Everyday conversations: What’s your major? [audio]

Akinyi, Lee and Peter look at photos and discuss what they will study (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.

Read and listen to six students (Lucía, Peter, Ajay, Lee, Akinyi and Jana) talking about the different programs they will study at the university.

Lucía: Thanks for meeting up today, guys. I’m happy that I’ve met so many other exchange students already. It’s a big relief.

Peter: Yeah, we’re all in the same boat, so let’s try to support one another throughout the semester.

Ajay: Are we taking any of the same classes?

Lee: I think we all have different majors, so we might not be in any of the same classes.

Akinyi: What’s your major, Lee?

Lee: My major is environmental science. How about you?

Akinyi: Mine is quite different. I’m majoring in business.

Ajay: And my major is journalism. How about you, Jana? What’s your major?

Jana: I’m studying engineering. I’m not exactly sure what type of engineering I’ll eventually major in. Maybe electrical or aeronautical engineering.

Lucía: And I’m an American studies major.

Peter: That’s interesting. What do you study?

Lucía: We study the novels, music, film, politics, economy and history of the United States. I’m excited to be in the U.S. this semester to study as much as I can about the culture. How about you, Peter? What’s your major?

Peter: I’m an education major. I’d like to teach young children. They’re full of energy and curiosity. I guess kind of like us.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

To meet up means to meet a person or people in order to do something together.

The word guys is an informal way to refer to two or more people. Although the word “guy” means “man,” the informal guys can refer to men and/or women. Some people in the U.S. use the term guys in this way. However, there are others who do not agree with this usage because “guy” means “man” and does not include “woman” (or both man and woman) in its meaning.

To be in the same boat means to be in the same situation as others.

In university and college, each student choices a major. A major is a chosen field of study, the specialization of the student. “Major” can be used as a noun or a verb.

There are different ways to talk about one’s major. One of these ways is to say, “My major is _____.” For example: “My major is history.”

Another way is to use the word “major” as a verb. When using the word “major” as a verb, use the phrase major in. For example: “I’m majoring in ____.”

A student can also use “major” as a noun to refer to him- or herself. For example: “I’m an American studies major.”

One can also use the verb study to talk about one’s major. For example: “I’m studying biology” and “I study biology” both show the student’s major.

Not exactly sure: The person is not 100 percent certain about 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.