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Lesson 6: UK Economy

Lesson 6: UK Economy

Students compare the economy and class systems of the UK to China, identify characteristics of the 3 main sectors of economies, and discuss advantages and disadvantages of privatization.

Level:  Intermediate

Topic:  UK economy

Time:  90 minutes



  1. Identify the class system in the UK.
  2. Compare the economy and class systems of the UK to China.
  3. Identify characteristics of the 3 main sectors of economies.
  4. Compare advantages and disadvantages of privatization.


  1. Students discuss with partners and report to the class.

2, 3, 4. Students discuss with their group and report to the class.



  • Make one copy of the Topic Cards for the teacher, and cut into 6 strips.


Class System in the UK (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to get a partner and discuss the topic for about 5 minutes.
    • “What is the class system in the UK?”
  • Ask the students to volunteer answers and write answers on the board.


Upper class Enter by bloodline, wealthiest, very small, impossible to enter
Upper-middle                   Enter by job: doctors, diplomats
Middle-middle Own companies, work for a big company, went to university
Lower-middle White collar, live in less prosperous suburbs, didn’t go to university
Working class Blue collar, work in factories, have regional accents



Class System in the UK and in China (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to get into 6 groups. Each person in the group should take a role. If there are only 4 people in a group, then the Facilitator can also keep track of time.
    • Facilitator: leads the group discussion
    • Note-taker: write things down as neede
    • Reporter: presents information to the class
    • English monitor: makes sure everyone is speaking English
    • Time keeper: keeps track of how much time is remaining for an activity


  • "In the UK, 13% of the working class and 44% of the middle class go to university. How is the class system in the UK similar and/or different than in China?"
  • Ask the students to discuss the questions in their groups.
  • Ask groups to report their findings. 


UK Economy Topic Cards (60 minutes)

  • Give each group a topic card.
  • Ask the students to read the card, discuss it in their group, and write down their comments and opinions.
  • After 5 minutes, change the topic cards. Continue until each group has discussed all 6 cards.


  • Collect the topic cards. Randomly ask a group to report their comments and opinions about one topic. Presentations should be around 3 minutes. Make notes on the board as appropriate.
  • Continue until each group has presented and all the topics have been discussed.


Possible answers:

  1. More people move into the middle class.
  2. Developed countries are post-industrial societies and most of their wealth comes from services.  China is still an industrial society, but the service industry is growing.  China has 39.5% of the workforce working in agriculture, but it only accounts for 9.6% of the nation’s wealth.
  3. There are many government jobs in China and not as much privatization.  People in the UK want a job in services and are not willing to take a lower paying job.
  4. Easy to see the class distribution in the UK.  Most people still work in agriculture in China.
  5. The UK had a relative economic decline after WWII. They did not modernize their factories. They had gone into debt to finance the war. They had spent a lot of money maintaining their military overseas. The empire was over.
  6. Privatization:
Advantages Disadvantages
Lowers prices Less employees are needed
Company is more efficient High unemployment
Employees get higher salaries    More pressure on the government, such as welfare 
Companies have higher profits Company could go bankrupt
Helps to control inflation Widens the gap between the rich and the poor



Q&A (10 minutes)

  • Ask the students to look at their homework questions and/or responses to ask additional questions about the unit.



  • Work on UK Culture Presentations. 
  • Read Units 6, 7, 9, and 10 to become familiar with the presentation topics.

Printable Worksheets

Topic Cards

This Activity is also available here:

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