Aiton English

Learning Languages for Life

Category: Reading

Government UBI money for everyone!

What is Universal Basic Income? (UBI)

Universal Basic Income = is a form of social security[3] in which all citizens or residents of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, independent of any other income.[4

i.e. you get this money even if you have a job!

What is the difference between UBI and traditional unemployment benefits / welfare?

With traditional unemployment / welfare benefits you receive money if you do not have a job, but if you get a job you lose the benefits.


Does UBI sound crazy? Think again…


Reading 1

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

  1. Guess the author’s linguistic choice (LC) for this sentence: Robot-to-worker  ratios are rising gradually / constantly / rapidly.
  2. Which country has the highest robot-worker ratio?
  3. Author’s Linguistic Choice (LC) :The cost of robot implementation is shrinking / decreasing / plummeting.
  4. True / False: When it comes to jobs at risk, the developing world is not much better-off that the developed world.
  5. True / False: Some believe UBI could be given as a lump sum when people turn 18
  6. Author’s LC: You could make exclusions for households / people / families earning $100,000  a year or more
  7. LC: The greatest / most substantial / key benefit of UBI would be the elimination of people living below the povery line
  8. True / False: Trial projects are currently being undertaken in Kenya and Switzerland


Now read the infogaph here

Post -reading discussion:

  1. What do you think about the arguments for and against?
  2. Of the two case studies, Namibia and  Alaska, which is more interesting for you?
  3. Why do you think that those countries mentioned are undertaking experiments but others like Australia are not?
  4. Which proponent quote did you
  • like the most
  • find the strangest
  • disagree with

Reading 2

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

Author’s linguistic choice (LC): Finland’s pilot UBI scheme is radical / groundbreaking / unprecedented

True / False: The scheme sees people receiving 500 Euros a month

Author’s LC: The scheme is addressing / combating / tackling poverty

True / False: Under the current social welfare, claimants are afraid of losing out if they find a job.

LC: Finland has generous social security. As a result people refuse work because they feel better off with social benefits. This problem is growing / acute/ inevitable

Now read the article here


Post -reading discussion:

  • Do you agree that generous benefits can lead to an acute problem in terms of people turning down work?
  • The article references one person’s quote concerning “reduced stress”. What was the situation? How representative do you think it is?
  • How much do you agree with the listed benefits?


Video 1

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

Elon Musk believes large-scale unemployment will happen. In the video he talks about UBI, and mentions a “much harder challenge” than how to deal with income for those without jobs. What do you think this challenge is?

Now watch..


Post -reading discussion:

To what extent do you agree that:

goods and services will be in abundance due to automation?

a lot of people derive their meaning from their employment?

finding a replacement for “meaning” will / would be much more difficult than implementing a UBI sloution



Video 2

Pre-reading ideas / language activation:

  1. In this talk,  Professor Peterson mentions the connection between computational (computer) power and concentration of wealth. What is the connection?
  2. When asked about the feasability of UBI,  he introduces sled dogs as a metaphor. Why do you think he does this?
  3. How do you think unemployment affects conscientious people as opposed to unconscientious people?


Post -video discussion:

  • To what extent are computational and cognitive skills important for making money in your country?
  • According to the speaker, people on the right believe that everyone can find a job, whereas those on the left believe everyone is equal. Do you agree with this?
  • Do you agree that people are pack animals?
  • To what extent does a person’s personality effect how the react to unemployment?
  • Do you also doubt that people with “enforced” leisure will / would figure out what to do with their lives?









Food and Diet:

Fast food England: does putting a cap on takeaways improve people’s health?

Roziur Choudhury prides himself on offering a healthier alternative at Grillzone, in the east London suburb of Dagenham. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian (link below)




Pre-reading: activate ideas

  1. Do you think people in your country eat too much fast food?
  2. What do you think the government should do about fast food
  • ban fastfood outlets (shops)
  • introduce a cap (maximum number) on fastfood outlets
  • introduce a levy (special tax) on fastfood outlets
  • let the market decide

Pre-reading: linguistic choice

What is your linguistic choice for the gapped combinations below?


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

(1) flourishing, booming, burgeoning / struggling, waning / lucractive /  vital / insignificant …….     fast food sector


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

Choudhury’s smart new Grillzone restaurant, in the east London suburb of Dagenham, aims to be a “healthy” takeaway: golden, corn-fed half-chickens roast _(2)____________ on a rotary grill; chips are fried in low-fat oil; (3) ________ chopped salad is given away free with orders.


“Why would I want to feed people something I would not feed my own family?” Choudhury asks.

At £3.49 for six chicken wings, however, his food is (3)____________  pricey – and the competition around here is (4)__________. There are 61 fast-food joints jostling for business within a mile radius of Grillzone, according to the Centre for Diet and Activity Research’s new “food environment assessment tool”, which offers the public unprecedented analysis of the prevalence of food outlets throughout England.


click here to compare your linguistic choice with the author’s


Food and diet listening and vocab for speaking


Can reading books in English help improve my English?

“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other.” – MacBeth(Act I, Scene VII).

Reading books in English will……

  1.  improve your ability to read in English
  2.  help you learn / remember words that you see in the books


if you read Shakespeare, like the line from MacBeth above, it is  probably going to be hard, have strange words, and will be language you won’t use for speaking……… so it’s not that useful for English, unless your priority / short-term goal is to read Shakespeare:)  If your priority is not just to improve reading of Shakespeare, but improve reading and even speaking, keep the following in mind

  • listening will help more with speaking than reading books

Children learn to speak without reading, because speaking is using combinations of sounds. If you listen you hear these combinations, it is easier for your brain to re-use them for speaking. If you’re not watching TV series, online videos or movies in English, think about developing this habit before developing the habit of reading books.

  • books about your “profession” are better for speaking about your profession

If you work and need to improve English for your work, then you need specific business English. Books that aren’t about your area will not have this specific English. So if your FIRST goal is to improve your specific business English, read books connected with this FIRST. When you’re happy with that, start with “general” books.

  • choose a book that is interesting

It can be a book for children, a detective, a silly book, a strange book, a normal book. Japanese manga even!!! It is important for you to find it interesting. The more interesting it is, the more often you read, and the more deeply things go into your mind.

  • develop a habit of reading for pleasure / enjoyment

One type of reading is “intensive”. This is when you want to understand all the details, so you need to know almost all the words. This is ok for short texts like articles, but not possible when you start reading books. With books, develop the habit of “reading quickly for the general idea” (extensive reading). I know it may be difficult at first, but the advice below should help……..

  • you can miss parts!

You do not need to understand every word! Be happy at first with the general idea. If you look up all the words you do not know, it will become annoying and you will stop. So try not to use a dictionary. If you do not understand a word, guess from the context. If you do not understand a sentence, keep reading the next one. If you do not understand a paragraph, keep reading the next one. Even a page, miss a page if you want!

If you go through 20 pages in 60 minutes, you will “see” a lot more English than if you go through 2 pages in 60 minuntes, even if you miss 20%-50%. Looking up words takes a lot of time!! !  If you see a word three times and are really interested, then use a dictionary. If you want to stop reading the book after 20 pages, stop. Choose another one that is easier / more interesting.  You can come back to the first book later.

The more you read in this way, the better you get at reading, the more vocabulary you see, the more vocabulary you learn, and, in the end….you will miss less and less

  • it can be difficult at first, keep it easy

If it’s difficult, it’s bad. Because you are less likely to do it. Even if you have motivation now, you’ll lose it. So, if you want difficult, read a short article in magazines or newspapers with a specific topic. But with books, the following are easier and therefore generally better

– shorter books(or with short chapters)

–  easier language (start with adapted books if you need to)

–  familiar stories (if you have an idea of what the book is about, if you’ve read it in your language, if you’ve seen a movie, or if you’ve read about “the first half of the book” on wikipedia, it will make it easier for you. If you haven’t, then think about reading a summary of the book on wikipedia [but not all] or watching a bit of the movie)

– more dialogue, less descriptions (dialogue is easier to follow)

– author with an easier style

– more modern authors (I recently looked at Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”. It had a lot of words I had never seen before, they were specific to that time, and place, not useful for now.)

– mini-dictionary at the back / at the bottom of the page can help, so can translation into your language on every second page. This is ok at first, but it does stop you increasing your ability to read quickly for the general idea.


Remember, focus on developing the habit by minimizing negatives (time, difficulty) and maximizing positives (interest, relevance)




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