Listening Topic: Social Studies – Radio program about freelancing

A. Listen to an extract from a radio program about self-employment. As you listen, note your answers to the following questions.

 How many jobs does the man have?

 What does the woman do?

 Check the three aspects of self-employment that Jenny Huang discusses.

___  Some problems of self-employment

___  Financial aspects of self-employment

___ c   The kind of people who are self-employed

___  Why self-employment is a growing trend

B. Read the questions and answer the ones you can. Then listen to the interview again and note your answers as you listen. Listen again if necessary.

1   Why does the man like being a substitute teacher?

2   Who pays for his health benefits?

3   Why did the woman decide to start her own business?

4   Why doesn’t she have many expenses?

5   What would she like to do in the future?

6   What kind of work do self-employed people often do?

7   What three reasons does Jenny Huang give for the rise in self-employment?

8   According to Jenny Huang, what do self-employed people have to be good at?



 The man has three jobs.

 She has a baking business.

 a ✓   b ✓   c


Answers will vary.

 He likes not getting involved in the day to day stuff, and his work time is flexible.

 His wife’s job

 She got laid off.

 She’s living and working at her parents’ house.

 Find a partner who could do marketing, and maybe have her own place one day

 There are entrepreneurs, freelancers, and part-time employees.

 Economic reasons, the growth of software and media industries, and the change in attitudes

 Marketing themselves, and being organized, especially with time


A = Host, B = Man, C = Woman, D = Jenny Huang

A:   Good morning, and welcome to the program. According to a report out this week, the United States is still a nation of entrepreneurs: the number of single-person businesses, or people who are self-employed, has increased to seventeen and a half million, up from seventeen million last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This morning, we look at the trend towards self-employment and freelancing that’s happening all over the United States. But first, let’s go out on the street and talk to some people who are on the front lines. What do you do?

B:   I have three different jobs. I’m a substitute teacher, I write for a web site, and I volunteer at an art museum.

A:   Wow. How do you juggle all that?

B:   Well, it’s not all that bad. I only teach for a couple of days a week, two or three days a week, usually. And I do the web site work at home … often during the evenings. So there’s not that much conflict. You could call it variety.

A:   So you enjoy working in three different places?

B:   Right now, yeah. I … I really do. Especially with the teaching. When you’re a sub, you don’t get … you don’t get involved in the day-to-day stuff, or the paperwork, or the politics. You just go in and do the job, and then you go home. And it’s flexible. If I don’t want to work, I don’t have to. But if I feel that I need to work more, I ask for more teaching hours. If I had a full-time job, I think I’d get burned out. And I wouldn’t be able to do the other work, which I really enjoy.

A:   What about health benefits?

B:   Well, I get health insurance through my wife’s job, so I don’t have to worry about that.

A:   Tell me about your job.

C:   I’ve just set up my own baking business. I make cakes for special occasions – weddings and that sort of thing.

A:   Really? Why did you do that?

C:   Well, I had a full-time job, but I got laid off. So I decided to go out on my own.

A:   And how’s it going?

C:   Well, I don’t have very many expenses because I’m living and working at my parents’ house, so I don’t have to pay rent. It’s going OK. I’m getting by. It takes a while, you know, to get known. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned a lot about managing a business.

A:   What are your plans for the future?

C:   Well, I need to work on marketing – getting out there and selling myself. I’m not very good at that part of it. Ideally I’d like to work with a partner that could do that. Maybe I’d like to have my own place some day, but right now I’m just taking it a day at a time.

A:   Back to the studio now, and if you’ve just joined us, the subject is the recent report that shows seventeen and a half million self-employed people in the United States. We’re talking to labor specialist Jenny Huang. Welcome to the program, Jenny.

D:   Thank you.

A:   Jenny, can you tell us who these seventeen and a half million people are?

D:   Well, there are different types of people in this category. There are the entrepreneurs, like the young lady that you interviewed, the ones that have their own one-person business. They’re the ones we usually think of when we think of self-employment. But then there are freelancers, who might go to work in different places, or work on a contract basis. And there are the people who are employees but who also work for themselves part-time, like the first person you spoke to.

A:   What kind of work do these people do?

D:   Well, the greatest rise in self-employment has been in professional and business service. That would include people like freelance Web designers, marketing consultants, and so on. The second biggest category is construction workers. That would include carpenters, painters, electricians, and so on, who work for themselves.

A:   And why do you think self-employment is on the rise? Are we really a nation of entrepreneurs, or is there something else going on here?

D:   Well, some of it’s economic. There are people who’ve been laid off, so they’ve decided to go out on their own. Another reason is the growth of the software industry and the media, where they’ve always used a lot of freelancers: writers, and programmers, and so on. There are a lot of people working in those areas now. But there’s also been a change in attitudes. There are more people who want the advantages of self-employment. They’re finding it preferable, being able to manage their own time, for example.

A:   They want to have more control over their own schedules.

D:   Exactly.

A:   What are the downsides to self-employment?

D:   Well, a lot of people underestimate the amount of time you have to put into the business side of things, especially marketing, and especially at the beginning. It’s not enough to be good at something. You have to be able to sell yourself. Some people should just never go into self-employment because marketing isn’t their strength.

A:   Uh-huh.

D:   The other thing is to be organized, especially with your time. You have to be able to manager your time. You need a business plan, and you really have to be very organized to be a successful freelancer.

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