Communication Skills: How things work
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack explains to Rich how something works. The language focus is on the type of language we use when explaining how things work. We also focus on linking words and vocabulary connected to the internet. Your task is to explain how something from the worlds of science, technology or sport works. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess, too. Enjoy!
Welcome - Communication Skills - Talking about how things work
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to be talking about the language you need to explain how something works.
Jack: How something works?
Rich: Yes, I’m going to ask you how something works. The question might be something like ‘What’s the offside rule?’, ‘How do you stop a hot air balloon?’, ‘How does gravity work?’ or ‘Why do we see rainbows?’.
Jack: I might have to do a bit of research.
Rich: Yes, you might. And, after this conversation, we will look at some of the language we generally use when we are explaining how things work.
Jack: This language will include sequencing things or putting things in order; words such as firstly and secondly or after that are some simple examples. And we will also look at a common structure that we use when explaining things: the passive.
Rich: We will also have a task for you to do which is when we ask you to use your English. This week we’re going to ask you to tell us how something works.
Jack: It could be a rule connected to sport, a piece of technology or something scientific. It’s up to you really but we’ll explain this a little later.
Rich: And, don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have another football phrase for you to guess.
Football Phrase 1
Jack: But, before we look at all that, let’s look at last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week we’ll give you one more chance to guess and give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Rich: The phrase was ______ _______. This is a phrase that means that a club has lots of players that can not play because they got hurt in training or in a previous match. If a club’s _____ ______ is really bad they may have to play youth players in the first team or might not have enough players for the substitutes bench.
Jack: Well done if you got the right answer last week - it was quite a difficult one. Did you get it right? Congratulations Ngo Hung from Vietnam, Ahmed Adam from Sudan, Liubomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang and Fred Zhong from China, and Elghoul from Algeria - all of you wrote the correct answer on the Premier Skills English website.
Rich: We’ll tell you the answer to this football phrase and we’ll have this week’s football phrase at the end of the show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Jack: As we said at the beginning of the show, in this week’s podcast, we are going to talk about how things work. We are going to do a roleplay and we are going to explain how something works.
Rich: Afterwards, we are going to look at some of the language we use but the first thing we want you to do is to answer two questions while you’re listening.
Jack: The questions are: one - What is being explained? And two - Do you think Rich understood?
Rich: Of course I will understand - I always listen and I always understand.
Jack: It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg, isn’t it?
Rich: Come on - let’s do the roleplay.
Jack: Where do you get the football results from, Rich?
Rich: I usually go to premierleague.com
Jack: And then what happens?
Rich: I see that Liverpool have won … hopefully.
Jack: That’s what you see but loads of stuff is going on behind that screen to get you those results.
Rich: So, how does it all work then?
Jack: Well, first of all you type in the web address - you are asking for premierleague.com - this is called a request.
Rich: Well, that’s faster than asking on the telephone!
Jack: Premierleague.com receives the request in something called a packet but first it has to go to a few different places.
Rich: Just like in the old days!
Jack: It’s a virtual packet and has all types of data in it including something called an IP address.
Rich: So, it knows where we all live.
Jack: Yes, kind of. After you have typed in the web address the packet is then sent from your computer to something called an internet hub - there is one of these in most countries - it’s like a big sorting office where all requests get sent to their destinations.
Rich: And my request?
Jack: The IP address is checked and then sent to another hub in the UK because the address is connected to the UK. It is sent through fibre-optic cables.
Rich: Not on a train with normal packets.
Jack: No trains, RIch. Once it’s in the UK the request is then sent to the server which is connected to the website you want to look at - premierleague.com
Rich: Job done.
Jack: Not quite. The website has your request but it now has to send you the information. Premierleague.com is a big website with lots of images and videos. All of this gets broken up into tiny little packets.
Rich: That doesn’t sound very good.
Jack: It is. It means the website gets to you much faster. All the packets go back through fibre optic cables or more traditional wiring until they are all put back together on your computer.
Rich: That sounds like it will take ages.
Jack: Yeah, er .. I think it takes about one second!
Jack: Before we take a look at the language we used in the roleplay, let’s give you the answers to those two questions we gave you.
Rich: The first question was: What is being explained? Well, the answer, and I’m sure you got it was … the internet.
Jack: And the second questions was: Do you think Rich understood? I’m not so sure … did you RIch?
Rich: Of course, I did. I’m a real techy me. Totally tech savvy!
Jack: Sure you are. Right. Let’s look at some of the language we used in the roleplay.
Jack: The main language focus we are going to look at are words we use to link things together.
Rich: These words are called linkers. There are many types of linkers.
Jack: When we are explaining how something works we usually use linkers to show the sequence or order of events. We used quite a few of them in the roleplay.
Rich: One thing I noticed was how we link different steps together. To begin you said: ‘First of all you type in the web address’ but you can also say things like ‘the first thing you do is’, ‘firstly’ or ‘to start with’.
Jack: To link different steps together we use linking words like: ‘next’, ‘then’, ‘after this’. We might say ‘firstly’ at the beginning but we don’t usually say ‘secondly’ or ‘thirdly’ it doesn’t sound very natural. It’s better to say something like ‘then what you do is’ or ‘when you’ve done this’.
Rich: In the roleplay you said: the packet is then sent from your computer to something called an internet hub. Your use of then is telling me that this is the next step in the process. It sounds very natural.
Jack: Yes, these linking words don’t always have to go right at the beginning of a sentence.
Rich: The other thing I noticed is that we often use the passive when we are talking about how something works.
Jack: Some examples you heard in the roleplay were ‘the IP address is checked’ and ‘the data is sent through fibre optic cables’.
Rich: We use the passive because we want to focus attention on the process of how the internet works. In these examples, it’s not important who checks the IP addresses or who sends the data through the cables.
Jack: If you want to look at this type of language in more detail we have lots more examples, the transcript and activities on the Premier Skills English Podcast page on the website.
Jack: This week’s task is to tell us how something works.
Rich: In the roleplay, we spoke about how the internet works and we would like you to do something similar.
Jack: You could use one of the ideas we gave at the beginning of the podcast: ‘What’s the offside rule?’, ‘How do you stop a hot air balloon?’, ‘How does gravity work?’ or ‘Why do we see rainbows?’
Rich: Or it could be something entirely different it’s up to you. Some possible areas to think about could be technology, science, or sport.
Jack: We want you to tell us how this object, rule or process works. When you are giving your answer try to use the passive and linkers that are used for putting things in order.
Rich: OK, so that’s your task this week. Write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page on the Premier Skills English website or in the review section on Apple Podcasts.
This week’s football phrase:
Jack: The final section this week is this week’s football phrase.
Rich: The football phrase is just a word this time and the word is ********. In football, the word is used to describe a team that is unlikely to win because the team they are playing are stronger, better or are in much better form. We often use the term ******* when we are describing a team that are in a low position playing a team who are in a high position.
Jack: Manchester United were massive ********* against PSG but they beat them in the Champions League!
Rich: Good example. Let’s see who can get it right! If you know the answer, write your answer in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We will announce your name in next week’s podcast if you get it right.
Jack: We also need to give you the answer to the football phrase we set at the beginning of the show. The answer as many of you know already was injury crisis.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
Where do you get the football results from, Rich?
Just like in the old days!
What’s the offside rule?
I’m a real techy me. Totally tech savvy!
There were a few more tricky words and phrases in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
Explaining things: Linkers
In this week's podcast, Jack was explaining to Rich how the internet works. When he was speaking about the process, he used quite a few linking words or linkers. Linkers have many uses and one use is to help us put things in order or sequence. This can be very useful when we are explaining processes and how things work. Here are some of the linkers that you heard in the roleplay:
Well, first of all you type in the web address.
After you have typed in the web address the packet is then sent from your computer to something called an internet hub.
The IP address is checked and after that sent to another hub in the UK.
All the packets go back through fibre optic cables or more traditional wiring and finally they are all put back together on your computer.
There are lots of other linking words that you can use. Take a look at the table below and try to use some of the linking words in the task at the end of this lesson.
|Linkers to use at the beginning||Linkers to use to signal the next step||Linkers to use at the end|
|first of all||the next thing to do is||lastly|
|to start with||afterwards||in the end|
|the first thing to do is||then||the last thing to do is|
Explaining things: The Passive
When Jack was explaining how the internet worked you heard a few examples of the passive. Here are a couple of examples:
After you have typed in the web address the packet is then sent
The IP address is checked and after that sent to another hub in the UK.
We use the passive because we want to focus attention on the process of how the internet works. In these examples, it’s not important who checks the IP addresses or who sends the data through the cables.
Words and phrases connected to the internet
In the podcast, we used lots of words and phrases connected to the internet. Have a look at the sentences in bold. Do you understand all of them?
First of all, you type in the web address.
It’s a virtual packet and has all types of data in it including something called an IP address.
The data is sent through fibre-optic cables.
The request is then sent to the server which hosts the website you want to look at.
In the activity below, put 10 words that are connected to the internet in the correct place in the dialogue.
Explaining how something works
This week’s task is to tell us how something works. This could be a process or an object. Think of something that you would like to explain from these three areas:
Technology: How do you edit a photograph? How do you change a lightbulb?
Transport: How do you stop a hot air balloon? How to change a car tyre?
Sport: What’s the offside rule? How does the FIFA ranking system work? How do you play cricket?
Science: How does gravity work? Why do we see rainbows? How does sea water become fresh water?
Use the language in this week's podcast to help you. Write your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at our football phrase.