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Words making the headlines – gig economy

DeliverooWhen the business and finance sections of British newspapers are not expressing concerns about Brexit, they’re discussing the gig economy.

So, what is the gig economy? Let’s start by looking at the meaning of gig. For about 100 years, a gig was a single performance by a musician or group of musicians. For example,

Did you get tickets for the Ed Sheeran gig at the O2 Arena?

We’re playing a gig at the Rose and Crown* tomorrow. Tell your friends.

In the last few years, the word gig has been adopted by freelance workers. They used it to describe a single job for a client.

I’ve got a 2-week gig consulting in Dubai for IST Engineering.

So, a gig is a single event or piece of work. The gig economy refers to companies who employ and pay people on the basis of individual jobs.The most famous examples are the taxi firm Uber and the food delivery company Deliveroo.

Why is the phrase gig economy in the headlines?

This is because of the controversy about the status of people who work for companies like Uber and Deliveroo. At the moment, the people who drive the taxis or deliver the food are classified as freelancers or independent contractors.  The companies say that these people benefit from the flexibility of this arrangement. They can work as much or as little as they want.

The workers see the situation differently. Many of them rely on these companies for most of their income but they only get paid when the companies give them a gig. When the workers divide the amount of money they earn by the number of hours they’re available for work, they say that they earn less than the minimum wage.

It’s not only the money. An employee with a traditional contract has legal benefits. For example,

Paid holidays – This is when you’re guaranteed holiday time while still receiving your salary.

Sick leave – This is when you continue to receive your salary for a period of time while you’re unable to work because of your health.

Maternity and Paternity leave – This is when you receive your salary while you’re away from work after you have a baby (maternity leave) or your partner has had a baby (paternity leave).

Gig economy workers don’t receive these benefits because they are classified as independent contractors. They argue that covering the costs of these things pushes their calculated hourly-rate even lower while the company they work for has higher profits because they don’t have pay for these benefits.

The British government has just published a long report on the future of work in the UK. One section of the report is about the gig economy.

What makes so many people nervous is that many of the companies that benefit from the gig economy are the technology companies that are changing the world in so many ways. What about your job? Do you think you’ll have to become a gig worker in the future?

*Rose and Crown is a very common pub name in the UK.

 

If you would like to suggest a word from the news for future blog posts, please use the comment box.


Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.

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Story Writing Project – Travel Vocabulary – Part 6

Here is the next part of our story. We’ve highlighted the functional phrases in part 5. Look out for question forms in part 6.

You can read earlier parts of the story here: Parts 1, 2, 3 and part 4.

~ My trip to Paris ~

Part 5: The train journey

I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak French. Do you speak English?

Of course,” she said. “You need to go to platform 3. The next train leaves in 5 minutes.”

I thanked her and walked quickly to platform 3. I checked my ticket for the carriage and seat reservation. My seat was in carriage D. It was a window seat but there was someone sitting in it.

Excuse me,” I said. “I think that’s my seat.”

The man said, “Oh! I thought it was my seat.” He checked his ticket. “You’re right. I’ve got the aisle seat. Sorry about that.”

He stood up to let me sit down.

The sights along the journey were very interesting. I saw some beautiful English and French countryside. There were also some traditional buildings in the distance.

Gard du Nord
Gard du Nord railway station in Paris

Suddenly we were travelling through the suburbs of Paris. Finally, the train arrived at the Gard du Nord. I collected my bag and jumped off the train.

As I walked out of the station, I could smell the French perfume which I love. I’d always dreamed of visiting the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to go there straightaway but first I had to drop my bag at my hotel.

I decided to walk to the hotel but after 5 minutes I realised I was lost.

Part 6: Lost!

Paris Street by FreeImages.com/ Javier Rodriguez
Paris Street by FreeImages.com/ Javier Rodriguez

I said to myself, “OMG! Where am I going? Should I go right or left? I don’t know.”

I stopped walking for a little bit to collect my ideas.

“OK, no problem,” I thought. “ I should ask a policeman.”

Luckily, there was a policeman standing on the corner of the street. I went over to him. “Do you know the way to L’hotel de Ville?” I was surprised he didn’t understand me. Maybe he didn’t speak English.

I tried again but I didn’t have a card with the address of the hotel. “What am I going to do?” I asked myself.

Then I had an idea. I got out my phone.


Thanks again to Shehnaz for her ideas for this part of the story.

Go to Leave a Reply at the bottom of this page and tell us what should happen in part 7.

 

Computer vocabulary

How well do you know English computer vocabulary? Here’s a little test. Each of these pictures represents a word or short phrase connected to using computers.

The answers are at the bottom of the page.

Part 1

Can you identify the words and short phrases?

1. 5.

 

2. 6.

 

3. 7.

 

4.

Part 2

Now use the words from Part 1 to complete these sentences.

  1. This is a shared computer. Don’t forget to _________ after you’ve finished checking your email.
  2. It’s important to _________ and install the latest security updates every month.
  3. Your _________ should contain at least one number and one capital letter.
  4. The information you want is near the bottom of the page. You need to _________ to find it.
  5. I’ve forgotten my username so I can’t _________ to my account.
  6. Have you ever tried to _________ a video to YouTube? It’s really easy.
  7. Just type what you want to find into the search box and press _________ on your keyboard.

 

Answers

Check your answers. How many did you get right?

Part 1

  1. log on
  2. upload
  3. enter
  4. password
  5. scroll down
  6. log off
  7. download

Part 2

  1. This is a shared computer. Don’t forget to log off after you’ve finished checking your email.
  2. It’s important to download and install the latest security updates every month.
  3. Your password should contain at least one number and one capital letter.
  4. The information you want is near the bottom of the page. You need to scroll down to find it.
  5. I’ve forgotten my username so I can’t log on to my account.
  6. Have you ever tried to upload a video to YouTube? It’s really easy.
  7. Just type what you want to find into the search box and press enter on your keyboard.

by Barney

 

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

Do you want to learn English for work and business? Send us a message.

 

Story Writing Project – Travel Vocabulary – Part 5

Here is the next part of our story. We’ve highlighted the linking words and phrases in part 4. Look out for useful functional phrases in part 5.

You can read earlier parts of the story here: Parts 1, 2 and 3.

~ My trip to Paris ~

Part 4: The lost passport

I looked in my bag for a while, however the passport was nowhere to be found. I put my hands on my hips and looked up at the sky. I was so upset!

Passport

At that moment, I noticed something in my pocket. “Here it is!” Fortunately, the passport was in my trouser pocket. I remembered putting it there after I went through the metal detector. I felt so relieved and went towards the passport control.

Since the queue was not so long, my turn came quickly. I handed my passport to the officer, he inspected it then gave it back in a matter-of-fact manner. In the end, I went through passport control without any problems.

Now I needed to check which platform I should go to. I tried to ask one of the station staff. But, they started speaking to me in French!

 

Part 5: The train journey

I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak French. Do you speak English?”

“Of course,” she said. “You need to go to platform 3. The next train leaves in 5 minutes.”

I thanked her and walked quickly to platform 3. I checked my ticket for the carriage and seat reservation. My seat was in carriage D. It was a window seat but there was someone sitting in it.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I think that’s my seat.”

The man said, “Oh! I thought it was my seat.” He checked his ticket. “You’re right. I’ve got the aisle seat. Sorry about that.”

He stood up to let me sit down.

The sights along the journey were very interesting. I saw some beautiful English and French countryside. There were also some traditional buildings in the distance.

Gard du Nord
Gard du Nord railway station in Paris

Suddenly we were travelling through the suburbs of Paris. Finally, the train arrived at the Gard du Nord. I collected my bag and jumped off the train.

As I walked out of the station, I could smell the French perfume which I love. I’d always dreamed of visiting the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to go there straightaway but first I had to drop my bag at my hotel.

I decided to walk to the hotel but after 5 minutes I realised I was lost.


Thank you to Shehnaz for her ideas for this part of the story.

Go to Leave a Reply at the bottom of this page and tell us what should happen in part 6.

Words making the headlines – Fake news

Fake News!

The phrase ‘fake news’ started to appear in news headlines last year and has now entered the dictionary. Here’s the definition from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Fake news is:

“false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”

The term fake news is used a lot by some politicians. When they say that a news report is fake news, they mean it contradicts their beliefs and so they don’t want other people to believe it. They have a different view of the situation and want to promote that view. Instead of giving evidence to support their view, the politicians try to discredit  the original new report by calling it fake news. Very often, it isn’t important to these politicians whether the news is true or not.

When a politician claims something is fake news they rarely criticise the content of the news report directly. Their aim is to call the writer and publisher of the report a fake. In other words, they’re calling them a liar. Of course, this is also an attack on anybody who accepts the truth of the original news report. The implication is they are stupid to believe it and, therefore, those who don’t, such as the politician and his supporters, are more intelligent.

Although fake news is a fixed phrase it’s not the only word that we use when we talk about attempts to deceive people. There are words such as false, forged, counterfeit, and fraudulent. For example,

The document had a forged signature at the bottom.

Last week I found a counterfeit pound coin in my wallet.

He was arrested for submitting a fraudulent tax return.

We can also use the words fake and false to describe these situations.

He made a false claim that it was his signature.

The pound coin was a fake.

The tax return contained false information.

While we’re taking about words that mean fake, let’s look at some words that mean the opposite such as true, real, genuine and authentic. For example,

Read the article then decide if each of these statements is true or false.

I prefer documentaries to dramas. I like to hear the stories of real people.

The art expert declared that the painting was a genuine Rembrandt.

There’s a new restaurant in the High Street. They serve authentic Malaysian food.

So, what’s the opposite of fake news? It’s just news, of course.

Listen to Barney reading the text.

Download this recording.

By Barney

 

Making contact – social language

Airport conversation

Social conversation is important to help get to know people and to build relationships.

Part 1

Listen

Listen to this conversation and answer these questions.

  • Do these two people know each other?
  • Where are they?

Questions and answers

We use questions and answers to move a social conversation. Can you match the questions and answers? Listen to the conversation again if you need.

Questions Answers
Is this the first time you’ve been to one of these conferences? That sounds great, thanks.
Have you been before? I’m a technical manager for IWB.
What do you do? No, I haven’t.
Why don’t we have a bite to eat and talk about it over lunch? No, I came last year when it was in Budapest.

Listen again

Listen again and follow the transcript.

A: Hi, I’m Julie. Is this the first time you’ve been to one of these conferences?

B: No, I came last year when it was in Budapest. I’m Susan by the way. Have you been before?

A: No, I haven’t. I’ve just started working in medical technology.

B: What do you do?

A: I’m a technical manager for IWB. I’m responsible for technical support in Eastern Europe. What about you?

B: Oh, I’m with BTC. I was in technical support, but I’ve moved into project management.

A: Maybe you could suggest a couple of useful sessions for me?

B: Yeah, sure. Why don’t we have a bite to eat and talk about it over lunch?

A: That sounds great, thanks.

Phrases

Let’s focus on the section of the transcript highlighted in yellow.

There are three parts:

  • I’m with BTC. = this says what the present situation is
  • I was in technical support, = this says what the past situation was
  • but I’ve moved into project management. = this says what has changed

Now, use this structure to write a sentence about you that says;

  • what your present situation is
  • what your past situation was
  • what has changed.

 

Part 2

Listen

Listen to this second conversation and answer these questions.

  • Do these two people know each other?
  • Where are they?

Questions and answers

We use questions and answers to move a social conversation. Can you match the questions and answers? Listen to the conversation again if you need.

Questions Answers
Did you have a good flight? Paul hasn’t.
When was that? He’s only been there for 3 or 4 months.
Has everyone else arrived for the meeting? Not too bad.
How long has he lived there? It was last year.

Listen again

Listen again and follow the transcript.

A: Hi Brian. Did you have a good flight?

B: Not too bad, Peter. At least it was on time.

A: That’s good. I’ve had problems with RiteFlite in the past.

B: Oh? When was that?

A: It was last year, on a trip to Buenos Aires.

B: Really? I’ve always wanted to go there.

A: Well, we had a fantastic time apart from the flight.

B: Anyway, has everyone else arrived for the meeting?

A: Paul hasn’t. He called 20 minutes ago to say his train was delayed! It’s typical, isn’t it? The person who lives closest is the one who’s late!

B: Oh really? I thought he lived in Norwich.

A: Not any more. He’s moved to Richmond.

B: Ah. How long has he lived there

A: He’s only been there for 3 or 4 months. He moved because he wanted a shorter commute to work!

Phrases

Let’s focus on the section of the transcript highlighted in yellow.

There’s a question about an unfinished time:

  • How long has he lived there?

The answer has two parts:

  • He’s only been there for 3 or 4 month. = an unfinished time = the time he’s lived in Richmond
  • He moved because he wanted a shorter commute to work! = a finished time = the time he moved

Here are two questions with the same structure:

  • How long have you lived here?
  • How long have you worked there?

Write answers about you.


Answers

Part 1

Julie and Susan don’t know each other. They are meeting for the first time.

They are at a conference.

Part 2

Peter and Brian know each other. They are colleagues.

They are at an airport.

 

By Louise and Barney

Do you know the rules of making small talk? Watch our video.

 

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

Do you need practise social language in English? Send us a message.