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“Meeting New People”



Pre-Listening Question

Which of these questions are appropriate to ask when meeting someone for the first time?

  1. Where do you live?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Are you dating someone right now?
  4. Where do you work?
  5. What is your name?
  6. Are you married?

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

context (noun): information that helps us understand a situation
– The word, “hot,” can mean different things depending on the context in which it is used.

respond (verb): give a reply to something, answer
– How would you respond if someone asked your age?

innocuous (adjective): safe or harmless
– My brother thought he made an innocuous comment about different cultures at the party, but several people were offended by his apparent insensitivity.

vaguely (adverb): not clearly or exactly
– I vaguely remember meeting Maria last year at a conference.
– His face seems vaguely familiar. I wonder if we took a class together at the university.

deflect something (verb): turn something, like a conversation, in a different direction
– The coworker asked Brandon why he was late, but Brandon deflected the question for personal reasons.

actual (adjective): real or exact
– I’m not sure of the teacher’s actual words, but I think he said we would have a test sometime next week.

social cues (expression): the ways we communicate through verbal or non-verbal language. This language helps us “read” another’s intended signals.
– People sometimes do not understand the social cues of a new culture, and misunderstandings sometimes arise.

straight up (expression): truthfully, honestly
– You should usually tell your close friends straight up how you are feeling unless you are dealing with very private matters.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: Hi, I’m Randall. And today joining me is Aubrey. And today we’re gonna be sharing some ideas on what you can say and not say when you meet people for the first time. And as we probably all know, when you open up a textbook and you’re studying any language for the first time, the first question that comes up is probably maybe where did you grow up? But maybe where are you from? And that’s really probably an unusual question to ask in so many situations because I think we would agree context, context, context is important. So we’re gonna talk about introductions.

Randall: So Aubrey is here to help me with this, uh, situation. And Aubrey, just so you know, we’re gonna be giving you several situations at an airport, at a gym, and at a party. I’m gonna throw at you some questions and you let me know if this would be a question that you would feel comfortable answering from a complete stranger.

Randall: Are we ready?

Aubrey: Okay.

Randall: Okay. So keeping in mind context, context, context. Okay, here we go. You’re at an airport. You’re sitting waiting. There is a woman sitting in front of you. You’ve never met her before. And she looks over at you and says, “Hi, what’s your name?” How do you respond?

Aubrey: It might take me a second. I’d be very uncomfortable. Um, that’s one of the downfall[s] of New earbud technology. You can’t see them. Like when you got, had those big headphones, it was obvious you didn’t want to talk to people, right?

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: So in that situation, like, I don’t know this person.

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: I might lie.

Randall: Okay, so let’s look at another situation. You’re at a gym. You’re, you know, walking around a track, and a man approaches you and says, “So what do you do?”

Aubrey: I’d feel uncomfortable, but that’s a fairly innocuous question. Like it’s [a] pretty safe question So I would answer the question and be like, Hey, I do blah, blah, blah. You know, I work at a vet’s office or I flip pizzas. You flip burgers, I throw pizzas.

Randall: So are you saying you would answer that question?

Aubrey: I would answer that question very vaguely.

Randall: Okay. Very.

Aubrey: And then try to give off signals that I don’t want to keep talking.

Randall: Okay, So here we go. Uh, that same man asks you. “So how old are you?”

Aubrey: I might be offended. Okay.

Randall: All right.

Aubrey: But I’d probably answer with “How old do you think I am?”

Randall: Okay.

Aubrey: And throw it back at them.

Randall: So kind of deflecting the question.

Aubrey: Yes

Randall: But let me ask you, you’re at an airport. You’re sitting there in a let’s say a six-year-old girl approaches you and says, “What is your name” and “How old are you?” What about that?

Aubrey: Then I may or may not tell the kid my actual name, but I wouldn’t be like offended or anything.

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: Uh, and I guess it depends on if the kid’s being like mean about it, but most of the time they’re not, right? So I’d be like, “Oh yeah, child, You know, my name is Aubrey, and I’m. 21.”

Randall: Okay.

Aubrey: Because that’s definitely how old I am.

Randall: So in those particular situations, maybe that young child hasn’t learned different social cues. What is appropriate and not. Uh, let’s go back to the gym and a woman. Oh no, let’s actually try in a classroom.

Aubrey: Okay

Randall: You’re starting a biology class. It’s the first day uh, the teacher says, “Hey, why don’t you turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself?” And the person says, “So where do you live?”

Aubrey: Okay. Then I would answer with what city I live in. Be a little vague because I still don’t know this person.

Randall: Okay, so there is a little bit of context in that particular case. Okay. Uh, same context. “Are you married or single?” You’re out of class. It’s the first day you’re just getting to meet people. What about that?

Aubrey: Now, are they cute?

Randall: Okay. Okay. So it depends on what they look like. Or maybe just how comfortable you feel.

Aubrey: Yeah.

Randall: I mean, let me ask you, would it depend on what the person is wearing or just, you know, body language?

Aubrey: Body language? Yes. I don’t know as much about I guess if they were wearing something with like the opposite political views as me, then that would affect it. But like, I don’t care as much about what people are wearing because it doesn’t affect me.

Randall: “So what are your political views on the current government?”

Aubrey: Now, have I talked to this person before?

Randall: Uh, no. Maybe you had a very brief conversation about, you know, do you come here often and then it just switches right into the question about your political views.

Aubrey: Now, uh, more context. Is it obvious what their political views are? Like, are they wearing it on their shirt or a hat?

Randall: No, they you you can’t really tell.

Aubrey: Okay. Then I would probably say I have very strong views.

Randall: Okay.

Aubrey: But I’m not comfortable discussing them.

Randall: Okay. Okay. And at least you prefaced your comment by saying I have particular views. Maybe if you knew the person a little bit more,

Aubrey: Yeah

Randall: you would decide on that. All right.

Aubrey: Things are so heated right now in our country that I just don’t want to get in a fight at the gym.

Randall: Uh, good. Good point. Uh, you’re at a new job. Uh, you just started your job. You’re meeting at lunch with some of the new employees, or you’re a new employee. And someone asks you, “So when did you graduate from college?”

Aubrey: Yeah. In that context, that would be, you know, usually be a pretty appropriate question. So I would tell them, be like, yeah, you know, at least at the job I’m at now, it’d be like, yeah, I graduated a couple of years ago. I have a degree that is useless. Completely different field than this, but that’s okay.

Randall: “So what do you like about your job?”

Aubrey: Um, like, am I talking to someone who’s a potential new hire? That’s gonna be a different question than am I talking to my boss? Um, do I like my boss? Do I want to keep this job? You know? Or if I . . .

Randall: What about the hair stylist?

Aubrey: The hair stylist that I would tell them that, you know, straight up. Hairstylist, it’s like therapy.

Randall: Okay. All right.

Aubrey: They don’t get paid enough.

Randall: Well, thank you, Aubrey, for sharing those ideas on how we can approach questions, those that are appropriate or inappropriate.

Conversation Questions


  1. Why is it important to consider context when asking questions to someone you just met?
  2. How would you respond if a stranger at an airport asked for your name?
  3. What would be an appropriate response if a person in a gym asked about your occupation?
  4. Why do you think Aubrey feels uncomfortable answering personal questions from strangers?
  5. In what situations do you think it would be acceptable for a stranger to ask personal questions?
  6. How does context play a role in determining the appropriateness of certain questions?


  1. Discuss the potential impact of asking personal questions to strangers in different social settings, such as airports, gyms, and parties.
  2. Analyze the importance of nonverbal cues and body language when determining the appropriateness of questions in social interactions.
  3. In your opinion, what are some alternative ways to start a conversation with someone you just met without resorting to personal or intrusive questions?

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.

Try More Free Listening at