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ALL WORK AND NO PLAY (editable version)

MAY 2011

All Work And No Play

Activity 1. Answer the questions below. Then work in pairs and compare your answers. Which one of you seems to have a better work-life balance?
How many days a week do you normally work? How many hours a day do you normally work? How many hours a day do you spend traveling to work? Do you work in shifts? How often do you think or worry about work when you are not at work? Do you ever miss out any quality time with your family or your friends because of pressure of work? Do you ever feel tired or depressed because of work? Are you generally happy with your work-life balance?

Activity 2. Guess the answers to the questions below. Then read the text on page 2 to find out if you were right.
In which countries do people work the longest hours? Which country is number one as far as the length of a working day is concerned? In which countries would you be expected to work shorter hours?


According to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexicans spend more hours of their day working than the people of any other country. This comes as a surprise because in many countries the popular image of a Mexican has been that of a sleepy farmer in his sombrero taking a siesta. It may be time to put the maana culture stereotype to bed as the average Mexican devotes 10 hours a day to paid or unpaid work - three hours more than the average Belgian, who ended up at the bottom of the list. The main reason why Mexicans are at the top is the amount of time they spend on housework. For over four hours each day they are busy cleaning, looking after children and, above all, cooking. 1

In this respect, they are the opposite of Americans, who spend the least time cooking each day (30 minutes). What is interesting, they also spend less time eating, a habit that is believed to contribute to higher obesity rates in the United States. Americans might like to think of themselves as the worlds hardest workers, but they work 8 hours and 26 minutes a day, which is only 26 minutes longer than the average of all OECD countries. The Japanese, followed by the South Koreans and Chinese, work the most paid hours in a day, though they devote fewer hours to unpaid work. The report also shows that shopping makes up a big part of unpaid work. Most people in OECD countries spend 23 minutes a day shopping, with the French spending the most (32 minutes), and the Koreans the least (13 minutes).

Activity 3. Read the article again and decide whether the following statements are true (T) or false (F).
1. Mexicans devote more hours to unpaid work than the people of any other country. 2. The average Belgian works 3 hours more than the average Mexican. 3. Mexicans and Americans spend a lot of time cooking. 4. Americans, who work 8 hours and 26 minutes a day, are considered to be the hardest workers of all OECD countries. 5. The Koreans spend fewer minutes a day shopping than other people in OECD countries.

Activity 4. Discuss these issues in pairs or small groups.

According to the report, the average Mexican works 3 hours longer than the average Belgian. However, it has little effect on GDP per capita as Belgium records $37,900 per person while Mexico only manages $13,800 per person. How can you explain this situation? The report contradicts the stereotype of Mexicans being lazy. Do you know any other stereotypes which in your opinion are baseless. Which country would you choose to live in if the time devoted to paid and unpaid work was the only factor to be considered? Explain your choice. Do you think that new technology makes it easier or more difficult to find the right work-life balance? Do we have more or less free time than our ancestors? Does technology give us more leisure time or steal it away?

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY (editable version)

MAY 2011


LESS and FEWER mean the same thing - the opposite of MORE. They are comparative forms of LITTLE and FEW.

LEAST and FEWEST - opposite of MOST

LEAST and FEWEST mean the same thing - the opposite of MOST. They are superlative forms of LITTLE and FEW.

LESS and LEAST + uncountable nouns

Just like LITTLE is used with uncountable nouns, so LESS and LEAST are also used with things you cant count individually, e.g. water, furniture, money, etc.

FEWER and FEWEST + countable nouns

FEWER and FEWEST are used with plural forms of countable nouns - things that you can count individually, e.g. bottles, chairs, coins, etc.

Activity 5. Write LESS / THE LEAST / FEWER / THE FEWEST.

1. Demand for gas in the U.S. is falling. ........................... fill-ups may result in a drop in consumer and business spending as customers forgo trips to malls and restaurants and companies ship ........................... products. 2. Technology was supposed to liberate us and deliver to us untold hours of leisure time. Things havent turned out that way. The work we do keeps increasing, which means ........................... time for family and home life. 3. Local elections often draw ........................... voters, which is an irony, considering that local leaders have the most direct impact on our communities, schools and tax bills. 4. Morocco is safer than the UK as it harbours ........................... bombers and ........................... Osama Bin Laden acolytes. 5. The organisers of the challenge wanted to find the car that would run furthest on ........................... petrol. 6. James Durbin has received ........................... viewer votes on the Fox talent contest on Thursday, leaving just three finalists remaining in the competition. 7. My sister has got ........................... self-confidence of anyone I know. 8. I think the flat is too cluttered. It would definitely look much better with ........................... furniture in it.