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Retirement age may be extended to 85


Date: Feb 21, 2006
Level: Harder (Try the easier lesson.)
Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening
Audio: (1:49 - 214.1 KB - 16kbps)

 
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THE ARTICLE

Workers may soon experience major and unwelcome shifts in the lengths of their working lives, if an American consultant is to be believed. The age at which people look forward to early retirement might be consigned to the history books. Instead, we may be hanging up our boots at 85 instead of 65. Stanford University biologist Shripad Tuljapurkar told a science convention in the USA that medical advances could increase human longevity dramatically over the coming decades, rudely reshaping our perceptions and realities of work. Tuljapurkar predicts modern economies will not be able to support their increasingly numerous retirees, greater numbers of who are opting to leave the workforce at increasingly younger ages.

Professor Tuljapurkar forecasts that most people living in today’s industrialized societies can expect to become centenarians because of advances in medicine and genetic science. He believes once geneticists unlock the key to the ageing gene, society will have to quickly undergo shifts of seismic magnitude. He predicts a rude awakening for many workers once they discover their insurance and pension companies have not catered for elongated life spans. Dreams of spending one’s golden years with a nest egg may have to be put on hold for a decade or two. “Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly…We have doubled human lifespan in the last century”, he said. As a result, accepted societal parameters will change considerably.

WARM-UPS

1. RETIREMENT: In pairs / groups, talk about what life would be like to be retired. Write down five differences of retiring at 65 and 85 years old. Share these with your partners. What are the benefits of each retirement age? Change partners often.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

Workers / working lives / sociologists / retirement / history books / medical advances / longevity / centenarians / keys / genes / pensions / nests / eggs

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

3. AT THE SOCIAL CLUB: You are 100 years old. You have been retired now for 15 years. You are at the retirees social club. Talk to the other centenarians about being 100. What do you do every day? What do you want to do in life? How much longer do you hope to live? Ask each other the questions normal of centenarians.

4. GOLDEN YEARS: Talk about each of these times in our lives. What are the things we typically do during these periods? Would these things change if we lived to be much older and retired at 85 years old?

  • Teenage years
  • Our twenties
  • Being thirtysomething
  • Our 40s
  • In our 50s
  • 60 to 69
  • Being a septuagenarian
  • Over 100

5. LONGEVITY OPINIONS: What do you think about these opinions? Students A agree with them, Students B disagree.

  1. Scientists should never try to make us live longer.
  2. Increasing our lifespan increases the problems associated with overpopulation.
  3. It’s better to die naturally than take medicine to live longer and work until 85.
  4. People retiring at 85 means a much wiser and experienced workforce.
  5. A retirement age of 85 will turn us into a population of slaves.
  6. Extending the retirement age is only good for pension companies.
  7. Early retirement is one of our basic human rights.
  8. Living to be over 100 would be fantastic.

6. RETIREMENT: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “retirement”. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

The retirement age may soon be extended for university majors.

T / F

b.

Early retirement may one day be consigned to the history books.

T / F

c.

We may be hanging up our boots when we are 85 instead of 65.

T / F

d.

Modern economies are well able to cope with ageing societies.

T / F

e.

Many people in the developed world could well live beyond 100.

T / F

f.

Geneticists will lock the key to ageing.

T / F

g.

Workers dream of spending their nest years with a golden egg.

T / F

h.

We have doubled human lifespan in the past century.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

consigned

extended

b.

hanging up our boots

abruptly

c.

rudely

selecting

d.

numerous

breakthroughs

e.

opting

verge

f.

advances

relegated

g.

seismic

boundaries

h.

elongated

enormous

i.

brink

retiring

j.

parameters

abundant

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

early retirement might be consigned

being able to extend human lifespan

b.

we may be hanging up our

and realities of work

c.

medical advances could increase

to the ageing gene

d.

rudely reshaping our perceptions

to the history books

e.

greater numbers of who are opting

boots at 85 instead of 65

f.

become centenarians because of

awakening for many workers

g.

unlock the key

human longevity dramatically

h.

He predicts a rude

with a nest-egg

i.

spending one’s golden years

to leave the workforce

j.

we are on the brink of

advances in medicine

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words in the column on the right into the gaps in the text.

Retirement age may be extended to 85

Workers may soon experience major and unwelcome ________ in the lengths of their working lives, if an American sociologist is to be believed. The age at which people look forward to early retirement might be ________ to the history books. Instead, we may be ________ up our boots at 85 instead of 65. Stanford University professor Shripad Tuljapurkar told a science ________ in the USA that medical advances could increase human ________ dramatically over the coming decades, ________ reshaping our perceptions and realities of work. Tuljapurkar predicts modern economies will not be able to support their increasingly numerous ________, greater numbers of who are ________ to leave the workforce at increasingly younger ages.

 

 

longevity
shifts
opting
hanging
rudely
consigned
retirees
convention

Professor Tuljapurkar forecasts that most people living in today’s industrialized societies can ________ to become centenarians because of advances in medicine and genetic science. He believes once ________ unlock the key to the ageing gene, society will have to quickly ________ shifts of seismic magnitude. He predicts a ________ awakening for many workers once they discover their insurance and pension companies have not catered for ________ life spans. Dreams of spending one’s golden years with a ________ may have to be put on hold for a decade or two. “Some people believe we are on the ________ of being able to extend human lifespan significantly…We have doubled human lifespan in the last century”, he said. As a result, accepted ________ parameters will change considerably.

 

elongated
geneticists
societal
rude
expect
brink
nest-egg
undergo

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Retirement age may be extended to 85

Workers may soon experience major and ___________ shifts in the lengths of their working lives, if an American sociologist is to be believed. The age at which people look forward to early retirement might be __________ to the history books. Instead, we may be hanging up our _______ at 85 instead of 65. Stanford University professor Shripad Tuljapurkar told a science __________ in the USA that medical advances could increase human longevity dramatically over the coming decades, ________ reshaping our perceptions and realities of work. Tuljapurkar predicts modern economies will not be able to support their increasingly numerous ________, greater numbers of who are ________ to leave the workforce at increasingly younger ages.

Professor Tuljapurkar ________ that most people living in today’s industrialized societies can expect to become centenarians because of advances in medicine and ________ science. He believes once geneticists unlock the key to the ageing gene, society will have to quickly ________ shifts of ________ magnitude. He predicts a rude awakening for many workers once they discover their insurance and pension companies have not ________ for elongated life spans. Dreams of spending one’s golden years with a __________ may have to be put on hold for a decade or two. “Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly…We have doubled human __________ in the last century”, he said. As a result, accepted societal ______________ will change considerably.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘life’ and ‘span’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “RETIREMENT” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about retirement.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • unwelcome
  • forward
  • boots
  • advances
  • rudely
  • support
  • expect
  • key
  • seismic
  • golden
  • brink
  • result

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  2. Do you think its right for scientists to extend our lives so much?
  3. Do you think scientists are playing the role of God in increasing our longevity?
  4. What would society be like if most of the population was over fifty?
  5. What do you think of 85 as a retirement age?
  6. When do you want to hang up your boots?
  7. What do you think of the prospect of living to be 150?
  8. How would life change if we knew we had to work until we were 85?
  9. What new industries would spring up if we retired at 85 and lived to be over 100?
  10. Do you think scientists should unlock the key to the ageing gene?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Do you think increasing our lifespans will create more or fewer problems for society?
  4. Would you be happy to fly on an airplane piloted by an 84-year-old?
  5. If we all lived to be 120, when would middle age be?
  6. What do you think of the idea of having great great great grandchildren?
  7. Do you think retiring at 85 means you’ll be very rich and have a huge nest-egg?
  8. Do you think it’s possible and desirable for scientists to double our lifespans again?
  9. What societal parameters will change as a result of our retiring at 85 and living to be over 100?
  10. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  2. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  3. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  4. What did you like talking about?
  5. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

100: In pairs / groups, talk about the pros and cons of a society having an average lifespan of 100. Use the items in the left hand column to help your conversations.

 

PROS

CONS

Workforce

 

 

Pensions

 

 

Babysitting

 

 

New industries

 

 

Crime

 

 

Food

 

 

Healthcare

 

 

Change partners / groups. Tell each other what your previous partner(s) said.

Decide whether you would be in favor or against increasing our longevity.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find information about retirement ages around the world. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson. Did you all find out similar things?

3. MY RETIREMENT: Outline all the things you hope to do when you are retired. Compare these things with the lives of your grandparents, parents or other retirees you know of. Did everyone want to do similar things when they retire?

4. EFFECTS: Write an essay on the effects of the retirement age on society. What will governments and companies need to change if people retire at 85 and live to be over 100? Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Did everyone write about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. F

b. T

c. T

d. F

e. T

f. F

g. F

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

consigned

relegated

b.

hanging up our boots

retiring

c.

rudely

abruptly

d.

numerous

abundant

e.

opting

selecting

f.

advances

breakthroughs

g.

seismic

enormous

h.

elongated

extended

i.

brink

verge

j.

parameters

boundaries

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

early retirement might be consigned

to the history books

b.

we may be hanging up our

boots at 85 instead of 65

c.

medical advances could increase

human longevity dramatically

d.

rudely reshaping our perceptions

and realities of work

e.

greater numbers of who are opting

to leave the workforce

f.

become centenarians because of

advances in medicine

g.

unlock the key

to the ageing gene

h.

He predicts a rude

awakening for many workers

i.

spending one’s golden years

with a nest-egg

j.

we are on the brink of

being able to extend human lifespan

GAP FILL:

Retirement age may be extended to 85

Workers may soon experience major and unwelcome shifts in the lengths of their working lives, if an American sociologist is to be believed. The age at which people look forward to early retirement might be consigned to the history books. Instead, we may be hanging up our boots at 85 instead of 65. Stanford University professor Shripad Tuljapurkar told a science convention in the USA that medical advances could increase human longevity dramatically over the coming decades, rudely reshaping our perceptions and realities of work. Tuljapurkar predicts modern economies will not be able to support their increasingly numerous retirees, greater numbers of who are opting to leave the workforce at increasingly younger ages.

Professor Tuljapurkar forecasts that most people living in today’s industrialized societies can expect to become centenarians because of advances in medicine and genetic science. He believes once geneticists unlock the key to the ageing gene, society will have to quickly undergo shifts of seismic magnitude. He predicts a rude awakening for many workers once they discover their insurance and pension companies have not catered for elongated life spans. Dreams of spending one’s golden years with a nest-egg may have to be put on hold for a decade or two. “Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly…We have doubled human lifespan in the last century”, he said. As a result, accepted societal parameters will change considerably.

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Copyright © 2006 by Sean Banville