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Americans Give Up $34 Billion of Vacation (3rd December, 2011)


 

U.S. workers are among the worst in the world for not taking all their vacation days. Their bosses might say they are among the best in the world for working their holidays. Either way, Americans will give up $34.3 billion in paid vacation leave in 2012, which is the equivalent of 226 million days off. These figures come from an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Expedia. They questioned 7,083 employees in 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The top reason for Americans not using up their holidays was not being able to afford a holiday (34%). This was followed by lack of planning (15%), the statement "work is my life" (15%) and feeling bad about asking the boss for time off.

Workers in other countries don’t appear to have a problem taking vacations. French workers get an average 30 vacation days a year and generally use them all. In the UK, employees get 25 days and pretty much take all of them. Asia is the only region where workers receive and take fewer holidays than Americans. The average Japanese worker only gets 11 days a year and takes just five of them. Indians are also reluctant to take all of their vacation. Expedia found that 20 per cent of workers in India did not take all their holidays because they "may be perceived negatively at work". In America, bosses believe it is important that workers use all their vacation so they can come back to work feeling refreshed.


 

WARM-UPS

1. VACATION DAYS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about vacation days. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

U.S. workers / vacation days / bosses / equivalent / survey / top reason / feeling bad / other countries / average / reluctant / perceived negatively / feeling refreshed

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. EXCUSES: What do you think of these excuses for not taking holidays? Complete this table and share it with your partner(s). Change partners and share again.

Excuse

What do you think?

Would you ever use it?

Can’t afford it

 

 

Forgot

 

 

Lack of planning

 

 

Keep the boss happy

 

 

Work is my life

 

 

Co-workers will think bad of me

 

 

4. VACATION: Students A strongly believe all workers should have 50 days a year; Students B strongly believe not.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. HOLIDAY: What’s best to do with it? Rank these and share your rankings with your partner. Put the best at the top. Change partners and share your rankings again.

  • Sit on a beach
  • Stay at home and relax
  • Voluntary work
  • Go to another country
  • Read
  • Study
  • Watch movies
  • Catch up with friends and family

6. BOSSES: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘bosses’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

Americans lose lots of money in holiday pay.

T / F

b.

U.S. bosses believe Americans are the world’s best workers.

T / F

c.

A researcher asked over 7,000 Americans about their vacation days.

T / F

d.

Just over a third of Americans said they could not afford a holiday.

T / F

e.

French workers take fewer holidays than American employees.

T / F

f.

British workers generally take all of their vacation days.

T / F

g.

The average Japanese worker takes less than half of his/her holidays.

T / F

h.

Indians are hesitant to take all their days because it could look bad.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

bosses

a.

usually

2

equivalent

b.

yearly

3.

figures

c.

hesitant

4.

annual

d.

pay for

5.

afford

e.

energized

6.

appear

f.

employers

7.

generally

g.

standard

8.

average

h.

equal

9.

reluctant

i.

seem

10.

refreshed

j.

stats

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

among the worst

a.

226 million days

2

Either

b.

feeling refreshed

3.

the equivalent of

c.

afford a holiday

4.

These figures come from

d.

much take all of them

5.

not being able to

e.

way

6.

lack of

f.

to have a problem

7.

don’t appear

g.

in the world

8.

… and pretty

h.

reluctant

9.

Indians are also

i.

planning

10.

come back to work

j.

an annual survey

 


 
 

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

U.S. workers are (1) ____________ the worst in the world for not taking all their vacation days. Their bosses might say they are among the best in the world for (2) ____________ their holidays. Either way, Americans will give up $34.3 billion in (3) ____________ vacation leave in 2012, which is the equivalent of 226 million days off. These (4) ____________ come from an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Expedia. They (5) ____________ 7,083 employees in 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The top (6) ____________ for Americans not using up their holidays was not being able to afford a holiday (34%). This was (7) ____________ by lack of planning (15%), the statement "work is my life" (15%) and (8) ____________ bad about asking the boss for time off.

 

 

 

questioned
followed
paid
feeling
among
figures
reason
working

Workers in other countries don’t (9) ____________ to have a problem taking vacations. French workers get an (10) ____________ 30 vacation days a year and (11) ____________ use them all. In the UK, employees get 25 days and (12) ____________ much take all of them. Asia is the only region where workers receive and take (13) ____________ holidays than Americans. The average Japanese worker only gets 11 days a year and takes just five of them. Indians are also (14) ____________ to take all of their vacation. Expedia found that 20 per cent of workers in India did not take all their holidays because they "may be perceived (15) ____________ at work". In America, bosses believe it is important that workers use all their vacation so they can come back to work feeling (16) ____________.

 

 

reluctant
average
refreshed
pretty
appear
negatively
fewer
generally

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

U.S. workers ____________________ in the world for not taking all their vacation days. Their bosses might say they are among the best in the world for working their holidays. Either way, Americans will give up $34.3 billion in paid vacation leave in 2012, which ____________________ 226 million days off. These figures come from an ____________________ by Harris Interactive for Expedia. They questioned 7,083 employees in 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The top reason for Americans ____________________ holidays was ____________________ a holiday (34%). This was followed by lack of planning (15%), the statement "work is my life" (15%) and feeling bad about asking ____________________.

Workers in other countries ____________________ a problem taking vacations. French workers get an average 30 vacation days a year and generally use them all. In the UK, employees get 25 days ____________________ of them. Asia is the only region where workers ____________________ holidays than Americans. The average Japanese worker only gets 11 days a year and takes just five of them. Indians are also ____________________ of their vacation. Expedia found that 20 per cent of workers in India did not take all their holidays because they "may be ____________________ at work". In America, bosses believe it is important that workers use all their vacation so they can come back ____________________.

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘vacation’ and ‘holiday’.

vacation

holiday

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • bosses
  • paid
  • 226
  • 20
  • top
  • lack
  • appear
  • 25
  • pretty
  • 11
  • India
  • refreshed

STUDENT VACATION DAYS SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about vacation days in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

VACATION DAYS DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘vacation’?

c)

What do you think about what you read?

d)

Would / do you ever not take all your vacation?

e)

Are you surprised U.S. workers don’t take all their vacation?

f)

What are the differences between the words ‘vacation’ and ‘holiday’?

g)

Should workers get the money for untaken holidays?

h)

Is ‘not being able to afford a holiday’ a good reason not to take the days off?

i)

What did you do on your last vacation?

j)

What do you think of the statement, “work is my life”?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

Should all workers get the same number of days holiday?

c)

Should we all give up holidays in this poor economy, when times are hard?

d)

Should Japanese workers get more holiday?

e)

How important are holidays?

f)

How much do you look forward to vacations?

g)

Are vacations for traveling?

h)

Should every day be like a vacation?

i)

Where is the world’s best vacation destination?

j)

What questions would you like to ask someone who doesn’t take all his/her holidays?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

U.S. workers are among the worst in the world (1) ____ not taking all their vacation days. Their bosses might say they are among the best in the world for working their holidays. (2) ____ way, Americans will give up $34.3 billion in paid vacation leave in 2012, which is the (3) ____ of 226 million days off. These figures come from an annual survey (4) ____ by Harris Interactive for Expedia. They questioned 7,083 employees in 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The top reason for Americans not using (5) ____ their holidays was not being able to afford a holiday (34%). This was followed by lack of planning (15%), the statement "work is my life" (15%) and feeling bad about asking the boss for time (6) ____.

Workers in other countries don’t appear to have a problem taking vacations. French workers get an average 30 vacation days a year and (7) ____ use them all. In the UK, employees get 25 days and pretty (8) ____ take all of them. Asia is the only region where workers receive and take (9) ____ holidays than Americans. The average Japanese worker only gets 11 days a year and takes just five of them. Indians are also (10) ____ to take all of their vacation. Expedia found that 20 per cent of workers in India did not take all their holidays because they "may be perceived (11) ____ at work". In America, bosses believe it is important that workers use all their vacation so they can come back to work feeling (12) ____.

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

for

(b)

with

(c)

so

(d)

as

2.

(a)

Even

(b)

Either

(c)

Every

(d)

Ever

3.

(a)

prevalent

(b)

malevolent

(c)

equivalent

(d)

insolent

4.

(a)

conduction

(b)

conducting

(c)

conductor

(d)

conducted

5.

(a)

from

(b)

off

(c)

away

(d)

up

6.

(a)

up

(b)

it

(c)

off

(d)

now

7.

(a)

generally

(b)

genially

(c)

genuinely

(d)

generously

8.

(a)

most

(b)

much

(c)

many

(d)

some

9.

(a)

little

(b)

smaller

(c)

fewer

(d)

lesser

10.

(a)

reluctant

(b)

reluctantly

(c)

reluctance

(d)

reliance

11.

(a)

positively

(b)

normally

(c)

abnormally

(d)

negatively

12.

(a)

refresher

(b)

refreshed

(c)

refreshingly

(d)

refreshing

WRITING

Write about vacation days for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about vacation days. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. VACATION DAYS: Make a poster about vacation days. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. HOLIDAYS: Write a magazine article about holidays that people do not take. Include imaginary interviews with people take all their holidays and people who don’t.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to a company boss. Ask him/her three questions about vacation days. Give him/her three of your opinions on them. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

F

b.

F

c.

F

d.

T

e.

F

f.

T

g.

T

h.

T

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

bosses

a.

employers

2

equivalent

b.

equal

3.

figures

c.

stats

4.

annual

d.

yearly

5.

afford

e.

pay for

6.

appear

f.

seem

7.

generally

g.

usually

8.

average

h.

standard

9.

reluctant

i.

hesitant

10.

refreshed

j.

energized

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

among the worst

a.

in the world

2

Either

b.

way

3.

the equivalent of

c.

226 million days

4.

These figures come from

d.

an annual survey

5.

not being able to

e.

afford a holiday

6.

lack of

f.

planning

7.

don’t appear

g.

to have a problem

8.

… and pretty

h.

much take all of them

9.

Indians are also

i.

reluctant

10.

come back to work

j.

feeling refreshed

GAP FILL:

Americans give up $34 billion of vacation

U.S. workers are (1) among the worst in the world for not taking all their vacation days. Their bosses might say they are among the best in the world for (2) working their holidays. Either way, Americans will give up $34.3 billion in (3) paid vacation leave in 2012, which is the equivalent of 226 million days off. These (4) figures come from an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Expedia. They (5) questioned 7,083 employees in 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The top (6) reason for Americans not using up their holidays was not being able to afford a holiday (34%). This was (7) followed by lack of planning (15%), the statement "work is my life" (15%) and (8) feeling bad about asking the boss for time off.

Workers in other countries don’t (9) appear to have a problem taking vacations. French workers get an (10) average 30 vacation days a year and (11) generally use them all. In the UK, employees get 25 days and (12) pretty much take all of them. Asia is the only region where workers receive and take (13) fewer holidays than Americans. The average Japanese worker only gets 11 days a year and takes just five of them. Indians are also (14) reluctant to take all of their vacation. Expedia found that 20 per cent of workers in India did not take all their holidays because they "may be perceived (15) negatively at work". In America, bosses believe it is important that workers use all their vacation so they can come back to work feeling (16) refreshed.

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - a

2 - b

3 - c

4 - d

5 - d

6 - c

7 - a

8 - b

9 - c

10 - a

11 - d

12 - b

 

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