Everyday conversations: We’re going to Graceland [audio]

This series of Everyday Conversations is about a family traveling to each of the 50 states in the U.S. Join the family members as they learn about local pastimes and history. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, the family visits Graceland, the former home of musician Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.


Sam: Let me get this straight: Elvis bought Graceland when he was only 22 years old?

Claudine: That’s right. He was already quite famous by that time. He bought this house and the grounds in 1957.

Gina: He was already starting to become an American legend.

Sam: I hope I can have a legion of fans by the time I’m 22.

Paul: I think you should graduate from high school first. Now, should we take a tour of the house first? Or do you want to see the meditation garden?

Gina: Let’s take the tour first. I’ve read that they have state-of-the-art iPad tours.

Claudine: And then we can walk through the meditation garden and see the gravesite of Elvis.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

Elvis Presley was an American musician and actor. He is often referred to as “the King of Rock and Roll.” (“Rock and roll” can also be written as “rock ’n’ roll.”) Presley was born in 1935 and died in 1977.

The phrase let me get this straight means to correctly understand something or clarify something.

The land or gardens around a large building are called the grounds. When used in this way, grounds is always plural.

A legend is a very famous person who is admired by many people and is often known for doing something very well.

A legion is a very large number of people.

A meditation garden is a garden area designed for relaxation. Meditation gardens can have plants, flowers, walkways, fountains, areas to sit, etc. A meditation garden is a peaceful place that people can visit to think and relax.

State-of-the-art is an adjective used to describe something that has the most modern technology or methods at the present time.

A gravesite is the place where a dead person is buried. To bury someone means that a person who is no longer alive is placed in a grave (a hole in the ground that is covered with dirt after the body is placed in it).

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily. The American English for Educators Facebook page posts teaching materials for English-language teachers daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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