The Reading / Listening - 4-Day Work Week - Level 6

The technology company Microsoft has said it successfully trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw improvements in workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The trial took place over the summer at the tech giant's headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off as paid leave in August. The company monitored the effects a three-day weekend would have on workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter working week resulted in additional benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfaction with the scheme. The trial could lead to a change in Japan's infamous workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime.



Microsoft called the trial the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it aimed, "to create an environment where each employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to the circumstances of their work and life". Other aspects of the trial included shortening the length of meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats over face-to-face ones. There were additional advantages to the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was consumed and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees for their input.

Try the same news story at these easier levels:

    4-Day Work Week - Level 4  or  4-Day Work Week - Level 5

Sources
    strong>/microsoft-japan-4-day-working week-40-per cent-increase-in-productivity-2019-11
  • https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/04/tech/microsoft-japan-working week-productivity/
  • https://news.yahoo.com/microsofts-japanese-division-switched-4-123757914.html


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice, drag and drop activities, crosswords, hangman, flash cards, matching activities and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)



Warm-ups

1. WORKING: Students walk around the class and talk to other students about working. Change partners often and share your findings.
2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, talk about these topics or words from the article. What will the article say about them? What can you say about these words and your life?
       technology / Microsoft / trial / improvement / headquarters / employees / benefits /
       environment / diverse / flexible / face-to-face / meetings / electricity / printed / Japan
Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.
3. LONGER WEEKENDS: Students A strongly believe we should all have longer weekends; Students B strongly believe two-day weekends are best.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.
4. BENEFITS: Who are these benefits good and bad for and why? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners often and share what you wrote.

 

Good for the Company

Bad for the Company

Good for the Workers

Bad for the Workers

Long weekends

 

 

 

 

Bonuses

 

 

 

 

Company car

 

 

 

 

Shares

 

 

 

 

Free lunches

 

 

 

 

Uniform

 

 

 

 

MY e-BOOK
ESL resource book with copiable worksheets and handouts - 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers / English teachers
See a sample

5. WORKERS: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word "workers". Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.
6. COMPANIES: Rank these with your partner. Put the best companies to work for at the top. Change partners often and share your rankings.

  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • McDonald's
  • Starbucks
  • Ferrari
  • Chanel
  • Barcelona
  • Greenpeace

 

Vocabulary

    Paragraph 1

      1. trialed a. Well known for some bad quality or action.
      2. satisfaction b. The place or building serving as the managerial and administrative center of an organization.
      3. headquarters c. Looked at and checked the progress or quality of something over a period of time.
      4. leave d. Tested a new product or process to assess its suitability or performance.
      5. monitored e. A person with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization.
      6. executive f. The fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.
      7. infamous g. A period of time when one has permission to be absent from work or from duty in the armed forces.

    Paragraph 2

      8. diverse h. Particular parts or features of something.
      9. flexible i. Helping or stimulating an activity, state, or view to develop.
      10. circumstances j. Ideas or a contribution of work, information, or material.
      11. aspects k. Ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.
      12. encouraging l. Use up a resource like electricity, energy, etc.
      13. consumed m. Facts or conditions connected with or relevant to an event or action.
      14. input n. Very different.

 

Before reading / listening

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if 1-8 below are true (T) or false (F).

  1. A 4-day working week was trialed in Japan by Microsoft.     T / F
  2. The trial took place in the spring of 2018.     T / F
  3. Employees didn't have to work on Mondays but got paid.     T / F
  4. Japan is famous for not asking its workers to do overtime.     T / F
  5. The trial was called the "Work-Life Choice Challenge".     T / F
  6. Workers were asked to keep meetings to less than 30 minutes.     T / F
  7. The trial meant the month's electricity bill decreased by 59%.     T / F
  8. The company will carry out a further experiment in Japan.     T / F

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

  1. trialed
  2. improvements
  3. headquarters
  4. monitored
  5. rose
  6. flexible
  7. circumstances
  8. encouraging
  9. conduct
  10. input
  1. main office
  2. situation
  3. increased
  4. ideas
  5. advances
  6. carry out
  7. adaptable
  8. tested
  9. urging
  10. tracked

3. PHRASE MATCH: (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

  1. it successfully trialed
  2. at the tech giant's
  3. the shorter working week resulted
  4. employees expressed their
  5. lead to a change in Japan's
  6. create an environment where each
  7. a diverse and
  8. shortening the length
  9. choose online chats over
  10. Microsoft will conduct
  1. employee can choose
  2. infamous workplace practices
  3. another experiment
  4. headquarters in Tokyo
  5. flexible way of working
  6. in additional benefits
  7. face-to-face ones
  8. satisfaction with the scheme
  9. of meetings
  10. a four-day working week

Gap fill

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
tech
effects
successfully
infamous
additional
leave
expressed
improvements

The technology company Microsoft has said it (1) ____________ trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw (2) ____________ in workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The trial took place over the summer at the (3) ____________ giant's headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off as paid (4) ____________ in August. The company monitored the (5) ____________ a three-day weekend would have on workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter working week resulted in (6) ____________ benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees (7) ____________ their satisfaction with the scheme. The trial could lead to a change in Japan's (8) ____________ workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime.

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
flexible
advantages
maximum
input
aspects
consumed
each
ones

Microsoft called the trial the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it aimed, "to create an environment where (9) ____________ employee can choose a diverse and (10) ____________ way of working according to the circumstances of their work and life". Other (11) ____________ of the trial included shortening the length of meetings to a (12) ____________ of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats over face-to-face (13) ____________. There were additional (14) ____________ to the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was (15) ____________ and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees for their (16) ____________.

Listening — Guess the answers. Listen to check.

1)  The trial took place over the summer at ______ headquarters
     a.  the tech giant's
     b.  the tech ogre's
     c.  the tech fairy's
     d.  the tech spirit's
2)  Employees were given every Friday off ______
     a.  as paid leaves
     b.  as paid leaver
     c.  as paid leaving
     d.  as paid leave
3)  Company executives said the shorter working week ______ benefits
     a.  resulted in addition
     b.  resulted in additional
     c.  resulted in addition all
     d.  resulted in add diction
4)  92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfaction ______
     a.  on the scheme
     b.  to the scheme
     c.  with the scheme
     d.  of the scheme
5)  The trial could lead to a change in Japan's ______ practices
     a.  famous workplace
     b.  famously workplace
     c.  infamous workplace
     d.  infer mouse workplace

6)  The company said it aimed, "to create an environment where each ______
     a.  employees can choose
     b.  employed can choose
     c.  employee can choose
     d.  employer can choose
7)  a diverse and flexible way of working ______ circumstances
     a.  according to the
     b.  according of the
     c.  according at the
     d.  according that the
8)  encouraging workers to choose online chats over ______
     a.  mouth-to-face ones
     b.  face-to-mouth one
     c.  face-to-face one
     d.  face-to-face ones
9)  consumed and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed ______ August
     a.  compares with
     b.  compared with
     c.  comparison with
     d.  comparing with
10)  in Japan later this year and has asked employees ______
     a.  for there input
     b.  for their imp put
     c.  for their imp putt
     d.  for their input

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

The technology company Microsoft has (1) ___________________ trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw improvements in workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The (2) ___________________ over the summer at the tech giant's headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off (3) ___________________ in August. The company monitored the effects a three-day weekend would have on workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter working week (4) ___________________ benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfaction (5) ___________________. The trial could lead to a change in Japan's infamous workplace practices of long hours and (6) ___________________.

Microsoft (7) ___________________ the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it aimed, "to create an environment where each employee can choose a (8) ___________________ way of working according to the circumstances of their work and life". Other (9) ___________________ trial included shortening the length of meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to (10) ___________________ over face-to-face ones. There were additional advantages to the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity (11) ___________________ 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees (12) ___________________.

Comprehension questions

  1. What is the name of the company that conducted the trial?
  2. When did the trial take place?
  3. What day of the week did the employees have off?
  4. By how much did productivity rise?
  5. What did the article say Japan's workplace practices were?
  6. What was the trial called?
  7. What were workers urged to spend no longer than 30 minutes doing?
  8. By how much did the company's electricity bill fall?
  9. What fell by 59 per cent?
  10. What will employees be asked for ahead of the next trial?




Multiple choice quiz

1) What is the name of the company that conducted the trial?
a) Chanel
b) Google
c) Apple
d) Microsoft
2) When did the trial take place?
a) in April
b) over the summer
c) last month
d) last winter
3) What day of the week did the employees have off?
a) Wednesdays
b) Mondays
c) Fridays
d) it was their choice
4) By how much did productivity rise?
a) 40%
b) 30%
c) 50%
d) 70%
5) What did the article say Japan's workplace practices were?
a) rigorous
b) established
c) infamous
d) amazing

6) What was the trial called?
a) Challenge-Life Choice Work
b) Work-Life Choice Challenge
c) Life-Work Choice Challenge
d) Work-Life Challenge Choice
7) What were workers urged to spend no longer than 30 minutes doing?
a) overtime
b) making phone calls
c) commuting
d) having meetings
8) By how much did the company's electricity bill fall?
a) 23%
b) 25%
c) 21%
d) 27%
9) What fell by 59 per cent?
a) waste
b) stress levels
c) the number of pages printed
d) the number of staff quitting
10) What will employees be asked for ahead of the next trial?
a) their weight
b) their input
c) their blood pressure level
d) their preferred day off

Role play

Role  A – Microsoft
You think Microsoft is the best company to work for. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their companies. Also, tell the others which is the worst of these (and why): McDonald's, Barcelona FC or Greenpeace.

Role  B – McDonald's
You think McDonald's is the best company to work for. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their companies. Also, tell the others which is the worst of these (and why): Microsoft, Barcelona FC or Greenpeace.

Role  C – Barcelona FC
You think Barcelona FC is the best company to work for. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their companies. Also, tell the others which is the worst of these (and why): McDonald's, Microsoft or Greenpeace.

Role  D – Greenpeace
You think Greenpeace is the best company to work for. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their companies. Also, tell the others which is the worst of these (and why): McDonald's, Barcelona FC or Microsoft.

After reading / listening

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words...

'work'

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • and 'week'.

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • • 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. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

    • technology
    • saw
    • giant
    • weekend
    • 40
    • lots
    • aimed
    • life
    • length
    • chats
    • 59
    • input




    Student survey

    Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

    (Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

    Discussion - 4-Day Work Week

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

    1. What did you think when you read the headline?
    2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word 'work'?
    3. How hard do you work?
    4. How productive are you?
    5. Is a four-day working week a good idea?
    6. How satisfied are you with your job?
    7. How important is job satisfaction?
    8. Why might productivity rise with a shorter working week?
    9. Would a four-day working week work for every company?
    10. What is overtime like in your country?

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

    1. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
    2. What do you think of when you hear the word 'week'?
    3. What do you think about what you read?
    4. What are your ideal working conditions?
    5. What do you think of long meetings?
    6. Are online chats better than face-to-face chats?
    7. How might a shorter working week be good for the environment?
    8. What do you think of Microsoft?
    9. What do you think of working?
    10. What questions would you like to ask the Microsoft bosses?

    Discussion — Write your own questions

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

    (a) ________________

    (b) ________________

    (c) ________________

    (d) ________________

    (e) ________________

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

    (f) ________________

    (g) ________________

    (h) ________________

    (i) ________________

    (j) ________________





    Language — Cloze (Gap-fill)

    The technology company Microsoft has said it (1) ____ trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw improvements (2) ____ workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The trial took place over the summer at the tech (3) ____ headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off as paid (4) ____ in August. The company monitored the effects a three-day weekend would have on workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter working week resulted (5) ____ additional benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfaction with the scheme. The trial could lead to a change in Japan's (6) ____ workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime.

    Microsoft called the trial the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it aimed, "to create an environment where (7) ____ employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to the (8) ____ of their work and life". Other aspects of the trial included shortening the length of meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats (9) ____ face-to-face ones. There were additional advantages to the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was (10) ____ and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared (11) ____ August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees for their (12) ____.

    Which of these words go in the above text?

    1. (a)     successes     (b)     success     (c)     successful     (d)     successfully    
    2. (a)     on     (b)     as     (c)     at     (d)     in    
    3. (a)     ghost's     (b)     giant's     (c)     ogre's     (d)     spirit's    
    4. (a)     levity     (b)     leaven     (c)     leave     (d)     lever     
    5. (a)     by     (b)     of     (c)     in     (d)     to    
    6. (a)     infamous     (b)     posthumous     (c)     anonymous     (d)     mousy    
    7. (a)     per     (b)     each     (c)     all     (d)     whole    
    8. (a)     circumstances     (b)     circumference     (c)     cucumber     (d)     circumnavigates    
    9. (a)     under     (b)     over     (c)     through     (d)     though    
    10. (a)     consumes     (b)     consumer     (c)     consumed     (d)     consumption    
    11. (a)     by     (b)     at     (c)     with     (d)     of    
    12. (a)     strain     (b)     adapt     (c)     plug     (d)     input

    Spelling

    Paragraph 1

    1. the tech giant's treurdqahsea
    2. moietnrod the effects
    3. Company sxecteivue
    4. additional inetbfse
    5. satisfaction with the eechms
    6. Japan's fonsauim workplace practices

    Paragraph 2

    1. create an vntmnineero
    2. a eidresv and flexible way
    3. cgroadcni to the circumstances
    4. Other etsscap of the trial
    5. gunoagrecin workers to choose
    6. conduct another rmpeeetnxi

    Put the text back together

    (...)  environment where each employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to the
    (...)  in workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The trial took place over the summer at the tech giant's
    1  ) The technology company Microsoft has said it successfully trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw improvements
    (...)  advantages to the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was consumed and 59 per cent fewer
    (...)  pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another
    (...)  employees expressed their satisfaction with the scheme. The trial could lead to a
    (...)  Microsoft called the trial the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it aimed, "to create an
    (...)  weekend would have on workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter working week
    (...)  resulted in additional benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of
    (...)  of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats over face-to-face ones. There were additional
    (...)  headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off as paid leave in August. The company monitored the effects a three-day
    (...)  change in Japan's infamous workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime.
    (...)  experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees for their input.
    (...)  circumstances of their work and life". Other aspects of the trial included shortening the length of meetings to a maximum

    Put the words in the right order

    1. took   place   over   The   the   trial   summer   .
    2. Friday   every   leave   .   off   got   as   paid   Employees
    3. three-day   have   .   weekend   a   effects   Monitored   the   would
    4. in   week   The   working   benefits   .   shorter   resulted   additional
    5. change   workplace   A   infamous   Japan's   practices   .   in
    6. an   environment   employee   where   each   choose   .   can   Create
    7. circumstances   according   the   Working   their   life   .   to   of
    8. the   meetings   .   The   trial   of   included   shortening   length
    9. the   trial   .   There   additional   advantages   were   to
    10. year   .   later   this   Japan   Conduct   in   another   experiment

    Circle the correct word (20 pairs)

    The technology company Microsoft has said it successfully trailed / trialed a four-day working week in Japan, which saw / viewed improvements in workers' productivity and job satisfaction. The trial took place over the summer at the tech ogre's / giant's headquarters in Tokyo. Employees were given every Friday off as paid arrive / leave in August. The company monitored the affects / effects a three-day weekend would have on / in workers' performance. Company executives said the shorter / shorten working week resulted in additional benefits. Productivity rose / arose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfied / satisfaction with the scheme. The trial could lead to a change in Japan's infamy / infamous workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime.

    Microsoft called the trial the Work-Life Choice Challenge. The company said it target / aimed, "to create an environment which / where each employee can choose a diversion / diverse and flexible way of working accordance / according to the circumstances of their work and life / live". Other aspects of the trial included shortening the length / longing of meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats over face-to-face one / ones. There were additional advantages to / on the trial. Microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was eaten / consumed and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and has asked employees for their input / spurt.

    Talk about the connection between each pair of words in italics, and why the correct word is correct.

    Insert the vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

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    Punctuate the text and add capitals

    the technology company microsoft has said it successfully trialed a fourday working week in japan which saw improvements in workers productivity and job satisfaction the trial took place over the summer at the tech giants headquarters in tokyo employees were given every friday off as paid leave in august the company monitored the effects a threeday weekend would have on workers performance company executives said the shorter working week resulted in additional benefits productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of employees expressed their satisfaction with the scheme the trial could lead to a change in japans infamous workplace practices of long hours and lots of overtime

    microsoft called the trial the worklife choice challenge the company said it aimed to create an environment where each employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to the circumstances of their work and life other aspects of the trial included shortening the length of meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging workers to choose online chats over facetoface ones there were additional advantages to the trial microsoft said that 23 per cent less electricity was consumed and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with august 2018 microsoft will conduct another experiment in japan later this year and has asked employees for their input

    Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

    ThetechnologycompanyMicrosofthassaiditsuccessfullytrialedafour-
    dayworkingweekinJapan,whichsawimprovementsinworkers'produc
    tivityandjobsatisfaction.Thetrialtookplaceoverthesummeratthetech
    giant'sheadquartersinTokyo.EmployeesweregiveneveryFridayoffas
    paidleaveinAugust.Thecompanymonitoredtheeffectsathree-daywe
    ekendwouldhaveonworkers'performance.Companyexecutivessaidt
    heshorterworkingweekresultedinadditionalbenefits.Productivityros
    eby40percentand92percentofemployeesexpressedtheirsatisfaction
    withthescheme.ThetrialcouldleadtoachangeinJapan'sinfamouswork
    placepracticesoflonghoursandlotsofovertime.Microsoftcalledthetria
    ltheWork-LifeChoiceChallenge.Thecompanysaiditaimed,"tocreatea
    nenvironmentwhereeachemployeecanchooseadiverseandflexiblew
    ayofworkingaccordingtothecircumstancesoftheirworkandlife".Othe
    raspectsofthetrialincludedshorteningthelengthofmeetingstoamaxi
    mumof30minutesandencouragingworkerstochooseonlinechatsover
    face-to-faceones.Therewereadditionaladvantagestothetrial.Micro
    softsaidthat23percentlesselectricitywasconsumedand59percentfe
    werpageswereprintedcomparedwithAugust2018.Microsoftwillcond
    uctanotherexperimentinJapanlaterthisyearandhasaskedemployees
    fortheirinput.

    Free writing

    Write about 4-day work week for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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    Academic writing

    No one should have to work more than four days a week. Discuss.

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    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 out more about this news story. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
    3. WORKING: Make a poster about working. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?
    4. 4-DAY WEEK: Write a magazine article about a 4-day working week. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against this.
    Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).
    5. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Write a newspaper article about the next stage in this news story. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
    6. LETTER: Write a letter to an expert on working. Ask him/her three questions about it. Give him/her three of your ideas on how to make the working week better. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

    Answers

    (Please look at page 26 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

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