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02 Checking Mail, Email, and Voicemail

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SCRIPT

The first thing I do when I get to work each morning is to check my inboxes. I go to the mailroom to check my mail slot to see what mail has arrived overnight. There are always a lot of intra-office and inter-office letters and memos. Much of it is junk mail, so I spend a few minutes sorting through it. The next thing I do is to turn on my computer to check email. I open my email program and my new messages automatically download into my inbox. Even though I have a pretty good spam filter, I still check through my trash folder carefully to make sure nothing important was filtered out. We’re also not supposed to get personal emails at work, but sometimes my friends send or forward me messages to this address and I have to make sure I respond using my personal email address. When I don’t have time to finish a message or when I get interrupted, I save it into my draft folder.

Finally, I check my voicemail. I call the voicemail system and enter in my PIN to bypass the outgoing message. I have two new messages, and after listening to
them, I save one of them and delete the other. I look at the clock and it’s already 9:30 AM! It’s time for the morning meeting.

GLOSSARY

inbox – an electronic space or a real box that holds emails, papers, and other things that one needs to read and respond to
* Mike has two inboxes on his desk: one for things that have to be responded to right away, and one for things that he can read whenever he has some free time.

mailroom – a room in a large office building where mail is organized so that it can be given to the right people
* Every afternoon the mailroom receives thousands of pieces of mail and the workers have to deliver them to the right people by 5:00 p.m.

mail slot – a small box that has a person’s name on it and holds mail for that person
* When you go on vacation, don’t forget to put an “out of office” sign on your mail slot, so that people know you won’t be coming in to get your mail.

intra-office – within one office or office building
* Kelly works in this building on the 29th floor, so if you want to send her something, you should put it with the intra-office mail.

inter-office – among many offices or office buildings
* Many companies have inter-office mail, because having someone take large bags of mail from one office building to another is cheaper and faster than using
the regular mail service.

memo – memorandum; a short written document that describes something at work, usually with four lines at the top: the name of the author, the name of the person it’s going to, the subject, and the date
* The president doesn’t have time to read a long report, so please send her a one-page memo that describes the report’s most important ideas.

junk mail – mail or email that doesn’t have any useful or helpful information and that one throws away or deletes without reading; spam; unwanted mail or email
* If you receive a lot of junk mail, you can call this phone number and ask to have your name taken off of many companies’ mailing lists.

to sort – to put things in order; to divide things into different groups or categories
* Please sort these books by author, so that everything written by Tolstoy is on the right and everything written by Dostoevsky is on the left.

to download – to copy a file from the Internet or a large network computer onto one’s own computer
* Do you download music from the Internet?

spam filter – the part of an email program that keeps spam, or unwanted emails, from coming into an email inbox
* If your spam filter is too high, some of your friends’ email might go to your spam folder where you won’t see it.

trash – garbage; a place to put things that should be thrown away or deleted
* I accidentally deleted a very important email, but I was able to find it in the trash folder and save a copy of it.

to forward – to send an email that one has received to other people
* When your sister sends you an email with the photos from the party, please forward it to me.

draft – something that one has begun to write but has not yet finished; an unfinished document; an unfinished piece of writing
* I just finished writing a draft of the email I want to send to Carol, but I’m going to wait a few hours and read it again after lunch before I send it.

voicemail – recorded voice messages from people who called your phone number when you weren’t able to answer the phone
* I try to remember to delete my voicemail messages after listening to them, because if there are too many, people won’t be able to leave me new messages.

PIN – Personal Identification Number; a set of secret numbers that are used as a password for getting information or money
* Don’t write down your PIN. If other people see it, they can use it to get your private information.

to bypass – to skip something; to go around something
* You can bypass the road construction on Main Street by driving on Holly Street instead.

outgoing message – the recorded voice message that callers hear when they call a phone number but nobody answers
* Make sure that your outgoing message on your home answering machine is friendly but professional, in case your boss calls you at home.

to save – to keep something for use in the future; to not delete or throw away something
* Cassidy always saves tickets from the museums she goes to, so that she can remember where she went on her vacations.

to delete – to get rid of an electronic file or message; to remove something from one’s computer
* I accidentally deleted my homework, so now I have to do it again.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to lesson two of ESLPod.com’s “Using English at Work.” I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, from the Center for Educational Development.

In the first lesson of “Using English at Work,” we learned vocabulary about arriving at work, or getting to the office. In this second lesson, we’re going to talk
about checking email, mail, and voicemail at work.

Let’s get started by listening to the story of this part of my day at a slow speed.

[start of script]

The first thing I do when I get to work each morning is to check my inboxes. I go to the mailroom to check my mail slot to see what mail has arrived overnight.
There are always a lot of intra-office and inter-office letters and memos. Much of it is junk mail, so I spend a few minutes sorting through it.

The next thing I do is to turn on my computer to check email. I open my email program and my new messages automatically download into my inbox. Even
though I have a pretty good spam filter, I still check through my trash folder carefully to make sure nothing important was filtered out. We’re also not
supposed to get personal emails at work, but sometimes my friends send or forward me messages to this address and I have to make sure I respond using
my personal email address. When I don’t have time to finish a message or when I get interrupted, I save it into my draft folder.

Finally, I check my voicemail. I call the voicemail system and enter in my PIN to bypass the outgoing message. I have two new messages, and after listening to
them, I save one of them and delete the other. I look at the clock and it’s already 9:30 AM! It’s time for the morning meeting.

[end of script]

We begin our story by saying that the first thing I do when I get to work each morning is to check my inboxes. An “inbox” is an electronic space or a real box
that holds emails, or if it’s a real box, papers, and other things that you need to read and respond to. In an email program, the inbox is usually the main screen. On your desk, it’s probably a small box that other people put papers into. I check my inboxes, meaning that I look to see if there is anything inside them.

First, I go to the mailroom. A “mailroom” is a room in a large office building where mail is organized so that it can be given to the right person. Offices with
many employees might receive thousands of pieces of mail, so they need to have special employees who work in the mailroom and make sure that each
piece of mail gets to the right person. You may start out in a company by working in the mailroom, which is usually considered the lowest level job in a
company. Some people think that if you work hard enough, you can start in the mailroom and someday be president, although I don’t think that happens very often in most companies!

When I’m in the mailroom, I check my mail slot to see what mail has arrived overnight. A “slot” is normally a small rectangular opening in something, but a
“mail slot” is a small box that has a person’s name on it and holds mail for that person. Some houses have mail slots in their front doors. I live in an older
house, where we still have a mail slot in our door; many houses now, however, have “mailboxes,” these are little boxes outside of your house. In the story, I’m talking about the mail slots in the mailroom in the office building where I work.

There are always a lot of intra-office and inter-office letters in my mail slot. An “intra- (intra-) office letter” is one that is sent and received within one office
building. An “inter- (inter-) office letter” is one that is sent between different offices of the same company. For example, if I work at a large bank and I want
to send something to a customer, I put it in the regular mail. I use, in the United States, the U.S. Postal Service; I put a stamp on it, I put it in the mailbox, and it is delivered to the other company. If I want to send something to someone who works for my company – my bank, but in another office, perhaps in the other side of the city, then I put it in inter-office mail. This way, at the end of the day someone will carry a large bag with all the inter-office mail to the other office, because this is cheaper and usually much faster than using the regular public mail. And if I need to send something to someone who works in my office in the same building, but I’m feeling lazy and I don’t want to take the time to walk to his or her desk, I’ll put it in the intra- (intra) office mail, and at the end of the day someone will deliver all the intra-office mail to the right people who work in my office building or put it into the right mail slot for that person.

My mail slot has a lot of intra-office and inter-office letters and memos. A “memo” is short for “memorandum.” It’s usually a short written document that
describes something at your workplace, usually with four lines at the top: the name of the of the person who wrote the memo, the name of the person it’s
going to, the subject of the memo, and the date it was written. Busy people often don’t have time to listen to people talk about their ideas or to read long reports, so writing up a one-page memo is a good way to let those people know about the most important ideas. Companies often use memos to provide information quickly to their employees.

Many of the letters and memos I receive are what I call “junk mail.” “Junk mail” is mail or email that doesn’t have any useful or helpful information in it; it’s the mail that you throw away or delete from your email program without reading. It’s mail that you didn’t ask for and that you don’t want. Another word for “junk mail” when we’re talking about email is “spam.” At my house, most of the junk mail I get are advertisements that I don’t want, so I throw them away without even reading them. At the office, I spend a few minutes sorting through the junk mail. “To sort” means to put things in order, or to divide things into different groups or categories. In this case, I’m separating the junk mail from the mail I really want to read. You might, for example, sort your clothes by color, or you might sort your papers in alphabetical order from A to Z.

After sorting through my junk mail, I turn on my computer to check email. I open my email program and my new messages automatically download into my inbox. “To download” means to copy a file from the Internet or a large network computer onto your own computer. Many people like to download music or videos from the Internet. My email gets downloaded from the company’s large computer servers into my inbox, the electronic space for new messages that I need to read. I have a pretty good spam filter. A “spam filter” is usually part of your email program that keeps, or prevents, spam – unwanted emails – from coming into your email inbox. We say the spam filter “traps” a lot of emails for advertisements and other things I never asked for. “To trap,” here, means to get, to hold, and not to let go so that you don’t see them when you open your inbox. Sometimes a spam filter is too high and it puts emails that want to see into the trash or spam folder by accident or by mistake. We talk about a spam filter being “high,” that means it’s trapping too many messages. That’s why I still check through my trash folder carefully to make sure nothing important was trapped or filtered out. “Trash” is another word for garbage, or something that you throw away, that you don’t want. So your “trash folder” is where the email program may put trash – things you don’t want. Many email programs have a separate “spam folder,” where all the spam messages go. When I check through my trash folder, I look at all the messages in the folder, just to make sure they’re really trash or things I don’t want anymore, so I can read any messages that were put there by accident.

We’re not supposed to, at my office, get personal emails at work, but sometimes my friends send or forward me messages to my work address. “To forward
(something)” in this case means to send an email that you have received to other people. Sometimes my friends and relatives forward funny jokes – although
usually they’re not very funny! They didn’t write the jokes, but they receive them from other people and then forward them to their friends. When my friends forward messages to my work email address, I have to make sure I respond to or answer them using my personal email address, not my work email address. When I don’t have time to finish a message, or when I get interrupted, I save my message into my draft folder. A “draft” is an unfinished document, or something that you have begun to write but have not yet finished. You go through many drafts, usually, when we write things, especially formal reports. We hope that each time we write a new draft, or revise or change the draft it gets better. A “draft folder” is where an email program puts messages that you have started writing but aren’t ready to send yet, you still haven’t finished them. Later, when you have time, you can go back to your draft folder, finish writing the message that you started earlier, and then send it to someone after you’ve finished it.

Finally, or lastly, I check my voicemail. “Voicemail” is a system of recorded voice messages from people who call your phone number when you aren’t able to
answer the phone. We used to have what we called “answering machines,” which had cassette tapes to record messages, but most companies today are computerized and they use something that we call “voicemail.” At my house, however, we still have one of the old answering machines, not voicemail.

I call the voicemail system and enter in my PIN. “PIN” is an acronym, where each letter is the first letter of another word. Here “PIN” means “Personal
Identification Number.” A PIN is usually a set of secret numbers – four to six – that are used as a password for getting information or for getting money. When
you take cash out of an ATM or bank machine, you usually have to enter your PIN. You might also have a PIN for registering for a class at college. The PIN
I’m talking about here is for listening to my voicemail messages.

When using voicemail, you can often use your PIN to bypass the outgoing message. “To bypass something” means to skip something or to go around
something that you don’t want to see or hear. For example, many websites have introductory screens, sometimes with video and music; you can usually bypass this introduction – these screens – by clicking on “skip introduction” or “skip this.” “To skip” is the same as to go to the next step without looking or seeing the current screen. When I call the voicemail system, it usually plays my “outgoing message,” the message people hear when they call me. But by entering my PIN I bypass that outgoing message, because I don’t need to hear it.

After listening to two new messages, I save one and I delete the other. “To save” means to keep something for use in the future, it’s the opposite of delete or throw away. We usually save important emails from our friends, we save photos that were taken when we were with our friends, in this case, I’m saving a voicemail message so that it stays in the voicemail system and I’m able to listen to it later. I “delete” the other message – I get rid of the other message. We usually delete drafts once we’ve finished the final document, for example. In this case, I’m deleting the second voicemail message, getting rid of it because I won’t need to listen to it again. Next I look at my clock and I see that it’s already 9:30 a.m. It’s time for my morning meeting.

Let’s listen again to this story of checking email, mail, and voicemail, this time the story will be read at a normal speed.

[start of script]

The first thing I do when I get to work each morning is to check my inboxes. I go to the mailroom to check my mail slot to see what mail has arrived overnight.
There are always a lot of intra-office and inter-office letters and memos. Much of it is junk mail, so I spend a few minutes sorting through it.

The next thing I do is to turn on my computer to check email. I open my email program and my new messages automatically download into my inbox. Even
though I have a pretty good spam filter, I still check through my trash folder carefully to make sure nothing important was filtered out. We’re also not
supposed to get personal emails at work, but sometimes my friends send or forward me messages to this address and I have to make sure I respond using
my personal email address. When I don’t have time to finish a message or when I get interrupted, I save it into my draft folder.

Finally, I check my voicemail. I call the voicemail system and enter in my PIN to bypass the outgoing message. I have two new messages, and after listening to
them, I save one of them and delete the other.

I look at the clock and it’s already 9:30 AM! It’s time for the morning meeting.

[end of script]

That’s the end of our second lesson. In our next lesson, number three, I’m going to talk about attending, or going to, an office meeting.

This course has been a production of the Center for Educational Development, in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Visit our website at eslpod.com.