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

American Indian tapestries on display (National Museum of the American Indian/Facebook)

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 (Akinyi, Jana and Lucía) go to a museum and talk about the things they will see there.

Lucía: Thanks for coming with me to this museum today.

Jana: Thanks for inviting us! I’m really excited to be here. This museum has a large collection of artifacts from indigenous cultures around the world.

Akinyi: Yes, and such relics can teach us so much about the customs of people from the past. They’re like storybooks.

Lucía: I didn’t know you both were so interested in this.

Jana: My father is an anthropologist, so I grew up learning about ancient civilizations from him.

Akinyi: I didn’t know that about your father. And he’s okay with you choosing to study engineering?

Jana: Sure. My parents want me to do what I love. And although this sort of stuff interests me, I’m an engineer at heart.

Lucía: I wish I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But instead of worrying about that, let’s just decide what cool artifacts we’re going to see today.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A collection is a group of objects (often of the same type) that has been brought together in one place.

An artifact is an object (such as a tool or ornament) that was made and used by people in the past and that often is interesting because of its historical or cultural meaning.

Indigenous: living naturally in a certain place or region; native.

A relic is something, such as an object or tradition, that is from a past time, place or culture.

A custom is an accepted way of behaving that is usual and traditional in a society or community.

An anthropologist is a person who studies cultures, customs, societies and the human race.

Ancient civilization: a society, and its culture and traditions, that existed thousands of years in the past.

The phrase at heart is used to say what a person is really like. For example: “He has a lot of friends, but he is a shy, private person at heart.”

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

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.