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“Introductions with Michael”



Pre-Listening Question

What are the most common questions you can ask people when you meet them for the first time? Which questions are inappropriate?

Vocabulary and Expressions

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

catch someone off guard (idiom): surprise someone
– The teacher caught us off guard when he said he was leaving the university to take a new job.

hit on someone (idiom): show romantic interest in someone
– A man at the gym started hitting on me, so I left. I wasn’t interested in him at all.

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: Okay, let’s get into the next segment of the lesson on culture in context. And I’m here with Michael Davis. So welcome, Michael.

Michael: Thank you.

Randall: All right. Let’s get right into this. And one of the challenges, Michael, for many students is knowing what to say in the right situation. For example, introductions. And one of the challenges, no matter what language you’re studying, you open your book to page one. And the first question is what?

Michael: Like there’s. “Hello.” Uh, “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” Just, uh,

Randall: Right

Michael: questions of that sort. Yeah.

Randall: Yeah. I think they’re easy questions and so forth. But the real question is, are these natural? And we would realize in many situations that what you say is based on context, it’s always going to be that, uh, situation. And I’m going to give you three situations.

Randall: Situation number one is at an airport, you’re sitting at an airport waiting for your plane to depart. Situation number two, you’re at the gym maybe running or lifting weights. And situation number three, you’re at a party. Keep in mind those three situations as we start to talk.

Michael: Okay

Randall: And we all remember we all realize that context, context, context really decides on what you say.

Randall: So I’m going to give you a question, and you tell me if this would sound natural, how you would respond if I’m the person asking the question. Okay?

Michael: Sounds good.

Randall: So again, here’s the situation at an airport. You’re sitting in an airport, I’m sitting across from you, and I say to you first thing, “What’s your name?”

Michael: I, I think I would feel a little a little bit uncomfortable. Um, yeah, we’re at an airport,

Randall: Well, that’s in my book.

Michael: What?

Randall: That’s in my book. Page number one.

Michael: Oh, it’s a great question. Um, however, if I’m at the airport, uh, I might be in a, in a hurry. Uh, waiting for, uh, a flight, any number of situations. And it’s not a place that I go to to socialize.

Randall: What about in a class? It’s your first day of class. You’re, you know, you’re in a psychology class or whatever, and someone looks over. “So what’s your name?”

Michael: I, I’ll be perfectly comfortable with that.

Randall: Okay, So in that situation. Okay.

Michael: Yeah

Randall: Going back to the airport. “So what do you do?” First question

Michael: Now, does this follow, does this follow the name question or is this, uh, the first question?

Randall: Let’s just say it’s the first question. So what do you do?

Michael: I, I would still feel uncomfortable. It’s, it’s, it’s just it’s very personal for, for a first introduction in that setting.

Randall: Okay. All right. How about this one? First question. “How old are you?” You’re at a gym, and someone turns to you and says, “How old are you?”

Michael: Uh, yeah, that would feel, uh, once again, a little uncomfortable.

Randall: Would you say your age, your what would you how would you respond to that?

Michael: You know, don’t know. I think that it would catch me off guard. I would probably respond honestly with my age, but I wouldn’t want to continue that conversation if that’s how it started.

Randall: Okay. Uh, another question. Going back to the airport. You’re sitting at the airport, someone’s sitting in front of you and says, “So where are you going?” Like, where are you going on your trip?

Michael: Um, I would, I would feel more comfortable talking about that personally. Obviously, I’m going somewhere. And, uh, for me, I’m usually excited about where I’m going. And so it, uh, in that context, it feels like a more natural way to start a conversation.

Randall: All right, great. Uh, where do you live? You’re at a gym, and someone said, “So where do you live?”

Michael: Yeah, I would not answer that question. I don’t know this person. I don’t know why they’re asking it. Uh, where I live is very personal to me.

Randall: All right, let’s try the next question. And the next question is, uh, “Are you married or single?”

Michael: Yeah, that’s, that, that’s a weird way to start a conversation with somebody you don’t know. Um, I don’t know if the person’s hitting on me. Uh, it’s just. It’s very, very personal, and, uh, I might feel very uncomfortable if that’s how the conversation starts.

Randall: Okay, so not that question. How about this one? “Could I have your phone number?”

Michael: I feel like that’s the same thing, but worse. Uh, kind of, uh, once again, I don’t want to give out my personal information to somebody I don’t know. I wouldn’t really feel, uh, feel comfortable with that. I don’t know why they want my phone number.

Randall: Okay. In a minute, I’m gonna ask you about maybe more natural ways of starting a conversation.

Michael: Sounds good to me.

Randall: Keep that in mind. Uh, but I want to talk about a couple more questions. Again, you’re at the gym, and someone says, “So what are your political views on the current government?”

Michael: Oh, man. Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s difficult. That’s, that’s a, that’s a topic that I would feel a little uncomfortable talking to, to most people about, but especially somebody I’ve never met.

Randall: Yeah, that makes sense. Uh, how about this one? “When did you graduate from college?” So you’re, you know, you’re at the gym. You start talking about, you know, what do you do? And someone asks you, “So when did you graduate from college?”

Michael: Yeah. If we’re already having a conversation about what I do and, and this is already part of the conversation, uh, I, I would feel okay about that.

Randall: Okay, so context once again.

Michael: Yeah.

Randall: Okay. Uh, we mentioned a minute ago about “What do you do?”

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Randall: And maybe that would come into the conversation,

Michael: Yeah

Randall: maybe not the first question, but a little bit later on. But what about this one? “So, uh, how much money do you make at your job?”

Michael: That’s not a, that’s not a question that most people like answering, to be honest.

Randall: Okay. So let me change the question.

Michael: Okay.

Randall: And so, so, “So how’s your salary?” Any better.

Michael: Uh, not much. Not much.

Randall: Okay, so we need to put money off, uh, off the table?

Michael: I think so.

Randall: All right. Uh, how about this one? “What do you like about your job?”

Michael: Yeah, I think that’s great. I feel like it’s a, it’s a good way to start a conversation and get talking about, uh, you know, what you do, uh, if you’re already on that topic.

Randall: So it’s connecting if we find [a] connection.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Randall: All right. I don’t think we would probably do this one. “Could I have your phone, phone number?” And “Do you believe in love at first sight?” So we’re not. We’re not gonna do that. Great.

Randall: So let’s talk in the last, uh, little bit of this, uh, video. How about a couple of ways or questions or things that you could say. You’re sitting at the airport, someone is sitting across from you or at the gym. You’re exercising, you meet someone.

Michael: Yeah

Randall: I know that you and I have gone to the climbing gym and sometimes have conversations. What would be a natural way to introduce yourself or to start a conversation and maybe 1 or 2 ideas?

Michael: Now, obviously, I would start off with “Hello.” Uh, I might ask them, “How long have you been climbing for?” Uh, we’re both there at the climbing gym. That’s something we have in common. I think that’d be, uh, a good way to start, uh, a conversation and, uh, and find a connection between us.

Randall: Okay. So you mentioned, “How long have you been climbing?” And I think that are really natural. So in our video today, we were talking about different things. We said context, context, context is going to be very important. And even though in your book it has the question, “What is your name?” That’s often not the first, seventh, 25th question, because there are times I think, Michael, you, and I would agree that you have long conversations with people and you never ask their name.

Randall: So, again, I hope in this short video you’ve learned some different tips and way[s] to introduce yourself, some questions and ideas that will make your, well, you could say that will make your conversations smoother and more enjoyable.

Discussion Questions


  1. Why is it important to consider the situation when starting a conversation?
  2. How does the context influence the questions we ask when meeting someone for the first time?
  3. Why might some personal questions make people feel uncomfortable in certain places or situations?


  1. How do cultural norms and social expectations shape the questions we feel comfortable asking in different settings? Provide instances to illustrate your point.
  2. Explain why finding common ground and shared interests can be helpful when initiating a conversation. How does it contribute to building a connection?
  3. Analyze the consequences of asking inappropriate or personal questions on interpersonal dynamics. How can such questions hinder the development of positive social interactions? Give specific examples.
  4. Evaluate the importance of empathy and sensitivity in conversations. How can demonstrating awareness of others’ comfort levels and adjusting our questions accordingly enhance the quality of interactions?

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