Posted by: snaed | August 6, 2009


bill gates


  1. Who do you think is the wealthiest person in the world?
  2. Who is the wealthiest person in your country? How did he or she become wealthy?
  3. Do you know of any young people who are very rich?


  1. determine – decide; choose
  2. personal – not public; belonging to someone
  3. property – things owned by someone
  4. wealth – a large amount of money or property
  5. worth – value or cost
  6. nation – country
  7. reported – said
  8. estimate – decide or guess something, e.g., a number or price


There are really two classes of wealthy people. Millionaires are rich. Billionaires are super rich! However, determining a person’s wealth is not always easy.

The wealth of a king or queen for example, is based on the wealth and property of the nation instead of the personal wealth and property of the king or queen. For some kings and queens, it is difficult to tell these two kinds of wealth apart.

The richest member of a royal family is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud. His personal wealth was estimated in 2003 to be $18 billion. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is often thought to be the riches woman in the world. However, when the public property of England is ruled out, her personal  money and property seem rather small. Queen Elizabeth II’s personal wealth was estimated in 2003 to be $397 million. This was less than J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter books, who was estimated to be worth $444 million.

In the United States, there were 222 people reported to be billionaires in 2003. billionairesThe richest of these is Bill Gates, worth at least $41 billion, who made money by starting the company Microsoft. Mr. Gates was only twenty years old when he first helped to set up the company in 1976. He was a billionaire by the time he was thirty-one.

Mr. Gates may seem young to be so rich, but other people have made a lot of money at even younger ages. Other young people who have struck it rich include Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) and Shirley Temple (1928–). Both of these child actors made over a million dollars acting in movies before they were fourteen years old. However, the youngest billionaire is Albert von Thurn und Taxis of Germany, who, in 2001, inherited[1] a billion dollars when he turned eighteen!


  1. What is the best title for this passage?
    • How to Become a Billionair
    • The Life of Bill Gates
    • Wealthy People of the World
    • Child Billionaires
  2. Why is determining a person’s wealth sometimes difficult?
    • The difference between public and private property is sometimes unclear.
    • Some wealthy people are very young.
    • Kings and queens are very private people and keep their wealth hidden.
    • There are very few billionaires in the world.
  3. According to the passage, who is the richest person in the world?
    • Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud
    • Queen Elizabeth II
    • J.K. Rowling
    • Bill Gates
  4. In what year did Bill Gates become a billionaire?
    • 1956
    • 1976
    • 1987
    • 2003
  5. Which of these people did not have to work for their money?
    • J.K. Rowling
    • Bill Gates
    • Jackie Coogan
    • Albert von Thurn und Taxis


  1. rule out – decide something is not possible
    • Our high school lost the game, so we have been ruled out of the finals.
    • Who stole the money? Well, Lance was with his parents, so we can rule him out.
  2. strike it rich – become rich quickly
    • John’s uncle struck it rich through his online business.
    • Sarah thinks she can strike it rich by gambling in Las Vegas.
  3. make money – earn money
    • I made some money by working over the summer.
    • Ray sold his house and made a lot of money.


  1. If you were a billionaire, how would you spend your money?
  2. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a billionaire?

[1] inherit – receive from someone, usually a relative, after the person dies


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