What on earth would we all do if we did not have the internet right now? That’s what today's English listening practice podcast talks about. Listening is the smart way to learn a new language, and we base our whole approach on our listen and learn system.
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Hi there and welcome to this Adept English podcast.
One of the things which is really interesting in these times of lockdown – how the crisis is much easier with technology to help us. The word ‘lockdown’, L-O-C-K-D-O-W-N is being used in English to refer to the quarantine period that we’re in, in March 2020. With our smartphones, most of us are well connected to family, friends and to our work. That’s in normal life. But in these days of lockdown, where much of the world is being told to ‘stay home’, technology and staying connected is even more important to us. We sometimes worry that technology replaces our face-to-face relationships, especially for our children and we can see this as a bad thing, as a negative. But I think that the benefits, the good side of technology for helping keep us all connected are really obvious at the moment.
Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.
⭐ Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder
On a social level, I’ve never had so much communication over various apps on my phone. In some ways, it’s been nice – I’ve had long conversations with members of my family, whom I’m close to, but because they live elsewhere, I don’t see them very often. I’m also on a variety on groups for chatting – on Whatsapp or Viber etc. They are all useful as well text messages on your phone. People are sharing their fears and supporting each other and sharing information. And what I’ve also liked is all the funny videos which people have been sending round this week – some funny observations, some jokes about the lockdown situation, some just funny videos anyway. Laughing is helpful to people in all kinds of ways in this situation. So thankyou especially to my Art group on Whatsapp for the supply of funny videos this week!
For those people who are vulnerable to the virus – who simply can’t risk catching it, online food shopping is really important. In the UK, it’s become very difficult to book a delivery – the demand is too high. When I say ‘book a delivery’ – that means when you reserve a time, on an online system for your food to be delivered. All the times were taken, booked up already last week. But hopefully it will get better. There’s also Amazon – so if therei s something essential that you need, but of course shops are closed, at least there’s the possibility of ordering it online. Delivery takes longer – it takes longer for things to arrive at your front door. But it’s still there – which is important. Apparently online food shopping has been 20% of total food sales in the UK in the last week.
The lockdown has also meant that the schools are closed. But the possibility of continuing with lessons is much greater. My son’s school have tried to maintain a normal school day. He’s had lessons every day – and he’s actually complained - he’s having to do more school work, than normal when he’s at school. Great! I think, that’s wonderful!
But how many of us are also turning to technology to help us carry on with our work? For some people, working as normal is impossible. If you own or work in a coffee shop for example, then you are just not going to work at the moment. But if your work can be done online, then you’re lucky and you’re using technology much more and depending much more [up]on it.
We’re doing this out of necessity, we’re doing it out of need. Those of us who can maintain some kind of income, who can still earn money and keep our businesses going, still want to do that. It’s good for us and it’s better for the economy too. But, what are the implications? The word ‘implication’ means ‘the resulting effects’, ‘the things that can happen because of those choices, especially the ones we can’t see, or can’t see immediately’. What are the implications of this move to business being done much more online?
Well, many people have commented to me this last week, that actually it’s much less stressful,. They have much more time. There’s no travel times to work or to meetings. And if attending a meeting for your work means just means switching on your laptop or your iPad, then you arrive in your meeting much less stressed than usual. It’s not quite the same as being person-to-person, in the same room, but most people think ‘It’s good enough for now’.
One night last week, we lost our internet connection around 12am. And I spent the night thinking ‘Oh my goodness, what if our internet doesn’t come back on? Aaaaaaaaaaaah!’ That would be bad news. Fortunately, it was back on the next morning – and has continued since. But this lockdown situation would seem a lot worse with no internet!
A photograph of a man eating popcorn while watching a film intensely
So the first worry is about infrastructure. The word ‘infrastructure’, I-N-F-R-A-S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E – usually that means roads, buildings, transport systems – in the real world. But here of course, I’m talking about the ‘infrastructure’ in terms of online – your internet access, the speed and reliability of your internet. So this is physical infrastructure - wires and cables, broadband etc., but it means the software and the systems that support our access.
This becomes critical, this becomes much more important when you’re relying upon it, like we are now. Virgin Media, who provide Internet services in the UK, this week reported that downloading, streaming to devices – so that’s where you bring internet content down your connection to your own device, to your computer – this was up by 90%, on the first day of school closure. And uploading – so that means sending content up to the internet – apparently this has doubled during the daytime as people are working from home. The internet service providers – so in the UK that means companies like Virgin Media, BT etc. - they are saying that they can manage the extra demand. That’s reassuring – I hope they’re right. However, some services, like Netflix and YouTube are having to reduce their quality – HD, or High Definition is being switched off - so that their services can continue.
Security is also an issue. We’re all jumping to use online meeting rooms. But how many of us have checked the terms and conditions? How many of us have checked the details before signing up? The UK government was criticised last week for using the app Zoom for government meetings – because of security. And it’s interesting that Microsoft Teams was used instead for meetings with a higher classification – that means with a higher level or secrecy, a higher level of security. We have been assured by Zoom that it’s secure and is OK to use for meetings, but there are some potential issues. For example, if you record a Zoom meeting, then people at Zoom can apparently view these recordings. So we need to be careful. Companies who provide these services are rather too keen to collect information about us! We need to be careful.
And I read a really interesting article yesterday, saying ‘What if this crisis had happened 15 years ago?’ Where would we be then? Well, actually many people would either not have had an internet connection, or if they did 15 years ago, it would have been very slow. If you look at the main apps and services that we all like to use – even ones that we think of perhaps as rather old-fashioned were just starting 15 years ago. Skype only added video to its calls in 2006. And Facebook was really only used in the US back then - it hadn’t become a worldwide phenomenon.
15 years ago, YouTube was only just being thought of – and there was no Twitter, no Whatsapp and no Instagram – they didn’t even exist! So lockdown in 2020 is very different to what it would have meant 15 or 20 years ago! We can remain in contact with other people, we can amuse ourselves, we can keep ourselves entertained. Our children can continue to go to school - virtually. And people can order shopping online. And the damage to the economy for all of us, is surely so much less, because many businesses are continuing online. Hooray for the Internet I say!
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Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.