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“Economic Woes”



Pre-Listening Question

  1. Vocabulary Preview: Provide a list of key vocabulary words from the conversation, such as “economic woes,” “inflation,” “essential items,” “budget,” “medication,” and “alternative options.” Have students review the words and discuss their meanings in pairs or small groups.

  2. Discussion Starter: Ask students to discuss their own experiences or observations related to rising prices of everyday items. For example, you can prompt them with questions like “Have you noticed any changes in the prices of things you buy regularly? How has it affected your budget?”

  3. True or False Statements: Create a set of true or false statements related to the topic of economic challenges and rising costs. For example, “Gasoline prices have stayed the same over the past year” or “The cost of food has doubled recently.” Have students read the statements and discuss their answers in pairs or groups before listening to the conversation to check their predictions.

  4. Picture Prediction: Show students a picture related to the topic, such as a supermarket aisle with price tags or a gas station with high fuel prices. Ask them to describe what they see and make predictions about the conversation. Encourage them to use vocabulary and phrases they already know.

  5. Anticipation Guide: Create a short statement or opinion related to the conversation, such as “Rising prices only affect wealthy people.” Ask students to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement before listening to the conversation. Afterward, they can discuss their opinions and any changes in their views based on what they heard.

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

even out (verb): make balanced or equal
– We experienced a lot of ups and downs last year, but everything evened out financially in the end.

produce (noun): food grown in a garden or on a farm
– Where do you buy most of your produce for your family?

skimp on(verb): spend money sparingly or carefully on something, often because of economic hardship
– There were times when our family had to skimp on some fun activities because we didn’t have enough money for necessities.

snob (noun): a person who feels their opinions in a particular area are superior to the views of others (negative meaning) OR a person who believes himself or herself an expert on a particular topic OR a person who has exceptionally high standards and is not satisfied by the things that ordinary people like
– My father is a meat snob. You have to buy the highest cuts of beef to please him.
– James is a real snob. He won’t associate with anyone who doesn’t think as he does.

switch jobs (verb): change jobs
– I might have to switch jobs if the company continues to do poorly.

go without (verb): not have enough
– There are some families that have to go without because of economic instability.
– Amber went without sleep for several days while caring for her mother.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: In this video, Emily Aubrey and I are going to be talking about economic woes, some of the challenges that face us in everyday life, like the cost of rent, food, and so forth . . . gasoline. Emily, your thoughts about the changing economic situation and how do you approach things in some uncertain times?

Emily: It’s horrifying. And the cost of milk has almost doubled. Eggs, meat, produce have all gone up. And it’s really hard to feed a small child that when he wants to eat, he can eat the amount of a grown man, and it’s very expensive to feed my family.

Aubrey: So when you go out, though, because the other half the time he doesn’t eat at all.

Emily: Yes, that’s true. That’s true. He doesn’t eat at all.

Aubrey: Yeah.

Randall: So let’s talk about how is that affected your daily life and what you do, what you eat, and so forth. You mentioned about the cost of milk. I’m assuming meat, and so forth. So when you go to the store, how do you approach things? Do you look carefully at things? Do you just kind of close your eyes and grab things, not looking at the price? Emily . . .

Emily: I wish I wish I could close my eyes and not look at the price, but uh, I have to be very, very careful with how much money I spend. Um, shop sales, buy the cheapest cuts and the, you know, the cheapest quality. A lot of times the only thing I don’t usually skimp on is produce. I try and get nicer produce.

Aubrey: Oh, I always spend the money on cheese. I’m a cheese snob.

Randall: Okay. And we’re going to come back to that cheese ideas, uh, thoughts. You mentioned about cuts of meat and so forth. Are there some things that, I’m sorry, I just can’t live without? Not because of desire, but because of just physical whatever needs some . . . I just . . . I have to buy it.

Emily: Uh, usually pork chops. They’re so versatile, and they’re the cheapest of the meats right now. Even chicken, a lot of times, is more expensive than pork chops.

Randall: Okay. And you mentioned milk as well?

Emily: And milk. Yep.

Aubrey: Milk is [my son . . .] So expensive right now.

Emily: Yeah, It’s really crazy.

Randall: Okay. And I’m sure we could throw in their medication and so forth. I know that both of you have, uh, animal companions that, uh, you know how, if I may ask, has inflation or other economic situations impacted on how you care for your animals?

Emily: I haven’t felt that economic stuff too much on my animals. Their bags of food last so long that they don’t . . .  I don’t really feel that, and also they’re both . . . Sorry. All three of them have pet insurance, which covers the cost of their medications.

Randall: Okay. Good. And Aubrey, any thoughts on, you know, gas, whatever, some of the prices that might be affecting you as well?

Aubrey: Yeah, with gas, like, it costs me $50 to go to you guys and back, so there are times when . . .  And that’s driving a Prius. Um, so there are definitely times where I would want to come down and visit you guys, or I want to come and do whatever, but I can’t afford that, you know? Um, I’m switching to a job where I’m going to work from home, and that’s really exciting ’cause that means I’m not going to have to drive, and, you know, it’s going to save a lot of money on gas.

Randall: All right. Is there something for either one of you that, “I . . . I’m just going without now.” Any small item, luxury item that just, “I just don’t buy that anymore,” or you’ve switched to something different.

Emily: I don’t . . .  I homemake my bread now, things like that.

Randall: Okay. And you do have some great bread, and Aubrey, I haven’t had your bread for a long time. I’m looking for some of the bread. I don’t know if you still make any of that.

Aubrey: No, I went gluten-free, so I haven’t really made bread in a while.

Randall: Well . . . thank you very much for sharing those ideas on just the economic impact that it’s having on everyone. I think especially for those that have medical needs, we certainly, you know, understand the . . . the challenges or at least those challenges are understandable, so thank you for sharing today.

Conversation Questions

  1. Have you noticed that some things cost more money now than before? What are some examples?
  2. How does the increasing price of gasoline affect your ability to travel?
  3. How do you save money when buying groceries or other essential items?
  4. In what ways do you seek alternative or more affordable options to cope with the economic challenges, such as buying generic brands or exploring public transportation?

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.

ChatGPT was used collaboratively to prepare some of the discussion questions for this lesson.
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