With mobile phone ownership in the UK so high it makes perfect sense to use mobile phones in the fight against COVID19. In today’s English listening practice lesson we talk about the pros and cons of using technology to help the UK’s NHS reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
I’ve received a few e-mails recently asking why I talk about this or that topic in a podcast and why I don’t talk about something else or something they suggest. Listener suggestions are always welcome but our podcast content is always going to be a little random.
I am going to take a few steps back and explain what we are doing in our English podcast lessons and
what is happening to you and your brain when you listen to our English lessons.
First, our audio lessons are for you to use as "comprehensible input" which you then use to acquire the English language. Comprehensible input is just a fancy way of saying "input a listener can understand despite not understanding all the words". Think of it as input that is just above or outside of your current English language understanding.
If I were to describe a great comprehensible input audio lesson for an English language learner, then that lesson would:
- Be about 10 minutes or around 2000 words long (long enough to be of value but not drown you in new content)
- Contain interesting content topics that can be listened to several times without being boring (repeat listening)
- Have a printed transcript that allows listeners to look up any difficult or unknown words which can be used in a spaced repetition learning regime (efficiently discover what words cause you problems and efficiently learn these)
- Contain some new and unknown English vocabulary, to have this explained with lots of contextual descriptions (increasing your vocabulary)
- The input needs to be clear and high quality, with no distracting noises, ideally from a native English speaker (comprehensible) (There are many other things but I’ll keep the list short, this introduction is already too long!)
Finding content like this on the internet is difficult, and one of the main reasons Adept English exists. You need lots and lots of quality English listening to help train your brain’s ability to map what you want to say, into the English words and sentence structures needed to communicate those ideas.
The really cool part of learning a language through lots and lots of comprehensible input, is the whole thing works in reverse. Our amazing brains can easily turn all of that English input (listening) into output, which is our goal in helping you to speak fluently in English.
Comprehensible Vaccinated Mayor Laboratory
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Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. So let’s do a newsy podcast today – and one that will help you practise certain words, certain expressions, certain vocabulary. And if you would like more podcasts to listen to, to really help your English language learning move forward quickly – then have a look at our podcast download service. Go to our website at adeptenglish.com and look at our podcast bundles.
They are really good value for money. And buying a podcast bundle will ensure that you’ve got good quality English language listening everywhere you go, with you on your mobile phone. So it will help you improve your English and give you lots of interesting material to listen to.
So lots of news at our end about COVID19 and the pandemic. The verb ‘to ping’, PING is being used a lot at the moment – and like the noun ‘lockdown’ and the verb ‘to lockdown’, it’s acquired its own corona virus pandemic specific meaning. ‘Lockdown’ is the word we use when we’re told to ‘stay home and not go out’ – ‘we are in lockdown’. So at the moment, people are ‘getting pinged’ in the UK ‘left, right and centre’. ‘Left, right and centre’ – that means ‘everywhere’. And what does ‘to ping’ mean?
Well, if you get ‘pinged’, that means that you’ve been contacted by the NHS ‘Track and Trace’ process. Usually this happens because you’ve given your details in a pub, a restaurant or some other venue – and a few days later, someone you were in contact with there has tested positive for COVID19 so your phone ‘pings’ because there’s a message to tell you that you’ve been in contact and you must stay home and self-isolate – possibly for up to ten days.
So the verb ‘to ping’ – it means that noise which your phone makes when a message arrives – your phone ‘pings’. [PING….PING...PING ‘Oh my goodness! I hope that’s not the NHS Track and Trace App!’] If your phone pings with a message telling you to self-isolate for 10 days, this is a pain – understandable – but a pain, a big inconvenience.
Even when you’re double-vaccinated, you’ve had both jabs, you have to cancel all your plans for the next 10 days and stay at home. So this situation has led some of the newspapers in the UK to come up with a new term, a new word – and that’s ‘pingdemic’, PINGDEMIC. So a made up word – meaning ‘an epidemic of pings’, alerting people to their COVID contacts.
It seems the UK is in danger of ‘grinding to a halt’. That means coming to a complete stop, a complete standstill because so many people are being ‘pinged’.
So this happened to my daughter in the last couple of weeks. She was ‘pinged’ and told that she must ‘self-isolate’ – that means ‘not see anyone’ and not go out. She did this for a few days, not going out seeing any friends or for her work, she had to ‘work from home’ or wfh as I’ve talked about before.
She then started to feel ill – bit of a raised temperature, feeling hot and cold, stomach not feeling good – and a burning feeling in her chest. Now everyone in the UK with children in school has been given lots of free ‘lateral flow tests’ – so these are the tests, which look a little bit like pregnancy tests, which tell you whether or not you are positive for COVID19.
We’ve got lots of them in our house – so my daughter, convinced that she might have COVID19, took no less than five of these lateral flow tests over a few days – all of which were negative, all of which told her she didn’t have COVID19. However, because she continued to feel ill and had been pinged because of a contact, her place of work asked her to have a PCR test. The PCR test is taken in the same way as the lateral flow test, but it’s more sensitive and the results are processed in a laboratory. You get your result the next day.
We were fully expecting the test to be negative, because of the other test results – but big shock, it came back positive! Well, we then had the experience of what the ‘track and trace’ system in the UK is like. All our phones were pinging – and telling us to register on the government system – and that we must stay home. And they kept on pinging – until we did what was asked and registered.
My daughter was phoned by ‘track and trace’ and spent nearly an hour on the phone, describing all the places she’d been, all the people she’d seen in the last month – so that they could be contacted by the ‘trace and trace’ service. So of course, we did what was asked and nobody left the house for a number of days. And all of my daughter’s friends, whom she’d seen, were pinged too.
In terms of disruption, we’re lucky in that we can work from home and my son was already off school, because so many of his teachers had COVID19, that there weren’t enough of them to run the school. So his school had already shut for the summer holidays - early. My elder daughter is living in London, so she wasn’t affected, because she hadn’t seen us – except that we ended up cancelling her birthday celebration - twice! Never mind – we’re doing her birthday celebration on the 5th August instead, nearly a month late – as long as we don’t get pinged again before that happens!
So we have officially had coronavirus in our house. I’m pleased to say that my daughter has now made a full recovery – even though she felt quite ill for a few days. And the adults in the house?
Both of us are double-vaccinated, so we didn’t get ill, nor did my son, who is 13 years old and unvaccinated. So it may be that we’re COVID-immune now – we’ve had it and we’re OK. I imagine it’s the delta variant that my daughter had, as most cases in the UK are the delta or the Indian variant – so good to know if we have immunity.
On the other hand, I now read that Public Health England are warning that with the delta variant, you can get reinfected – you can catch COVID19 a second time. Who knows what the truth is? I’m pleased to say that my daughter who had COVID has now had her first Pfizer vaccination, so that’s good.
But what of the ‘pingdemic’? Well, the UK government originally set a date of 16th August as the time from which ‘double-vaccinated’ people don’t need to self-isolate if they are pinged. Given that 70% of adults in the UK are now double-vaccinated, that seems sensible, if we have confidence that the vaccine works.
Given the big rise in the number of cases in the UK recently, the chances of being pinged are much, much higher – and if very few people are going to actually become ill, it’s a lot of disruption for no particular reason. But it needs careful thought and decision making.
A photograph of a young woman using contact tracing app on mobile smart phone. Lots and lots of English comprehensible input in this listening practise lesson.
The government is now under pressure to push that date forward – to make it later than the 16th August – because of our high number of cases. We have higher numbers of COVID19 cases as we’re allowed out more and we are being allowed to mix with each other. So we can go to restaurants, use public transport and we are being encouraged to return to our face-to-face work.
So of course, the rate of infection is higher, but the number deaths has risen only a little. So there’s a feeling of being ‘in a different stage’ now in the pandemic – where to an extent we let COVID19 run its course – most of the people who are vulnerable to serious illness, who may need protection are already vaccinated.
But the problem is that this ‘pingdemic’ is starting to affect so-called key-workers. Key-workers are people like health professionals, teachers, supermarket staff, people who collect the rubbish, the police, the fire service, the delivery drivers and the staff who look after the UK’s borders.
A couple of weeks ago so many London Underground workers had been ‘pinged’ that parts of the Tube had to close down completely. So the newspaper headlines have been saying things like ‘Pingdemic chaos’ in the UK. A balance is being sought here.
We have to think of safety, but we have to think about continuing to allow the country to run. And it’s the same in other countries – governments are trying to find that balance between enough safety and allowing life and business to continue to function. We can’t afford to be in lockdown forever- and we don’t want to be either – just for our mental health. So there is a pressure also on the government to bring that date forward, from which double-vaccinated people don’t need to self-isolate if they’re pinged.
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So Sadiq Khan for example, London mayor is saying ‘We need it from now!’ The UK government usually says ‘We have to follow the Science’. But the reality is that the scientists don’t really know either because we’ve never been in this situation before, so they’re just making informed guesses and estimates.
And the scientists’ advice is always working to reduce infection – it doesn’t take into account other considerations, like the need for the country to run, food to be delivered, people to carry on working, health services to continue to operate.
That’s the part that governments have to think about. So as I said, there needs to be a balance. Our UK government are always being criticised. But I wouldn’t like to be the one having to make those decisions. Someone is going to think that you’ve got it wrong, whatever rules you choose to make.
Anyway, I don’t know if that reflects what’s going on in your country? It may be that you are at a different stage in the pandemic? But let us know. And I hope that this podcast has at least given you something interesting to listen to – and helped you with some of the vocabulary, some of the words that we are using during this pandemic.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.