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“Tipping Customs”



Pre-Listening Question

  1. How do you approach tipping in restaurants, and what factors influence the amount you leave as a tip?
  2. What is your opinion on the practice of tipping in the service industry, and do you think it adequately compensates workers for their efforts?
  3. Have you ever worked in the restaurant industry, and if so, how did your experience impact your perspective on tipping and the treatment of servers?

Vocabulary and Expressions

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

abusive (adjective): engaging in harmful or offensive behavior
– The customer’s abusive language towards the server was completely unacceptable.

deliberately (adverb): in a conscious and intentional manner
– The chef accidentally added extra salt to the dish, but it was not done deliberately.

gracious (adjective): showing kindness, politeness, and respect
– The restaurant staff’s gracious service made our dining experience truly enjoyable.

underscore (verb): emphasize or highlight the importance of something
– Aubrey’s comments underscore the significance of understanding the challenges servers face.

compensate (verb): provide payment or reward in exchange for work or services
– Tipping in the restaurant compensates servers for their low hourly wages.

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: In this video, Aubrey, I want to talk about tipping at a restaurant. And I know that tipping kind of varies from place to place and industry to industry. But for you personally, how do you go about, you know, as you go to a restaurant, determine how much money you leave for a tip? What is your, you know, policy, your guideline, and so forth?

Aubrey: So I’m assuming we’re talking about tipping culture in America because I know it is different in other countries. Um, having worked in the restaurant industry like, I, I mean, it pays terribly. Like servers make like $3 an hour.

Randall: Even less. I recently met someone with like $2.60 or something.

Aubrey: Something like that, yeah.

Randall: Yeah, it’s really bad.

Aubrey: Um, so all their money’s coming from the tips. [Uhm-hum] So like, the decent thing to do, like, which is commonly agreed on by anyone who’s worked in the industry, um, it’s 20%. You start at 20%. Like, the only time I would ever, ever, ever tip less than 20% is if they were like, mean to me . . . 

Randall: Okay.

Aubrey: . . . deliberately. Right? Because like, the food comes out bad, that’s not their fault. They didn’t cook the food.

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: Things are slow. That’s probably not their fault, but if they’re like, outright abusive to me, then yeah, they’re not getting a 20% tip. But then it goes up from there, right? 20% base. It goes up. If you don’t have the money to tip, you don’t go out to eat. You can get it, takeout, get it delivered, but you’re not going to go and sit in a restaurant if you can’t tip.

Randall: And I like the idea about recognizing that there are often problems that are happening, you know, in the kitchen or beyond our awareness. And so your idea of being gracious to the server, uh, for whom [the person] just really needs understanding, I think is really, really nice. So thank you.

Aubrey: Yeah, and, I mean, they might be having a bad day, too. Like, you know, if they were not like “super happy” that it might have . . . . the, the last person might have yelled at them like you just don’t know.

Randall: Okay, great points. Thanks.

Conversation Questions

Here are some post-listening activities based on different learning styles.

Discussion Activity (Verbal): Divide the class into small groups and have them discuss their own tipping policies and experiences in restaurants. Encourage students to share their thoughts on the interview and whether they agree with Aubrey’s perspective. Each group can appoint a spokesperson to summarize their discussion and share their insights with the class.

Role-Play Activity (Kinesthetic and Verbal): Organize a role-play scenario where students take on the roles of customers and servers in a restaurant. They should act out various situations, such as a customer unhappy with the service or a server handling a difficult customer. This activity allows students to understand the dynamics from both sides and practice communication skills.

Writing Activity (Visual and Verbal): Ask students to write a persuasive essay on the topic of tipping in the service industry. They should use the interview as a source of information and incorporate their own experiences and research. In their essays, students can argue for or against the current tipping system, propose alternatives, and explain their reasons.

Survey and Presentation Activity (Auditory and Visual): In pairs or small groups, have students create a survey related to tipping and service in restaurants. They can then survey their classmates or even extend it to a wider audience. After gathering data, each group should prepare a presentation to share their findings, including statistics, trends, and insights from the survey. This activity combines data analysis and public speaking skills.

ChatGPT was used collaboratively to prepare some of the discussion questions for this lesson.
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