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506 Topics: Ask an American - International work visas; to demonstrate versus to indicate versus to denote; hoot and to not give a hoot; Nice to meet you

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Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 506.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 506. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this Café, we’re going to have another one of our Ask an American segments, where we listen to other people talking and explain what they’re saying. Today we’re going to talk about students who come to the United States to study, who then want to stay here and work. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

Our topic on this Café is international students coming here to the United States to study, and then who want to work here. We’re going to listen to one international student who wants to stay in the United States to study. I’m not exactly sure where this student is from – her English accent is very good – but she’s going to describe why she wants to stay in the United States to study. Let’s listen to her and then we’ll go back and explain what she said. Let’s listen.

[recording]

“I would love to keep my skill set growing in America. I definitely want to get a start here in the workforce. I feel it’s competitive. I feel you are forced to stretch and reach to certain limits and challenge yourself, and there’s variety and it’s very innovative and creative, which I like.”

[end of recording]

There’s a lot of rather common business vocabulary terms and expressions in this quote. I suspect this person will do very well at a job interview because she seems to have acquired, or learned, a lot of these expressions. Let’s start with the first statement: “I would love to keep my skill set (set) growing in America.” The term “skill set” describes the abilities that you have to do things, specifically things that would be useful at a certain job.

The word “skill” has been around for a long time and refers to the ability to do certain things. “Skill set” is a relatively new term that doesn’t really add anything to the old term. “Skill” is a perfectly good term in the plural. It indicates that you have more than one of them. “Skill set” sounds, I guess, more impressive to some people nowadays. Personally, I really hate the term because it’s one of these terms that is sometimes created in the business world to make things sound more impressive or more interesting than they really are.

Anyway, back to our recording. She says that she wants to keep her “skill set growing,” meaning she wants to get new skills. She wants to learn how to do new things in America. That’s why she wants to stay here after she finishes her studies. She continues, “I definitely want to get a start here in the workforce.” The “workforce” (workforce) refers to all of the people who are employed in a given country or in a given area. The “U.S. workforce” refers to everyone who’s working. That’s really all it means.

Someone who is “competitive” is someone who wants to do well, who has a strong desire to do well. If companies are “competitive,” they’re trying to expand their businesses. They’re trying to get the most customers. They’re trying to be better than other companies. The word “competitive” comes from the verb “to compete” (compete). “To compete against” (or with) someone is to try to do better than another person – to win, if you will. Our student is referring, I think, to the atmosphere – the business atmosphere – in the United States as being competitive.

She continues, “I feel you are forced to stretch and reach to certain limits and challenge yourself.” She’s talking about the business environment again in the United States. She says that it forces you “to stretch.” “To stretch” (stretch) usually means to feel the pressure to do better than you might otherwise do. We talk about “stretching yourself.” That means to try to do more than you perhaps think you can do.

She also uses the phrase “challenge yourself.” “To challenge yourself” is to push yourself to do better, to motivate yourself to do even better than what you have done in the past or how you have done in the past. She says, “There are a variety of jobs here in the United States.” She also says, “It’s very innovative and creative here.” “Innovative” (innovative) is an adjective that here refers to new things – new and exciting things that haven’t been tried before.

Let’s listen to our young student one more time.

[recording]

“I would love to keep my skill set growing in America. I definitely want to get a start here in the workforce. I feel it’s competitive. I feel you are forced to stretch and reach to certain limits and challenge yourself, and there’s variety and it’s very innovative and creative, which I like.”

[end of recording]

Next, we’re going to hear from a man who works for a company that helps people find jobs. He’s going to talk about the difficulties, really, of an international student getting a job in the United States after he or she finishes his or her studies. Let’s listen.

[recording]

“The challenge for the international candidate is finding the company that’s willing to either sponsor or will take them for the amount of time that their . . . that their visa is . . . is current. Because once their visa is up and they have to leave, chances are they’re not going to get sponsored.”

[end of recording]

The man we heard from is named Philip Perez, and Philip begins by saying that “the challenge for the international candidate is finding the company that’s willing to either sponsor or will take them for the amount of time that their visa is current.” We need to understand a little bit more about the context of trying to get a job after you finish your studies in the United States.

Philip is referring to the fact that, usually, if you are a student from another country studying at a university in the United States, and you want to stay here after your visa, your permission, is finished, you need to find a company that will say, “We will hire this person; we will sponsor this person.” The verb “to sponsor” (sponsor) means to say that you are going to hire this person and help them get a work visa.

In order to stay in the U.S., a company has to sponsor you. They have to say, “Okay, we want you to work for us and we will help you get your visa.” That’s what the verb “to sponsor” means when we’re talking about visas or permissions to stay in the United States and work. Philip says that this is a “challenge,” meaning this is a difficult thing to do. He says the international candidate – that is, the person who’s looking for a job – has to find someone who will either sponsor the candidate, the student, or will take them for the amount of time that their visa is current. “Current” means valid.

So, some companies may hire you as long as you have a visa, but they may not be willing to sponsor you, and that’s what he says in the next sentence. He says, “Once their visa is up and they have to leave” – that is, once their student visa is over and they can no longer stay in the United States – “chances are they’re not going to get sponsored.” “Chances are” means it is most likely that they will not get sponsored.

This is unfortunately not the kind of news that many international students want to hear, but it is the truth. Most people who come to the U.S. to study as international students will probably not get a job here because they won’t be able to find a company that will sponsor them – that will say that they will hire that person.

Let’s listen to Philip one more time.

[recording]

“The challenge for the international candidate is finding the company that’s willing to either sponsor or will take them for the amount of time that their . . . that their visa is . . . is current. Because once their visa is up and they have to leave, chances are they’re not going to get sponsored.”

[end of recording]

Finally we’re going to hear from another person from the U.S. business world, this time from David Smith, who works for a very popular management consulting company called Accenture. This company has people that it sends to work at other companies for short periods of time. In other words, if you’re a company and you need an accountant, but you only need an accountant for the next six months, you might go to a company like Accenture and ask them to send one of their employees to work at your company.

David Smith is going to talk about the good news – how many international students are saying that things are actually not that bad and are getting better for international students looking to stay in the U.S.

Let’s listen to what David has to say.

[recording]

“Coming out into the job market this year, they’re actually being, you know, giving us signs of much more optimism about their prospects ahead. They’re also telling us they’re much more willing to be mobile, to look at job prospects beyond their local marketplace where they went to college or university.”

[end of recording]

David begins by talking about people who are “coming out into the job market this year.” This is just another way of saying people who are looking for jobs this year. He says these people are “giving us signs of much more optimism about their prospects ahead.” “Optimism” (optimism) refers to feelings of hope and confidence about the future – being more likely to believe that good things will happen, rather than bad things, to you in the future. David is saying that people are more optimistic “about their prospects.” Your “prospects” (prospects) are your opportunities to do well or to succeed. If you have good prospects, that means that you have a lot of opportunities – a good chance, if you will, of doing well in the future.

David is talking about specifically job prospects – the possibility of getting a good job in the future. We used to talk about someone’s “marriage prospects” – the likelihood or possibility that he or she would be able to find a husband or wife. “Prospects” can also refer to specific people, especially in the case of a marriage prospect. If someone says, “I don’t have very good prospects,” the person could also be talking about the lack of, say, good potential husbands or wives for that person.

David says that the people he’s talking to, anyway, are optimistic about their job prospects. He says, “They’re also telling us they’re much more willing to be mobile.” “To be mobile” (mobile) means to be willing to move from where you live now to another place, to another state or city. The word “mobile” describes someone willing to move. As a noun, we nowadays sometimes use “mobile” to refer to a mobile phone or a cell phone, or simply a “cell.” I don’t think we say “mobile phone” as much anymore. I think people have started just to talk about their “cell phone.”

David says that people looking for jobs are willing to be mobile. They’re willing to move. He continues saying that people are also willing “to look at job prospects beyond their local marketplace where they went to college or university.” These people are willing to look at the possibility of taking a job “beyond their local marketplace.” The word “marketplace” here refers to the area in which they live – specifically, the kinds of jobs that are available in that area.

Many people go to college in another city or state, and when they finish, they look for a job in that place – or they go to college in the city where they grew up (as I did) and look for a job in that same city (as I did). I only worked about a year after I finished my college degree in Minnesota. I then moved to Los Angeles. I was willing to be mobile.

Let’s listen to David one more time.

[recording]

“Coming out into the job market this year, they’re actually being, you know, giving us signs of much more optimism about their prospects ahead. They’re also telling us they’re much more willing to be mobile, to look at job prospects beyond their local marketplace where they went to college or university.”

[end of recording]

Now let’s answer some of the questions you have sent to us.

Our first question comes from Farsad (Farsad) in our neighboring country, Canada. The question has to do with three verbs, “to demonstrate,” “to indicate,” and “to denote.” Let’s start with the first word, “to demonstrate” (demonstrate). One meaning of “to demonstrate” is to show that something is true by providing evidence, by providing proof or examples of why it is true. You can demonstrate that someone committed a crime, that someone is guilty. You could also demonstrate the truth of your argument by showing evidence to convince another person that your argument is true.

“To demonstrate” can also be to show someone the good qualities of a product or to show them how something works. For example, you might buy a new computer and you don’t understand something about the computer. So you ask a friend of yours, and your friend says, “Well, here, let me demonstrate how it works.” And your friend sits down on the computer and shows you how a certain, say, software program works. That’s another possible use of the verb “to demonstrate.” There are actually other definitions of “demonstrate” as well, but we’ll stop at those two.

The next verb is “to indicate” (indicate). “To indicate” means to show something – to be evidence of something or a sign of something. Now, there are similarities here between one of the definitions of “to demonstrate” and this verb “to indicate.” “To demonstrate,” however, is used to talk about proving something. “To indicate” something merely means to say that it is a sign of something, that it is evidence of something.

It might be used in situations where you don’t have enough evidence to demonstrate or prove something, but you do have evidence that shows that it might be true. So, for example, if a person has a fever or has a high temperature, you might say that that “indicates” that this person may have the flu – influenza. That doesn’t demonstrate it. It might be an indication of something else. So, that’s the verb “to indicate,” at least one use of the verb.

Finally, “to denote” (denote) means to serve as a sign of something. Once again, you can see a connection here with one of the other verbs – in this case, the verb “to indicate.” “Denote” is not as common as “indicate.” You won’t hear people use this verb that often or probably even read it all that much. It might be used in a more technical sense or in a literary sense. It really means something very similar to “to indicate.”

Our next question comes from Sima (Sima), living in the United States of America. You’ve probably heard of it. The question has to do with an expression, “to give a hoot” (hoot). This is kind of a funny expression. It’s not used all that often anymore. It was probably more popular 50 years ago than it is today although you still will see it and hear it occasionally. Let’s start with the word “hoot.” “Hoot” is the sound made by an owl. That’s a very bad imitation of an owl.

Sometimes, informally, we use the noun “hoot” to describe a very funny person. “Oh, he’s a hoot.” Again, it’s rather old-fashioned usage. We don’t say that very much anymore, but you might hear someone say, “He’s a hoot.” They may say it to be sort of funny (maybe even sarcastically, meaning they don’t think the person is funny) but that’s the traditional definition of “hoot” as a noun – either a sound made by an owl, or a funny person.

“To give a hoot” means to care about something. The most common form of the expression however is in the negative. “I don’t give a hoot.” People don’t say, “I give a hoot.” They say, “I don’t give a hoot,” meaning I don’t care about the situation at all, not even a little bit. “He doesn’t give a hoot about baseball.” He doesn’t care about it. He’s not interested in it at all.

I said that we normally use this expression in the negative, but there was one use of the expression in the affirmative, in the positive sense, back in the 1970s when I was growing up. There was an advertising campaign – the government had these advertisements on television (and probably radio) that tried to get people to stop polluting – to stop littering, specifically. “To litter” (litter) is to throw things on the ground and not pick them up – garbage and trash, for example.

This is especially common, or used to be more common, in the United States – people would throw things out of their car onto the road – and I think this has become less common. For one thing, it’s become illegal. If you do that you can be given a fine. You may have to pay money to the government for breaking laws against littering.

The advertising campaign in the ’70s was trying to convince people to stop doing this, and the slogan or the phrase that was used with the advertising campaign was “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” “To pollute” (pollute) means to make something clean, dirty; specifically, to make the environment, the world around you – the water, the land, the air – dirty when it was clean before. “Hoot” obviously rhymes with, or sounds similar to, “pollute.” And so that’s probably why they used the expression “Give a hoot, don’t pollute,” which is still good advice.

Our final question comes from Phuoc (Phuoc) from an unknown country. I’m going to guess Vietnam, from the name. The expression asked about here is a very common one in English: “Nice to meet you.” The question is, when someone says “Nice to meet you,” what do you say to them? Do you say “Me, too,” or “You, too,” or something else? A very common way of responding to this would be “You, too,” not “Me, too.” You could say, “You, too,” meaning it’s nice to meet you as well.

There are other things you could say. You could say simply, “Nice to meet you, too.” You could repeat the phrase back to them, adding the word “too” (too) at the end. You could also say, perhaps a little bit more informally, “Same here,” meaning again the same thing: I also am glad to meet you. A less common way, but still possible way, of responding to this greeting is “Likewise” (likewise). I would say the easiest way is to say simply, “You, too” or “Nice to meet you, too.” Just add the word “too” and repeat the statement back to them.

If you have a question or comment, I give a hoot. Email us at eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on the English Café.

ESL Podcast’s English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. This podcast is copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
skill set – all the skills one has, or all the things that one can do well

* We need employees with stronger skill sets in computer programming languages.

workforce – all the people who are employed and are working in jobs

* How many people are expected to retire and leave the workforce this year?

competitive – with a strong desire to do well and to be the best or at least to do better than the other people and organizations around one

* Meghan is really competitive and gets angry if another runner finishes a race before she does.

to stretch – to reach further and do more than one might otherwise do; to challenge oneself

* If the violinists really stretch, they should be able to perform 90 minutes without a break.

innovative – new and exciting because something has never been tried before

* Does anyone have any innovative ideas on how to improve our schools?

to sponsor – to help and guide someone through a process, especially to give someone a job, help that person complete paperwork, and pay fees in order to request a work visa

* The hospital is sponsoring several foreign doctors to get the specialists that it needs.

current – valid; not expired; within the active date range

* Please present two current pieces of identification, such as a passport or driver’s license.

up – expired; at the end of a time period when a decision must be made or an action must be taken

* Your time is up! Put down your pencils and close your test booklets.

chances are – most likely; probably

* Sure it was embarrassing, but chances are nobody will even remember it by Monday.

optimism – feelings of hope and confidence about the future, being more likely to believe that good things will happen than to think that bad things will happen

* Her optimism about the future is surprising, given all the bad things that happened to her in her childhood.

prospects – opportunities to do well, to succeed, or to make a lot of money

* With degrees in law and engineering from a top university, Antwon has great prospects and he’s looking forward to his job interviews.

mobile – willing to move to accept a job; willing to move to where a new employer is located

* Before Khalil had kids, he was mobile, but now he wants to buy a home and become part of the community.

marketplace – where products and services are bought and sold, or where companies that are hiring find people who are looking for jobs

* Are any similar products available in the marketplace now?

to demonstrate – to prove something by showing examples of it; to show or prove the good qualities and effective use of a product

* Let me demonstrate how this new software will change the way you store client information.

to indicate – to show something; to show that something exists or is true

* This green light indicates that the machine is ready to use.

to denote – to serve as an indication of something; to serve as a sign of something

* An asterisk (*) in front of a name on the list denotes a member of the board of directors.

hoot – the loud, deep sound made by an owl; a good time; a funny person

* I couldn’t sleep last night because the owls hooted loudly for hours.

to not give a hoot – to show no concern or interest; to not care

* Mina doesn’t give a hoot how long she has to wait as long as she gets tickets.

Nice to meet you. – a polite greeting used on being introduced to someone

* A: Nice to meet you.

B: You, too.

What Insiders Know
Categories of Visas

The U.S. Department of State “issues” (creates and gives to others an official document) “nonimmigrant” (not intending to permanently live in the country) visas and “immigrant” (intending to permanently live in the country) visas.

Some of the most common types of nonimmigrant visas are visitor visas: the B-1 visas for business, B-2 visas for tourism or “pleasure” (non-business activities), or B-1/B-2 visas for a combination of business and pleasure. The exchange visitor visa, or the J visa, is for people who are participating in “exchange programs,” or opportunities to go to another country temporarily for educational or learning experiences, especially related to language and culture. Students, “au pairs” (people from another country who take care of a family’s children), government visitors, and some “physicians” (doctors) typically receive J visas. An H-1B visa is used for people who work in a “specialty occupation,” or a job that requires significant education and experience. An H-2A visa is for “temporary agricultural workers,” such as people who come to the United States to help plant or harvest “crops” (plants grown for food or textiles) on farms. And an O visa is for people who have “extraordinary” (at a very high level) ability or achievement in certain fields, such as actors, athletes, and people who are “renowned” (famous; known by many people) “experts” (people with deep knowledge about a topic).

Some of the most common immigrant visas are the K visas. A K-1 is for the “fiancée” (someone who has promised to marry another person) of a U.S. citizen who plans to live in the United States. The IR and CR visas are for the “spouses’ (husbands or wives) of U.S. citizens, “adoptees” (children who are being brought into a family that they are not biologically related to), and some other family members.