They can also consult dictionaries if necessary.

   5. Have each group report its summary to the rest of the class.


   Discussion Questions
   1. What was most interesting to you about this article?

   2. Did the information surprise you? Why or why not?




    III. Consumer Protection
           Handout:

      Landlord/Tenant Rights
      Rebecca Pomerantz, International Institute of Boston, Boston, MA

188
      Note to the teacher: This beginning-level ESOL housing activity describes basic housing terms and landlord/tenant obliga-
      tions to your students. It was originally created as a Web-based activity and has been adapted from its original format so that
      it can be used as a handout. If you and your students have access to the Internet, you will really enjoy this activity in its original
      form at www2.wgbh.org/mbcweis/ltc/aaca/housing.html.

      Also note that this activity was designed with Massachusetts landlord/tenant laws in mind. You may need to adapt it
      according to your state’s laws.



      Part I: The House
      Look at the house below.




      From Joann Wheeler’s Making It. Staten Island, NY: Place of publication: American English Publications, 1986.
      Used with permission.




      III. Consumer Protection
Landlord/Tenant Rights continued


   Part II: House Words
   Here is a list of house words. Decide where each belongs and write them in the house.
                                                                                                                                       189
   exits                         refrigerator                   sofa                            trees

   lead poisoning                beds                           lights                          locks
   smoke alarms                  windows                        washing machine                 electricity

   toilet                        TV                             stove                           heat

   sink                          roof                           stairs                          mice, rats
   bathtub                       walls                          garbage                         cockroaches

   shower                        paint                          yard                            cleaning


   Part III: What Should Your Landlord Take Care Of? What Should You Take Care Of?
   Read the following to learn about whose responsibility it is to take care of things.

   Exits
   Exits are doors to get out of the house. Sometimes windows are exits to get out of the house, too, if there is a fire. A fire
   escape is also an exit. The landlord must make sure there are two exits for every apartment.

   Lead Poisoning
   Lead (Pb) is dangerous. If small children have too much lead in their bodies, their brains do not work well and they have
   problems in school. Old house paint has lead. Sometimes babies eat the old paint. Again, this is very dangerous.

   If there are children under six years old in your house, the landlord must make sure there is no lead paint on the walls or
   windows from the floor up to six feet high. If a child in the house gets lead poisoning and there is lead paint in the house, the
   landlord must pay a lot of money for taking off the lead paint.

   Smoke Alarms
   Smoke alarms (smoke detectors) make a long, loud noise (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) if there is smoke or a fire under them.
   They need a 9-volt battery. If the battery is too old, it will beep every minute. Put in a new battery.

   Smoke alarms are the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord must put smoke alarms outside the bedrooms, outside the
   kitchen, and in the basement. You must buy batteries for each smoke alarm.

   Living in a house or apartment without a smoke alarm is very dangerous. If there is a fire when you are sleeping, you and
   your family could die.

   Toilet
   The toilet is the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment with a broken toilet.

   Sink
   The sink, bathtub, and the other plumbing are the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment with
   no hot water.

   Bathtub, Shower
   The bathtub, shower, and other plumbing are the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment
   with no hot water.




    III. Consumer Protection
      Landlord/Tenant Rights — Part III: What Should Your Landlord Take Care Of? What Should You Take Care Of? continued

          Refrigerator
          If the house already has a refrigerator when you move in and that refrigerator breaks, the landlord has to fix it or buy a new
          one. If it is your refrigerator, you have to fix it or buy a new one.
190

          Beds
          The beds are the tenant’s responsibility. If you don’t have a bed, it’s not the landlord’s problem.

          Windows
          The windows are the landlord’s responsibility. If a window is broken, the landlord has to fix it.

          TV
          The television is not the landlord’s responsibility. If the tenant wants one, the tenant must get one.

          Roof
          The roof is the landlord’s responsibility. If the roof is no good, the landlord has to fix it.

          Walls, Paint
          Painting the walls is the landlord’s responsibility. And if something is wrong with the wall, the landlord should fix it. The landlord
          must pay to paint the inside and the outside of the house.

          Sofa
          The sofa and all the other furniture are the tenant’s responsibility.

          Lights
          The wiring of the lights (the electrical section inside the walls and ceilings) and the light fixtures are the landlord’s responsibility.
          You must buy the lightbulbs and the lamps.

          Washing Machine
          The washing machine (and the dryer) are the tenant’s responsibility. Sometimes the landlord has them in the house, and then
          the landlord has to take care of them.

          Stove
          The stove is the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment with no stove.

          Stairs
          The stairs are the landlord’s responsibility. He or she must put enough lights on the stairs and fix them if they are dangerous.
          If someone falls and gets hurt because the stairs are dangerous, the landlord must pay for it.

          Garbage
          The landlord has to give you garbage cans to put outside. You must have enough cans to put all the garbage from the kitchen
          in the garbage cans and put them outside for the city garbage truck. Putting them outside every week is the tenant’s
          responsibility. And you need to get trash cans for the other rooms in the house.

          Yard, Trees
          If there is something dangerous in the yard, it is the landlord’s responsibility. Other work in the yard is the tenant’s responsibility.

          Locks
          Locks on the doors and windows are the landlord’s responsibility. A deadbolt lock will help keep you and your house safe.


          III. Consumer Protection
Landlord/Tenant Rights — Part III: What Should Your Landlord Take Care Of? What Should You Take Care Of? continued

    Electricity
    Electricity in the house is the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment with no electricity.

                                                                                                                                       191
    Heat
    Heat is the landlord’s responsibility. The landlord cannot rent you an apartment with no heat. Sometimes you pay and
    sometimes the landlord pays for gas or oil. But the landlord must fix the heat if it’s broken.

    Mice, Rats
    Mice and rats are the landlord’s responsibility. He or she must pay to put poison in your house to kill the rats or mice.

    Cockroaches
    Cockroaches (roaches) are the landlord’s responsibility. He or she must pay to put poison in your house to kill the cockroaches
    (if that is what you want).

    Cleaning
    Cleaning is the tenant’s responsibility. You have to clean your house. If you move but you do not clean the house, the landlord
    will not give you your security deposit (the money you paid when you moved in).


    Part IV: Review
    1. What do you think the landlord must take care of ? Write “landlord” next to those things you think are the responsibility of
       the landlord and check on the preceding pages to see if you are right or wrong.

      toilet                         sink                         exits                             snow
      refrigerator                   beds                         sofa                              window

      lights                         paint                        bathtub, shower                   roof

      washing machine                stove                        stairs                            TV
      garbage                        mice, rats                   smoke alarms                      locks

      electricity                    telephone                    yard, trees                       heat

      cockroaches                    cleaning                     lead poisoning                    fans

    2. If something is wrong in your house, call the landlord and tell him or her:

           Please fix the _________________. It’s broken.
           OR
           Please take care of the _____________.

      If the landlord doesn’t fix it, say:

           It’s an emergency!
           OR
           It’s against the law!

      If your landlord doesn’t take care of something in your house, it is against the law and you can go to court. Tell the court
      what’s wrong, and the court can tell your landlord to fix it. But you need a lawyer to go to court. Look for Legal Services in
      your city. Legal Services will help you even if you don’t have money.




    III. Consumer Protection
             Handout:

      What Is Predatory Lending, and How Can It Affect You?
      From Fannie Mae Foundation’s Borrowing Basics: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

192
      Note to the teacher: This introductory predatory lending handout explains and describes the most basic predatory lending
      practices. Use it to introduce the Fannie Mae Foundation’s Borrowing Basics pamphlet,* a more complete survey of predatory
      lending practices.



      Most lenders are trustworthy — but unfortunately, some lenders are not. They sometimes direct borrowers away from loans
      with more affordable interest rates. Instead, they offer loans that carry very high interest rates, questionable fees, and
      unnecessary charges. These practices are considered predatory lending.

      A predatory lender may be a large company with a name you know. Or it may be a small company or a loan broker you’ve never
      heard of. But predatory lenders have the same traits. They
      •   Offer loans based solely on the equity in a home, not on the borrower’s ability to repay the loan

      •   Charge unusually high interest rates for loans
      •   Add excessive points to a loan without lowering the interest rate

      •   Include excessive fees
      •   Tack on unnecessary costs, such as prepaid single-premium credit life insurance

      With or without these extra charges, you may find it difficult or even impossible to repay the loan. If you fall behind in your
      payments, more charges may be added. Or the lender may suggest that you refinance the loan to lower your monthly payment.
      But the unpaid payments may be added to the new loan amount, costing you even more money over time. Then the loan becomes
      even more difficult to repay. If you can’t make the payments, you could lose the items you purchase.

      *To order a free copy of the guide Borrowing Basics: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, call (800) 605-7100.




      III. Consumer Protection
      Activity:

Check Cashers versus Banks
Author unknown

                                                                                                                                      193
Note to the teacher: This predatory lending or fringe banking activity uses a fictitious case study to exemplify the costs of
using a check casher. Students compare two stories and use their basic math skills. Because predatory lending comes in
many forms and often targets low-income communities where so many students reside, this activity is designed to educate
students on how costly it is to cash their checks at check cashing stores.

This activity assumes that students have choices in their neighborhoods about where to do their banking. If students
do not have a viable bank in their neighborhood, public information about banking access and rights can be found
on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Community Reinvestment Act Web site at
www.fdic.gov/regulations/community/community/index.html.



Start the class by asking your students the following:

•   How many of you receive a paycheck?

•   How do you cash your check, or use your check to make payments or to save?

Here is a fictional story about two women who work at the same job but cash their checks in two different places. See if you
can figure out what results come from cashing their checks in two different places.

Juanita and Alice both work at Mr. One-Stop Shopping. They both make $280 a week.

Juanita has a bank account at Hercules Bank, so every week the accounting department at Mr. One-Stop Shopping deposits her
paycheck directly into the bank. Then when she wants to buy something she either takes money out at an ATM or writes a check.
Because Juanita has direct deposit and keeps a small minimum balance, Hercules Bank gives her the bank account for free.

Alice does not have a bank account. She feels better when she is given her paycheck and then sees the actual money. So every
week when it is time to get paid she goes to the office in Mr. One-Stop Shopping and picks up her check. Then Alice goes to Slick’s
Fast Cash to cash it. Each time she cashes her check, Slick’s Fast Cash charges her 10 percent of the value of the check.

After cashing her check at Slick’s, Alice carefully puts all of her money in her wallet and walks home. As soon as she gets home,
she puts the cash in different envelopes marked “gas,” “food,” and “rent.” Then she hides the envelopes under the mattress.
When she wants to buy something she simply takes some money from the right envelope and goes out to make her purchase.
When she needs to pay a bill, she takes the cash from the correct envelope and brings it back to Slick’s, where’s she charged
$3.50 for each check.

Questions:

1. What does Juanita do when she gets paid? What about Alice?

2. How will Juanita pay bills during the week? What about Alice?

3. How much money does Juanita pay to have a bank account?

4. What are the pros and cons of having a bank account?

5. What are the pros and cons of cashing a paycheck at Slick’s Fast Cash?

6. How much money does Alice spend to have her check cashed each week and to pay her five other monthly bills?

7. If Alice cashes her check every week and pays her five monthly bills at Slick’s, how much money will she spend at Slick’s
   in a month? A year?

8. What could Juanita do with the amount of money that Alice spends each week to get her paycheck cashed?



III. Consumer Protection
             Activity:

      I Can’t Pay This Bill—What Should I Do?
      Vicky Vanderpol, unaffiliated, Alexandria, VA

194
      Note to the teacher: As consumers, your students must be able to negotiate the often confusing and rigid rules for credit and bill
      paying. This case scenario presents a conflict that, together with your students, can be solved. Teachers often use their students’
      stories or other codes such as pictures or articles to create class material that poses problems and that prompts problem
      solving. Pay attention to the bills your students complain about or ask your students if they have ever received an unexpected
      bill; these too are methods for creating meaningful prompts for your students to safely discuss credit and debt issues.



      Story
      Just recently Jordan and Jan’s daughter crashed on her bicycle. They had to rush her to the hospital, where she ended up getting
      x-rays and having a cast put on her arm. They were so concerned about their daughter that they didn’t even stop to think about
      not having health insurance. Two months went by. They had forgotten about all of the papers they signed when they were at the
      hospital. Then, out of the blue, a bill came from the hospital for $1,000. If they didn’t pay, it would go on their credit report and
      create problems for them later when they want to buy a house or get any other type of loan. They had only $300 in their savings.
      Together they sat down and brainstormed about ways to come up with some extra money. This is the list they came up with:

      •   Have a garage sale. All three of them have some things they can get rid of. Jan says they can sell the two old bikes in the
          garage, the old TV in their bedroom, and a number of appliances that never get used. They would only have to pay a small
          fee to advertise it in their local newspaper and make a few fliers to post around their neighborhood.

      •   Take a few things to Mike’s Pawn Shop down the street. They can bring in their new big-screen TV and the antique watch Jordan
          inherited from her grandfather and get a loan for 50 percent of the value of each of them. Between the two products they
          should be able to get about $800. The only problem is the pawnbroker will charge them 20 percent interest, and if they
          don’t repay the loan in three months they will lose their TV and the watch.

      •   Borrow money from family or friends. This is definitely one of the most inexpensive options, but it’s sometimes awkward
          or can put a strain on relationships.

      •   Negotiate a payment plan with the hospital. Call the accounting department of the hospital and explain the situation. Offer to pay
          a set amount of money each month (maybe $50) until the loan is paid off and in return not be reported to a collection agency.
                                 25
      •   Take out a payday loan from the Fast Cash store down the street. Both Jordan and Jan make about $600 every pay period
          (every two weeks). So, if they take out a payday loan they will have $1,200 immediately. Of course they will pay a service charge
          of 15 percent and they will still need to pay back the $1,200 as soon as they get paid. If they can’t repay the $1,200 right
          away they will pay an additional 15 percent each pay period on the original $1,200 loan.


      Follow-up Questions
      1. What are the pros and cons of each option?
                                                   Pros                                          Cons

      Garage sale

      Pawn shop
      Friends and family

      Hospital payment plan

      Payday loan

      2. What do you think Jordan and Jan should do?




      III. Consumer Protection
     Handout:

“Predatory Lending: Banks Trick Poor into Expensive Loans”
Jeanette Bradley and Peter Skillern, Dollars and Sense, Jan.–Feb. 2000
 Reprinted with permission
                                                                                                                                   195

Note to the teacher: This excerpt from a larger article about predatory lending describes the effects of predatory lending
practices on consumers. Use the reading comprehension questions at the end to ensure that your students understand this
complex housing issue.



Laid off after 29 years of working for a local telephone company in North Carolina, Roberta Green was struggling. Although
she had a part-time job driving a school bus, she was not earning enough to pay her bills. When she received a call from a
man who said he could help her come up with some cash, it seemed like a godsend. The man said he worked for a home
improvement company and that he could find her a loan that would both pay for some remodeling on her house and leave
enough cash left over to pay her bills.

Unfortunately for Green, the salesman actually worked as a mortgage broker for [a local brokerage firm], and he was not
peddling home improvement, but a refinancing of her existing home mortgage at a high interest rate. He invited Green to his
office, where he chatted with her while he filled out a mortgage application for her. While he indeed gave her a “good-faith
estimate”—a form required by regulators that lists the proposed interest rate and fees on a loan—the loan he wrote up was
not a home equity loan for the $6,000 she needed to pay off bills. It was a loan for $76,500 that refinanced her entire mortgage
at a higher interest rate.

A couple of weeks later Green signed the loan papers and walked out with a check for $1,900. The signing went by so fast,
Green didn’t catch all that was written on the pages. But she trusted the broker and the lawyer in the room, and felt she had
a pretty good grasp on what she was signing.

What Green didn’t realize was that her loan terms had changed since she received that good-faith estimate. The broker had
added $6,500 in fees to her loan, and changed the loan from a fixed-rate to a more expensive adjustable-rate mor tgage.
Green was a victim of predatory lending.


Comprehension and Discussion Questions
1. What does the word “predator” mean? (You may know the word or have figured it out from context and discussion. If not,
   please use a dictionary to find its meaning.)

2. From the above reading and your familiarity with the word “predator,” how would you define predatory lending?

3. What is a home equity loan?

4. What are some things you might do to avoid being in the same situation?




III. Consumer Protection
           Handout:

      Lead: Dust, Paint Chips, and Water from Old Sinks or Old Pipes
      Adapted from Rebecca Pomerantz’s Web site on lead poisoning. Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

196
      Note to the teacher: Rebecca Pomerantz, on her Web site on lead poisoning, www2.wgbh.org/mbcweis/ltc/LeadPois/leadpois.html,
      describes what lead is and how it can affect one’s living environment. Much of the following handout has come directly from
      her work. Her material is designed for beginning-level literacy students and has many links to other resources. We encourage
      you to visit the site with your students.



      Lead Dust and Paint Chips
      If you live in an old house, there may be lead in the paint. If your house has old lead paint on the walls or stairs or ceiling and
      the paint is broken and peeling, you may have lead dust in your house or paint chips with lead in them on the floor.

      In Massachusetts, for instance, since 1978 it has been against the law to put lead in paint, so new paint has no lead. If your
      house is new (built in or after 1978) or if all the old paint was taken off, then it is safe for children to play in your house.

      If your house was built before 1978, check to see where there is lead in your house. Lead paint was expensive, so it is usually
      in the living room or other rooms that visitors see, or on the outside of the house. Ask a hospital or government office who you
      can call for a lead test. If your landlords say there is no lead in your house, ask them to show you the paper from the state.

      If a house has lead paint at a height lower than six feet, the landlord cannot rent to a family with small children. It is against the
      law to have children under six years old in the house. But it is against the law to say “no” if a family wants to rent! Also, if a
      house has lead and a child living in the house gets lead poisoning, the landlord must pay to take the lead out of the house.
      Deleading the house is very expensive and difficult and can be dangerous.

      So sometimes children live in a house with lead. What can you do? You can put new paint ever ywhere and make sure there is
      no broken paint or paint dust anywhere.

      If the windows have lead paint, even under new paint, opening and closing the windows can create dust with lead in it. The lead
      dust falls on the floors, carpets, and windowsills.

      You should clean the windowsills and floors once or twice a week with detergent. Throw away the cloth that you use to clean.
      Do not use a vacuum because the dust will blow back out of the vacuum into your house again. Open windows from the top so
      children cannot touch the paint dust behind the windowsill.

      Children can eat lead dust on toys, pacifiers, dishes, or their hands after they play near lead dust. They also can eat paint chips
      or put their mouths on windowsills. Lead paint is a little bit sweet, so babies think it is good to eat!

      To stop lead poisoning before it gives your children problems, you must wash everything your children put in their mouths. Wash
      their toys every week and wash their hands before they eat. Small children should have a lead test every six months or every year.

      Depending on what part of the country you live in, if your house is old, the pipes between the street and the house will most
      likely be lead. Also, if your sink is old, there is lead solder in the pipes of the sink or in the faucet. New copper pipes or plastic
      pipes are fine.

      Water that has been sitting in lead pipes all night has more lead, and that lead will go into your body when you drink the water.
      Lead in your brain is poisonous. It is especially dangerous for children under six because their brains are still developing (growing).

      What can you do? After you use the toilet or shower, the water in the pipes doesn’t have as much lead. But, for every sink, you
      should run the water for a minute until the water is cold before you drink it or cook with it. You can use the “dirty” water for
      plants or for washing dishes but not for eating or drinking.




      III. Consumer Protection
Lead: Dust, Paint Chips, and Water from Old Sinks or Old Pipes continued


    Comprehension Questions
    1. If your house is older than ________________ years, you may have lead paint in your house.
                                                                                                                                         197
    2. If a house has lead paint at a height lower than six feet, can a landlord rent to a family with small children? Why or why not?

    3. Sometimes children live in a house with lead. What are some things you can do to keep them from getting sick from it?

      A.______________________________________________________________________________________________________

      B.______________________________________________________________________________________________________

      C.______________________________________________________________________________________________________

      D.______________________________________________________________________________________________________




    Answers for #3: repaint the walls, clean window sills and floors regularly, wash their toys, let the water run for a few minutes
    before drinking it.




    III. Consumer Protection
           Handout:

      Asbestos and Radon
      Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

198
      Note to the teacher: The following material was compiled from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web pages on asbestos
      and radon at www.epa.gov/asbestos/index.htm and www.epa.gov/iaq/radon. You may want to share the Web site with students
      so that they can do some of their own research. Remind students that you are not an expert and that this information is meant
      to be a very general introduction to asbestos and radon.



      Asbestos
      Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It can be found in roofing shingles, stucco, plaster, sheetrock, baseboard, linoleum, piping insulation,
      knob and tube wiring, and other building materials made before 1981.

      Regular home inspections do not usually include inspection for asbestos. Asbestos can be dangerous. When materials using
      asbestos are cut or sanded, the fibers are released into the air and people can breathe them in. They are bad for the lungs.
      If your home contains asbestos and the material is not damaged, leave it alone and do not disturb or touch it. Check it every
      so often to make sure it is still not damaged. If you need to replace anything containing asbestos, do not do it yourself. Find
      a professional, certified asbestos remover to do it safely.

      If you plan to make any changes in your home such as ripping up linoleum or knocking a wall down, get those areas inspected
      for asbestos before you do the work, so you will know if there is asbestos in the materials.


      Radon
      Radon is a naturally occurring gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Air pressure inside your home
      is usually lower than pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation. Because of this difference in pressure, your house
      acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings. Radon may also be present in well water
      and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household tasks. In most cases,
      radon entering the home through water is a small risk compared with radon entering your home from the soil. In a small number
      of homes, the building materials can give off radon, although building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

      Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of lung cancer deaths each year. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that
      radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you
      smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

      Radon test kits that meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines can be obtained from a radon testing company or
      laboratory. Get a listing from your state radon office or local health department. They are available at local hardware stores
      and home improvement stores. Many are priced under $25. Testing your home for radon is as simple as opening a package,
      placing a radon detector in a designated area, and, after the prescribed number of days, sealing the detector back in the
      package and mailing it to a lab. Information on testing your home for radon is also available by calling (800) SOS-RADON.

      A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes: seals on cracks and other openings in the foundation, house
      pressurization, natural ventilation, and heat recovery ventilation. Most of these methods are considered to be either temporary
      solutions or partial solutions to be used in combination with other measures. For high levels of radon, the Environmental
      Protection Agency recommends that you have a qualified contractor fix your home because lowering high radon levels requires
      specific technical knowledge and special skills. Without the proper equipment or technical knowledge, you could actually
      increase your radon level or create other potential hazards.




      III. Consumer Protection
IV. Student Stories



   The following immigrant-student stories come complete with prereading, reading, and postreading suggestions as well as
   comprehension questions specific to each story. As well as stimulating your students to think about their own experiences in   199

   a home-buying readiness project, these narratives will encourage students to take the next step toward their home-buying and
   educational goals.

   To view more student stories about homes and home buying, visit the Adult Literacy Resource Institute’s 1999 home-buying
   readiness Web site at www.alri.org/fannie/fnma3/studentwriting.html.
                   Activity and Handouts:

      Ideas for Adapting Student Stories
      Stories collected by Cathy Anderson and Deborah Schwartz, Adult Literacy Resource Institute
      Activities developed by Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA
200

      Note to the teacher: Use the following student writing to model student-generated writing or as texts for reading and writing
      practice. There are prereading and postreading suggestions as well as reading comprehension questions following each piece
      of student writing.



      Prereading
      1. Explain to your students that the stories are about immigrants interested in buying a home.

      2. Identify on a map the cities and states where the students in the stories are living and studying.

      3. Identify the home countries of the students in the stories on a map.


      Reading
      1. Break students into pairs.

      2. Cut up a story into paragraphs and assign one paragraph (or more, if the paragraphs are very short) to each pair of students.
         Have students summarize the paragraph. Have students underline unfamiliar words and try to guess their meanings.

      3. Have each pair present their summaries to the class. List new words on a sheet of newsprint and have students guess the
         meaning from context.

      4. Have each student read the story through.


      Postreading
      1. Develop comprehension questions to check students’ understanding of the story.

      2. Ask students which part of the story they found most interesting and why.

      3. Ask students if any part of the story was similar to their own experiences and why.




      IV. Student Stories
Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


    Olga’s Story
    Olga is a student at the Community Learning Center (CLC) in Cambridge, MA. She has finished all of her classes at CLC and will
    soon be starting a home health aide program while looking for a job. Olga lives alone in Malden but used to live in Cambridge.   201
    Someday she would like to buy a house in Malden or Medford because homes there look affordable and small enough for a
    single person. When she gets a job, she intends to start saving for a down payment.

    Olga said she was very pleased with the class on first-time home buying and is confident, after going through the Fannie Mae
    Foundation course, that she understands the steps one needs to take before buying a home. “The first step is to save your
    money and keep a permanent job for about two years. It is important to hire a lawyer to look over the papers; you will need
    to hire an inspector also and you must be careful about selecting a house that you can afford without too many repairs,” said
    Olga during the interview.

    Before starting the class at CLC, there were things she didn’t know. Now she understands them better, she said. They include
    how to get a mortgage and where to call for advice on home buying and subsidies for low-income people.

    What was most helpful about the class? Olga said that putting new vocabulary words on the board was very useful and that
    their meanings were explained well by the instructors and the speakers.

    Olga still had some pressing questions that were not answered fully in the class. She wanted to know if a person could obtain
    a mortgage without citizenship or documentation. She learned that permanent residents should have no problems with a
    mortgage and neither should other classes of immigrants, but that unqualified immigrants may have trouble with government
    subsidy programs (soft-second) because of bars to public benefits under the welfare reform law. I explained that the regula-
    tions of the new welfare reform law were still being analyzed and no one was able to give a clear explanation. She also needed
    to know if having unpaid hospital bills under care could prevent a person from obtaining a mortgage. We discussed her
    problems with receiving a bill from a collection agency about an outstanding payment. She had heard on Haitian Radio that
    unpaid hospital bills affect your mortgage.

    In conclusion, Olga suggested that we create a video that would take students step by step through the home-buying process.
    She recommended a teacher at CLC who could probably do it, as she was in the process of buying a home now. She thought
    that some students were not able to follow everything, especially the terminology, and that a video would help them. She kept
    up with the class very well in part, she said, because she owned a dictionary.


    Questions for Olga’s Story
    1. Where was Olga a student?

    2. What does Olga intend to do when she finds a job?

    3. What does Olga say is the first step to take before buying a home?

    4. What does Olga understand better after taking her class?

    5. What was most helpful to Olga about the class?

    6. What is one of Olga’s pressing questions that was not answered in the class?

    7. What did Olga suggest that the class do to help other students?



    Discussion Questions
    1. What do you understand better after studying home buying?

    2. What has been most helpful to you about the class?

    3. What questions do you still have?




    IV. Student Stories
      Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


          Jama’s Story
          “About a year ago, I went to a real estate office on Massachusetts Avenue looking for apartment rentals. The real estate guy asked
202       me, ‘Why not buy a house?’ He checked his computer and said, ‘We have many homes for sale.’ I said, ‘Don’t give me a headache!
          It’s too much money!’ I was afraid to think about buying a house. Now I would look at it [the listing of homes for sale].”

          Jama is young Somalian man studying English as a third language (after Somalian and Italian) at Roxbury Community College.
          His instructor, Veronica Gouvea, participated in the special home buyers’ curriculum sponsored by the Adult Literacy Resource
          Institute (ALRI) in Boston. Veronica attended a series of workshops at the ALRI that explored how to adapt the curriculum and
          how to get additional information suitable for the students in her classes.

          Before he attended the classes, Jama said he didn’t know much about home buying—he was too nervous to consider the large
          amount of money needed to purchase a home. Now, he thinks that in a few years, as soon as he can get a down payment and
          closing costs together, he will be ready to aggressively seek a home to buy.

          “Owning a home is better,” Jama said. “Two years ago I called my landlord with problems. Landlord says he will come right
          now—but he doesn’t come. If you own a house you can fix it yourself or have someone fix it for you. Also, your rent money just
          goes out the window when you rent.”

          During the interview, Jama leafed through the curriculum guide and pointed out things he didn’t know about before he took
          the class. Now he realizes it is not as complicated as he thought. He has learned, for example, more about the lender’s role
          in home buying.

          Jama explained how he thinks it is like buying a car. “You take out a loan and you pay it off, then the car is yours. I am advising
          my friends about this now,” he said. “It’s the same thing with buying a house, but a house is not like a car—a house is permanent.
          In Italian we say properti imobile.”

          Jama also said, “The class helped me to understand how much money I would need to put down as a down payment and to
          cover lawyer’s fees and other expenses. I didn’t understand that before the class.” Jama also explained that he feels more
          knowledgeable about different styles of homes—condos, multifamily, and so on. He is more confident reading real estate
          ads in the newspaper.

          In addition, Jama discussed the importance of exploring a community where you might want to buy a home, then looking at
          property, mortgage companies, and how to approach banks. He explained that he didn’t know before the class that the
          government offers assistance to first-time home buyers with limited incomes. Jama has worked as a parking attendant for
          about five years. He realizes the importance of a good credit history. He plans to eventually become a U.S. citizen. His goals
          for buying a home extend past his own needs—he wants something he can also pass down to his children and grandchildren.
          “That’s the way we think about it in Somalia,” he said, again referring to “properti imobile.”

          Jama said that he is eager to spread the word about home-buying possibilities to others in his situation. For example, he was
          giving advice to his supervisor the other day about finding the best lender.

          Jama enjoyed several class meetings where students exchanged experience, ideas, and information in a large group, with the
          teachers as facilitators. It seemed clear that before the project, Jama felt intimidated and mystified by the concept of owning a
          home. Once he realized that you didn’t need to pay for the home all at once, the process became more manageable to consider.
          At the end of the interview, Jama said, “Before, I thought I don’t have the money, I can’t buy a house. Now I know, one day I can
          tell my landlord: Goodbye!”




          IV. Student Stories
Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


    Questions for Jama’s Story

    True or False?
                                                                            203
    1. Jama is from Mexico.

    2. Jama speaks two languages.

    3. Jama thinks owning a home is better than renting.

    4. Jama is more confident reading real estate ads now.

    5. Jama has worked as a house painter for five years.

    6. Jama wants to become a U.S. citizen.

    7. Jama does not like talking in large groups in the classroom.

    8. Jama feels confident he can buy a home one day.



    Answer the following in a complete paragraph:

    1. Do you feel confident about buying a home one day? Why or why not?




    IV. Student Stories
      Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


          Camelia’s Story
          Camelia is a 35-year-old Romanian woman who has been in the United States for 10 months. Her husband is an engineer who
204       has lived and worked here for three years. They have an 11-year-old daughter. In Romania, Camelia worked for several years
          as a nurse and hopes to continue her studies here so she can resume her career. She is also an accomplished pianist.

          Camelia studies English as a second language at the Jamaica Plain Community School in Massachusetts with instructor Diana
          Satin. Diana participated in the series of ALRI training sessions facilitated by Catherine Anderson on how to use the Fannie
          Mae Foundation home-buyer curriculum. Camelia’s English is excellent, but she is still learning, she noted. She appreciated
          the grammar lessons in the various chapters.

          Though they do not yet have their green cards, Camelia and her family are working toward becoming permanent residents and
          hope to become citizens. Camelia was especially interested in the home-buying curriculum because she eventually wants to
          own a home here.

          “This is my dream to have a big house. The most important thing is to have a little land around the house. I like to work in the
          little garden, to plant a little garden, have a place where children can play. Environment is very impor tant.”

          “The class and book were very important because they helped me begin to think about buying a house,” Camelia said. “I had
          heard that banks can be very tricky—you need to know a lot. I think it is better to have a real estate agent to help you.” Camelia
          noted that she wasn’t aware of this before she used the materials and worked with Diana. She has also shared the new
          information with her husband so they can plan together. She was most interested in the financial aspects of home buying,
          and she felt she learned a great deal about down payments, closing costs, broker fees, legal fees, and other costs. She was
          also able to compare the benefits and limitations of 15-year and 30-year mortgages.

          In Romania, Camelia noted, it is difficult to buy a house because you have to have all the money at once, usually around
          $100,000 for a decent house. Also, under communist rule (before 1999) it was impossible to buy a home. Flats were provided
          to you by the government. This was a good benefit, she noted, but she is looking ahead to when she can own her own home.

          Having taken the ESOL class and read the curriculum, Camelia said that she understands the home-buying process much better.
          She is optimistic because she realizes she can meet the conditions necessary for home buying: Her husband has an established
          work history of more than two years, and they have established credit in this country. She has also learned more about the kinds
          of homes that might be available to her, expressing a preference for a ranch-style house. Like other students, she voiced the
          opinion that she would rather not continue to waste her money on rent; instead, she would like to apply it toward a mortgage.

          Camelia also noted that she learned about the Fannie Mae Foundation and how they help people to buy homes. “There’s a lot
          of support for people to live decently in this country,” she said. “Not like in my country.”




          IV. Student Stories
Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


    Questions for Camelia’s Story

    Fill in the blanks.
                                                                                                            205
    1. Camelia is from _________________________________________.

    2. Camelia has a __________________________ who is 11 years old.

    3. Camelia used to work as a _____________________ in her home country.

    4. Camelia plays the ______________________________.

    5. For Camelia, the most important thing about owning a home is having a ___________________________.

    6. In her class, Camelia learned a lot about _______________________________________.

    7. Camelia and her husband have established _________________________ in this country.



    Answer the following in a complete paragraph:
    1. What is the most important thing to you about owning a home?




    IV. Student Stories
      Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


          Elena’s Story
          Elena has been visiting housing auctions sponsored by the bank. She is looking for a “single-family house in Lynn that needs
206       some fixing up.” She tells me that she has already spoken to a mortgage broker, and with their combined incomes both she
          and her husband are confident that they will receive financing from the bank when she finds the right house. As a result of her
          ESOL class and reading the curriculum, Elena says that she understands the process of home buying and feels confident that
          with her husband’s construction skills they can maintain a house.

          When Elena speaks about the home-buying process, she explains how important it is to go from bank to bank to find “someplace
          you feel comfortable.” Also, she emphasizes how interest rates and special first-time home-buying programs vary from bank
          to bank—another reason to do some “bank shopping.” Elena tells me that a friend of hers suggested that she first speak with
          a particular bank because most of the bankers speak Spanish and she can communicate what she needs and wants. She’s
          also happy with their current mortgage rates, and soon she will apply for a prequalification on a mortgage loan.

          “Together, four years ago, we came from Cuba. We lived in a little city right in the middle of the island. Now I am happy because I
          learn English and I learn about what you can do here in America. With the language, I have opportunities…just last week, at work,
          I get moved to a new job. The trainer is American and, thank God, I understand everything she says to me!”

          Elena found the unit on home buying one of the best she ever studied. She learned so much from working with an amor tization
          chart, and she loved learning about the different kinds of houses: “Victorian is still my favorite. My husband wants to live in a
          Tudor.” She was especially appreciative of hearing about home buying/homeownership through the experiences of others: “In
          class, we interviewed three ladies who are students who bought homes. That was my favorite part of the class because we ask
          them all questions about buying homes, and they give many kinds of answers.” This kind of practical, firsthand information
          seemed to be very valuable to Elena. “One lady was very happy, and another women had difficulty with her tenants. That’s maybe
          why I don’t want tenants.”

          “This is my advice, if a friend came from Cuba, I would say, wait, save money in the bank and stay for a time at one job. Also I
          would tell them to get a credit card but not to use it. I have good credit now because I have a credit card but I don’t use it. That’s
          the way to buy a house for you and your family in America.”


          Questions for Elena’s Story
          1. What kind of house is Elena looking for?

          2. What does Elena say about choosing a bank?

          3. What did Elena love learning about in her home-buying class?

          4. What was Elena’s favorite part of the class?

          5. Why doesn’t Elena want tenants?

          6. What advice does Elena have for a friend coming to the United States from Cuba?



          Discussion Questions
          1. What kind of house would you like best?

          2. What is your favorite thing about the home-buying class?

          3. Do you want to be a landlord? Why or why not?




          IV. Student Stories
Ideas for Adapting Student Stories continued


    Vanda’s Story
    “English is my fourth language after Russian, Ukranian, and Azerbaijani. I was born in Azerbaijan,” Vanda explains, “but I am
    Armenian and moved to the Ukraine because of the wars in Azerbaijan.”                                                              207

    In the Ukraine, Vanda was a mechanical engineer. In the United States she works as a home health aide for an elderly Russian
    man. “I don’t mind for now. We keep each other company during the day. But, see, I only speak English six hours a week and I
    need to know more English if I want another job that makes more money.”

    Vanda has been in the United States for three and a half years; she has been studying English at Operation Bootstrap in
    Massachusetts ever since. When she first came to the United States with her husband, they worked very hard to save money
    to bring over their two children, their “big children,” ages 27 and 30.

    “In Russia you don’t buy a house. No one has that kind of money anymore. Remember, you need the whole thing in cash or gold.”
    She notes that before 1990, under communist rule, living accommodations were always provided, although the apartments
    were small, dingy, and decrepit.

    After keeping her money under the bed for two years, “like in the picture of the book the teacher showed us,” Vanda, who is
    56, and her husband, who is 59, bought a condominium in Lynn. They paid the entire cost of the condominium in cash, most
    of which they borrowed from their Russian friends.

    “That’s the way to do it. We all lost our money in the banks in Russia. Now we don’t trust banks. We help each other. You need
    money, I have so I give. I need money, you have maybe a little, so you give.”

    “I think now we will buy a big home. The children are adults and need their own apartments so I look at the cable TV and the
    newspaper to find a new home. I search for one year because I want to live in Lynn. Lynn is good for me, good prices of homes
    and I love the ocean.”

    How will they buy their next house? I ask her. Does she still not trust the banks? She offers this to me: “Now, when we find the
    house we want, we will maybe use a bank and borrow from them. I meet the people from the bank for our class, they are very
    nice and one speaks Russian. I guess in the United States, it’s good to use the bank. Different economics in the United States.
    Maybe here the banks won’t all crash.”


    Questions for Vanda’s Story
    1. Vanda was born in Azerbaijan. Can you find this on a map?

    2. Why did Vanda keep her money under the bed?

    3. How has Vanda’s thinking about borrowing money changed?



    Discussion Questions
    1. What do you think about borrowing money from a bank?




    IV. Student Stories
208
V. Language and Literacy Lessons


   As well as glossaries of home-buying terms and reading comprehension exercises, these language and literacy tools include
   nontraditional activities to help students practice English. For instance, by incorporating song lyrics, employing class-discussion   209
   prompts, playing word games, and introducing movies, students will be compelled to speak and learn, growing more confident
   in their use of the language.

   A collection of home-buying vocabulary tools within the section calls on your students’ existing knowledge and expands their
   word base, all while they practice using home-buying terminology.

   These innovative teacher-tools ask students to reflect on and speak about what they’ve learned during the home-buying and
   homeownership classes and activities.
           Activity:

      Using Song Lyrics for Vocabulary Development
      Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

210
      Note to the teacher: Sometimes it’s nice to break up the tedium of amortization charts with a song. ESOL students are usually
      receptive to learning lyrics, and songs provide an excellent way to practice vocabulary, pronunciation, and the rhythm of the
      English language. You can also integrate songs in the classroom to better develop listening skills. Following are suggestions
      for how to bring songs into your class.



      Listening Practice Using Songs
      1. Have students listen to the song once all the way through without lyrics.

      2. Pass out lyrics with selected words whited out.

      3. Have students listen carefully to the song again, this time filling in the missing words as they hear them.

      4. Put students in pairs and have them compare answers.

      5. Listen again for self-correction.

      6. As a whole class, review answers and make corrections.




      V. Language and Literacy Lessons
     Activity:

Practicing Grammar, Vocabulary, and Pronunciation
Deb Cuenca, Salem Harbor Community Development Corporation, Salem, MA

                                                                                                                                      211
Note to the teacher: When grammar lessons evolve from in-class discussion, your students will learn best how to use the
language. In this activity, students study and practice preposition usage, long and short vowel rules of pronunciation, and
general housing-related vocabulary.



I enlarged and photocopied the picture of Rosa and Manuel Castillo standing in front of a for-sale house in How to Buy a Home
in the United States on page 1. I left out the questions in the enlargement so that the students could focus mainly on the picture.
We discussed the difference between “for sale” and “on sale,” which had not been previously clear to all of the students.

We jotted down as many words as we could that had to do with the theme of the picture. We talked about the word “sign” as
a noun, as in the “for sale” sign, and “sign” as a verb, as in to “sign” your name. “Sign” as a verb led to the word “signature.”
The students then again reminded me of how irregular English is. For example, the word “sign” is pronounced with a long “i”
and silent “g,” compared to the word “signature” in which the “i” becomes short and the “g” is fully pronounced. We then
answered the questions below the picture, which I found to be very helpful and comprehensive.

Next I enlarged and photocopied the picture at the beginning of Lesson 1 of Unit 1, “This apartment is too small.” I asked the
students to call out the different things they saw in the picture (e.g., “bookcase,” “books,” “lamp”). This one simple exercise
worked very well because it showed me what vocabulary the students already knew and which words/synonyms they needed
to learn. Vocabulary quizzes are something my students particularly enjoyed, and I had plenty of material right there that would
serve as the basis for our next quiz.

A student in our class, Jacqueline, has come a long way. She started the class as a beginner, not knowing the meaning of
“How are you?” She soon was aceing each and every quiz given to her. The quizzes helped all of the students to retain
essential information.




V. Language and Literacy Lessons
          Activity:

      Vocabulary Builders
      Nancy Coffey, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

212
         Note to the teacher: You can use games to build your students’ housing-related vocabulary. Following are two examples.



         Guess the Category
         Each week I gave the students a list of 10 new vocabulary words to study for a sentence dictation the following week. We often
         played warm-up word games to strengthen vocabulary retention. One such favorite was a game we called Guess the Category.
         To play, one student leaves the room while the teacher writes a category on the board, such as “Banking Terms.” The student
         returns and sits with his or her back facing the board. The other students in the class shout out phrases such as “checking
         account,” “customer service representative,” “canceled check,” “teller,” or “ATM machine.” The student in the chair must come
         up with the category.


         Crossword Puzzles
         As we developed a larger home-buying vocabulary base to work with, I made crossword puzzles on the computer software
         crossword puzzle maker, Wordcross. Using crossword puzzles is a very versatile and creative method of reinforcing vocabulary;
         students love it.

         And as in many other instances, they worked in pairs to complete it. (A good resource for crossword puzzles is Wordcross HI
         TECH of Santa Cruz, 202 Pelton Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060; (408) 425-5654; $44.95.)




         V. Language and Literacy Lessons
    Handout:

Homeownership Terms/A Bilingual English/Spanish Glossary
Andres Muro, El Paso Community College’s Center for Education Programs, El Paso, TX

                                                                                                                                  213
   Note to the teacher: This two-page handout of terms and sentences was created for the student population of the El Paso
   Community College’s Center for Education Programs. The word list provides a sample of a bilingual glossary that teachers can
   develop with students and other bilingual staff. Remember that a complete glossary of English terms from the Fannie Mae
   Foundation can also be found in Appendix 1.



   Name: ________________________________                          Date:_________________________________
   Accounts:                      Cuentos                          Hourly rate:               Pago por hora
   Annual income:                 Ingreso annual                   House:                     Casa
   Applicant:                     Aplicante                        Income:                    Ingresos
   Bank:                          Banco                            Insurance:                 Asegueranza
   Bank account:                  Cuenta de banco                  Interest rate              Precio de interés
   Borrower:                      Deudor/a                         Land:                      Tierra, terreno
   Buyer:                         Comprador                        Landscaping:               Jardín
   Cabinets:                      Gabinetes                        Lender:                    Prestamista
   Checking account:              Cuenta de banco                  Loan:                      Préstamo
   Closing costs:                 Costas finales                   Loan interview:            Entrevista de préstamo
   Collateral:                    Colateral                        Lot:                       Terreno
   Commission:                    Comisión                         Net income:                Ingreso neto
   Co-signer:                     Aval                             Net pay:                   Pago neto
   Credit:                        Crédito                          Overtime:                  Tiempo extra
   Credit bureau:                 Buró de crédito                  Owner:                     Dueño
   Credit report:                 Reporte de crédito               Plans:                     Planos
   Debt:                          Deuda                            Plumbing:                  Plomero
   Deed:                          Escrituras                       Points:                    Puntos
   Dependents:                    Dependientes                     Principal:                 Principal
   Down payment:                  Enganche                         Property appraisal:        Valor de propiedad
   Earning records:               Historial de ingresos            Purchase and sales         Compras y ventas
   Electrical:                    Electrico                        Qualify:                   Calificar
   Employer:                      Empleado                         Real estate agent:         Agente de ventas
   Expenses:                      Gastos                           Roofing:                   Techo
   Finish:                        Final                            Savings:                   Ahorros
   Fire extinguisher:             Extingidor de fuego              Sheetrocking:              Cubrir elesqueleto de la casa
   Floor plan:                    Planos                           Seller:                    Vendedor
   Framing:                       Esqueleto de casa                Slab:                      Plancha
   Gross annual income:           Ingreso anual                    Utilities:                 Utilidades
   Gross pay:                     Pago neto                        Warranty:                  Garantía
   Home:                          Hogar                            Water shutoff valve:       Válvula de aparel agua
   Home inspection:               Inspección de hogar
   Home warranty:                 Garantía de hogar




   V. Language and Literacy Lessons
      Homeownership Terms/A Bilingual English/Spanish Glossary continued


           1. Borrower/co-borrower (deudor o prestatario)
              I will be the borrower for the loan on the house.
              Voy a ser el deudor del prestamo para la casa.
214
           2. Credit bureau (buró de crédito)
              The mortgage company will have to get a report from the credit bureau.
              La hipotecaria tendrá que obtener un reporte del buró de credito.

           3. Debts (deudas)
              My credit history will show the debts I have now.
              Mi historial de crédito enseñará las deudas que tengo ahorita.

           4. Bank accounts (cuentas de banco)
              I have to report all my bank accounts on the application.
              Tengo que reportar todas mis cuentas de banco en la aplicación.

           5. Savings (ahorros)
              I will have to show a savings of $2,000 to apply for the loan.
              Yo tendré que mostrar un ahorro de $2,000 para aplicar para el préstamo.

           6. Checking account (cuenta de cheques)
              It helps to have a checking account when making house payments.
              Es ayuda el tener cuenta de cheques cuando se hacen los abonos de casa.

           7. Co-signer (aval/garante)
              I had to get a co-signer to qualify for the loan.
              En mi caso, yo tuve que conseguir un aval para calificar para el préstamo.

           8. Collateral (colateral)
              The house is going to be the collateral for the mortgage.
              La casa va a ser el colateral de la hipoteca.

           9. Joint application (solicitantes juntos—dos o mas)
              To get the loan, my brother and I have to file a joint application.
              Para conseguir el préstamo, mi hermano y yo tenemos que ser solicitantes juntos.

          10. Earnings record (historial de ingresos)
              To prove we can pay the loan, we also have to show our earnings record.
              Para comprobar que podemos pagar el préstamo, también tenemos que mostrar nuestro historial de ingresos.




          V. Language and Literacy Lessons
           Activity and Handouts:

“Buying a Home,” the Fictional Account of Angelo Rodriguez
Cathy Anderson, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA and Andy English, Roxbury Community College, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                   215
Note to the teacher: This activity asks your students to read a short case study about a fictional family and then have them
answer the reading comprehension questions on the following two handouts.



Recently, we bought a house in the town of Malden, Massachusetts, about 20 minutes from Boston. My wife, Maria, and I
looked a long time for a home we could afford near public transportation and good schools for our daughter, Angela. I am
very glad we took the time to search thoroughly. Our new home is on a quiet street not too far from Malden Center. We like the
big kitchen even though the bedrooms are small. In the spring, we’ll plant a garden in the backyard. My daughter already has
a playmate her age.

My wife Maria and I both came from the Dominican Republic 11 years ago. We worked hard at two or three jobs to save enough
money for a home and other expenses such as school. My wife and I now manage the Store 24 in Malden Center. We have
worked for the Store 24 as managers and clerks for about six years. For 10 years we were living in small apartments on or near
Main Street with no yard and near heavy traffic. We desperately wanted a safe place for our daughter to play. We also wanted
to have another child someday. Before we started to look seriously, I made sure that our credit was OK. We had only two
outstanding debts, a car and my college loan. We were “first-time home buyers” in the market for our dream house.

We collected fliers and advertisements of homes in the Malden area, where we wanted to live. For about three months, we
saw this house, the one we eventually bought, listed in the paper. We drove by it every once in a while to get a feel for the
neighborhood, the traffic, and the businesses. We looked into the prices of houses in the surrounding neighborhoods so we
could make a comparison, and we went to open houses in the neighborhood almost every Sunday. Finally, we realized that this
was the house we really wanted. The only problem was that the owners were asking $125,000, much too high for us! We had
about $10,000 in our savings account and could not afford to spend the whole amount on the down payment and closing costs.

On Sunday morning the phone rang. It was the realtor. My English is pretty good, but I thought I was having a bad day when
she told me, “Your dream house went down to $101,000.” I couldn’t believe it! Maria and I packed up Angela and went to
take another look. We met the realtor there, and after spending a day or so checking again to see what other homes in the
area were selling for, we decided to offer $100,000 for the house of our dreams.

We submitted our offer to purchase with a $750 deposit, and the owner accepted. This first payment would go toward the
down payment of $5,000. Before we made the offer, however, Maria said to check the dates: 10 days to get an inspection,
14 days to apply for a mortgage, 21 days from application to approval, and 7 days to closing. The offer we made was in writing.
We then found a home inspector who was certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and recommended by
a good friend. This inspection cost us $200.

Then came the purchase and sale contract. Maria and I were concerned about some of the details, so we hired a lawyer to look
over the contract and help us negotiate with the seller’s attorney. We negotiated with the lawyer to pay him $500. We also wrote
another check for $2,250 toward the down payment.

Next we had to apply for a mortgage. We called several lenders and asked if they had a special loan for low-income or first-time
homebuyers. We then decided to go with the one that had the best mortgage for us. Our mortgage lender asked many questions,
keeping us there for over two hours! We found out what the interest rate was on that day and decided to “lock in” at that rate
because it was the most favorable. During the next two to four weeks we kept calling them to make sure our application
was progressing. This made us very nervous, but we got through it.

Finally, we received our loan approval. We read the letter through carefully and returned it to the bank. Fortunately, we were
able to receive a 5 percent down payment and a soft-second mortgage, which reduced our expenses. We were on our way!




V. Language and Literacy Lessons
      “Buying a Home,” the Fictional Account of Angelo Rodriguez continued


          We next had to buy fire and hazard insurance for $700. We were given an insurance binder to take to closing. We went to visit
          our new house one more time to check to see that everything was all right before the closing. Maria and I decided that things
          were OK. Two days before the closing, the bank attorney listed what to write our final check for:
216
          Balance, 5% down payment            $ 2,000
          Closing costs                       $ 3,000
          Escrow                              $    350
          Prepaid interest                    $    600
          Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)    $       0 (We received a soft-second mortgage, a special program for first-time home
                                                         buyers that covers PMI costs.)

          TOTAL                               $ 5,950

          Writing that last check felt scary because we were using up almost all of our savings. Thank goodness we had dependable
          jobs. At the closing, we brought our certified check for the final amount. Then we sat down and signed so many forms, our
          fingers went numb. At last, the keys were turned over to us and we could open the door to our new home!




          V. Language and Literacy Lessons
“Buying a Home,” the Fictional Account of Angelo Rodriguez continued


    Reading Comprehension Questions by Cathy Anderson
     1. What do Angelo and Maria think of their current home?
                                                                                                                           217
     2. Why do they want to buy a house of their own?

     3. What kind of work do they do? How long have they been working?

     4. What did Angelo do before he and Maria started to look seriously for a house?

     5. What is a “first-time home buyer”?

     6. How did Angelo and Maria “shop” for a house?

     7. Why was the first price of $125,000 too high for them?

     8. What was the amount Angelo and Maria eventually offered? What did they do before they made the offer?

     9. How much did the house inspector charge? How did they find the house inspector?

    10. Why did Maria and Angelo hire a lawyer to check the purchase and sale contract? How much was their second check?
        How much had they paid already toward the down payment?

    11. When they were looking for a mortgage, what question did they ask?

    12. When Angelo and Maria found a good mortgage, they “locked in” the interest rate. What does this term mean?

    13. How much was their down payment?

    14. How much did they pay for fire and hazard insurance?

    15. What does the term “closing” mean?




    V. Language and Literacy Lessons
      “Buying a Home,” the Fictional Account of Angelo Rodriguez continued


          Reading Comprehension Questions by Andy English
          I. Put the following events of the home-buying process in chronological order. Refer to the story if you are not sure.
218       a. ___ save money for down payment
          b. ___ receive keys
           c. ___ look at houses/check neighborhoods
          d. ___ make offer to purchase, along with a deposit
          e. ___ go to closing
           f. ___ find house that you like
           g. ___ get home inspection
          h. ___ get mortgage
           i. ___ collect fliers and ads for houses in area
           j. ___ review purchase and sale contract
           k. ___ buy homeowners insurance
           l. ___ receive accepted offer from owner
          m. ___ apply for mortgage
          n. ___ do final check (walk-through) of house
          o. ___ go to open houses


          II. Vocabulary: word search. Find synonyms for the following words from the reading:
          1. completely                       8. employed
          2. unpaid                           9. check
          3. brochures                       10. bargain
          4. expensive                       11. lawyer
          5. real estate agent               12. frightening
          6. gave                            13. without feeling
          7. worried                         14. given (find two synonyms)




          V. Language and Literacy Lessons
     Activity:

Playing with the Real Estate Ads
Dulany Alexander, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

                                                                                                                                       219
Note to the teacher: For this two-part discussion activity, you will need authentic real estate material such as the classified
ads in the local newspaper or a free real estate brochure such as those found at large grocery or convenience stores. During
your discussions of real estate property and how it is advertised, you will help your students “translate” real estate abbreviations
and jargon, and you will encourage students to become savvy housing consumers.



During three lessons, we used a weekly real estate flier. In the first lesson student teams were assigned a fictionalized
individual or family with particular housing needs and charged with finding them a house that met their requirements and was
in their price range.

As a follow-up, we translated real estate abbreviations and euphemisms such as “needs a little TLC” and “handyman special.”
Students asked about the term “de-leaded,” which led to a discussing about the hazards of lead paint. We discussed the
reasons why one Lynn realtor lists his Lynn properties as being “near Salem,” “near Peabody,” or “close to the water, near
Swampscott” rather than “in Lynn,” bringing a critical awareness to the reading of housing advertisements.




V. Language and Literacy Lessons
           Activity:

      Housing Vocabulary
      Dulany Alexander, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn, MA

220
      Note to the teacher: To help practice new vocabulary, students can use a spreadsheet to make a chart of housing-related words.
      For this two-part activity, you can ask your students to work in pairs, brainstorming categories that have to do with housing.
      Then, you can instruct students on how to enter words under each heading. Before closing their files, students will want to
      look at each other’s work for more ideas. Direct students to their spreadsheets during the next class period to revise and add
      to their lists before guiding them through the spell-check and the printing process.


      One student duo’s spreadsheet looked like this:

      NEIGHBORHOOD              ROOMS          OUTSIDE             FURNITURE              SYSTEMS                FINANCIAL
      friendly                  kitchen        yard                chair                  heat                   credit history
      children                  dining         hallway             table                  gas                    good job
      love                      bedroom        garage              bed                    electric               down payment
      dogs                      living         pool                mirrors                oil                    reference
      cars                      computer       playground          television             water                  savings
      hospitals                 bathroom       flowers             sofa                   plumbing               account
      schools                   library        trees               loveseat               insulation             lawyer
      shopping                  area           garden              lamp                   sink                   interest
      bank                      mailbox        park                VCR                    shower                 payments
      video store                              tennis              clocks                 toilet                 inspector
      bus station                              slide               night table            air                    insurance
      post office                              toybox              fans                   windows                taxes
                                               toys                carpet                 alarm
                                                                   cabinets               telephone
                                                                   piano                  fireplace
                                                                   microwave              chimney
                                                                   dishwasher             stove
                                                                   fridge
                                                                   tables
                                                                   shelves
                                                                   dresser




      V. Language and Literacy Lessons
     Activity:

Expectations of American Culture
Kathleen Sumara, El Centro del Cardenal, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                                 221
Note to the teacher: You can incorporate visual aids and multimedia into the classroom to further prompt reflection and
discussion. This activity was inspired by the viewing of the movie El Norte and provided a forum to discuss students’ changing
views of American culture and the economy and how their previous perception of the United States had changed with their
experience of immigrating to and working in the country.



As a class, we looked at images of housing and wealth in the United States.

First, students cut out pictures of house interiors from magazines and answered the following question: What did you think
houses in the United States were like before you came here? Students captioned the pictures with the generalizations that
might be drawn from them. The following are examples of their summaries: “It looks like all the houses are beautiful and have
a big garden.” “It looks like all the kitchens are big and neat.” “There are fresh breads and a big refrigerator.”




V. Language and Literacy Lessons
           Activity:

      Where Do You Live?/What’s in Your Neighborhood?
      Ashley Dumas, Project Hope, Dorchester, MA

222
      Note to the teacher: By having students pair up and interview each other about where they currently live, you can prompt
      ongoing conversations about their current state of housing, the neighborhoods they live in, and their hopes and dreams for
      the future. You will also want your students to generate their own interview questions. In this example, the first 10 inter view
      questions were generated by the teacher, and the second set of questions was generated by the students.



      Teacher’s Questions
       1. What city or town do you live in?
       2. Does your neighborhood have a name?
       3. Do you live in a house, an apartment, a shelter, or something else?
       4. Do you have to go up stairs to get to the front door?
       5. Do you have a lawn or yard?
       6. What color is the place where you live?
       7. Does it have an elevator inside?
       8. How many people live there with you?
       9. What is unique or special about the place where you live?
      10. Do you think that the place where you live is too big, too small, or just right for you and your family?


      Students’ Questions
       1. How many children live in your house?
       2. Is it a safe neighborhood?
       3. Does your building have security?
       4. How close do you live to public transportation?
       5. How big are the rooms in your house?
       6. Does the landlord live in the building?
       7. Is your landlord trustworthy?
       8. Do you live on a busy street?
       9. Do you own your own home?
      10. Is there a playground nearby?




      V. Language and Literacy Lessons
     Activity:

Discussing the Word “Home”
Lenore Balliro, Adult Literacy Resource Institute, Boston, MA

                                                                                                                          223
Note to the teacher: You can brainstorm compound words containing the word “home” with your students and then list them
on the board. Below are several ideas for how to best use this simple activity.

1. When students can’t think of any more words, direct them to the dictionary for more.

2. Have students select one word that feels meaningful to them and talk about it with a partner.

3. Use this discussion practice as prewriting and have students write an essay using the word they selected.



Possible words:
homeboy
homebound
homeroom
homebody
home run
hometown
homemade
home-cooked


Variation: Do the same activity using the word “house.”
housekeeper
housesitter
household
playhouse
house party
house poor




V. Language and Literacy Lessons
             Activity:

      Practicing Directions
      Lisa Garonne, ABCD’s South Side Head Start, Adult ESOL Program, Roslindale, MA

224
      Note to the teacher: The following activity can be conducted during one class period. Intended to build students’ vocabulary
      about directions, it also asks students to share information about their neighborhood.



      I drew a simple map of the neighborhood in which our school is located. I limited the map to the three streets and drew in the
      school. I then asked, “Where is the pizza restaurant?” This elicited the response, “On the corner of Washington and Corinth.”
      I asked a student to come to the board to draw in the various sites on the map as directions were elicited from the class.
      Students asked each other the location of each of the listed places. The student drawing the map had to listen and fill in the
      map according to these directions. This activity provided a thorough review of the following phrases: across the street, on the
      corner, around the corner, next to, beside, on the left, on the right, on the next block.

      I then asked one student how long it takes to get to the Catholic church from her apartment. After there was some discussion of
      what my question meant, the class agreed that it would take five minutes. Referring to a list of places in the neighborhood where
      students go, I asked one student, “How long does it take you to get to the beauty salon from work?” and “How do you get there?”
      I recorded the answers in the chart and repeated this with a few other students before asking a student to take my place.

      NAME                TIME              DESTINATION                   ORIGIN                    TRANSPORT
      V.K.                5 min.            Church                        Apartment                 Walking
      E.V.                20 min.           Beauty salon                  Work                      Bus and walking
      K.M.                30 min.           School                        Work                      Car
      M.H.                20 min.           Health clinic                 Home                      Walking

      From this chart, we constructed sentences:
                          It takes E.V. 20 minutes to get to the beauty salon from work by bus and on foot.
                          It takes K.M. 30 minutes to get to school from work by car.
                          It takes M.H. 20 minutes to get to the health clinic from home on foot.

      Students used this type of chart to document where they went and how long it took them over the course of one or two days.
      They then brought their completed charts into class and presented their results.




      V. Language and Literacy Lessons

				
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