English Reading Practice

Moral Story Number 17:
Be Competent

1. Watch the video at the top of the page.

2. Read the story "Be Competent" just below it.

3. Do the exercises at the bottom of the page.

Here is the Be Competent video. You can watch it in your own language at The Way to Happiness Foundation. (Simply click the word "language" at the top right corner of that page.) 

The Way to Happiness is a common sense guide to better living which has been distributed to more than 100 million people in over 100 languages. It describes 21 principles to a better quality of life.

Principle number 17 is "Be Competent."

Now read the short story about this important principle.

Be Competent

Mr. Bard is one of the top executive at his family's successful shoe company, Bard's Shoes. He really appreciates competence in his workers. He always tells the skilled and hard-working employees in the shoe factory that he is very proud of them. But Mr. Bard does not only show his appreciation through words. The most competent workers are also paid more.

Mr. Bard thinks that when an employee works harder and produces higher quality shoes, the company earns more money. So, he thinks that employee should also earn more. But many of the less competent or even some incompetent workers in the factory disagree.

"We are all equal," they protest. "We all do the same job, so we should get the same pay!"

When Mr. Bard sees that some of the workers are not very skilled at all and do not concentrate on their work, he wants to fire them. But they disagree again. "We need to earn money, too!" they protest.

Mr. Bard knows this is true. Most of his employees have families and other important obligations. After thinking about it, he realizes that he does not want to fire anyone.

He is a kind man, but he is also wise. If he keeps hiring incompetent workers, he realizes, the whole company will suffer, and perhaps all of the employees will lose their jobs. It will also be bad for his family and for the company's customers, who really like Bard's Shoes. So what can he do?

To improve the situation, Mr. Bard creates evening workshops to help train the employees who are not working at company standards. They watch the most competent workers, who receive a special bonus for teaching their co-workers, and make lots of notes. They inspect the production line, ask lots of questions, and practice, practice, practice until they are highly skilled and efficient.

The workers feel good because they know they will do their jobs much better now. Some of them even ask if they can start to help teaching the workshops now that they are experts.

Production at the company goes up, and the customers say they are happier than ever with the high quality shoes they buy from Bard's Shoes! As sales increase, Mr. Bard is able to pay his workers even better. And thanks to the company's smart pay system, the most competent workers can be highly rewarded for all their hard work and expertise. 

And now, practice:


Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "competent" mean?

a) ready to learn

b) when you have done the same thing for a long time

c) when you make a lot of money for your work

d) skilled and capable at what you do

2. What does "expertise" mean?

a) special skill or knowledge about something specific

b) books about a certain topic

c) the different tasks you do for your job

d) the products of your work

3. What does "efficient" mean?

a) knowing a lot about a certain topic

b) doing your best

c) able to produce results without wasting time or energy

d) teaching others how to do something

Grammar Questions

1. The most competent workers are also ________ more.

a) paying

b) pay

c) paid

d) payed

2. He really appreciates competence ________ his workers.

a) in

b) of

c) at

d) from

3. They watch the ________ workers.

a) best competent

b) competenter

c) competentest

d) most competent

Comprehension Questions

1. Why does Mr. Bard pay some employees more?
2. How does Mr. Bard decide to solve the problem of incompetence in his company?
3. In your opinion, why is it important to be competent?

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