Everyday conversations: Taking a study break! [audio]

Students hold pumpkins during their visit to a pumpkin patch. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

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.

Two students take a trip to a pumpkin patch. In this conversation, the students (Lucía and Ajay) talk about carving a pumpkin and a few traditional seasonal foods.

Lucía: This is a great study break for me. I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch before.

Ajay: I needed the break too. Just think of this as part of your U.S. cultural experience!

Lucía: Carving pumpkins to make jack-o’-lanterns seems like a very American thing to do. Too bad this isn’t going to be on my history exam tomorrow.

Ajay: You’ll do fine. You’ve been studying all week, and it won’t take long to pick out a pumpkin. Plus, we can stop at the general store on the way back to campus. They’re selling seasonal treats like candy apples and pumpkin pie.

Lucía: A sugar rush is exactly what I need before studying again.

Ajay: If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend candy corn. It’s only sold around this time of year, and it’s a super sweet candy.

Lucía: We’ll have to get some. But first, let’s pick out the perfect pumpkin.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A study break is a short period of time when a student stops studying and does another activity.

A pumpkin patch is a small area of land where pumpkins are grown. A pumpkin is a large, round, orange vegetable that people eat or use for decoration. In October in the U.S., many people carve pumpkins and make jack-o’-lanterns for decorations, especially for Halloween.

To carve a pumpkin: to make objects, patterns, etc., by cutting shapes in a pumpkin.

A jack-o’-lantern is a pumpkin with its insides removed and a face cut into it for Halloween. It can have a candle inside so that light shines out through its carved eyes, nose and mouth.

A candy apple is a whole apple covered in a hard sugar candy coating. A stick is inserted into the apple to use as a handle.

A sugar rush is a sudden short period of energy a person gets from eating or drinking a large amount of sugar.

To have a sweet tooth means to like foods that contain a lot of sugar.

Candy corn is a small chewy candy that is shaped like a large kernel of corn.

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.