I. Pre-Listening Exercises [Top]

Learning about the culture is another important part of travel and sightseeing. What customs should visitors be aware of when visiting a home in your country? What should and shouldn’t people do? What are the expected customs and behaviors in this situation?

HELPFUL TIP: The manner of greeting someone can vary from culture to culture. In the US, handshakes are more formal greetings, while hugs and kisses are common in other countries. Ask someone from that country for advice and then observe how it is done when you arrive.

II. Listening Exercises [Top]

Listen to the conversation by pressing the “Play” button of the audio type you want to hear, and answer the questions. Press the “Final Score” button to check your quiz.

1. Where is the man going on vacation?

A. Italy

B. France

C. Germany
2. Where did he meet Claudia?

A. at a music store

B. at the post office

C. on the Internet

3. What advice does Markus give Pete about meeting Claudia’s parents?

A. be on time

B. take a small gift

C. smile and be friendly

4. What is one thing Markus does NOT say about greeting Claudia?

A. shake her hand

B. give her a friendly hug

C. take her some flowers

5. Markus’ final suggestion for Pete is that he should:

A. brush up on his German.

B. buy souvenirs for Claudia’s family.

C. visit Berlin during his visit.

Score =
Correct answers:

Pete: Hey Markus. I have a question I’d like to ask you.
Markus: Yes. Go ahead.

Pete: Well, I’m thinking about going to Germany this summer [Great!], and I need some advice. You’re the best person I know to answer my questions since you’re German.

Markus: Thank you. What do you want to know?

Pete: Well, don’t laugh, but I met this really nice woman through an online music mailing list, you know, a discussion group on the Internet [laughter]. I need some advice. You see, Claudia, . . .

Markus: Okay. So it’s Claudia, oh?

Pete: Yeah, yeah. See, she invited me to spend two weeks in Germany [Hum]. And well, I told here I had studied a little bit about the country and language [Hum], and she’s kind of expecting that I know more than I really do.

Markus: Hum. You’re really in hot water now!

Pete: Yeah. I think so.

Markus: Well, what do you want to know?

Pete: Well, she’s planning on introducing me to her parents.

Markus: Hey. Sounds kind of serious.

Pete: It isn’t, at least I think it isn’t. Anyway, what should you do when you greet someone for the first time in Germany?

Markus: Well, it depends upon your relationship with the person. Now, speaking of your girlfriend, Claudia, . . . .

Pete: Hey, I didn’t say she was my girlfriend.

Markus: Ah, okay, okay. Now if you’re meeting someone formally for the first time, like Claudia’s parents, you should make sure you arrive on time.

Pete: Okay, so arrive on time. Uh, what about common greetings?

Markus: Well, Germans often shake hands, and they use the person’s family name, unless they’re really close friends.

Pete: Okay, what about with Claudia? I’m not sure what I should do in her case.

Markus: Ah. You can call her Claudia [Okay], shake hands, and why don’t you take her some flowers?

Pete: Oh, how do you say “Nice to meet you” anyway?

Markus: Oh, “Ich freue mich, Sie kennenzulernen.”

Pete: “Ich freu me senselen. . ? ”

Markus: Uhhh. Not exactly. “Ich freue mich, Sie kennenzulernen” [Uhhh].

Markus: Humm. Honestly, I think you need to take a crash course in German before you leave. Claudia might think you’re speaking Chinese or something if you don’t.

Key Vocabulary [Top]
  • mailing list (noun): a list of people who subscribe or join to a mailing distribution on a particular topic
    – I’d like to join a mailing list on studying intercultural communication so I can exchange ideas with others.
  • to be in hot water: to be in a difficult situation or in trouble that might lead to punishment
    – The politician is in hot water because of the he lack of lack of cultural sensitivity to that group.
  • common (adjective): the same for many situations and people
    One common gesture of friendship is to greet someone with a firm handshake while looking them in the eye.
  • crash (adjective): quick, complete, short or intensive, often difficult
    She took crash course in Spanish before she left for Mexico, but I’m not sure if it helped.