Issue 261 - It’s the thought that counts

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Basic

Vocabulary: Shopping and gifts

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It’s the thought that counts

Read the text and listen to the audio.

It’s the thought that counts

As the end of the year is near and the Christmas shopping season begins, there are news reports about shortages, delays and higher prices for consumers. Experts say that the shortages and delays are caused by different factors, for example; fuel shortages, higher transport costs, and production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists and journalists say that the near future could be challenging for consumers and for the economy in general. But is there a more positive side to this? Can we adapt to these challenges and changing times?

Perhaps it is a good opportunity now for us to re-evaluate our consumer habits and culture, and also our idea of Christmas, for those who celebrate Christmas. Is a more sustainable Christmas possible, one that means less consumption of resources and less transporting of goods, and supports local businesses and the local community more?

Maybe, we don’t need all those products that advertisers try to sell us every day. wouldn't you prefer a sweater that your partner secretly knitted for you, or a handmade album of photos, or a present from a local gift shop, stationer, toy shop or market, rather than some mass-produced, manufactured item delivered to your door? As the old saying goes; “it’s the thought that counts”, and if we can give more thought, spend less money and do something more for the planet at the same time, wouldn’t that be better?

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Intermediate

 

It’s the thought that counts

Read the text and listen to the audio. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

It’s the thought that counts

A topic in the news at the moment is that of imminent shortages, delays and rising prices for consumers, just as the end of year approaches and the Christmas shopping season begins.

According to those who know, these disruptions in the supply chain are caused by a number of coinciding factors, including fuel shortages, a rise in transport costs, and production delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Added to this combination, are labour shortages in some countries and other factors like the knock-on effect of Brexit.

Economists and journalists are calling the resulting situation “a perfect storm”, meaning that the near future could be challenging for consumers and for the economy in general. But is there a more positive side to this? Can we adapt to these challenges and changing times?

Perhaps it is a good opportunity now for us to re-evaluate our consumer habits and culture, and also our idea of Christmas, for those who celebrate it. Is a more sustainable Christmas possible, one that involves more rational consumption and requires less transporting of goods and supports local businesses and the local community more?

Maybe, we don’t need all those products that advertisers try to sell us every day. Is the world going to stop turning if we don’t have these things? Absolutely not. Wouldn’t you prefer a sweater that your partner secretly knitted for you, or a handmade album of photos, or a present from a local gift shop, stationer, toy shop or market, rather than some mass-produced, manufactured item delivered to your door? As the old saying goes; “it’s the thought that counts”, and if we can give more thought, spend less money and do something more for the planet at the same time, wouldn’t that be better?

Now answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Comprehension: Check your understanding

Choose the best option.

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Advanced

 

It’s the thought that counts

Read the text and listen to the audio. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

It’s the thought that counts

A recurring topic in the news at the moment is that of looming shortages, delays and price hikes for consumers, just as the end of year approaches and the Christmas shopping season begins. According to those who know, these disruptions in the supply chain are due to a number of coinciding factors, including fuel shortages, a sharp rise in transport costs, and production delays in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, it was just a matter of time before the recent fall in factory output in China affected the economy of many countries all over the world. Added to this cocktail, are labour shortages in some countries, the pandemic again of course, and other factors like a knock-on effect of Brexit.

Economists and journalists are calling the resulting situation “a perfect storm”, meaning that the near future could be a bumpy ride for consumers and the economy in general. But is there a more positive take on this? Can we adapt to these challenges and changing times?

Perhaps now, more than ever, it is a good opportunity for us to reconfigure, to get a new take on our consumer habits and culture, and even on Christmas, for those who celebrate it. What about a more sustainable Christmas, one that involves more rational consumption and implies less transporting of goods and, at the same time, supports local businesses more, and as a result, the local community?

Could it be that we don’t actually need all those products that advertisers bombard us with daily, everywhere we cast our eyes? Is the world going to stop turning if we don’t have these things? Absolutely not. Wouldn’t you much rather a sweater that your partner secretly knitted for you, or a handmade album of photos, or a gift from a local shop or market, rather than some mass-produced, manufactured item, albeit, delivered to your door? As the old saying goes; “it’s the thought that counts”, and if we can invest more thought, spend less money and do something more for the planet at the same time, what could be better than that?

Now answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Comprehension: Check your understanding

Choose the best option.

Interview: listen to more about the topic

Think about your answers to the following questions. Then listen to somebody answering the same questions. Were your answers similar?

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