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Lesson Transcript

Kellie: A British Job with International Benefits.
John: Hi everyone, I’m John.
Kellie: In this lesson, you’ll learn about superlative adjectives.
John: The conversation takes place in the office, between Lucy and Jessica, and they’ll be speaking informally.
Kellie: Let’s listen to the conversation!
Jessica: You’ve been with the bank for a year now, so it’s time for your first annual review. Firstly, I’d like to know how you think the year has gone. What do you think of your performance this year?
Lucy: It’s been the toughest year of my life as I’ve had so much to learn. Remembering everyone’s names was a struggle some days! (laughs) I think I’ve learnt a lot from everyone and I hope I’ve applied their knowledge and guidance into my work.
Jessica: Was there anything that was particularly hard for you?
Lucy: Hmm… I found the international business department the trickiest due to the language barriers and different procedures in each country. I was given a handbook with the basic things to remember for each country and that was a great help.
Jessica: Speaking of which, the manager of our international division was the manager who was most impressed with how you handled all of the new information. If you want to specialise in that area, he’s already stepped forward to take you under his wing.
Lucy: Would that be as part of the management fast track scheme?
Jessica: Yes, it would be. I know that was what you wanted when you started working here, so the offer is open if you want to take it.
Lucy: I’d love to! It’s a challenging division to work for, but I found it the most rewarding.
Jessica: You’re just thinking of all the foreign holidays you’ll get to take under the guise of going there on business!
Lucy: That’s just a bonus. (laughs)
Kellie: Annual review time. I always hated that.
John: Me too! It’s an important part of being employed though, especially when you’re on a graduate course like Lucy, and hoping to rise through the ranks of the company.
Kellie: A necessary evil, I guess! So let’s talk a little about assessment and evaluation.
John: Graduate schemes are usually structured so that the graduates can learn a lot quite quickly, in the hope that they will become management or senior staff. They have to be assessed to ensure that they’re fit for the job.
Kellie: The annual assessment is a big part of that.
John: It is. It’s becoming increasingly popular to have an aspect of self evaluation too, where you’re asked to describe your own year, and your strengths and weaknesses.
Kellie: That’s the part I hated the most. It can be difficult to be objective about yourself, sometimes.
John: Yes, so the employer will have their own assessment ready, they’ll just want to hear what the employee thought, as there may be issues the employer doesn’t know about. Maybe the employee struggled with something that they appeared to do well with, things like that.
Kellie: Yeah, I guess annual reviews do help point out weaknesses.
John: They do. They allow the employer to help support the employee, and help them become better at their job.
Kellie: You make them sound so wonderful. I still think they’re really stressful.
John: (laughs) I’m not denying they’re stressful!
Kellie: Let’s leave the stress behind and move onto the vocab.
John: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word we shall see is:
Kellie: annual review [natural native speed]
John: a once a year assessment of someone’s performance over that year
Kellie: annual review [slowly - broken down by syllable] annual review [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: performance [natural native speed]
John: the quality of work and accomplishment of set tasks
Kellie: performance [slowly - broken down by syllable] performance [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: struggle [natural native speed]
John: a difficult task that is hard to progress through
Kellie: struggle [slowly - broken down by syllable] struggle [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: tricky [natural native speed]
John: awkward, difficult and requires skill to complete
Kellie: tricky [slowly - broken down by syllable] tricky [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: procedures [natural native speed]
John: the methods of working
Kellie: procedures [slowly - broken down by syllable] procedures [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: under someone’s wing [natural native speed]
John: to be mentored by someone – to be looked after and helped
Kellie: under someone’s wing [slowly - broken down by syllable] under someone’s wing [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: holiday [natural native speed]
John: a period of recreation away from work and home
Kellie: holiday [slowly - broken down by syllable] holiday [natural native speed]
John: Next
Kellie: guise [natural native speed]
John: an external appearance that is hiding something else
Kellie: guise [slowly - broken down by syllable] guise [natural native speed]
John: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Kellie: Let’s begin this lesson’s vocab with “performance.”
John: “Performance” means the quality and ability with which a task or action is completed. We can talk about the performance of an employee or a company, and we mean how they good or bad they are at doing their job.
Kellie: So it can be used for individuals, such as Lucy, and the company as a whole.
John: Yes, it can.
Kellie: Next is the idiom “under someone’s wing”.
John: This is when someone who is usually older and more experienced takes on someone younger and less experienced, and looks after them. Like a mentor, kind of. It can also mean protecting someone, in the same way a mother bird would protect her young by sweeping them under her wing.
Kellie: It’s a continuous action, isn’t it? Something that will occur for a period of time and not just a one-time-only offer of help. The manager of the International division is offering to mentor Lucy, and guide her development in the company over a long period of time. Okay, next is “holiday”.
John: This is a simple one but its use is different in British English compared to American English. It means time spent away from work or home for recreation. In American English it would be called a “vacation”, but in British English it’s a holiday. Going abroad, as
Jessica calls it, is a holiday.
Kellie: We also use holiday to describe public breaks, such as days off on Christmas or New Year.
John: Yes, it’s all a holiday!
Kellie: Let’s move onto the grammar.

Lesson focus

Kellie: In this lesson, you’ll learn about superlative adjectives.
John: In lesson 14, we looked at comparative adjectives and learnt that with one-syllable adjectives, we change the suffix to make them comparative, such as “big” to “bigger” and “small” to “smaller”. With three- or more syllable adjectives, we had to use the word “more”, such as “beautiful” and “more beautiful”. “Intelligent” and “more intelligent”.
Kellie: And with two-syllable adjectives, it could be either.
John: Yes, that’s correct. These rules also cover superlative adjectives, and these adjectives describe the best and the ultimate. With one-syllable adjectives, we use the suffix “~est”.
Kellie: So “big” to “biggest”. “Small” to “smallest”.
John: Yes. With three- or more syllable adjectives, we use the word “most”.
Kellie: Most beautiful. Most intelligent.
John: Yeah. And again, two syllables can go either way.
Kellie: Do you have some examples from the dialogue?
John: Always! Lucy said “it’s been the toughest year of my life”. The one-syllable “tough” changes to “toughest” to explain that her first year of work has been very challenging for her, and her hardest year yet, due to her work load.
Kellie: How about “I found the international business department the trickiest”?
John: “Trick” is an irregular adjective and needs an “i” in addition to the “~est” suffix, so it becomes “trickiest”. The other departments she worked in were easier for her.
Kellie: Ironic that “trick” is a tricky adjective, huh?
John: (laughs) yeah. Lucy also says “I found it the most rewarding”. “Rewarding” is in the three or more syllables class so it needs “most” instead of the suffix. Quite often, the toughest things are the most rewarding!
Kellie: So as long as we count the syllables, and pay close attention to the two-syllable adjectives that could be either, it’s an easy thing to master.
John: I think so! Another example is “when it’s completed, it will be the tallest building in the city.”
Kellie: “Tall” to “tallest”. There are always taller buildings being built!
John: Here’s an irregular adjective. “That’s the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.”
Kellie: Poor dog! That’s “ugly” to “ugliest”.
John: Yes. To change “ugly”, you have to drop the “y” at the end, and add an “i” before adding the suffix.
Kellie: Adding an “i” is a reasonably common pattern for irregular verbs.
John: That’s right.


Kellie: Okay. That’s all for this lesson.
John: Make sure you check the lesson notes, and we’ll see you next time!
Kellie: Bye!