Today we answer a question from Kotaro in Japan.
“I want to learn about American Culture. Can you tell me about that? – Kotaro, Japan
First, thank you for writing!
Learn the language
One of the best ways to learn about the United States and its culture is to study American English. This opens the door to understanding Americans when you can read, listen and watch them speaking about their lives.
Follow the stories on VOA’s Learning English website and you will learn and improve your English.
Watch television and movies
Watching American-made television shows and movies is another way to learn about American culture. Watch carefully in these programs to see what daily life is like for Americans.
Read articles and books
Next you can read books and articles written by and about Americans. Many U.S. newspapers, magazines and websites publish stories about cultural information online.
Look for websites and writers from different parts of the country. People in the Southern U.S. are different from those living in the Northeast, Midwest or West.
If you are interested in an American singer, artist or writer, follow them on social media. There, you can see what Americans are talking and posting about. Think about how it is different, or the same, from your culture.
Museums are wonderful places to find out about American culture. If you travel to Washington, D.C., make sure to visit the Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest museum, education and research center. If you cannot come here, there is still a lot to see and learn about American history and culture online.
American culture combines the rich traditions of all the people who have come here in hopes of finding their American dream.
We hope you enjoy finding out about American culture.
And that's Ask a Teacher!
I’m Anne Ball.
Let us know what you would like to learn. Write to us in the comments section below. We want to hear from you!
Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. The editor was George Grow.
Words in This Story
article – n. a piece of writing about a particular subject that is included in a magazine or newspaper, or online
museum – n. a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public
How Women Leaders Govern Differently
A record number of women currently serve in the United States Congress. They hold 23.5 percent of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. And 26 out of the 100 members of the Senate are women.
However, the U.S. government still has a smaller percentage of female lawmakers than many other countries, including Mexico, Tunisia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union tried to rate 193 countries by the number of women they have serving in national government positions. The United States finished in 76th place in the study.
The numbers are a little higher on the state government level; in 2019, about 29 percent of state legislators were women.
Two female members of the U.S. Senate -- Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – are among the candidates seeking to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Some observers say the two are likely to be judged more critically than men during their efforts to become commander in chief.
“Women are expected to be twice as good,” says Amanda Hunter. She is director of research and communications for the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. The organization aims to make sure women are equally represented in U.S. politics.
Women who are in office often change the nature of the political debate.
Former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp says women in elected office often work on issues that are most important to families -- like paid family leave and security for retirees. They also take up issues like domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Heitkamp added, “I think there are a whole lot of things that are in the public...dialogue right now that would not be in that public dialogue if women weren’t on the podium and on that stage.”
Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, served in the Senate from 2013 to 2019. During that time, she attended many dinners with female lawmakers from both major political parties. They worked together, for example, to avoid a federal government shutdown in 2013.
“A lot of women got into politics not -- I don’t mean to generalize on men -- but not because they thought it was their destiny or they thought that the world couldn’t survive without them,” Heitkamp said. “Voters tend to believe that women are motivated not by power and ego, but women are motivated because they want to see a change in the world.”
A 2015 study found that female senators worked with each other more often, were more likely to work with members of other parties and were more active legislatively than male senators.
Right now, the country needs more female leaders, says Michael Steele of Maryland. He was the first African American to chair the Republican National Committee.
“Women tackle problems differently than men do,” Steele noted. “Our politics have gotten hot. Oftentimes, the cooler head is going to be the woman who comes to the table...and says, ‘You all need to grow up and start to bring things back to a rational point.’”
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Dora Mekouar wrote this story for VOA News. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
domestic - adj. relating to or involving someone's home or family
dialogue -n. conversation between two or more people
podium - n. stand with a slanted surface that holds a book, notes, etc., for someone who is reading, speaking, or teaching
shutdown - n. the act of stopping the operation or activity of a business, machine, etc., for a period of time or forever
destiny - n. what happens in the future : the things that someone or something will experience in the future
tend - v. used to describe what often happens or what someone often does or is likely to do — followed by to + verb
motivate - v. to give (someone) a reason for doing something
ego - n. the opinion that you have about yourself
tackle - v. to deal with (something difficult)
rational - adj. based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings