Everyday conversations: Women and education [audio]

Deux étudiantes assises à une table dans une bibliothèque, des livres et des cahiers ouverts devant elles (Département d’État/D.A. Peterson)
Deux étudiantes discutent de l’accès à l’éducation à travers le monde. (Département d’État/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.

In this conversation, three students (Ajay, Lucía and Jana) discuss the importance of education for girls and women around the world.

Ajay: I think women and girls have equal access to education in most parts of the world.

Jana: In some parts of the world, that’s true. Sadly, this is not true for many parts of the world.

Lucía: I agree. For much of the world, especially in developing countries, there are more boys in primary school than girls.

Jana: And there’s a gap between girls and boys in terms of literacy. There are more illiterate girls than boys.

Ajay: That’s depressing. I don’t understand why girls aren’t being educated in the same numbers as boys, everywhere in the world.

Lucía: There are a lot of factors that contribute to girls dropping out of school.

Jana: For starters, early marriages and childbirth, trafficking and disease.

Ajay: Well, it seems like communities should help get more girls in school. Educated girls help boost the economic future of a country.

Lucía: Absolutely. Education is the key to a better future, for everyone.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

Equal access to education means that everyone has opportunities to receive education.

A developing country is a less developed country that is trying to become more developed and more advanced economically.

Primary school is a school, before secondary school, where students receive primary (elementary) education. Usually, the age of the students is between 5 and 11.

In this context, a gap is a difference between two people or groups of people, or things.

Literacy is the ability to read and write.

When a person is illiterate, he or she is unable to read and write.

Contribute to means to help make something happen.

To drop out of school means to stop going to school.

For starters means to begin, or as a start.

Trafficking is the illegal buying and selling of things or people.

To boost means to increase something or to make something better.

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.