Tag: work

Closure: Looking Forward[1] & Thank You

Closure: Looking Forward[1] & Thank You


As you will have read, we are finally shutting up shop[2] after 18 years of Think in English and Your English supplement. If you are reading this you almost certainly know I have written thousands of articles over that period and planned and participated in something like[3] 180 hours of recordings. To accompany that, I’ve also written around[4] 300 pages of exercises. That’s enough material to keep you practising[5] your English for years to come[6]! If I re-read an article I wrote several years ago, it’s as if it’s completely new to me, so I’m sure – unless you are blessed with[7] a perfect memory – you will have a similar experience.

I plan to keep on teaching English at the UNED and hopefully I will still have something to say regularly on this blog. However, given my work habit, I certainly have too much time on my hands[8] and need more work. I think I have quite an impressive CV but the truth is that at 50 it’s proving quite difficult to redirect my career[9]. So, if you feel you have benefitted from the last 18 years of our interaction, please bear me in mind[10] if you can think of an institution or company that might profitably make use of my skill set[11]. You can see my qualifications and references on LinkedIn (Nicholas John Franklin). If you are a member of LinkedIn, I’d appreciate your endorsements and would be truly[12] grateful for your recommendations (in whatever language you prefer to write in).

Finally, I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all our readers and subscribers. The truth is that nobody has benefitted more from Think and Yes than I have – not only in the vast amount[13] of subjects[14] I’ve had to research[15] but in my own knowledge of English. If you have learned a fraction of what I’ve learned, then the process has been worthwhile[16].

All the best and stay in touch[17]!


[1] looking forwardlooking to the future

[2] to shut up shop (shut-shut-shut) – close a business

[3] something like – approximately

[4] around – about, approximately

[5] to keep you practising (keep-kept-kept) – permit you to continue practising

[6] to come – (in this case) into the future

[7] to be blessed with – have the benefit of, be fortunate enough to have

[8] on one’s hands – available

[9] career – (false friend) professional trajectory

[10] to bear sb. in mind (bear-bore-borne) – remember

[11] skill set – combination of abilities

[12] trulyreally, genuinely

[13] amount – (in this case) number

[14] subject – (in this case) topic, theme

[15] to research – investigate, find out about

[16] worthwhileuseful, of value

[17] to stay in touchkeep in touch, remain in contact

Future-Proof Jobs

Future-Proof Jobs

US Navy photo by John F. Williams

Over recent weeks I’ve seen a couple of[1] articles about the jobs that it will be most difficult to automate[2] and therefore destroy. I’m a little bit sceptical about these lists. One had primary-school teacher high up[3] the list while, at the same time, we are told that 25% of university classes will be online in just[4] three years’ time. My (thankfully limited) experience of small children suggests that handing[5] them an iPad is the best way to get them to quietly concentrate on something. A soft robot with an imbedded[6] screen[7] that could stop them climbing out of the windows would seem to have many advantages over a primary-school teacher. Yes, I am suggesting that a Teletubby will replace Miss Pritchett in the foreseeable[8] future.

Another list had lawyers and doctors at the top. But surely all medical knowledge and all legal knowledge could be available in an app if not now then very soon. Medicine is just[9] matching[10] symptoms to diseases[11]; the legal profession is just remembering precedents that could be relevant to a specific case. OK, I’m exaggerating a little but both diagnostic medicine[12] and law are memory-based professions and those are precisely the ones most threatened by[13] modern technology.

Really future-proof professions are those that require a bit of creativity, a bit of social skills[14] and a lot of precision motor coordination manipulating non-standardized objects. Over the last fortnight[15] I have seen a state-of-the-art[16] robotic chef (in Korea) and a cutting-edge[17] robotic bartender[18] (at the Google conference[19] in San Francisco). They were both crap[20]. The incredibly slow automaton cook[21] got more food on the floor than in the salad bowl, while the android barman took three minutes to pour[22] a pint of beer. Whatever the experts say, for my money[23] the best future-proof jobs right now are those preparing food and drinks.

One final – more serious – comment about the future of work: the complaisant[24] often say that new jobs always emerge when technology replaces obsolete ones (e.g. when farm machinery replaced agricultural labour). However, this is the same fallacy as dismissing[25] anthropomorphic climate change because the earth’s climate has always changed. The problem isn’t evolution; it’s the speed of the change. If species don’t have time to adapt, then there’s mass extinction. If the labour market doesn’t have time to adapt, there’s mass unemployment. We read that, “65 per cent of primary-school kids[26] will have job types that don’t yet exist.” That’s putting a very positive spin[27] on the fact that two-thirds of today’s jobs won’t exist in 15 years’ time; it may just9 mean that over half the workforce will be out of work[28].

[1] a couple ofseveral

[2] to automate – replace with a machine

[3] high upnear the top of

[4] just – (in this case) only

[5] to hand – give

[6] imbedded – that is an integral part of sth.

[7] screen – the part of a computer or a TV where the images appear

[8] foreseeable – predictable, near

[9] just – (in this case) only, simply

[10] to match A to Bmarry A with B, pair up A with B

[11] diseaseillness, sickness

[12] I’m not referring to surgeons and dentists, whose jobs are very safe

[13] threatened by – in danger from

[14] skillstalent, ability

[15] fortnight – two weeks

[16] state-of-the-artultra-modern, cutting-edge

[17] cutting-edgeultra-modern, state-of-the-art

[18] bartenderbarman or barmaid, sb. who serves drinks

[19] conference – (false friend) convention

[20] crap – (informal) useless, very inefficient

[21] cook – chef

[22] to pour – (in this case) serve

[23] for my money – in my opinion

[24] the complaisantpeople who accept what they are told without protest

[25] to dismiss – ignore

[26] kidschildren

[27] spin – interpretation

[28] out of work – unemployed