Everyday conversations: Protecting our culture [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.

In this conversation, two students (Peter and Ajay) talk about the opportunity to help protect another culture.

Ajay: On a whim, I signed up for an archeology class next semester. And the professor is well known for protecting cultural monuments.

Peter: What exactly does that mean?

Ajay: It means that she tries to prevent monuments from being vandalized or destroyed.

Peter: I cannot imagine who would want to destroy a part of someone’s culture. Is there a lot of destruction of cultural monuments?

Ajay: Unfortunately, there is. My professor also helps restore damaged monuments. I think she’s pretty famous around the world for this.

Peter: That would be a really cool job. I’d like to try doing that.

Ajay: I’m so glad you said that! My professor has asked for volunteers to help her with a restoration project next semester. And I signed us both up.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

Archeology: the study of past cultures by studying the bones, tools, buildings and other objects of past people.

To protect means to keep someone or something from being harmed, hurt or damaged.

A cultural monument is a building, statue, etc., built to remind people of a famous person or event in history and that is important to the past or present culture of the people.

To prevent means to stop something from happening or to stop a person from doing something.

To vandalize something means to intentionally damage or destroy something without a good reason. “Intentionally” means that it is done in a way that is planned. The verb “vandalize” is often used in the passive form. For example: “My car was vandalized last night.”

Destruction: the act of destroying something so badly that it cannot be repaired or no longer exists.

In the conversation, restore means to repair a building, monument, work of art, etc., so that it looks similar to the way it did before it was damaged.

A volunteer is someone who offers to do something without being paid to do it or without being asked to do it.

A project is planned work that is designed to improve something, produce something, or other purpose. It usually takes a lot of time.

To sign up means to show that you will do a job, join a team, etc. Sometimes, the person signs his/her name on a list to show that he/she will do or get something.

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.