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The ‘Gig’ Economy | English Lesson

Jan 2, 2023

In this English lesson, you will learn vocabulary related to the so-called ‘gig‘ economy that is currently growing with leaps and bounds — words like gig, task, self-employed, and freelancer, among a few others.  

Hello friends from all over the world. This is podcast number 61. I am Alan Robert and I am very happy that you joined me today. Today is January 2nd, 2023 – and this is the first podcast of this year.  I sincerely hope that you make great strides with your English in 2023. It is really a privilege for me to be a part of your learning process.

Let’s get started with our English lesson.

Listen to this headline that was posted on the website of the Tony Blair Institute For Global Change, back in 12th April 2022.


Making It Work: Understanding the Gig Economy’s Shortcomings and Opportunities

So, what is the ‘gig‘ economy?

According to the article (British spelling is used), and I quote:

The modern, dynamic digitalised economy has often been characterised as the “gig economy”, with tasks (or “gigs”) increasingly mediated online through digital labour platforms.

They are referring to a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. Think about services like Uber, or Airbnb, where people are paid for each service they provide. For example, each food delivery, each taxi ride, or each time an apartment is rented.

Still, the concept of the ‘gig‘ economy is still a little vague.

The article goes on to say this:

“… there is no single, universally accepted definition of this online “gig work”, how it differs from traditional ideas of employment or how it relates to the concept of the platform economy.”

Aha! There is another good expression to know: Platform economy. The ‘platform economy’ is even a broader concept than ‘the gig economy’. It means the tendency for commerce to increasingly use digital platform business models using software and apps.

But even though there is no single definition of ‘gig work’, the article states that it is usually understood as “short-term, on-demand work mediated by online platforms, with workers typically paid per task, and most workers contractually classified as self-employed or independent contractors.”

As a result of this, the labor force can be more productive, but workers can also lose rights. And that’s what the title refers to when it says that there are ‘shortcomings’. A ‘shortcoming’ is when there is a failure to meet a certain standard.

So friends, next time you request a taxi or order food with an application, you are a participant in the ‘gig‘ ‘economy, and you are creating short-term employment for a ‘gig‘ worker.  There are pros and cons to this new reality and it will continue to be an issue of interest for economists all over the world. It is useful to know how to discuss it in English.


Let’s review the vocabulary:

  • Gig: a task, a job, or an assignment.
  • Gig Economy is a labor market with mostly short-term contracts as opposed to permanent jobs.
  • Platform economy: economy based on apps and software.
  • Self-employed: working for oneself as a freelancer or the owner of a business rather than for an employer.
  • Freelancer: someone working for different companies at different times instead of being permanently employed by one company. Freelancers are self-employed.
  • Shortcoming: Something that is not adequate. Something that falls short.

Okay, that’s it for our vocabulary lesson but before we jump into some pronunciation practice, I want to encourage you to subscribe to my 70-minute video seminar on how to give great presentations in English, even if your English still isn’t perfect.

There is also a very cool translator function on this web page, so you can translate all of the podcast lessons into your own language so you can double-check for accuracy.


Alright! Let’s do some pronunciation practice of five words that economists frequently use, to make sure you are saying them right.

Listen closely:







I’ll be back soon with another English lesson. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy our English lesson on India’s Tech Sector and the Carbon Footprint, for more tech-related vocabulary. This is Alan Robert at Happy New Year to all!


Photo credit: Gig worker. (2022, December 8). In Wikipedia.


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