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Part 3

Electrical appliances

This episode's vocabulary

  • Cooker (noun) - a large box-shaped device that is used to cook and heat food, either by putting the food inside or by putting it on the top.
  • White goods (pl. noun) - large electrical goods for the house, such as cookers and washing machines.
  • Tumble dryer (noun) - a machine that dries wet clothes by turning them in hot air.
  • Hybrid (noun) - something that is a mixture of two very different things.
  • Cut down (phrasal verb) - to do or use less of something.
  • Workload (noun) - something that is a mixture of two very different things.
  • Faff/fiddle about/around (phrasal verb) - to spend your time doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the thing that you should be doing.
  • Status symbol (noun) - a thing that people want to have because they think other people will admire them if they have it.
  • Sedentary (adj.) - involving little exercise or physical activity.
  • To offset (verb) - to balance one influence against an opposing influence, so that there is no great difference as a result.
  • Forklift truck (noun) - a small vehicle with two strong bars of metal attached to the front that are used for lifting piles of good.
  •  Get to grips with sth. (phrase) - to make an effort to understand and deal with a problem or situation.
  • Insurmountable (adj.) - (especially of a problem or a difficulty) so great that it cannot be dealt with successfully.
  • Conducive (adj.) - providing the right conditions for something good to happen or exist.
  • Сounterpart (noun) - a person or thing that has the same purpose as another one in a different place or organization.
  • Automation (noun) - the use of machines and computers that can operate without needing human control.
  • Well-shielded (adj.) - well-protected
  • Spill (noun) - an amount of something that has come out of a container.


Questions and Answers

M: What kinds of appliances are there in people's homes in your country?

R: I imagine things that are typical of other Western nations. Like we have cookers, washing machines, refrigerators, other white goods. I think some people have tumble dryers as well, actually. Or even better, a washing machine tumble dryer hybrid. And those are, although I should point out those are seen as something of a luxury item.

M: What benefits do people get from using electrical appliances?

R: Well, it cuts down massively on your workload, to be sure. And there's less faffing and fiddling around with various bits and pieces if a machine can do everything for you. This means you've got more free time by comparison. Some people also see them as a status symbol if they have a specific brand.

M: How do you think modern technology has changed the way we work and live?

R: Well, it's given us more time to do as we please, though we seem to have filled that time with more things that distract us from what matters if you ask me. I think the biggest impact has been in reducing the time taken for household chores. In most countries, this was usually done by women, but now they're free to work on other things. It's also separated us a bit from manual labor and contributed to our sedentary lifestyles.

M: So you think that the influence of modern technology is negative?

R: Um, I think they're, just like anything, there's positive and negative aspects to it. Probably, on the whole, it's more of a positive experience as long as we offset the negatives.

M: Do you think it's important to train employees to use equipment at work?

R: Well, if they're required to use it, then it's almost essential isn't it? It would be a bit reckless to just hand someone the keys to a forklift truck and say, off you go. You'd have a lot of compensation claims on your hands that way. Plus formal training might help employees get maximum use from whatever technology it is they have to work with.

M: Do you think that older people have difficulties in using modern equipment?

R: Well, unless they're completely decrepit, it's probably not an age thing. It's just an experience thing. They just haven't had the need to get to grips with anything like that. There might be some issues with neuroplasticity as well, but that shouldn't be insurmountable, not for households, white goods.

M: How can we help older people to use this modern equipment?

R: Well, I imagine the most obvious way is by patiently showing them how to do it, or how to use it, in addition to creating programs and sort of formats that are conducive to helping them learn how to do that.

M: And should younger people teach older ones, how to use modern equipment? Like how to use an iPhone, for example?

R: Well, it's a good idea. It teaches you lots of life skills, like clear communication, and, well, how to teach people something. So on the whole, it's a good idea, I can imagine it might be quite stressful for everybody involved.

M: Do you think it could be difficult for older people to learn things about modern equipment?

R: Well, I remember reading about this. And it's not the fact that young people are just naturally better with technology. It's because they're just comfortable with the things that they do. It's you comfortable with your context, not the technology.

M: Are there any disadvantages of using electrical equipment at home?

R: Well, aside from the fact they need more complex maintenance than their non-electrical counterparts, I think the risk of electrocution is greater and they are relatively more expensive. Also, on a global scale, it's probably not very sustainable. It's actually completely unsustainable for every single household to have something like that.

M: Do you think modern technology makes people lazier?

R: Well, I can see why people might say that on an individual or family level. But it's probably only made people lazy in relation to time spent on tasks, the tasks involved in that. Like look at how much productivity has gone up since we introduced automation into our lives, you can flip a switch and go off to work while everything is taken care of for you. You could make the case if it starts to take over all of our jobs, then it's a bad thing, and it's probably making people lazier. But I don't see why we wouldn't just create new things for us to work on to be honest with you.

M: What can people do to protect their equipment from problems?

R: It seems to be pretty well-shielded already, to be honest. Though, people could prevent them from being exposed to sudden shocks or spills. Like but in the case of phones, you wrap it in a phone case for example, and make sure they're out of the way of any potential sources of damage like underneath the kitchen counter or installed inside a bigger unit.

M: What about other electric appliances, like microwaves or dishwashers? What can happen? How can we protect them?

R: Well, they are already, like I say, they're already pretty well-protected, but they're usually so heavy that they stay in place as they are, you could maybe just make sure they're not close to the edge of your kitchen counter, for example, that would help.

M: Thank you very for your lovely answers!



M: So, for this topic, you do need to know the word appliances. Okay? Appliances means the same as devices, right? Gadgets, equipment.

R: White goods. It's just a generic term for large electrical goods that are used in your home, and usually, they're white.

M: Really? So an oven is like a white good?

R: Yeah.

M: Fridge is a white good.

R: Well, I mean, fridge is a better example for sure.

M: Kitchen appliances, right. If you use the word equipment, make sure that you use it in the singular. Equipment is expensive. Kitchen equipment is modern, not equipments, no. And there is a lot of equipment. Yeah? Appliances are okay with one appliance, a lot of appliances, also gadgets, devices. Yep?

R: Yes.

M: And you do need specific examples. So Rory said cookers. Cookers are not people. It's a piece of furniture. Yeah? Piece of equipment. An oven or a cooker. Washing machines or refrigerators, white goods. Also, Rory, you've used a tumble dryer.

R: Yeah, a tumble dryer just dries your clothes. It's like a washing machine. But with air instead of water. It's really cool.

M: Yeah, but nowadays, they're making washing machines and tumble dryers already inside them. So it's like two in one. Yay.

R: So if you have this, it's called a hybrid.

M: Oh, okay. So it's like two in one, I didn't know that. Oh, okay.

R: Well, a hybrid could be, a hybrid could be multiple things combined together. It's usually two in one but there's no reason it can't be more.

M: Oh, how cool. Have you got a tumble dryer?

R: No, we have a garden. We just hang everything up outside.

M: Oh, you go old school. Okay.

R: I have no say in this matter. I live with my parents right now. It's their decision. Not mine.

M: Oh, okay. Yeah, fair enough. Also, Rory, you've made an example and you said the word a forklift. It would be crazy to just hand someone the keys to a forklift.

R: Yeah, so a forklift is like, well, it's something that's used to lift white goods, actually.

M: Dear listener, just Google it. Okay? Just go open Google Images and type in forklift. It's like you eat with a fork and a spoon. So forklift lifts stuff. Yeah, this little machine. Cool. When we do use all these electrical appliances, they cut down massively on our time and workload. Cuts down on something.

R: Yes. So it's like, just say, reduce, basically.

M: Yep. Oh, I loved this moment, when you said there is much less faffing and fiddling around with various bits and pieces of a machine. That's nice.

R: Yeah. So if you faff or you fiddle around with something, it just means that you're messing about with it and trying to make it work, but it's not working.

M: Yeah. Certain electrical appliances could be status symbol. So it could be a status symbol.

R: Yeah, a status symbol is just something that makes you look better in the eyes of other people.

M: Yeah, it's like, what could be an example of this?

R: Well, usually cars, expensive cars are usually status symbols.

M: Oh, right. Electrical appliances help us to cut down massively on our time doing household chores. This is the one for you, dear listener.

R: So, household chores can be things like, well, doing the dishes or taking out the laundry, for example. But if you have all these things, you don't need to do it.

M: Yeah. What do you call these robots, which cleans the surfaces at your home?

R: Well, I think they're just called cleaner robots, but most people call them Roombas. Even though Roomba is a specific brand.

M: Oh, Roomba. Yeah. Oh, it's called like I-robot. Then you can talk about people becoming lazy-bones, becoming lazy. And it might contribute to our sedentary lifestyles. There we go. That's a great word also for the essay. A sedentary lifestyle.

R: Yeah, that just means that you're not moving around so much. You're sitting.

M: You're sitting down. Has your lifestyle become sedentary out there in Scotland?

R: No, I still have to move around to go to university and stuff.

M: When you talk about older people using modern equipment, you said one adjective. Unless all the people are completely decrepit.

R: It just means worn out because of age.

M: Sounds so negative though?

R: It is extremely negative, yes.

M: People are quite decrepit. Decrepit.

R: No, I said unless they are completely decrepit. It doesn't mean that all old people are, it just means like it for the ones who are would be very difficult.

M: Yeah. Could you give us another example with this word?

R: Well, I'm not looking forward to being old and decrepit.

M: Yeah, it's like old and like, really, you can't stand up, you can't just're very old. And then Rory goes, Well, the older people can get to grips with. So get to grips with something.

R: That just means to understand something. For example, when you, I don't know, when you update your phone, it can take a little while to get to grips with the new system.

M: Yep. Or it, for example, it could take more time for older people to get to grips with all this modern equipment. Yeah. When we talk about the equipment, we talk about maintenance. So electrical equipment requires maintenance. More complex maintenance, they, different gadgets have to be maintained.

R: Yes. So just that's just another way of saying like they need to be taken care of, looked after. In order to keep them functioning.

M: Yeah, but maintenance and to be maintained, are very specific words. Yeah. You can talk about non-electrical equipment. What's non-electrical equipment?

R: The equipment that doesn't use electricity. For example, you know, you have a dishwasher, which runs on electricity, but you also have a... You just have clocks and a sink.

M: Oh, okay. Oh, that's equipment. Yeah, like tubes. toilet. Okay. Makes sense. Right. When we talk about problems with equipment, Rory said that it seems to be pretty well-shielded.

R: Yes. So we should talk about this in a logical order. Pretty well is just saying it's reasonably good. But shielded is just another way of saying protected. You shield something from damage, for example.

M: Yeah, our equipment seems to be pretty well-shielded already. So protected from different problems. And then you said, this could prevent the equipment from being exposed to sudden shocks or spills. Spills? What do you mean by spills?

R: You spill liquid. It's like just another way of saying like, the liquid is out of the container and uncontrolled.

M: Yeah. So, Rory.

R: Hopefully we've given you some vocabulary about appliances that you can apply in your speaking exam. That's terrible. But it's how we're finishing this.

M: Yes. Our coincidences are getting worse and worse.

R: It's not a coincidence, it's just a really bad pun. However.

M: Yeah, it's the distance, Rory. It's just the distance between us now.

R: Not, my puns have always been terrible.

M: All right, thank you very much for listening!

R: Bye!

M: And we'll see you and hear you in the next episode. Bye!


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