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0960 Giving Someone Your Recommendation

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 960 – Giving Someone Your Recommendation.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast number 960. 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. Go there. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download a Learning Guide for this episode. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod. You can follow us on Twitter – why not? – at @eslpod. Or you can get in a plane, fly to Los Angeles, and invite me to coffee, and we can talk.

This episode is called “Giving Someone Your Recommendation.” Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Jimmy: My cousin Sal said that he put in an application for a job here.

Suzanne: Yeah, that’s right.

Jimmy: Well?

Suzanne: Well, what?

Jimmy: Are you going to hire him?

Suzanne: I’m not sure. He doesn’t have any experience and he didn’t provide any references.

Jimmy: I can vouch for him. Sal is solid. He’s a really nice guy.

Suzanne: I appreciate you putting in a good word for him, but I need more assurance than that he’s a nice guy. He needs to have the temperament, work ethic, and skills for this job.

Jimmy: What he doesn’t know he’ll learn on the job. He’s a quick study.

Suzanne: How can I justify hiring someone with no experience, while passing up applicants who are better qualified?

Jimmy: He has my ringing endorsement. What else do you need? He’ll work as hard as I do.

Suzanne: That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue between Jimmy and Suzanne begins by Jimmy saying, “My cousin Sal said that he put in an application for a job here.” “To put in an application” means to apply for a job or something that you are hoping to get from a company or an organization. Normally, we use this expression when we’re talking about applying for a job. You want to get a job at a certain company, so you go and you “put in an application.” You fill out a form. You give them your name, your address, who you work for now, and so forth.

Suzanne said, “Yeah, that's right,” meaning that is correct. She knows that Jimmy's cousin Sal put in an application. Jimmy says, “Well?” He's expecting Suzanne to give him some news about this application. Suzanne, however, doesn't want to give him the information, or perhaps doesn't think Jimmy should be asking about it. She says, “Well, what?” We use that expression – “Well, what?” – when confused about what the other person wants. Suzanne isn’t sure what Jimmy is asking her. Jimmy says, “Are you going to hire him?” “To hire” (hire) means to give someone a job.

Suzanne says, “I'm not sure. He doesn't have any experience and he didn't provide any references.” Suzanne says that Sal “doesn't have any experience” – he hasn't worked in this kind of job before, the kind of job he's applying for. He also didn't provide any “references” (references). A “reference” is the name and, usually, telephone number or email of someone who can give the company information about you and how good of a worker you are. Those are what we would call “professional references” – people who can give information about your qualifications.

Sometimes, for example, if you are trying to rent an apartment, you may have to provide what we call “personal references.” A “personal reference” would be a friend or a family member who can tell the person renting the apartment whether you are a good person or not – whether you cause problems. However, in this case, we’re talking about professional references. Suzanne says Sal didn't provide any. He didn't give any names and telephone numbers.

Jimmy says, “I can vouch for him. Sal is solid. He's a really nice guy.” “To vouch (vouch) for” someone is to indicate that you know this person is a good person and that the person you are talking to can believe you. It's a way of indicating to someone that this person is a good person and that you can trust me – I know. I know this person; I will vouch for him or vouch for her.

Jimmy says that Sal is “solid” (solid). When we say a person is “solid,” we mean he is a good person. He is a reliable person. He is a trustworthy person. The word “solid” is used in this way when we’re talking about a person. It's different when we’re talking about a physical object like the table. That's a different kind of solid. When you talk about a person being solid, you mean they’re a good person. They’re a trustworthy person.

Suzanne says, “I appreciate you putting in a good word for him, but I need more assurance than that he's a nice guy.” “To put in a good word for” someone means to say something good about a person or to recommend a person, often in an informal way.

You know someone, for example, who is looking for a job, and you know that there is a job at the company where you work. You might say to this person – a friend, perhaps – “I'll put in a good word for you.” That means I will say nice things about you to the boss – the person responsible for hiring for this particular position.

Notice, “to put in application” and “to put in a good word” are both uses of the phrasal verb “to put in,” but in different circumstances and with different meanings. Suzanne says she needs “more assurance.” “Assurance” (assurance) means words or actions that make you feel certain about something – that make you feel that something will happen in a certain way. “I want assurance that you are going to pay me every month.” You need to give me evidence. You need to give me proof. You need to do something or say something that shows me that you will pay your bill every month. That's an example of “assurance.”

Don't confuse this with “insurance” (insurance). “Insurance” is something you buy from a company in case you have an accident or a problem. The company will then pay for your expenses. We have “health insurance” and “car insurance” and “home insurance.” All those are very different than the word we're talking about here, which is an “assurance.” Suzanne continues, “He needs to have the temperament, work ethic, and skills for this job.” “Temperament” (temperament) refers to your personality or your personal characteristics that seem to be permanent – that you always have.

Some people have a very happy temperament. They’re always happy. It doesn't matter what's happening; they’re always smiling and joking and having a good time. That would be their temperament. Suzanne says this person has to have the temperament for this job, whatever this job is – we don't know. “Work ethic” (ethic) is your commitment to work hard. Someone who has a “good work ethic” comes to work on time, works hard, never goofs off, doesn't listen to podcasts at work – that would be someone with a good work ethic. Like you.

“Skills” would be abilities or things that you are able to do for the job. Jimmy says, “What he doesn't know, he'll learn on the job. He's a quick study.” To learn something or do something “on the job” means after you are hired, after you start working at that position. Jimmy says, “Don't worry” – his cousin is “a quick study.” The expression “quick study” is used to describe a person who can learn things very quickly, who doesn't need a lot of instruction or help. Suzanne says, “How can I justify hiring someone with no experience, while passing up applicants who are better qualified?”

“To justify” (justify) means to provide a logical reason for something, to be able to explain, usually to someone higher up in the company, why you did what you did. Suzanne says she cannot justify “hiring someone with no experience, while passing up applicants who are better qualified.” “To pass up” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to choose not to do something or, in this case, to choose not to select someone. “To be qualified” means to have the skills to do something, to have the experience and ability to accomplish a certain task or do a certain job.

Jimmy says that his cousin has his “ringing endorsement.” A “ringing (ringing) endorsement” is very strong praise for someone – when you say something about a person that suggests that they are wonderful, that they can do whatever you want them to do. It's often used when we are recommending someone or something to another person. It's often used when we are talking about recommending someone for a job, as is the case in our dialogue.

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

[start of dialogue]

Jimmy: My cousin Sal said that he put in an application for a job here.

Suzanne: Yeah, that’s right.

Jimmy: Well?

Suzanne: Well, what?

Jimmy: Are you going to hire him?

Suzanne: I’m not sure. He doesn’t have any experience and he didn’t provide any references.

Jimmy: I can vouch for him. Sal is solid. He’s a really nice guy.

Suzanne: I appreciate you putting in a good word for him, but I need more assurance than that he’s a nice guy. He needs to have the temperament, work ethic, and skills for this job.

Jimmy: What he doesn’t know he’ll learn on the job. He’s a quick study.

Suzanne: How can I justify hiring someone with no experience, while passing up applicants who are better qualified?

Jimmy: He has my ringing endorsement. What else do you need? He’ll work as hard as I do.

Suzanne: That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.

[end of dialogue]

There’s no one better qualified than our scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for the job she does here at ESL Podcast. Thank you, Lucy.

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 was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to put in an application – to apply; to submit papers to ask for a job

* Heather put in applications at every coffee shop in the city, but she still hasn’t found a job.

to hire – to agree to give someone a job; to agree to make someone one’s employee

* The business is expanding very quickly and they had to hire more than 30 new employees last year.

reference – the name and contact information for a person who can provide additional information, especially about someone’s qualifications or experience

* Your references should be people who are familiar with your professional work, but not family members.

to vouch for – to say good things about someone or something; to indicate that someone is a good person or that something will be a good choice

* Will you vouch for my computer skills if I apply for that job?

solid – reliable, trustworthy, and good

* We’re looking for a candidate with solid experience in finance and operations.

to put in a good word – to say something good about a person or to recommend someone for an opportunity in an informal way

* You’re friends with a literary agent, right? Would you put in a good word for me and my book?

assurance – words or actions that make one feel more certain that something will happen in a particular way

* Do you have any assurance that your clients will actually pay you each month?

temperament – personality; the personal characteristics that seem to be a permanent characteristic of a person, not learned over time, especially how one shows one’s emotions

* Hal has a calm temperament that helps other people relax.

work ethic – one’s commitment to working hard and finishing what one has started; one’s commitment to a job or project

* Group projects are unfair, because the students with the strongest work ethic end up doing most of the work.

on the job – at work; through experience in a particular position, not by reading about something or listening to others talk about it

* Did you learn to use this software on the job, or did you already know how to do that when you applied for the position?

quick study – a person who learns things very quickly and does not need a lot of instruction or guidance

* Even if you’re a quick study, it can take years to learn to play a musical instrument well.

to justify – to rationalize; to provide a logical reason for something; to be able to explain what has happened in a way that makes sense to oneself and others

* How can anyone justify spending $20,000 on a watch?

to pass up – to choose not to have or do something because one is having or doing something else

* How can you pass up going to the concert just to stay home and study again?

qualified – with the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge for a position or opportunity; meeting all the qualifications of something

* Once you earn your degree, you’ll be qualified to work in the best scientific laboratories in the country.

ringing endorsement – very strong praise for a person or thing; full support and recommendation for someone or something

* How could you quit your job so soon? I gave your boss my ringing endorsement so that she’d give you the job. Now she’ll never trust me again.

Comprehension Questions
1. According to Jimmy, what did Sal say he did?
a) He got a new job.
b) He asked for a job.
c) He didn’t get job.

2. What does Jimmy mean when he says that Sal has his “ringing endorsement”?
a) Jimmy trained Sal well.
b) Jimmy thinks that Sal would be very good for the job.
c) Jimmy wants to be just like Sal in his own job.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
solid

The word “solid,” in this podcast, means to be reliable, trustworthy, and good: “Her math skills are solid, but her writing skills needs improvement.” Normally, “solid” describes a substance that is hard or firm, not a liquid or a gas: “At what temperature does liquid water turn into solid ice?” The word “solid” can also mean entirely or throughout: “Is that vase solid gold?” Sometimes “solid” means not hollow, without any empty space: “It looked like a solid chocolate bunny, but when we picked it up, we could tell it was hollow.” The phrase “packed solid” means very crowded or full: “The ferry was packed solid with commuters.” Finally, the phrase “on solid ground” means confident, comfortable, and in a secure or safe position: “After hours on the boat, we were relieved to be back on solid ground.” Or, “Any scientific lecturer who wants to be on solid ground needs to mention reliable research.”

quick study

In this podcast, the phrase “quick study” means a person who learns things very quickly and does not need a lot of instruction or guidance: “Consultants have to be quick studies so that they can quickly assess the client’s problems and recommend solutions.” A “quick fix” is a temporary solution that can solve the problem quickly, but not well or not permanently: “The government is trying to encourage consumer spending by printing more money, but that’s just a quick fix that doesn’t address the real problems.” The phrase “to be quick on the draw” means to react to something very quickly: “Students have to be quick on the draw to answer the professor’s questions during lectures.” Finally, the phrase “to have a quick temper” means to become angry very quickly: “The children are scared of their grandfather, who has a quick temper.”

Culture Note
Types of Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendations “serve many purposes” (are used for many different reasons), but the most common are academic, employment, and character references.

An “academic letter of recommendation” is used by students to apply for “admission” (entrance to a university or other school) to a school, college/university, or other educational institution. Academic letters of recommendation are usually written by staff or “faculty” (a teacher or professor) at another school who are familiar with the student’s “academic performance” (how well one does in school), “study habits” (how often one studies and how prepared one is for class), and “ambitions” (goals; what one wants to do in life).

An “employment letter of reference” or a “career reference” is used to verify an “applicant’s” (a person applying for a job’s) experience and qualifications, and to assess the applicant’s temperament and work ethic. Employment letters of reference are usually written by former “supervisors” (the people one reports to in a job), but they can also be written by “co-workers” (the people one works with) and even “third-party” (outside the organization) suppliers and partners. Employment letters usually describe the roles and responsibilities of an individual, as well as the experience of working with that individual and the “impact” (affect; influence) he or she has had on the business or organization.

Finally, a “character reference” or a “character recommendation” is a less formal document that might be written by a friend, neighbor, or even relative. The letter should comment on the individual’s personality “traits” (characteristics), interests, and values like honesty. These types of letters of reference might be used when applying for housing, “adopting a child” (legally bringing a child into one’s family), or defending oneself in court.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b