Lexicoblog

The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, July 09, 2020

10 ways to tackle coronavocab: #9 Work


The world of work has inevitably changed hugely over the past few months for many people and those changes have thrown up both completely new language and a spike in frequency of words and phrases that students may not have encountered before.

Which vocabulary you choose to deal with and how will, as ever, depend largely on your students' context, their interests and experiences. Many adult learners, on both General English and Business English courses, will have first-hand experience of the impacts the pandemic has had on their own working lives. Whether they've suddenly had to work from home, whether they've been furloughed or whether they're tentatively getting back to work and having to comply with new restrictions, they'll have stories to tell.

Some students (of Business English or EAP students studying business, economics, etc.) may have a wider take on how the pandemic's affected the economy as a whole or particular industries – a great opportunity not only to delve into the new vocab here (furlough, hibernate, bounce back) but to revise other relevant language too – there's lots of talk currently about the on-going effects on sectors like retail, hospitality and tourism, for example, will staff be laid off or made redundant when furloughing and other government support comes to an end?

Or with younger learners or those looking for a slightly lighter angle, there's lots of scope for exploring the more amusing side of remote working – has anyone experienced zoombombing or abandoned much of their usual workwear in favour of upperwear only? Has anyone experimented with Zoom backgrounds?





Some examples in context:
Surveys show that people are investing in their WFH setups even as reopening progresses.
Many employees are not in occupations that allow remote working.
Staff can work remotely but are allowed to travel into the office for essential work where social distancing is practised.
(noun) He has been on furlough since March but has now been asked to attend a redundancy consultation meeting with his employer.
(verb) In early March, the retailer said it would furlough around 130,000 employees nationwide.
Our engineers are classed as key workers and continuing to do their jobs to find and fix problems like this.
The team has taken the decision to hibernate the project until the pandemic has passed.
He has had weekly Zoom calls with the production staff.
We're all currently suffering from Zoom fatigue.
We are working in groups of four that are isolated. We fondly refer to these groups as quaranteams. 
I think our tops make great upperwear as you nail your Zoom meetings in the comfort of your home.
We are following all government regulations carefully.

Activities:
  • There are plenty of discussion topics to use with Business English students which this vocab could prompt around how the lockdown has affected their own working life, their company, their industry or even their country's economy. Take a look at my last post about phrasal verbs with back to prompt a discussion about how learners think the economy or their sector will recover - will they bounce back or will they ease back slowly?
  • What collocates with Zoom? Make sure you go beyond the buzzwords and explore with students the language we’re using to deal with the new realities of working remotely.

  • There are plenty of memes around about the perils of working from home – is the cat your new co-worker? These could provide a fun starting point for a discussion. Or if you have students who are working or studying from home, get them to share photos of their workspace (or just a detail if a wide shot feels too intrusive) and describe some of the problems – along with Zoom fatigue, you could elicit other relevant phrases like too much screen time, ergonomics, distractions, etc. 

Photo credit: Peter Fullager and Felix
  • Everyone loves a moan – has anyone experienced zoombombing or zoom fatigue? What other glitches and drawbacks have students experience on video calls (work or non-work) – a rich area for drawing out new vocab (the screen froze, accidentally unmuted my mic, backgrounds, interrruptions, etc.).

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