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0891 Checking on the Status of an Application

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 891: Checking on the Status of an Application.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 891. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Why go there? Well, so you can become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is about someone who is waiting to hear some news about an application that she sent to an organization to become a member of some program. Let’s get started.

[start of dialog]

Leo: Here’s the mail.

Denise: Did I get anything?

Leo: No, sorry. Are you expecting something?

Denise: Yeah, I’m waiting for a decision letter about my application to the McQ program. I should hear any day now.

Leo: Have you thought about calling and checking on the status?

Denise: I called last week and my application was still under review. I was told that a decision was still pending.

Leo: I’m sure it was just awaiting approval. There is no chance it’ll be rejected. You’re an ideal candidate and you’re sure to get good news in a day or two.

Denise: I hope you’re right. In the meantime, I’m on pins and needles. Every time the mail carrier walks by, my heart skips a beat.

Leo: I know this is important to you, but you’ve got to keep it in perspective. It’s not a life-or-death situation.

Denise: I am keeping it in perspective. If I don’t get into this program, it’s only the end of my career, my dream, and my future – that’s all!

[end of dialog]

Leo says to Denise, “Here's the mail.” Here are the letters and packages we received from the post office. Denise says, “Did I get anything?” Did anything arrive or come for me? Leo says “No, sorry. Are you expecting something?” Are you waiting for something? Denise says, “Yeah,” meaning yes. “I'm waiting for a decision letter about my application to the McQ program.” A “decision letter” would be a letter saying whether you were accepted into the program or not. It might be a letter saying whether you were accepted into a university or a college as a student or not. A “decision letter” could be about applying for a job and telling you whether you got the job or not. This is a case where Denise is applying for some program. We’re not exactly sure what the program is – McQ program. So, it’s probably a good program with that kind of name. Denise says she's waiting for a decision letter about her application. “Application” is when you submit or you send in certain documents, certain pieces of paper that have information about you and why you want to, in this case, be part of this program.

Denise says, “I should hear any day now.” “To hear” (hear) in this case, means to receive a response, to receive an answer. We might also say “to hear back.” “Have you heard back from your sister?” You might say, “No, I wrote her a letter last week,” or “I sent her an e-mail,” more likely. “But she hasn't responded to me. I haven’t heard back.” Denise says, “I should hear,” meaning I should get a decision any day now. “Any day now” means very soon, in the very near future. We’re not sure exactly when, but it will be in a very brief amount of time – “any day now.” Leo says, “Have you thought about calling and checking on the status?” “To check on something” means to investigate it, to make sure it's okay. “Status” (status) refers to the condition of something, the situation that something is in. So, to call and check on the status would be to call the organization and ask about your application. Were you accepted? Were you rejected? – and so forth.

Denise in fact did call. She said, “I called last week and my application was still under review.” “To be under review” means it's being considered. They’re thinking about it. They’re looking at it carefully. It's under review. “Under review” is normally used for some sort of official process, some sort of official consideration by a(n) organization, or by someone important. Denise was told that a decision – a decision about whether she will be accepted into the program or not – was still “pending.” Something that is “pending” (pending) is something you haven't decided yet. You're waiting for a final answer. It's still pending. You don't know if it's yes or no. Leo says, “I'm sure it was just awaiting approval.” “Approval” is when you say “yes” to something. “Awaiting” means that it is waiting for. In this case, “awaiting approval” means that it's going to be approved. Really, they've already decided that. They just haven't gone through the formal process of approving it. That's the implication that Leo is trying to give here. Leo says, “There is no chance” – it is not even possible – “it will be rejected” – it will be denied. They will say “no.” Leo is saying, “That’s not even possible.” “You're the ideal candidate and you're sure to get good news in a day or two.” “Ideal” (ideal) in this case means perfect, the best. “Candidate” refers to someone who is trying to get into a program or get into a job. You could have a “job candidate.” You could have a “program candidate” – someone trying to get into a program. You can also have a candidate for public office. We have presidential candidates every four years here in the United States – two men or two women, or a man and a woman. It's always been two men up to this point, who want to be president. They are candidates for the presidency. They are candidates for that political office.

Denise is not a political candidate. She's a candidate for this program. She's trying to get into the program. Leo says she's an ideal candidate and she is sure to get good news soon. “Sure to” means it will happen. It will definitely happen. There's no doubt about it. Denise says, “I hope you're right” – I hope you are correct. “In the meantime,” or until I find out, “I'm on pins and needles.” The expression “to be on pins (pins) and needles (needles) means to be very nervous, to be worried about something. “I'm on pins and needles waiting to see whether my girlfriend will say ‘yes’ – “yes,” of course, to marrying me. That’s just an example. I'm already married. So, I don't have a girlfriend but before I was married, I had a girlfriend and I asked her to marry me, not just marry but marry me, and after I asked her, I was waiting for her answer. I was on pins and needles. She said “yes,” of course. That's why she's my wife.

Anyway, back to our story. Denise says that she's on pins and needles waiting for a decision about whether she will be accepted into the McQ program. She says, “Every time the mail carrier walks by, my heart skips a beat.” A “mail carrier” is the person who brings the letters to your house or to your office every day. We used to call them “mailmen” because they were all men, but now there are women who also carry mail and some people didn't like the term “mailmen,” so they changed it to “mail carrier.” A “carrier” is anyone who carries something, who brings something from one place to another. Denise says that when the mail carrier walks by, when he or she comes to her house, her heart skips a beat. To say that your heart “skips a beat” means that you are very excited. You are waiting for something to happen. That's the expression – “my heart skips a beat.” I'm very excited. I can't wait. I'm almost, almost sick with anticipation. Leo says, “I know this is important to you,” but you've got to keep it in perspective. “To keep something in perspective” means to be realistic, to be calm, to be rational, not to get too excited about it.

Leo says, “It's not a life-or-death situation.” A “life-or-death situation” would be a situation where you are either going to live or die, where you could die if something goes wrong. Leo is saying here that getting into this program is not a life or death situation. You won't die if you don't get into it. Denise says, “I am keeping it in perspective. If I don't get into this program, it's only the end of my career, my dream, and my future. That's all.” Denise is making a joke here. She’s saying, “Oh, yes. I'm not getting too excited but,” she says, “if I don't get into this program, it will be the end of my career,” the end of my work life. It will be the end of my dream and it will be the end of my future. So, of course, she really has not kept it in perspective. She thinks it is a life-or-death situation, a very serious situation if she doesn't get into the McQ program. Well Denise, I wish you luck. Not everyone can get into the McQ program.

Now let’s listen to the dialog this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Leo: Here’s the mail.

Denise: Did I get anything?

Leo: No, sorry. Are you expecting something?

Denise: Yeah, I’m waiting for a decision letter about my application to the McQ program. I should hear any day now.

Leo: Have you thought about calling and checking on the status?

Denise: I called last week and my application was still under review. I was told that a decision was still pending.

Leo: I’m sure it was just awaiting approval. There is no chance it’ll be rejected. You’re an ideal candidate and you’re sure to get good news in a day or two.

Denise: I hope you’re right. In the meantime, I’m on pins and needles. Every time the mail carrier walks by, my heart skips a beat.

Leo: I know this is important to you, but you’ve got to keep it in perspective. It’s not a life-or-death situation.

Denise: I am keeping it in perspective. If I don’t get into this program, it’s only the end of my career, my dream, and my future – that’s all!

[end of dialog]

She is the ideal person to be our scriptwriter. I refer, of course, to the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again, right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center or Educational Development.

Glossary
decision letter – a letter stating whether something was approved or denied, accepted or rejected

* When do most colleges send out their decision letters?

application – one or more documents that are sent to request a document, certification, award or an opportunity to participate in a program, especially when it is competitive

* How many applications have you filled out for scholarships so far this year?

to hear – to receive a response or answer that one has been waiting for

* Have you heard from the company yet? They must be getting ready to make a final hiring decision soon.

any day now – anytime; very soon; in the near future, but without knowing the specific date

* We should find out Cramer’s test results any day now.

to check on the status – to request an update about the current situation or the progress of something

* We still haven’t received payment for Invoice 397. Should I call to check on the status?

under review – being considered, but not yet approved or rejected; waiting for a final decision

* How many resumes are under review for the new job opening?

pending – not yet decided or settled; waiting for a final decision

* Mark was really nervous while the jury’s decision was still pending.

to await approval – to wait for acceptance or a favorable decision

* We made a strong proposal and presented a great budget, and now there’s nothing we can do but wait for approval.

to reject – to decide not to approve or accept something; to say no

* We’re sorry, but your manuscript has been rejected. We are not able to publish it at this time.

ideal candidate – someone who is very well qualified for a job or another opportunity, having all the desired knowledge, skills, and abilities

* With 10 years of experience in customer service, Pablo is an ideal candidate for the job.

sure to – very likely to; guaranteed to; expecting something to happen

* If you keep saving that much money each month, you’re sure to be able to retire early.

on pins and needles – very nervous, anxious, and worried about something; full of anticipation

* Sheila was on pins and needles before her fist date with Kolya.

mail carrier – a person whose job is to deliver the mail to businesses and homes

* Mail carriers have to work really hard in December, when many people send Christmas cards and gifts to their friends and relatives.

(one’s) heart skips a beat – for one to be very excited, anticipating something

* Whenever Hannah enters the room, Edgar’s heart skips a beat and his face turns red.

to keep (something) in perspective – to be realistic, calm, and rational about something, not getting too excited or worried, realizing that it is not the most important thing in the world

* Mariah was devastated when she lost her job, but she’s trying to keep it in perspective by reminding herself that she still has her savings, her family, and her health.

life-or-death situation – a situation that is very serious and important because people could live or die as a result of one’s decisions or actions

* Brain surgeons have such a stressful job, because they are dealing with life-and-death situations every day.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does Leo think Denise hasn’t received the decision letter yet?
a) Because the program hasn’t made a decision yet.
b) Because it was lost in the mail.
c) Because her application was rejected.

2. What does Denise means when she says, “I’m on pins and needles”?
a) She is very nervous and anxious.
b) She is in a lot of pain.
c) She is taking a lot of medicine.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to hear

The verb “to hear,” in this podcast, means to receive a response or answer that one has been waiting for: “When do you expect to hear whether the deal was successful?” The phrase “you could hear a pin drop” is used to describe a place that is very quiet: “During the ceremony, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.” The phrase “can’t hear (oneself) think” is used to describe a place that is very noisy: “They have three young boys who are so loud that I can’t hear myself think when I go to their house.” Finally, the phrase “to never hear the end of it” means that one expects someone to continue to talk about something for a long time: “If you wreck Dad’s car, you’ll never hear the end of it.”

sure to

In this podcast, the phrase “sure to” means very likely to or guaranteed to, or expecting something to happen: “If you keep meeting your sales goals each month, you’re sure to get a promotion.” The phrase “to be sure to do (something)” is used to remind someone to do something: “Be sure to turn off the lights and lock the door if you’re the last one to leave.” The phrase “to be sure of (oneself)” means to be confident, possibly in a bad way: “Don’t be too sure of yourself. It might be better to ask for help before you try to install a new toilet.” Finally, the informal phrase “sure thing” is used to mean okay or to show that one agrees with what another person has said: When his wife asked him to buy some milk on his way home from work, he said, ‘Sure thing.’”

Culture Note
Expressions about Patience and Waiting

American English has many “expressions” (idioms; phrases) about “patience” (the ability to wait without becoming upset) and waiting. For example, “Patience is a virtue” means that the ability to wait for things without becoming upset or annoyed is a “virtue” (a very good, respected, and admired quality). If someone is becoming impatient, another person might say “Patience is a virtue” to try to tell that person to calm down.

The phrase “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” has the opposite meaning and is used to tell someone to not be too patient and instead make sure that someone asks for what he or she needs or is waiting for. A “squeaky” wheel is a wheel that makes a lot of noise. “Grease” is fat or oil, and is put on a squeaky wheel so that it stops making noise. The phrase “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” means that sometimes people need to complain or ask about something, or else nobody will pay attention to their needs.

The phrase “A watched pot never boils” describes how waiting can be more difficult when we are focusing on waiting. A watched pot, or a pot that we are looking at, seems to take a very long time to make water “boil” (for water to become very hot, so that large bubbles form on the surface). If we don’t pay attention to the pot and instead become involved in some other activity, the water seems to boil more quickly. So the phrase “A watched pot never boils” might be used to advise someone to become involved in some other project or activity as a distraction while waiting for something else to happen.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a