1116 The Right Age

Kat and Matthew talk about the right age to do various things in life.


Matt: So what's the right age? There's a right age for everything, driving, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, voting, going to war, there's a right age for everything and it's different. It's vastly different among all the countries in the world and cultures in the world. What do you think's right? Let's make an easy example. For example driving, what's a good age for driving?

Kat: In Germany, the driving age is eighteen and I think that's a pretty appropriate age.

Matt: That's interesting because in Japan it's also eighteen and in the US actually you are allowed to start driving when you're fifteen with a learning license as long as you have an adult in the car. I did that and I had fun driving but I can remember my mom screaming at me every five seconds to not do this, to not do that, just because driving can be pretty dangerous.

Kat: That is true, it can be pretty dangerous but from a European standpoint I always found the American situation rather backwards. In America you are not allowed to drink alcohol till you're twenty one but you are allowed to drive when you are only sixteen years old. I found that quite interesting. In Germany you are allowed to drink alcohol when you're sixteen but you're not allowed to drive a car until you're eighteen. Which one do you think is better?

Matt: That's hard to say. I think that as far as alcohol goes, you should at least be able to get out of high school and get out of being able to get out of your parent's house at least at the age you can get out of your parent's house and make a living off of your own before you start drinking alcohol because you can make a lot of bad choices at that. With driving, I completely understand the German system where they allow you to drink and drinking and driving does not actually happen in Germany as often as it does in the US just because they are tired of drinking. They've already been drinking for a few years before they get their licence and drinking is nothing big. Whereas in the States you've been driving for a few years and that's absolutely nothing, there's nothing special to driving and then wow you get to drink all of a sudden. Yeah, but you still have to drive. Whereas in Germany that licence is so sacred that you're not going to have as many people drinking and driving. I think that's one benefit of doing it the German way but I still think that sixteen is too early to be drinking.

Kat: I believe sixteen is OK for starting to drink especially when you take into consideration that in the United States it's twenty one but still many people are drinking way before that.

Matt: That's true. In the States twenty one is ridiculous though at least in my opinion. You've got people that can vote when they're eighteen, they're legally adults when they're eighteen, they can go to war and die for their country when they're eighteen, but yet they're not allowed to have a single drink. I do find that to be weird.

Kat: Yeah, twenty one is pretty late. I could agree with eighteen.

Matt: I don't know what the normal age is. It seems like in Europe it's much younger but I don't know what it is for the rest of Asia, but I do know that in Japan it's also twenty, so maybe twenty, twenty one isn't all that late of an age to allow drinking.

Kat: I think in Europe it's a cultural thing. People drink a lot of wine and beer and it's deeply ingrained in the culture so I think younger children or younger teenagers are allowed to drink because it just belongs to the meal.

Matt: That makes sense. What about voting?

Kat: Voting in Germany is eighteen. I think that's about the right age. At eighteen you are an adult and you can vote, drink and drive.

Matt: But what if you're drinking, driving and voting at the same time, that's not going to turn out to be very good.

Kat: That would be a problem.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


I think that's a pretty appropriate age.

Appropriate is similar in meaning to suitable. Notice the following:

  1. That was not an appropriate thing to say.
  2. Do you think this gift is appropriate?

find ... backwards

I always found the American situation rather backwards.

Something we find backwards is the opposite of what we think. It is also used to talk about old style thinking. Notice the following:

  1. They've got kind of a backwards justice system.
  2. That seems backwards to me.

nothing big

They've already been drinking for a few years before they get their license and drinking is nothing big.

The term 'nothing big' means not serious. Notice the following:

  1. His absence was nothing big.
  2. Sure, it's a problem, but nothing big.


People drink a lot of wine and beer and it's deeply ingrained in the culture

Something that is ingrained is a deep belief that is not likely to change. Notice the following:

  1. Religion is deeply ingrained in their culture.
  2. Distrust of foreigners is ingrained in their culture.

turn out

That's not going to turn out to be very good.

We use the term 'turn out' to talk about the result of an action or situation. Notice the following:

  1. It turned out really well.
  2. I hope it turns out better than the last project.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
appropriate • backwards • nothing big
ingrained • turn out
  1. We're all hoping the project will well.
  2. Wear something for the occasion.
  3. I admit there were flaws, but they're .
  4. The villagers have a way of life, but they're happy.
  5. It's difficult to change, because it's an habit.