Everyday conversations: Let’s go to a restaurant [audio]


Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

Students (Ajay, Lucía and Jana) go to the restaurant owned by a friend’s (Kayla’s) family. They talk about the food at this restaurant as well as other restaurants in the city that serve food from different parts of the world.

Ajay: This food is so much better than the food in the dining hall!

Kayla: Of course it is. My grandmother cooks all of the food, and it’s the best Ethiopian food in the city. I’m biased, of course!

Lucía: Well, I tend to agree with you. This is the best meal I’ve had in a long time.

Kayla: Of course.

Jana: Agreed! I didn’t think I’d come all the way to the U.S. to have amazing Ethiopian food.

Kayla: Welcome to the U.S.! Because the country is so multicultural, there are fantastic restaurants serving delicious dishes from all over the globe.

Jana: Even from my country?

Kayla: Most likely. This is a large, cosmopolitan city. There are people from all over the world, and some of those people own restaurants.

Ajay: How about next week we try a different restaurant? One that serves food from one of our home countries?

Lucía: Sounds good. But first, I would like dessert. Kayla, what do you have?

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A dining hall is a large room in a school, university, etc., where meals are served and many people can eat at the same time.

In this context, to be biased is used in a positive way. Kayla has a tendency to believe that her grandmother’s cooking is better than everyone else’s cooking.

To be biased often has a negative meaning. Someone can be biased against something/someone; in this case, one believes something/someone is not as good as another. For example: He is biased against women; he believes women are not as smart, hard-working, etc., as men.

One can also be biased toward something/someone; in this case, one believes something/someone is better than another. For example: The professor was biased toward older students; the professor often helped older students study and gave them better grades.

A meal is an occasion when food is eaten. The word meal can also mean the food eaten. For example: Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. For breakfast, my father usually makes a delicious meal of eggs, toast and sausages.

A dish is food that is prepared in a particular way for a meal. The main dish is the largest or most important dish of a meal. Side dishes are smaller dishes served with the main dish.

A cosmopolitan city has people from many different parts of the world.

I would like… is one way to order in a restaurant. For example: I would like the fish. I would like a small coffee, please.

What do you have? This is asked when one wants more specific information about the food or drink offered, usually at a restaurant. It is often followed by the word for. For example: What do you have for dessert? What do you have for vegetarians?

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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.

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.