Before Listening

In 2011 Andrew Foersthofel stepped out of his home near Philadelphia and walked, over the next eleven months, all the way to California. He carried a sign that read “Walking To Listen,” and recorded many hours of conversations with the people he met. In this lesson you’ll hear the first of three parts of this remarkable audio piece, co-produced by Jay Allison of

Andrew grew up in the northeast and is well educated, so his speech is quite close to the standard American English usually heard on television and radio. On this first part of his journey, however, he walked through several states to New Orleans, so you will hear a variety of Southern accents. Don’t be concerned if it’s difficult to understand them at first! Just check the glossary for new words, read along with the transcript, and practice by listening many times.

Before listening, think about the following questions:

  • How do you think people would treat a person on a walk like this?
  • Would local people trust Andrew, and should he trust the people he meets?
  • What might the older people he meets say when he asks them about their lives? Are there some who wish they had lived differently, while others seem satisfied with their lives?
  • What advice do you think people might give to a young traveller like Andrew?