Ask US: Cultural Lessons Not Taught in English Class

Kelli Rowedder
Kelli Rowedder

Kelli Rowedder has an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the Institute of Education, University of London in London, England, with a focus on reading in a second language and academic writing. She also has a BA in English and Communications from the University of Delaware. Kelli has lived and taught English in Cusco, Peru; London, England; and Atlanta, Georgia. Her teaching interests include using literature and other authentic materials as teaching tools, and academic reading and writing strategies. She believes students need to be comfortable in their environment, feel that the instructor is approachable, and be able to relate to the content being taught, so they can instantly recognize its “real world” value.

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In the 2009 movie Sugar, the title charactera baseball player from the Dominican Republicis eating breakfast at a rural American diner. When the server asks him what he wants, he responds that he would like eggs.

“How would you like your eggs?” the server asks.

Confused, Sugar responds “yes.”

The server pauses before asking again how he would like his eggs. Not knowing how to answer, and getting frustrated, Sugar changes his order to French toast.

If you’re an international student, Sugar’s situation may sound familiar to you. In the film, as Sugar is eating his French toast, the server takes pity on him, and presents him with a large plate of eggs, cooked three different ways, and quickly explains to him how each egg is cooked. The next time we see Sugar eating breakfast, he’s eating eggs.

In case you’ve ever been confused by this question and didn’t have a kind server to take the time to explain the different possible ways eggs can be cooked, my colleague, Marisa Alger, and I have started a YouTube channel, Ask US: American Culture Advice for International Students. The channel answers frequently asked questions about American culture. Our first episode is called, as you may have already guessed, “How would you like your eggs?”

We created Ask US to provide a platform to answer questions about the nuances of American life that your teacher didn’t cover in your English classes (don’t blame your teacher! He or she had a LOT of other things to cover!).

If you find this video helpful, we hope you’ll email us at to ask the questions that are on your mind. Our next video, due out in February will be on another topic that frequently flummoxes newcomers to the US: tipping.

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