Uber Files Charges against Transport for London

October 13, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. lawsuit / ˈlɔˌsut / (n.) – a legal action against an individual or organization
Example: The company filed a lawsuit against the employee for breach of contract.

2. mandate / ˈmæn deɪt / (v.) – to require
Example: The new policy mandates the renewal of drivers’ license every three years.

3. enforce / ɛnˈfɔrs / (v.) – to put something into effect
Example: The government should come up with a law that enforces order in the city.

4. proficiency / prəˈfɪʃ ən si / (n.) – above-average skill in something
Example: Most exams include a language proficiency section. 

5. eligible / ˈɛl ɪ dʒə bəl / (adj.) – being qualified for something
ExampleEligible applicants will receive a call.   


Read the text below.
Uber files a lawsuit against Transport for London (TfL) over a new policy mandating drivers to take a written English exam.

Launched in 2010 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber is a mobile application that allows users to book automobiles in limited cities. Passengers tap on their phones to find details about their car and driver. The San Francisco-based company, which has expanded to over 500 cities across the globe, allows its drivers to operate their own cars and choose their own schedule.

After entering the London market in 2012, Uber currently has around 30,000 drivers in the city.

Transport for London, the city’s government outlet that controls public transportation in the city, enforced a policy that requires London-based drivers originally from non-English speaking countries to pass an English proficiency test before they could be eligible for private hire.

The new law states that drivers must meet a B1 level of English proficiency, which involves the skill of communicating in English in everyday scenarios. This level is equivalent to the language abilities of a 9 to 11-year-old native speaker.  The test will measure the drivers’ skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Although the TfL asserts that passing this exam is necessary to ensure that drivers can express themselves in English when discussing fares or safety concerns, Uber claims that only 0.5% of its passengers in London complained about inferior English.

Uber also argues that obtaining a private hire license already involves strict regulations, such as carrying a full license for three years and passing a background check, map reading test, and medical examination.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that Uber drivers should be required to pass the English exam? Why or why not?
·        What other requirements for Uber drivers would you propose? Please explain.  

Discussion B

·         Is English necessary for work in your country? Why or why not?
·         What industries do you think should require fluency in English? Please explain. 

October 13, 2016