A Cup Of English

A Cup Of English
A Cup Of English


Friendly, everyday English to help the anxious language learner. Texts, grammar notes, and photos on the blog page. Another great podcast by


Rosie's pace.

Mar 30, 2020 14:30


Staying close to home to exercise is one of the mandates that we have to follow to combat Covid-19. I see people biking, jogging, and walking, trying to de-stress, and stay healthy. For the most part, they are sticking to(1) social distancing (staying at least 6ft apart). I have also noticed that everybody who has dogs, seems to be walking them. Those dogs have probably never been walked as much in their lives as they are now! I took Rosie, our 11 year old boarder terrier, for a walk yesterday, up the hill, around the cemetery, and back home. She is old, so I walked slowly, and let her sniff and pee wherever she wanted to. "Well, I don't have to rush home for any reason," I thought to myself. I have practically no work, everyone at home can cook for themselves, and there are obviously no plans to go out anywhere, so I decided to let Rosie dictate the walk: how slow it would be, and every direction or change of direction. Well, that is easier said than done(2)! The first thing she wanted to do was to stand in the middle of the road and sniff the air. That was fine until a car came, and I had to pull her against her will, to the side of the road. Then she found a patch of grass and decided to spend the next 15 minutes eating it. "Oh come on Rosie!" I complained after 10 minutes, "I'm getting cold!" She's deaf, as it happens, so there was no point me saying anything. She just looked up at me and continued to munch on the grass. She was so happy. Finally she started to walk up the road and to head in the direction we usually take: the cemetery. She knows the routine. She stopped, sniffed, and peed on every corner. Finally, we started to walk at a decent pace, and I warmed up. But then, she put the breaks on; her little legs and grey body came to a definite halt. She decided to go in the opposite direction. "Ok," I said. "You lead the way; I'm just along for the ride(3)." So, I adjusted my pace to Rosie's, and everything that she did gave me a chance to observe something I hadn't noticed before: a knot on a tree, a carving of a flower on a gravestone, a blue jay looking down at me from up high in a pine tree. Rosie was relaxed, and finally I was. As we walked home, she still dithered about, but it didn't bother me at all because I had given up control. She walked painfully slowly across a busy road, so a kind woman in a car stopped to let us cross. She smiled and waved; she could tell that I was being lead by an old lady. We continued down the road and turned into our neighborhood. Normally by now Rosie is panting and looking exhausted, but she wasn't. She was definitely ready for a rest, but she hadn't been rushed or pushed, she had done exactly what she had wanted to do. And as it turns out, it was the best experience of walking a dog that I have had; the old, grey, lady had taken me for a walk, a proper one. 1. 'To stick to something' this idiom is often used in the gerund to express the idea that a person is committed to an action, a thought, or a perspective. a. The story I told you is the same one I told the police, and I'm sticking to it. b. They decided on their plan of action, and they're sticking to it. 2. 'That's easier said than done' is another useful phrase that is common, but quite self explanatory.  a. During the stay-at-home mandate I decided to learn how to do a headstand. That's easier said than done! b. We decided to save money by giving our dog a hair cut instead of taking her to the pet boutique. That was easier said than done! She looks terrible now! 3. 'To be along for the ride' is an idiom that means a person is taking part in an activity or event just because it is convenient for him to be there, and he is mainly an observer. This person is passively involved. a. You can order whatever the rest of you are having for me; I'm just along for the ride. b. "What's the name of the next dance troupe in the show?"      "I have no idea. I'm just along for the ride."

A mental health break.

Mar 26, 2020 06:59


With all that is going on around the world with the Coronavirus, I have felt overwhelmed recently, probably you are too. If you are following a mandate to stay at home, like I am, then the challenge becomes what to do with one's time, and how to occupy the mind. I am so fortunate to have a large back garden. Normally, during March, I am thinking to myself, "How will I find the time to tidy up this huge garden, and get it ready for the spring?" With plenty of work outside of the home, it is always difficult to get projects at home finished. Well, all of that has changed now. With just a tiny trickle of work left, I now have no excuses but to finish everything I haven't at home. So, at the moment the garden is my focus. Working in it is like a mental health break for me. It's exercise, fresh air, sunshine, birds singing, and seeing progress. All of these things combat anxiety. I don't tend to be anxious normally, but we are living at the moment in a stressful situation globally, and quite honestly, I think we all must be feeling it. So I have raked leaves, pruned blackberry bushes, dug up grass, sown flower seeds, and transplanted some perennials. Wow! It felt good. Part of the benefit of physical labor in a garden is the fact that you are planning for the future, it's a sense of control or at least hope for the coming months. Even if you don't have a garden, perhaps you live in an apartment, a tiny bit of gardening can be done in a container. All you need is a pot, preferably a proper plant pot that has a drainage hole in it. Put it on a plate to catch the excess water, fill it with earth, and put some seeds in it. Grow something you love, perhaps even something you can eat. One of the most satisfying plants to grow from seed is a green bean. Why? The bean seed is big, very visible, and it germinates quickly. And they are not fussy, as far as seeds go. As long as they get some water and some sun, they are guaranteed to grow, and are therefore rewarding. Planting a seed is an exercise in faith, I think, because you trust that germination and growth will happen as it has for millions of years. It's a process we see all around us no matter what, and we can rely on it continuing to be there, and to be normal, even if our lives at the moment are not. That, to me, is a comfort. 

A new kind of empty.

Mar 22, 2020 08:22


  My son was flying home. Thank Goodness! He was coming back from Sevilla, Spain where he had been studying. "I'm really sad to be leaving, mum," he texted. He had had such an amazing time, even though it had been cut short. His flight from Sevilla to London went according to schedule. However, once he got to London, things got chaotic. His flight was cancelled last minute. He ended up staying in a hotel, and I scrambled to get him another flight. Actually, from my end here in the States, it was almost impossible to talk to any airline sales assistants, or even the travel agency. "We are experiencing a higher than normal amount of calls, so if you are not flying in the next 72 hours, please call back," the recorded messages would say, and then they would hang up! A second flight was booked, but during the night that was also cancelled. I was getting stressed! Suddenly, though, I received a text from my son telling me that he had found a ticket and immediately bought it. He was on his way. Phew! So we drove to Seatac airport to pick him up. The airport didn't feel like it usually does. It was very empty, echoey. There is usually tonnes of human activity, noises, conversations, movement, the sound of luggage wheels rolling everywhere, kids making typical noises. There was none of that. It was a new kind of quiet, a new kind of empty. Even baggage claim was sparse, just a few bags here and there. The stress of a typical airport was not apparent either, in fact, the security personnel were standing in a group chatting and laughing. We found our son, got back to the parking area, and left. He was tired from his journey, of course. Unfortunately, we couldn't bring him home. He had to go to a different location to self-quarantine for two weeks, just in case he has the coronavirus. We will know soon enough. I've taken him groceries, of course: steak, chicken, bread, eggs, lots of fruit and vegetables. You know, I'm a mum. And he is quite good at entertaining himself. His university classes are online, so he can do those whenever he wants. He also group video chats with all of his friends. It's such a tremendous advantage to have access to messaging apps, especially videoing ones. I think if you can see the face of a loved one, it really helps when you are far away. So, we carry on with life, and wait another week or ten days to see if he develops symptoms. We're prepared for anything, but hoping for the best.

Words of Encouragement.

Mar 6, 2020 08:29


  As I work in the schools in Wenatchee, I see, on a regular basis, all kinds of posters in the classrooms. They are designed to encourage the students to be positive and responsible. They're also attractive. I have been impressed over the years with the choice of posters that teachers make. Some of the sayings quoted are from well-known, historical personalities who have made an impact on society.  For example, I saw one by Benjamin Franklin that said, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." I like that. It really resonates with me. And what about this quote from Coco Chanel, "Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable."(1) I suspect that only the oldest students in the High School will appreciate such quotes, but I could be wrong(2). I know that the teachers certainly appreciate the encouragement that they see on the walls. It can be a good practice to surround ourselves at work with positive words, so we remember our goals and our potential. I think it is easy to forget those things when we are tired or under stress(3). I suppose they could also serve as teaching points that can be shared with the students, at one point or other. Einstein is a person who is quoted a lot in schools, and not just in the Science departments; his picture is recognized everywhere. Even little children in elementary school know that he was a genius of some sort, even if they don't know everything about his life. One of his many quotes that I enjoy is about acceptance and individuality, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." This is a good one for a school environment. The children are emotionally immature, of course, so they might judge themselves or others far too harshly, instead of embracing differences and uniqueness.  1. 'Inevitable' means that something is definitely going to happen. We also use it in an adverbial form a lot. a. If the builders don't build the house according to code, there will  inevitably be a disaster. b. He is the most qualified and experienced for the job; it's inevitable that he will get it. 2. 'I/you/he/she ... could be wrong' this is a wonderful extra sentence that we add onto a preexisting one. It states something obvious in order to show a little humility, and familiarity. a. Your house will probably sell in the spring, but I could be wrong.  b. We think he will give up his candidacy, but we could be wrong. 3. 'To be under stress' is the same as 'to be stressed'. I think it sounds more native because it is more of an idiomatic phrase. a. I'm sorry I'm so tired; I'm just under a lot of stress recently. b. They must be under a lot of stress because their business is not doing well.


Feb 24, 2020 05:53


As I looked through my photos today of my recent holiday, I came across one of a bar in Sevilla. I hadn't gone inside, but I certainly did look in from the pavement for a long time. It was a gorgeous, very old rock building with wooden beams, hanging lamps, and bulls heads mounted on the walls. It had incredible atmosphere, and was very elegant. It was a restaurant and tapas bar. Tapas, if you don't know, are small portions of various, tasty dishes that are served in Spain to accompany drinks, like beer or wine. It helps to have a little something to eat at lunchtime when you drink alcohol, especially if you are going back to work afterwards; the effects of the alcohol are less. The food is so good, however, that many people have tapas for dinner. They order a variety of dishes, and simply share them. Olives, are a like a staple in Spain. Often you don't even pay anything for them when you have them with a drink. Tapas, however, are quite special, and chefs take pride in making high quality dishes that people will recommend. One of my favorites is 'croquetas'. These are a deep fried, tube shaped mass consisting of either creamy potato or béchamel sauce, with meat or fish of some sort. This is then covered in bread crumbs and deep fried. They are very flavorful and filling. My second favorite is 'ensaladilla rusa' which is like a potato salad with super powers. The ingredients that make it special are: boiled egg, tuna fish, peas, and a garnish of roasted red peppers. It is a meal in itself, and goes down so well with a light beer! It turns out that my son and I were in one of the best places in Spain for tapas: Sevilla. I have come across tapas bars in other countries, but as my Spanish mother always says, "No, the tapas just aren't the same." I would have to agree with her. They're not the same simply because they're not in Spain. You could have one of the best chefs making tapas in London, but they still wouldn't be 'the same' as the tapas in Spain. Atmosphere and location add to the experience of eating, I must insist. Perhaps we expect the tapas to taste better in Spain, and therefore they do. Mind you, I'm sure that it also makes a difference when you are using locally grown red peppers and olives as they do in Sevilla, compared to imports. Freshness of produce and the pride of tradition will always make Spanish tapas a little better than those found elsewhere.


Feb 13, 2020 06:39


  The news is full, these days, of reports about the Coronavirus, now called COVID-19. There is a sense of panic in the reports, as we hear about more and more people getting infected. But what is it, and what are the risks? Well, apparently, there are many coronaviruses which are similar to the cold or flu viruses. Most people in the United States, for example, will have had a coronavirus at one time in their lives. These viruses are spread from person to person by inhaling droplets that someone has coughed or sneezed, or by touching a doorknob or a tap that an infected person has touched. Once the germs have been touched, they can enter the body if that person rubs his eyes, or touches his mouth or nose. The symptoms you get from COVID-19 affect your upper respiratory area: your nose and throat, and usually the infected person will have a fever. As with other viruses, rest, lots of fluids, and anti-viral medications which can shorten the duration of the virus, are all recommended. The best way, of course, to prevent viral symptoms is to get the vaccine if it is available. The flu is a good example of this. However, at the moment, as far as COVID-19 is concerned, there is not yet a vaccine. So what has become an epidemic in China, is beginning to look like a pandemic, which means that it has spread to other countries and other continents. The fatalities have occurred when the virus infects the lungs in particular, causing pneumonia. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to get the worst symptoms. So, for those of us who are wondering what we should do to stay protected, basic anti-virus hygiene is recommended. This is mainly: 1. Stay away from sick people, or those who have recently travelled to areas of infection. 2. Wash your hands often during the day with soap and plenty of water. 3. If you are around a lot of people, feel free to wear a face mask to cover your nose and mouth, to protect yourself. Of course, if you have a cold or flu virus, stay at home, and that way you will reduce the risk of spreading that particular virus to others. There are some encouraging statistics about COVID-19 believe it or not: out of the more than 60,000 reported cases, 84% are only mild conditions, and of the 7,300 who now no longer have it, 81% made a full recovery and were discharged.  So, let's protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community by being careful, hygienic, and proactive.  

Christopher Columbus, really?

Feb 7, 2020 06:56


  A couple of weeks ago, I took my son to Sevilla in Spain. He is staying there to study Spanish and the culture. What a place! I had been there a long time ago, and it was so marvelous to return. Of course, it was almost the perfect time of year: 70 degrees during the day, and the streets filled with orange trees full of fruit. Before we met my son's host family, we stayed spent the night right in the old center, next to the cathedral. We were offered a free upgrade to our room; another room with a balcony overlooking the cathedral was available, so of course I said yes. It was so special. As I gazed over the magnificent building that was all illuminated, I thought, "I cannot leave Sevilla without seeing inside." So, the next day, after meeting Cass' host mother, we wandered around the center, and went back to the cathedral. One thing I hadn't done was read about it. I had done no research at that point about its history, or the art inside the building. That lack of research lead me to get a really big surprise. Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind when I think of Sevilla's cathedral. I have been in many around Europe, but this one really is quite overwhelming. Cass and I slowly walked around taking photos, and reading information about different statues etc. After a while, I noticed a lot of people near a wall, under a large clock. I had actually never seen a clock in a cathedral before, and so I thought it odd to find one there. I went over to have a look, and as I approached, I saw a dark, but extremely elegant statue. It was of four kings, carrying a coffin. I knew that there was something special and different about this piece of art. It was subtle, powerful, and very regal. "What is it?" I thought to myself as I searched for an information placard. I looked and looked, and finally found a little piece of paper that was stuck to the base of the statue. I took my glasses out and put them on, as the letters were quite small. 'The tomb of Christopher Columbus,' it said. I gasped. I felt a lump in my throat. "Cass!" I called out to my son, "This is the tomb of Christopher Columbus!" "Woah!" he said in astonishment. We were both bowled over. It was quite a moment. Obviously, if I had read about it beforehand, it wouldn't have been such a surprise, so I'm glad that I hadn't. I knew there was something special about the monument. Since then, I have read that there is debate about whether all of his body is in the tomb. Well, as far as I'm concerned, all 206 bones don't need to be inside. Even if only one of his little finger bones is there, that would be enough for me. The piece is stunning, and it was built to commemorate someone whose destiny affected the world, and the royalty who sponsored him. That is enough for me.

Scared of airports?

Jan 25, 2020 05:34


  Have you ever met anyone who is afraid of airports? If you have, he or she is probably a person who is not familiar with them. It takes a while to get used to moving through an airport, and finding your way. Children for example can be intimidated such a large space. I think parents can be equally intimidated because children can get lost easily in such a huge building, so they must be over protective. The solution for everyone is basic training on how to use airports properly. Because I have regularly used airports for many years, and I have also been a nervous parent, I would say one of the most important rules is just to look up. All the information a person needs is up high. Do you need to know which direction to go in? Just look up. Where is security for the check in area? Are you hungry or thirsty? Do you need to use the toilet? Again, you just need to look up and find the signs. Children find the experience very exciting when you can point out and explain to them what everything means: where they find their flight in departures, the gate they must go to, and the number of the flight. It is a valuable lesson for them to see how their tickets and boarding passes correspond to information that is displayed overhead. I suppose for children, it is a little like searching for treasure. The other most important thing I would stress for children nervous adults is simply to ask for help. There always many people in an ambulance who are trained to help. Thankfully I have found on many occasions that a variety of people can always help, from the stewardesses, to cleaners, or those who exchange your money. So if you feel lost, you can always try asking people who work in the airport. They probably know where everything is, as they work there every day, and will probably be more than willing to help.So a place that at first seems so intimidating, where you can get lost and confused, turns out to be a place that is full of information, and people who can guide you to your destination.


Jan 14, 2020 06:49


Have you ever heard of the word ‘tacky’? This a word that I love. It’s actually more of an American term than an English one. I thought about this word yesterday as I was driving with my daughter. She was driving and I was looking out of the window at the different buildings and building signs. Here in the United States, business signs can tend to be very big, very tall, and very brightly colored. We had stopped at a traffic light, and on my right, I saw a hotel sign that said Super Eight. This is a chain of popular, cheap hotels here in the US. The sign was very high, very large, and bright yellow with red letters. I thought to myself, “How tacky!” Now tacky means two things. The first and original meaning is sticky. The second meaning is cheap, and bad taste. I decided to look into the etymology of the word, meaning it’s history. Interestingly enough, it was originally used to describe a weak horse. Perhaps there is a connection between a weak horse and the word tacky because of the production of glue from animal bones. That is just my guess. It is interesting how words develop and change their meanings over time. Nowadays in the United States it is very normal to hear the word ‘tacky’ describing something that is cheap, gaudy, and very bad taste. Personally I like the sound of it. It is easy to say, and sounds like a slap. Often we use the phrase, “That is not tacky (at all)” to sarcastically call something tacky, to point out its tackiness. Examples of these sentences can be quite amusing. Examples of ‘tacky’: 1. The paint is still tacky, so don’t touch it yet. 2. I can’t believe that she wore that beach dress to the funeral, how tacky! 3. It’s tacky to give a present that someone else gave you. 4. Put the glue on the wood first, then, when it has dried a little, and is tacky, you can put the new countertop on. 5. So many souvenir shops are full of cheap, plastic, tacky items. 6. I see that you decorated the Christmas cake with broken, plastic reindeer. Ha! That’s not tacky at all! to go to my Youtube channel.

Cloved Oranges.

Jan 13, 2020 04:45


When I walked into my mothers house yesterday I smelled something wonderful. “What is that smell mom?” I asked. “Well you know what that is,” she said. “They are the cloved oranges that I’ve been making, you remember!” The smell was coming from oranges covered in cloves, an artistic tradition that my mother has followed for many years. And believe me the oranges and the cloves make the whole house smell delicious. In England cloved oranges have been made since the Elizabethan times. “Well everyone was so smelly back then,” joked my mother. In her kitchen on two metal stands, oranges dotted with cloves were sitting looking very pretty. It is an incredibly simple art project that many people enjoy in the winter in the UK. The more cloves you use, the longer the oranges are preserved. My mother actually has an orange that is completely covered with cloves which is many years old. When you finish putting the cloves in the orange skin you can thread a pretty ribbon through the orange from which you can hang it. “They used to wear smaller cloved fruit around their necks in the Elizabethan times,” said my mother. The smell of cloves is sweet, spicy and fruity. When you mix that with the wonderful smell of citrus fruit, you have an amazing combination. Cloves are native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia. They are grown more broadly now and enjoyed in many Asian, Africa, and Middle Eastern dishes, particularly those that are similar to curry. Some people believe that cloves relieve toothache and help to energize the body. But as is the case with many natural products, studies about their medicinal benefits are not conclusive or rarely even done. But I can tell you that whether or not cloves will relieve a toothache or give me energy, they are an enduring tradition and a personal favorite. to see Youtube channel.

Small Talk

Jan 9, 2020 08:06


Have you heard of the phrase, "Small talk"? Can you guess what it is? I have been thinking about it for a few days, as my oldest son sent me a video all about it. He dislikes it, but realized, after watching the video, that it might be more worthwhile than he had previously thought. So what is it? It is superficial, pleasant conversation that is not controversial in the slightest. It's the sort of conversation we have at a party when we have just met someone, or perhaps if you are sitting next to someone on the underground or the bus. It is non-threatening, and is supposed to be a pleasant, non-judgmental exchange of words. Some people do it a lot. I do, actually; I small talk in the grocery store, in line at the bank, with neighbors who I don't know very well, and on public transport. However, some people hate it. They see it as an unnecessary job, a burden even. "If I'm not going to talk about something that is important to me, or something that I'm really interested in, then why bother?" And that is a good question. We should spend our time wisely, and not just make noise that is meaningless. But, as the video explains, small talk is a very normal and necessary human activity. When we first meet someone, we know nothing about them. Even if someone has given us details about them, we cannot make up our own minds about them until we have spoken with them. How a person speaks, what he chooses to say or not say, how he moves, and the kind of look he gives you, all add up to give you a general impression about him. This helps you decide if you'd like to be friends, or if there is any sign of trust between you. And these are important decisions. Funnily enough, you can make these decisions based on small talk: talking about the weather, the rise in grocery prices, or whether or not the new traffic light in town is helping the traffic flow. And this is a global phenomenon; every culture has small talk. Us humans are funny creatures; we measure each other as we speak. Well, that makes sense to me. How on earth could you measure someone's character otherwise? Using language, you could say, is the quickest way to get inside someone's head. If you feel comfortable, then you can go a little deeper and find out each others' interests, work, and passions. You could look at this another way. If you went up to a total stranger at a party and asked, "How do you feel about investing in green energy to combat climate change?" That person would probably feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed. The question is a complex topic that brings up strong emotions and political views. He might not want to open up so quickly about something that is both controversial and important. So, that is why we have 'small talk'. It comes first, and prepares the way for both people to become willing to talk about deep issues. Having said that, I suppose that people who hate small talk feel that doing it is a risk because you might never reach the point of going deeper. You also might run out of time. So there is no guarantee that participating in small talk will lead to a substantial relationship or sense of agreement about important things. It is a risk that you take which might be worth it. So the next time a stranger brings up the subject of the weather, understand that this fairly superficial conversation could lead to great depths of discussion, or even friendship.

New Year's Eve in the U.S.

Jan 1, 2020 05:56


  New Year's Eve and New Year’s Day are the biggest times of celebration in the United States. New Year’s Eve iin particular is a time of parties, fireworks, and getting together.The 31st of December is the last day in the Gregorian calendar, and so it is considered the last day of the year in most non-Asian countries. Most people will get together in houses, restaurants, or public places to enjoy food, drink, and perhaps dancing. When you think of The New Year's celebration in the United States you think of Times Square in New York city. Each year tens of thousands of people crowd into the square to listen to live music and to watch celebrations in other parts of the country on large screens. Often famous television presenters or comedians host the show, adding details and memories of the past year. The Times Square celebration is famous for the large illuminated ball that drops to the count of 10, as everyone counts down the last 10 seconds of December 31st. At this point everybody hugs each other and says, “Happy New Year!” Television watching is very popular on the night of New Year’s Eve as there are special musical shows on most channels. One popular activity is to watch the last few moments of the year, and the beginning of the New Year around the world, usually starting in places like New Zealand. Fireworks are often a big part of many national New Year’s celebrations, and we are lucky enough to see one after another on television. Another way that some people choose to ‘bring in’ the new year is by going to church. Some Christian churches will remain open so members or visitors can spend time in contemplation and prayer. This is sometimes called Watchnight, and is a tradition that dates back to 18th century. Once January 1st has arrived, often people will make New Year’s resolutions which are decisions and plans for changed behavior. The question we often ask ourselves is, “How can I be happier and healthier this year?”The most common resolutions are: to lose weight, and to stop smoking. Some people, however, decide to help others, perhaps by getting involved in a charity or two. Of course, you can do both: improve yourself, and make the world a better place. The end of the year it seems, whether you are in the middle of Times Square, sitting in a church, or in your own home, is a great time for contemplation!

A Christmas Adoption grammar points.

Dec 20, 2019 07:56


Well, here are the grammar points for the podcast about me resisting the temptation to buy a cat.  1. To drag your feet.  This gives a great visual of being unenthusiastic about doing something, taking a long time to do it. a. I'm dragging my feet to paint the house; it'll be such a big job! b. He's dragging his feet about studying for his finals. I'm afraid he's going to run out of time! 2. Fair enough. This means, "Ok, that's reasonable," or "Ok, I agree." It can also mean that you have been almost convinced by someone's argument but not 100%. Perhaps someone is insisting on something and you agree just to keep the peace, or with some conditions. a. "I'll do your homework if you wash my car." Answer: "Fair enough." b. "I don't think its right for me to make dinner and clean up every night after work. Why don't you do it a few nights a week?" Answer: "Fair enough." c. If you're making the rules around here, fair enough, but you'll be responsible for making sure they are followed. 3. To take up the slack. This means to complete what others have not finished, or to carry some responsibility for someone. a. One of our group didn't do any work, so the rest of us had to take up the slack to finish the project. b. As dad has broken his leg, you kids will have to take up the slack by helping around the house. c. After she had twins, her husband took up the slack by cooking dinner every night and cleaning the kitchen. Click image to visit my Youtube channel!    

A Christmas Adoption

Dec 20, 2019 06:38


There are only eight days to go until Christmas including today, so people are rushing around trying to get the last few things organized. Most people here who celebrate Christmas, have their tree up and decorated, perhaps a few lights decorating their house outside, and most of the presents bought and wrapped. This year I have been dragging my feet for some reason(1). I am usually a real enthusiast, and have the place looking festive and special. This year, however, I'm doing the minimum. And that is probably because I'm busy with work. Fair enough(2). My family can 'take up the slack'(3), and do what I don't manage to get done. Now, when it comes to presents, I was very tempted the other day to buy something that I know we absolutely don't need: another cat. It was a kitten to be specific. I had gone to the pet shop with my daughter to get our snake some frozen mice to eat. It's unfortunate, but true; after all, the snake has to eat something, right? And apparently mice is what they like. While we were in the shop, we saw a display of lots of cages of cats. They had been brought over from the Humane Society which takes care of unwanted animals. They bring these animals into the pet shop in order to encourage people to fall in love and buy them. Well, it's not hard to fall in love with a kitten, especially when it keeps staring at you as if to say, "You are the one, the one who needs to take me home!" Of course, you are allowed to take them out of the cages and pet them. And the paperwork is right there ready to be signed after you make your payment of $50. It's all too easy. But, at the moment, that is not a good idea for us. We already have two dogs, a cat, and a snake. That's enough responsibility! While we were in the pet shop, the kittens were selling quickly. After all, they are easier to look after than dogs because they are so independent. You don't need to take them for a walk; they can just go out at night and hunt for mice, climb trees, and get up to all sorts of mischief. That is their exercise. And, if you happen to have a mice problem on your property, the cat will take care of it. All of that and a cuddly companion for just $50. How could I say "No"? With difficulty. And the salespeople really know how to make it worse. They immediately tell you the name of the cat: sparkle, fluffy, daisy, petal, or something really sweet. Then they tell you how loving and playful they are....The best thing to do is to run out of the shop as fast as you can before you fall in love. It's the only solution, I think. The Humane Society's selling tactic is a smart and efficient way to get these animals a home for Christmas, but it's torture for an animal lover who is already up to her ears in pets! Learn English with my Youtube videos .

A flu fighter grammar points.

Dec 10, 2019 10:11


Here are some super useful grammar points from the last podcast. 1. A few ......... apart. This can be used with different measurements: time or distance.  a. My first two sons were born 13 months apart. b. My two surgeries were only a few weeks apart. c. We planted the trees 10ft apart. 2. Skin conditions: scratch cut bruise burn blister boil rash - breakout scar 3. "I would choose to have it anyway, even if I didn't work." Other examples of conditional plus negative subjunctive: a. We would still want to jog, even if we weren't training for a race. b. They would still have to sell their house, even if they got better jobs. c. You would re-paint the house a different color, even if your husband didn't like it.

Be a flu fighter.

Dec 6, 2019 07:41


"Ow!" I said to myself, as the pharmacist put the needle in my upper arm. I hadn't expected the vaccination to hurt. It wasn't a regular one, you know, like the flu. This was the shingles shot. In order to avoid the shingles, you must have a series of two, a few months apart. I'm so relieved that I have had my second injection, so I don't have to be concerned about getting the virus. Well, when I say 'I don't have to be concerned about getting the virus' I don't exactly mean that. Let me explain. I already have the virus. I had an illness when I was little, called chicken pox. It is very common, and normally not serious. Your symptoms are usually: a fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache, and an unusual rash. The rash that can end up covering all of your body, even your eyelids, is a blister rash. A blister is a thin lump of skin that is filled with fluid. Sometimes we get blisters after walking with either new shoes, or badly fitting shoes. The blisters from the chicken pox itch, and it is a challenge to not scratch them. If you do, the blisters burst, and can scar the skin. Most people my age had chicken pox when they were children. It is the varicella-zoster virus. After you have recovered, the virus actually stays in your body, and lies dormant in a nerve of its choice. Later, as we age, if we go through stress, or our immune system gets low, the virus can re-emerge as the herpes-zoster virus which causes shingles. It's like a baby monster has hibernated, and then emerges as a big monster.  After the shingles shot, my arm actually hurt for about four days. I couldn't believe it. The flu shot which I get each year doesn't bother me at all. I have to get the flu shot each year for my job, as a medical interpreter, otherwise I wouldn't be allowed to work around patients. However, I would choose to have it anyway, even if I didn't work. I hate being ill! It seems to be such a waste of time. And, as you might know, the flu can make you so miserable. Fever, headache, chills, a cough, a runny nose, night sweats, nausea, fatigue, and body aches are the typical symptoms. And those are just for healthy people. Babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems can suffer far worse, and end up in the hospital, or even die. That is why it is so important to protect yourself. If you don't get ill with the flu, you won't spread it to weaker people by coughing and sneezing, or touching them with the virus on your hands. It is spread by people coughing or sneezing, and droplets of fluid containing the virus fly through the air and are breathed in by someone else. Disgusting huh? Well, that's how many viruses are spread. The saying "cover your cough" is a helpful instruction to prevent the spread of viruses. The best prevention, though painful for a little while, is to get the flu vaccine, to protect yourself and the community you live in.

Sea Stones.

Nov 21, 2019 08:36


I love stones, rocks, and crystals. I always have. I wouldn't say that I am a student of geology, but nevertheless, that subject does fascinate me. Perhaps one day, when I have more time, I will learn about geology. I have a few rocks and crystals around the house that I have gathered over the years. Some are just smooth river rocks that caught my eye, and others are geodes which I bought for my children. The geodes look like plain, round, light brown rocks. However, if you break them open, inside you'll find a pocket of white crystals that sparkle. My mother knows all about precious and semi-precious stones, as she makes jewelry. She sells most of what she makes, but some things are just too pretty to give away. Recently, as she and I were looking around some shops, we came across a jewelry stand that was full of stones of different kinds. I was immediately drawn to(1) three smooth, dark ones. They were multi-colored: black, brown, tan, and white. They appeared to have  circles and spirals all over them. The combination of colors and patterns(2) fascinated me. So, because I didn't have my glasses on, I asked the owner if I could have a closer look. She took them out of the box and let me hold them. "That's turritella. It's a fossil, do you see?" she said. As I looked closely, I realized that the stone was indeed made of hundreds of fossilized see creatures. All that was left of them were their homes: tiny, spiraled(3) shells which were full of holes. The many shells formed the lightest patches of the stones, creating a beautiful contrast with the dark background. Gosh! I couldn't look at them long enough. I imagined how many tens of thousands of years these shells had been lying in an ocean, slowly becoming rock. It was something so old, that with a bit of craft had been made new.  And, of course, they had been ground and polished into a very smooth shape, so they were super comfortable to hold. A pendant made from one if these would be really beautiful, and above all, a real conversation starter. 1. 'Drawn to' I know I have covered this phrase before, but it is just so delicious, and useful in English. It means to be attracted to something. a. I am drawn to art museums. I love to walk around surrounded by art, talent, and quiet. b. I was drawn to him; there was a special magnetism about him. 2. 'Pattern' is  a repeated design which can be used figuratively. a. Mandalas are full of geometric and circular patterns. b. I see a pattern in his behavior that we should not ignore. 3. 'Spiral' is a noun, an adjective, and also a verb describing a long, twisted shape. Again, it can be used figuratively. a. Pasta comes in all different shapes; one is a spiral. b. Let's calm down and not spiral down into negativity.

Grammar notes for Youtube channel.

Nov 19, 2019 05:17


1. 'To put your toe in the water' means to test something, to very carefully have a look, or try something out. a. When I first started my podcast, I put my toe in the water of internet projects, and slowly realized that I can do this! b. It was his first teaching job; he taught three days a week. So as he put his toe in the water and got experience, he decided that he enjoyed the career. 2. 'To show off' is to brag, to proudly display yourself or something you have or you can do. a. The little boy showed off his new toy car to his friends; they all thought it was very special. b. Don't show off! It's irritating! So you can walk on your hands, big deal! I can walk on my feet. 3. 'I can't read your mind' means that you should communicate clearly. It can also be a direct translation instead of an idiomatic phrase. a. When you ask me to get you something to eat, can you be more specific? I can't read your mind, you know. b. It's weird, she knows what I'm going to say before I say it. It's like she can read my mind.

My Youtube Channel.

Nov 14, 2019 05:32


Well, I've done it. I have waited long enough. You could say, "It's about time!" So, I finally decided to put my toe in the water and try it out. Am I making any sense? Did you notice that I am using several idiomatic phrases? I'm just showing off. I'm talking about my new Youtube channel called A Cup Of English. And the reason I'm using idiomatic phrases now is because I have a new, short video series on just that. To tell you the truth, starting a channel was a bit scary. I knew that I didn't want to show my face like most people do, so my videos would be animated, or with video clips and photos. So I downloaded a few apps to help me do that. That sounds easy, but believe me it isn't. It all takes much longer than it should. Things go wrong. However, when I have completely finished a video and uploaded it, it is very satisfying. Some of the other videos that I've made are quite long. I focus on pronunciation, so I speak fairly slowly, so everything is clear. I also have all of the words on the screen, so you can read along at the same time. If you check out my channel, I would love to hear what you think, and above all your suggestions. Do you prefer long or short videos? What areas of English do you really need to work on? And what kind of footage do you prefer? I can't read your minds, so I need to hear from you. One of the great things about Youtube is that you can learn most of what you need to know from Youtube itself. I don't know how many videos I have watched, or how long I have sat in front of the computer, but I certainly have learned a lot. And even when my computer updated itself and I lost important apps, I was able to find solutions right there on Youtube. After all, in 2018 there were 23 million channels, so now this year there are even more. That is a lot of information in one place! I hope that with the help of other people's channels, I will learn what I need to change my first baby steps into a confident walk. Link to my Youtube channel.

Powder Puff.

Nov 8, 2019 07:42


One American tradition that I have experienced is Powder Puff. It has a strange name, I know. It is a high school tradition, and is centered around(1) a flag football game played by young women. It has been around since 1930's, and is a fund raiser for charity, or for a high school event, like a dance. It usually takes place in October, before Homecoming which is another, even better known U.S tradition. Now, do you know what 'flag football' is? It has the same rules as American football, but no contact is allowed, and instead of stealing the ball, you try to steal a flag or a belt from the waist of the members of the opposing team. It is fast, nerve wracking(2), and great fun. Even though it is for charity, team members do get very competitive, and things can get a little rough. Penalties are common because it becomes increasingly more difficult to have no contact. In fact, the last Powder Puff I watched seemed more like a rugby match than a girls' flag football game! There were bodies flying, and therefore lots of penalties. High school is the center of social activity for most young people between the ages of 14 and 18 in the States. It is certainly not just a place for academics. Most young people don't go out to bars or nightclubs until they are in their twenties, or at least in college, because the legal drinking age is 21. So socializing, clubs, and fun, generally take place through the high school. That is why, I believe, high school is such a central part of life in a community here, and a time that people reminisce(3) about when they are older. Powder Puff is one of the many traditions in the U.S, one that can leave you with a lot of bruises! 1. 'To be centered around' means to be in the context of, or to have a relationships to (a theme or person). a. The nativity story is centered around the birth of Christ. b. Homecoming is centered around ex-students coming back to visit high schools or colleges.  2. 'Nerve wracking' means it makes you very nervous. 'To wrack' is an uncommon verb which means to destroy, torture, or wreck. a. Waiting to go on the high speed train was nerve wracking for me. b. Checking my lottery ticket numbers is always nerve wracking for me! 3. 'To reminisce' is remember fondly or with positive emotions. To look back with nostalgia.  a. Most people reminisce about their childhoods. b. When his girlfriend left for college, he reminisced about their summer together. 

An October Garden

Oct 30, 2019 10:15


Come with me, for a walk around my October garden. This day has a touch of magic, so I must be in it; I don't want to miss it. For a few minutes we can put the busyness aside(1), and step out into a world of calm and color. While we have been so occupied with the things of life, the worries, the obligations, the plans, the world of plants and creatures has been turning. It turns with the seasons. It submits in the Winter, shuts down, stands still. All is white, quiet, buried. Then the Spring, with its warmth, its hope, its energy, bursting everywhere. Youth rushes in on the wind and paints the land. Summer comes, and with her beaming smile gets our attention. She touches our skin, even through a window, and all is green and color. But there is a fourth sister, the season born between Summer and Winter. She is Autumn, mild, and mysterious. It is her time now. She has been here, I can see her footprints. She left a trail of frost this morning, and hung a chill in the air. But then she will breathe warmth that moves through the trees, the brightest sun that brings out the colors. She loves the moon, and changes just like it. Her whisper is "Get ready; get ready for change." And as she passes over the land, the trees obey her, and blaze in reds, orange, pink, and gold. The birds and insects follow her skirt of colors as it moves in the daylight; the bats follow her in the moonlight. The busy squirrels, and tiny mice see her in the garden and know that it is time to prepare for the Winter. They gather seeds and nuts, and make warm beds for the cold months. They dart up and down, in and out of the old vegetable plot where the vines have faded, and the pumpkins have been picked. "Quickly now!" they think, as they scurry(2) to their secret places with the seeds of flowers long gone. The birds watch from up high; they see the movement, the colors, the swirling, and the changing. Autumn glances(3) up at them, a shimmer in her eyes. They too know that soon, when the colors have all turned to brown, and the trees are bare, that they must say goodbye, and fly away with their friends, or be brave, and like the squirrel, make a warm, safe place for the Winter. But that time hasn't come just yet. We have the gift of walking in this golden space, this fiery light of oranges and yellows, on the ground, in the air, falling here, there. The painted leaves nod at us gently, then shudder as the wind whips up and around, and off they go from their mother tree, through the air, tumbling like a wave, scattered where we walk. I want it to always be this way, to witness this beauty that shifts its shape around me. Autumn stay. Tell the moon to hold back your sister, to slow her steps towards us. We need to walk with you longer, to bathe in your colors, and to slowly breathe your breath of change.  1. 'Busynes. It's different from business, of course. It is the state of being busy, a busy bee. a. Yoga helps me escape from the stress and busyness of work. b. The busyness of modern life can be exhausting. 2. 'Scurry' is how a mouse, squirrel, or a similar animal would run, particularly because it has four feet and nails. a. I could hear the mice scurrying on our wooden floor! b. The little lizard scurried up the wall to safety. 3. 'To glance' is a quick look at something. a. When you're driving, you only have to glance up at the rear view mirror for a second. b. I glanced at him, but he wasn't looking at me. Check out my Youtube channel A Cup Of English for new English teaching videos and podcasts made into videos to help you learn!

Oh Sushi.

Oct 21, 2019 10:27


  Is there a certain food that makes your mouth water? A few of my favorites are: curry, lasagne, pad Thai, and sushi. We are lucky enough to have a few sushi restaurants here in Wenatchee now. It took a while to get them! They are proving to be really popular. To satisfy the American palate(1), they serve hot food as well as sushi. I suppose, in a place that has cold, snowy winters, it is nice to have a hot food alternative. Like many people, though, my family and I love the sushi. Have you tried it? And what is it, exactly? Well, its Japanese, and it has a base of sticky rice that is prepared with a little vinegar, salt, and sugar. This is usually rolled up with seaweed, raw fish of different kinds, vegetables, and sometimes sauces. It is a very tasty, clean food experience. Sushi restaurants have the reputation of being extremely clean. The raw fish is deep frozen in order to kill any small worms that might be in the fish meat. And generally, the chefs prepare the food where everyone can see what they are doing. All the ingredients are lined up neatly under glass refrigerators, and step by step you can see the art of sushi making right in front of your eyes. The combination of ingredients, from my experience, are satisfying without making me feel too full, or bloated(2). Another thing about sushi is that it is very pretty. Most dishes that are offered have a combination of different colors, including the pink pickled ginger, and the green wasabi mustard, which are always part of a sushi plate. One of my favorite sushi dishes is called 'The Dinosaur Roll'. It has salmon which is pink, tuna which is red, asparagus which is green, avocado on top which is cream and light green, and a spicy eel sauce which is dark brown. It is a treat for the eyes! It's not the sort of thing you can eat everyday, unfortunately, as it is a bit expensive, but it is so worth(3) it every now and then. 1. 'Palate' means the roof of the mouth, or the range of tastes or taste preferences you have. a. The American palate is varied, but tends to like cheese, meat, salt, and sugar. b. This restaurant serves many kinds of food from different countries. You can really test your palate here. 2. 'To bloat' or 'bloated'. The verb means 'to blow up or inflate' but it has a sense of being uncomfortable or unnatural even. a. I don't know why, but bread always bloats me. My stomach gets big, and I feel heavy pressure inside! b. That type of dog gets a bloated stomach easily; it happens with that breed. 3. 'So worth it' is just the same as 'worth it' but more emphatic. We tend to emphasize the 'so' with almost a sign of relief in our voices. a. It was so worth talking to the principal; he managed to sort out my son's problem very quickly. b. Lining up for two hours to get into the exhibition was so worth it! My Youtube channel :    

A Small Climate Strike.

Oct 10, 2019 06:10


The phrases: climate strike, greenhouse gases, and global warming should be familiar with anyone who listens to the news. And now with the help of social media, young people are becoming aware of the science behind how human activity affects the world.  "Mum, can you excuse me from P.E please? I want to take part in the strike,' my daughter told me over the phone a few weeks ago. "Strike?" I thought to myself. Usually a strike at school would be for the teachers to get decent pay, or something like that. I received a text reminder from my daughter later that it was one of the hundreds of thousands of climate strikes by children all over the world. They were taking time out of school to draw attention to their need for a clean, healthy planet. They are too young too vote, or to control politics, or industry, but they have a voice, and they want it to be heard. So, I read about the movement, about Greta Thurnberg from Sweden, and I quickly got up-to-date with this very organized global initiative. "Good for them!" I thought. Our high school is just one school, but if students all over the world are learning the science behind the effects of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide on our planet, then they can, with us adults, take responsibility to reduce these emissions. Do we have to be wasteful, greedy, dumb, or slaves to politics and industry in order to increase wealth? And if wealth is increased, who really gets it? Are there more intelligent ways in which such an intelligent species as humans can live, work, and profit? These are questions that students now have to ask themselves. They also have to look around and see what is being done about the speed of 'heating up' that is taking place, and all the consequences that come from that. Apart from doing all we can to recycle, reduce buying plastics and toxic materials, my daughter and I have decided to read the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, that is the most recent scientific analysis of this big issue. We have a lot of reading to do! But there is a saying, "Who has mocked the day of small beginnings?" You have to start somewhere, right? Even in a small town, knowledge can lead to action, and that is a big thing.

English Medical Language (blood pressure and appendicitis).

Sep 20, 2019 19:32


For all of you nurses, nurses' assistants, doctors, and anyone else who is interested in, or involved in the medical profession, this podcast is for you. A subscriber to my Youtube channel A Cup Of English, Maria, recently asked me to go over the nursing reading and practice that she needs as a nurse. As my job is medical interpreting, I am familiar with a lot of medical language. So, today I will start with some essential, medical basics. The following is a conversation between a nurse, the doctor, and the patient. Afterwards, I will repeat the essential medical terms, and then we will listen to the dialogue a second time. Nurse Winters: Hello Mr. Smith. What brings you to the clinic today? Mr. Smith: Well, I feel terrible. Nurse Winters: Can you describe how you feel? Mr. Smith: I feel weak and hot and shaky. Nurse Winters: Let me take your vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, height, and weight. Could you take your shoes off and stand on the scale please? Ok, 192lbs. Now I will measure your height. Ok, 6'2". Now, I need you to sit down, with your feet flat on the floor. Please don't move, and stay quiet, so I can get your blood pressure. It's a little high: 129 systolic over 75 diastolic.  Mr. Smith: What does that mean? Nurse Winters: I'm glad you asked. The systolic blood pressure is the pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second number, diastolic, is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests. Now, this thermometer runs over your forehead; it's digital. Yes, it looks like you have a temperature: 104 degrees. Do you know how long you have had it? Mr. Smith: Two days. I measured it myself. Nurse Winters: Do you have any pain? Mr. Smith: Yes, right in the middle of my stomach. Nurse Winters: Have you recently had an accident, broken anything or cut yourself?  Mr. Smith: No I don't have any cuts or broken bones. Nurse Winters: Can you show me exactly where it hurts? Mr. Smith: Right around my belly button, and then it seems to spread out to the rest of my abdomen. Nurse Winters: What kind of pain is it? Sharp? Dull? Pressure? An ache? Mr. Smith: It's sharp pain now. Like a stabbing pain. When it started, it was just an ache, like a headache. But now its a lot worse, and the pain comes more often, and lasts longer. It comes in waves. Nurse Winters: Ok Mr. Smith. I have put the details in the computer, and Doctor Mojan will be in to see you shortly (soon). Mr. Smith: Thank you. (15 minutes later) Dr. Mojan: Hello Mr. Smith, I am Doctor Mojan. I hear that you have a lot of abdominal pain, and a fever. Mr. Smith: Yes, that's right. Dr. Mojan: If you could please lie down on the bed, I will examine you. I'm going to press gently on your abdomen. Tell me if you experience any pain. Mr. Smith: Ow! Yes, that really hurts! Please don't press any more. It's just getting worse.  Dr. Mojan: Ok, I'm sorry about that. Have you vomited at all? Mr. Smith: Yes, twice today, yesterday, and the day before. Dr. Mojan: You appear to have an infection. I suspect it is appendicitis, but it could be something else. To make an accurate diagnosis, I need to see the condition of your internal organs. So, today, you will have several tests. First of all, a urinalysis. You will give a urine sample and we will see if you have a urinary tract infection. You will also have a blood test, to see if you have elevated levels of white blood cells. This will show if there is definitely an infection. Then, because of your pain and vomiting, I believe you need to have an abdominal ultra sound. It's perfectly safe; it uses painless sound waves to produce a picture of your organs.  Mr. Smith: So, will I need an operation? Dr. Mojan: We will know when we get the results back. Hopefully, you only need to take antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Nurse Winters will come in now and take you to the bathroom to get your urine sample. Then, she will take you to get your blood test. In the meantime, I will order and organize your ultrasound. Mr. Smith: Thank you Doctor Mojan. Dr. Mojan: I'm glad you didn't wait any longer before coming in.  Medical notes: Types of pain: sharp, dull, pressure, ache or achy, throbbing, constant, spreading. Sensations: Tingling (pins and needles), numbness, shakiness or shaky, weak, dizzy, exhausted, nauseated, sweaty, chilled. Blood pressure: systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, a stethoscope, a blood pressure monitor or gauge, and an inflatable cuff. Temperature: thermometer, digital thermometer, fever, temperature, "I'm burning up", degrees. Abdomen, abdominal, exam, vomit, infection, diagnosis, internal organs, a sample (blood, urine, saliva). Elevated levels of white blood cells. Ultrasound, urinalysis, urinary tract. To give a sample. To get a blood test.      

A Beach in Seattle.

Sep 10, 2019 07:17


About one week ago, I found myself on a beach in Seattle called Alki Beach. I had gone there with my husband for a couple of days, just to get a way from it all(1). As we have been to Seattle on many occasions, we decided to do something different. For years, we have stayed downtown, gone shopping, and eaten in nice restaurants. Enough of that! We both love natural environments, and needed a refreshing break, so we googled the parks and beaches, and came up with(2) Alki. It is situated in West Seattle on a peninsular which is called Alki Point. The area is actually quite historic. The first white settlers arrived here in 1851. Apparently, Chief Seattle and his tribe greeted them and helped them build a cabin for shelter.  When we were there, it was full of activity. The sandy beach stretches for miles, so families and friends can hang out and do all kinds of beachy activities, like sunbathing, building sand castles, swimming, and playing frisbee. From where we were, the view of the Olympic mountains was spectacular, and the ferries going to and fro. The pair of binoculars that we had came in handy to look at the boats, canoes, and birds. Directly behind us was a wide sidewalk that was built to take all kinds of joggers, bicycles, strollers, and wheelchairs. The town built next to this beach caters to(3) the visitors, of course. There are many places to eat, or get supplies for the beach. It's so pretty too, as Seattle's climate allows the area to be really green and full of trees, the best of both worlds, I think. I could have easily stayed there until the evening, but we had other places to go. I suggested to my husband that the next time we come to Seattle, we stay close to the beach, and take in all that it has to offer.  1. 'To get away from it all' is to have a nice escape from obligations and responsibilities. a. I've been so stressed recently. I feel like I need to get away from it     all. b. Come and get away from it all on our cruises. They're only $6000! 2. 'To come up with' really means to discover, or to finally decide upon. a. I thought of a nickname for you. I came up with 'Crazy Hair'. b. It's interesting to hear how Starbucks came up with its name. 3. 'To cater to' means to serve or supply everything that is needed. a. The 'Happy Cooks' company will cater to all your special occasion needs. b. Stop catering to him; he's not a baby!

Cockleshell Beach.

Aug 28, 2019 07:04


                                     Imagine being in a tiny, coastal(1) village in Scotland in the summer. The air here is pure: a mix of ocean and forest smells, as the village is sandwiched between both. The area of Dumfries and Galloway, in the South West, has intense sunlight during this season, even though there is intermittent rain and a fair amount of wind. It's when the wind stops, you feel the warmth of the sun, and everything around you glows: the forests and fields, the oh so blue sky, and the colorful houses that sit in a happy row, taking in(2) the view. As you walk along the main road, you go past a couple of hotels and tea shops on your left, a gift shop with local art, and holiday homes, of course. There is a bus stop, then the road narrows(3) to a single track that winds along the coast, with pretty hedges and private drives all the way. You see a glow of yellow coming from your right, through the vegetation. As you investigate and move a little closer, you realize that the color is coming from a very unusual beach: Cockleshell Beach. There is no sand here, and not many rocks. What you do have is shells everywhere, meters thick. They reflect the sun, and beam up a warm yellow-white light. You dig down to see just how far the shells go, but there is no end to them. And they all look like brothers and sisters, all Cockleshells. What adds to this unusual place is how clean it is; it's spotless actually. And being such a small village, about half an hour from any major town, the  visitors are minimal, and most of those are on the water in boats. You could get inside a sleeping bag and have an incredible night's sleep, with the stars above you, the shells beneath, the sound of the sea lapping on the shore, and the clean breeze surrounding you. I'm not sure if that would be allowed; humans do tend to make things messy after all. But if it were allowed, it would be a quiet and nature-filled experience not to be forgotten. 1. 'Coastal' means of the coast. a. The coastal breeze is constant; it doesn't stop very often. b. The houses in coastal areas in Scotland must be strong, as they take strong coastal winds and salty air all year. 2. 'To take in' is used in English when we talk about looking at, observing, and absorbing the view, or something we are looking at. a. We sat on the beach and took in the view. b. As they walked through the museum, they took in all the historical works of art. 3. 'To narrow' is a great example of an adjective being used as a verb. a. Her eyes narrowed into a squint; uh-oh, she knew what I was up to. b. The hallway narrowed and got darker; we wondered what was in the room at the very end.  

A Colorful Secret.

Jul 26, 2019 11:48


It was the first day out in a few months that my mum had had, when we came across a hidden treasure. I had expected simply to take my mother for a drive, stop somewhere for lunch, and find a place she had told me about that sells plants. She is an avid(1) gardener; she can make anything grow, and has an elephant's memory for plants and how to propagate them. This would be a welcome break for her, as she had been stuck at home, recovering from an illness, with only short trips chauffeured by me here and there. This trip would take at least half a day and give her a sense of really being out of town. We drove past extensive orchards on both sides of the highway. This otherwise very dry, semi-desert valley, has large patches of green throughout its area, thanks to the Columbia River. It looks like a quilt. (2)After a while I realized that I had driven for too long; we must have already passed the place my mum was looking for. I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a pleasant looking cafe to ask for directions. It was rustic and cheery. There were fridges full of fruit and vegetables, shelves loaded with local honeys and jams, and groups of people eating freshly made sandwiches and drinking coffee. "I'll ask for directions later, " I said to mum. "Let's eat!" We were very impressed with the quality of food, and the good service. Before we left, the owner wrote down the directions to the nursery that my mother was looking for. I put the address in Google Maps, and we were on our way. The last time my mother had been there was about ten years ago. "Oh yes, this looks familiar," she said as I turned off the road. We bumped along a very narrow, rocky road that winded into an almost derelict living area that had a trailer and a strange shed. There were small signs of life, like a tv satellite dish and parked vehicles, but everything looked broken and dirty. There was no-one around, but I got the impression that we were being watched. "Um, I think we need to leave," I finally said, and turned the car around. One road down we came across the correct turn off that lead us downhill towards the river. On the steepest, dustiest part of the road, the nursery plastic tunnel came into view. We were thrilled. There were actually 4 huge plastic tunnels bursting with flowers of all colors and kinds. My mum thought she was in heaven. We walked around oohing and ahhing(3) at all the beauty. All the plants had just been watered so it was quite humid of course. However, the person who had done the watering was nowhere to be found, and nor was anyone else! We were completely alone in this world of flowers.  "How are we supposed to buy anything?" I asked, looking around. "Well, this is extraordinary," said my mum. "Anyone could fill their car up and leave!" I searched for clues, and found a little shed near the entryway with an open book with lists of plants that had been sold and their prices. Nearby was a sign that was half covered with ivy. It said, "If nobody is here, we're not far away, simply call xxxxxxxxx and we will be with you soon." So, I called the number that connected me to a lady, and I told her that we had left ten dollars for three little plants. She was very interested in how I had found her nursery and where I was from. In fact, she talked so much that I had to tell her that I needed to leave. Before I did though, she told me that I needed to pay a few more dollars for the flowers I had selected. How strange, I thought. No one is available for customers, I call to tell her how much I have paid and for what, and she wants to chat, and then tells me that I owe more.....How unusual. Of course I paid more before I left, but laughed with my mother about the extraordinary lack of service. When I think about the nursery now though, its the thousands of flowers that come to mind. It was unusual and at the same time incredible to be in a vast place of plants and color but completely alone. It was like our own colorful secret. 1. 'Avid' means 'keen', 'enthusiastic', 'active', 'motivated'. a. He's an avid painter; it's a daily practice for him. b. She is an avid gardener; she does it all year round and is very knowledgeable. 2. 'A quilt' is a handmade blanket that has usually square patches of cloth of all different patterns. a. In this area, ladies do 'quilting'. They sit in groups, making their quilts, and sharing their stories. b. My great grandmother's quilt is worn, but so cosy. Some of its patches are missing, but it is still soft and comfortable.  3. 'Oohing and ahhing' are the noises we make when we are very impressed with something we find.  a. "Ahhh!" said my dad as the new, red, Porsche drove by.  b. I left the jewelry shop as soon as I could. I couldn't stand all of the oohing and ahhing of the ladies while they looked at the necklaces. 

Another Furry Friend.

Jun 24, 2019 08:27


They're furry, flexible, and playful. They have sharp teeth, and will nip (1) you if you are not careful. They are highly energetic, but will sleep for 16 hours. Like cats, they groom themselves, but they apparently have an 'odor'... Like dogs, they can be trained, but their attention span is short when it comes to 'lessons'.They prefer to be in groups because they are highly social, and love to curl up and snuggle(2) with their owners. Yes, I'm talking about a kind of animal. Can you guess which one I'm thinking about? It's a ferret. We don't have any, yet, but they are potentially our next  pets. I'm not really sure why I am even considering more animals; we already have two dogs, a cat, and a snake. It is my daughter who is strong-arming(3) me into considering getting them. She can be very persuasive. However, I have had my experience with house pets, and what I've found is that usually it is me who takes care of them. It is always 'mum' who takes the little creatures to the vet. I buy the food, monitor how much exercise they've had etc etc. But apart from the responsibilities, what would be the benefits of having, let's say, a couple of ferrets? According to my daughter who has researched them for months, they are extremely playful, cute, and cuddly. We have watched videos of them playing in people's houses, running around, jumping, play fighting with each other, even jumping on their owners.  So we planned a trip to the Seattle Ferret Shelter to have an opportunity to hold and play with a few. It is the only place in the whole area that takes in unwanted ferrets, and raises money to take care of them. The visit was going to be part of a weekend in Seattle, and it was our first stop. The only trouble was, it was closed because of an unexpected circumstance. Domini was so disappointed. I was too to a certain extent. I was looking forward to holding and playing with them. But, in a way I was relieved; the thought of having more animals at home is something I'm not completely comfortable about. It feels like we're on track to open a farm, and I'm not ready to be a farmer! So, I came to an agreement with Domini: if she does well during her first year in High school, and isn't too busy, then she can get two. She has been very responsible with Beau, her snake. Perhaps this will lead her into a career with animals, hopefully without me needing therapy.  1. 'Nip' is a verb and a noun. It means a little bite, usually a sharp one if we are talking about animals. a. The puppy will nip you if you are not careful; their teeth are always sharp when they are young. b. The cold wind nipped our faces; it was always like this in winter. 2. 'To curl up and snuggle' we use these verbs often when describing animals getting comfortable and close to you or each other when they sleep. We also use them for humans though. a. We snuggled together on the sofa under a blanket. b. The kittens curled up together on the rug in front of the fireplace, and went to sleep. 3. 'To strong-arm' means to force or oblige. a. He strong-armed me into going to the concert with him, what a mistake! b. I don't want to be strong-armed into buying that car! Ferret videos.


May 8, 2019 09:37


Spring sports in our local school district have almost come to an end. This seems to be such a short season! The weather is also now closer to summer than spring. Those windy, mild days have changed into still, hot days. The blossoms on the trees are drying up, and the bees are buzzing. The school kids are buzzing also, with all kinds of activities. Track is a collection of sports that is very popular with kids of all ages. It includes sprinting(1), long distance running, the hurdles, shot put, javelin, discus, long jump, and high jump. My son Robert has been doing the throwing sports: shot put, javelin, and discus. He loves them. It's a complete change for him from his winter basketball. The track team is also a very relaxed and sociable group. There must be about 40 students or more involved, each doing one or two events(2) of choice. They compete with other high schools, which means traveling by bus. These trips are often a couple of hours away, and so by the time they finish all the events, have something to eat, and drive back to school, they get home at about midnight! Being in a sport in high school is quite a commitment.  I went to one of the track meets, as they are called, to see Wenatchee High School compete against Moses Lake. It's about an hour and a half's drive, across very flat countryside. The teams got to work, and I hung out(3) with a few parents to watch the kids throw. There was a consistent wind sweeping across the field that lasted the whole four hours that we were there. I was thankful that I had remembered to bring my coat and gloves! Robert and his friends stood around joking and waiting for their turn; they didn't get cold for a couple of hours, those big, strong boys, but they eventually put their hoodies(4) on. I walked around the field quite a few times just so I could warm up. And then with chattering teeth, and watery eyes, I watched Robert throw. He did well; he made a personal best in his javelin, his best throw so far. It's all about the technique, apparently. He showed me in detail how to hold the javelin, and then the dance-like steps you have to take to get maximum performance. Shot put was a bit different. He's one of the skinnier boys.  "Mum, you should see those shot put dudes, they're huge," he said later on. Some of the shot put girls were twice the size of my son. They were obviously built for that sport.  When the meet was over, the kids filled up the bus and headed home. I drove with Robert, to save him some time. We chatted and listened to music, but I could tell that as the car warmed up he got more and more sleepy. He stretched out his long legs and tired arms, threw a blanket over himself, and let his mother chauffeur him all the way home. 1. 'Sprinting', from 'to sprint' is to run in a fast, short burst. a. When I'm late for the bus, I sprint to catch it. b. She's more of a long distance runner than a sprinter. 2. 'Event/s' in this podcast refers to each sporting activity. The word can be used as a special occasion, or in this case generally what is used in track. a. Wimbledon is one of the greatest tennis events of the year. b. Discus is one of the least popular events in track, probably because it doesn't involve running, and it is difficult. 3. 'To hang out' is used all the time here in the U.S. and it means to spend time together.  a. Bats hang out with each other in caves, literally. b. I love hanging out with my friends. 4. 'Hoodie' is a sweater that has a warm hood. Everybody has a hoodie, right? a. He was wearing a large hoodie, so I couldn't see his face. b. I always keep a couple of hoodies in the back of the car, in case it gets cold.

Grammar Points from 'Jungle'.

Apr 10, 2019 07:15


As promised, today I will go over the grammar points from my last podcast, 'Jungle'. As you will remember, I danced the night away to the music of this British band. And all that dancing brought to mind some useful phrases. 1. Winter had been 'extraordinarily' long. We lose the sound of the first 'a'. Extraordinary - adjective Extraordinarily - adverb. a. The little boy was 'extraordinarily' descriptive about his day. b. The cat was extraordinarily brave; it fought the dog and won!  2. It's just as well that we spent the night, as the concert finished at midnight. It is similar in meaning to 'it's a good job that'. a. It is just as well that I checked my calendar. I have a dentist appointment in 10 minutes! b. It's pouring! I'm glad you insisted on bringing umbrellas. It's just as well (that) you did! 3. Their lyrics are clean, which for me 'is a (huge) plus'. a. I like going with you to places because you always bring snacks in your car. That's a huge plus.  b. Spending time with loved ones is important, and if you have time to listen to them, it's a huge plus. JUNGLE


Apr 4, 2019 06:37


About a month ago, a friend and I went to Seattle to do something that we don't normally do. We went to a concert. Winter had been extraordinarily(1) long here, so I decided that I needed to get away and do something fun. Thankfully my friend, Sandra, wanted to do the same thing. As she likes to shop, she suggested that we spend the night after the concert, and then spend money the next day in the shops! It is just as well that(2) we spent the night, actually, as the concert finished at midnight. I didn't fancy driving for three hours and getting home at 3am or later. So, which group did we see? Jungle is their name. They are a British band, and their genre of music is funk/soul/electronic. They have a very American sound when they sing, almost as if they had a motown base. I love their music, and their lyrics. In fact, their lyrics are clean which for me is a huge plus(3). I get so tired of hearing wonderful dance music, only to then realize that the lyrics are smutty or violent. I find that really annoying. Jungle, however, writes intelligent, sensitive lyrics that show a respect for humanity. So if you want to dance to really good rhythms while hearing some quality, clever writing, Jungle thankfully is available. The concert was supposed to start at nine o'clock, so Sandra and I rushed our dinner, and walked as fast as we could through downtown Seattle to get there on time. We found a long line of people talking and waiting for the doors to the concert hall to open. After half an hour, and the security check, we made our way into the Showbox hall which was already quite full with people at the bar, and beginning to fill up the dance floor. Another group was playing, you know, the warm-up group that's not very famous. They were actually quite good. People were swaying a bit, but not really dancing. I had deliberately bought a very comfortable pair of casual shoes, and was wearing just jeans and a t-shirt, so I could dance without feeling restricted. It's been such a long time since I have danced in public, or anywhere other than my kitchen. I wondered if I would be out-of-practice! Finally, the count-down started, the lights flashed until the title of Jungle appeared, and we all started cheering. Then song after song started flowing: 'Heavy California', 'Busy working', 'Time', 'Julia', 'Raindrops' and others. I know all of them. I jumped up and down just like the younger, elegantly dressed people around me, and wondered why Sandra wasn't doing the same thing. I think she was tired from getting up early for work, and also wasn't familiar with the songs. At one point, I even forgot that she was there because I was lost in the music. As the Showbox is a small concert hall, we were able to get really close to the group. That added a special dimension to my experience, a bit more intimacy. I feel that not only do I love Jungle's music, but that now we have a connection; I will always be a fan and wish them the best. The Showbox also is a venue I will keep my eye on for future concerts, and I will keep my extra comfortable shoes ready.


Mar 13, 2019 08:20


If you haven't heard of the shingles, then today I will teach you something both interesting and important for your health. The shingles is actually a virus. It is one of the herpes viruses. I have had close contact with it recently, as my mother has it. Don't let the pretty sound of the word fool you; shingles sounds like jingles, a happy ringing of bells. Well, its quite the opposite. It is horrendous. I think it should be renamed to something like, 'The dark knife', or 'The burning storm'. It is  actually the chicken pox virus. That is an illness that we tend to have as children. Nowadays there are vaccines for chicken pox, so children can at least be protected against a bad dose of the illness. If you have had it, the virus will continue to live in your body. It basically stays dormant in a nerve of its choice. Later in life, when your immune system is weak, it flares up(1), producing a burning rash and a lot of nerve pain. The nerves can actually be permanently damaged and  painful in a bad case. Thankfully though, there is a vaccine that we as adults can have when we are about 50. The shingles is also contagious. If you are touched by someone who has scratched their rash, you could catch it. It is rare, but possible. I will certainly get vaccinated, and I hope you do too. My mother told me that it is the most painful thing she has experienced, and it is taking weeks for her to recover. That means: loss of work, no socializing, no energy, and feeling miserable for a long time.  The good news is that she is recovering. Her rash has cleared up(2), and she has less pain. She had the worst case scenario; the virus was in her trigeminal nerve which runs along the top and left side of your head, into your left eye, and down to your chest. Her eye was so swollen at one point(3) that the doctor couldn't open it. Thankfully, now I can talk to her and see both of her lovely eyes, not just one. It will still take her weeks to get back to normal, but her very strong medicines are helping her recover. I will continue taking her to regular doctors' appointments and making sure that she has everything she needs. I'm hoping that as Spring comes, she will get her energy back and be able to enjoy the flowers and the nice weather. It has been a real education in health and medical care for me, one which I hope won't be repeated. 1. 'To flare up' means to surface or be activated. It can be used with physical symptoms or emotions. a. My rash flared up because I ate something I am sensitive to.  b. His anger flared up when he bumped into his ex boss. 2. 'To clear up' is almost the opposite of 'to flare up'. It means to get better, or get resolved. It also can be used in an emotional context. a. His acne cleared up after the dermatologist gave him some strong medicine. b. We talked about our problem, and finally cleared up the issue. 3. 'At one point' is super useful in just about any context. a. We waited in line for so long that at one point I was ready to fall asleep. b. My back hurt so much that at one point I couldn't even walk. c. The teacher made no sense; at one point I felt like pulling out my hair.

A Good Start.

Jan 31, 2019 08:09


Does your mind ever wander? Mine does, all the time. I find that I am constantly thinking about things. My brain rarely(1) seems to keep quiet. In Tai Chi we call this 'The Jumping Monkey' which is a wonderful image. I suppose our brains are supposed to always be thinking, but sometimes it's really distracting. Shopping, for example, is a time when you want to have a clear plan of action with no distraction. If you don't, you could end up wasting time or money, or both. So many times I've come home from shopping with a car full of groceries, only to realize that I forgot the most needed items, like toilet paper or toothpaste. Or I get into the store and I realize that I left my shopping list at home. Perhaps its a fault in my genes; I can blame it on my parents. You can blame most things on your parents. But that doesn't help; it's the behavior that needs to change. So, I've figured out a solution to the shopping list problem: I either write it on my hand, or I simply remember a number, the number of items I need. If that is my approach, then when I am in the store, it's up to me to remember which items they are. And there's something else: shopping bags. Here in the States, predominantly plastic bags are used for customers. It's a real problem, as they are terrible for the environment. I have felt uncomfortable for years about bringing home so many. My son, Hudson, brought back some reusable bags from Paris as a gift for me last year. They are strong, large, and attractive. But do you think that I could remember to take them with me? So many times I would find myself in the store with a cart already half full of items, and it would dawn on(2) me that I needed the bags, and that they were, oops, at home. It was so frustrating. So I decided to make a change. I put three of the bags in the car, right in front of my nose, on the dashboard. Now whenever I go shopping, I remember to take them. I'm so happy. I know it sounds trivial(3), but I'm relieved to be making a difference to the environment this way - finally! And I'm also relieved to have freed myself from forgetfulness. The jumping monkey of my brain is now a little under control, and that is a good start. 1. 'Rarely' is the same as 'not very often' or 'hardly'. Out of the three expressions, it is the least used. a. We rarely go to my sister-in-law's house as it is three hours away. b. My mother rarely comes to our house as she is allergic to my husband. 2. 'To dawn on someone that ...' is a very imaginative way of saying 'to realize'. Think of what 'dawn' is: new, natural light rising up, just like a clear idea. a. It dawned on me that I was paying for an international phone plan that I wasn't using. b. After he bought the item online, it dawned on him that he had added an extra '0' and bought 100 pillows instead of 10. 3. 'Trivial' means of little importance. a. It seems trivial to you, but it's important to me. b. Our conversation was quite superficial; we talked about trivial things.


Jan 15, 2019 07:44


We've lucked out this year (1). We're lucky because the winter has not been too hard. Yes we've had snow, and some freezing conditions, but it really hasn't been bad at all. I've been able to walk the dogs without falling on the ice, and my daughter has been able to practice her soccer moves on a more or less snow-free lawn. Everyone is back into a work or school routine, and Christmas seems like it was a long time ago. There are a few traces of decorations left around the house, but I'm not going to put them away for a few months. They keep a little bit of brightness and cheer in the house. Another thing that does, is the very colorful and very unusual present that Domini got this year. It's a snake, a corn snake to be exact(2). It's orange with yellow and white spots, only about 12 inches long, and is quite calm. Corn snakes are native to the U.S, and beneficial to humans as they eat rodents like rats and mice. They are not poisonous (of course I wouldn't buy my child a poisonous animal!), and they only get to a moderate length of 4-5 feet when they are adults. They kill their prey, which also includes frogs, birds, and bats, by constriction. As the snake is just a baby, we have to feed him tiny, newborn, bald mice which come frozen in a packet. Yes, I'm sorry, it sounds horrendous(3). I won't go into any more detail. But, you know, he has to eat something. Like other snakes, he can open his mouth up to a 150 degree angle in order to eat. I'm glad we don't do that! He also does it when he yawns, which is actually really cute. I suppose you can tell that I'm not scared of snakes. In fact, I've held him a couple of times and he felt very smooth, calm, and light. I held him close to my cheek, and I could feel his tiny tongue flickering in and out of his mouth as he smelled me. It wasn't creepy at all. Domini is very exact about looking after him, making sure that his environment is just right. Pets can be a great way to teach responsibility to kids as well. Beau is a very calming influence on Domini who she tends to be a bit hyper, so its good for her to handle a smooth, mesmerizing reptile,- her baby. 1. 'To luck out' is to be lucky or fortunate (an Americanism). a. We lucked out; there were just enough tickets left for us. b. He lucked out. He was late to the airport, but his plane was an hour delayed. 2. 'To be exact' is to be specific. a. We live on Idaho street, the last house on the left to be exact. b. He needs to take antibiotics for a couple of weeks, every day for 10 days to be exact. 3. 'Horrendous' is a great word that means 'awful'. It's used a lot in UK. a. The film was horrendous: the story was weak, the dialogues were unrealistic, and the acting was bad. b. Watching the snake eat is horrendous, unless you like that sort of thing.

The Lanyard.

Dec 17, 2018 07:49


Things are changing fast in my household. My third boy, Robert, is now driving. He's only 16, and that to me seems far too young to be 'behind the wheel'. Thankfully, he doesn't drive very far, so the chances of(1) him getting into an accident are not high. As soon as he passed his driver's test, he bought a few things for his vehicle so he could look like and be a proper driver. Tissues, chapstick, hand sanitizer, phone charger, and gum, are of course essentials to have in the car. Then there was the lanyard. When he first mentioned it, I didn't know what he was talking about. It sounded like some boating equipment. So I looked it up.(2) Actually, it is a kind of cord or rope used to secure equipment on ships, and also used in the military. In general, however, it is a cord you put around your neck or shoulder, for your keys or ID. It seems that all high school students have these long, often colorful straps that hang out of a pocket with their car keys attached. It's a sign of being a mature driver, like a symbol of honor. It's certainly a symbol of privilege. "It's so annoying," he said to me the other day. "There are 15yr olds in the Highschool, mom, who have lanyards. Some of them don't even have  permits yet." The permit is the driving card you can get when you turn 15 and sign up for a driver's education course. With it you can legally drive with family members over 21, with or without younger siblings.(3) You are not yet allowed to drive by yourself. "Well, perhaps they use them for house keys," I replied. "That's lame," was his response. A lanyard, for him, represents all the hard work and hours of practice that he put into earning his license. And you can't miss his; it's bright red. As he walks around the high school with the lanyard hanging out of his pocket, younger students have no doubt what it all means. It's like his basketball uniform, he belongs to a group; no unqualified people allowed thank you very much. I don't have a lanyard. I'm too old for one, according to my kids. And I wouldn't want one anyway; I don't need to be part of a group. I picked up a keychain from Heathrow airport that has a blue, leather disc with a Union Jack on the inside. I love it. It reminds me, and the few other people who see it, of where this bird comes from. So, like the lanyard, it's a reminder, one that I see each time I turn the key.  1. 'The chances of ..+ gerund'. This is a great addition to conversation: hypothesis, prediction, but quite casual. a. The chances of him winning the race are high. b. The chances a fair election are low. 2. 'To look something up' is to search for information either in a book, or the internet. a. As you are new to the area, I would look up anything you need on the internet. b. I looked up 'local plumbers' on Google; there are only three licensed ones in town. 3. 'With or without' is also a convenient and native sounding phrase to add to conversation. a. He will achieve his goal, with or without anyone's help. b. You can continue to improve in English, with or without a teacher.


Nov 7, 2018 07:34


Halloween was fairly uneventful this year. It is a huge day of celebration here in the U.S, but as my children are teenagers now, we are less involved in the 'trick or treat' tradition of dressing up and visiting houses. Also, we don't tend to get many visitors in our neighborhood because it is actually quite spooky: no street lamps, no side walks, and a dark orchard with derelict buildings immediately as you turn into the area. It doesn't surprise me that parents don't drop their kids off to let them trick or treat. I wouldn't. The tradition now for my kids, as well as for their friends, is to watch the scariest movie they can find in the cinema. Apparently, its 'the thing' to do. I can't stand scary movies, though decades ago, when I was a teenager, I too would watch them whenever I could. There was just something thrilling about screaming together. It must have been a way to bond. After Halloween, we visited my son Cass in Washington State University. The university's American football team, the Cougars, were playing, so my husband and son went to watch the game, and my daughter and I went to the cinema. You probably can guess what is coming next. Yes, my daughter, after much begging, persuaded me to watch the horror movie 'Halloween.' The film had already started when we went into the auditorium. It was packed, pitch black, and you could hear the rapid, nervous chewing of popcorn. I half shut my eyes in a squint to see if that would make the film less scary.  The story started to develop. All the typical horror movie ingredients were included: the dark, the pop-ups, the slowly opening, creaking doors, and the very stupid females who scream at everything and don't fight back. I jumped, and again, then several times in a row, and then "Ahh!" came out of my mouth without me even realizing. "Mum, come on," said Domini, "its not even scary yet. Control yourself!" Then she advised me to plug my ears. She was right; it's not half as scary if you can't hear anything. I must have looked quite silly with my fingers in my ears and my face screwed up into a squint.  It wasn't long before the 'baddie' was revealed. He wore a pale mask, and towered above everybody. It was when he appeared in a little boy's closet that I managed by biggest jump, spilling my chocolate covered raisins as I grabbed my daughter's leg. "Mum," hissed Domini, "you're ruining it." She walked out of the auditorium in a bad mood. I gave her a minute to cool off, and then I went and brought her back. "You're so embarrassing! I'm not sitting with you," she said as she went off to find another seat. I didn't mind her rejection; I was actually really focused on the film, and had now managed to get my body under control. I relaxed enough to critique the movie, which is always fun. Horror movies in particular are very two dimensional. "Oh, well that wasn't totally predictable," I thought to myself sarcastically as another weak character did all the wrong things, and therefore was grabbed by the 'psycho'. What was most disappointing to me was that the worst of the stupid, weak females was English. She had a perfect opportunity to bash the baddie with a big piece of metal, but instead she sat down and cried. For goodness sake! She really let my country down. If I had been the one in a public toilet, with a giant, violent 'loco', I would have shown him what English women are really like.  When the film was over, Domini and I chatted about it all the way back to the university. We were full of criticisms and funny comments which helped to dissipate some of the scary images from our minds. I think she would have preferred to go with friends. I, however, was very proud of myself for surviving 'Halloween'. I was tired from all the jumping and squinting, but quite thrilled to feel like a teenager again.

Ed Sheeran in Concert.

Sep 17, 2018 08:08


There's nothing like(1) being in a crowd of 60,000 people. There's nothing like it, if they are all happy and dancing to the same music. Yes, you guessed it; I went to a concert with 59, 997 temporary friends. We were all happy to be together. I took my daughter and a friend of hers, and I was as excited as they were. Ed Sheeran was the main singer of the evening. I pride myself in(2) being a sort of up-to-date mum, so I was already familiar with some of his songs, and what he looks like. And he's English, so that was a plus for me. He actually chatted a lot in between songs, and came across as a very friendly, intelligent person.  As far as his performance goes, he was dynamic, and gave a good rendition of all of his most popular songs. I was impressed with the fact that he was by himself on stage. He used a 'loop' machine to create his music by instantaneous recording of himself. It worked really well. How clever! The girls and I were unfortunately up in what we call 'the nose bleeds' which means that the seats were really high up in the stadium, quite far away from the main guy. Ed Sheeran, luckily, is a redhead, and so we didn't have to strain(3) our eyes too badly to see him. We could see a flash of red jumping and running around the stage; I assume it was him.... Though we had seats, most of the concert we spent dancing on the spot with everyone else around us. The energy in the stadium was electric. From our seats we could also see the sea with ferries coming and going, as the stadium is not enclosed. It was quite a night. 1. 'There's nothing like + gerund/ object' This is a way of saying that something is the best. a. There's nothing like my grandmother's chocolate cake; I've never tasted a better one. b. There's nothing like hiking in the mountains with friends. c. There's nothing like a cool drink of water after a hot day of work outside. d. There's nothing like opening the envelope that has your grades, and seeing all A's. 2. 'To pride yourself in  +noun/adjective'. This is quite self-explanatory: a. He prides himself in his work. b. She prides herself in her dedication to her instrument. c. They pride themselves in their charitable organization. 3. 'To strain' is a useful verb which means to over-use and therefore to hurt. a. He strained his back by carrying heavy boxes the wrong way. b. I didn't have my glasses so I had to strain my eyes to read the medicine bottle. c. Stretching before exercise can help reduce strains.

Snake Skin Surprise.

Aug 14, 2018 04:31


Snakes are creatures that I rarely see. Actually, I have no desire to see them. They're not really my cup of tea. My sister, however, used to have a very large corn snake. It was yellow and white, and its very long body filled its glass cage where it would only occasionally move. Once a week Suzy would feed it a mouse which, in a flash, would disappear down the snakes throat, and then it would go back to its rather boring existence. It was, you could say, the easiest of pets. Here, where I live, there are some native snakes that people do run into every now and then. We have the garter snake that is black and white which can swim, and gives birth to live babies, no need for eggs. Then there is the harmless bull snake that is brownish grey that kills rattle snakes. And then the rattlers. They are the ones to watch out for. I suppose, the humans around here have respect for and fear of these stripy, unpredictable animals. I have heard many stories of people finding a rattler in their kitchen, or front garden, or that their dog was bitten by one. Last week, a gentleman came to work at our house, and while he was there, he noticed my rottweiler, so we started talking about dogs. He told me that he lives outside of town on 120 acres of hillside where it is fairly dry. His dog was bitten by a rattler and needed expensive treatment at the vets. Thankfully, it was alright. "It's dry land, so its where the rattlers like to be," he said to me. He continued with his story to tell me that this year alone he has killed eleven rattlesnakes, one of which had eight rattles. Yuk! That one must have been huge! "So, why don't you move closer to town where it's not so dry?" I asked.  He just smiled and said, "I prefer snakes to people."

The 4th at the lake.

Jul 7, 2018 04:30


We spent the 4th of July at Lake Chelan for the first time just a couple of days ago. As you know, the 4th is the national holiday celebrating the independence of the U.S from England. It is a day off for everyone, and usually involves a huge fireworks display. My sister-in-law owns a cabin that is right on the lake, a perfect holiday home, and an exciting place to get together and enjoy the water and the celebrations. I must say that the fireworks were definitely not the highlight of the evening. The cabin is located down the lake, far away from the spot where the fireworks take off. In fact, we were so far away, that they looked like a tiny display coming from someones backyard! A bit of an anticlimax really. However, we had had a wonderful time with our friends, and making new ones. I have never lived by water. When I was a child, I would spend summers in Mallorca, and go to the beach every day. But, actually living on the water, especially a lake, would be a very different experience for me. It struck me how relaxing it was sitting talking at a table, with the cool, clean water of Lake Chelan just a few feet away, gently lapping on the sand. I don't think anybody felt stressed. The wine and beer flowed, and then the music started. About half of the people at the party randomly jumped in the water, just like that. The sun gradually went down over the mountains that look over the lake, and all the lights of the houses on the other side of the water came on. That in itself was wonderful enough; it was so pretty. The air was a perfect temperature and smelled so clean, with a hint of pine. And we sat on the dock and swung our legs like children as a group of us talked about deep things. If I had my way, every holiday would be like that.

To Stumble Upon.

Jul 1, 2018 10:22


Summer is a busy time, though some people think that it isn't. "So, what are you doing with all your time off, now that you don't have to drive here and there for school?" people have asked me. I smile politely, but think, "You have no idea." Yes, summer is busy. Mind you(1), that is partly my own fault. I am a project maniac. For some reason I feel compelled to constantly take on new projects. One of this season's tasks is to go through the whole house and garden. The aim is to minimalize and tidy. To reduce the clutter in a house, apparently you need a system of three boxes: one for items to throw away, one for donation, and the last for items to sell. So I am applying this system, and beginning to feel liberated. The garden, however, is the battleground for me. I have avoided it up until now(2) because of the heat, but everyday I look out of the window and see the growing need. Weeds, and lots of them. Right around my vegetable boxes, there is a mass of happy weeds, enjoying the sun and the irrigation. They don't just survive; they multiply, prosper, and have a great old time(3) just spreading. I should probably just make friends with them, and reduce my work. But no, my plan is to clear the whole area and to lay down landscaping plastic and bark to create attractive, weed-free pathways. I am determined. So, every now and then I will visit the jungle and pull a few weeds out while planning my project. Of course, I quickly get into a bad mood because it seems overwhelming. I usually get bitten by a few mosquitos, get a spider in my hair, and a splinter or two in my fingers. On one of these occasions, I was pulling out some litter from the hedge, when on the floor, a glow of white caught my eye. I bent over and looked underneath. There I found a group of three speckled eggs, quails' eggs. They were bright against  the background of dry, brown leaves, and looked perfectly smooth. I picked them up. They were surprisingly heavy for their size, and cold to the touch. I wondered where the mother was. The sunlight shone through the hedge in patches which moved with the wind, as if spotlighting the nest. It was a cosy place, safely tucked away, chosen with care. I knew that the eggs would not hatch; the mother was gone. I suddenly felt silly about getting so annoyed at my work. This nest that I had stumbled upon, like all nests, was a place of hope. What was inside was beautiful and vulnerable. Tiny, perfect eggs, laid by instinct, were part of a much greater plan than mine. So, I left them there, in the leaves, not far from my weeds. 1. 'Mind you' is a great, casual addition to conversation. It's like saying, "Well," "But think about this", or "However". a. The car is expensive! Mind you, it is top quality, so it'll run well for a long time. b. She wears very expensive clothes; mind you, she has a very good job and can afford whatever she wants. 2. 'Up until now' is the same as saying 'Until now', but it gives the sense of the length of time. a. We have always paid to park in the center of town up until now. b. I asked for a quote from the plumber last year, and I've heard nothing up until now! 3. 'A great old time' is one of those English phrases that has a word that is not necessary, but one that adds feeling. You could say 'a great time', but the word 'old' implies a little sarcasm to the context (weeds in the podcast), and a carefree length of time. a. Last night I dropped my car keys on the road while it was raining. I had a great old time looking for them. b. The old school friends talked into the night having a great old time.  


Jun 9, 2018 10:11


When my husband and I visited China, I must say that we weren't very organized. My husband was focused on work, but I hadn't done enough research into making our finances(1) work in China. Though I had notified my credit card companies that I would be using the cards in China, I failed to get a pin to withdraw cash. I also was completely unaware of Alipay. And Alipay is everywhere. If you are not yet familiar with it, you soon will be. It is a financial organization, owned by Alibaba, which provides 3rd party(2) on-line payments, with no fees. That means that like using PayPal, you can pay for almost anything without cash or credit cards. Every transaction is done over your smart phone. And let me tell you, the transactions are fast. There is no need for fumbling(3) around with passwords that you might have forgotten, or waiting for confirmation numbers. No, this is lightening speed, and I didn't have it. On a few occasions, I couldn't actually go into places because they only took Alipay. As the few Yuan that I had ran out, I began to feel uncomfortable, and quite silly. What made it worse was that we actually went to the headquarters of Alibaba, the very conglomerate that owns and operates Alipay. The museum we were invited to showcased for us the massive, and complex machine of Alibaba, with its retail, e-commerce, AI, and tech branches. "I really need to catch up," I thought to myself, "on everything!" I left the building in Hangzhou feeling a mix of emotions: very impressed, but very 'behind'. The presenter who took us through the museum, and showed us the evolution of the company, mentioned that Alibaba is focusing more and more on making systems and other companies more efficient. It is also tracking our carbon footprints and planting trees. Ah, now, those two things certainly got my attention. The fact that it is worth over $500 billion, of course is exciting and impressive. But you know me; my heart strings were pulled when I found out that it is being responsible about the well-being of the planet. And one of my favorite combinations of words is 'efficient' + 'systems'. Perhaps I can follow their example, become efficient, and do a bit more research on how to organize my spending before I travel somewhere new! 1. Finances means everything to do with money and its uses. a. I really need to sort out my finances; I don't know what I have coming in or going out! b. His life is finances; he lends money for a fee, and also invests whenever he can. 2. 3rd party is a person or organization that helps to organize an interaction between you and someone else. a. The counselor was like an unattached 3rd party who listened to both people talk, and who simply summarized what was going on. b. A 3rd party in finances is usually not associated with the seller or the buyer, but provides the service of the transaction and its security. 3. 'To fumble' is a verb which means to handle in an unstable way, almost dropping, and not holding properly. It is often used with the word 'around'. a. I fumbled around in the dark, looking for a flashlight, hoping that the electricity would come back on soon. b. She tried to put the key in the lock, fumbling, and dropping them several times.

Impressions of Shanghai.

May 9, 2018 08:42


I never thought that I would get here, but here I am. China, that is. I'm so excited that I'm sure even my sentences will have grammatical errors. This was an unexpected(1) trip, an opportunity that suddenly came my way. I would have been an idiot to not take advantage of my good fortune. Of course, I could have(2) stayed at home for the week, and done the usual things, you know: work, cooking, laundry, walk the dogs. However, as I have my mother and in-laws available to help, I jumped at the chance to come here, to China, instead. So, this is my first day, in Shanghai. My husband is in a business meeting, and as I write, I am hanging out in the hotel room which has an incredible view of the city. We are up on the 59th floor; I'm surprised that it doesn't make me feel dizzy. My first surprise when I arrived was to see how many trees there are in the city. There are more trees than in Seattle! Even the highway is bordered by either a line of deciduous trees, or indeed a forest. In fact, wherever there is space between the buildings, there are masses of trees. And I have never seen so many buildings, high rises, in my life. They stretch out like a giant lego project into the horizon. And yet everything is so neat, organized, and clean. Directly below our hotel is a park that looks like a mini-forest(3). There is a large pond in the middle, and I can see the roof of a restaurant, partly hidden by the canopy of the trees. After my husband's meeting, we will go there for a walk, and maybe have a bite to eat. One thing I realize as I talk to the hotel staff, and move around, is how ignorant I am. Seriously; I know so little about China, and my Chinese is practically non-existent. When I was in school, our history curriculum taught us very little about China. And our news media in UK and U.S has only recently given some time to news about this country. I think we can be inadvertently kept quite separate from other continents if we're not careful, don't you think? Mind you, all of that can change with a little effort, especially now that we have access to the internet. So, one of my goals for today, when I have finished this podcast, is to get on Youtube, to watch some Chinese history, and learn a few words and phrases. That's where I will begin. 1. 'Unexpected' What a great word! It's very common, and with a bit of practice, is not too difficult to pronounce. a. I had some unexpected news yesterday from my sister. b. There was an unexpected interruption to their journey, so they had to rearrange their plans. 2. 'Could have/ would have'. We've practiced this plenty of times, but it's essential for fluency. a. I could have flown to Beijing, but instead I flew to Shanghai. b. You should have checked your receipt; I think they overcharged you. 3. The use of 'mini'. We can unofficially use mini with all sorts of nouns to create our own sentences. a. Our party was a mini-disaster. Frank fell on the cake. Sue fell down the stairs. And Rodger broke his ankle. b. Students, tomorrow we will have a mini-exam, so make sure you study your notes tonight. 

Seattle's Coffee.

Apr 14, 2018 09:15


Coffee is very important to people in the U.S. Washington State is the birthplace of Starbucks, and the city where the first one of them opened is Seattle. You could say that the subject of coffee there is as natural as breathing. If you are lucky enough to visit that splendid, green, innovative(1) city, you will easily find your way to Pike Place Market where the famous coffee shop is located. There is always a long line of people waiting to buy a drink, and that line fills the standing space in the cafe, and continues out of the door and down the street. But why is Starbucks such an important place in the U.S? The answer, in part, is that it is indeed a place, not just a company. The founders, Baldwin, Siegl, and Bowker, had a vision of providing high quality coffee in comfortable places where people could linger. And 'linger' is the significant word here. The U.S culture, as far as I can see, has very little to do with lingering, spending time being in the moment(2), enjoying a meal, talking with a friend. These are, of course, activities that people love and crave; however, work and the drive to be rich have created a fast-paced society that counts the minutes by the dollars either made or lost. There is a counterculture to that materialistic drive(3), though which can be found across the generations. Some people seem more aware of activities like yoga, meditation, utilizing the parks, and art. Starbucks fits in with this desire to slow down, and provides a place where many can do so, no matter the weather. Ironically, by providing an environment for thought and relaxation, it has become a billion dollar company. So, while it has encouraged people to 'stop and smell the roses', it has also encouraged them to hand over their dollars. And its the very nature of the product they sell that enables that to happen, - caffeine: a natural but very potent psychoactive drug. We all love it, so we're happy to hand over those dollars. Great ideas and revolutions come from its consumption, plus its fashionable every season in one way or another. As Starbucks has carved its way into the U.S culture, I suppose it will be around for quite a while. 1. 'Innovative'- creative, inventing, new ideas/projects. a. The phrase 'you think outside the box' means that you are innovative. b. Their innovative company recycles waste plastic and uses it to make roads. 2. 'To linger' and 'to be in the moment' are similar. The first means to stay because you want to savor the experience. The second means to be fully aware and alive now. a. After the party, Thomas lingered. He was enjoying our conversation so much that he didn't want to leave. b. When we do yoga, our instructor encourages us to not think of anything, but just to breathe and to be in the moment. 3. A 'drive' means a push, tendency, instinct, a strong desire.  a. I think he will be successful; he has a strong drive.  (You can also say 'he is driven') b. She can't escape her drive to change the world.

The Hoxton, London.

Mar 22, 2018 08:46


It has been many years since I've lived in a big city. I used to live in London, and part of me is still there, I think(1). If you follow my podcasts, you will know that I go back whenever I can, even if it is just for an hour's lunch with one of my girlfriends before I fly home. There is just something about the city vibe(2) that I love. It's intense, a showcase of human creativity. Samuel Johnson, a famous English writer from 1700's said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." This is an old English way of saying that there is all that you can experience/learn/admire in that city. To a large extent, I agree with him. There would never be any excuse to be bored in London, nor in any capital city. My good friend Sarah took me to a popular bar/grill/restaurant that is close to where she works, in an area called Shoreditch. Shoreditch is in East London, a very trendy, artsy place full of young energy, businesses, and development. As she works just around the corner from the Hoxton, she goes there frequently for lunch. It's sort of an all-encompassing venue. You can go there for a business meeting, to work by yourself on your laptop next to the fireplace, or to have a quiet coffee and read one of the many books they have in their library. But don't forget, it's a hotel as well, with over 200 rooms designed for comfort and with a modern flair. I too would be there often if I worked nearby. Its interior is inviting: cosy and warm colors, lots of brick and wood, and of course, large leather sofas. The main eating areas are more modern and compact to accommodate large numbers of people. When we were there, there was a loud hum of conversation as so many people had gathered in groups to hang out(3) and eat. I would definitely recommend the Hoxton to anyone visiting London. It's just the kind of place you need to have a good meal in  while you're exploring East London. So, of course I had a wonderful time with Sarah: great coffee, a trendy environment, and a good friend. 1. 'I think' ok, this sounds like an easy one, and it is. The reason I included it is because it is the sort of addition to a sentence that sounds native with a touch of humility and personality. There are many other additions to sentences that can be used. a. That was a good bargain, I suppose. b. We could wait until they can join us, I guess. Try putting some at the front of the sentence. c. Personally, I feel/what I think is that the meeting didn't cover all of the issues. 2. 'Vibe' is short for 'vibration' and is a very common and trendy word. We often talk of 'good/bad vibes' in a social situation or in a place. It is essentially slang, but is very mainstream. a. The party had such a good vibe; everyone there was so nice. b. I don't trust him; he gave me a creepy vibe. 3. 'To hang out' is also a trendy, mainstream phrase, though it used to be slang. It basically means to spend time with someone or in a place. a. When we were in Paris we just wanted to hang out at the Louvre all day. b. Why don't you come to the park with us and hang out?

Sweet Belgium.

Feb 28, 2018 11:06


Just about the time that I consider giving up sugar, I visit Belgium(1). It wasn't good timing! I wouldn't have missed my day in Brussels for anything, of course. However, as I walked around the shops near Grand Place, everywhere I looked, I was tempted. The Belgians like their desserts, and desserts are made with sugar.  Belgian chocolate is known all over the world for being one of the best. I expected to see some elegant displays of chocolates, but what I didn't expect was the amount of shops that were bursting with sweet treats. It was like edible art. Chocolates, pastries, and the famous macaroons were arranged beautifully to draw visitors in to buy. I ended up being one of those visitors. How could I not go in?(2) I only had one day in Brussels, so I had to experience all that I could while I had the time. Thankfully my pancreas works well, so I decided that that day would be my day of cheating. Sugar would still be my friend for one more day. I had sheltered in a coffee shop in the main square for about half an hour just to warm up because it was so cold outside, and I didn't have a hat. But then I decided to eat something. I bought a few pastries that were put in a very pretty box, and then I went to a waffle shop. There were so many to choose from it was almost ridiculous. I ended up(3) ordering a banana, nutella, and cream waffle with tea. It was delicious, of course. I do believe that chocolate, banana, and cream are one of the best combinations ever. I couldn't finish it, though. It was too much for me, but oh so good! Food is one of the many interesting differences to experience when you travel to a country for the first time. It's a shame that I didn't have enough time to sample more food. The next time I go to Belgium I would like to try their famous 'waterzooi' which is a very substantial and creamy vegetable and potato stew with either fish or chicken. Mmm, the thought of it is making me hungry. 1. 'Just when I consider giving up sugar, I visit Belgium.' Notice that this is in the present tense, even though I'm talking about the past. It is common in conversation,  especially when you are emphasizing a major event, that you use the present tense even when it is understood to be in the past. It makes it more immediate. a. We get lost three times on the metro, finally arrive at the Louvre and its closed! b. Our flight is delayed so we go for a quick coffee. When we come back, the plane has left!  2. 'How could I not go in?' In this case, I really wanted to go into the chocolate and pastry shops. Instead of making a statement like, 'I really wanted to go in,' I wanted to write something a little more interesting, so I used a question. Another question I could have written is, 'Why wouldn't I go in?' a. We were given tickets to the museum. We left immediately; why wouldn't we go? b. She offered me some of her famous chocolate cake. How could I refuse?/ How could I not accept? c. The new cafe was giving away free espressos. Who would not want that/one/some? 3. 'To end up' I know I have covered the use of this phrase before. It really is so useful, and sounds very native indeed. Remember, it is usually followed by a gerund 'ing'. a. After trying to contact several mechanics, we ended up fixing the car ourselves. b. The children in that class are from many different countries, so they end up learning each others' languages and customs. c. The government ended up allowing girls to go to school because they realized it would benefit the economy and society in general.

Elegant Brussels.

Feb 6, 2018 09:46


After my trip to Paris this January, I decided that I would spend one day in Brussels. I had never been to Belgium before, and I longed to(1) go to a place I had never visited. Brussels was the obvious choice for me, as the train journey from Paris is less than two hours. After saying goodbye to my son, I headed to Gare du Nord. Talk about(2) a busy station! I went through security quickly, and found my seat. I was relieved to be on a train and on my way. I was tired; jet lag and saying goodbye to my son were both heavy weights on my shoulders. I hoped to fall asleep during the trip, but that didn't happen. I was too curious. I watched the misty countryside fly by as the train rocked oh so slightly back and forth; it was comforting. We reached Gare du Midi in no time at all. I grabbed my only roller suitcase, turned on the data for my phone, and googled my way to my Airbnb. How efficient! The place I had booked for the night was delightful. It was a ten minute walk from the station, and owned by a lady called Mikaela. She gave me a warm welcome and showed me around the very spacious, clean, and uncluttered accommodation. I was tempted to take a nap, but I knew that I only had a few hours before the sun went down, and I had to make the most of it. I wrapped up and headed to the Grand Place. Thankfully, I had just enough data to find my way there. And it was so worth the trip. Even though I was tired, and the wind was really cold, the elegance of this main square made the whole journey worthwhile(3). This area is a UNESCO world heritage site, and is considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It is dominated by the Hotel de Ville, or Town Hall that was built in the 1400's. The Museum of the City of Brussels dominates the opposite side of the square. It was built in the 1800's and shows the history of Brussels through art, tapestries, photos, models, and sculptures. I would have loved to have had enough time to go through the museum, but alas, I only had a couple of hours. I wondered down the various streets that came off of the square, and took time to investigate the pastry, chocolate, and waffle shops. Everything was displayed with taste, especially in the Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert. I bought a gift for my father and step-mother who I was soon to visit, and then I walked around the square one more time, taking photos, and taking in the atmosphere, before heading back to the Airbnb. 1. 'To long to' is the same as 'to yearn to'. It means that you really, really want to do something. In fact, a 'longing'  (the noun) is a strong desire that has lasted for a long time. a. He longs to finally pass his exams so he can get his PhD. b. She longs to return to the land where she was born. 2. 'Talk about' is a very English expression that is one of exaggeration. It is similar to saying 'how' ..... a. You'll love le Grand Place in Brussels, talk about elegant! b. The line for the concert went all around the block, talk about a popular singer! 3. 'Worthwhile' really means that something is worthy of your time (your while). It merits your time/ attention. a. Learning Russian over Skype for a year was difficult but really worthwhile. b. I think that charity is worthwhile; it helps a lot of people.

A Blink of Paris.

Jan 23, 2018 09:42


During my recent travels, I had the opportunity to go to Paris. I was only there for a few days with my son Hudson. I went there to get him settled in school, and to make sure that he seemed happy with his arrangements. "Mum, I love this place," he said to me at one point. He was amazed by the city. There is so much history, art, and spectacular architecture that you can be pleasantly distracted for years. I hadn't been to Paris for decades, and only had vague(1) memories of certain places. One of my good friends, Lorraine, joined us for the weekend which was a special treat for me. She lives near London, and so caught the Eurostar train to Paris, a journey that only took two hours. I loved being back in Europe again, and having the chance to experience this intense city. Winter, I suppose, is not the best time to go to Paris to study; however, as Spring gets closer, the days get longer, there is less rain and more sun, my son will find himself in a city that is like a painted masterpiece(2). Like London, Paris is a place you can lose yourself in. That means that your mind can be totally absorbed by things other than yourself. And having two legs becomes especially important, as so much of what can be experienced needs to be walked to: you walk down narrow alleyways and discover art galleries, you walk around a historic building to take just the right photo, or you walk past cafe after cafe until you find the one that is particularly pretty, or has the best view. Another thing that I enjoyed was practicing my French. Because I love language, and I'm not particularly shy, I threw myself into conversations with all sorts of people. My French was very inaccurate and rough, but I actually didn't care because I knew enough to make myself understood, and the people I spoke with were very kind and patient. I believe that people really appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language; I think it shows humility. Anyway, I'm not a self-conscious teenager, so I don't mind making a fool of myself occasionally. I encouraged my son who is a self-conscious(3) teenager to jump in and talk as much as possible with the Parisians.  I couldn't leave Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, of course. The day that we went there was very cold indeed, and windy. Thankfully I had brought a long, thick coat as I hate to be cold. Lorraine and I had arranged to meet up with Hudson for a coffee nearby. There were so many people! Underneath the Tower is now sectioned off for security reasons, which is understandable. So we decided to go into one of the nearby tents and have a hot chocolate. We lingered and enjoyed the atmosphere, and then decided to take some photos and head back to his student residence. Though the skies were grey, and the trees bare, the sight was quite magnificent, even in the gloomy colors. 1. 'Vague' means inaccurate, slight, approximate, or not present. a. His ideas are not expressed well; they are very vague. b. I had a vague notion that we had left our keys in the restaurant. c. He looks very vague, like he's off in the clouds. 2. 'Masterpiece' usually refers to a work of art or literature that is highly admired and considered close to perfect. a. The Mona Lisa, and 'Pride and Prejudice' are considered masterpieces of both art and literature. b. I wrote a poem; it's not a masterpiece, but I like it. 3. 'Self-conscious' is to have your mind too much on yourself, and to therefore feel shy. a. I often feel self-conscious when people want to take a photo of me. b. She's not self-conscious at all; she'll sing opera to anyone!

A Home At Last?

Dec 16, 2017 10:30


In your country, do you have a Humane Society? By that I mean an organization that looks after unwanted animals. The U.S does; it is a charity that works for the good of animals. Here, in each state, you can find these places under the actual title of The Humane Society. The animals that are rescued from bad situations, or found on the streets, are housed in buildings where they get the food and medical attention they need to be healthy. It mainly serves dogs and cats, as they are prolific, and unfortunately sometimes end up homeless, but occasionally other needy animals can be found there. Each dog has its own small room with a bed, a water dish, and a toy to chew. They are taken for a walk each day so they get strong and well, and so they can burn off some nervous energy. The cats, on the other hand, don't go outside because it is more difficult to control them. They can, though, share a roomy cat house that often has 2 or 3 small rooms. They're allowed into a room for their exercise, where they can run, climb, and play with toys. It is a generous and caring environment where many people volunteer, especially the retired, and children.  I went to Wenatchee's Humane Society last week with my daughter, as she has signed up(1) to be a volunteer. That actually means that I am now officially a volunteer because she is too young to volunteer without an adult. We were given a guided tour by a retired gentleman who likes to help the dogs that have experienced trauma. He pointed out ten new dogs that had arrived the day before from Texas. "Texas?" I asked, "Gosh, that's a long way away." He explained that the recent hurricane in Texas displaced(2) a lot of animals, and some were found wandering around in poor physical condition. A part of the funds that are donated to the Humane Society goes to the rescue crew who search for and find stray animals. Sometimes a person will call to inform the staff that there is an unfamiliar animal in their neighborhood. A crew will then go in a van to retrieve the animal and take it to the shelter. This is all quite a commitment of time and money, and that commitment comes from a love of animals and a desire to be humane. The first step a person takes before being allowed to volunteer is to sign up online, and then to attend an orientation meeting. About ten people including ourselves were in the meeting room with a lady who explained the philosophy behind the Humane Society, and the history of the Wenatchee chapter. The main focus is to get animals healthy and well adjusted as quickly as possible, so they can then be adopted. A vet works there each morning to spay and neuter the animals before they are adopted, so they do not breed. Population control is an intelligent part of the humane philosophy. The Wenatchee site is a brand new building which was funded by a kind lady who left the money in her will(3). It is modern, clean, and roomy. As volunteers, we have to work at least 12 hours in 3 months, as well as take cat and dog handling classes. There are all sorts of ways in which we can help, from doing the laundry to bathing the animals. I'm excited to share this experience with my daughter, and to be a part of the solution for stray and unwanted animals. 1. 'To sign up' is to register your name with an organization of some sort. a. The last day to sign up for basketball is December 20th. b. You can sign up online to help with meals for the hungry. c. Oh no, I missed the sign up date! 2. 'Displaced' is when people or animals have been forced to leave their normal home environment. It is also a verb of causing something to leave its natural environment. a. The refugees were displaced because of the ongoing war. b. Tropical species of fish have displaced some native fish of Florida. c. Natural disasters often displace people and animals. 3. A 'will' is the legal document that a person has which states that upon his death, certain named people will receive his money or possessions. a. A wealthy lady left a lot of money to the Humane Society in her will. b. If you make a will, usually other people have to sign it to make it legal. Practice your English at iTalki.

Enter at your own risk!

Nov 22, 2017 12:11


I am becoming a minimalist. It's a slow process, but it is definitely happening. For many years I haven't practiced giving or throwing things away, neither has my husband. It is so easy to put things that we no longer need in cupboards and closets, and then to conveniently forget about them. So, the result has been an accumulation of stuff. But, the season has changed, the tide has turned (1), and I'm in motion to do what I should do. There are many charity shops here where you can donate unwanted but good quality clothing and household goods(2). I often shop at some of these places because you can find great bargains. Some things, however, must be thrown away or recycled. That was the case with five, large, steel canisters that I had stored in our garage. Some of them had been there for years. They had been helium containers, for blowing up balloons. They were too big to recycle locally, and it is not permitted to put them in the garbage. I did an internet search(3) to find out where I could recycle them, hoping that it wouldn't be too far away. I came up with(4) Wenatchee Valley Salvage and Reclamation which is across the river and up towards the airport. Perfect. The drive took about twenty minutes; I only got lost a couple of times. I realized as I drove, that I'm unfamiliar with this industrial area that has been slowly expanding over the past ten years.  The entryway to the reclamation yard was a wide gravel road, overlooked by a large sign that was half hidden by dry bushes. There were rusty vehicles parked on the side which towered over my car. The road was long and windy, and it wasn't obvious at all where I had to go. As I turned a corner, the land opened up into a large, grassless area that had enormous piles of twisted metal, sections of buses and trucks, and parts of vehicles that I didn't even recognize. I finally noticed a small office. I pulled up to the window and read a notice that said, "Enter at your own risk". I laughed at first, thinking that it was a joke about entering the office. I soon realized that it wasn't a joke at all; the notice was about entering the yard itself. I looked around and realized how dangerous this place was. It was an alien garbage dump of sharp, heavy metal that at any moment could tumble onto your car. "Oh gosh!" I thought to myself, "I'd better get out of here as soon as possible." The lady in the office directed me to a cathedral-like shed where I could take my canisters. I pulled in and a man came over to help. All around were huge dumpsters, each filled with scraps made of a certain kind of metal. The place was dark and oily, and the man was too. He seemed angry, like his temper was boiling. So, I opened the car door to help get the canisters out, even though they were very heavy. He just snatched them from me and hurled them through the air without even looking where they were going.  All of them flew into a huge dumpster of similar items, and landed with a loud, metallic crash! I was impressed by the man's efficiency, but uneasy at his apparent mood. I thanked him and left quickly. On the way out, I realized that if I worked in a dark, dangerous, oily place, I would probably also be angry. I opened the window and took a deep breath of fresh air. "Canisters gone," I thought. "There are five less things to get rid of on my list. And hopefully, I don't have to risk coming back here again!" 1. 'The tide has turned' is a figurative way of saying that things have changed, or life in general. When the tide changes, the direction of the ocean flow reverses. There are variations of this phrase, a common one being '(at) the turn of the tide'. a. Intelligent systems can turn the tide of human poverty. b. The announcement of reforms turned the tide of the crowd's anger to satisfaction. 2. 'Household goods' is the same as saying 'items'. Goods are purchasable products as opposed to services. When we talk about 'household goods' we could mean appliances, furniture, decorations, or anything else that is permanent. a. Paper and pencils are not goods because we use them up completely. Whereas tables or lamps would be considered 'goods.' b. The train was carrying goods to the central market. 3. 'To do an internet search' is the phrase we use to look something up on the internet. a. My daughter did an internet search on tectonic plates for a science paper. b. If you need to hire a good plumber, do an internet search; you'll get a whole list of plumbers. 4. 'To come up with' is a very useful phrase in English which shows our almost obsessive use of the preposition 'up'. The phrase means to find, discover, or figure out. a. He came up with a plan to save a few hundred dollars each year until he could afford a plane ticket. b. Our plan is to learn five verbs a day for three months.

The Autumn Blaze.

Oct 26, 2017 09:13


It's already the end of October, and everywhere there are signs of magic. There is no debate that this season, at least in this part of the world, is the most magical of the year. Over the space of just a few weeks, summer has melted into Autumn. Even though the temperature is cooler, the colors are warmer. Supermarkets have rows and rows of large orange pumpkins outside. The seasonal fruits and vegetables have changed from corn and zucchini, to squash and rosy apples. Shorts and t-shirts have disappeared and been replaced with long-sleeved, warmer tops, and long pants, with the occasional wooly scarf or cute wooly hat. All this change and preparation is like getting ready for a performance on stage (1): the scenery and the costumes. And of course, I can't forget to mention(2) the backdrop of all of this: the trees. We are fortunate in Wenatchee to have many of them, and a large percentage of what we have are deciduous. Orange, yellow, pink, and red are everywhere you look, and the pretty colorful leaves are all over the place, like the litter from a party, still blowing around on the floor. Of course it's all a result of the natural process of the shorter days and cooler weather depriving the leaves of green chlorophyll. When that starts to disappear, the other pigments show up. But the logic of the process makes it no less(3) magical and mysterious. Change is beautiful, a good thing, and we certainly see that in Autumn. If I had more time, I would lie under a tree and just stare at it for hours.  1. Details to do with a stage performance: a. 'The costumes' - the clothes that the actors wear. b. 'Scenery' - the setting of the scene, its place, furniture etc c. 'Backdrop' - a large cloth at the back of the stage that is part of the scenery, for example: a forest scene or an office wall. 2. 'I can't forget to mention'/ 'I mustn't forget to mention' is very common in UK. Of course, 'to forget to' can be followed by any verb.  a. I can't forget to mention how polite and helpful his son was. b. You mustn't forget to mention to the builder that the roof is crooked!  3. 'No less' is used in a couple of ways. Here in the podcast it is used as if I wished to say 'not less'. a. Today is rainy, but no less spectacular than yesterday when it was dry.  b. He is quieter than his brother, but no less intelligent. 'No less' is sometimes used at the end of a sentence to show surprise, admiration, or sarcasm. a. He has been invited to lunch by the queen, no less! b. He took control of the plane when the pilot fainted, and landed it successfully on a hill, no less! c. Well, he has passed his bachelor's, and after only 7 years in university no less.

App Update.

Sep 29, 2017 08:02


I have recently updated my app. Some of you will be thinking, "Thank Goodness!" It was overdue (1), to say the least. Some people think that I'm quite 'techie'(2) because I have an app for smart phones and iPads, but I'm not at all. I simply supply the material, and someone else puts the app together. In fact, I wasn't even aware that an app producer needs to update the product. So how did I realize that this needed to happen? The answer is that my own app on my phone wouldn't work. "What on earth is the problem?" was my response. I would push the display button to be led only to a dark screen where my podcasts were barely visible. Well, problem solved! Frustration over! I submitted some new artwork of different dimensions, and the experts and software took care of everything else (3). So I am now pleased to be able to say that my own app works on my phone, and therefore on everyone else's. If you open the app and start to listen to a podcast, you will see five small, blue symbols below the large play button. The second one from the right gives you access to the photo and the pdf. There is also a share button, and a star to keep a favorite. However, there is still one tweak that needs to be made, and that is the button that connects to my website. It looks like it isn't connected. The great thing is that I can send an email about that, and a couple of days later, it will be fixed. How I love this technology! 1. 'Overdue' means that something should have happened already. We use this word a lot in libraries, when a book should have been returned earlier. It's like saying 'late'. a. I received a letter from the local library that my books and magazines are very overdue. b. My baby is overdue; I was due to have her last week! c. The train is an hour overdue! 2. 'Techie' is a modern noun that is short for ' a technological enthusiast'. It can describe anything, including people. Note that when a person is described, it can be used as an adjective or a noun, though formally it is known as a noun. a. He is such a techie. He designed a website when he was 12, and a video game when he was 14! b. That group of students is very techie. 3. 'To take care of everything (else)'. We use 'to take care' all the time in English, and in many ways. a. It was lovely to see you again. Goodbye, take care! b. It'll take you perhaps 20 minutes to drive to the concert. Take care on that road! c. The wedding planners took care of all the details; they did such a good job! d. I take care of my grandma because she is so special to me. Click the image to visit the app!

An Eagle Owl.

Sep 20, 2017 09:12


Monreith Animal World is a small petting zoo that is just down the road from my father's house in Scotland. When I was visiting him in August, we decided to go there for a day out. My daughter is an animal-lover, so she jumped at the chance(1) to go. It was a beautiful, breezy, sunny day, so the animals were visible and active. My father and step-mother chatted with the owner when we first arrived, so Domini and I ran ahead, down the allotted(2) path that took us past all of the cages, pens, and ponds where the animals live. The petting zoo has rare species including animals which are endangered. The tour begins with unusual rabbits, chickens, and ducks, eventually leading to bigger animals like alpaca and miniature donkeys and ponies. We were able to stroke the donkeys on their long snouts, but the alpacas didn't look very friendly, so we stayed away from them. As we circled back to the entry, we went past bizarre looking turkeys and chickens, and then we saw him, - a magnificent eagle owl, alone in his large wooden cage, staring at us with gorgeous orange eyes. He must have been about two and a half feet tall. The brown, black, and cream pattern on his body was excellent camouflage for the forest and high mountains. His ears were black and stuck up at either side adding to his serious look of frowning. But it was his eyes that stole the show(3). They looked like orange topaz with a black center. Every now and then he would blink. Owls have three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping, and one for protection. And whenever he would blink, it was like someone turning a light off and then on again. His wing and tail feathers were neatly tucked behind him like a cloak. Apparently, the larger females have a wingspan of up to 6'2". They are effective, nocturnal hunters that can silently swoop down on their prey, grabbing even young deer. Their talons are long and sharp, and their body mass is muscular. I would say that this Eurasian owl is the crowning glory of the petting zoo. I think only a golden eagle would be more impressive. 1. 'To jump at the chance' is to seize an opportunity. a. They were going to Montana and there was room for one more person in the car, so I jumped at the chance. b. If I can ever go to Russia, I will jump at the chance. c. A sausage fell on the floor and the dog jumped at the chance to have a quick snack. 2. 'Allotted' is similar to 'allocated'. It also means something that is designed or given specifically for a certain place or purpose. a. You have fifteen minutes allotted for a break half way through the exam. b. The money in that account is allotted for the annual vacation. c. In the chicken farm, each bird was allotted its own cage where it would spend most of its time. 3. 'To steal the show' means to have most of the attention. a. He stole the show with his acrobatics. b. The new baby stole the show at the family dinner. c. The bride stole the show in her amazing wedding dress.

Face Mask Instructions.

Sep 8, 2017 13:06


"Very unhealthy" reads the daily smoke report on the internet for our area. I've been checking this website each day for the past week, as the smoke from state wild fires has surrounded and filled our valley. The AQI is what I look at: the air quality index. I've only just (1)found out what that means. It is a number generated by measuring the levels of four things: carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, particles, and ground ozone. Each day a new number is generated several times, so the public can know if it is safe to go out or not. The situation is very frustrating because there is nothing you can do to change it. I had planned on getting some big projects done in the garden which involved digging and mixing concrete, you know, the heavy work. So, how on earth can I get that done in a garden full of smoke? The answer is a good quality face mask. It's big, and makes me look like an astronaut, but it's worth it because it filters out 97.9 percent of airborne contaminants(2), plus the filters are pink and make me look pretty. Of course, it's the type of apparatus that comes with hard-to-understand instructions. I had to fix two thin, long, plastic strips together to form a head band. One strip had nodules(3) or teeth; the other had holes, so I had to snap the nodules into the holes to form one band. Are you following me? This band goes on the top of my head to hold the weight of the face mask. The strips are attached to elastic cords that go through the face piece and out of the bottom. At the end of the cords are two plastic clips that fit together. You pull the cords on either side of your head towards the back of your neck, and you snap them together. Voila! Instant clean air. I think when you are learning a language, it is a good challenge to try and follow directions like that. There are so many uncommon words used when assembling a product, that it is worth the extra practice. Understanding the instructions is one thing, but giving them with no notes would be quite a test, don't you think? 1. 'I've only just' this is a common expressions that is very native-sounding. You could simpy say 'just', but the 'only' emphasizes that a lot of time has gone by while you were ignorant about something. When we say the two words together, generally we emphasize the 'just'. a. I've only just figured out how to turn on my air conditioning in the car!  b. I got the job in April, but I've only just received my contract! c. We came to the clinic for our 3pm appointment. It's 5:30pm and we've only just been checked in. 2. Some fire disaster words: 'Airborne contaminants' the 'borne' part of 'airborne' means 'carried', just like waterborne means 'carried by/in the water. Contaminants are the objects which contaminate. 'Filter out particles' is like saying 'to strain out/trap bits'. Filter is both a verb and an object. The word 'out' here simply shows how the particles will be separated from everything else, they are targeted to be trapped. 'Air quality, water quality, sound quality, light quality' 3. Some vocabulary from instruction manuals: 'Nodule' = like a lump in a certain shape, usually a simple small cylinder or ball. I also used the word 'teeth' because the nodules were in a row, just like teeth. 'Clip' is usually metal or plastic. It could be two parts that fit together, or one part that, when moved, bent, or twisted, will make the sound of 'clip!' or 'snap!' Clips are used to hold material in place. Ex: a hair clip, a tie clip. 'Band, strip, cord.' A band is a thick line which can be soft or hard or two dimensional. A strip is the same, usually thin. A cord is three dimensional, like a rope, but thinner.  

Intelligent Design 2.

Aug 26, 2017 09:19


From my last podcast you already heard how impressed I was with Amsterdam. What I didn't talk about was how(1) much fun it was. Another point of its 'intelligent design' enabled me to feel like a kid again: the bicycle lanes. These run parallel to regular traffic, but are totally separate. Cyclists have their own lanes and even their own traffic lights. Everybody seems to give way to the cyclists, even the pedestrians(2)! Both cars and bicycles share the road in only a few places, other than that cyclists are totally safe, riding even without helmets. There are apparently one million bicycles in Amsterdam; young and old and everyone in between use them on a daily basis. Let me tell you(3), it was so much fun! I love riding a bicycle, but it's been decades since I rode without a helmet! It was so refreshing to whizz along the beautiful canal roads, over the bridges, and past the architecture that spans from 13th to 17th century. For two days, my daughter and I rode from morning until night, stopping only to eat. Apart from the  old canal district, we visited the zoo, and Vondelpark, where everybody else was riding. I was aching to visit the Van Gogh and Rembrandt galleries, but my daughter persuaded me to just keep on riding. Twelve year olds have little patience for galleries. There is so much more to see in the Netherlands that I am determined to go back. 1. 'What I didn't talk about was ...' a great way of adding personality and emphasis to a sentence. The main verb can be changed according to what you prefer to say: a. 'What I didn't mention was how the weather was great every day.' b. 'What they forgot to tell us was that the vacation was a gift!' c. 'What Henry didn't say was that he was ill and needed medicine immediately.' 2. Some people you will find near roads are: a. Pedestrians (people who walk) b. Joggers (people who are running) c. Cyclists (those on bicycles) d. Motorcyclists (those on motorbikes) e. Motorists (car drivers) Things you will find on or near roads: a. Traffic lights. b. Cross walks / zebra crossing (UK). c. Side walk / pavement (UK). d. Signs (can be for the traffic or general directions). 3. 'Let me tell you' is the kind of phrase that adds life to a conversation. It is similar to 'Seriously', or 'I'm not kidding/joking when I say ...' a. Let me tell you, as soon as she started to sing, everyone went quiet. b. Let me tell you, if I could, I would travel the world. c. I'm not joking when I say that yoga is the best exercise I have every tried.  Improve your accent and fluency with iTalki.

Intelligent Design.

Aug 22, 2017 08:22


I'm back from a trip; you might have noticed that I was gone for a few weeks. I apologize for the liberty; I do tend to(1) disappear once a year without warning my listeners. It's something that I need to do. I go in search of adventure and inspiration, so when I come back, I have interesting things to podcast about. It also makes me mysterious, don't you think? If you've been following my podcasts, you probably already know that I go back to the UK to see my family each year, and that is exactly what I did. However, this time, I took a detour and visited Amsterdam. I have always wanted to go there, and you know, from England, it is a very short flight. I took my daughter too. She is twelve, and at the perfect age, I think, to really start taking in the sights and sounds(2) of other places. So, you could say that it was a girls' trip, no boys this time. And if you ask my daughter what she liked most about the trip, she will immediately answer, "Amsterdam!" My first impression of the city was of its progressive nature. The taxi drove  past the newest area of land that has been reclaimed from the sea, Flevoland. The buildings and construction stretched out as far as I could see. This huge project is part of North Sea Protection Works which is considered by some as an engineering wonder of the world. Not only does it protect against floods, but it has provided 548 square miles of land. Hundreds of years ago windmills, which the Netherlands is known for, would drain the land. These have been replaced with motorized pumps in a long-term effort(3) to establish useable land. This is intelligent design, but it also shows how the Dutch character is courageous and determined. Who would dream of holding back the sea? The Dutch do.  1. 'To tend to' is to be in the habit of, or to do something regularly. a. He tends to overeat each year at Christmas. b. They tend to take a beach holiday during the winter. c. She tends to be late for meetings. 2. 'To take in the sights and sounds' means to experience and enjoy what you see and hear. It usually refers to going somewhere new. a. On our vacation, we took in the sights and sounds of Paris. b. After taking in the sights and sounds of Amsterdam, we had a lot to talk about. 3. 'Long-term' means something that lasts for a long time. a. He accepted a long-term placement in Delhi university. b. Her long-term memory is wonderful, much better than her short-term. c. The company has a long-term plan for expansion. Try iTalki if you wish to improve your pronunciation and fluency!

A Bowling Party.

Jul 22, 2017 07:59


Bowling is, I think, an underestimated sport. It's often just considered entertainment. The nearest bowling alley to us is across the river, and is a place for both serious entertainment and serious sport. Half of the day is devoted to parties, and includes bowling for an hour, pizza, and a huge amount of pepsi or root beer. That all comes as part of a package that you can buy online. If a member of your family, or a friend, has a birthday, for example, you can arrange the party on your computer, invite your friends, bring a cake, and have the party at the bowling alley. The other half of the day is serious bowling: High School groups or semi-professional bowlers. The professional bowlers in this country can earn between 100 and 150 thousand a year. So what might have started out as a hobby, occasionally ends up as a career! I've never met a professional bowler, and if we ever go bowling it's just for fun. My son Robert took a group of his best buddies (1)bowling a few weeks ago. They competed against each other, but for the most part(2) laughed and goofed around(3). I noticed how each player has a very different style of holding and rolling the ball. Sometimes all the pins would explode and fly in all directions with the perfect hit, but most of the time just a few of them would fall over on one end of the line, and the boys would groan or laugh. The goal, as you probably know, is to roll the bowling ball down the wooden lane so it hits the bowling pins in such a way that they all fall down. That is called a 'strike'. You have two chances to knock down one line of pins; these two chances are called 'a frame'. There are ten frames in a game. There are many strange terms for parts of the game, but the two I like most are: 'hambone' and 'turkey'. 'Turkey' is when you make three strikes in a row, and 'Hambone' is when you make four. Well, I don't think I'll ever be using those words about my bowling performance. For a change, it's nice to be able to laugh when you perform badly! 1.'Best buddies'. 'Buddy' is a synonym for 'friend'. It is mainly an American term, but is usable in other English speaking countries. It is sometimes used to imply that two people are involved secret or bad activities, or it can be used in a negative or defensive sense. a. Tom and his baseball buddies ate hot dogs and talked about the game. b. Hey, take your hands off that phone buddy! That's not yours! c. I don't know about him and his buddies; they always seem like they're up to no good. 2. 'For the most part' is very similar to 'mainly' or 'generally.' a. Our business does well, for the most part. b. She is good humored, for the most part, apart from when she's very tired. 3. 'To goof around' is to play about and be silly.  a. Hey, I'm trying to explain something. Quit goofing around! b. The worst thing about being a substitute teacher is how the students goof around. c. The character Goofy in Mickey Mouse films is called that because he is silly.

A Day at the Lake.

Jul 9, 2017 08:54


So what do you do when it is too hot outside to garden or play? If you're smart, you will call some friends, jump in the car, and go to the nearest lake. Lucky for me (1), there is a lake 45 minutes away called Lake Chelan. It is huge. It's actually 50 miles long and 1,486 ft deep (at its deepest point). There are lots of little beaches around the edge of the lake, some of which have become camping grounds. As the water comes from the mountains during the spring, it is clean and cold. Some people fish for the salmon and trout that can be found. There are always boats, including speed boats, and skidoos that whizz around. Friday was the day that we went. I invited my friend Natalia, and my daughter and her friend also came. We brought all sorts of equipment so we would be comfortable. As the temperatures here increase dramatically during the summer days, I took a four legged canopy (2) so we could have plenty of shade. Nataliya brought inflatable beds, and both of us brought a picnic. It took a while to set everything up, but once we had, it was time to relax. The beach was full of tourists from Russia, India, and South America. Many of them had come from Seattle. That city, after all, is not as hot as this eastern region. So, if you want a hot day and a cold lake, Chelan is a good place to visit. The kids immediately got in the water and floated around on one of the inflatables. I waited until I was hot and desperate to cool down. Then I walked down to the slightly pebbly beach and put my toes in the water. It was freezing! I'm normally brave, but I knew at that second that I wasn't going swimming! I waded (3) out slowly and carefully, promising myself that I would at least dip myself in the water. "One, two, three!" I said and under I went. I sprang up like hot toast out of a toaster and ran to the shore. What a baby! I warmed myself in the sun, and then I realized how smooth the water had made my skin. The kids got an ice-cream, and Natalia shared her Russian bologna and bread, perfect! Three hours came and went, and before we knew it, it was time to go. I'm so thankful that it doesn't take hours and hours to get there. The next time we go I won't be such a baby; I'll actually go for a proper swim.  1. 'Lucky for me' is a shortened version of 'luckily for me'; both are fine to use. Of course this adverbial phrase can be used with other object pronouns (him, her, you). a. Lucky for him, he drove his car away before the parking officer put a ticket on his windshield. b. Lucky for them, they bought the concert tickets early before it sold out. 2. 'Canopy' is a shade. It is also used figuratively.  a. The houses all have canopies over the front doors as the sun here is unforgiving. b. The trees of the forest create a natural canopy, and everything underneath is shaded. 3. 'To wade' is to walk slowly through the water. It is, as you can see, a very specific verb. However, it is a great verb to use figuratively especially if you want to give the sense of having to move slowly through something thick. a. The fisherman put his rubber waders on his legs and waded out into the fast flowing river. b. My supervisor gave me so many papers to check that I spent all day wading through them.  Click iTalki to improve your English.

Tarantula in the Garage.

Jun 28, 2017 10:41


Ok, I've got your attention with the title. Not everybody has a tarantula in their garage. I don't, actually. It is a temporary resident at my mother's place. She, of all people (1), does not appreciate this unwelcome visitor. She doesn't tolerate insects in general, unless of course they are ladybirds that are good for her flowers. I have  memories from my childhood of hearing her yell, and then would come the sound of 'thump, thump' as she would use a shoe to squash some poor, unsuspecting(2) insect that had made the mistake of crawling into the same room as her. Bugs don't bother me that much really, the big ones do though. I once challenged myself in England to pick up a really big, black spider with my bare hands, and to throw it outside. "Look Anna," I said to myself, "it's only a spider. It's probably terrified of you. Look how much bigger you are than it!" I sort of convinced myself, even though my stomach wasn't in agreement. So I picked it off of the wall,    and holding it in both hands, threw it onto the patio. I shut the door quickly and shivered. I was nauseated. What is it about spiders that has this effect on people? Is it all the legs, the hairs, or the unpredictable(3) nature and movement? Tarantulas are a whole other ball of wax(4), as they say here. They are impressive in size, and meaty enough to cast a decent shadow. The one in my mother's garage which I have named Nigel, is actually dead and dry, and was ordered over the internet by my brother, Richard. As a teacher, he likes to stimulate discussion and fascination among his students by using interesting items; Nigel is his latest choice. I should imagine that my brother will point out Nigel's fangs to the children and explain how they work. I'm sure that Richard will be quite a popular teacher! "I don't care how interesting it is" says my mother. "It's not coming in my house, I can tell you that!" Poor Nigel is going to have to stay in his box in the garage until he finds his proper place in the classroom. 1. 'She, he, (a name) of all people' is a common expression which follows a subject, and emphasizes that  in the given context this person has an opinion, experience, qualification, or nature that is significant. a. We should ask Mr. Brown to speak at the book fair. He, of all people, understands the need to read, as he was a literature professor. b. I wouldn't buy Steve a fast car. He has crashed twice, and has many speeding tickets. He, of all people, should not get that kind of present! c. The naughty school children were joking about the principal without knowing that he, of all people, was standing right behind them. 2. 'Unsuspecting' is an adjective describing a person who does not understand the situation, danger, or threat. Un-sus-pec-ting   un-sus-pec-ting  un-sus-pec-ting 3. Another adjective meaning 'not easy to predict' Un-pre-dic-table  un-pre-dic-table  un-pre-dic-table 4. 'A whole other ball of wax' is an American expression. 'A/ the ball of wax' means the whole thing. So 'a whole other ball of wax' means something completely different. a. Many sports are popular, but the Olympics are a whole other ball of wax. b. It's cheap and easy to make instant coffee, but good, fresh espresso is a different ball of wax. c. Traveling to London in autumn is one thing. Being there in the middle of summer is a whole other ball of wax. Improve your pronunciation by clicking iTalki.

A Time For Instruments.

Jun 21, 2017 09:39


In the U.S, most school-aged children have a very long summer vacation indeed: two and a half months! Can you imagine? It's actually a huge relief for most of them, and an opportunity to try some activities that they haven't before. I'm a big believer in music and the benefits of playing a musical instrument. I have made a poor attempt(1) myself over the years of playing the violin; however, it is still on my list of things to accomplish. Work takes up so much time that I can't always devote time to practicing. When it comes to my children though, they have more time, and more choices. My second son, Cass, plays the piano beautifully, and simply does it because he loves it. So that leaves the other three. Domini, my daughter, bought a Ukelele yesterday and has already consulted some tutorials on Youtube. I will certainly sign her up for some classes, and hopefully get her into a routine where she can experience some success. And one of the good things about the Ukelele is that even if you play it badly, it still sounds ok. The violin, on the other hand, can sound like a big cat fight, screeching(2) and screaming away(3). My oldest son, Hudson, told me that now feels like the right time for him to take up the violin. I'm thrilled about that! So that is three out of the four kids. So, what about Robert? I have to tread carefully(4) with him; I don't want to force him, so I will have to use some good psychology to make him think that he wants to take up an instrument. Like the rest of my children he is independent and headstrong, a bit like his mother. what should be my approach? Make him think that it's his idea. The trouble is that he is wise to my tricks; he's fourteen. In fact, he often uses that approach on me to get what he wants. I'll have to think about it and plan my action carefully. In the meantime I will enjoy the sound of three instruments playing in my house, hopefully not all at the same time!                           1. 'To make a poor attempt (at/to)' Poor in this sense doesn't mean a lack of money. It is more like a 'weak' attempt or a 'lack of effort'. a. You made a poor attempt at looking for the milk; it's right in front of your nose! b. My first attempt at painting a rose was poor. My second was much better! 2. 'To screech' means to make a very piercing, sharp sounding scream. We often talk about 'the screech of an owl'. It's the kind of sound that can hurt your ears. a. The rock band's singer screeched all night! b. I was woken up by a terrifying sound. I didn't know what it was, until I opened the window and realized that it was an owl screeching. 3. 'Away' is a word that will polish your English if you learn to use it correctly. After a verb, it denotes a length of time, and a sense of concentration in an activity. a. The pianist played away even when every one had left. b. We danced away into the night until we realized that the sun was coming up. 4. 'To tread' is an old-fashioned verb for 'to step/ walk'. It sounds like 'dread' so it can have a connotation of mystery compared to 'to step'. We often couple it with the word 'carefully'. Together they mean that the next move has to be well thought out, carefully planned.  a. You will have to tread carefully with your neighbor; she is very unfriendly. b. The UK will have to tread carefully in its communications with EU members. Click here to improve your English!

A French Addition.

Jun 15, 2017 07:46


I was at Pybus market a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. I had gone with my mother and friend to a conference that was held in a multi-purpose(1) back room. We broke for lunch, and had an hour to do whatever we wanted to. As Pybus is basically an indoor market with restaurants and cafes, we decided to stay there for lunch and to try out a new restaurant, Pybus Bistro. We sat at the bar and chatted while the chefs prepared our food right in front of us. The place is mainly a large kitchen with a bar, and a few small tables on the periphery(2). It was both fascinating and entertaining watching the cooks fully focus on their individual activities. I love open-plan kitchens, as you can see exactly what is going on, and the cooks know that they're being watched. There was no doubt that(3) these were professionals. They were extremely clean, and worked efficiently and independently. Our food was served to us right from the pot and the chopping board, hot and fresh. As we ate, a choir moved into the main walk way where there is a stage, and started to sing gospel music. "There you are," said one of the chefs, "you have lunch and entertainment!" The food lived up to my expectations: nicoise salad, baguette sandwiches, and fondue. I felt like I was back in Europe! This kind of food is finally catching on here in Wenatchee. I talked to the pastry chef for a while and she mentioned that they are going to open a French bakery somewhere in town this year. Oh yeah! I will be one of the first customers.  1. 'Multi-purpose' is a word that can be used for multiple purposes! Some people write it as one word, and as I have researched, that is also correct.  a. Instead of buying lots of tools, I bought a few multi-purpose tools that do just as many jobs. b. This sofa is multi-purpose. It turns into a bed, and you can also divide it into two chairs! 2. 'Periphery' is similar to 'peripheral' meaning on the outer edges. 'Periphery' is the noun, whereas 'peripheral' is the adjective. a. The periphery of the town has the potential for parks or car dealerships. b. His eyes are incredible. His iris is light blue around the pupil, then dark blue, and then the periphery is light brown.  3. 'There is/ was no doubt that' is great for a sentence! a. There is no doubt that his perseverance will pay off.  b. There was no doubt that he had made the right decision; open doors of opportunity came his way for at least a whole year. Try iTalki to improve your pronunciation and fluency!

Rattle Snake Land.

Jun 2, 2017 07:39


If you drive for about two hours South of Wenatchee, you come to a city called Yakima. It is another place that carries the name of the Native American Indian tribe that used to dominate that area. The journey to this city can go two ways: one is a mountain pass that is full of forest; another is a long, dry journey that seems to never end. I used both highways two weeks ago to take my daughter to a soccer tournament. Approaching Yakima, there is a wide stretch of dry land that is covered in sage brush, the bushes that grow in very dry areas. We stopped to use the bathrooms, and as I pulled up in the car, and parked in a spot that overlooked the valley, I realized that there was a sign right in front of the car that said, 'Watch for rattlesnakes.' It was like a scene out of a film, as the sun was going down to the right of the sign, and the shadows on the land were long. "We wouldn't find a sign like that in England!" I said to my daughter. The heat of Spring brings the snakes out from hibernation, and they lay around trying to get warm. They're everywhere. It makes me shiver to consider how many there are in that area.    After the tournament, I chose the other highway to go home. This one goes over nothing but(1) dry land for miles. The land stretches out to the horizon and there is not a tree in sight. Hidden away, however, in one area is the Columbia River, but its water makes no impact on the land, as it is not used for farming there. There is no one. Some huge bridges, a metal statue of wild horses on a hill, and spectacular sunsets are what you find here, and of course the snakes. If you are not used to dry areas, it makes quite an impact on you. It would be easy to think that(2) nothing anywhere nearby could grow. That is actually not true; the Yakima valley is irrigated and very productive with large quantities of hay, grapes, hops, and fruit. I can only imagine, though, how the first farmers who irrigated this area had to battle to take the land from the snakes. 1. 'Nothing but..' is a very useful addition to a sentence.  a. In the Spring, you see nothing but purple and yellow flowers in the hills. b. I tried to have a discussion with him, but I heard nothing but negative,negative from his mouth. c. If you don't look after your health now, you'll have nothing but problems later on. 2. 'It would be easy to think that ...' is another useful phrase to insert into a conversation to show off your fluency. a. It would be easy to think that she doesn't know much, but if you start talking to her, you quickly realize how informed she is. b. It would be easy to think that deserts have no wild life, but when you look closely you understand that some deserts are teeming with life.

Strength and balance.

May 20, 2017 06:33


Have any of you ever rock climbed? It's not the most common activity, but(1) its popularity is growing, I think. Recently, an indoor rock climbing wall was built in Wenatchee. It is right next to a major park, and has a workout room in it, and a cafe. I went there for a coffee last week with my friend Jody. The coffee drinkers can either sit outside, or they can be at tables that are next to a large window that overlooks the climbing room. The climbing wall was busy that day, and it brought back good memories(2) to watch all the people trying hard to climb up the wall like spiders. The activity requires some strength, of course. But actually, you don't need to be very muscley. In fact, the lighter you are the better. The people who have the best physical advantage for rock climbing are those who are medium height or short, light, thin, but athletic. Flexibility also helps, as you have to reach out with your limbs to find the perfect foot hold or hand hold. The room is very attractive, with windows, and colored holds all the way up to the ceiling. I was happy to see that a lot of mothers had brought their little children to climb. If you start at a young age, you can grow up with no fear of heights(3), and also with an understanding of what it takes to stay safe on the rock. As I looked at the website, I found a video clip that you can check out by clicking here, or by looking at my post on Facebook. 1. 'It's not the most...., but it's....' this is a great structure of a sentence to incorporate into your conversations every now and then. a. It's not the most elegant restaurant, but it's good quality. b. Having innoculations is not the most pleasant experience, but it's absolutely necessary. 2. 'It brought back good memories' is similar to saying 'it reminded me of good times'. a. The film brought back memories of my younger days. b. My conversation with him brought back memories of elementary school. 3. When we talk about the different things that we fear, we simply say 'I have a fear of ...' Here is a list of some of the most common fears: a. A fear of the dark. b. A fear of falling. c. A fear of spiders/ snakes. d. A fear of crowded spaces. e. A fear of heights.  

Fresh Eggs and Goat's Milk.

May 12, 2017 06:08


Across the river from where we live is a place called 'Annie's Fun Farm'. I have written about it before, as you might remember(1). It is a corn and pumpkin farm that has entertainment, and is open to the public. My two oldest sons have worked there. In fact, a friend of my husband owns the farm. He has had it for a few years, and each year he adds new items of interest to draw in the public. This year he is introducing animals: a family of goats, turkeys, and chickens. This new addition will make the farm into what we call a 'Petting Zoo', which means a place where people can come and feed and pet the animals. My son Cass worked there on Saturday and brought home eggs and goats milk. "Mum, I even got to(2) milk the goat!" He handed me a container of the milk and I  inspected it carefully. It was white, and there were no unidentifiable(3)things floating in it, so I said, "Ok, let's try it!" "Are you sure?" he asked. "Of course, " I replied, "I trust in my healthy immune system and strong stomach acid. So there are some bacteria here and there, big deal." We both drank some, and you know, it didn't even taste like milk; it was very clean and watery, a bit like coconut milk. Cass will continue to work with the animals on the farm, as well as planting and caring for all the vegetables. As he wishes to ultimately be a farmer, the experience is wonderful for him. He comes home dirty and tired, and a bit wind swept from a day of hard labor. It makes a real difference from his school life that is mainly indoors and full of technology. 1. 'As you might remember' is a great phrase to add to a conversation. a. Our cousins are visiting us for a week. They are from Australia, as you might remember. b. As you might remember, it's our parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary soon. 2. 'To get to do something' is a very American phrase meaning 'to be able to', 'to achieve', or 'to have an opportunity to...'. a. I got to meet the lead singer of the band at the concert! b. We got to tour the Microsoft headquarters. 3.  'Unidentifiable' a long word that needs to be practiced!       Un - ident - ifi - able.   Un - ident - ifi - able. Click the logo to view italki for English practice!

People Watching at the Carnival.

May 9, 2017 09:43


People watching is something that I love to do whenever I can. There are only certain places where it is appropriate to do so, I suppose. Looking at other people could be seen as insensitive; after all who likes to be stared at? The places where you can get away with it without bothering people tend to be very busy, like airports or shopping centers. Carnivals are also perfect for this strange pastime.  I took my daughter and her friend to the Apple Blossom carnival so they could go on the rides. It was packed with people. All the different rides added color and movement, and of course there was lots of noise, mainly screaming. As the big metal machines whizzed(1a) around dangerously, the expressions on people's faces changed from happy to terrified. Hair that normally obeys the laws of gravity stood up vertically as bodies went zooming(1b) towards the ground. Even those who weren't on the rides were very entertaining to watch. They were tall, short, fat, thin, dark, light, well-dressed, and badly-dressed. Some babies slept in their strollers, while others cried in their mothers' arms because they were tired or hungry. I calculated that most people over the age of twenty were wearing jeans and a warm jacket, as the wind was quite cold. However, the young singles or teenagers were all walking around shivering because they insisted on(2) wearing very few clothes, and exposing arms and legs as much as possible in order to look attractive. I was happy in my winter coat. Another interesting thing about watching people at a carnival is the mood watching. Carnivals are, after all, exhausting places. They are fun, yes, but exhausting. You might go to one with lots of energy, but after going on a few rides, sampling the greasy food, and squeezing through the noisy crowds, I guarantee you'll need a nap. Even the tough-looking young men who wished to test their endurance on the 'Wheel of death', or 'Dead man's drop' or whatever, would eventually look pale and fragile. What a wonderful transformation! Children who had initially been rosy-cheeked and excited, were now howling because they were far too over stimulated, and the parents should have known better. Some couples argued. Some parents were annoyed because their children wanted more and more tickets for the rides. Well, of course they did. And the older generation occupied the only seats available, and chewed on popcorn slowly. Looking around, it seemed as if the only people who were not exhausted or emotionally wobbled were the ride attendants who busied themselves(3) with safety precautions, locking people in their rides, and measuring the height of the kids. They looked like they felt quite splendid in their dark blue uniforms, holding their laser-guns. Very important indeed. 1a and 1b. 'Whizz and zoom'. You can't talk about a carnival without using these words. They are onomatopoeic which is a very fancy word that means they sound the same as the sound they are describing.  a. The model airplane whizzed up into the air, and zoomed down right over our heads! b. The kids played with their tiny cars that they would wind up and watch whizz and zoom around the curly, plastic race course that they had set up in the lounge. 2. 'To insist on' means to be determined about something. a. He always insists on paying each time we go to dinner. b. I'm not surprised your feet are wet! You insisted on wearing the wrong shoes for hiking! 3. 'To busy oneself' is the same as saying 'to keep oneself busy' or 'to be occupied with'. a. My grandma is retired, but she busies herself with voluntary work, gardening, and dancing! b. I love watching the birds this time of year. They busy themselves with making nests and caring for their young. Click the logo for English practice with natives!

April, - The Month for Children.

Apr 27, 2017 07:51


I learned recently that April here in the States is the national child abuse prevention month. I had no idea that this was the case, until I saw a lady putting hundreds of blue pinwheels on the grass in a local park. The blue pinwheel has come to represent the commitment of legislation and the community to encourage educated and compassionate treatment of children. This is close to my heart(1), as I have four children. As I read through the literature on this movement, I was happy to find that since 1974, the government has passed laws and created funding to protect children. One of the most progressive ways is, of course, educating young people who have newborns. Often, teenagers lack the knowledge of how to look after a baby physically and emotionally. They might not understand the signals or 'cues'(2) that a baby gives that communicate its needs. One solution that offers tremendous support for the young parent is home visitation by parenting professionals. They can observe, encourage, and teach, as well as offer a listening ear(3) to the parent who might be frustrated. As the pinwheel spins in the wind, it has come to represent how we must change and adapt, and focus on prevention. I suppose it is just like keeping a person healthy. With the right food, sleep, exercise, and hygienic practices, a person can avoid a lot of illnesses. In the same way, forethought, education, and social support, can encourage young families, or those experiencing stress, to have a plan of appropriate and caring behavior for their children, no matter what.  1. ...'is close to my heart'. This phrase creates an image of something being very important to someone. a. She thought about her sister often, and kept the memory of her close to her heart. b. Land preservation is something that is close to his heart, as he comes from generations of land owners. 2. A 'cue' is a prompt; it is like an action or sound made to communicate. a. During the play, the director waved a white handkerchief. That was my cue to go on stage. b. A baby will give a cue of being fussy or groaning when he needs to be burped. 3. 'A listening ear' really describes the person who owns that ear. This person is caring and interested enough to listen to a person who needs to talk. a. The nurse was very professional, but also caring. She always offered the patients a listening ear. b. I don't need a bossy person telling me what to do. Right now I need a listening ear. Click here for iTalki to improve your pronunciation and fluency!.

A budding photographer.

Apr 25, 2017 06:58


For my podcasts I usually always add a photograph, to show what I am talking about. For years I carried around a cheap little camera with me, on the off-chance(1) of seeing something worth photographing. Now, I use my iPhone. Of course it's very convenient to have a phone and a camera all in one device. Recently, I have realized that my 12 year old daughter is a very good photographer, much better than me. I will often take a photo and then say, "Domini could you take one so I can use it on my blog?" She is proud that I defer(2) to her to get the best result. She seems to have 'the eye' for the job. If I take a photo of a flower, for example, she will improve upon(3) it by taking the same photo but from a different angle. She notices what is in the background, the foreground, and the light. She also very quickly chooses filters on the phone that bring out the best of the subject. And then she finishes off by cropping the photo, to cut out anything that is unnecessary. I suppose she has got to this stage by observation and practice. We all love to take pictures, and so she does also. Just imagine if she becomes a BBC photographer for documentaries like 'Planet Earth'! We talk about the possibilities. I also get her photography magazines from the library, and she pours over them. You never know, if she keeps practicing, this budding 12 year old photographer could become a professional. 1. 'On the-off chance' is an expression that means 'just in case there is an opportunity, though it might be unlikely'. a. When we go hiking, let's take the binoculars, on the off-chance that we can spot a bear. b. When we arrived at the beach in Spain, I looked around on the off-chance of seeing someone I knew. 2. 'To defer (to)' actually means 'to postpone' but it can be used as 'to prefer someone else's action/skill'. a. They deferred payment because the shipment of their new sofa was delayed by several months. b. I didn't know what to do about our broken car. I deferred to my husband's judgment as he has some mechanical experience. 3. 'To improve upon'  a. I wrote the essay, waited a few days, and then improved upon it substantially. b. It would be impossible to improve upon that garden; they have dedicated years to it's design. Click here to improve your pronunciation and fluency!

The Great Bagel.

Apr 18, 2017 08:17


While my family and I were spending time in Seattle, we went to a bagel company for brunch. The company is called Blazing Bagels, and they are based in Redmond. We weren't sure what to expect; we were simply hoping for some good food. We pulled the car into a small area of businesses near the circus tent where we had been the night before. The building was very basic, in fact, when I walked in, it reminded me of a warehouse(1), rather than a bakery. Its walls were made of corrugated iron(2), and its seating arrangement was basic and understated. But, as you know, first impressions can easily be wrong; you can't judge a book by its cover(3). The bakers in this place were definitely bagel experts. Not only did the whole building smell like fresh, yummy bread, but there were dozens of different kinds of bagels to choose from, all within reach. They had sesame, egg, pumpernickel, cranberry orange, and even snickerdoodle, which is traditionally a sugar-cinnamon cookie. There were many others as well, a huge variety to suit anyone's tastes. They even had vegan food items for the bagel sandwiches. When I lived in London, I had heard American students talk about bagels and how much they missed them. At that time they weren't common in England. However, times have changed. And now that I live in the U.S, I eat bagels on a regular basis. The best thing about them, as far as I can see, is their texture. They have a thin chewy skin, and are moist and substantial inside. My son Cass, who likes to cook, made some one day. I was surprised to find that before you put them in the oven, they must be boiled for a few minutes. This helps to cook the outside layer, but at the same time keeps a lot of the moisture inside. That must be the Polish secret. So we had our fill at Blazing Bagels, and took a big bag home. I should try and cook them one day, but, on the other hand, I would rather leave the hard work to the experts. 1. 'Warehouse' is a large storage area or depository for manufactured goods or raw materials. a. The warehouse was huge; it had machines in it of all kinds that were going to be shipped to China. b. That abandoned warehouse would be the perfect place to play laser tag. 2. 'Corrugated iron' is a sheet of metal that has an undulated or wavy appearance. It is a good material to use for roofing or for building sheds. a. We built the roof of the chicken coop (house) out of corrugated iron because we get so much snow in the winter. b. The old corrugated iron had rusted and come away from the roof. It was blowing around dangerously in the storm. 3. 'You can't judge a book by its cover' is an English saying which means that you cannot judge only by appearances. a. I gave the homeless man some money, and he talked to me about philosophy and mathematics. You certainly can't judge a book by its cover! b. The restaurant looked elegant and new, but inside it was dirty and had poor quality food. You can't judge a book by its cover. Try iTalki for pronunciation and fluency practice with natives!

Cirque du Soleil

Apr 12, 2017 07:45


Last week was vacation for the whole school district. It's a time we call Spring Break. It is a much needed rest for students, teachers, and principals. I had wanted to do something special with the family; I have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, so I thought perhaps that would be a feasible(1) trip. Unfortunately, I lost track of time and was too late to make any arrangements. Also, my oldest son, Hudson, goes to the local junior college and didn't have the same vacation schedule. So, it looked like the only way we could have a family trip would be to spend the weekend away somewhere. I got online and looked for special events. It just so happened(2) that the Cirque du Soleil was going to be in Redmond which is in the Seattle area. I booked the tickets, and before we knew it we were there, under a big tent that was packed with people. In front of the crowd was a circular stage, above which hung all sorts of equipment. The lights were dimmed, and some characters came out dressed like hummingbirds. The theme of the circus was Mexico. The hummingbirds danced while a man played on a guitar. Next, a man who was suspended from the ceiling pretended to be parachuting. He was a great mime artist. He pretended to pull his parachute cord, and then find that it could not open. The story goes that he opens a small umbrella and floats down into Mexico. Scene after scene had images and symbols of the country, from underwater life, to the desert. At one point the mime artist got the crowd to play a kind of soccer. All of his instructions and comments were made with a whistle, which was very clever and very funny. And then came the turn of the snake. Well, it was a young man dressed like a snake. He was a contortionist who expertly twisted and bent himself into the most unhuman positions. I gasped and had my mouth open for most of his performance. He was very skinny and strong, and moved very smoothly. He finished his act with an incredible position in which he was all folded up, but looking like he could strike at any moment(3). I have never seen anything like it. The whole show was really what you call a 'once in a lifetime experience.' 1. 'Feasible' means possible or 'realistic'. a. I don't know if renovating the school will be feasible. b. It's not feasible to send a letter to every resident in this community; it's just too big. 2. 'It just so happened' is usually followed by 'that', and means that something occurs by chance. a. I talked for a while with a lady on the bus, and it just so happens that our sons are in the same math class. b. I was thinking about my neighbor when it just so happened that I bumped right into him. 3. 'At any moment' is the same as 'any minute'. a. We ran because we knew that the building could fall at any moment / any minute. b. The bus will be here any minute/ at any moment. Try iTalki now for pronunciation and fluency practice!

Amazon Bubbles.

Apr 1, 2017 07:56


I was in Seattle last week visiting colleges with my oldest son, Hudson. We happened to be quite near the Space Needle, in an area of the city that is now nicknamed Amazonia because of the amount of buildings there that belong to the company Amazon. I love looking at architecture and analyzing structures, but it's not every day that(1) I get to photograph round, glass buildings. Well, there were three of them contrasting elegantly with the tall dark buildings around them. When they are finished in 2018, they will be 65,000 square feet of biosphere, filled with about 3000 plants, 300 of which are endangered species. This oasis of sorts(2) will not, however, be open to the public. It will be Amazon's gift to its employees. It is well known that plants in any room reduce stress, improve air quality, and increase a person's creativity. Studies in England and Australia have also demonstrated that offices that have plants increase productivity by 15% and creativity by 45%. So these biospheres are both a gift for Amazon employees, and a good idea for the company. A usual perk(3) for employees is free coffee on Friday mornings, or perhaps an extra day of vacation. Well, this is quite different! Other companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook give their employees perks like supplying a gym, free healthy food, and even doing their laundry. Perhaps this is becoming the age of an intelligent approach to workers. Their well-being directly affects the success of the company they work for, so the goal is to treat them well. 1. 'It's not every day that ...' is another way of saying 'it is unusual to...' a. We went to the circus last night. It's not every day that I see elephants and tigers! b. On the way to the Grand Canyon we stopped to see the desert in bloom. It's not every day that you see a desert full of flowers! 2. 'This .... of sorts' refers to something that has already been mentioned, and basically means 'this kind of ......' a. My friends and I have been meeting every Wednesday for years. This support group of sorts has been very beneficial./ This kind of support group has been very beneficial. b. Our office has hot and cold filtered water. This perk of sorts is to keep the employees hydrated. / This kind of perk is to keep the employees hydrated. 3. 'Perk' is a benefit or gift that is freely given by an employer or company to its employees. a. A long lunch is the best perk in our company. b. You get paid holidays? You lucky thing! What a perk! Click here for conversation practice with iTalki!

Bella Bistro

Mar 24, 2017 08:51


I have discovered a place where I like to spend time. It's a strange, little cafe called Bella Bistro. I come here as often as I can to write my podcasts, and to work on my other projects. They have food, of course, and some of the best coffee in town. I called it 'a strange' cafe because it is shaped like a triangle, hemmed in(1) my three roads, and still has large metal garage doors, as it used to be a mechanic's workshop. I think those characteristics make it appealing. It buzzes with activity as people of all ages come here to meet their friends or work on their laptops. Usually when I write, I need peace and quiet. I find it hard to concentrate at home when my dogs are playing and people are coming and going(2). However, for some reason I can really focus at Bella Bistro, even with the human activity and background music. The design is simple: rustic with lots of windows. It has a great internet connection, and the ladies who own it and serve the food are fast and energetic. It also has a comfortable international feel with coffee sacks hanging on the walls from Columbia, Guatemala, and Mexico. I find it interesting how some buildings can make you feel comfortable and welcome, and others are repulsive. I find this true of towns and cities as well. Maybe I'm an over sensitive person. Or perhaps it has something to do with(3) the design and textures of places. I know that a lot of people use Feng Shui to create pleasing, peaceful environments. Perhaps Bella Bistro naturally has a good arrangement and good energy. I'm at Bella Bistro right now, actually, enjoying my twelve ounce soy latte, sitting on a high stool facing huge windows. And, ah, it's a sunny day. Thank goodness! So cheers, here's to good coffee, sunshine, and a good Feng Shui. 1. 'Hemmed in' comes from the verb 'to hem' which means to sew into a fold that is at the end of a piece of clothing. So 'to be hemmed in' means 'surrounded' or 'trapped'. a. My trousers were far too long, so I cut the legs and then hemmed them in.  b. The bottom of her dress was frayed, so she got her sewing machine out and hemmed in the material so it was neat and tidy. c. I was uncomfortable at the party as there were too many people. I felt hemmed in! 2. One of the ways to sound natural with your English is to use common expressions like 'coming and going'. Being in present continuous, it gives the impression of a flow of movement. a. There is a constant coming and going of teenagers at our house. It's like indoor traffic! b. The old man sat in his garden watching the coming and going of the little birds that would come to eat the seed that he had thrown on the grass. 3. 'It has something to do with' makes a connection or clarification of a previously mentioned point. a. The Netherlands produces the tallest people in the world. It /this has something to do with their diet. b. English people talk about the weather a lot. This has something to do with the changeable weather in England.    Click here to visit iTalki. It will improve your pronunciation and fluency!

Basic Pronunciation Practice #45 + Interactive English.

Mar 15, 2017 11:54


Olma: Liz, a package arrived for you today.  Liz: Oh thanks. Let me see. Oh it's from England, from my friend Steve in York. I think I know what it is. Olma: What is it? I'm dying to know! Liz: Do you remember me talking to you about him studying archeology in York, and all the things he has found? Olma: Oh, Steve, yes! He's so lucky, going on all those archeological digs! Liz: I know. There are so many artifacts in York and the surrounding area that he promised that he would send me something. And here it is. It's small and wrapped up really well. Olma: Oh hurry up! I can't wait to see what it is. Liz: Beads. And his card says that they are Roman beads found at an excavation site. I feel really honored! You've seen a lot of ancient artifacts haven't you Olma. Olma: Yes, Mexico is full of them, as you can imagine. Our ancient peoples, the Maya, the Aztec, and others, were very inventive and left artifacts all over the place, not just in the famous pyramids! Try iTalki for convenient English practice with a native!

Slime sisters.

Mar 10, 2017 09:28


I have made multiple trips to the supermarket over the past two months to buy glue, shaving foam, liquid starch, and food coloring. Multiple. It's because of a hobby that my daughter has adopted: she makes slime. Slime, I suppose, is the general term used for a moist, gelatinous paste that is made simply to play with. There are many kinds of slime, which is something that I have learned by watching my daughter while she is mixing the ingredients and chatting to me about their consistencies and names. Slime is used just for fun, to squeeze, mould, or even throw at people. It makes a mess most of the time, unless it is a 'fluffy' slime which though appears wet and gooey, is actually fairly dry to touch. When she first discovered slime on Youtube, her mixing sessions in the kitchen were a disaster and chaotic. I would find slime in various places, open containers, and a sink full of used bowls and pots. However, thankfully she has become more responsible about cleaning up. She also has developed a better sense of careful measurement. So, what is the slime like? My favorite one is the 'fluffy'(1) slime which gets that name because it has a lot of air bubbles in it which don't seem to pop. It feels slightly wet, it wobbles, and it can be squeezed and manipulated all day. You can also add glitter, or tiny styrofoam balls to change the look and texture. Word has got around(2), and it turns out that lots of my daughter's friends are into the same thing. They even make slime for each other as gifts. I told Domini that slime is the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for kids her age. She could even start a small business. I'm quite happy for her to do so, as long as she cleans up (3)after herself. Checkout the pink, fluffy slime on youtube. 1. Some vocabulary to do with textures: 'Fluffy' is light, airy, furry (an animal or soft toy). It can also be moist (as in food, like a mousse). 'Gooey' is usually something that is gelatinous and moist. It can be sticky, but not necessarily. 'Slimey' is something that feels wet, even oily. It slips and runs off of surfaces easily, like a slug or an old peeled banana. 2. 'Word has got around' or 'word will get around' is a set phrase, used a lot in the U.S. It's like saying, 'People are finding out that....' a. Word has got around about the new bakery, and people are lining up for the fresh bread! b. This town is so gossipy; word has got around already about their recent divorce. 3. 'As long as' means 'provided that'. In another context, it can mean 'for the whole duration of'. a. I don't mind you going to the cinema, as long as you come back before 11pm. (provided that/ on the condition) b. I have known that family for as long as I can remember.

The Kennewick Man.

Mar 8, 2017 08:11


Two and a half hours drive from where I live is a small city called Kennewick. It is similar to other towns in Washington State that are east of the Cascade mountains; it is dry, flat, and has a climate that is close to that of a desert. In this area, at a park next to the Columbia river, two men came across an intact(1) skull just ten feet from the shore. The whole skeleton was excavated soon afterwards. As scientists studied it, they found that it was the most intact and well preserved skeleton of any ancient tribesman of the Americas. But who was this man, and which tribe had he belonged to? Five Native American tribes claimed that he belonged to one of them, and therefore legally the skeleton needed to be returned to his land of origin and given a proper burial. These tribes are: the Colville, Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, and Wanapum. A court case developed because of this. The man had been found on federal land, and so the 'Kennewick man', as he was named, became the property of the U.S Army Corp of Engineers. However, Native Americans have a lot of legal rights, especially when it comes to excavations(2) of bones or artifacts(3) on land that used to be theirs. Years went by, and many studies were carried out on the skeleton. Some scientists believed that the man was one of the early natives who had originally crossed the Bering Straight ice bridge from Russia. Others believed that he had come to the Americas by sea from Asia. So who was right? The case came to an end after the Corp of Engineers had scientists in Copenhagen, Denmark study the skeleton using the latest DNA testing. The results were that he was about 8,500 years old, and genetically closest to Native Americans such as the Colville Indians. This discovery was a victory for the native tribes, and so, with reverence and satisfaction the Kennewick man was reburied in tribal territory.  1. 'Intact' means 'altogether' or 'in one piece'. A verb that we often use with 'intact' is 'to remain'. a. When we bought the old house, we found very old documents in the attic. They were all intact. b. Even after our terrible argument, my dignity remained intact. 2. 'Excavations' from the verb 'to excavate'. This noun and verb are used in contexts of archeology and construction. a.The land must be excavated and leveled before the concrete is poured for the main floor of the house. b. Excavation will continue at Stone Henge because of the recent, extensive discoveries. 3. 'Artifact' is another archeological word meaning an object that was made or used by man. a. In the local museum, you can actually find many artifacts used by Native American Indians. b. York is a place where artifacts are being found all the time because of its rich and ancient history. iTalki for online English practice with a native teacher.

Handymen and Handywomen.

Mar 3, 2017 10:39


I consider myself fortunate to have my mother living in the same town. Her home is just five minutes away from mine by car. Every now and then she asks me to help her with something, and as I like to think of myself as a 'handy woman', I will quickly say "yes", grab my tools, and drive over to her house. So she decided that because she likes to read in bed, she wanted to mount(1) two lamps to her bedroom wall, one on either side of the bed. Thankfully there wasn't any complicated electrical work to worry about. The lamps would actually plug into the socket(2/3), and their electrical wires would run neatly down the wall, hidden inside a tube. Simple. So I turned up, full of enthusiasm, ready to figure it all out. As I laid out all the different parts of the lamps on her bed, I realized that the job would take longer than I had expected. The end of each wire had no plug. I would have to attach a very simple, flimsy version that came in a plastic bag, and hope for the best. "Where's the drill Mum?" I asked and she pointed to a tiny appliance in an open box. It was a little drilling tool that is used for crafts. Hmmm. "What about the phillips heads and screw drivers?" Again, she motioned towards two little things that she had used to open paint cans. "Oh no," I thought. I didn't want to drive home to get my tools, so I searched around in her cold, dark garage and found several things that would work. I started putting bits and pieces of the lamp together, each time reading and re-reading the instructions. My mum sat opposite me in an arm chair to observe. It was a bit irritating actually as she questioned and commented on everything I did, adding sweetly, "Can I help you with anything darling?" I would just look at her with slight annoyance, as I needed to concentrate. I did manage to drill into at least one stud to support each lamp, even though the hardware that came in the bag was quite light and thin. I worked away, putting the puzzle together, and finally stood back, proud, with a smile on my face. "There you are Mum. What do you think?" She got out of her armchair and stood with me at the end of the bed, looking at one lamp and then the other. She remained quiet. I looked at her, and she said, "Are they at the same height?" My heart sank. I was annoyed again. I tried to see them at the same height, but I realized that she might have been on to something. I grabbed the tape measure and measured the height of each from the floor. She was right; the one on the right was one inch lower. "Bum!" I said loudly, and started unscrewing the lamp. I re-measured, and remounted it, and then double checked. There, now they were the same height. My old mum had been right, as usual. Another job well done, well almost.  1. 'To mount' is used when putting up a picture or something on a wall or a stand (like a statue). a. When I worked in the art gallery, we would go to people's houses and mount their new pictures. b. The sculptor mounted his latest work on a big stone block in the square. 2. Okay, here is some vocabulary to do with using tools and mounting objects on walls. a. A stud = the large, vertical wooden post inside a wall or ceiling. b. Phillip's head = the tool used to screw in a screw. It's end looks like an X c.  A screw driver = similar to a phillip's head, but it's end looks like  - . d. Socket = the electrical outlet that you plug a plug into.  e. Hardware = all of the screws, nails, and other metal pieces that a piece of furniture needs. f. A drill = the electric tool that makes a whole in the wall or in wood/ metal. It is also the verb. Try iTalki for English practice with a native teacher!

A Salon Rescue.

Mar 1, 2017 12:46


I'm recovering. It was a shock, you know. I'm talking about my experience at the hair dresser's. Okay, I'll give you some background. I have naturally very dark brown hair, fine, medium length. So, last year, as I realized that I had a few white hairs announcing themselves quite loudly from amongst the dark hairs, I decided to have some highlights. I happened to be in Seattle at the time, and I had a few hours to kill, so I walked into a salon and walked out two hours later with gorgeous, natural looking highlights. The story is great so far. The trouble with highlights, or any kind of hair coloring, is that it grows out in a few months. Now, a smart person is supposed to realize this, take it into account(1), and therefore make an appointment two or three months ahead to get new coloring. I didn't. I don't know what I was thinking. Perhaps I assumed that an angel would appear in my hour of need and give me some divine highlights, just like that. Well, the angel was late, so I went into a local hair dresser's which is known to be cheap, and I asked the lady there to do my highlights. I gave her some vague instructions like, "I just want them to look natural," and, "I think I like toffee color." I grabbed(2) a couple of magazines and prepared myself for a long sitting session. However, before I had even read through the first one, she was finished. "Oh," I thought to myself, "she does work fast!" "What do you think?" she asked as we both looked in the mirror. The room was actually quite dark, so I couldn't see very well. It did look more light than usual, but I chose to just pay, and go and examine her work at home. Little did I know that(3) I would get a big shock. The lighting in my bathroom is bright, not very flattering. But I needed an honest look, after all, I have to live with my hair. It was bright orange, right where my parting is. The highlights on the rest of my head were in thick, two inch chunks. And, for the crowning glory, I had three leopard spots on the top of my head, yes leopard spots. My dark color had formed circles surrounded by the pumpkin orange that was on the rest of it. I think I stopped breathing for a while. My mind flew into a panic. What was I going to do? Fly to a remote part of Alaska? I jumped in the car and went back to the salon. "You have to fix this," I told the lady. "I wear my hair back for work, but I can't now because the side highlights make me look bald! Plus I have leopard spots. Look!" Couldn't she see how bad it was? "So, you don't like it?" she asked. I just looked at her. This must be the local zombie salon, I thought to myself. Is anybody awake in here? She did her best to 'fix' the problem and remove the look of a partially bald leopard. Then I immediately made an appointment with a colorist in town who is a hair expert. Luckily, I didn't have to wait for months to see her. Her salon is calm, beautiful, and very classy. So is she. "Did you do this?" she asked me. "No," I replied, and I told her the whole, ridiculous story. "I've never seen anything like this," she said with a deep look of curiosity on her face. Well, she worked her magic, and POOF, transformed me from a pumpkin into a princess. I was elated. I was so thankful. I felt like paying her, and then giving her my watch and my car as well. And yes, I made another appointment with her. I'm going to stick with her like glue. No more leopards for me. I have learned my lesson. 1. 'To take into account' is the same as saying 'to bear in mind'. 'To bear' is the old verb meaning 'to carry', so the phrase really means to carry something in your mind, to be aware. a. I know that she is grumpy, but bear in mind that she is awake every night with her sick child. b. The car is a good price, but bear in mind that you will also have to pay tax and insurance. 2. 'To grab' is a very common English verb. We English use it a lot more than Americans. I could have used 'pick up' when referring to the magazines in the salon, but grab sounds more aggressive and basic. It helps to add to the essence of my ridiculous story. This is something that you can bear in mind when you wish to tell a story, word choice. How can I make what I say funny or effective? a. The policeman grabbed the young man by his collar. b. I was in a hurry. The bus was leaving, so I grabbed my bag and keys, and I flew out of the door. 3. 'Little did I/ another person know that' is also used a lot in English. It is the same as saying, ' I (another person) had no clue that ...' or 'I (another person) was about to discover that ....' a. I got in the elevator. Little did I know that I wasn't going to get out for 6 hours!/ I wouldn't get out for 6 hours! b. I talked about how bad the hotel was. Little did I know that the owner was standing right behind me. c. I put my flip-flops on and left the umbrella at home. Little did I know that it was going to rain and hail when I got to the beach.  Try iTalki for pronunciation and fluency practice!

Starbucks Era.

Feb 20, 2017 08:04


They say that America runs on coffee. It is the drink that gets people awake and focused for another day of work. I personally have two cups each morning. Of course, most of the coffee consumed in the U.S is grown in  Columbia and Brazil. In recent years, coffee drinking has become fashionable amongst young people. Chains of coffee shops have sprung up(1) all over the country, each with their own style and marketing. One of the American chains that has gone global is Starbucks. I have seen it evolve from a Seattle based coffee shop to the largest coffeehouse company in the world. It seems almost unbelievable(2) that it is in 62 countries and is still growing. So why is it so popular? It's appeal lies in(3) its quality roast and its elegant surroundings. It is a place where it is pleasant to linger. The muted, earthy colors of its decor, and relaxing selection of music draw people to not only relax and chat over coffee, but also to do work on their laptops, or even to have small business meetings. This kind of cafe has existed in Europe since 17th century, with the first opening in Damscus in 1530. The U.S, it seems, lacked a casual, non-alcoholic meeting place, away from both the office and home. It was this concept that the creator of Starbucks applied to his business. Now, young people will regularly buy a Starbucks on their way to High School. I occasionally treat my children to one of their non-cafeinated drinks, or a pastry, but not too often as it has become very expensive. Their business still thrives, however, even though they are not cheap. And in this culture of the 'drive thru', coffee is quickly and conveniently available. There are, though, other companies springing up that are providing competition for this coffeehouse giant. 'Dutch Bro's' is a company that the High Schoolers flock to. It is drive through only, so the sales are quick, and it appeals to teenagers as it always has very loud dance music playing while the young servers dance around inside the building preparing the coffee. And I'm sure that there will be other companies with other marketing strategies, all competing for people's money, and offering our favorite drug in a variety of ways. 1. 'To spring up' is a way of saying that something has suddenly appeared or been developed. It can be used figuratively. a. Mushrooms sprang up all over the garden after the previous day of rain. b. Complaints sprang up all over the restaurant when the new chef started working there. 2. 'Unbelievable' is an effective word to use in conversation every now and then. It means surprising, baffling, ridiculous, and not-credible. a. Did you see goal that he just scored? It was unbelievable! b. It is unbelievable how he continues to lie even when we all know the truth. 3. 'It's appeal lies in ...' is like saying that an attractiveness is found in... a. The building's appeal lies in its modern lines and open style. b. His appeal lies in his humility.

Basic Pronunciation Practice #44 + Interactive English.

Feb 16, 2017 10:10


Liz: Hi Mum. Mother: Hello darling, how are you? Liz: Fine thanks, and you? Mother: Oh, really well thanks. How is your class selection going? Liz: Fine. I met with my school counselor, and he showed me which classes I have to complete by the end of the year, and which ones I can choose as electives. Mother: Anything interesting? (1)Liz: Well, yes. Even though I'm in a psychology program, I can still take an elective or two. (2)History of art really appeals to me; it might even help with my major. Mother: Yes, it'll help you understand how thoughts and attitudes have developed in society. It'll also give you a break from so much heavy thinking! I would certainly do it. You'll probably learn a lot more from it than you realize. Liz: Yes, that's how I feel about it too. I still have a week to make my final choices. I'll let you know once I've made them.  1a. Subject 'he' + 'a business man', + verb 'to continue' + with his hobbies. b. Subject 'they' + past + science, + time to paint. 2.  'Nursing', 'family's medical problems. b. 'Traveling' + 'them', 'their Youtube channel'. 

A Spring Princess.

Feb 15, 2017 06:42


It's the time of year when everyone is thinking about the Spring. As the big machines pile up the remaining snow into huge piles in the parking areas, we find ourselves longing for(1) a more pleasant season, and greenery and flowers. Preparations are being made for life beyond the snow. Bulbs and seeds can be found again in the home centers, new Spring fashions are appearing in the shops, and soccer clubs are starting their practices in whichever gyms are available(2). Even though we still have a couple of months of winter weather, we know what is coming next, and we are waiting anxiously for it to come. As we celebrate the blossoming of apple trees in Spring, we also choose three young ladies to represent the Wenatchee Valley. They are from High School, and have to compete to be voted for. It is like an election campaign. They are judged on their character, intellect, community involvement, and future goals. It is quite different from a beauty contest, thankfully. It isn't just the(3) prettiest girls who become Apple Blossom Princesses. The selection process is quite rigorous, as the girls really need to show what they know, and communicate what they care about. This year's ladies have just been chosen. They will receive scholarships for college, and opportunities to visit businesses and organizations in the town. And they get the opportunity to dress up and look beautiful for a season. It's an American thing, and these ladies are our princesses for a year.  1. 'To long for' is 'to yearn for' or 'to wait impatiently for'. a. He longed for a reunion with his family; he hadn't seen them in so many years. b. She longed for him to hold her hand. c. We longed for rain; the crops wouldn't grow if the rain didn't come. 2. Use of 'whichever'. a. You can take your food to whichever till is available, and then pay there. b. I will have to take whichever plane is available, as mine has been cancelled. 3. 'It isn't just the ...' can be followed by a singular or plural subject. a. It isn't just the ice that's a problem for traffic, it's the freezing temperatures also that affect the vehicles. b. It isn't just the students who need new computers; it's the teachers and staff as well.  

Online Math.

Feb 9, 2017 08:17


Mathematics is one of the foundations of education, with some people being inclined towards(1) it, and others finding it quite difficult. My sons seem to have a natural ability, including my youngest, Robert, who is in middle school. He has just started an online Algebra 1 course. Even though they do offer Algebra 1 in his school, he missed the admittance grade by one point. He was so disappointed, as he knew that he was capable of learning Algebra. As he had expressed his disappointment to me several times, I asked him if he would like to sign up for a course. "You will have to do the work at home, right? You do realize(2) that it's your responsibility?" I asked him. He answered "yes" to all of my questions, so before I knew it, I had found a recommended site, paid, and received the curriculum. "Things are certainly different nowadays," I thought to myself. And it's true; our children have so many options that weren't available when I was young(3). At the High School meeting I went to recently, the principal showed us that many new and exciting classes have been added to those that are offered. For half the day, if Robert qualifies, he could actually go to a technical center to study robotics. In this place, called The Tech Center, students can also do cooking, mechanics, crime science, and even work towards becoming a firefighter! Back at the regular High School, they have added classes like mixing electronic music, and 20th century pop culture. It seems like school could actually be a lot of fun. I suppose the world has changed radically, and in this era of technology and entertainment, the next generation needs to be prepared to qualify for many of the jobs that will be available. 1. 'To be inclined to/towards' meaning to lean towards, to have a tendency, or a willingness to. a. I am inclined to agree with what you say. b. As she criticizes him all the time, he is inclined to stay quiet. c. He inclined his head towards the people sitting at the table next to him so he could hear what they were saying.  2. 'You do realize...?" in English we emphasize the word 'do' as a way of looking for affirmation or a response. It is similar to saying, "I hope you realize that...". It sounds like a statement, but it can end with a question mark. a. They do realize that they have to pay for their food and lodging if they stay? b. You do realize that we will miss the bus if we don't leave now?  3. Our children have so many options that weren't available when I was young.  What a sentence! Anyone could use a sentence like this, and if you happen to be young, you could slightly adjust it to fit what you want to say. a. Our university has so many class choices that weren't available for my parents. b. There are so many civil rights now that weren't in place when my grandparents were young. c. There are so many laws that protect the environment that didn't exist when I was young.

Ending Polio.

Feb 1, 2017 09:17


There is so much good news around that we often don't hear. Very soon, for only the second time in history, a human infectious disease will be eradicated: Polio. I remember receiving my oral vaccination for this disease when I was in secondary school, but, at the time, I had no idea what it was, nor(1) had I ever been around anyone who had suffered from it's symptoms. Being infected with this disease at a young age can result in paralysis, and it is also highly contagious. However, without most of us knowing, 155 countries have been working together in a monumental effort(2) to vaccinate all children. They have done such a good job that over the past 30 years, the cases have dropped 99.9%, with the actual number last year being about 40. There is a risk of recontamination, however, if some children are not immunized and left undetected in rural communities. Therefore, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, Unicef, and their partners have mobilized an army of volunteers, supervisors, laboratory workers, and surveillance experts, to stamp out this disease once and for all. All children must be vaccinated as soon as possible by taking a liquid orally, starting at two months of age, and having a total of four doses at different times. The vaccination has changed from three strains of the virus to two, as one has already been eradicated. Here in the U.S, every dollar spent on vaccinations saves three dollars in direct healthcare, and ten dollars in societal(3) costs. You can imagine how this can multiply! The billions of dollars in savings each year are mainly experienced by low-income countries. And that means money can be spent on other areas of preventative healthcare, or better infrastructure. It should be this year that we will hear on the news the announcement about the eradication of Polio. And when it happens, we will need to celebrate. One of the great legacies of this movement is that after each unvaccinated child has been vaccinated, the structure will be in place to continue vaccinating new children each year. What a collaborative effort! If you wish to donate, or read about the End Polio Now movement, simply click here. 1. 'Nor' can be used by itself (without 'neither') if you are continuing with a second sentence and speaking negatively in some way. a. I didn't wake up until noon. Nor did I have energy to get  out of bed! b. They didn't attend the history lectures; nor did they turn up for the field trip! 2. 'Monumental' and 'effort' go really well together in English, with 'monumental' being one of the expressions of a large size that is impressive or even historical. It is also a great word for insults and exaggeration. a. Taking care of all the refugees will be a monumental effort that must be shared by many. b. I made a monumental mistake when I called my ex-boyfriend's mother, instead of my own! c. We could have a decent conversation if he wasn't so monumentally silly. 3. 'Societal' is an adjective which means 'of society'. a. Many future societal problems can be prevented in elementary schools. b. There is a lot of societal pressure to be rich. Try iTalki to improve your pronunciation and fluency!

Basic Pronunciation Practice #43 + 'th' practice.

Jan 27, 2017 14:11


Emilie: Liz, this packing is exhausting! Liz: I know. I didn't realize that I had so much stuff! Look at all of these boxes. Those over there are so heavy. I'm getting quite thirsty with all of this packing and lifting, my thigh muscles are getting a good workout! Emilie: This will be the third time that we've loaded up the car. It was so thoughtful of Peter to give us all of these cardboard boxes. Liz: I know. Hopefully there'll be just one more trip. Emilie: This box is really heavy. Do you need all of these books? They're nothing to do with your course. What do we have here? There's a book on the theater, one on theology, and a thin one on therapies of different kinds. Liz: You know, I'm such a hoarder. I don't like to get rid of anything! Thinking about it, I could donate those three because I'll never read them again. Emilie: Alright! Liz is becoming a minimalist, finally! Liz: Oh no, think again lady; I definitely like my stuff. Hey, after we load up the car, I'll invite you to a drink. My throat is so dry; I feel like I've just run a marathon! Practice 'th' now with help from Effortless English Club. Try online lessons with iTalki for more pronunciation practice with native English teachers. 

Culture, - acculturation.

Jan 26, 2017 10:28


When I first came to live in Wenatchee, the town was very small. That was 25 years ago. I had just moved over here, and I was in shock, as I had lived in London for 3 years and was totally comfortable there. You could describe me at that time as being 'a fish out of water'. I experienced a major culture shock. Although I found the people here friendly, they seemed to be unaware of a lot of the world. Not many people from this town traveled anywhere else, unless they had to. As the town had started with fruit orchards, the people here had been tied to(1) the land, and as a result had stayed locally for the most part(2). London, on the other hand, was and still is(3) the vast, multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan hub of England, with a constant flow of people into and out of the city. I remember walking along one of the streets in Wenatchee feeling stripped of everything that was comfortable: architecture, history, greenery, and a mix of ethnicities. In fact, people were staring at me from their cars because most people here don't walk; they drive. The town was built around cars, not pedestrians. It was a very strange experience. When I think of the students who listen to my podcasts, I do realize that many of them will live in an English speaking country in order to improve their fluency. This can be a challenge. All over the world people are stepping out, moving abroad for education or other reasons, and they too feel like 'fish out of water'. The process of getting used to a new culture while living in a new country is 'acculturation'. It basically means 'to get used to a new culture/ to assimilate into a new culture.' From my experience, and what I've heard from other immigrants, is that acculturating is a process that involves gains and losses, high points and low points. It would be even more of a challenge if you have to learn a new language as well; surely that could potentially hold you back from feeling comfortable and with any sense of being 'at home'. I remember once seeing a young lady sitting on the floor against the wall in King's Cross Station crying. I went up to her and asked what was wrong. She told me that she was from Spain, had come over for a nannying job, but didn't know which platform she needed for her train. She felt lost. I was able to speak Spanish to her, get her to the correct train, and also call her new boss. She was actually fine, but she didn't realize that she was. Sometimes a person simply needs some encouragement to keep going in the right direction. I was lucky that I had encouragement when I first came here. Those of you who will live abroad must be brave, and surround yourselves with encouraging people. Reward yourselves for every step forward you make, and realize that you are making progress, and that that is to be celebrated. 1. 'To be tied to' is a great way of expressing how a person  cannot escape their responsibilities, or how they cannot deny an emotional link to someone or something. It can also mean that something is related to or depends on something. a. He is tied to his contract; he won't be free until it finishes next year. b. She couldn't imagine leaving town; all her family and friends were there, and she was tied to them. c. The success of the apple trees is tied to the health of the bees. 2. 'For the most part' is another way of saying 'mainly'. It is good to have this sort of phrase in your repertoire so you can add variety to your sentences. a. The youth center is sponsored, for the most part, by the local shoe factory. b. For the most part she is even tempered, but when she talks about politics, she gets furious. 3. 'Was and still is' is self explanatory, but a wonderful phrase. Simply by using the verb to be it indicates that a person or thing still has the characteristics that it had in the past. a. She was and still is the best singer in the choir. b. The best way to stimulate the economy has been studied and debated for decades. It was and still is the biggest issue of the government agenda. Try iTalki now English practice online with a native teacher!

Visitors from all continents.

Jan 25, 2017 08:10


A market that is in the center of Wenatchee and that is popular with both locals and tourists is Pybus Market. It is open 362 days a year, and is an indoor mixture of open fresh fruit and meet stalls, gift shops, and restaurants. There is also regular musical entertainment, and even dance lessons! During the nice weather, it has an open market in the parking area, where local growers sell fruit, vegetables, flowers, and baked goods. It is a great place to go to in the winter as well, as you can walk around inside, keep warm, eat, and get some entertainment. I had no idea, however, how well known it actually is. You know when you live somewhere, in a way, you take it for granted(1). I have my perspective about Wenatchee, but I am a local(2) (and a foreign transplant). I am not aware of the numbers of tourists who come here each year. There is a display area(3) in Pybus Market that has large maps of each continent. Each map has many different colored pins in various places that have been put there by tourists in order to show which towns and countries they come from. I was really surprised to see how many hundreds of people have come here, and from all over the globe! There were pins from every continent! I suppose Wenatchee can be considered a tourist destination as it is close to Leavenworth, has a large ski resort, and also has hot summers when you can enjoy both water and land sports. I have certainly met foreigners like myself who live here, but the few times that I have met a tourist from another country, that person usually knows more about this town than I do. 1. 'To take for granted' means to not fully appreciate, especially when you are very used to something or someone. It can also mean that you assume that something is real or true without being 100% sure. a. I was so used to him helping me, that I soon took him for granted. I realized that when he left. b. I took for granted that he would pay for the meal, but then he asked me to! 2. 'Local' is understood as a person who lives in a town that is already mentioned. It's a very common adjective to describe really any noun. Also, the noun 'the local' or 'my local' can refer to a pub or bar that you go to on a regular basis (UK). a. I bought the local newspaper and read it in the cafe. b. Ask him where the post office is; he is probably a local. c. Do you want to meet at our local and we'll celebrate your new job? 3. 'Display/ area' is where items are shown so the public can either buy them or get information. a. The new dresses were displayed in the window. b. The charities had a display area where they showed photos and essays of their work around the world. Try iTalki now to get a discounted lesson with a native English teacher!

Trump's Inauguration.

Jan 21, 2017 05:40


Today was an important, historic day here in the U.S. Today the President-elect, Donald Trump, was inaugurated. This means that a ceremony was performed at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, where he took an oath (made a promise) to serve the country as its president. This ceremony is the beginning of his presidency, the beginning of his 4 year term in office. The word 'inauguration' comes from the Latin word 'inaugurare' which means to install or consecrate when omens are good. Omens, as you might know, are signs that we see in the natural world that are supposed to reflect luck or good fortune. So, the inauguration is a tradition of promises, rituals, and hope for the future. The person who leads the new President through his oath is the Chief Justice who is the head of the nine Supreme Justices or judges of the Supreme Court which is the highest court in the country. Among the people watching the ceremony are previous presidents, obviously Barack Obama, and also a few others. A huge crowd of thousands of people also gathers to hear the new President's speech. President Trump's speech focused on all the usual things: jobs, industry, tolerance, and greatness. Political speeches are not really my cup of tea; in fact, I think that most of them are a complete waste of time. Everybody hopes that a new president will bring great, positive changes, and be honest and reasonable. But, as we say in English, 'Time will tell'. We have to wait and see the actions of the individual; words, to a certain degree, are much less important. Today's inauguration involved some violent protests which is highly unusual for U.S inaugurations. Political divisions here between the Republicans and the Democrats have degenerated into hatred, unfortunately. Trump must realize, that his campaign did lead to a lot of anger and resentment because of his careless words of prejudice and bigotry. Perhaps that is why in his speech today he said, "Whether we are black, brown, or white, we bleed the same color of patriotism." So let's wait and see, as we do in any country with each change of political leader. There are, after all, 196 countries in the world. So let's wait with patience and hope to see which of the leaders are brave and honest, and can follow their words with intelligent actions.

Basic Pronunciation Practice #42 + Interactive English.

Jan 19, 2017 12:25


Peter's cell phone rings: "Hello." "Peter, it's Liz" "Oh, hi Liz, you don't usually call me. What's up?" "Actually, I really need your help. My car broke down. Thankfully I'm in the parking lot of a highway cafe. I stopped to get gas, and when I tried to start the car, nothing happened." "Have you asked anyone to jump the battery?" "I would have but there's no one here! It's just me." (1)"How about you text me your location. How far do you think you are from the college?" "Only three miles. (2)I'm sorry to ask you, but I didn't know who else to call." "No problem; never hesitate to call me if you need help." "Thanks Peter, I really appreciate it. (3)I was beginning to worry as it's so late." "Look, just stay in the car, keep warm, and I'll be there soon. I'm leaving right now." Try iTalki now for live English practice with a native teacher.

A Vegan Option.

Jan 18, 2017 09:19


Vegetarianism is growing in the U.S at a dramatic rate. It is estimated that 16 million, out of the population of 320 million people, are now vegetarian, and the number is probably much higher as not all of them have been counted. Half of those vegetarians are vegans who eat no animal products whatsoever(1). This is an unusual, counter-culture trend(2) for this country, as so much  of the general culture's diet includes meat and animal products. As you probably know, there is a health crisis here in the States. Obesity, cancer, and diabetes are accepted as normal. Most of this stems from(3) a huge consumption of sugar and a stressed and sedentary lifestyle. However, there is also more information available to people, and many are taking control and making healthier choices. Even the schools are trying to reduce the amount of sugar that they serve the children, and are also including more vegetables in their lunches. There is much work to be done and a long way to go before the young generation experiences a healthy balance of exercise and diet. A type of vegetarianism that is being adopted particularly by women and young people is veganism. Studies have shown that vegans can expect much lower rates of cancer of all types compared to the general population. Veganism has also become fashionable which, I think, is a good thing, as it exposes young people to healthier options for a longer life. My oldest son, Hudson, has been a vegan for about eight months, and is now committed to his vegetable based diet. He says that he feels so much better. He used to have migraines and gastric problems, but they have completely stopped. He has lots of energy, and his skin is perfect! He has also become a good shopper! He will go to the supermarket and buy bags and bags of vegetables, beans, grains, and fruit. Then he will rush around the kitchen like a chef, chopping, mashing, and stirring, and produce colorful, healthy dishes. I tried his vegan burrito the other day, and I was totally surprised at how it tastes like a burrito but so much better. Instead of a flour tortilla, he used Swiss chard. Instead of meat he used spiced beans and onion; and instead of rice he used finely chopped cauliflower. It was like a revolution in thinking. My son's example certainly has me thinking about my diet. I could probably give up meat and milk, but giving up eggs and butter would be very difficult. Also, I love to bake, and how can you do that without those two ingredients? I'm not quite ready for that step. 1. 'Whatsoever' is emphatic after a negative and means ' at all'. a. The newspaper made no mention whatsoever of the charity that made a generous gift to the homeless. b. It will be no problem whatsoever to beat the other team. c. The hospital didn't have clean water, bandages, medicine, or any other supplies whatsoever! 2. 'Trend' is like 'fashion' or 'temporary tendency'. We also use the word 'trendy' instead of 'fashionable'. a. She likes to follow Japanese trends in fashion. b. Economies change their trends every few years, it seems. 3. 'To stem from' is similar to 'to come from'. When observing plants, most of a plant comes from the stem, its base. It is supported by the stem and develops from it. a. His problems stem from a lack of communication. b. The regrowth of forests stems from regulation that protects them. c. The growth in industry and jobs stems from a general cut in taxes. Try iTalki for conversation practice!

An Awkward Phone Call.

Jan 13, 2017 10:18


In your country, do you have many telemarketers? You know, the people you don't know who call you on the phone and try to convince you to buy something. Well, in this country they are like a plague (no offense intended if you are one!). Most people I know will tell me of difficult experiences that they've had with telemarketers who are pushy, or over enthusiastic to the point of being bizarre. It must be a difficult job, I think, to approach a stranger by phone, often while he's at home, and to try and sell him something. I'm not a natural salesperson, and being pushy is not me at all. I don't think I would be very good at it. I have, however, had a lot of experience of awkward telephone conversations with telemarketers. As an English person, I try to be polite. That's not to say(1) that all English are polite. But in general, our society does train us to offer politeness on a daily basis to strangers and to people we know. I think it comes from a general desire to avoid conflict and to get along. So, when I first found myself talking to telemarketers, I would always give them plenty of time to talk, even if they were talking so fast that I couldn't understand them. I would ask questions, make friendly comments, and then really apologize if I didn't want to buy the product they were offering. In fact, my first experience led me to(2) buy two dozen light bulbs for some reason or other. I had recently got married and moved to this country, and certainly wasn't used to telemarketers. When my husband found out, he shook his head and asked me why we needed so many light bulbs, and couldn't we just buy them in the shop when we needed them? The word 'naive' comes to mind. Yes, I was young and very naive. Well, not anymore. I'm older and wiser. So, yesterday as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered anyway. Immediately, a high-pitched, giggly voice of a lady presented itself, and with breathy(3) enthusiasm told me that I had won a vacation somewhere. She spoke very fast, so fast that I wasn't sure if her voice was a recording or not. She raced through a list of details and values of the vacation while I stood there, looking at myself in the mirror, with only half of my makeup on my face, wondering why I was wasting my time. Would I listen to her and then politely respond with, "Oh really?" or "That's a generous offer!" or even, "I'm so sorry, but at the moment I don't think that spending X amount of dollars is in my budget." No, politeness didn't even occur to me, instead, I felt a definite instinct for survival rise inside me. I touched the red, round button on my phone, and welcomed the following silence. Then I went to 'recent calls' on my phone and blocked her number. That was it, done; it was over. My thought had been translated into action which had brought relief and success. It was thrilling, like I had just robbed a bank and driven away in a  Lamborghini. I continued putting on my makeup, and found that I looked prettier than usual. Well, they say that success makes a person glow. I look forward to another opportunity of hitting that adorable, little, red button. 1. 'That's not to say..' is used to balance a previous comment. a. When I go to London, I visit my friend Sarah. That's not to say that I go there frequently. b. The French are known for their cuisine. That's not to say that all French people love cooking. 2. 'Led me to' begins with the past participle of the verb 'to lead', and the general sense is that something has influenced you or guided you to a course of action or thought. a. The salesperson led me to believe that my vacuum cleaner was the worst on the planet, that I should have never bought it, and that I should buy a new one from him immediately.  b. The professor's lecture led the student to feel confident and hopeful about the next day's exam. 3. 'Breathy' is an adjective used to give a sense of the sound and 'windiness' of the lady's voice. Many nouns can be made into this kind of adjective by simply adding a 'y', like 'scratchy'. a. She was nervous when she gave her speech; she stammered and sounded breathy like she had been running. b. He had had a cough for a week, and his voice sounded scratchy.

What have you never experienced?

Jan 11, 2017 09:18


The title question for this podcast might seem unusual. A more normal question would be, "What have you experienced?" My choice of words was inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend of mine from Bangladesh, Suman. He told me that because his country is warm and tropical, that he and his countrymen have no experience of snow. A friend of his now lives in Japan, and was able to describe to him how amazing and beautiful this white phenomenon is. Having never experienced(1) it before, it was a surprising and pleasant shock. I searched online to find out how many people, similarly, have never experienced snow. Well, I only came up with(2) a rough estimate, as nobody can be absolutely sure of the number. About 40% of the world's population has never seen snow in person. The areas that get no snow are equatorial South America and Africa, and the desert areas of the Middle East. This made me think of natural phenomena that I have never experienced. Coming from England, a green, cool country, I have never experienced a vast desert. This might seem funny to those of you who come from drier countries. And even though I have traveled fairly extensively, I have only seen the desert briefly in Arizona, and also the semi-arid La Mancha in Spain. I am not familiar with miles of sand. And how about you? Which kind of climate or phenomenon have you never experienced? Would you feel comfortable, for example, in a very green, rainy country, or is it more normal for you to see sand and sun? I wonder what it would feel like for an Eskimo who has never been around greenery to experience a tropical forest, or rolling, green hills full of sheep. It would take some time to get used to it, for sure(3). Another thing that I haven't experienced is the Aurora Borealis. I'm sure that the sky full of shifting colors would hypnotize me, and it would take a while to realize that it is real. Let me know which phenomenon you have never experienced but would like to. 1. 'Having never experienced it before,..' having + a past participle, is a great way to make a sentence interesting and different, as the main clause has to come afterwards.  a. Having gone shopping, she came back with ten bags and a big smile on her face. b. Having never scuba dived before, he was nervous but excited. c. Having studied non-stop for eight hours, he ate dinner and went straight to bed. 2. 'To come up with' is another interesting use of 'up' in English that adds to an idiomatic phrase. In this case, the phrase means to produce, discover, or to come to a conclusion. a. The investigators examined the room for hours, but only came up with one fingerprint. b. We brainstormed about how to fix the problem. It was our youngest child who came up with the solution! 3. 'For sure' is a little add-on that we often use to just confirm what we have stated. It can also be said to agree with what someone else has just stated. a. If we want to avoid the traffic, we'll have to leave early, for sure. b. "If she keeps practicing, she will be a proficient driver in a few months."   "For sure!" 

Sleeping Lady Skating.

Jan 5, 2017 09:27


"Anna, do you want to go cross country skiing in Leavenworth tomorrow?" was the text I received from my friend Nataliya on Sunday. I thought about it for a few minutes. The lazy part of my brain thought, "Oh, just stay at home. It's cold, and you only have one day left of vacation." However, the better part of my brain thought, "You must go. It'll be fun, you'll spend time with your friend, and who knows when you will have another opportunity like this?" So I texted back, "Yes!" As Leavenworth is only twenty five minutes away, it's really not a hassle to get there. I had my skis, poles, boots, and warm clothes ready in the car when Nataliya turned up at seven the next morning. It was still dark. The neighborhood was perfectly silent, and my outside Christmas lights twinkled against the snow on the trees. I felt as though I was escaping! We arrived at The Sleeping Lady resort and parked in the skiing area. The pathways and ski tracks had been freshly groomed(1). I brought my skate skis, and Nataliya brought her cross country skis. The only difference between them, that I can tell, is that you use a different method to propel yourself forward. My skis require a sideways/ forward motion, whereas cross country skis need a simple forward and backward motion. Nataliya is quite good at the sport, but I am a complete beginner. She was very gracious, as I stumbled and slipped along next to her, she would wait patiently for me to catch up. We chatted the whole way, and stopped every now and then to photograph the amazing scenery. It was thick with snow, as Leavenworth is more mountainous and certainly gets more feet of snow than Wenatchee does. As I warmed up, several skate skiers came whizzing past me with the look of triumph on their faces. They really knew how to move! I studied their movements as they disappeared into the distance, and I mimicked(2)what they did. And it worked. I found myself more relaxed and moving quickly. When we got back to the car I was actually sweaty. I had been working much harder than I had realized, but I was content, and looking forward to a big breakfast. We will go again on Friday. The forecast is between -12 and -9 degrees C, so the conditions should be perfectly(3) snowy and cold, with hopefully some sun. 1. 'groomed' describes how the snow had been combed neatly in preparation for the skiers. 'To groom' is used mainly in reference to people and also animals. a. I've never been really into grooming myself. Some of my friends spend hours doing their hair and makeup, but not me! b. For the dog show, the owners spent a long time grooming their animals. 2. 'To mimic' is to copy the actions or expressions of someone or something. a. My father can mimic the call of a lion perfectly. b. The rude students were mimicking the teacher's instructions and making fun of him. c. Some birds can mimic the voices of humans. 3. 'Perfectly' is a very useful adverb. a. He painted every line and shadow of her face perfectly. b. The contract was carried out perfectly. c. Our customers are perfectly content with our services. *We even use 'perfectly' ironically. d. When we went camping, it poured with rain the whole time. I was perfectly miserable.   Help with pronunciation and fluency from iTalki.

The Best Santa Ever?

Jan 4, 2017 10:09


Every year, at about this time, I start to put away the Christmas decorations little by little. The whole process usually takes me about two months. Yes, two months. Why? Well, it's because I deliberately(1) delay it. I don't like saying goodbye to the Christmas period, nor do I like going back to a plain looking house that's no longer full of color and sparkle. Once I actually left our plastic tree up until March which was, admittedly, ridiculous. The winters are long and quite dark, and I try to compensate for(2) that by having cheerful lights and decorations for as long as possible. Also, I'm full of nostalgia during the winter months and so I try to extend that feeling of winter wonder for as long as possible. So I was sorting through my Christmas photos at the kitchen table, deciding which ones I should use for my podcasts, when I came across one of a happy, fat man dressed in red. Yes, you guessed, it was Santa. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of hired Santas that you find all over the world, but there was something special about him. I came across him as I was hurrying out of Walmart, pushing a shopping cart full of stuff, and trying to get through the crowds of Christmas shoppers. Normally, I would briefly glance at the Santa 'employee' and continue on my way. However, I looked once, then again, and then I stared. He was the quintessential Santa, the type you find on the lid of a Christmas box of chocolates. He had the perfect, friendly, grandfather features, a long white beard, he was plump but not disgusting, and his smile was warm but not overpowering. (Some Santas can be a little intense and scary). So, I had to say something. When I see something this perfect, I just have(3) to comment. "You are the most Santa-like Santa I've ever seen!" I said to him. "Why thank you, young lady," he replied. And then he promptly positioned himself just right for a photograph. I giggled to myself, "He is a confident model as well!" I thanked him, and said goodbye, and he replied with a "Ho-ho-ho!" which was so perfect that I had to shake my head, and wonder if there is such a thing as a Santa training course. If there is, he is one of the 'A' students.  1. 'Deliberately' means on purpose. It is very useful in conversation, so it is worth practicing the pronunciation as it is a long word. Pronounced: del-ibrut-ly. a. He deliberately parked in the middle of two parking spaces. How greedy! b. I deliberately bought twenty pounds of meat, so I could cook and freeze some of it, and give away the rest. 2. 'To compensate for (that/it)'. a. The lunches at work are very stodgy, so I compensate for that by having salads for dinner. b. Our neighbor travels for work and is away from home a lot, so he compensates for that by several,lovely, family vacations each year.  3. 'I just have to comment' this is an example of emphasis on 'have'. This is common in English on all forms of the verb 'to have' especially after the word 'just'. It gives a sense of obligation, encouragement, or opinion. a. When I saw the chocolate cake in the window of the bakery I just had to have a piece. b. You just had to drive too quickly around the corner, didn't you, even though I told you not to? c. If you visit London, you just have to visit St. Paul's Cathedral.

A Sudden Freeze.

Dec 14, 2016 08:57


Recently the landscape here turned into a winter wonderland(1). It snowed for two days in a row, and transformed the whole area into a white fairytale. During my coffee break, I walked out of the school and found that the sun was shining brightly while the snow was still falling. How was that possible? Everybody seemed happy. The school children were excited, and even the teachers were more lively than usual. It was quite magical. Well, that lasted for a day. Today was a different situation altogether(2). It was dull and freezing, -5 degrees C. And what made it worse was that the wind was blowing. Ouch that felt icy on my face! Later I noticed in town that some people were well prepared for the weather. They were bundled up in winter clothes, lots of woolens, and their heads, necks, and hands were wrapped up. Some people, however, had been caught out(3). They were the ones who were walking quickly with their heads down trying to avoid the wind. Their skinny jackets offered no protection against the cold, and their hands didn't come out of their pockets. The only creatures who were fully prepared for this weather were the hundreds of geese that have not yet flown south for the winter. They are still resting and feeding in the school fields, and already fat enough to stay warm. It's surprising how many of them are still in the fields; they seem to be everywhere. Their black and grey bodies contrast with the snow, and look like freckles on a white face. Any day they will fly away and make their journey to a warmer part of the country, leaving us to shiver for a few more months. 1. 'A winter wonderland' is a set phrase that we always use when describing a very snowy scene that seems to be perfect. a. The boy ran into his parents room early in the morning, "Mum, dad! Look out of the window! It's a winter wonderland!" b. The town of Leavenworth relies on the snow to turn it into a winter wonderland for the tourists. 2. 'A different situation altogether.' Here, the 'altogether'  emphasizes the meaning of the first part of the sentence, as I am trying to emphasize that the weather totally changed from one day to the next. It can be substituted by 'completely'. a. Mix the sugar and butter until the sugar has dissolved altogether. b. His answer was not altogether surprising. 3. 'To be caught out' can mean to be discovered, to be proven wrong, but when it comes to weather it simply means that you were unprepared and suffered the consequences. a. I had not checked the weather that day, and so when the downpour started, I was completely caught out. b. In the card game BS, the other players will try to catch you out. They will judge if you are saying the truth or not.

An Unknown Artist.

Nov 24, 2016 10:44


'Never judge a book by its cover' is a saying that we have in English that you can apply to so many areas. If you think about it, in order to judge a book, you have to open it and read it, not just look at the cover. If you make an assumption about the book based on what it looks like, your judgment is likely(1) to be wrong. I was guilty of this when I went to an estate sale. First of all, let me explain that an estate sale is different from a yard sale. It is the selling of the entire contents of a house because either the owner is going to move, or has died. There was one of these sales last weekend very close to my house. I was in two minds about going; there always seems to be something else that I could be doing. But, I felt like looking for treasure for a few minutes, so I went. As I approached the house my expectations lowered. It was a small, run down place that had peeling paint, a rotten carpet on the porch steps, and a dingy(2) garage which, though it was open, was as dark as a cave. I assumed that I wouldn't find anything of any worth there. I walked into the garage and the man, who was about my age, greeted me. He showed me some items that he called 'brand new' and others that he said had not even been taken out of their original box. He wasn't a good salesman. So as I ignored his attempts to get my attention, I wandered towards the back of the garage and came upon a table that was covered in art. When I say art, I'm actually talking about pottery. The whole table was covered in gorgeous, shapely pots of all different sizes and colors, some with lids, others with delicate, thin openings. "Those are my mom's," he said. "She's got a ton of them downstairs too. Help yourself." "Your mother made these?" I asked with a mixture of surprise and admiration. "Oh yeah," he said dismissively. "She's always been into her hobbies." I gathered three pots that I absolutely had to have, put them to one side, and went downstairs. Two dusty, concrete rooms were filled with pots, bowls, and vases. There were patinas that shimmered(3), paint that was crackled, and enamels that were dabbed and mixed and swirled like the colors at a geological site. As I went upstairs I bumped into a local art teacher who is herself a very good artist. "Hello Anna," she said as she held up one of the cream colored crackled pots that rounded perfectly up to an opening that looked like a small flower. "Oh, that's just beautiful," she said. And she was right. This dark, dingy place was full of beauty. A lady had been working away for years with care and thought about her craft. I took my treasures home, examined them, and realized that the artist hadn't put her name on them. The sale is over now; the lady has gone, and the house is empty. But I have three blue pots that shimmer and wink at me, as if to say, "You can expect good things even from dark places." 1. The use of 'likely'. In this podcast it is used in a similar way to 'will probably'. It is an adjective, but can be used in front of a verb. a. Storms have closed the roads; he is likely to arrive late.    Storms have close the roads; he will probably arrive late. b. What is the likely outcome of the boxing match?     What is the expected/ forecast/ probable outcome of the boxing match? c. The government is likely to lower taxes next year.     The government will probably lower taxes next year. 2. 'Dingy' is another word for dull and dark. It has negative connotations, implying that a place is old and worn out. a. The man went down to a dingy room and handed over the suitcase of money to a man with a gun. b. I could not buy that house; it is far too dingy and needs total renovation. 3. 'To shimmer' is a mild shine; it is similar to glimmer. a. The sunshine shimmered on her silk dress. b. The gold pot shone brightly, but the bronze pot shimmered. italki for practice with native English teachers.

London, The Lovers' Statue.

Nov 23, 2016 09:17


On my recent trip to London, I met up with a dear friend of mine who I hadn't seen for at least three years, Sarah. We met in university and have been close ever since. Since she lives in London, and I was passing through on my way to Spain, we decided to meet up at King's Cross station and find a place to have dinner. The weather had turned really cold that day, and I wound my scarf around my neck to keep out the cold while I waited for her outside of the station. There were the usual London crowds of all sizes, shapes, colors, and humors which I love to be part of, so I lost myself in 'people watching'(1) when suddenly I heard a voice say, "Anna!" We threw our arms around each other and giggled like college girls again. It was so good to see her. She suggested that we eat in St. Pancras station. I had actually not been there since the big renovation 9 years ago. It is a massive place that is used by 50 million travelers each year. There is a lower floor that is filled with elegant shops and cafes, and then upstairs, looking like strong, young horses all in a row are the Eurostar trains, ready to gallop into Europe. We ate at a restaurant on the upper floor in the shadow of the Lover's Statue. Well, alright, it's not really called that; its real name is The Meeting Place, and it was created by Paul Day. It is a 20 ton, 30 ft bronze statue of a man and woman in an affectionate embrace, touching foreheads. Significantly, the artist is married to a French lady, and the sculpture reflects the two of them. Just as England has a port to France and the rest of Europe through train travel, so the two figures, each from a different country are connected. Paul Day said, "I wanted to create a statue that showed a meeting of minds as well as a physical connection." And I think, for me, that is the hope of international travel: to meet the minds of others. Sarah and I certainly made up for lost time(2). The poor waitress kept coming to our table to see if we were ready to order, "Just a few more minutes," we would say, and then continue talking. Three hours later we finished our meal, but we were not even half way through our conversation. It had been a perfect encounter: a dear friend who I hadn't seen for a long time, meaningful conversation, and a beautiful, cosmopolitan setting filled with art. 1. 'People watching' is self explanatory, and an activity that many people enjoy in busy areas. a. I had a four hour layover at Los Angeles International, so I bought a coffee and people watched. b. The very best people watchers are babies; they are so curious and fascinated by human activity. 2. 'To make up for lost time,' is a common expression used often when talking about conversing with someone you haven't seen for a long time, or getting work done that you have delayed for a long time. a. She got out the sheet music from storage and played the piano, making up for a lot of lost time. b. My cousin and I have been so busy for the past ten years, but at my aunt's wedding we talked for hours and made up for lost time.  

Sue's Creative Cooking.

Nov 8, 2016 08:53


"I love to cook," said Sue as she passed me my plate. It was early evening, and the Scottish farmhouse kitchen was filled with delicious smells of fresh seafood with a hint(1) of spice. We were warm, tired, but content after a day spent walking on a hidden beach with the colors of Autumn looking over us from the adjacent forest. I was ready for this meal, and I knew that it would be good. What I hadn't expected was its presentation. "What?" I exclaimed as I saw the huge oyster shell stuffed with shrimp and mussels in a creamy sauce, with garden herbs and a flower on top. "Good grief, this is gormet," I commented, a little unsure of whether or not(2) I should actually eat it; it looked too pretty. Sue does love to cook, and every time I come and visit my father and step-mother, she quickly throws together flavors and textures of food that are satisfying, memorable, and as colorful as her oil paintings. "I always cook what I like," she said, emphasizing the "I". "And it's just as well(3) that your father likes what I cook," she smiled. "Dad, you're a lucky man," I said as I heaped shrimp onto a large piece of potato. Even the vegetable side dish was unusual: raw zucchini in thin curls, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Well, my plate was empty in only a few minutes. I resisted the temptation to eat my dad's baked creation: an Eve's pudding which is a dish of baked apple with vanilla cake on top. I'm trying to avoid dessert for health reasons, and because I have too much of a sweet tooth. It wasn't difficult though to resist this time, as I wanted to savor the flavors Sue's seafood work of art. 1. 'A hint' is like a little clue, or a small taste. It is also a verb. a. I don't know what the answer is; give me a hint. b. He hinted that there might be a wedding in a few months. c. The dessert had a hint of sherry which gave it a small kick. 2. The position of 'whether or not' should be practiced as it is a very native-sounding expression. a. He was trying to decide whether or not he should study abroad for a few months. He was trying to decide whether he should study abroad for a few months or not. b. She couldn't remember whether or not she had paid her phone bill. She couldn't remember whether she'd paid her phone bill or not. c. They discussed whether or not to invest. They discussed whether to invest or not. 3. 'It's just as well' means 'it's a lucky thing that...' a. It's just as well that you brought your umbrella because it's started pouring with rain! b. It's just as well we caught a taxi. We would have never got to the train station on time by walking!

Do you tangle with Zen?

Oct 29, 2016 10:33


Have you ever wondered around Youtube, looking for inspiration? I did a few years ago, and I stumbled upon(1) an activity called Zentangle. It is an art form that really suits everybody. Let me explain. A 'tangle' is a pattern that doesn't have to look like anything in particular(2); it is a simple pattern, repeated over the paper. It's similar to 'doodling' which is when a person draws any random shapes, connected or not, as a way of relaxing. There are no expectations of drawing a particular object or scene, just shapes. Well, a Zentangle is a collection of several different patterns on a small paper (usually 3.5 inches squared). The 'Zen' part of this practice is that a person is completely free to choose the patterns, style, and combinations, and to simply enjoy the process. There is no stress involved, no expectations of artistry or perfection. In fact, it has been proven that tangling reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases focus and happiness. Amazing! It seems to work with the human brain in a similar way to yoga: relaxation, freedom from competition, and focus. It has actually surprised me how this kind of organized doodling improves my mood. A booklet called 'Beginning Zentangle' lists why it is so popular: 1. It is unplanned, so its results surprise you. 2. Without up or down - can be viewed and drawn from any orientation. 3. Abstract nonrepresentative art, a collection of patterns - not a drawing of something. 4. Can be drawn with either hand. 5. Small enough to be drawn in 15 minutes. 6. Portable. 7. Not limited by technology. All you need is a paper and a pencil or pen. (3) So, if you think about it, you can tangle in most places in order to relax and enjoy the moment. I'm going to slip a pad of paper and some fine black pens into my handbag so I can tangle with Zen whenever I feel like it. 1. 'To stumble upon' means 'to come upon' or 'to find by chance'. The verb stumble means to trip (over), so the phrase implies that a person finds something by actually falling over it. What a great picture! We often use this phrase when we explain that we have found something interesting in a book or a newspaper. a. In a medical journal, I stumbled upon a remedy for my skin problem. b. In the park, we stumbled upon a hidden path that led to a cottage next to the river. 2. I use the word 'particular' twice in this podcast. Once as an adjective 'a particular object', and once in the phrase 'in particular. This can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, but is most commonly placed at the end. It singles out a noun as being special or focused on rather than others. a. They loved to meet in cafes on Saturday mornings, in Cafe Mela in particular. b. The theme of literature in schools in the month of October is Autumn, and Halloween in particular. 3. The list quoted from 'Beginning Zentangle' is written in incomplete sentences. This is fine to do when you are writing a list of basic information, or sharing facts; sometimes we will omit the verb or the article. a. The advantages of exercising regularly: 1. Improves mood. 2. Speeds metabolism. 3. Less need to diet. 4. Body repairs itself more quickly. b. Math class supply list: 1. Large eraser. 2. Packet of #2 pencils 3. Protractor and ruler. 4. No need to buy graph paper, - supplied by teacher.  

Photos by the river.

Oct 20, 2016 11:07


The Riverfront Park is a great asset(1)that we enjoy in our community. It opened about the same year that I came to live here. It’s focus, as you can tell by the name, is the Columbia river. This wide and deep body of water starts in Canada, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It travels about 1,200 miles, through to Washington State and Oregon and then it flows into the Pacific Ocean. So, Wenatchee is actually one of the many towns that it flows through. It is very pleasant to walk or bike next to the river, especially during the Autumn. Often in the morning, there is a slight mist rising from the surface of the water before the day heats up. The leaves on the deciduous trees have changed to yellow, orange, red, pink, or brown. You could say that it’s a perfect spot for photography. And that is probably why I received a phone call two weeks ago from the High School Photography teacher, asking if I could accompany a group of students to the Riverfront Park. Their field trip(2) was planned to encourage their photography of textures and colors. There are a few wooden buildings, benches, and winding(3) pathways in the park, as well as all the natural surroundings that you can take pictures of. I was there for the safety of the students, but as they were all mature and well behaved, I didn’t have much to do. I took some photos myself, and also observed what they were doing. Many of them got down on the ground to find the perfect angle of tree roots or a bench. There was also a lot of reflection on the water that was very bright and danced up the tree trunks, so the students took videos and pictures of that. They seemed to know exactly what to do. The teacher really only facilitated by adjusting camera settings every now and then. And I felt a bit like a spare part, but it was such a perfect day that I was glad to be in the park taking photos. This link shows a few more photos I took that day. 1. An ‘asset’ means a positive resource, a benefit, blessing, or beauty. a. A helpful citizen is an asset to a community. b. She has a million dollars in assets. c. His greatest asset was his sharp mind. 2. ‘Field trip’ is another way of saying an outing that is organized by the school. a. I will volunteer on the school field trip to the chocolate factory. b. Museums are the perfect place for a field trip. 3. ‘Winding’ and ‘winding’. Ok 2 verbs that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. The most familiar is ‘to wind/ winding’ like the Beatles’ song ‘The Long and Winding Road’. It means to move in a snake-like manner, and also to tighten the main spring of a clock or watch so it functions. A very common British phrasal verb is ‘to wind up’ followed by another verb, meaning ‘to end up’ or ‘to irritate someone’. The meanings are quite different from each other. The other verb ‘to wind’ simply means to physically cause someone to temporarily stop breathing by either kicking or punching them below the ribs. Let’s see examples of all of these: a. I forgot to wind my clock, so my alarm didn’t go off in the morning. b.That path winds through the forest and out to a main road. c. It is so easy to wind him up; he gets angry so fast that it’s funny! d. While we were practicing our Karate moves, I accidentally kicked my partner in the stomach and winded him!

Rules and expectations.

Oct 4, 2016 08:51


As I work in the schools in Wenatchee, I notice lots of things about the school culture. Each school here has its own mascot. Foothills Middle School, for example, has the Falcons. Any child who represents the school in any way, whether in sports, mathematics, art or anything else, is called a Falcon. Other mascots in the area are: The Wenatchee High School Panthers, the Eastmont Wild Cats, and the Pioneer Middle School Bears. Mascots help to create a sense of belonging to a group in each school. Another thing that helps children feel like they belong to a school is a set of guidelines, or rules. Recently, the school district has adopted(1) a framework of positive ideas about behavior at school. Each school uses this framework to make up its own expectations in the form of a mnemonic. An example from Foothills is: S - solve problems O - opt for excellence A - always make good decisions R - respect self, others, and environment  So, I suppose, you could say that each school tries to establish the expectations of attitude. Then, in each classroom, guidelines of noise levels and steps in learning are also put on the walls and talked about. 'Restaurant voice' and 'spy talk' were two volume levels I saw the other day. The teacher uses these to describe how loudly the children can talk in a given situation. So while they are busy writing, they might have to use 'spy talk' or whisper, whereas(2), when they are working in groups they could use a 'restaurant voice'. These expectations are described and practiced at the beginning of the school year, and then referred to whenever necessary. I thought it was a very creative way of guiding the students to control the noise. Another element of this system of behavior management is capturing the imagination of the students by rewarding them for positive behavior. If a student has been particularly helpful, caring, or a good example in a class, the teacher can give him a blue note called a 'soar' ticket. The word 'soar' relates to the Falcon mascot. Two tickets can be traded in for a cookie which is handed out by the vice principal at lunchtime. Education has certainly changed since I was young. We had rules and expectations, but, as far as I can remember(3), there was no creativity involved, and certainly no cookies. 1. 'To adopt' is used in this podcast to mean 'to take on' when speaking about the 'framework'. So, ideas can be adopted, philosophies, behaviors, and, of course, people and animals. a. The behavior management of schools used to be based on punishment. Now a more positive approach has been adopted. b. We went to the animal shelter just to have a look. Of course, we ended up adopting two cats. 2. 'Whereas' is used in a similar way to 'but' to show contrast. a. You would use this shoe in tap dance, whereas in jazz a completely different shoe must be worn. b. The color black absorbs heat, whereas white reflects it. (borrowed from 3. 'As far as I can remember' is a wonderful way to inject some personality into a statement about remembering something. It can be used with short or long-term memories. a. Did you put the hammer back in the toolbox?     As far as I can remember, yes. b. He was an honest man, as far as I can remember. italki for practice with native English teachers!

Yoga please!

Sep 20, 2016 10:49


Oh yoga, yoga, yoga! It's such a passion of mine. And I started doing yoga only recently. I have found it to be so beneficial in so many ways: it gets rid of my stress, it loosens my joints, and it strengthens me, but gently. Why didn't I start it years ago? I sometimes turn on Youtube and do yoga in my lounge. However, my favorite place to do yoga, so far, is the WRAC, which stands for Wenatchee Racket and Athletic Club. It's a friendly gym with a host of different classes, and very experienced teachers. You can do anything from tennis, squash, swimming, and aerobics, to yoga, dance, and tai chi(1). I love it. Sometimes I will use some exercise equipment like a treadmill for an aerobic exercise, and then I'll finish my session by lifting weights. My favorite activity though is yoga. Now, for a few weeks, there have been renovations taking place throughout the building. A whole new exercise equipment room has been built, and the construction continues. When I walked into the yoga room and chose my mat, blanket, and towel, the room was nice and quiet. I chatted quietly with some of the ladies while we waited for the session to begin. The teacher dimmed the lights, put on some very relaxing music, and we began the deep breathing exercises. I thought of nothing. All obligations and plans for the day were instantly forgotten as I focused on my breath.Quietly the teacher guided us to, "Let go" of the day and to relax. I did, well, for a while. I suddenly realized that next door there was an aerobics class. It sounded very serious, and it was getting louder. Michael Jackson was playing on their sound system 'Beat it' which didn't help much with my relaxation, and it drowned out (2)the Indian meditative music. "Make it burn!" yelled the aerobics teacher suddenly while his class was bang, bang, banging on the floor. "Breathe in your positive desires," said my yoga teacher, "and breathe out any stress and tension." My empty mind was unfortunately starting to jump around, going back and forth between the tranquility of my class, and the commotion and pain of the aerobics class. I tried to block it out(3) but because I know the lyrics of 'Beat it' by heart, I couldn't help but follow the words, 'it doesn't matter who's wrong or right, just beat it!'. I brought myself mentally back to yoga and tried to focus on the 'Downward dog' position with big belly breaths and a good stretch of the spine. "Hold it! Squeeze, harder! Don't stop 'till I say so!" was the next instruction yelled out by the aerobics teacher. I found myself holding my breath, but then I realized that I shouldn't. I was supposed to be doing 'Pigeon pose', stretching my hips and releasing any tension. This was beginning to be a mental challenge. A few seconds past and I heard, "Wow! Awesome, good job everyone!" and some hand clapping. "Oh good," I thought to myself, "the class must have finished." I settled into the last few poses, thinking that I wouldn't have any more distractions. This time I was in 'Happy baby': legs in the air, knees bent, holding on to my feet, and rolling my spine  from side to side. I was back in the zone, at last! The teacher turned the lights down even more, and turned the music up. It was time to cool down and lay quietly. "Imagine yourself leaving your body and floating up to the top of the building..." she was saying when suddenly, "Bang! Bang! Bang!" The construction men had moved in next door. I giggled. The teacher jokingly said, "Come in!" 1. 'Anything from .....' demonstrates a variety available. a. The clothes shop has everything from cheap shoes to Gucci hand bags. b. The university offers everything from philosophy to engineering. 2. 'To drown out' is an expression we use that refers to one sound covering another. a. My son's rap music drowned out my classical music. b. Your loud talking is drowning out the film! 3. 'To block out' is similar to 'to drown out', but it's a mental effort to not hear, see, or think about something.  a. I blocked out her negativity by being positive. b. I raised my hand to block out the sun. italki for practice with native English teachers!

A Country Party.

Sep 13, 2016 08:08


The end of summer is one of the best times to have a party, especially if it's in the evening. The hot summer days give way to slightly cooler but long summer nights. You can linger(1) outside, barbecue, or even dance. And if you want to do what a friend of mine did, you can have a big country party. Kim and her boyfriend Casey both turned(2) 50 this year, so they decided to have a big 'bash'. They have a house with a large front garden where they usually ride a 4-wheeler for fun. They converted this place over a two week period into a cowboy-style venue for their celebration. Kim bought hay bales to put here and there for people to sit on. They built a dance floor out of apple pallets (which are strong, flat wooden boxes used in the apple industry). They strung lights all over the dance floor, the trees, and the fence. And then, they hired some caterers(3) to cook and serve a barbecue style meal, plus a birthday cake. The band they hired was actually very good; they played a lot of American rock and some country music too. The place gradually filled up with people wearing cowboy hats and boots, and there was lots of singing and beer drinking. There was even a trampoline! I took my daughter, Domini, as she is friends with Kim's daughter. They jumped on the trampoline and ran barefoot over the dance floor to the dessert table and back again. It was very casual. Even the smell of a nearby forest fire added to the atmosphere. "Anna, Domini's staying the night," Kim said to me, "and you should too! We could sit by the fire, drink wine and talk all night," she beamed at me enthusiastically. "Oh Kim, I turn into a pumpkin at midnight," I replied. This is one lady who both loves and needs her sleep! Before I knew it, it was midnight. I had really enjoyed myself, but it was time for this cinderella to pick up both of her shoes and go home. 1. 'To linger' is a fabulous verb which means to spend time in one spot because you choose to, or to be the last remaining .... a. The sunset on the beach was stunning. We didn't want to leave, so we lingered and just took it all in. b. The ceramic industry still lingers in the town, though most of the businesses have closed or moved to the bigger cities. 2. When it comes to having a birthday, we use the verb 'to turn' followed by the number of years. a. Her baby turned one last week, and we were invited to the party. b. When children in the U.S turn 16, it is legal for them to drive. 3. A 'caterer'/'catering company' is a person or company that is hired to make food for a special occasion. Another type of company that is used to help with the arrangements of a party is a 'rental company' which rents equipment or furniture. a. The wedding planner advised us to hire a caterer, but I didn't realize how expensive it would be. b. Robert's Rentals has all you need for your next big 'bash': tables, chairs, plates, cutlery, and even a chocolate fountain! italki for practice with native English teachers!

WSU Vet Hospital.

Sep 5, 2016 08:26


Washington State University veterinary hospital is a place that is renowned throughout the state for being the best place to treat animals who have diseases. It is located in a small town called Pullman, in rolling, tree covered hills. All around it, however, are miles and miles of dry wheat fields, and so the town forms a kind of oasis. We went to Pullman two weeks ago because our rottweiler needed an operation. It was a first experience for me in many ways. First of all, I had no idea that Pullman was so famous, or that it was a three hour drive. Secondly, I am not used to having rottweilers. I love our dog, Chucho. He is well behaved and getting well trained. However, I was not prepared for his reaction to the hospital or the staff. We arrived at about 10:30, having left at 6am. Chucho didn't sleep all the way; he just panted, and wanted to put his head out of the window. He wasn't allowed to eat anything either, so by the time we arrived, he was obviously feeling anxious. He went in for a preliminary examination, before having an MRI. After only ten minutes, the veterinary student came back to me, looking a little out of breath, "We can't do anything with him; we can't even touch him, and he's really strong. Could you help us by holding him down?" When I went back into the examining room, I found him on guard, with a muzzle on his snout(1), and totally non-cooperative. The vet was surprised that she couldn't touch him. "He is a very intelligent dog," I said, "and you are a complete stranger who is trying to manipulate his body. Of course he is not cooperating!" I suggested that they put him to sleep and then examine him(2). She nodded in agreement. Well, we didn't see him for the rest of the day, or the following day. He had to spend the night and then have the operation the next day. When we finally picked him up, he looked like a real invalid; his front legs were shaved and he had a plastic cone around his neck. And he was on some serious medication! So Chucho is on the mend. Rottweilers are certainly not too much for the university hospital to handle. In fact, he is considered a 'small' animal. They have a part of the hospital reserved for large animals like horses and bears! 1. 'Snout' is the word we use for the nose and mouth of an animal, particularly of mammals like pigs or dogs, but others as well. a. My dog buried his bone. He dug a hole with his front paws, and then covered the bone with soil using his snout. b. At the farm, the pigs would stick their snouts through the bars of the fence. 2. The use of the subjunctive in English is quite simple. It is written like the indicative, especially after verbs like: advise, ask, command, demand, desire, insist, propose, recommend, request, suggest, and urge. a. I recommended that they stay the night instead of traveling in bad weather. I recommended that they should stay the night instead of traveling in bad weather. b. The doctor insisted that she take the medicine until she feels better. The doctor insisted that she should take the medicine until she feels better. italki for practice with native English teachers!

Boeing: The Future of Flight 2.

Aug 22, 2016 07:17


The tour of Boeing started with us being bussed to the building where the seven hundred series of planes are made, particularly the 747s. It is the largest building in the world, measuring 13,385,378 cubic meters.  It has several entrances, several floors, and, of course, huge double doors through which the new planes can be rolled out. Our guide told us so many facts that I actually stopped listening; I just wanted to watch the men and women working on these huge planes. I did, however, pick up some information. The wings of the 747, for example, can hold up to 57,000 gallons of fuel. I saw that every piece of large equipment either had wheels or hung from the ceiling. This was because as the planes develop and get bigger, equipment needs to move out of the way. And, the day that a new plane leaves, a clear path must be made for it to get out of the building. The Boeing plant is in Everett which is to the north of Seattle. It has been there since 1943, the giant factory being planned in the 60's. Mr. Boeing had a German father and an Austrian mother, but was born in Michigan. After he became a pilot, he bought a hydroplane and came to Seattle. He soon broke the plane, and then told a friend of his, "We could build a better plane ourselves and do it faster." And that became the mission and destiny of Mr. Boeing. Looking around the factory gave me a sense of how serious and efficient Boeing is. The building itself(1) has to be organized by a mastermind! It is so packed with equipment, parts, and people, that to function correctly, someone with a great sense of design has to be in charge. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed on any planes because they already belong to airlines. Also, I'm sure, hundreds of tourists would be a distraction to the workers and also create a risk of injury or an error in building. We were kept far away from the important work. As we left, the guide told us about the new line(2) of planes called Dreamliners. They are smart planes that adjust the interior light and air to reduce jet lag. Also, more original materials are gradually being replaced with things like carbon fiber to make the planes stronger and lighter. This really is a time of advancement in technology, and the factory shows a sense of excitement about the future of flight. 1. 'The building itself' the word 'itself' is not totally necessary. I used it because I went on to emphasize the use of space inside the buiding, as if I was focusing in on what it looks like. a. The singer signed my notebook herself! b. The homework itself is easy, it just happens to be tedious!  2. 'Line' of planes really means a series or a group. a. Gucci has come out with a new line of handbags. b. Nissan has a line of electric cars, the first of which came out in 2010. italki for practice with native English teachers!

Boeing: The Future of Flight 1.

Aug 20, 2016 07:54


I found myself in Seattle for the third or fourth time this summer on Monday. It was time to take my cousin to the airport for his flight back to Mallorca. He had asked to go to the Boeing plant to see the planes being made. "Sounds like a good idea," I replied, remembering that, years ago, I had visited the second, smaller Boeing plant in the south of Seattle. We arrived at 4pm, early enough to look around the Museum of Flight. It is an impressive, modern display of the science behind flight, and how it is continually developing and improving. There were displays that people could interact with which demonstrated the physics of flying. Airplanes hung from the ceiling. A part of one plane was sliced open to show all the components of a typical plane. There was even a Lamborghini, yes a Lambourghini. It was there to demonstrate the need for aerodynamics in cars as well as planes. It also showed the advances in materials like carbon fiber. My cousin, my daughter, and her friend climbed into a flight simulator which was like an enclosed room that was elevated. Inside were the kind of seats you find on a plane, and in front of them was a large screen. The door was locked and suddenly the room started to move. I was watching from the outside. It went up and down, side to side, and then it started bumping and jerking forwards and suddenly dropping. I could hear noises coming from inside the room, like little squeals. From the outside, it didn't look like it was a very exciting ride. However, the employee who was manning the display turned on a screen so I could see what the people inside were watching. Their screen showed jet planes flying fast all over the world, and making drastic maneuvers. "Oh," I thought to myself. "That is why they are squealing!" Even though we had an hour before the tour started, we weren't able to do and see everything that the museum offered. The tour was about to start. We were going to be placed on a bus and driven to the biggest building in the world.  1. 'Display' is both a noun and a verb. It means 'a show' or 'to show'. a. The peacock gave a glorious display of its feathers. b. The science competition in school will require the children to make displays about recycling. 2. 'Jerk' is also a verb and a noun. A 'jerk' is an insult for a person who is difficult and silly, and who makes life difficult for people. 'To jerk' is actually very different in meaning. It means to move sharply, in a choppy way. a. That man is a real jerk; when he was in line at the bank, he started shouting, and then he cut to the front! b. The brakes on my bicycle froze when I was riding, so it suddenly jerked forward and I fell off. 3. 'To man' is a very basic verb that means a person is employed to physically be somewhere, especially a vehicle or a place of work. a. He will man the fishing boat because he is the most experienced. b. The telephones are manned by volunteers who will take your donations for the charity. italki for practice with native English teachers!

Let's go with Pokemon Go!

Aug 3, 2016 08:34


Did you know that the First Lady of the U.S, Michelle Obama, has been trying for years to get people exercising? Over a third of people in the U.S, including children, are obese. This is an epidemic, and a huge national problem which leads to all sorts of medical complications and expense. However, something has taken the nation by storm(1) which is getting people of all shapes and sizes outside walking, running, skateboarding, and biking. It's Pokemon Go. It has become a craze. The most unlikely(2) people, those who would normally be at home sitting in front of a computer, are out walking along the streets, or moving around in parks looking for Pokemon creatures. The game came out in July, and had 80 million downloads in the first week. It is a free game that is location based and uses augmented reality, which means a view of the real world with a touch of fantasy added to it. Players download the game on to their phones, they create an account with a personalized avatar, and then they move around looking for Pokemon. The aim of the game is to find, catch, battle, and train the creatures. So who are the Pokemon? They are cartoon characters that first came out in the late 1990's in a Nintendo game called Game Boy. Films, books, and cards also popularized them. They have names like: Greninja, Arceus, Mew, and Pikachu, and are generally very cute, blending the look of animals and fantastic creatures. Pokemon are trained by their human owners to battle other Pokemon and evolve. Thankfully it isn't a game that is violent or deadly, so it is appropriate for young people, and therefore a wide audience. If you think about it, it is a very involved game, with different levels and many different elements, and now the physical aspect of it makes it even more addicting. Two of my boys have certainly become quite addicted to it. My oldest son even walks around the parks with his group of friends at night, searching for the most valuable Pokemons. I can't see Pokemon Go losing(3) its popularity for a while. If that is the case, people large and small will be dressing up in warm clothes to find their creatures in the snowy parks in the winter. 1. 'To take something by storm' is to make a huge impact on something, a person, or a place. a. The Harry Potter series took the world by storm. b. The Beatles took the U.S by storm in the 1960's. 2. Unlikely means 'doubtful or not very probable'. However, it can also be used as an adjective. a. Their house was in the woods in a very unlikely place for a home. b. Out of the people I knew from school, he was the most unlikely to become a singer. 3. I can/ can't see .......+verb in gerund. a. I can see him slipping and falling (prediction). b. I can't see him calling back today; he never returns my calls. c. I can see them missing the bus my two minutes; they need to hurry up if they want to catch it. italki for practice with native English teachers!

An Interview at Scalar Learning.

Jul 28, 2016 09:15


I look through my emails each day to see if anyone who listens to my podcasts has written to me. I was doing that last week when I came across an email that took me by surprise(1). It was an invitation to be a guest speaker on an educational podcast called Scalar Learning. I immediately looked up the website, and found a very professional, mathematics focused site that offers both tutoring and regular podcasts. Well, how could I say "no"? I was intrigued and flattered(2). I sent an email back to say that I would love to be interviewed. We went back and forth(3) until we agreed upon a day and time. I told all of my children, "Now, this is very important, so I need you all to be quiet for half an hour.  Is that possible?" They nodded. "I'll be up in the bedroom, so it will be nice and quiet. You can play or watch television, but please, I don't want banging or crashing or dogs barking, ok?" I think they got the message(4). The time for the interview came, and I was quite nervous. Huzefa, the gentleman who created and runs Scalar Learning, is a young man who used to be a lawyer, but who has a passion for education. He was very personable, so I immediately felt relaxed. We talked for about thirty minutes, and he asked me all kinds of pertinent questions about: my background, my podcasts, culture, and how to be an effective teacher. Huzefa is on a mission to enable students to be successful with mathematics, and to have the right approach to exams. His insights about teaching obviously come from experience and study. The time flew. The next day, he released the podcast, so I listened to it. I'm happy to say that it is very informative and clear, and if you click here  you can hear it too.  1. 'It took me by surprise,' is the same as saying 'it surprised me'. This expression is simply longer and more descriptive because of the verb 'to take'. a. His decision to go and live in Australia took us all by surprise. b. We were completely taken by surprise when she walked out of the wedding. 2. 'Intrigued' means very interested and curious. 'Flattered' means that I felt complimented. a. I was intrigued by his political ideas; I had never heard anything like them. b. The young lady felt flattered by all the attention she was getting. 3. 'Back and forth' really means 'one way and then the other way' or 'from side to side', but we use this phrase a lot when talking about discussions and verbal agreements. a. The politicians went back and forth until they finally agreed. b. We talked all night, and went back and forth, but we still don't understand each other. 4. 'I think they got the message' is a casual and slightly joking way of saying that 'they understood'. a. My mother put up two posters saying 'please remove your shoes'. She put one on the front door and another in the entryway. We got the message! b. If you travel on the underground, or 'Tube', in London, you will hear "Mind the gap" all the time. You will eventually get the message. italki for practice with native English teachers!

A Visiting Student.

Jul 14, 2016 08:12


The number of people in my house has grown from six to seven recently. A young man from Spain has come to spend six weeks with us. He is no ordinary young man; he's actually my second cousin, and is here to spend time with this side of the family, and of course, to learn English. Thankfully, he is the same age as my youngest son, and is very fun-loving. I'm sure that he will pick up(1) a lot of English while he plays with my kids. That was actually how I picked up a lot of Spanish when I was a child. My mother would take me to Mallorca in Spain, to spend about a month in the summers. Because children play so much, and are less inhibited than adults, they absorb language like little sponges. Well, that's what happened to me, and I'm very thankful for the experience. So far(2), we have taken my cousin to Seattle for a couple of days, and down to a local river to look for gold. Today, I plan on taking him to the museum in the town of Cashmere which is excellent. He will get his first view of Native American life, and be able to walk through some of the original pioneer cabins of this area. Like most boys who are thirteen, he is very curious and constantly asks questions. Of course, I don't always have the answers! Coming to the U.S is a big step for him, especially being so young(3). Mind you, he is a world traveller. His mother is an air hostess and is able to get cheap airline tickets, so they travel internationally all the time. So he is extremely comfortable in airports, and understands the routines of getting from one place to another. I hope that him being here will encourage my children to spend time in Spain, and also become international travelers. 1. 'To pick up' is used in this podcast to mean 'to come to understand', ' to learn in a natural way'. a. When we went to Iceland, my kids picked up a lot of vocabulary. b. I used to watch my mum cook, and so, over time I picked up how to cook. 2. 'So far' is like saying 'up to this point'. It is a very simple and conversational phrase. a. So far this summer, we have only had a few very hot days. b. The fund-raiser so far has made $2,430,000. 3. 'Coming to the U.S is a big step for him, especially being so young,' the last part of this sentence has a great structure that is flexible. You can add many things to 'especially being so ...'. a. They will have a great time at the party, especially being so sociable. b. She will feel so much better with the new medicine, especially after being so ill. c. It will be a relief when the presidential race is over, especially after so much news coverage. italki for practice with English teachers!  

A better way to waste.

Jul 1, 2016 10:36


With the fire season approaching, we have been preparing our back garden. My husband trimmed off some old, dead branches from our pine trees. These trees are notorious for(1) burning easily because they are both dry and oily. Most of the horrendous fires that make international news are those of pine or fir forests which are both conifers. We have seen this kind of devastation in Canada recently, in Alberta. To avoid as many fires as possible, it is always best to clear forest floors of dead wood, dry bushes, and diseased trees. There is a new community effort in Wenatchee to do the same in as many places as possible to avoid the problems that we had last year. So, the garden is clear, but what do we do with the huge pile of branches and pine needles? "Take everything down to Stemilt Organic Recycling Center on Columbia street" my husband texted me early in the morning. I didn't even know that this place existed. I've lived here for over twenty years, and I'm still discovering things about this town. I looked up the direction on Google Maps and their website. They take all kinds of garden waste and shred it up(2) with a giant shredding machine. This then gets composted and delivered to many of the orchards in town. The rich compost increases the levels of sugar in the fruit. So my oldest son and I loaded up two trucks and made two deliveries to the recycling place. It was hot and heavy work. When we drove in, I was impressed to see an enormous pile of branches and green garden waste. Other people were there emptying bags of weeds, old bushes, and garden clippings (3). Next to the pile was a machine that looked as big as a brontosaurus. "Now that would be fun to operate," I thought to myself. We emptied the trucks, paid a small fee, and left. It's good to know that our waste will become a compost that feeds and nourishes the trees that make up so much of this valley. 1. 'To be notorious for ...' means that a person or thing is well known for something, and it has a negative sense. a. He is notorious for being late. He was even late to his own wedding! b. Those valleys are notorious for flooding every spring. 2. 'To shred (up)' this verb describes a way of cutting which leaves the item being cut in thin, long pieces. In cooking, we talk about shredding carrots or cabbage to add to a salad. Notice that I didn't have to use 'up'. This little word is used a lot in the UK to give a sense of completeness or fullness. a. Fill (up) the watering can and water the flowers please. b. We need to finish dinner now and get to the cinema; the film starts in six minutes. Eat up! c. Children, button up your coats, it's really cold outside. 3. 'Clip, cut, trim, cuttings' are all ways of cutting that you can use in the context of gardening. 'Cuttings', however, is a noun. It is the piece of a plant that you break off and encourage to growing roots and become a completely separate plant. 'To clip' is a brief cut that is deep enough to shape or prune a plant. We can use this for our finger and toenails as well as 'to cut'. 'To trim' is more superficial. We often say 'I will trim the hedge' instead of 'I will cut the hedge' which sounds too deep. Likewise, a trim at the hair dressers is a superficial cut, one that just shapes the hair a little. a. I clipped off the dead rose heads to encourage more blooms. b. I took cuttings from my hydrangea; I hope they all root and become big, healthy plants.  c. I went to the hairdresser for just a trim, but she gave me a serious hair cut! iTalki for native English teachers online!

Brexit or Pumpkin Cake?

Jun 24, 2016 08:55


I'm a little nervous today. It is a very important day for the UK, as it is the Brexit referendum. Most informed people will know that UK citizens will vote today to either leave the European Union or to remain in it. This isn't a small issue(1). The country is divided on the subject. I have been reading about it and watching videos, some that are for leaving and others that are against it. To be quite honest(2), my head is spinning with all the information. I find it difficult to get on with other activities like cooking and cleaning, because I really want to know the result, and have a clear idea about the consequences of leaving or staying. I had planned to make a pumpkin cake yesterday. I had the ingredients on the kitchen counter, and the recipe. It would be a simple treat to make for my family, but every time I approached the cans of pumpkins, I would immediately turn around and surf the internet for more information about Brexit. How can I think about pumpkin cake now, when the UK is about to, perhaps, make a huge change? The economy and immigration are the two biggest issues that have been talked about for months. If Britain leaves the EU, trading with it will be more complicated, and the free flow of immigrants will be stopped. More power will be given back to the UK government to determine laws and regulations. However, does anyone really know if the changes will be beneficial? And will the EU suffer if Britain pulls out(3)? Perhaps it won't leave, but regulations from the EU will change? It's all a big unknown at the moment, like the quality of my future pumpkin cake. I know the ingredients, I know the process of making it, but you can never really tell how good it will be until it is cooked. So what do I think? Well, I believe in independence, but I also support unity. I think that humans and communities are supposed to work together. The trouble is, that is exactly where problems occur if members are ignorant or corrupt. I think that we are also supposed to think for ourselves, and determine what is best for us, but advice from many can often help generate creative and efficient ideas. I have decided to hope that however the vote goes, man's ingenuity will solve problems that arise, and find creative and fair ways to keep good relations between Britain and the rest of Europe. And for now, I will open the cans of pumpkins, mix the ingredients carefully, and hope for the best. 1. 'Issue' in this context is similar to 'matter' or 'subject', it is also used as 'a personal problem'. a. The cost of living is an issue that any government has to deal with. b. Needing to control everything is a real issue for him. 2. 'To be quite honest' is a phrase that is often used at the beginning of a sentence, expressing a strong opinion. a. To be quite honest, I don't want her to stay with us. b. To be quite honest, I think he treated you unfairly. 3. 'To pull out' is similar to 'to leave'. However, we use 'to pull out' more in the context of competitions, unions, and groups where the members are invested. a. The long distance runner pulled out of the competition because of an injury. b. The teachers' union pulled out of the discussion because they disagreed with the terms. Practice speaking with native speakers with iTalki.

Basic Pronunciation Practice #41 + Interactive English.

Jun 18, 2016 12:11


Peter: Hi Liz. What are you looking at? Liz: Oh, hi Peter. I'm looking through some information about cars. It's about time I bought one, but I'm quite fussy. I don't want to spend a lot of money, but there are certain things that I definitely want. Peter: What kind are you after? Liz: Well, I'd like a hybrid. Eventually when I'm working, I don't want to spend a fortune on gas. Other than that, I'd like a medium size, four-door that is reliable and safe. Peter: Why don't I go with you to some dealerships and we can have a look? I know a lot about cars, you know. Liz: Ha! Why is it that men know so much more than women (do) about cars? Peter: It's probably because we're really interested in them....Anyway, I can protect you from the greedy salesmen who want you to spend too much money. Liz: Yes, protect me, please!  Try iTalki for speaking practice with a native English teacher.

Soccer practice.

Jun 17, 2016 08:13


The most popular sport in the world is seen everywhere these days in Wenatchee. As you drive around the town, most days of the week, you can see colorful teams of players running around the parks practicing and competing. The goals are dragged into position, bright orange cones are set up in lines for the players to zig-zag(1) through with the ball. Parents, like myself, either drop the kids off and go and run errands(2), or stay and chat with each other during the practice. Game day transforms the parks with team after team competing. Yells and cheers ring out(3), and there is applause from the multitude of parents and grandparents who sit in their fold-up chairs. The U.S has quickly gone from a country that had little to do with football (the real name), to one that has embraced it. Even young children in this town have the opportunity to do year-round soccer. During the snowy months, it simply takes place indoors. And the sport seems to be transforming children from overweight, sedentary kids, to leaner, faster, and more competitive children. Another thing I have noticed is that international soccer is part of conversation in schools more than it used to be, which is partly because the population of Wenatchee is 50% hispanic, and soccer is an important part of their culture. This influence has spread to the non-hispanics, and has caused them to contemplate other countries and their sporting talents. I'm happy that a sport can do this for children, giving them a more global perspective. 1. 'To zig-zag' is any action that goes from side to side.  a. The car in front of me was zig-zagging all over the road; I think the driver was drunk! b. The kids had to zig-zag past the cones with the football, keeping as close as possible to them. c. I saw something zig-zag across the road; it was a rattle snake! 2. 'To run errands' is to drive around to shops and other places in order to shop or get other things done. a. I had to go to the post office, buy vegetables, and then buy some nails from the hardware store. I always have errands to run. b. While you're running errands, could you please get me some stamps? 3. 'To ring out' is what we often say when you hear cheers, singing, or even bells. a. The church bells rang out across the valley. b. I heard her voice ring out over the rest of the choir.   Check out iTalki for listening and speaking practice with a native English teacher.

Cowboys and cowgirls.

Jun 7, 2016 08:41


I had always heard about cowboys before I came to the U.S, but I had never met any. I suppose I had seen many in typical Western films, so I had some idea of what they looked like. I wasn't sure, however, that the style of cowboys I had seen still existed. I thought that perhaps in our modern day, there would be less need for them, or perhaps there was a more modernized version of a cowboy. Well, since I have lived in Wenatchee, I have met plenty of real cowboys and cowgirls. One of my husband's cousins is a rancher who owns many cows, is himself a cowboy, and employs quite a few cowboys as well. There are also cowgirls who live on farms and who help to take care of the cattle. Now, there is some debate(1) about 'real' cowboys. Some people dress like cowboys and listen to country music, but certainly are not the real thing. A cowboy or girl is a person who rides a horse and takes care of cattle. Simple. And, in case you didn't know, the first cowboys were Mexicans who worked with the cows and horses that the Spaniards brought to the Americas.  A few weeks ago, I went to a rodeo which is a show of cowboy skills, tricks, and even bull riding. I certainly didn't want to miss the bull riding. It is essentially a crazy sport. Each time you ride a bull, even if you are experienced and strong, you run the risk of getting terribly injured. The bull rider has the support of other men in the ring(2) who, if need be, will distract the bull and lead it away from the bull rider when he falls onto the ground. We all gasped and said, "Oh, my gosh!" when the bull charged out of the cage, bucking and kicking, with the man on top. Each man fell off, of course, with the winner being the one who had stayed on the longest. What a show it was! There were also cowgirls who raced each other, and even children who rode on running sheep! The cowboys and cowgirls are professionals who earn money by traveling the country and doing what they do(3). The rodeo was a real eye-opener for me, an interesting look inside this very Western culture. 1. 'There is some debate' is a phrase that adds some sophistication when added to your conversation. a. There is some debate over the use of natural or artificial sugars. b. There is an on-going debate over global warming: is it a real phenomena, or is it scientifically inaccurate? 2. 'The ring' is used in many contexts to describe the area where an activity takes place, particularly a circus, a boxing arena, and a general event location where there are performances such as a rodeo. a. The boxer punched his opponent so hard, that he fell out of the ring! b. The elephants formed a pyramid in the ring and then the clowns stood on top of them. 3. '...doing what they do.' This repetition of the verb 'to do' is used when the context has already been explained or is understood. a. I do what I do because I love to teach and communicate. b. The presidential candidates spend most of the year giving speeches and traveling. They do what they do/ they are doing what they do because they want to win.

Apple Blossom Heat.

May 13, 2016 06:55


May in Wenatchee is the month when Apple Blossom is held. It's an annual festival that starts with a parade. There is also a food fair, a classic car show, and a medieval fair. A spin-off (1)of all these activities, is a 3 on 3 basketball competition at the local college. Students of all ages compete in teams of only three people, so the games are intense and exhausting. You're never really sure what the weather will be like in May either; sometimes it's windy and cool, but other times it's quite the opposite(2). This year, it was very hot indeed. I watched some of the games, and felt quite sorry for the players. As the day went on, I moved from one patch of(3) shade to another, trying to keep cool. There was lots of huffing and puffing, gasping, and calling out like, "Here, I'm open, pass, pass!" The crowds were kept happy with a DJ and food and drinks. Watching the athletes made me feel quite lazy, as I was perfectly relaxed, but they were fighting hard to win. Most of the young people who were participating have dreams of playing on the High School or college team. Many of them dedicate years to playing basketball, playing on both school and local teams. Perhaps that sort of occasion is a stepping stone for them; another stretch, another effort, and they might get closer to their goal. 1. 'A spin-off' is like a result of a process or event. a. A spin-off of the Apple Blossom parade is the 3 on 3 basketball. b. A spin-off from recycling is sometimes profitable business. 2. 'Quite the opposite' is a more definite way of saying 'the opposite'; it just adds a bit more character and confidence. a. The evening was calm and relaxing; however, my first class in the morning was quite the opposite. b. Her words seemed gentle and kind, but later her actions were quite the opposite.  3. 'A patch' is used in many ways. It can be a section of material used to repair a piece of clothing. It can also be an area of grass, shade, light, or a figurative way of saying an approximate project. a. I didn't repair the wall properly, I just patched it quickly. b. We found a patch of grass under a tree in the shade, and we sat down and slept.

Teacher appreciation.

May 5, 2016 07:26


I have been working in a middle school for the past couple of weeks in the place of a teacher who is taking paternity leave. His wife has just had their second child, and so he is taking 5 weeks off of(1) work to be at home. So, I am teaching 13 to 14 year olds each day about essay writing and poetry. I usually only work a couple of days a week in the school district, so adjusting to(2) working every day has been a challenge. For the first week, after school, I would go home, sit down with my cup of tea, and fall asleep! Now that I am in my second week, however, I have toughened up(3). This week also happens to be 'Teacher Appreciation Week'. Parents and other volunteers organize a nice lunch, or small gifts for the teachers to show that they are appreciated. Teaching, after all, is not the easiest job. It can be stressful working with students of different levels of ability and motivation. However, there is satisfaction when you see your students learn, and also feel happy and relaxed in your class. Lunch was a great surprise yesterday. I went into the staff room, and found a long table full of delicious dishes of all kinds. Some parents were arranging plates, cutting cheese, mixing salads, and warming up desserts. Gosh, I suddenly felt like I wasn't at work! It was tempting to eat a lot, but I didn't want to feel sleepy during my afternoon classes. I went back to class in a great mood. We all need to feel appreciated, even if it's not with food, a thank you makes a big impact. 1. 'To take ....days/weeks etc off of/from...' means to take leave for a while from an activity. a. The football player took two months off of/from training to rest his injuring. b. The teacher was able to take 5 weeks off from/of teaching to be at home with his wife and new daughter.  2. 'To adjust to' is something that we all do. It means to get used to something different. a. The nurse had to adjust to her new night time work schedule (night shift). b. Moving to the city from the country was something that was hard to adjust to. 3. 'To toughen up' means to become stronger, more resilient, adjusted. It is often used figuratively. a. Biking every day has toughened me up and prepared me for a 10 mile race. b. Living in a racist community toughened up the boy, and made him determined to work for tolerance.

Username and password.

Apr 28, 2016 06:59


The world of usernames and passwords is quite simple for some people. Choose both, and stick to them(1); don't change them unless you have to, and your life will be easy peasy. Most people I know, however, have a love-hate relationship(2) with the two words. First of all, it's easy to forget a password, especially if you haven't written it down somewhere, or if you've forgotten where you wrote it! Secondly, to reset(3) your password often requires a process of getting into a secondary email, which, again you need a password for. Now this isn't really difficult, until you find that some on-line companies require a password with letters, numbers, and special characters, like an exclamation mark, or a comma, but other companies don't require a special character. So, what do you do? Your ingenious plan of having  the same password for all of your on-line activities is ruined. One or two of them will have to be slightly different. Will you remember which accounts they are? Perhaps you can make them memorable like: 'Ihatepasswords99!'  or 'Passwordsareapain22*'. Unfortunately, it is totally necessary to make good passwords for our own security. I have to be more creative than 'anna123'; that just isn't secure enough. Another problem with them is that often one is needed immediately by someone in the family, which makes you automatically forget it. Once, when I was visiting my father in England, my son texted me from the U.S, wanting to know the password for his Minecraft game. It was three o'clock in the morning. Passwords can't wait, you know.  1. 'To stick to something' means to not change your plan, idea, or situation. a. We've accepted the offer on the house, and we're sticking with it. b. Our company is going through a difficult time, but I'm sticking with it. 2. 'A love-hate relationship' is one which involves both emotions, or one in which you enjoy hating something. a. I have a love-hate relationship with my car; I love having a car, but it causes me endless problems. b. He and his neighbors have a love-hate relationship; they enjoy annoying each other. 3.'To reset' means to reprogram, or start back from the beginning. a. I will reset my alarm clock as I have to get up extra early tomorrow. b. I forgot my itunes password, so I have to reset it.

You want to join the circus?

Apr 18, 2016 08:44


My daughter wants to join everything. She loves football, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, acting, dancing, and almost anything else. I don't know where she gets her energy from. Of course, I'm glad that she's energetic; its a sign of being healthy. Her friend, Lilly, has been involved with the Wenatchee Youth Circus for four years, and is a rope performer. She twists and turns (1) on two ropes that have a bar of wood joining them, like a seat. She hangs from the bar, spins, and does all kinds of acrobatics. For an eleven year old, she is very strong indeed (2). She spent the weekend with us, and as she had practice, my daughter went with her. The practice was two and a half hours long! When I went to pick them up, I expected to find two very exhausted girls, but they were still full of beans (3). Domini begged me to let her join the circus, "I'll think about it, Domini," was my reply. "It's not very likely though," I said. "You can't possibly do everything, you know," she gave me those big, disappointed eyes. I videoed her friend practicing her routine before we left. Her trainer called out names of moves and positions that she had to make. By the time she had finished, I could see that she was breathing heavily, and needed a rest. She will go with the circus all over Washington State to perform in various towns. It is a big commitment to be part of the circus, even though it is just a small one. It doesn't have any animals; however, it has a surprisingly large amount of acrobats, fire breathers, Spanish rope performers, and high wire riders. Some of these young people have been involved with the circus since they were little. It makes me wonder if Lilly will be performing when she is an adult with bigger circuses. Who knows? Domini and I will certainly join the crowds in Wenatchee when she gives her first performance. 1. 'Twists and turns' go together very often, and the phrase is used figuratively. a. English country roads are full of twists and turns. b. He navigated the twists and turns of a difficult life, and finally found happiness. 2. 'For a/an + adjective +noun, main clause' this is a more common sentence structure switched around. The 'for a/an ...' is a great way to reintroduce, or point to character traits in the subject. a. For an inexperienced climber, he did very well. * You can, of course, switch the sentence around and say: He did very well, for an inexperienced climber. b. For an old lady, she sang as well as the younger women. (She sang as well as the younger women, for an old lady). c. For beginning English students, they did very well on the intermediate test. (They did very well on the intermediate test, for beginning English students). 3. 'To be full of beans' is an idiomatic phrase which means to be full of energy. a. I hoped that the trampoline would make the kids tired, but they were still full of beans! b. I have recovered from my illness, and am now full of beans.

Spring Work.

Apr 12, 2016 08:03


My house is almost surrounded by orchards of pears and cherries. On the west side, beyond my neighbor's house is the pear orchard, and to the north is the cherry orchard. It makes us feel as though we live deep(1)in the country. This time of year, the orchards are full of life. Of course, they are in bloom, but also there is a lot of human activity going on(2) inside the orchards. Tractors rumble away(3), along the lines of trees, spreading fertilizer, or spraying the branches and flowers. There is no time to waste! If the farmers want healthy, good looking fruit, they have to feed the trees important nutrients, and they need to find a way to keep harmful insects away. I have learned a few things about fruit trees since I have lived here. One interesting thing is that the trees are given a large dose of calcium, both in the form of spray, and also on the ground. This helps the fruit last longer, and it also helps to prevent diseases. There are lots of preparations to be made in order for the growing season to be successful. Pruning is another activity which increases the fruit production. In order for the pruning to happen, a large group of workers will come into the orchard, and cut off dead branches, and some of the healthy ones from the middle of the tree. Why do they do that? Well, it opens up the whole tree to the sun, so the tree can be productive, and the fruit can mature at the same time. The Wenatchee and surrounding area is still the second biggest producer of apples in the U.S, so spring time is busy time, and a very serious business. 1. 'Deep' is often used when talking about a location that is almost hidden, or really inside a certain area. a. We have to walk deep into the forest to find the mushrooms. b. The drug network is deep inside the urban area. 2. 'Going on' is a very common way of saying 'taking place' or 'occurring', and sometimes 'continuing'. a. What's going on next door? They must be having a celebration. b. Their arguments have been going on for years; when will they stop? 3. 'Tractors rumble away', ok 'away' here isn't necessary, but it does add a 'storybook' feel to the paragraph. The words 'away' and 'along' are used to do just that; they give the impression of time passing, and the activity continuing. a. The boy yawned, grabbed his pillow, and drifted away into sleep. b. We danced away all night; we didn't stop for hours! c. He came along to help paint the house. d. On saturday I could hear the lawn mowers humming along in the neighborhood.

Jumping Whales.

Mar 30, 2016 08:06


A shopping center called 'Whaler's village' was very close to where we stayed in Maui. At its entrance was a very elegant, metal statue of a mother humpback whale and her baby. You might know(1) that the water right next to Maui is the one place where humpbacks breed. The ocean here is called the Au'au channel; it is, remarkably, only 300ft deep at the most. Its name in Hawaiian means 'to take a bath', and that makes sense because the channel forms a circular area, with 3 islands around it, so it is sheltered as well as warm and shallow. These conditions make it perfect for the humpback whales who migrate all the way from Alaska where they have been feeding. They spend the winter here, mate or give birth, feed their babies, and then make the 3,500 mile journey back to Alaska. A very special event for anyone who happens to be(2) on Maui between November and April is the breaching of the whales which is their jumping. The mothers teach their babies how to do this. With one flip of their massive tails, they fly out of the water upright, and crash back down with a huge splash. My family and I went out on a boat especially to see this performance. We were very lucky, because about 20 minutes into our trip, the owner of the boat spotted a mother and her baby playing. All the people on the boat were saying, "Oooh!" and "Ah!" and clicking their cameras. The mother only jumped a couple of times; that's usually all they do. The baby, however, was in a very playful mood, and jumped and jumped until he got tired. He then made a circle above his mother and disappeared. The boat owner told us that this is a sign the babies make when they are hungry for milk. Once he was busy feeding, we moved on(3) to another part of the Au'au channel to find more whales. The baby whales get strong quickly; they are 10 to 15 ft long when they are born, weighing 1 ton, and drink 200 to 600 litres of fat-rich milk per day. They generally end up being 40-60 ft adults who weigh 44 tons or more. As you can imagine, it was both surprising and dramatic to see these huge creatures playing around. It's not every day that you witness such an event. 1. 'You might know (that)/ you might already know that' is a useful phrase that helps to engage your listener. a. You might know that the first explorers from Europe who discovered America were the Vikings. b. The presidential race is continuing; you might already know that Rubio is out. 2. '(A person) happens to be.../ you happen to be' is another  idiomatic phrase that is common. a. I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see the lunar eclipse. b. So Michael, can you explain how your hand happened to be in the cookie jar when I walked into the kitchen? 3. 'To move on' means to continue on your way, or to finish doing something and to start doing something else. a. We finished our paintings, and then moved on to our sculptures. b. Ok, can we stop arguing and move on to the next subject? c. We lost our house in an earthquake. We wanted to rebuild, but we decided to move on and find somewhere else to live.

The Banyan Tree.

Mar 25, 2016 07:27


I'm back in Wenatchee, and already missing Maui. We had such a wonderful vacation, and there were so many highlights(1). Some of you will know that I am into plants and trees, so it won't surprise you that a highlight for me was meeting the Banyan tree in the little town of Lahaina. I say "meeting" because it felt as special as meeting a person. It is about 150 years old, and was imported from India. It is from the fig family, and produces a little red berry that is not that good to eat. What is impressive about the tree is that it has spread through its aerial roots, and has become many trees. Its limbs(2) are massive, and it looks as though many trees have joined together. When we first went to the park, children were playing underneath the huge limbs, and running through the natural arches that the Banyan tree had made. The aerial roots are long and thin, growing from upper branches. They eventually touch the ground and attach themselves. These attached roots quickly get thicker, always maintaining their link(3) to the original tree. Compared to other trees, it must be considered a fast-grower because it has filled the Lahaina park in only one and a half centuries. It's right next to the beach, so it is ideally placed for people to hang out in its shade to enjoy the sea breeze. Lahaina is a tourist attraction, tastefully lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants, but you could say that the Banyan tree is its crowning glory. 1. 'Highlights' are special moments or places, or light-colored streaks in your hair. a. He was the highlight of the show; his singing was amazing. b. Your hairdresser did a great job. Your highlights make you look much younger! c. The highlight of our trip was snorkeling with turtles and sharks. 2. 'Limbs' means parts of the body that project and are useful, like an arm or a leg, or a similar body part of an animal, like a wing. It is also another word for a branch. a. The limb bones in a spider monkey are thin. b. After rock climbing all day, her limbs were sore. c. We must cut that limb off the tree before it breaks a window when it's windy.  3. 'Link' is a commonly used word, especially in computer circles. It also means a physical or figurative attachment, and a piece of a chain. a. Follow the link on my blog to see more pictures of Lahaina. b. All his family members are creative, and he is linked to them by the same characteristic. c. The metal chain on the gate has some broken links that we must replace. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free!

Aloha Maui.

Mar 15, 2016 05:32


The fresh, warm morning air blew gently against my face as I looked out towards the nearest island. The sand between my toes was clean and soft, not irritating at all. As I let it fall through my fingers, it occurred to me that I was looking at the Pacific ocean. Now, that is something that I don't always do. It was still early; there were only a few people here and there, some jogging, some like me, experiencing the beach in the quiet of the morning. The birds up in the palm trees, however, were anything but quiet. They chirped and chatted noisily, arguing with their neighbors. The waves lapped softly on the shore; they were also waking up. I knew that later on the wind and the waves would grow, and soon become quite intimidating. But in this paradise, how could anything be intimidating? As I looked over at a hedge blooming with tropical hibiscus flowers, I couldn't imagine anything on this island being anything but beautiful and relaxed. I was soon to find out that there was a lot more to this island than I realized. I walked over to a beach hut to order a coffee. It had a view of both the beach and the high volcanic mountains that are at the center of the island, the two volcanoes that are responsible for the island itself. They are densely covered in trees, with their tops hidden by cloud all day. Apparently, the Haleakala Observatory sits way above the clouds, in the dry summit of the dormant volcano. There, far above human activity and artificial lights, the stars and planets are observed all year long. "Click, click, click,click," went a camera right next to me which made me jump. A man at the coffee bar was taking photos of the whales that were surfacing out at sea, not too far from the shore. It is the breeding ground for the humpback whales who come here every winter from Alaska. The ocean here is rich with sea creatures, and full of color. And it is the ocean that brought the first people to this island and the other eight that form Hawaii; the Polynesian and Tahitian came bravely on boats crossing huge areas of dangerous ocean. This relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to forget about the struggles of the first people, and the perfect weather makes you forget about the violent, tropical storms, and giant winter waves that crash into the island. Yes, there is a lot of beauty and peace to be enjoyed in Maui, but that is not all. Its volcanic beginning was violent, but like a mother, it nurtures life all around its shores. It stands strong against winds and storms, but it also reaches up through the clouds to gaze at the stars.

Basic Pronunciation Practice #40 + Interactive English.

Mar 5, 2016 13:38


Dentist: Hello Liz. What seems to be the problem? Liz: One of my small molars has been aching for a while. I was waiting, and hoping that the pain would go away, but it hasn't. Dentist: You are due to have an x-ray, so let's do that and then talk about all your teeth. Later. Dentist: Ah, yes, you have quite a large cavity in the side of a molar. The hole in the enamel is small but deep. I'm afraid the pain won't go away until you have a filling. Liz: Oh, ok. I'm so disappointed. I brush and floss my teeth twice a day, and I avoid sugary food. Dentist: I know you have good dental hygiene. Well, because you have a brace, it is hard to clean in between your teeth. And some people have cavities, root canals, abscesses, and even gingivitis, while other people , don't have many problems. Liz: That seems unfair. Dentist: It's to do with the level of bacteria in your mouth which is affected by hygiene, diet, genetics, and even stress. I know that you have good dental hygiene because your teeth are healthy and your mouth is very clean. Generally speaking, brushing and flossing and avoiding sugar are the keys to cavity-free teeth. The good news is that soon we will be able to take off your braces; your teeth are almost completely straight.  Liz: That will be a big relief!

Dentist or Orthodontist?

Mar 2, 2016 07:33


Every six months, my family members and I are supposed to go to the dentist for a check-up. I say "supposed to" because we don't rush to get there. Sometimes it's several months later that we have our appointments. I don't have a problem with going(1) to the dentist; I don't have tooth problems, and I like looking after my teeth. My children, however, have needed more of a push to take care of their teeth. Through the years, I have become familiar with the phrases and vocabulary related to dental hygiene: floss, cavities, fillings, molars, x-rays, enamel, and root canals. The dentist office is a scary place, if you think about it. Perhaps that's why the staff is so friendly, almost over-the-top friendly. Everybody smiles so much that it makes me nervous. Anyway, my son and I went to a different kind of dentist: an orthodontist. He is a person who corrects crooked teeth, an overbite, or an underbite. He doesn't pull teeth out, fill them, give injections, or fix any surface problems. Rather, he rearranges the position of the teeth by using braces and retainers. Robert doesn't have any of these problems, but he does have a canine tooth growing into the roof of his mouth. One of his baby teeth is in the way, and so the canine cannot grow into its space properly. I'm a believer in letting(2) nature figure things out as much as possible; the baby tooth will probably fall out, and the canine will grow in properly. I made a point of letting(3) the orthodontist know that I would rather wait than intervene. I noticed that he looked at my teeth the whole time that we were talking. That made me nervous as well. He, of course, is running a business, so intervening makes money for him. The conclusion, thankfully, in Robert's case, was to simply pull out the baby tooth, and then wait to see what happens. He has a lovely set of teeth at the moment, so maybe the strange activity in his mouth will correct itself. They told us to wait six months and then go back for another consultation. When we do, I'll make sure that our teeth are well polished, and we smile as much as they do. 1. 'I don't have a problem with + gerund'. a. I don't have a problem with waiting for the bus. b. They don't have a problem with paying extra for a room with a view. 2. 'I'm a believer in + gerund'. a. I'm a believer in getting up early to get organized for the day. b. I'm a believer in exercising and eating well. *Note, I could follow 'believer' with the nouns 'exercise and good food'. 3. 'I made a point of + gerund'. a. I made a point of telling him that I was leaving the party; I wanted him to notice. b. The students made a point of going to the professor's office at the end of the year, and thanking him for his teaching. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Advertising to Children.

Feb 25, 2016 07:36


Advertising is everywhere nowadays. Most of us are used to seeing advertisements every day. Having coffee with one of my friends a week ago, I saw an amusing advertisement for the coffee shop. It wasn't pushy(1), or overly dramatic, but just funny. It's actually the photo for today's podcast. It made me think of a unit of study that I was helping to teach recently. The students were learning about the science of advertising to children in the U.S. Apparently, there are no regulations(2) to protect children from the influences of adverts. Psychologists and child development experts are also employed by advertising agencies to make sure that advertisements for children are irresistible(3) to them. We watched a video series about the subject, and then the students and I had a discussion. So often, it seems, advertising is not accurate. And here there is an overwhelming amount of advertising, especially on television. We recently cancelled our television contract, so now, we don't have regular channels; instead, we have apps, so we can choose specific programs. Why is that better than television channels? Simply, there are no commercials, and no awful news flashes. If I want to hear the news, I listen to a podcast, or I watch a news app. I realized, just the other day, how much more peaceful our house is. Imagine a house with no commercials or advertising! It's like being on vacation. My youngest children ask for things less, because they no longer see products like toys advertised. When I finished teaching the unit, I asked the students if they will now have a different opinion of the advertising they see in shops and on television. "Oh yes!" was their group reply. Just by learning about it, they are now more informed about the big business behind the powerful machine of advertising. 1. 'Pushy' means 'aggressive' or 'insistent'. a. I bought an iPad even though I didn't plan to. The sales representative was so pushy! b. I feel as though she just wants to argue. She is so pushy about everything. 2. 'Regulation' is like a restriction that is the law. a. If we build a house, we must follow the size regulation, otherwise, we'll get into trouble. b. Seat belts and speed limits are all forms of regulation. 3. 'Irresistible' means that it is impossible to avoid or not want. a. Lindt uses the very best ingredients in their chocolates; they are irresistible. b. Our perfume is extracted from camels' ears and goats' nostrils; it will make you irresistible. If you're interested, click here to watch the informational trailer.

The Transplanting Battle,

Feb 19, 2016 09:36


“Mum, what are all those scratches on your arms?” my daughter asked me with a look of fright. I laughed and told her that I had got into a fight with a bush. She frowned and looked at me with questioning eyes. “I transplanted a giant bush from Barbara’s garden into ours. It was a struggle, and I had forgotten to put on my long sleeve top(1), so my arms got scratched,” I explained. It had been quite a battle. Barbara moved a year ago into her home, and has been wanting to get rid of some of the plants since then(2). The very early Spring is, of course, the best time to transplant, just before the growing season. In the winter it would have been impossible to dig up the plants because the ground is frozen at least a few inches deep. Now that most of the snow in town has melted, the ground is much softer, so people like me can start working again in their gardens. My body is still aching a little from the effort! The bush was about five feet tall, round, and prickly. It was also right next to a wall, so it was very difficult to squeeze myself in between the bush and the wall. I used a super steel shovel which is made out of one piece of metal. It is moulded that way so it doesn’t have any weak spots. After clearing away the stones and cutting the landscaping plastic, I started digging. Because the bush was so big, I could be quite rough with it. It’s root ball was very large, so I know that it had a lot of stored energy in it. When plants are very strong like that, you can actually cut a lot of the roots, and it will still transplant well. Quite magically, now that the days are longer, the sun will stimulate the growth hormone in the plant, and it’s roots will recover. So I dug and dug, and hacked and hacked some more(3). It was like a war, a battle of wills between the bush and myself. Then, when I had cut through enough roots, as tar as I could see, I sat down on the ground with my hands behind me, and pushed the thick stem with both of my feet. I did this all around the plant until, “Crack!” What a beautiful sound, the bush was finally free from the ground. But that wasn’t the end of it. How was I going to get it into my truck? It was so heavy; I couldn’t possibly carry it. I had a solution to that problem. I had brought a plastic tarp with me which I laid out next to the bush. I pushed and pulled and rolled the plant onto the tarp, and then dragged the tarp with the plant on it, to the truck. I counted to three, took a large breath, and lifted the bush, making sure that I used my knees and not my back. What a strong woman! I hope my efforts were worth it. I will find out in about a month when buds start to form and flowers slowly appear. 1. ‘Top’ is often used in the place of t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, and even shirt.a. I like your new top, where did you get it?b. She wore a sleeveless top with a long skirt to the dance; it looked very elegant.c. The boys have grown so much that their tops are all too short.2. ‘Barbara ….has been wanting to get rid of some of the plants since then.’ This present continuous was used in the podcast because Barbara has mentioned several times during this year that she wants to get rid of the plants. It shows a long-term desire.a. We have been wanting to join a gym for two years, but we haven’t had an opportunity yet.b. Since the flood in their house, they have been wanting to move to a different house, but they haven’t found one yet. c. He might get a job in the college. He has been hoping for two months to hear from them, but they haven’t made their decision yet.3. ‘To hack’ is similar to the verb ‘to dig’ or ‘to chop’, but the action is not as accurate; it is more messy. a. I had never chopped wood before. I hacked as much as I could, and then I gave up. b. Oh my haircut is terrible. The lady hacked my hair at the side, just look at it! Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app


Feb 19, 2016 09:47


In an effort to(1) get my children away from computers and the television, we play games. Mostly we play cards, but we also have a cupboard full of games of different kinds. One of them is called Suspend. It requires calculation and a sense of balance. The main point of the game is to hang as many colored, plastic sticks as you can from a metal hook without any of them falling. This sounds easy, but its not. The sticks are long and wavy. Each stick has to go in a different place, so the places you can hang your stick become more and more limited(2). The metal hook is at the end of a long, straight metal stick that has a wide wooden base, and two stabilizers. There is also a spinner ( an arrow that spins around on a card that has choices). Each person must spin the spinner to see which choice it lands(3) on. For example: it might land on red 2, which means that you have to suspend two red sticks somewhere. It might also land on -2 which means that you have to remove two sticks. The winner is the person who manages to hang all of his sticks first. Of course, any game that involves the risk of a lot of things falling is fun. There are similar games that use blocks, such as the game Jenga. You start with a tower of blocks that is three blocks wide. Each person has to remove a block without the tower falling down. The bigger the tower, the more fun it is because there is a bigger risk of a bigger crash. In any of these games you can add to the excitement by placing bets of chocolates, candies, or even shells. You can also play the games in a different language, or take note of any mathematics that is involved. 1. ‘In an effort to..’ is a useful phrase to add variety to your English. It is like saying ‘in order to’, or ‘trying to’.a. In an effort to organize her classroom, Mrs Brown bought ten plastic containers and labelled them.b. In an effort to put the fire out, the local government asked all the residents to turn on their irrigation systems.2. ‘More and more’ is also great occasionally for some variety in speech.a. I don’t think he likes his job; his attitude is becoming more and more negative.b. We need to employ more workers because our farms are producing more and more vegetables.3. ‘To land’ is to arrive at a geographical spot, or by plane. It is also used a lot in games when and arrow points to a choice, or a game figure/piece arrives on a part of a game board.a. I won Monopoly last night; I kept on landing on the best streets, so I bought them all!b. Spin the spinner and see where it lands.c. In the game Snakes and Ladders, if you land on a snake, you have to slip down it and go back several spaces. However, if you land on a ladder, you can climb up it and go forward several spaces. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Party Central.

Feb 13, 2016 08:55


Isn't it fun when you stumble across(1) something interesting or worthwhile in a very unlikely place? Perhaps you have gone for a walk through a forest, and along the way you find a beautiful stone statue. Or you are at the beach, and you find a small cave with hieroglyphics in it. These are exciting things to find. My daughter and I found the largest party store in the whole of the U.S in a small town called Moses Lake. Ok, it's not historic, or beautiful, but it is fascinating. If you heard my previous podcast, about Moses Lake, you will know that it is really in the middle of nowhere. And it isn't even a very populated town. So why would the company called Party Central decide to build their biggest store in this out-of-the-way(2) place? My answer is really that I don't know, but I'm assuming(3) that the company has a good reason. Domini had finished a weekend of basketball and wanted to have a quick look in some shops. This store looked entertaining so we walked in. From the outside I couldn't tell how big it was; however, when we went in, it seemed to open up into a huge, cathedral-like place that was filled with plastic this and plastic that. There were enormous shelves on every aisle that must have been at least 20ft tall, and about 200ft long. And there was aisle after aisle of party supplies: plates, hats, cutlery, masks, balloons, makeup, presents, prizes, oh the list goes on to infiniti. I noticed that the employees who worked in this store were quite slim; its not surprising, seeing as they probably walk for miles each day just around the store. My daughter and I had a good look around. We only bought a Valentine's card and a small box of candies. I really didn't want to buy anything; I found the huge quantity of products quite off-putting. When I went to pay, I said to the employee, "This is the biggest party supply store I have seen!" That's when he told me that it is the biggest in the U.S. "Really? In Moses Lake?" I asked, wondering why it wouldn't be in a big city like Chicago or Los Angeles. Hmm, I'm still puzzled. Perhaps the middle of nowhere is the best place for a huge party. 1. 'To stumble across/ upon' means to find accidentally. a. The children stumbled upon a purse in the mud. It looked like it had been there for years. b. While she visited her grandmother, she stumbled upon a family secret. c. Howard Carter and George Herbert, with the help of many workers, stumbled upon Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. 2. 'Out-of-the-way' means remote. a. Even in the middle of nowhere, in this out-of-the-way place, you can places find to stay. b. After getting lost on the moors, the travelers took shelter in an out-of-the-way abandoned farm. 3. 'To assume' is to have an idea about something without really knowing facts. a. He comes to see us every weekend, so I'm assuming he will this weekend. b. I assumed that he was an athlete because he is tall and strong, but actually he is a dancer.  Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Basic Pronunciation Practice #39 + Interactive English.

Feb 11, 2016 17:12


Liz gets pulled over for speeding by a policeman. Liz: Hello Officer. What seems to be the problem? Officer: Well, Miss, you were going eleven miles per hour over the speed limit. Can I see your driver's license please? Liz: Yes, of course. Here it is. Officer: Also, I need to see your car insurance card. Liz:Ok, let me find it. I think that its mixed in with all of my papers. Ah yes, here it is. Gosh, I didn't realize that I was going so fast; I must have been distracted by the music on the radio.... Officer: Please stay in your car. I need to go back to mine to radio-in this information. Liz: Ok Officer. Officer: Well, it looks like you have a clean record, no outstanding fines. I will, however, have to give you a ticket for speeding. This is a fast highway, and speeding makes it more dangerous. Liz: $70? Wow. This will teach me not to get distracted. Officer: That's the one good thing about fines, they make you think. And if we think, then we become safer drivers. Liz: That makes sense. I've  certainly learned my lesson today. Have a good day Officer. Officer: You too, Miss. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Chief Moses.

Feb 9, 2016 08:23


Moses Lake is a town that is situated about an hour and a half from where I live. I don't usually choose to go there; however, in the winter, my children will often have basketball tournaments there once or twice. The journey there takes you through flat farmland, and then through miles of dry open areas of, well, nothing really. The type of land is called 'scabland' where there is very little rainfall(1), and a bush called 'sagebrush' grows everywhere. Geologically speaking, it's part of the largest lava plateau(2) in the world, and it stretches for miles and miles and miles. Part of the road to Moses Lake travels along side the Columbia river which is impressive. But as the road turns away from the river, the land stretches out for miles with no sign of trees or houses. Moses Lake has, of course, a very large lake which initially provided fish for the inhabitants of the town. It was named after Chief Moses, the leader of the Sinkiuse tribe, who had to negotiate with the U.S government to give up the land in exchange for a reservation. The High School is named after him. His picture is on the walls, and a point of pride for the town. As each basketball team has a name, like The Wenatchee Panthers, Moses Lake High School athletes are called the Chiefs, meaning the leaders in Native Indian tradition. The rest of the town doesn't seem to reflect much of its Indian roots(3) which is a shame. It has an important airplane training base, and some farming, but the town itself is not very attractive. I can imagine, however, Moses Lake transformed by some good planning and creativity. It could become an attractive reflection of Native Indian history, and modern progress. 1. I used the word 'rainfall' in the podcast instead of 'rain'. Why? Its because I was talking about the average amount of rain in a year. You can also use the word when talking about a shorter amount of time, like a month. It implies a measurement. a. The rainfall in Seattle is actually a lot more than in the U.K. b. The rainfall each Spring causes floods in town. (Here you could use 'rain', but I wish to indicate volume). 2. The word 'plateau' is a geological term that is sometimes used figuratively. a. The castle is situated on the edge of a plateau that sits in the middle of the valley. b. The computer sales plateaued after three weeks, and then went down. 3. 'Roots' here in the podcast refers to the Native American ethnic heritage. The use of the word is figurative, but of course we use the word literally as well. a. Cutting down the tree was easy, but pulling up all of the roots was hard work! b. They have just moved to a new town, and hope to eventually put down roots there. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Sniff The Dessert.

Feb 7, 2016 08:25


Have you ever walked into a house when someone has just made a delicious dessert? What is it that most people do in that situation? Yes, they sniff. I know that when my family comes home from school or work, they are hungry(1). So, when they walk in the house and smell some good food that is ready, I know that it brings a smile to their faces(2). One such dish that smells really good is baked apples. It is a super easy, and healthy alternative to other desserts. The key is to choose the right kind of apples. When apples cook, they go soft and a lot of their juice comes out. Therefore, its important to choose apples that are not too juicy, otherwise, after cooking, you will be left with a very small dessert, and a lot of juice! After washing the fruit, you have to remove the core, which is tricky(3). The typical kitchen vegetable peeler works well for this job because it has a rounded end that helps you dig out the flesh from the middle of the apple. It is only a small kitchen tool, but it really does the job. Next, the apples go in a glass or ceramic dish with the holes facing up. You pour a mixture of saltanas or raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon into the holes, and then you put a square (knob) of butter on top, like a little lid. Put the dish in the oven at about 350 degrees for twenty minutes. And that my friends is that. The smell of the cinnamon and cooking caramel will fill your house and make everybody sniff, sniff, sniff. 1. 'Family' with 'is'. Ok, family is a singular noun, so we use a singular verb with it, 'is', 'was', 'goes' etc. However, it implies more than one person, so a sentence that expands on that idea could say, 'they are ...' Think about the sentence in my podcast: 'I know that when my family comes home from school or work, they are hungry.'   I could not say 'it is hungry', - that just doesn't sound correct at all. HOWEVER, I could say 'my family is hungry'; that sounds very good.  I could change the sentence to something like this: 'After school or work, my family is hungry.' Let's see some examples of using 'they' or even 'we' after family. a. When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, they all help with the washing up / or 'everybody helps with the washing up. b. When my family had a disagreement, they talked about it until they found a solution.  c. When their family goes on vacation, they always choose to go to the beach. 2. 'To bring a smile to someone's face.' This means to make someone happy; it shows the action of the subject on the person who becomes happy. a. That photo of you really brought a smile to my face. b. When she sent me a friend request on Facebook, it really brought a smile to my face. 3. 'Tricky' means difficult in many ways. a. That History exam was very tricky because the questions were worded strangely. b. Doing the Rubick's cube is tricky; you certainly need to practice it a lot.   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Secret viewers.

Feb 3, 2016 08:00


In our modern societies, its quite normal to coexist quite happily with other species: dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and many other kinds of pets. I have seen people take their animals into shops, take them into restaurants, and even travel with them on planes. I think it is becoming more common. Being a pet owner myself, I understand the strong attachment that some people have to their animals. However, there are some places where you don't expect to find animals of any kind. I picked up my daughter from the cinema the other day, and found that her friend's teenage sister who had accompanied them had secretly taken her pets as well. She reached in her pocket and brought out two very colorful geckos. I was shocked. First of all I was surprised that they hadn't escaped, as I know that they can move very quickly. If they had, it would have been a disaster, because the cinema is huge and it would have been impossible to find them. Just imagine them running around on the floor of the dark viewing room, around people's feet, and slipping into someone's handbag or up a trouser leg. Ugh! The thought makes me shudder(1)! Secondly, I couldn't stop thinking about salmonella bacteria. I hope Maria, the owner, wasn't eating popcorn while watching the movie and stroking her pets at the same time! Well, she seemed perfectly healthy. She then told me that the reason she had brought them to the theater was that she didn't want to keep them at home. She had a four year old cousin staying at home, and he was a bit rough. She didn't want to risk (2)them getting hurt. So, she sneaked(3) them into her pocket without anyone knowing. Maria loves reptiles and wants to be a responsible pet owner. As I drove home I realized that we were lucky that she didn't own any snakes! 1. 'Shudder' is the verb which means 'to shake' with horror or disgust.  a. Elizabeth looked at the large cut on the man's face and shuddered. She knew that she could never be a nurse. b. The new boy shuddered to think of sitting next to the school bully on the bus. 2. 'To risk' plus a verb in the present continuous, is a shorter version of saying 'to run a/the risk of + verb in continuous. a. I left early because I didn't want to risk being late / run the risk of being late. b. The prisoners escaped quietly so they wouldn't risk waking the guards / run the risk of waking the guards. 3. 'To sneak' has a very different ending in the past tense in the U.S compared to Britain: 'snuck'. a. The children sneaked into the cinema without paying (British).     The children snuck into the cinema without paying (U.S.) b. The cat sneaked slowly up the tree while the bird was away from its nest (British).     The cat snuck slowly up the tree while the bird was away from its nest (U.S.) Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Leavenworth Winter Sports.

Jan 29, 2016 09:06


I have written on several occasions about Leavenworth. It's about 30 minutes by car from where I live, and a very popular destination for tourists. Because of its mountainous landscape(1), it receives more snow than we do, and stays a few degrees colder. There is a skiing area in Leavenworth that is busy each winter. It offers regular downhill skiing, tubing, nordic skiing like cross country and skate skiing, and also a ski jump. We usually go tubing there. It's the easiest of all the activities because it just involves sitting down! You sit on an inner tube, which is the inside rubber tube of a wheel. An assistant hooks you onto a pulley that pulls you up the hill where you are detached, and then you slip down the hill very quickly indeed. It's great fun, and even young children can do it safely. The other skiing activities are spread out over(2) three different locations: on the ski hill itself, along the river, on a golf course, and in the central park. In fact, when there is enough snow, you can see people moving around the town, going here and there on skis, because it seems to be safer than walking. One sport that I think I will never attempt is the ski jump. Instructors are available so beginners can slowly learn to make little jumps, gradually increasing the length of the jump to 15 meters. Those who are more experienced(3) and confident can graduate to 27 meters. I think that would make me dizzy! The Leavenworth ski jump is actually the only one on the West Coast of the U.S, so it's very special. Some people like heights, and enjoy the feeling of flying through the air, so it's perfect for them. I, however, like to have my feet on the ground...Then after a few hours of tubing, or some good exercise skiing, you can't go home without having hot chocolate in the ski cabin. 1. Different kinds of landscapes: a. Because of the arid landscape, water is expensive, and the farms are irrigated. b. The flat landscape of Texas makes it prone to tornados. c. The mountainous landscape of the highway becomes dangerous in rain storms, resulting in landslides. 2. 'To spread ... out over/to be spread out over ...' is a very useful phrase that can be applied in many situations. a. The talks will be spread out throughout the day, so we can have breaks in between. b. The fire fighters spread out over the whole area, trying to surround the fire. c. The gypsies are an ethnic group that is spread out over many nations. 3. 'Those who are more .../ the ... who are more...' a. Those of you who are more athletic can climb the 259 steps up to the Whispering Gallery; the rest of you can explore the main level of St. Paul's Cathedral.  b. The children who are more studious will be picked for the advanced math competition. c. The women who have access to good medical care will do well in their pregnancies and have healthy babies.   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

'To do' in all its forms.

Jan 22, 2016 08:18


Mr. Brown: "Did you want to see me, sir?" Principal Stevens: "Ah yes, Mr. Brown, do come in, please." Mr. Brown: "Do you want me to close the door?" Principal Stevens: "Yes, if you would. Don't worry about the broken handle; it doesn't work. The custodian was going to fix it, but he didn't. I don't know what he does with all of his time... Make yourself comfortable; you can take your coat off. I'll get the secretary to bring us some coffee." Mr. Brown: "Thank you. I'll keep my coat on; its a bit chilly." Principal Stevens: "It does feel cold in here, doesn't it? Don't tell me the heating isn't working now! I'll have to see what the custodian can do about that as well." Mr. Brown: "Do you need a copy of the class grades? If you do, I have extras." Principal Stevens: "No, don't worry. I have it all on my computer. I'll get to the point, Mr. Brown. The counselor has told me that she doesn't have any concerns about the girls in your class, but she does about the boys. We expected them to do well on their exams, but they haven't. The girls have done well, very well. That group of boys that you have just hasn't done a good job in anything: attendance, projects, or studying. Do you know why?" Mr. Brown: "Well, they had a plan of working together to finish their projects, and also to have study groups. That didn't work out because they have been so ill with the flu. They had done a lot of traveling together for basketball. One of them got the flu, and so all of them did. They had done quite a lot of work before the basketball season started, but they hadn't done enough to get a good grade. I gave them an alternative test that involved working in a group, but it didn't improve their grades. I don't know what to do at this stage." Principal Stevens: "It sounds like you've done all that you can. Sickness is sickness, I'm afraid. I will talk to the superintendent to see if we can give those boys a pass or fail for the year, instead of a grade. We do do that sometimes, when it's necessary. And don't worry, Mr. Brown, I don't see this as a reflection of your teaching abilities. You have always done a good job." Mr. Brown: "Thank you Principal Stevens. I did urge the parents this year to vaccinate their children. When the boys got sick I realized that they hadn't done that. " Principal Stevens: "Well, there's nothing else you can do, really. I'll let you know as soon as I do about the grades. Thanks for meeting with me." Mr. Brown: "Thanks for your time, Principal Stevens."     Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Basic Pronunciation Practice #38 + Interactive English

Jan 22, 2016 14:42


Liz calls Barbara on the phone: Liz: Hi Barbara, are you up for yoga tomorrow at 7?(1) I know its a bit early, but it'll be worth it.  Barbara: I'm really sorry Liz, but I can't go. (2)I threw my back out yesterday, and I'm really miserable. Liz: Oh, you poor thing! How on earth did you do that? Barbara: You know I work in the library on Wednesday's. Well, I had to carry boxes of books from the storage room and stack them on the shelves. I overdid it, of course. That kind of thing always throws my back out. Liz: Do you need to see a doctor or a chiropractor? Barbara: Not really. I'm taking meds for the pain because I think that the injury is just muscular. When my muscles finally relax, I'm sure the pain will go away. Liz: What have you been doing to help it? Barbara: Apart from the pain killers, I have been lying flat on my back with my head on a small pillow and my knees up a little. I've also iced my back. Last night I wrote my essay lying down. I probably looked ridiculous! Liz: Well, who cares what you look like? The important thing is that you feel better. It sounds like you're doing everything you can. I hope you get better soon! I'll miss you at yoga! Barbara: Yeah, have fun!   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app

Sushi or sashimi?

Jan 20, 2016 09:18


My husband and I have developed an addiction to Japanese food. We are so happy that a few Japanese restaurants have finally opened in our town. Though we don't often have the opportunity to go out to dinner alone, when we do, we choose to eat at one of those restaurants. For a long time, we have enjoyed shushi, with its mixture of sticky rice, vegetables and a small amount of raw fish. It has been our only experience of eating uncooked fish, as I am British, and my husband is American, we are accustomed to(1) only cooked meat and fish. However, we have come to really appreciate the extremely clean taste and soft texture of the raw fish. Also, after eating shushi, our stomachs always feel satisfied but not bloated at all. So, the other day, when we went to Iwa's restaurant, all we wanted was raw fish(2). We ordered a plate for two people which had a variety of different fish. When the waitress gave us our plate, I was impressed. It was beautifully presented, and looked artistic and colorful. I ate some tuna and salmon which I am very familiar with. Then I tried the mackerel which had a flaky texture, similar to cooked fish. I wasn't sure about the octopus, however. I did eat a piece, but found it really chewy. It's surprising how filling raw fish is! We couldn't finish the plate. One of the many reasons we keep returning to Iwa's is because we trust the chefs. We can see them working in their spotless(3) kitchen, and the fish is always cut carefully with very clean knives and very clean hands. And that, I think, is the philosophy of making sashimi: getting an amazing taste from the freshest fish, and the cleanest hands. 1. 'To be accustomed to' is like saying 'to be used to' but it implies a cultural habit. a. I am accustomed to having coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. b. He is accustomed to watching American football every Sunday during the winter. 2. The word placement of 'All we wanted was raw fish' is worth mentioning. The sentence could be written the other way around: 'Raw fish was all we wanted'. Both are perfect sentences, but there is a subtle difference between the two. The first sentence shows more focus and intent; it feels more exclusive (no other food should be considered). However, in speech, you can always emphasize a word or parts of a sentence as you wish in order to make an impact. a. Peace and quiet is all I want. All I want is peace and quiet. b. To pass the last exam is all he needs. All he needs is to pass the last exam c. Money is all they ask for. All they ask for is money. 3. 'Spotless' is absolutely clean. It can be used figuratively. a. She spends a lot of time cleaning her house; it is always spotless. b. As a business owner, he had a spotless record of paying his taxes on time and treating his employees with respect. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Rainy Olympia

Jan 20, 2016 08:29


Last Tuesday, I had an impromptu trip(1) to Olympia, the capital of Washington State. I have been taking exams to become a medical interpreter in Spanish and English, but those exams can't be taken in Wenatchee. If you want to take the test, you have to sign up online when a spot(2) becomes available, and that doesn't happen very often. You usually have to wait for at least three months. I have become impatient with the whole sign up process, and all the waiting involved, so when I found an opening(3), I immediately signed up. I had only a week to prepare, and then a three and a half hour drive to get there. The drive was easy enough as I drove on main roads the whole way. I also took the opportunity to record a lot of vocabulary and sentences to listen to in the car. As I approached Olympia it poured with rain. I could tell that the area receives a lot of rain each year as the trees are covered with moss. This was quite a contrast to where I live now. I arrived in plenty of time to find the testing center. It was in a very large social services building, up several flights of stairs. The closer I got to the exam room, the more nervous I became. "Now calm down Anna," I said to myself. "If you don't pass it this time, you'll just have to try again." The lady who administers the test was very nice. She made me feel comfortable, and she also gave me some good advice about relaxing and speaking clearly and slowly. After the exam I headed over to the State Legislative building which is the main landmark of the city. It was surrounded by mist, and looked as if its domed roof was going to disappear into the clouds. I didn't stay long, as I had a long drive home. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of this political center, and the beautiful building that represents it. 1. 'Impromptu' describes a sudden and unplanned or unexpected event or other kind of noun. a. Our get-together led to an impromptu group singing. b. As I was volunteering in the class, I became an impromptu teacher because Mr. White, the English teacher,  suddenly felt ill.  c. After talking on the phone with her brother, Mary bought a ticket and took an impromptu trip to see him.  2 & 3 'A spot' can mean an available place or appointment, as can 'an opening'. Opening, however, is more common, and applies better to appointments. In speech, we can often use both in the same sentence. a. She had a spot on the radio show where she read a few lines and sang a song. b. Finally there was an opening to see the dentist; I had waited for weeks. c. There were a few openings for the exam to choose from: 11am, 2pm, and 4:30pm. I chose the 2pm spot/ opening.   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Winter vocabulary, a story.

Jan 9, 2016 07:39


The old man woke to the sound of his dog barking. He knew that his companion could smell the deer outside, so he slipped his winter boots on, and opened the door to let him out. The biting cold wind blew on him; he shivered and closed the door. Thunder, his Karakachan Bear dog, could be heard in the distance barking at the deer. He didn't feel the cold because he was so fluffy, a true winter dog. It could be far below zero(1), and he would still want to play and run in the snow.  The old man stoked up(2) the fire and looked out of the window. Icicles hung from the roof blocking his view of the mountain road. He looked through the evergreen forest to the distant glacier that always seemed to look back at him, another wilderness companion. His son and family were coming to visit; they did so often. They loved to go snowshoeing together and build an army of snowmen. But today was bitterly cold, and the road was probably blocked. "I'd better snowplow down to the main road, or they'll never get here." he thought to himself. Sometimes, the snow was so deep that he would have to transport his family, two by two, on his snowmobile, from the main road up to his house. For years his son had tried to convince him to move into town. "Why do you insist on living in such a place?" he would ask him. "You've already lost two fingers to frostbite." But the old man would no longer even reply. This was his place in life, in his cabin, on the mountain, through the storms, the snow, the freezes and the thawing and melting of the Spring. He couldn't imagine a better place to be. He pulled on his winter boots, buttoned up his fleece coat, and grabbed his gloves and ear muffs as he left. Oh yes, it was nippy. The wind chill factor(3) made the cold feel sharp against his face. His eyes watered, and he pulled his warm hood over his head and buttoned up the neck. He pushed the fresh snow off of his snowplow, and started the engine. Thunder came running up behind him enthusiastically, ready for an adventure. "Come on boy!" said the old man. "Let's get to work!" 1. 'Zero, zero degrees, below zero, far below zero.' a. It's below zero but the snow is still melting! The ground must be warmer than the air. b. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped to far below zero. Everything was dark and frozen and still. 2. 'To stoke up the fire' means to make the fire bigger. It can, of course, be used figuratively.  a. The fire has died down. Let's stoke it up! I'm getting cold! b. His words stoked (up) the argument. They were not very helpful. 3. 'The wind chill factor' is how the wind can add to the effect of the temperature. a. The temperature didn't seem too bad, but the wind chill factor made quite a difference when we started hiking. b. The movement of the air on your skin chills you more than just the outside temperature. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

One to One Hundred Birds.

Jan 5, 2016 08:50


Two days ago, we were hit hard(1) by snow. It snowed all night, leaving a thick blanket that seemed to insulate everything. The entryway, driveway, and neighborhood road looked like they had been carpeted with white. The back garden has got deeper and deeper with snow, as we don't clear it. There is nothing to do in the garden now that it is winter, nothing other than playing and building snowmen. There is, however, one place in the back that I have to keep clear of snow. That is the bird feeding area. Because we live in the country, and our neighborhood has many trees, there is a huge variety of birds that live here. The ones who stay in the winter need food, and that is where I come in(2). I like to help them a little, even though I know that they are very capable of helping themselves. I put a couple of dishes of bird seed out for them, and then I made frozen balls of bacon fat and seed. I hung these balls from the trees, and hurried back into the kitchen to watch from a comfortable spot. Gradually more and more birds swooped into my garden and came to the feast. They were little round birds who hopped quickly, fought with each other, and twittered(3). They acted like excited, young school girls at the shopping mall. Before long, the seed was gone. I hunted around in my garage for more bags, and managed to find just enough for the birds' second course. I decided to add some dry dog food to the mix. The birds came in a second time, but then suddenly flew away. There was an ugly squawking sound, and suddenly, I saw four beautiful blue jays. They swallowed up the dog food in no time, and left as soon as it was gone. Bird watching is proving to be quite addicting, especially when these loud but lovely birds come to visit. 1. 'To be hit hard by ...' is a phrase that can be used in the context of weather, financial problems, or many other kinds of changing situations. a. We were hit hard by job losses when the factory closed. b. The whole state was hit by a heat wave that dried up the farms. c. A migraine hit me hard, so I had to pull over and take some medication. 2. 'That is where ...come/comes in' is a casual and slightly playful way of introducing something into a clear context. a. The skiers will come in the restaurant looking for a warm meal. And that is where the new chefs come in. They will have hot stews and soups ready for them. b. Tourists typically try to see the most historically significant places in a city, but it is difficult. That is where a guide comes in. He can save the tourists a lot of time and frustration. 3. 'To twitter'. It must be one of the most well-known words at the moment because of the social media giant, Twitter. It describes the quick, chatting noise that a bird makes which is different from its singing. a. I love the spring, but oh my goodness, the birds start their twittering at 5am! b. What are you two twittering about?                                   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Basic Pronunciation Practice #37 + Interactive English.

Dec 30, 2015 13:09


Barbara: Hi Liz, sorry to bother you. I know you're busy studying, I just wanted to double-check(1) the time that we're going to the basketball game. Liz: Uh, let's leave at about six thirty. It starts at seven thirty, but it'll be packed, so we'll need time to park and find seats. Barbara: Ok. Oh, I love what you've done(2) with the Christmas cards! Liz: Thanks. I like to arrange them on the wall and save them for at least a month. Look, I got several from my friends in York. This one is made from photos. See how snowy it is? And those are my three friends: Suzy, Jeff, and Peter. They took a selfie next to the(3) statue of Emperor Constantine. They look so goofy! Barbara: Oh that's great! That is definitely worth keeping! Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Fancy That App.

Dec 29, 2015 07:53


I hear almost every day about useful apps. I have many already on my iPhone that make my life easier and more productive. One of the most practical that I have found is Google Maps. It has saved me so much time and frustration. It is essentially a map with a voice that guides you, step by step, to your destination. Hurray for that! For those of us who love languages, there are hundreds of language learning apps. A friend of mine from Iran recently told me about an extremely popular app that can be used for anything from teaching languages, business communication, sharing of files, or simply messaging and friendly chats. It's called Telegram. I have read quite a lot about it, and will continue to do so because it sounds very useful indeed. It was developed by the Durov brothers from Russia, but has its head quarters in Berlin. And the founders have covered all the costs(1), so it is free, and there is no advertising at all. Hamed, my friend from Iran, is an experienced English teacher who is quite the perfectionist(2) when it comes to learning English. In fact, he used to Skype with me in order to perfect his accent. Telegram is an easy platform for him to share videos, grammar notes, or even to have general discussions. It sounds like something that I can use! It is also dedicated to its users' privacy. In this competitive world of social media, it will be interesting to see if Telegram outdoes Facebook and Twitter by offering better service and more privacy. Hamed certainly gives it the thumbs up(3), and invites anyone who wants to learn English to try his free group. Just install Telegram on your device and try the link: Hamed's English Group      1. 'To cover the cost' means to pay for everything. This phrase it usually used in the context of business or insurance. a. The company covered the cost of the business dinner. b. Thankfully, my insurance company covered the cost of getting a new engine for my car. 2. 'To be quite the (perfectionist) etc'. This phrase is emphatic, and similar to saying, "He is such a perfectionist." a. I was surprised. My shy brother was quite the entertainer at the party last night. b. She is quite the activist. She never misses an opportunity to speak for those who need help. 3. 'To give someone/something thumbs up/down'. This phrase describes giving approval or disapproval. It is related to the Roman Caesars' thumbs up or down given at the end of gladiator games. a. We got the thumbs up from the principal to hold a health assembly in the High School. b. I give Google Maps an enthusiastic thumbs up. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Wildcat Weekend.

Dec 16, 2015 08:31


Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University. I have been lucky enough to be a student there twice. The building was constructed in the late 1800's, and makes a lovely center piece for the town. The town is quite small really; there are only about 18,000 residents. It is odd, actually, to think of such a large university being in a small town. This happened because, in the 19th century, Ellensburg made a bid(1) to be the political capital of the state, but lost. As a consolation(2), the university was built. The rest of the town is agricultural and fairly modern, with a few historical buildings here and there. I have a soft spot(3) for both the town and the university because of my good memories of being a student. Now I have another reason for visiting the town. Two of my children play AAU basketball, which is a non-school league. Last weekend their teams played in the university gym, so we spent the whole weekend there. Just outside of the gymnasium is a very large statue of a wildcat which is the mascot of the university. It was covered with a thin sheet of frost, and looked very intimidating. There were people everywhere, mainly students, of course. Above the gymnasiums is a jogging track, and next door is a huge weight room, and a climbing wall. It is a wonderful and useful modern addition to this historic place. The weekend came and went quickly, with lots of wins and losses, and before long, we had driven over the mountain pass and were back at home in Wenatchee.  1. 'To make a bid' is to ask to win/receive a contract. We also 'ask' for bids from companies to see which one can give us the best service. a. Many countries made their bids to host the next Olympics. b. We asked for bids from several builders, to see which one could build our garage for the most reasonable price. c. At the auction, the highest bid for the antique chair was $1000. 2. 'Consolation' is a gift of some kind to compensate for a loss. The verb 'to console' is to offer kind words to someone when they have lost something. a. The loser of the competition received a consolation prize of a laptop. b. I consoled her after her pet died. c. The policeman gave the child a teddy bear, as a consolation, until they could find her parents. 3. 'To have a soft spot for something/someone' is to have positive/ tender feelings sometimes related to memories. a. I have a soft spot for the college because I have good memories of being a student. b. I have a soft spot for cats; we always had cats when I was a child. c. They have a soft spot for Madrid; they first met and later got married there. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

The Turkey Run.

Dec 9, 2015 06:53


Thanksgiving was on 26th of November. It is always on the fourth Thursday of that month. It is a day that everyone looks forward to. It is a welcomed break for school children and anyone who works. And, of course, there is a big meal to share with family, friends, or both if you are lucky. This year, I decided to try something different. Each Thanksgiving morning here in Wenatchee, there is The Turkey Run. It is a 5km run or walk that is organized to raise money for charity. Participants(1)need to pay a certain amount to receive an official number in the race. Then, all you need is a good pair of running shoes, and some warm clothes. I had got(2) up early that morning to go to the supermarket. It was freezing cold. "Uh!" I thought to myself, "The race will be miserable if it stays this cold." Thankfully, by the time my daughter and I were ready, the sun had come out, and it was a few degrees warmer. At the starting line, there were hundreds of people of all ages, all dressed in winter clothes, some wearing funny hats, and even a couple of ballet Tutus. There were lots of smiles and laughter, and a few serious runners who disappeared along the road and up the hill as fast as lightening. My daughter wanted to run ahead to find one of her friends, so I jogged behind her. I kept my eyes on her bright pink sweater, as it darted through the crowd. During the run, I saw people I know, and was able to walk and talk with a few. I also was able to admire those in wheelchairs who were making a wonderful effort for charity. There were people with turkey hats on, others dressed in the Seattle Seahawks colors, and even babies bundled up like Eskimos being carried by their parents. I can only imagine that  with such a good turnout(3), a lot of money was raised for charity. I will definitely take part in the race next year; I'm tempted to buy a silly turkey hat just for that occasion. 1. 'Participants' is the noun, from the verb 'to participate' meaning to take part in something. a. We were participants in the race, but not serious runners. b. Now it is time for the participants to be judged. 2. 'Got' is used in British English as the past participle, instead of 'gotten' which is used in the U.S. a. We had got tired of the cold, so we went back to the house. b. They missed the bus because they hadn't got up until really late. 3. 'Turnout' is a number of people coming to an event. a. I'm so pleased at the turnout of this political rally. b. The turnout for the new video game was a record breaker.  Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

A Winter's List.

Dec 1, 2015 07:39


"Wake up! Look at the frosty morning!" I said to my children on Monday. I knew that they wouldn't want to get out of bed; after all, it was a school day. But something about the beginning of winter makes the morning more interesting for them. I opened the curtains in the rooms of my two youngest, who normally moan and complain when they have to get up. "Wow, look at all the crunchy frost," my daughter said. She was right. As we looked out on the back garden, there seemed to be a sheet of sparkling powdered glass laying on everything. It twinkled(1) in the morning light. "I'll make some hot chocolate," I said, still trying to coax(2) them into coming downstairs. I had their winter clothes laid out on the lounge floor:coats, boots, gloves, hats, and scarves. While they ate their porridge, I spoke to my oldest sons. "Now, its best to leave early, so you don't have to hurry. Keep your distance when you drive because its icy." They both nodded in agreement, and gave me that look, the look that says, "Mum, I already know all of that. I'm a teenager, remember?" As I went outside to warm up the car, I noticed a neighbor was scraping the ice off of her windshield(3). Another neighbor was sprinkling ice melter on his path. I realized that winter has arrived, and we need to prepare ourselves in order to live comfortably with the cold. Just then, I got a text from my husband, "Remember to get the snow tires put on your car" it read. Yes, it was another thing to add to my list of preparations for winter. Here are some more things to add to it: Flu shots for everyone. Chop wood for the fire. Buy vitamin C and Zinc. Ingredients for soups and stews. Put fuel in the snow blower, and get the snow shovels out of the shed. Each day I try to check off one or two things from the list so we will be ready for the chilly season. Nobody likes to be unprepared, especially when it is so cold. 1. 'To twinkle' is a verb that refers to an intermittent shining of light. We associate the verb with Christmas lights, frost, stars, and other kinds of light. a. It was a very clear night. There was a full moon, and the stars were twinkling. b. Look at those twinkling lights on the trees. They are so pretty! 2. 'To coax someone into...' this phrase is similar in meaning to 'to persuade someone to do something'. a. I coaxed my dog into going to the vet by giving him pieces of bacon. b. I coaxed my husband into going to see a ballet with me by promising that I would go hunting with him.  3. 'Windshield' is the main front window of a car. It shields/ protects you from the wind.  a. My windshield cracked when a big truck went past me and threw up some stones. b. You might prefer a motorbike with a windshield if you are traveling far. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

The Redwood Forest.

Nov 19, 2015 08:43


The Redwood forest is located on the west coast, from the south of Oregon to the south of California. There isn't just one forest; there are several along and near the coast. Together they cover 133,000 acres. In the 1800's many people went to the west coast to mine gold. Of course, a lot of people didn't find any, and so logging became a second option. At that time there were 2,000,000 acres of redwoods. The trees were quickly chopped down and used for buildings in the San Francisco area. In 1920 a movement started to preserve the remaining trees, but it wasn't until(1) the 1960's that they were finally safe. And I'm so glad that they are. I was lucky enough to take my family there this summer, and we were amazed at their size and beauty. Their age was just as astonishing(2). We came across a slice of a massive tree that was around(3) before the Vikings came to the Americas. Some trees had fallen over, and their root systems were the size of houses! We walked around the forest, straining our necks to keep looking up, up, up. I noticed a few things in particular. First, the bark of the redwoods is spongey, not hard. Second, there are hardly any plants on the forest floor because of the lack of sunshine. And third, the forest is so, so quiet. There are so many photos on the web of these amazing trees. Click this link to see some. 1. 'It wasn't until...' is a phrase that indicates the passing of time until an event/ change/ an action. I mentioned that a movement to preserve the trees had started in the 1920's, but nothing happened until the 1960's. That is why I used 'it wasn't until...' a. We asked for building permission, but it wasn't until 3 years later/had passed that we were given permission. b. I asked him to close the door, but it wasn't until he got cold that he closed it! c. We bought our ski gear, but it wasn't until February that we were able to use it. 2. 'Their age was just as astonishing.' This is a separate sentence which refers back to the size and beauty of the trees of the previous sentence.  a. The boys received excellent results in English. Their mathematics results were just as good. b. She is tall and attractive. You are just as beautiful. c. The new car is computerized and stylish. It's fuel efficiency is just as impressive. 3. 'a tree...that was around before the Vikings..' Here I could have used 'was growing' or 'was alive', but 'to be around' is a highly used phrase for something or someone being alive or present. a. I am wise because I have been around for a long time. b. That radio program has been around for about 50 years! c. How long are those noisy kids going to be around here?   Click here to download my free ebook ‘The Golden Whisper’ Click here to buy or rate my Apple app Click the link for the Android app

Football Fever.

Nov 10, 2015 08:05


American football is an autumn sport here in the U.S. The season goes from September until December approximately. Out of my three sons, only my youngest likes to play it; infact, he loves it. His last game was a couple of weeks ago, as middle schoolers have a short season. We went to the local High School stadium, and sat with a small crowd to watch the game. It was a chilly day, so most people had brought blankets and warm coats. I am more accustomed to football (soccer) and rugby, and so, it has taken me a while(1) to get used to the stopping and starting that take place in American football. The sport was based on rugby when it was first invented, but evolved during the 1870's into what it is today. Here, in the U.S, it is called 'football'; they call 'football' 'soccer' to distinguish between(2) the two. In order for a team to win it has to, first, have possession of the ball, and then advance into the opposing team's end zone. A 'touchdown' is the term used for a 'goal', just as in rugby we say a 'try'. There are also goal posts that the ball can be kicked through. So, you can see how American football is a hybrid of rugby. My son's team ended up(3) losing, but it was a great game. A few times the possession of the ball changed from one team to the other, and that is always exciting. The sport is the most popular in the country, and the amount of children who play it increases each year. It's following on television is also huge, with last year's Superbowl having 114 million American viewers. 1. ' It takes a while / it has taken (a person) a while to + verb'  is a very common expression which shows how time is needed in order to accomplish something. a. It takes a while to get onto the highway because the traffic in town is bad. b. It takes me a while to wake up in the morning!  2. 'To distinguish between' is similar to saying 'to show/tell the difference between' when contrasting two things. a. We can only distinguish between the twins when they are wearing different clothes! / We can only tell the difference between the twins .... *Note 'to tell the difference' is used when we figure out/ calculate the difference, whereas 'to show' the difference is used when you are teaching or explaining what the difference is. b. Can you distinguish between your father's voice and your grandfather's? 3. 'They ended up losing..' is a very natural sounding way of saying 'the end result was that they lost'. You could simply say 'they lost' of course, but 'they ended up' refers back to all the effort and time that went into their activity. a. We won eight out of ten matches and ended up going to the state competition! b. My car broke down and I missed the bus. My bicycle had a flat tire, so I ended up walking to work. Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

A Thousand Dalias.

Nov 5, 2015 06:52


On one of my many walks on the Apple Capital Loop Trail, I came across an amazing patch of flowers. On a corner of land, next to an indoor market(1), a garden of only one kind of flower had been planted. They were dahlias. I happened to have my iPhone with me, so I climbed in amongst (2)the tall plants, and tried to find the perfect angles for the photos. So what is so special about dahlias? Their variety and sizes are quite incredible. There are 42 species, and many hybrids, so the colors, shapes, and sizes vary tremendously(3). I grew just a few this year for the first time. One was a huge, yellow dahlia called a 'dinner plate'. You can imagine how big the flower head is! The dahlia also has an interesting history. It is the national flower of Mexico, and used to be grown by the Aztecs for its tubers (which are like bulbs) which they would eat. One of the dahlias I photographed was a red and cream stripy flower with a very large head. I played around with the photo for this blog, and actually decided that it looks better in black and white because the petals have so much texture. See what you think.  Check out my Facebook page for more dahlias! 1. 'Indoor/ outdoor' is quite obvious in meaning, but let's practice some examples: a. We have indoor markets all winter because it is too cold outside. b. They have an indoor swimming pool. How lucky! c. There will be an outdoor theatre all summer long. d. They live in Arizona where it is nearly always dry. They have an outdoor pizza oven. 2. 'Amongst/ among' are interchangeable. Note, however that in the US people don't really use 'amongst' as it sounds out of date.  a. Divide the chocolate among you three. b. In this group, you are always among friends. 3. 'Tremendously' is a powerful adverb that is similar in sense to 'enormously'. a. She is a tremendously talented mathematician. b. He is tremendously helpful. c. The personalities in my classroom vary tremendously.   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

A Park for the People.

Nov 4, 2015 08:31


Walla Walla park is right next to the river in Wenatchee. When I first came here twenty three years ago, it had just opened. Now, twenty three years later, the trees are so much bigger, and the park is well used by the locals. Its biking and walking paths run(1) for about five miles along the Columbia river. Then they continue over a bridge to the north, follow the other side of the river south, and finally, cross over the southern bridge to form an oval, or what we call The Apple Capital Loop Trail. It actually gets very busy as the walkers and bikers share the same paths. There is a courtesy rule(2) that as a biker approaches people walking in front of him, he must call out, “On your left!” That way, the walkers can move over to the right and let the biker pass safely. Safety is, of course, very important when lots of people are using the same place for sport. The water sports, such as kayaking and fishing, also need safety precautions. The local council has supplied life jackets for anyone who wishes to use them. So, if a family brings a boat to go fishing, they can use as many life jackets as they need, as long as(3) they put them back afterwards. The same goes for kayakers, water skiers, and paddle boarders. It is a generous and practical idea. It also encourages people to be honest, and to give back what they have borrowed. Along with the drinking fountains, toilets, play areas for children, and coffee hut, the free life jackets ensure a safe and enjoyable experience of the park. 1. ‘Run ….along/ the length of’ describes how a physical or imagined road travels, and what it is next to. a. The route we will take runs up the mountain face and then along to the right.b. The state boundary runs right along the river.c. Semi-precious stones can be found on the entire length of the stream. 2. ‘A courtesy rule’ is a rule that is established for the good of the general public, for safety, and for comfort.a. Opening the door for a lady used to be a courtesy rule.b. Waving at a driver who has just let you into traffic is a courtesy rule. 3. ‘…as long as…’ is similar in meaning to ‘if’, but it implies that a condition has to be met.a. You can go to the cinema, as long as you are home by eleven.b. They can borrow our car, as long as they buy extra insurance.c. She can borrow twenty dollars, as long as she pays me back by Thursday.   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

Basic Pronunciation Practice #36 + Interactive English.

Oct 30, 2015 15:02


1.Barbara: Liz! How are you? I'm so glad you're back. We all missed you! 2.Liz: Oh, thanks. I can't believe that the six months have been and gone! 3.Barbara: So, you must be super-fluent in English now, right? It sounds like the language course in York was really thorough. 4.Liz: My English really is so much better! Well, when you live around it everyday, it has to get better, right? The people in York are so friendly and chatty. And the city is amazing. 5.Barbara: We have to go to our favorite coffee shop, so you can tell me all about it. And don't forget your photos! 6.Liz: That's a great idea. But gosh, I have so much to tell; I don't know where to start! Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here for the iOS app

The Sea, the Sunset, and the Ocean Crab.

Oct 27, 2015 09:54


They walk sideways on their ten, bony legs. They are hard, and seem unfriendly. They run away from humans. Some people have them as pets, but I wouldn't! Their world is water, rivers, oceans, where they live with other cold-blooded animals. They are experts at hiding. And if you catch one, watch out! Your fingers will be pinched if you're not careful. You've probably guessed that I'm talking about the crab. It's a wild, sea creature, though some of them live in rivers. And it is unusual, compared with(1) most animals. It doesn't have any fur or feathers, and it doesn't seem to show emotion. It even wears its skeleton on the outside! One thing that it really does have is a good taste. It was that delicious flavor that prompted (2) my family and some friends to go to Birch Bay. The place is 100 miles north of Seattle, and about 35 miles south of Canada. It is a beautiful, wide bay, that is surrounded by forest. Our friends had a boat, crabbing pots, and all the equipment needed to trap our dinner. The sea must be healthy in that area, because after waiting for just a few hours, we had 30 crabs, far too much for us! We cleaned and boiled them right next to the beach, and then had a feast! The sun went down as we ate, and the most amazing colors developed on the horizon and through the sky. It was really a magical time. Those hard, but delicious creatures had lead us to a beautiful part of the country. We took so many photos of the sunset and its changing colors, and we sat after our meal, and enjoyed the gentle lap(3) of the waves on the shore. 1. 'Compared with..' is an essential tool to use in English conversation and writing. It allows you to create interesting, intermediate sentences. It points to differences, whereas saying 'compared to' points to similarities. a. Life can be compared to a journey. b. Ludovico Enaudi, as a composer, can be compared to Vivaldi in many ways. c. My life in London was very different compared with my life in Wenatchee. d. Compared with our school funds from last year, this year's funds are really low. 2. 'To prompt' is to encourage or remind. It can be used in many ways. a. The wonderful weather prompted us to go for a hike. b. The taste of crab prompted us to go fishing in Birch Bay. c. During the play, the drama teacher prompted Deborah when she forgot her lines. d. The rise in the price of milk prompted demonstrations in the capital city today. 3. 'Lap' is a noun and a verb. Your lap is the top of both thighs when you are sitting down, where someone or perhaps a pet can sit. 'To lap' is a gentle forward and backward motion, like a wave on the edge of the shore, or the tongue of an animal when it drinks. a. We sat at the edge of the river and watched the water lap on the shore. b. I gave my cat some milk and she lapped it up! c. Her granddaughter sat on her lap and told her about her day at school. d. My dog jumped up onto my lap and got me covered in mud! Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app

Di Caprio, real or wax?

Oct 23, 2015 10:41


Marie Tussaud was a French woman who became famous for her wax models. She was born in Strasbourg in 1761, and developed her hobby by watching the doctor who her mother worked for. He taught her the difficult art of wax modeling. When she was older, she travelled around Great Britain, showing many of her creations, and eventually settled in London, opening up her famous wax museum. There are actually many Madame Tussauds. One that I went to this summer was in San Francisco. It was the first time that we had been to that city, and as (1)we were there for only a couple of days, we wanted to see all the main tourist attractions. We had a great time in the museum, and really laughed a lot. I was surprised when I learned that you are allowed to touch the wax models. When we learned that, there was no stopping us(2). We hugged them, kissed them, pulled faces near them, and copied their poses. When I spotted Leonardo di Caprio, I had to pose with him. He is one of my favorite actors. I pretended that he and I were walking on the red carpet to see the premier of his latest film. When I looked at the photos we had taken, the wax models looked more real than we did (3)! The figures are so perfectly made. I couldn't decide which one of us looked more real, me or di Caprio! 1. ' we were there for only a couple of days, we wanted...' as here is used the same way as 'because' or 'seeing as though'. It is good to practice producing such long sentences with as. a. We got off the bus, and as we already had the tickets, we went straight into the theatre.  b. Maybe you can explain our car problem to the mechanic, as you know more about cars than I do. 2. 'There was no stopping us/ there's no stopping us' is obvious in meaning, and is used to express enthusiasm or determination. a. We wanted to hike, but it had rained for two weeks. When the sun finally came out, we put our boots on and headed out. There was no stopping us! b. The business owner was so angry about the rise in taxes, that he went to the local government building to complain. There was no stopping him! 3. 'The wax models looked more real than we did!' I chose this sentence in order to practice the end auxiliary 'did'. This type of sentence sounds very natural. Remember, that we don't use 'did' with the verb 'to be'. a. He ate more cake than everyone else did! b. He is definitely taller than you are. c. She is more generous than you are, but she has less money than you do. d. She studies less than you do but still gets good grades. e. They saw the movie before we did. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

Pioneer village.

Oct 21, 2015 07:35


A museum that is close to my house is the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village. Cashmere is a little town that is just eight miles away. It is a very small, country town surrounded by hills, and is known for(1) two things: a candy factory, and the museum. As my aunt was visiting from Spain, and is very interested in history, I thought that it would be nice to take her and my mother there for a day out. The museum had a lot of Indian artifacts and photos, and by Indian, I mean Native American Indian. There was an impressive amount of tools, baskets, and ceremonial instruments. This area is rich in Native American history. Outside of the museum building, however, was a collection of original pioneer houses. They were wooden cabins, and had been collected from a forty mile radius(2). They were arranged in a square, and together formed a perfect little village. There was a school, a few shops, a jail, a saloon, a church, and a couple of private houses. They had all been built around the 1880's. Everything inside the cabins revealed the progress of history. There was a printing cabin, with an original printing press. This reminded me that printed news, at that time, was quite a new thing. The cabins revealed to me how sophisticated our lives are now; back then(3), they were very basic. The homes usually had just one or two rooms, with the beds quite close to the oven, so they could stay warm in the winter. The photos that you can see on this link show a how the pioneers of this area lived, just before the Industrial revolution reached the U.S. 1. ' known for' means 'has the reputation for', 'does something regularly' or 'has done something memorable'. a. Rosa Parks is known for initiating the civil rights movement in the U.S. b. Paul Klee is known for experimenting with color in his art. c. Mrs Brown is known for her fabulous pies. 2. 'Radius' is a mathematical term meaning the line from the center of a circle to the perimeter. a. To calculate the area of a circle, you need to know the radius. b. The police searched a radius of two miles outside of the city.  3. '..back then..' refers to a point in time that has already been mentioned. It is mainly used to refer to the distant past. a. When my father was a boy, the Second World War was taking place. Back then he lived on a Canadian island. b. The pioneers came to Wenatchee in the 1800's. Back then, they didn't have electricity. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

Annie's Fun Farm.

Oct 21, 2015 07:49


Did you know that there are over 30 different varieties of pumpkins? They are grown on every continent apart from Antarctica, and they are used for cooking, for livestock(1), and for decoration. They have been around for a very long time. The oldest recorded evidence of pumpkins dates back 7000 years to Mexico. Although it grows like a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. And what a pretty fruit it is! A friend of ours has recently opened a special pumpkin patch(2), that is a few acres in size. It is called Annie's Fun Farm, and is open to the public for family entertainment. Paths lined with pumpkins have been made, as well as an area to throw apples with giant elastic ropes. There's an inflatable castle, a corn maze(3), and rides on a tractor and trailer. It is a perfect place to take family or friends to have some fun, and to choose that special collection of pumpkins, if that's what you like to do. I filled up a little shopping cart with pumpkins of different shapes, sizes, and colors, to put next to my front door. I also walked through the corn maze. Believe it or not, I got a little scared by the rustle of leaves behind me! What a big baby! But that is actually what the public likes: a little fun, a little scare, and a car load of pumpkins to take home. 1. 'Livestock' means animals that are raised for profit. They are usually farm animals, but can also be horses and similar animals that can be sold as workers instead of for their meat. a. The farmer has a lot of corn and also livestock. b. In New Zealand, sheep and deer are bred as livestock. 2. 'Patch' in this podcast means an area of land where the pumpkins grow exclusively. Patch is also used to mean a square piece of material that covers a hole in clothes, or the cover for a blind eye. It can also be used figuratively meaning 'to cover' or 'to repair'. a. The pirate wore a patch over one eye. b. Last year we had a huge cabbage patch in our vegetable garden. c. My grandmother sewed a patch onto my jeans. d. After arguing for years, we have finally patched up our relationships. 3. 'Maze' is a noun that means a labyrinth or a complicated area. a. It is common in the Autumn to find places of entertainment with mazes made of corn. b. Some traditional English gardens have mazes made of very tall hedges. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

Summer Blooms.

Oct 17, 2015 07:18


One of the benefits of growing your own flowers is picking them and bringing them into the house. Bouquets, after all(1), are expensive in the shops. They bring color, and light, and cheer to an entryway or a kitchen table, but I hate to pay ten dollars for something that I can grow for just pennies. It's not just the cost, however. My biggest thrill in gardening is growing plants from seeds. There is something magical about seeing a little piece of nothing sprout, and then eventually produce a flower. So, with scissors in my hand, and a vase full of water, I walk around my back yard and snip(2) here and snip there until the vase is full. But now it's October, and the summer blooms are coming to an end(3). However, you can extend the season a little by doing two things: you cut off the dead heads, and you fertilize. It's a little trick that I learned from my mother who is also a gardening fanatic. This way, you can double the amount of flowers that you get in one season. It's really worth the effort. In fact, a couple of years ago, my garden produced so many flowers while I was on holiday, that my relatives came regularly to gather the flowers for bouquets for their own homes. 1. 'After all' is powerful idiom that means many things: nevertheless, considering the evidence, ultimately. It points to the most important part of a sentence. a. The train was an hour late, but we arrived on time after all (like nevertheless) b. I painted each room and rearranged the furniture; after all, it's my house!(ultimately) c. Heathrow is always packed with people, after all it is one of the busiest airports in the world. (considering the evidence) 2. 'Snip' is both a noun and a verb, and mean a quick, small cut of scissors. a. I will go to the hair dressers, but I only need a few snips. b. The instructions for cooking the noodles say," Snip one corner of the plastic packet, and cook in the microwave on high for two minutes." 3. 'To come to an end' is a longer way of saying 'to finish'. It implies that the finishing is taking some time. a. The long summer days are coming to an end. The days are slowly getting shorter and shorter. b. The days of the museum are finally coming to an end, after being open for 50 years. (it will close in a few weeks/months) Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

New Life From Ashes.

Oct 17, 2015 08:13


The hills of Wenatchee are an unusual color for this time of year. They are usually a sandy brown, due to the dry climate. The brief green of the spring quickly changes into tan(1) as the sun gets hotter and hotter, and the rain stops. The hills are a popular place for hikers and bikers. We walked up one of the many trails a few weeks ago, and experienced a very different hike than normal. The whole area, reaching up to the top of the highest hill, was black. The fires that we had this summer completely consumed the grass, and left nothing but ash. And that's not to mention(2) the houses that also burned. It was a disaster. But now, as the cooler weather is here, there is a stream of(3) people walking at the weekends. As we headed up to a summit, we came across a sign that read, "Keep on the trails; give the plants a chance." What that meant was that we should not walk off the path because plants are beginning to grow again. And sure enough, as I looked around, here and there I saw green shoots(4), and even some plants that are ready to flower. There is a purple lupine that normally flowers in the early spring that is emerging again. The fire must have stimulated the deep bulbs, and now, in October, they are ready to bloom! Nature has been tricked. As I looked around, I realized that although the fires had been overpowering, they were only superficial.All the potential under the earth was still there; the unseen was unaffected. Life was coming again from the ashes. And now, in a short time, the hills will be covered again in purple lupines. 1. 'Tan' is both a color and two verbs. 'To tan oneself' means to spend time in the sun to brown your skin, and it also means to treat an animal skin in order to turn it into leather.  a. I try to avoid the sun; however, I do look good with a tan. b. The people on the beach are all tanning themselves. 2. 'Not to mention' is a phrase we use that introduces extra information into a sentence. The information is usually important or significant. It is similar to saying 'also', but more emphatic. a. His popularity as a singer has grown, not to mention the sales of his records. b. He was stressed out by the wedding arrangements, not to mention the expense! 3. 'A stream' or 'a constant stream' is a useful expression that describes a consistent amount of something, often people. a. There was a stream of people all day at the book signing. b. I had a stream of phone calls this morning, and I couldn't get anything else done! 4. 'Shoots' are the first signs of a plant growing, the new, upright leaves that come out of the ground, as if they are being shot out of a gun. a. When I plant mangetout, I cover them with a net because the birds like to eat the shoots. b. When cows eat grass, it stimulates the growth of new shoots. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

Glass Beach.

Sep 5, 2015 07:09


Glass beach is an interesting place that we visited this summer. It is on the coast of California, to the North. The town is not spectacular; it's the beach that draws(1) the tourists. I had never been to a California beach, and I suppose I was expecting it to be hot and sandy. However, it was cool and foggy for the first day. And there were many beaches. They were small, rocky coves(2), that had caves, and sandy cliffs. Seagulls and seals were here and there. It was the perfect place for exploring. My children climbed and jumped around like monkeys that had been let out of the zoo. There were many rock pools where sea water had become trapped; these are the perfect places to look for crabs, fish, and other sea creatures. We spent hours walking around and searching for treasure; not gold and silver, but glass. As its name suggests, Glass beach is full of old glass that has been broken and made smooth by the waves. For years, the tides (3)and the waves have tumbled bottles of different colors. And the result is wonderful. You can literally pick up handfuls of smooth glass pebbles. Interestingly, most of the blue glass has been picked up by tourists, leaving the greens, reds, and yellows still on the beach.  1. 'The beach draws tourists'. 'To draw' can mean 2 things: to create a design with a pencil or pen, or to pull in, to attract. In the podcast, I use the verb with the second sense: to attract. a. Donald Trump always draws lots of media attention. b. The honey face mask draws out impurities from the skin.  2. 'A cove' is the same as a bay: a small, rounded area of beach that is sheltered. It is also a sheltered area in a mountain or a narrow pass between woods or hills. a. We had a picnic in a small, sandy cove. b. We sheltered from the storm in a cove. 3. 'The tide/s' are the regular coming and going of the sea from the beach. We talk about 'high tide' and 'low tide': when the water is high and low at different times of the day. a. The tide brought in a lot of sea weed and jelly fish. b. We can't go onto the beach until low-tide. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy the iOS app.

A Creative Summer.

Aug 9, 2015 09:26


Summer can be such a relaxing time. If you're a teacher, it's your turn for a long vacation. However, if you have kids at home, sometimes that summer can become downright (1)stressful. "Mum, Jenna can't come over, and I'm so bored!" said my daughter to me with a look of pain on her face. Her friends are everything to her, and life is just not as colorful(2)when they're not around. I didn't say it, but I thought of something my mother used to say to me whenever I was bored, "Only boring people get bored," she used to say. Well, I decided not to use that phrase; it wasn't very helpful. "Do you want to use my laptop?" I asked, knowing that it would help her get some ideas. "Ok," she half-protested(3). Later, my son Robert came into the kitchen and also complained about being bored, again as if he was in pain. "How about your bike?" I suggested. He went into the garage and didn't come back. "Oh good," I thought to myself, "he must be riding his bike."                                   About an hour went by. The house was quiet, so I became curious. Were my kids ok? Were they asleep? What had happened? Just then, Robert came running in, "Mum, tell Domini to come out. I drew a racing track on our driveway with chalk(4). It's perfect for racing her Crazy Cart." And then Domini came running down the stairs, "Hey mum, listen to this piece of music I just made on Garage Band." They had both become creative, and had forgotten about being bored. So now the plan was to video the Crazy Cart race, and put it to her music. What a plan! They took turns racing around the driveway while Domini's music played. It was a burst of creative energy. I was impressed.  1. 'Downright stressful'. Downright is a very emphatic way of saying 'very' or 'completely'. It is usually used when emphasizing something negative, although I have heard it used in sentences like: "She is downright gorgeous." a. That book was downright boring! b. The service in that restaurant is downright sloppy! 2. 'Life is just not as colorful..' this expression here is figurative when talking about Domini's friends. The idea of something adding color or light to life is often used in English. The word 'colorful' is used to mean interesting even to an extreme. a. His language was very colorful (this can mean that he used a lot of rude words). b. You light up my life, darling. 3. 'Half-protested.' The 'half' here indicates that the action carried out was weak, soft, or not very determined. a. "Here he comes now," she half-whispered. b. When he told me that bad news, I half-laughed out of shock. 4. 'I drew a racing track on our driveway with chalk.' This practice is very common here in the U.S, especially in summer. Children will often draw images, tracks, and even gameboards in chalk, and then play on them. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Helpful Ladies.

Jul 30, 2015 09:32


Those of you who listen regularly to my podcast will know that I am a gardener. However, you might not know that gardening can be a challenge. This year I have come to realise(1) that I need to learn more about bugs because they can make the garden a success or a failure. Some of my most prized(2) vegetables and flowers get infested at times, and I am left scratching my head, wondering(3) what to do. Bugs are everywhere, and they all serve a purpose, but if I choose to have certain plants in my garden, I must understand what their strengths and weaknesses(4) are, and which bugs either attack them or help them. So, what do you do if you need about 3000 beneficial(5) bugs? Well, you order them online. And that's just what I did about a week ago. Before I knew it, the box arrived on my doorstep. It was a strange experience opening a package, and finding a bag full of bugs inside. I had to follow some instructions before putting them in the garden: wait until it was dark, mist the infected plants with water, gently release the ladybirds. It was fascinating to see the colony slowly leave the bag and start to crawl in all different directions. Success! I felt good about using some of Nature's medicine to keep the garden healthy. The next morning, I went outside early to see what had happened to my new friends. Some of them were still where I had left them, but the rest had disappeared. They must have crawled off to explore, and search for food, or a perfect spot to hide. I hope that they will establish a new home here, go to war on the bad bugs in my garden, and decide to stay. 1. 'To come to realise' means that over time, a person has formed a conclusion or opinion, based on experience. a. After working all summer in the orchard, I came to realise that it is one of the hardest jobs around! b. After being overcharged by mechanics for years, I came to realise that I should learn how to fix my own car. 2. 'My most prized + noun'. It's just like saying 'something that I really value.' a. Out of my stamp collection, this old one from Germany is my prized possession. b. Our new puppy carries a certain bone everywhere; it's his prized possession. 3. 'To be left scratching one's head, wondering' this phrase gives a visual of a person scratching her head. This action is supposed to represent someone wondering, or trying to figure something out. It is figurative most of the time. a. When the train was canceled, we were left scratching our heads, wondering how on earth we would get to the airport on time. b. The cat jumps on the dog's back, and then shoots up the tree, leaving the dog wondering what happened. 4. 'Strengths and weaknesses' are often used in the same sentence. a. The student survey asked about our strengths and weaknesses. b. The book definitely had more strengths than weaknesses. 5. 'Beneficial' is often used when talking about nutrition, insects, and bacteria. a. Fish oil is beneficial for the brain; it improves its function.   b. Bacteria can be good and bad for us. We even have beneficial bacteria in our intestines. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

The U.S Open

Jul 21, 2015 12:28


In June, I went to the U.S golf Open with my husband for two days. It was at a place called Chambers Bay in Seattle in a very interesting location that overlooked the beautiful Puget Sound. Let me explain: the Puget Sound is an area on the coast where there are many islands. The golf course was built on an old sand and gravel(1) quarry. It is unusually dry compared to most U.S golf courses, but it has its own unique charm, and what a fabulous view of the ocean and the islands. We traveled to the golf course from Wenatchee with friends, and then split up(2), and walked around from 'hole' to hole. It was a hot day, and quite humid. There were crowds of golfing fans(3) everywhere, and funnily enough, a lot of them looked the same. Most of them were big men, in shorts, wearing baseball hats. I'm not a golfer, but I could certainly appreciate their excitement. It must have been a thrill for many of them to get close to the professionals. At one point, I came close to Ryo Ishikawa of Japan (well, I think it was him). His ball had gone off the green and was on a steep hillside. There was a huge crowd of people, squashed together trying to get as close as possible to him. Just before he took a swing at the ball, everyone went quiet, out of respect, and the ball went flying gently in a perfect arc, over a road and back onto the green. You could see the people around gasp(4) at his skill; shaking their heads they said things like, "That's why he's a professional and I'm not!"  I was amazed that the golfers could concentrate with so many fans around. They even had to hear trains going by the 16th and 17th greens: when the sand and gravel quarry was converted into the golf course, the very important train was not diverted. It still needs to go on its route along the coastline, carrying freight(5) and people. We sat down for a while and watched the golfers. Every now and then cheers and applause could be heard; it was quite relaxing, just looking out to sea, and hearing the sounds of the competition. We left the next day after buying some memorabilia, and decided on the way home, to definitely come back and visit the beautiful Puget Sound, with or without the golf. 1. 'Sand and gravel' usually both come from the same quarry, gravel being the very useful small, straight-edged rocks that are used for driveways and roads. a. The car was speeding along the road, making the gravel fly in all directions. b. You can always find sand and gravel at construction sites. 2. 'To split up' is used to mean 'to separate' temporarily and also permanently. a. The couple argued all the time, and finally split up. b. The hunters split up: two went up the hill to look for bears, and the other two went into the forest to hunt for deer. 3. 'Golfing fans'. In the podcast I said, "There were crowds of golfing fans every where'. However, I could have said, "golf fans". The reason I didn't is that "golf fans" is less clear because the two words become one orally. Similarly, 'to golf', 'golfing', and 'golf' can all be used correctly in sentences. a. Do you like golf? to golf? golfing? b. He is such a golf fan/ a fan of golf/ a golfing fan. 4. 'To gasp', 'a gasp'. It's a fabulous word. It's the noise someone makes when they suddenly breathe in out of surprize or shock. a. She gasped in horror when she realized that she had left her passport in the taxi. b. I gasped when I opened the door and found a huge bouquet of roses on the kitchen table. 5. 'Freight' is a noun and a verb. It refers to products, like metal, minerals, and even food that need to be transported by train, truck, ship, or plane. It has a similar meaning to 'cargo', 'merchandise', and 'goods', or as a verb, 'the sending of the goods.' a. That is a freight train; today it is carrying sugar. b. I ordered a table online, but the freight was so expensive. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

A Change of Plans.

Jul 18, 2015 11:15


A few weeks ago, I had just answered an email from one of my listeners. "When are you going to write another podcast?" was her question. And it was a good question, as I have been absent for some time. My plan was to write one the next day. In the afternoon, however, as I drove my kids to the swimming pool, I looked to my right, across the river and up to the hills, and saw a huge column of dark smoke. "Oh, no!" I said to myself, and my heart sank(1). "Not again!" This dry, windy climate is prone to fires in the summer, and there are often more than one. I swam briefly in the swimming pool, and then sat on a lawn chair and tried to read, but I was preoccupied with the smoke. As I turned the pages of my Harry Potter, I noticed some flakes of ash(2) on my black swimming suit. "Ok kids, we're going home," I announced. I had a bad feeling; the wind was picking up(3), and that only meant one thing: a big fire.  Within a few hours the view from our house was all smoke. Our dogs wouldn't stay outside because of the huge helicopters that thundered(4) overhead. A firefighter rang our doorbell and announced that we were on evacuation level number two: soon we would have to leave. It was the first time that we had been so close to a disaster. My in-laws' houses were right where the fire was blowing. We knew that they had left their homes, but we had no idea what would happen next. We each packed a bag, and waited. The hours ticked by slowly, and one by one we fell asleep in our chairs.  The next morning, I woke up early to the sound of a thunder storm. I walked outside into a warm, smoky rain. The fire had stopped. Our neighborhood was safe. But as I looked up to where my in-laws' houses were, I could see that many were no longer there. The hill was black, and in some places, only chimneys were left. I couldn't believe that it was over. And as I sipped my coffee, I realized that some people no longer had a coffee machine, or a kitchen, or even a house. It was later that I found out just how big(5) the fire had been. 1. 'My heart sank' is a wonderful expression of a feeling of hopelessness or sadness. The verb 'to sink' implies that the heart is heavy like a stone. a. When I received his letter my heart sank; I knew that the wedding was cancelled. b. The lost hiker's heart sank as the search helicopter flew over him and disappeared. 2. 'Flakes of ash'. The word 'flake' is used in many contexts. It really means a light mass, or a thin piece. As ash is so soft and powdery, 'a flake' is a good way to describe one thin piece of it. a. The paint on the door was coming off in flakes. b. The snow flakes were so light and fluffy. 3. 'The wind was picking up.' In this instance, I could have said, 'the wind was beginning to blow hard'. We use 'picking up' often when talking about the wind. It is short for 'picking up speed', just as a car or a horse will also pick up speed and get faster. a. The train picked up speed as it went downhill. b. The runner picked up speed in the last few meters. 4. 'The helicopters thundered overhead.' 'Overhead' is a convenient way of saying 'over our heads', and it is a bit more interesting than saying 'above'. I used the word 'thundered' here to describe the noise of the helicopters. 'Thunder' is of course a noun, but it is also a verb. a. The children thundered down the stairs like a herd of elephants! b. When we lived in an apartment next to the motorway, the lorries would thunder right by my window. 5. '...just how big the fire had been.' The word just is quite a powerful word. It can mean 'slight' or 'only', but in this sentence, it is emphatic. Together with the word 'how', it emphasizes the adjective. a. We had no idea just how beautiful the statue was going to be.  b. They complained about just how rude the employees were. c. He talked all evening about just how successful he is! Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Addicted to Pinterest.

Feb 27, 2015 08:16


I remember when the internet became available in the 1990's. It was a revolution! It was, as they say, 'the next big thing'(1). Since then, different applications and social media have given us access(2) to huge amounts of information, ideas, and connections with people. One that I discovered recently was Pinterest. My mother had told me about it a year ago, but I didn't pay any attention until a couple of weeks ago. It is a collection of information, projects, photographs, and videos that you can select and collect. Selecting something that you like is called 'pinning' it. You pin what you have found onto what is called a board. It is just like in an office, when you pin a poster onto a notice board(3). You name your board, and you pin more items. My boards are: 'gardening', 'recipes', and 'fun projects'. Every day I add more pins to my boards. Two days ago I used one of the recipes: tender, juicy, barbecued chicken. I followed the instructions, and it turned out wonderfully tender. Later, my husband was shocked when he asked me what I was looking at on my phone, "Oh, I'm on Pinterest," I replied. "I'm looking at how to build a brick wall." "You're looking at 'how to build a brick wall'?" he repeated with a look of horror on his face. He probably imagines that he'll come home, and there'll be a big, brick wall in the middle of the lounge. Well, of course there won't be. It'll be for the garden, and maybe I'll grow some ivy on it. Let me check; there must be some pins about that. 1. 'The next big thing' is a phrase we use when a discovery or invention has taken place. It is one that will have a huge impact on our lives, such as the internet. a. Probiotics are the new big thing in health. b. Space exploration is the new big thing in travel. c. Collaboration is the new big thing in politics. 2. 'Access' is a useful word taken from the verb 'to access'. We use it literally and figuratively. It means to be given a way, a path, an open door. a. If you go through the gate, you will access the company office. b. They accessed all of my personal information that was stored on my computer. c. We accessed the files and found what we needed. 3. 'Board' is usually any rectangular or square piece of wood, cardboard, or similar material. You can put something on it, under it, use it in construction, or in crafts. There are multiple ways to use a board. a. I stuck the new health pamphlet on the notice board. b. He put a long, wooden board from one tree to the other and walked along it. c. Let's use those old boards to fix the play house roof. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

50 words for snow.

Feb 17, 2015 12:29


Chelan is a town here in Washington State that is famous for its huge lake. Its a forty five minute drive from where we live, and about 500 ft higher. To get to Chelan, we travel right along the Columbia river, and then wind up through some steep hills, before dropping down towards the lake. Many of these hills are wild, and still covered in snow. Last weekend I went up with my husband to one of these places, called Bear Mountain. As my husband is a hunter, he wanted to put out some apples and salt blocks for the deer. So, we loaded up(1) our little four wheeler, and headed up a dirt track. I drove while my husband looked around for deer, but for a while, there was no sign of them. What we did see was lots and lots of snow. It was like a Christmas scene from a chocolate box. We found the group of trees where we needed to dump(2) the apples and salt, and headed back. Well, that was the plan. We tried to head back. What we hadn't realized was that we had parked in deep snow. We were stuck. We tried reversing. That didn't work. We tried going to the left, and we tried going to the right. We pushed, and we pulled. By now, my husband was using some interesting words for the snow. So, we sat and thought about our situation. I looked around for a solution. The snow was so soft and deep, and underneath, near the ground, it was compact and icy. The wheels just kept on slipping. What were we going to do? "That's it!" I said, "Let's put twigs under the wheels." There were large, dry bushes all around near the trees. So we snapped lots of twigs(3) and stuffed them under the wheels. It worked! The wheels turned without slipping, and we were able to get out of our deep, white trap. We drove back, slipping here and there, and getting sucked into deep patches of snow, but we managed to get back to our truck. As we left, the sun came out, and the snow shone brightly. I remembered hearing that the Eskimos have 50 words for snow. I'm not sure if that's true, but I certainly heard about ten to fifteen unusual words from my husband about it on our trip. As we came down the mountain, we laughed about getting stuck, and both decided that the only word we needed for the snow, at that point, was 'magnificent'. 1. 'To load up' is a verb that we often use, meaning to put or pack items onto a vehicle. It is a general verb that can be used with many different products: food, furniture, rocks, soil, supplies, or anything really. We also use it figuratively, especially to express filling a plate with food. Often you can miss out the 'up'. a. We loaded up the truck with soil for our back garden project. b. You can load up your plate with food; we have plenty. c. We loaded our car with our neighbor's boxes to help him move to his new house.  2. 'To dump' is a verb that means several things: to throw away, to unload, and to finish a relationship. a. Just dump that old bicycle. Its broken, so get rid of it. b. We drove the truck full of soil to the back garden and dumped the soil. c. She dumped her boyfriend after only one week! 3. 'We snapped lots of twigs'. Here 'to snap' means 'to break'; it is a verb that describes the sound of breaking something thin and wooden. So it is perfect to use with 'twig' which is a small branch.  a. I snapped my fingers and my dog stopped running and sat down. b. I snapped off the extra twigs from the bottom of the tree. c. He fell off the roof and snapped his wrist! Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Comfortable creatures.

Dec 29, 2014 12:28


Parks are a breath of fresh air, especially when they are in cities. I found that when we visited London in the summer, we really needed to escape into the parks at least once a day. Children can only take a certain amount of (1)site seeing, and then they need to run and play, and be around trees and grass. The parks in London are wonderful, my favorite being St. James's which is central, right near Buckingham Palace. It is one of the oldest in the city, and has a lake, and many kinds of birds. These animals are used to being around people; they seemed quite tame. We fed the ducks, geese, and swans with some of the sandwiches from our picnics, and we soon found that we were surrounded by pigeons as well. Deeper into the park, we came across another surprisingly comfortable creature: a squirrel. In fact, there were lots of them all over the place. I spotted a man who was feeding one of them nuts from his hand. "Wow!" we all said, as we watched him. He had the right 'touch'(2) with these animals, and they accepted all of his food. He was kind, and gave us some of his peanuts, showing us how to call the squirrels. And, would you believe it, they came scurrying(3) from the trees over to us and ate out of our hands. It was magical. I had no idea that they were so tame! When I worked in central London, I used to relax in St. James's park on my breaks, so I am quite familiar with it. However, I had never taken the time to be around the animals, so I was surprised how close they got to people. Each day we made a point of(4) visiting the squirrels in St. James's park. We would have an ice cream, play frisbee, and then feed the little creatures. We spent quite a few pounds on peanuts, and not one of them went to waste. They would jump up on the fence, take a peanut from one of us, and then jump down and scamper(3) off. I'd like to think that they appreciated our company, but really they just wanted the nuts. Once our peanuts were all gone, they would disappear in a flash, and look for other friendly people with bags of good things to eat. 1. '...can only take a certain amount of' means that too much of something would be intolerable. In this case, site seeing has to be limited, otherwise it becomes exhausting. a. I can only take a certain amount of country music, and then I've had enough. b. The crowd was beginning to leave; they had been waiting in the cold to see the actors, but they could only take waiting for so long. c. At Christmas time, I can only tolerate a certain amount of shopping. I can take a day or two, but then I've had enough of the crowds. 2. 'To have the right 'touch',' can apply to many situations. a. The animal trainer has the right touch with the animals; he is very gentle and careful, and seems to understand what they want. b. Gosh, you have the right touch with plants. You can make anything grow! 3. 'To scamper/ to scurry,' these are two fabulous verbs that describe how small animals (rodents) run. We use these verbs particularly with mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels. 'To scamper' implies a bounciness to its running, while 'to scurry' implies a scratching and grabbing while the animal runs. a. It was fun to see the rabbits scamper all over the field, jumping around like they had springs on their feet. b. The rat scurried away from the dog, up the metal pipe and onto the roof. 4. 'To make a point of,'  means to deliberately do something; to be intentional. a. My neighbor is an animal lover, and every day she makes a point of feeding a stray cat. b. When we visited Amsterdam, we made a point of visiting a historical site each day. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Bouncing back.

Dec 9, 2014 08:15


It all started just before Thanksgiving. My daughter had a temperature of 103 and a bad cough. I had kept her home from school, and didn't plan on her going back for a while. The next day, as the twenty-two guests arrived for lunch, I noticed that one of the cousins had a similar cough, but I was really too busy to be thinking about illness. Well, Thanksgiving came and went; the plates and cutlery were washed, the tables were put away, and everything was back to normal. But then I noticed that one of the guests hadn't left. He had actually not even been invited. He was a most unwelcome(1) guest, and his name was 'The Flu'. I opened the front door and asked him to leave, but he he just smiled at me. He was comfortable, and obviously planned on staying.  Before I knew it, everyone was ill: coughs, temperatures, weakness, and stomach problems. Most of our relatives who had been with us were also miserably sick. I, at that point, wasn't. Usually, I take care of everyone else, and I'm fine. But it was my turn. I had looked into the face of The Flu too many times. After a few days of doing nothing, and feeling sorry for myself(2), I went to the shops. "Anna, is that you? You look terrible!" said a friend of mine I bumped into. "Oh, thanks," I said, not feeling very thankful, and not wanting to hear any more about how I looked. I made a few phone calls and wasn't recognized, "Anna, you sound awful!" was the comment I received. I'm not surprized. I sounded as if I had gravel in my throat(3). After a few more days, I was much better, and so was everyone else. In fact, I have bounced back. My energy level is up to the roof. I'm studying for my classes, seeing friends, and rushing around preparing for Christmas while listening to a very loud version of Handel's 'Messiah'. Now that the gravel has disappeared from my throat, I can do a podcast. It's good to be back! And if you want any advice from me, be very careful which guests you invite to your house. 1. 'A most unwelcome guest' can also be expressed as 'a very unwelcome guest'. The word 'most' sounds more formal, and is good in stories. This use of 'a+most' can be used with all sorts of adjectives. a. She was a most gracious relative, always giving and patient. b. They were a most unbearable gang of young men, always causing conflicts and violence. 2. 'To feel sorry for oneself' is like feeling sad about your situation. You feel pity for yourself. a. The dog is feeling sorry for himself because he's lost his bone. b. We all feel sorry for ourselves sometimes, but it is healthier to try and be thankful. 3. 'Gravel' is a noun that is used in the expression of having a bad voice because of illness. We often use the term, 'a gravely voice,' which describes a rough voice that is not clear, as if something is stuck in the throat. Some people might have this without being ill. a. The old fisherman had rough, wrinkly skin, and a gravely voice. b. My throat was feeling better; it wasn't sore any more, but my voice was gravely. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

An Indian Cooking Class.

Nov 11, 2014 07:40


I love to learn, especially when what I'm learning is practical and meaningful. And, also, being from England, I love Indian food. Most people who are not from England think of English food as boring, or that we only eat fish and chips, or roast beef. Tut-tut. Oh, those stereotypes can be so wrong. For a very long time, our national dish in England has been curry, which, yes, is absolutely Indian. In fact, there are more than 10,000 Indian restaurants in England. We're crazy about the spicy, rich food. And if you know your history(1), you will know that the English-Indian connection comes from the days when India was a British colony. Well, a few weeks ago, when I was having dinner in the only Indian restaurant in Wenatchee, I saw a poster there advertising Indian cooking classes. I quickly signed up. So, yesterday, I and about fifteen other people turned up at the house of the restaurant owners. We were each given a booklet(2) of recipes. Deedee, the master chef, did all of the cooking while we stood around and took notes. Her house filled with the smells of garlic, ginger, coriander, and masala. One by one(3), we had samples of each dish. The four hour class went by fast, and I drove home imagining myself producing these dishes for my family. The first thing that I'm going to make for them will be chicken curry, with cream and coconut milk. I can already smell it! 1. 'If you know your history'. This is an interesting phrase because of the word 'your'. The phrase doesn't  mean 'your own' history at all. What it means is 'the history that you should have learned', or 'the history that you should remember.' a. If you know your history, you'll remember that the West of the United States was settled only about 150 years ago. 2. 'A booklet' is a small, paper book that is usually only a few pages long. The suffix 'let' indicates that it is small. a. My new vacuum cleaner came with a booklet of instructions. b. The local council produced a booklet about the statues in the local parks. 3. 'One by one' is like saying 'one at a time', but its use is more 'storybookish'. 'One at a time' is also used as a command, when you're telling people to take turns. a. One by one the children stepped into the dark, abandoned building. b. We let the balloons go, and one by one they floated up into the sky, their colors shining brightly against the blue.   Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

How does he do that?

Nov 8, 2014 06:28


I'm sure that many of you who are listening to this podcast have been to Trafalgar Square. It is one of the most famous places in downtown London. In fact, if you visit London, you will find that all the major landmarks(1) are concentrated in the central area of the city. When I went there this summer with my children, we caught the bus every day to Trafalgar Square. The bus terminated(2) there which was perfect for us. So, the first day that we were there, we got off the bus and proceded to sightsee. My children were quite impressed when they looked around: the statues, the fountains, the great circle of architecture around the square, and of course, the lions. Everybody climbs on the lions to have their photo taken; it's a tradition. Another great thing about the square is the street entertainment. There is always someone doing something, either dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, or doing something extraordinary(3). On this particular day, we found a man dressed in a silver suit, being extraordinary. He was sitting up in the air on what looked like nothing. He was suspended above the ground with nothing but a walking stick touching the floor. Was he magic? Or was his floating just a clever trick? My youngest children were fascinated. With smiles on their faces, they gave him some money and said, "How do you do that?" Of course the mysterious silver man couldn't talk; that would have destroyed the mystery. He simply lifted his hat as if to say "Hello, and thank you" and continued looking shiny and magical. I wonder how long he sat like that. And I also wonder if anyone saw him get down from his invisible chair. 1. 'Landmark' is a building or structure that is historically or culturally important. a. Stone Henge is one of the oldest and most famous landmarks in England. b. Look! There's some kind of landmark. Let's head in that direction. 2. 'Terminated/ to terminate' simply means 'to finish' but it sounds more official or not so every-day. a. My contract was terminated suddenly. b. This train terminates in New York at 7pm. 3. 'Extraordinary' is a wonderful word for 'out of the ordinary', 'amazing' or 'odd'. Notice that we don't pronounce the 'a'. a. His photographic memory is extraordinary. b. What an extraordinary creature! It is so strange that it's actually a bit scary. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Catching Fish in Scotland.

Oct 25, 2014 06:07


This summer we went to visit my father in Scotland. He lives about 3 hours from Glasgow, but had arranged for us to meet him in the Highlands, a little place called Acharacle, near Fort William. We drove up from Yorkshire where I had visited my sister, spent the night in Glasgow, and continued our journey the following day. Acharacle is a very remote, beautiful area. It's a tiny village, with houses hidden all around it in the trees. It is very close to the sea, so that is where we spent most of our time. Several beaches there are unspoilt(1), and all of them are so clean. I took Robert and Domini with me to one of the smaller beaches to play in the white sand. As soon as we got there, they ran over to a rock pool and discovered a school(2) of trapped fish. It was as if they had discovered treasure. They could scoop up(3) handfuls of them with delight. I even did. They stayed in this rock pool for what seemed like ages, until their sleeves were wet and they started to get cold. Then we walked along the beach, collecting shells which we now have at home. Catching fish in Scotland is fun, especially when you can do it with your hands. 1. 'Unspoilt' when we talk about a beach or other geographic area means untouched by humans. The ending of 't' is the English spelling. In the U.S, they spell it with an -ed, 'unspoiled'. a. I'm glad to say that area is unspoilt by tourism. b. The forest used to be unspoilt, but now there are shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions here. 2. 'School' is the noun we use to describe a group of fish. a. We saw an enormous school of silver herring from the boat. b. We say 'a pack of dogs', but 'a school of fish'. 3. 'To scoop (up)' means to collect in a container of some sort. It can even be done by the hands. The word 'up' shows that you are collecting something from ground level and bringing it up level with yourself. 'A scoop' is usually a rounded quantity of the item you have just 'scooped'. a. Shall I scoop the icecream? Would you like vanilla or chocolate? b. The lady scooped up water from the river in her bucket. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Back to school.

Oct 21, 2014 07:44


I appologize for not releasing a podcast last week. There was good reason for my absence. I have started a university course which teaches and qualifies me to instruct English language learners. I have been buried in books(1) for a week! I started the course late, actually, as there was some sort of mix up(2) in my application. Well, that was all sorted out, and I was accepted as a student. Thankfully, all of the classes are online, which makes it very convenient for me. I have to keep track of(3) the reading requirements and the homework. The professor from Central Washington University is very friendly and knowledgeable. We have even had a live, online session where we have met everyone in the course, and have given presentations. I love it! I thought at first, that the lessons might be a little dry and boring. But, I'm happy to say that they are not at all. We are learning at the moment about educational theories and the psychologists that created them, and also what works best in a classroom. It's very stimulating. So, now that I am back on track(4), I will bring you more podcasts, and some of them will include the things I'm studying. 1. 'To be buried in books' means to have lots of reading to do. Students are usually 'buried in books'. Of course it is figurative, not literal. I think it is a great idiomatic phrase, and really gives a good visual of someone being covered in books. a. My poor son is buried in books at the moment, as he has a science exam tomorrow. b. I am swamped! I'm buried in books, and I need a break! 2. 'A mix up' really means a confusion and a problem. It can be used in any context. a. There was a mix up at the airport, and I ended up with someone else's luggage. b. There was a mix up at the restaurant, and I received the bill for the party of 30 people! 3. 'I have to keep track of the reading requirements'. To keep track means to pay attention, to stay on the correct path, to remember.   a. It's your responsibility to keep track of what you spend. b. Let's keep track of her illness to see if she improves or not. 4. 'To be back on track' is related to 'to keep track of'. We use this phrase when we have returned to a desired routine. a. I'm back on track with my running; I jog with my friend three times a week. b. Now that I am over the flu, I'm getting back on track with the household chores. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

Photos of Washington State, 1.

Oct 9, 2014 03:42


The photo for today's podcast, comes from a calendar of Washington State that I bought yesterday. The photographer is Rick Schafer, well known and loved for his landscape photography of the Pacific Northwest. Though he lives in Oregon, much of his work is about Washington State. And he has his photos in well-known magazines, such as: Conde Nast Golf, Alaska Airlines, and National Park publications. One of my listeners had asked me a long time ago to show scenes of Washington State, as this is where I live. However, my photos are scattered throughout the house, and limited. So, when I found this calendar, I immediately knew that I needed to borrow these beautiful scenes (and of course, I give Rick Schafer all the credit). This is the first of 12 scenes in the calendar, and it's actually taken from the month of July. The photo is of the Columbia River Gorge, which is close to where I live. The two flowers you can see are typically found in these dry, semi-desert areas in spring and summer. They are wild, purple lupines, and small, yellow sunflowers. They contrast perfectly with eachother, and make a real show on the hills. The gorge area stretches over 290,000 acres, from southern Washington to northern Oregon. It's quite unique, and has its own Native American history, including tribes such as the Nez Perce which you may have heard about. There are 218 miles of trails that you can walk on to explore the area, 800 kinds of flowers, many different animals, and even 1000 historic buildings and archaelogical sites. I live in this area, and I haven't even seen a tiny percentage of all that is here. There's more to see and learn about if you wish to follow the link:Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

St. Joe's Harvest Fundraiser.

Oct 1, 2014 07:07


Each year for the past ten years, I have seen advertisements for St. Joe's harvest fundraiser(1) on the backs of cars. I have often found myself either driving or sitting at a red light behind one of these cars. Finally this Sunday, I actually went to the fundraiser. It took place on the playing field(2) that belongs to St. Joseph's Catholic school which is situated inside the church building of the same name. The fundraiser is for the school, to raise money for all its different needs. The organizers do a good job of advertising, and getting the word out(3) into the community. It was a glorious day, typical Autumn, sunny but slightly cool. There was already music playing when I arrived, even though it was only mid-morning. A little hispanic boy was singing 'Cielito lindo', and a crowd was gathering to watch him. I walked past the row of Mexican food stalls and stopped at one which was selling cups of sliced fruit. As I ate the mango, melon, and jicama slices, I walked around and looked at the rest of the fundraiser. There were giant bouncy areas for children, ceramic and craft stalls, jewelry, clothing, and a second-hand area that had a bit of everything. I rummaged (4)around in the household items, looking for something useful. "I'll make you a good deal, Ma'am," said the owner. "Make me an offer; I'm not fussy," he added. I didn't find anything really exciting. However, I did end up buying a red box with sequins on it for my daughter, just one dollar. "I can't go home without buying something," I thought to myself. The fundraiser was a great little event. Hopefully the school will receive the money it needs to keep its standards high. 1. 'Fundraiser'. This word is a combination of 2 nouns, and means an event at which money is raised for a cause. Fundraisers often take place for charities and medical research. a. We made over $1000 at the fundraiser last night. That money will be well spent. b. You can make more money from a fundraiser by involving celebrities. c. Cancer research always needs more money, that's why there are so many fundraisers for that cause. 2. 'The playing field' is the area of grass that is used by a school for its outdoor activities and sports. a. The annual Sports Day for the elementary school was held on the playing field yesterday. b. That school is lucky to have such a large playing field. 3. 'To get the word out' means to 'spread the news', 'to advertise', or 'to inform the public.' a. If you want to get a lot of business for your shop, you should get the word out. b. The Performing Arts Center will have a ballet performance in December, so they are getting the word out now. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app.

The Scottish Referendum.

Sep 26, 2014 08:26


You must have all heard about the recent Scottish referendum. Of course, I have to write a podcast about it; it is too important not to(1). So what was it all about? Scotland, England, and Wales have been united for over 300 years politically and economically. Some people in Scotland want total independence, and to no longer be part of that union. So they voted on it. The vote was 'close', meaning that the 'No' votes were only 10% greater than the 'Yes' votes. Now that the dust has settled(2) after the vote, the U.K government is considering making changes to its system, so each part of the union feels totally satisfied in how it is represented in parliament.  Scotland is definitely different from England. Its' terrain is more mountainous. It has hundreds of islands. It's education system is said to be(3) much better than England's. The Scots have their own history, culture, and native language. And of course, they have their own successful industries, particularly the North Sea oil. However, the tax base for the Union comes mainly from England, as there are so many people there generating the taxes. Also, the military is paid mainly by English taxes. Splitting up would not be a simple matter. I, personally, would not want the Union to divide, as I think it has worked well for so long. My father who is English actually lives in Scotland. He loves it there, and didn't expect the Scots to vote for independence. However, we all want to govern ourselves, and why not? Perhaps it would work. So far, though, there isn't enough support in Scotland for independence. I'm proud to say that the democratic process was carried out peacefully, and fairly, with both sides accepting the result. And that's how it should be: ultimately the people's decision. 1. '..; is too important not to.' The end of the sentence is a shortcut. Instead of writing,' ...; it is too important to not write about the referendum,' I can simply put 'not to' after important. As long as the first part of the sentence is complete, and has a verb, you can use this shortcut. a. We need to turn the air conditioner on; it is too hot not to. b. He should apply for that job; he is too qualified not to. c. They will travel there by plane; it's too far not to. 2. 'Now that the dust has settled/ when the dust settles' is a great phrase that points to the clarity that comes after an incident or event is over. When a bomb explodes, for a while, there is dust in the air, and you cannot see clearly. 'When the dust settles' you can see clearly, therefore you can make correct decisions or opinions. a. When the fight is over, and the dust settles, we will see who was guilty and who was innocent. b. The riot was caught on film. When the dust settles, we will see who caused it. c. Now that the dust has settled after the divorce, and the anger and emotion are over, perhaps the man and woman will behave better. 3. ' said to be' is similar to ' known as'. a. She is said to be stronger than any man. b. The orangutan is said to be one of the most intelligent animals in the world. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

Basic Pronunciation Practice #35 + Interactive English.

Sep 23, 2014 17:51


Barbara: Hi Peter, sorry to bother you, but do you know where Liz is? Peter: Yes, she's actually in hospital. Barbara: Hospital? Oh, no! Is she alright? Peter: Yes, it's nothing serious. She had gone to her mother's surprise party, and when her mother walked in, Liz jumped forward and slipped on a slippery rug. She fell forward into a table, and broke her nose. Barbara: Ouch! Oh, the poor thing! And at her mother's party too! Peter: I know. I feel bad for her. She needed a small operation, but she should be home tomorrow, I think. Barbara: I must go and take her some flowers. Thanks Peter, I'll see you later! Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

Soccer rivals and friends.

Sep 19, 2014 07:11


One of the things that I love about London is how multicultural it is. Every nation on the planet has some representation in London. So, living in a place that is so cosmopolitan, makes a person the same. You become totally at ease around people of all different ethnic groups. That's one of the things that I wanted to expose(1) my children to. As we live in a very rural and fairly isolated community, they don't get exposed to the rest of the world very much. So their trip to London was an 'eye-opener'(2) for them. As we travelled around on the number 9 bus, past shops, parks, monuments, and restaurants, we saw all sorts of things that we wouldn't normally see. Near Holland road, there was an Iranian restaurant with an Iranian shop next door. We first noticed the shop because it had a huge and luscious(3) looking fruit stand on display. "Wow, look at that fruit!" one of my boys said. The bus had stopped just opposite the shop, so I had time to get my camera out. But, what really caught my eye was the banner above the restaurant. It was wishing the best of luck to both the Iranian soccer team, and the English team during the World Cup. It said, "From Iranian UK." Seeing it made me happy. It was an expression of good will by people who themselves are in a foreign land.  1. 'To expose' either means to uncover, or to bring something into contact with something else. a. Our visitor from Mexico had never been exposed to a snowy winter before. b. Keep your cut clean and covered; you don't want to expose it to germs. c. Their trip to Japan was their first trip abroad. They had never been exposed to another culture before. 2. An 'eye-opener' is something that teaches you something new. It is implied that you are surprised or fascinated by the new information. a. The first week of college was a real eye-opener for him. b. I had heard the rumors about the case. However, it was a real eye-opener to sit down and read the facts. 3. 'Luscious' is a fabulous word that means 'juicy' and 'delicious'. a. They call that actress 'Luscious lips' because she has full lips that are always painted red. b. These mangoes are luscious; they are perfectly ripe! Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

Airplane entertainment.

Sep 16, 2014 08:12


Have you ever been on a long plane journey? It's quite an experience. Just getting on the plane takes a while. You have to arrive at the airport two hours before the flight. You have to check your luggage in, make your way through security, and have your passport checked and re-checked. Then you sit in the waiting room, and, well...wait. After lining up(1) with the other two hundred passengers, having your passport and boarding card checked again, and walking through the tunnel to the plane, you really need to sit down! Hopefully you can find a place in the overhead container for your carry-on(2) luggage. But be careful moving other people's bags around to make space for yours; you might get some suspicious looks or angry faces. Finally, you are sitting down and ready for the flight. You look to see who is sitting next to you. Hopefully it's someone nice, afterall(3), you have to sit next to him or her for the next 9 hours! You'd better introduce yourself and be pleasant; it helps. But then, what do you do for the next 9 hours? On the long, transcontinental flights, there is usually a television screen right in front of you, with a variety of films, programs, or music to choose from. It's called the 'inflight entertainment'. All the passengers are glued to the screens for most of the journey. As I don't like to sit down for very long, I get up and walk around, and stretch. It always fascinates me how so many people can sit down for so long. Their bottoms must really suffer! Mind you, if the in-flight entertainment is good, people forget about their bottoms, and their need to move, and they simply watch and watch. What else is there to do on a plane? I am always thankful for the screens when I fly with my children, because, for their generation, watching a screen is as normal as breathing. If there were no screens, they would feel as if a part of their bodies was missing. So thankyou to the airlines for our entertainment, and appologies to our bottoms. 1. 'To line up' means to form a line in order to wait for something. In England, we still use the verb 'to queue'. a. We had to line up to get the tickets, and then line up to get it! b. Some people are so impatient and find it difficult to line up. 2. 'Overhead container and carry-on luggage' are two nouns used all the time when you fly. The cupboard above your seat on the plane is called your 'overhead container' because it is over your head. 'Carry-on luggage' refers to the small bag that you are allowed to take into the cabin, or room where everyone sits. a. The overhead container was full, so I had to squeeze my bag under the seat. b. My carry-on luggage was too big, so I had to check it in. 3. 'Afterall' is a great word that is similar in meaning to: 'if you think about it', 'if you understand all the options'. a. I can give you a lift to the university, afterall, we both need to be there at the same time, and I have a car. b. I recommend you include fruits and vegetables in your cooking, afterall, it's for the health of your family. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

Holland Road.

Sep 12, 2014 07:28


When we stayed in London this summer, our apartment was on Holland Road. It was inside a row of typical London town houses: white with black window frames, and black iron fences. I love that simple, elegant style. However, this row of houses needed some TLC(1). New paint would have been good, a  bit of renovation as well. But, for our purposes, the apartment was fine. I asked the owner for his recommendation on getting to the center of town. He advised against using(2) the underground (the Tube), as in the summer it is packed with tourists. So, I got on-line, and found that the number 9 bus went from just around the corner, right to the center, to Trafalgar Square. It was comfortable, convenient, and cheap. We spent most of our time exploring London. Back at the apartment, we would have dinner and then go for a walk. Our street was very noisy, but just one street away everything became quiet, and the neighborhoods were much nicer. We stumbled upon a huge park, called Holland Park which had everything in it: large open areas, lots of trees and flowers, a play area for children, and even an opera house. It was a wonderful, green relief from a busy day in the city, a quiet place away from our noisy apartment. 1. TLC is short for 'tender-loving-care'. It can be applied to anything. We tend to use it when talking about inanimate objects, like houses. It means that the mentioned object needs to be cleaned up, repaired, or decorated. a. The old house needs some TLC, so we'll start by replacing the roof. b. That truck is in a terrible state. It needs some TLC. 2. 'To advise' can be used negatively or positively. When you advise someone to take action there are 2 ways of expressing it: a. I advise you to talk to your teacher. b. I advise talking to your teacher. However, when you are advising someone to 'not' do something, the structure of the sentence is different: a. I advise against you going to your teacher. b. I advise against going to your teacher. * We don't say 'I advise you against going to your teacher.' It sounds bad; the against should come before 'you'. If you don't want to use the word 'against', you can say: c. I advise you not to go to your teacher d. I advise you to not go to your teacher.   Any of these is correct. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

Number 5 of A London View + Extras

Sep 6, 2014 06:25


Point number 5 from yesterday's podcast was missing! Sorry! So here it is, plus a couple of extra pieces of English that are worth learning. 5. In the podcast, I wrote that my children 'had had enough of being with their mother 24 hours a day.' It sounds strange to say , 'had, had', but don't let it intimidate you. Remember, the verb I am using is 'to have enough of something' which means that you have been over exposed to something, or are tired of a situation or person. So, in order to use the pluperfect tense I have to use 'my children had had enough...'. Here are some examples using different tenses. *Note, this verb is usually used in the past. a. I left because I had had enough of his arguing. b. She yawned because she had had enough of the boring lecture. c. I have had enough of the bad weather; I need to go somewhere sunny! *Note, this is present perfect, not pluperfect.   I also would like to share one English idiom, and one new English phrase, both of which I found on the website, Learn English Today (highly recommended). Idiom. To be 'all ears' means to be very interested in what someone is about to tell you. a. I can't believe that she's going to climb Mt. Everest. Tell me all about it; I'm all ears. b. Are the rumors true? Tell me all the details; I'm all ears. New Phrase A 'Black Swan' is an unexpected event of great magnitude. It can be a sudden natural disaster, or a political event that was not expected. Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

A London View.

Sep 5, 2014 08:51


This summer I disappeared for a while; you might have noticed(1). I left Wenatchee, with my children, on 22nd of July, and didn't return until 23rd of August(2). We escaped for a whole month! It was a trip that I had planned for a year, and what a trip it was!(3) We went to five places: London, Spain, Yorkshire, Scotland, and Iceland. I feel very privileged to have  traveled so much, and to have done it with my kids. It was very memorable, and inspiring. Before we left, I had been feeling like a deflated balloon, but now that I'm back, I am totally inflated again, full of adventures and things to write about. Probably the place that I found most exciting was Iceland, because I had never been there before. I will certainly write some podcasts about that mysterious country. It made a big impression on me, and I definitely would like to go back. By the last week, my children were moaning(4) to come home and play with their friends. They had had enough(5) of traveling and of being with their mother 24 hours a day! However, I think, for the most part, they had a really good attitude. As we look back at the photos of our trip, they have plenty to say. This photo of London is one of the best that we took. I was so happy to visit all the places that are familiar to me, to walk along the Thames as the sun was going down and the historical buildings were being illuminated. It was the first place we visited, and so I will have several podcasts about that great city for you to listen to soon. 1. 'You might have noticed' is like saying, 'Maybe you noticed.' The meaning is the same. Here are some more examples: a. Your brother just left; you might have seem him leave. b. The neighbors were having a party last night; you might have heard the noise. c. The new teacher arrived today; you might have met him. 2. In this sentence I use the negative. I could have told you about my dates of departure and return positively though: I left on 22nd of July and returned on 23rd of August. So, why did I use the negative? I did it to add to the sense that I was gone for a long time: I didn't return until ..... adds to the idea that I was gone for quite a while. You can use this with the time, as well as with dates. a. He didn't come home until 11:30pm. (The negative implies that he was late). b. She didn't renew her driver's license until 10 years after its expiration date! 3. 'What a trip it was!' is an exclamation that needs no adjective, though you can have one in front of the noun if you like. a. What an exciting trip it was! What a trip it was! b. What a crazy party it was! What a party it was! c. What a rude man he is! What a man he is! 4. 'My children were moaning to come home and play with their friends.' To moan is literally to make a complaining noise. We also use the verb to show that a person wants something. a. He's moaning because he's hungry. b. They've been moaning all day to go to their friend's house.  Download my free ebook, 'The Golden Whisper' Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app. 赞

The Purist.

Jun 29, 2014 07:32


The most delicious smell filled the house yesterday. My son, Cass had made bread. He has made it successfully many times, and I have had to go to the supermarket on many occasions just to get more flour. Of course, when he first started making bread, there were a few disasters. It took a while(1) to teach him to clean up after cooking, and to use the right ingredients and the right method of cooking and baking. However, with practice he has become an expert, and we all look forward to sampling(2) his baked goods. There was something extra special about yesterday's bread though. Cass had actually(3) grown the wheat, harvested it, and made it into flour for the bread. He's a purist, and like me, an avid gardener. He planted the wheat in the autumn, and waited patiently for it to grow. So far this summer, he has been checking it every day. When he saw that it was ready to harvest, he cut it all down, threshed it, and put the grain in a large bag. We have a grinding machine which he used to crush the grain into flour. So he went through the process from the very beginning to the end. He even cleaned the kitchen! It was a labor of love.  1. 'A while', 'it took a while'. These phrases are commonly used in the same way as 'some time'. It's very non-specific, and good usage. a. It'll take you a while to get used to those high heels. b. It took me a while to learn French, several years actually. c. He has been going to the gym for a while, ten years I think! 2. 'To sample' is to have a little bit of a larger item, often food. However, it can also be non-edible items like perfume, detergent, creams. The verb and noun are also used in science, when tiny pieces of substances are taken to be examined. a. I sampled some unusual cheeses in the deli. b. The sunscreen company sent me a sample in the mail. c. The biologists took samples of the pond water and later examined them in the laboratory. 3. The use of 'actually'. It's a fabulous and common word. Here it's used as emphasis. We do this by putting it in front of the verb. a. I couldn't believe that the two-year-old actually read the novel! b. Everyone thought they would lose, but they actually won the race. c. His friends were supposed to help him, but he actually did all the work himself. 'The Golden Whisper' is available here. Click here to buy or rate my Apple app Click the link for the Android app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Basic Pronunciation Practice #34 + Interactive English.

Jun 24, 2014 16:45


Peter: Hi Liz, are you just about ready? Liz: Yep. Thanks again for giving me a ride. I appreciate all your help. Peter: Oh, don't mention it. Anything for my friends! Liz: You're so sweet. Peter: So, your dad will pick you up at the train station? Liz: Yes. She'll be in her aerobics class, so she won't know that I'm arriving. We'll pick up three more people, plus the birthday cake, and get back to the house before she comes home. Everyone else will be waiting there. Peter: Oh, I love surprise parties. Liz: Me too! Click here to buy or rate my Apple app Click the link for the Android app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Excuses, excuses.

Jun 20, 2014 07:41


I laughed when I saw the cartoon scene from this podcast, of a boy talking to his teacher, and giving a very weak excuse as to(1) why he hadn't done his homework. I remember telling a similar tale(2) to the principal of my elementary school. However, all those years ago, we didn't have computers, and we certainly had never heard of technology viruses. I told him that my mother had burned my homework. "She burned it?" he exclaimed, looking at me with judging eyes. Of course, he knew that I was lying, and I knew that he knew. Why did I even try to lie to my principal? I suppose I was scared of his anger; I didn't expect him to be ok with me not doing(3) the homework. Plus it's always easy to blame your mother when she's not around. I come across similar situations with my children, "Robert, why didn't you clean up your mess?" An answer to that is often, "Domini didn't clean up hers either." In English we call it 'pointing the finger'. We mention someone else's fault to make ourselves look better, and feel less guilty. Nowadays, of course, we are not limited to blaming our mothers, brothers and sisters, or our family pets  (children are known to say that the dog ate the homework). We can now add computers, printers, and viruses to the list. 1. The use of 'as to' in the first sentence. It's a little bit old fashioned, but still sounds good in sentences that we are trying to stretch out, or lengthen. It means the same as 'regarding' or 'concerning'. It also sounds less formal than 'regarding' or 'concerning' and that is often why it is used. a. I'd like to hear an explanation from you as to why you fired Jim and then hired Bob. b. I understand the project, but I don't have a clue as to how it will be financed. 2. 'Tale' means a story. It is often used as a kind way of saying 'a lie'. a. I don't believe what she was saying; I think she was telling a little tale. b. The fishermen always tell tales about the giant fish that escaped from the net. 3. 'To be ok with something' means that a person is comfortable or agrees with a situation. a. Are you ok with me coming to your house at 10pm? b. I'm not ok with this situation; it makes me feel uncomfortable. c. I can't believe that you're ok with your noisy neighbors. Remember, my ebook is free until the end of the month, click here to download it. Click here to buy or rate my Apple app Tweet 赞    

Junk art.

Jun 13, 2014 07:03


While substitute teaching in a local school for an art teacher, I came across junk art. I had heard of it(1), but I had never really looked into it. Actually, elementary school art often involves items that are for recycling, like boxes, bottles, or packages. However, there is a difference  between using recycled objects for art projects, and junk art. In junk art, the object used is not disguised by colors, shapes, or textures. Pablo Picasso was the first well-known artist to include junk in one of his pictures, in fact, he stuck a piece of a chair onto a painting. Later, junk art was practiced and perfected by(2) Marcel Duchamp. As I looked around the art room where I was teaching, a red glow caught my eye. The color was coming from(3) a string of fairy lights that had been placed inside empty, red cartridges that had been used in a shot gun. Usually, these are just thrown away. However, someone must have had the idea of saving them for a creative reason. I think that the idea of using shot gun cartridges as a string of lights is delightful. Its use in art is so different from its original intention; it's a great contrast. 1. 'I had heard of it' and its variations can be used in conversation to increase the impression of your fluency. a. I had heard of him, but I had never met him. b. I had heard of the book, but I had never read it. c. We had heard of them, but we had never met them. 2. To have something 'perfected by' a person. a. My grandmother created the recipe, and my mother perfected it. b. He came up with the idea, but you perfected it. 3. '....was coming from...' is used in this podcast to add a bit of description to the text, and is good to use in conversation. a. The noise was coming from next door; I don't know what was going on. b. There's a strange smell in the garage; it's coming from one of the storage boxes. c. What beautiful music! Where is it coming from?  Free download of 'The Golden Whisper'. Please comment at iOS app click here. Click the link for the Android app Tweet 赞    

A snake in my hand.

Jun 7, 2014 07:15


Our recent camping trip turned out to be more interesting than I had expected. My family and I drove up to a remote forest area near Lake Chelan. There were no houses nearby, and only a few signs of human life(1). We set up our campsite next to a dirt path, overlooking a spectacular view of some distant mountains. It is very dry this time of year, but there are enough trees to offer some welcome shade(2). We rode our dirt bikes, built a campfire, the boys did some target practice with their BB guns, and we generally relaxed and explored. Some friends also joined us, one of whom is a hunter, and a bit of an animal expert. When he arrived, before he even said, "Hello," he presented us with a snake that he had just found on the property. "It's a kind of Boa," he explained. We all leaned forward to have a better look. It was small and green, and seemed to be a very gentle creature. It doesn't eat, bite, or sting humans, so I was quite happy to hold it. My daughter, who is an animal lover, borrowed it for quite a few hours. It curled around her hands, wrists, shoulders, and even her neck. I think it appreciated her warmth(3). The snake is now in a very nice terrarium back at the house where it is being thoroughly spoiled, and is growing longer and fatter.   1. 'Only a few signs of human life,' shows how remote the place was where we were camping. ' A sign of/ a few signs of' is an effective way of expressing the lack of impact of humans. It can also be used with many other subjects. It is similar to using the expression 'traces of'. a. As we walked through the forest, we could only see a few signs of the fire that had happened five years ago.  b. There were signs of animal activity in our garden: bear tracks and claw marks on the trees! 2. 'Welcome' is used as an adjective in the context of something being  appreciated, a help, or a relief. a. At the end of my marathon, I was offered some cold water. It was truly a welcome drink. b. The old men meet at the coffee shop where they have a welcome conversation. 3. The verb 'to appreciate' can be added into conversation easily and effectively to show fluency. a. Thanks for helping me with the paperwork; I really appreciate it! b. I appreciate how you listen so well.  'The Golden Whisper' at, please review! Click here to buy or rate my Apple app Click the link for the Android app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

My First Book.

May 30, 2014 06:09


For the past five weeks, I've been working on a very exciting project. It is something that I've wanted to do for years and years, but have not got around to doing it.(1) I have written my first ebook. It's called 'The Golden Whisper', and is free for one month at The book is for older children or young adults, and is a silly, funny story about a substitute teacher who gets involved in an adventure when she goes to work at a certain school. The story actually came to me(2) when I was substitute teaching in a local elementary school here in Wenatchee. The language level is perfect for English language learners, as it is not too complicated. The process of writing the book, formatting it for online reading, and finding an artist for the front cover, was long and exhausting. However, I'm so happy that it's finished and available to anyone. My family was surprised when I told them about it. My husband said, "That explains why you haven't been doing much housework recently." Yes, the laundry has certainly been piling up.(3) Well, the laundry can wait. This was more important. I hope that if you find the time to download it and read it (it's quite short) that you can do me the favor of leaving a comment on I love hearing from my listeners, but it would also be great to hear from you as my reading audience.  1. 'To get around to doing something' means to eventually find the motivation or opportunity to do something. a. I'll get around to paying the bills this afternoon. b. I did get around to washing the car when everyone left. 2. 'The story came to me' we use the verb 'to come' + 'to' + a person, referring to an idea or inspiration of some kind being received, as if it had approached that person. a. The idea of building a holiday cottage came to me when I was on the beach. b. The story came to me while I was on the train. 3. 'To pile up' is to place layer after layer of items in one area. We often talk about unpleasant things piling up. a. The bills are piling up; it's so depressing. b. The dirty dishes have piled up; someone needs to do the washing up!   Click here to download The Golden Whisper for free! Click the link for the Android app Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet 赞    

An App For Android.

May 22, 2014 07:04


Do you find waiting frustrating at times? I do, especially when I'm waiting for someone else to complete their work, so that a project can be finished. Waiting for emails, paperwork, for someone to make his or her(1) mind up, or waiting for a telephone call, can all be exasperating(2). When I think about it, I realize that I always have a project going on. It's either one thing or another. I love projects; I love having an idea, doing some work, and seeing that idea become a reality. In my garden, it's simple. It's all up to me. I get the idea, I plan, I work, and I finish. However, when other people are involved, it's not that simple. Immigration papers are a perfect example. When I was trying to get my mother's immigration papers for the U.S approved, it was as painful as pulling teeth out. We had to wait. We had to make phone calls. We had to fill out more papers. And we had to wait again, for months and months. I can't complain, because, in the end she got her green card. The project was worth the wait(3). Well, I've just been informed of another project that was worth the wait: my Android app is finally ready. I have been emailing my host company, asking for the release date. They have been patient with me, but it has been really hard to wait, especially considering that many of my listeners have Android devices. Well, it's out; it's here, and I'm relieved. There's no more waiting; just click and enjoy. 1. 'Someone ...his or her'. The objects that follow 'someone' can vary in English. Even though 'someone' is like saying 'a person' and is therefore singular, we do cheat and sometimes use the possessive object 'their' afterwards, especially in speech. In the second sentence of the podcast I say: '...especially when I'm waiting for someone to complete their work..' Later I say, 'waiting for someone to make up his or her mind' which shows the word 'someone' as singular. Of course, the second example is the correct one, but using 'their' after someone is very common and accepted. a. Someone needs to move their car; it's blocking the exit. b. Someone left their muddy shoes on the carpet! 2. 'Exasperating' is one of my favorite words. It means that something is annoying, frustrating, and exhausting. It even sounds like its meaning. a. Waiting in line in Disney Land in the middle of summer can be exasperating. b. The argument that I had with my neighbor was exasperating; we didn't agree at all, and she didn't make any sense. 3. 'Worth the wait'  is the same as saying 'worth waiting for'. a. The app for Android was worth the wait. b. My mother's cooking is great, even if it takes a long time for a meal to be ready; it's worth the wait. Click the link for the Android app Click the link for the Apple app Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

The Brilliant Bee.

May 17, 2014 07:52


If you can see the photo of the bee that I recently took in my garden, you will see that it is right in the middle of a big flower. It is sitting on its target(1), working to get the pollen and the nectar. Bees are determined(2) little creatures that always make me feel lazy when I compare myself to them. I assumed that there were a few different kinds of bees, but I had no idea that there are 20,000 different kinds. Some live in communities, and some live alone. Some produce honey by gathering nectar and pollen, and others spend their time stealing those two things, instead of getting their own. We get honey and beeswax from them, but, more importantly, they are the pollinators of the world. They actually have an electrostatic charge(3), which makes pollen stick to their furry bodies, so, as they go from flower to flower, they pollinate without even realising. As well as a furry body, they have a long proboscis which is like a tongue, and two pairs of wings.  Not all bees sting. The honey bee will only do so if it is threatened, and the worker honey bee actually dies if it stings.  Throughout history, the bee has been a symbol of industry and hard work. Some industrious(4) cities, such as Manchester in England, have adopted the bee as its city symbol. I have taught my children to never kill any bee; they are too valuable. Plus, for quite a few years they have been under threat due to loss of habitat, parasites, and pesticides. So, when we hear a "buzz, buzz", we shouldn't be scared, we should actually be pleased that a bee is near. 1. A 'target' is a point that is aimed at. a. The hunter practiced shooting targets before he went hunting. b. The advertisers of diapers target mothers. 2. 'Determined' is an adjective that describes a eprson as being focused and single minded. a. That dog is determined to catch the cat; he won't give up until he does. b. He was determined to win the marathon, so he trained for two years. 3. 'Electrostatic'. Here we can see 'electro' from 'electricity', and 'static'. We don't often use them together. a. If you rub a balloon on your head, your hair will stick up with static electricity. b. An electrostatic charge is an electric charge that doesn't move, or does so very slowly. 4. Industrious is a great word. You can see that it comes from the noun 'industry'. It can describe a person, and animal, a factory, a city, or even a country. a. Manchester is known as being an industrious city because of its history of production and invention. b. China is an industrious nation, determined and industrious. If you would like my app for iOS, click the following link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Shapes and mosaics.

May 13, 2014 07:24


Have you ever seen a diamond made up of circles? Or a mosaic(1) made up(2) of straight lines? Art that is based on geometric shapes can be fascinating. In Seatac airport near Seattle, I discovered a picture that uses only geometric shapes. It actually wasn't a painting; it was a panel of lights, each one having a color and shape in front. The main shape was a diamond or a rhombus, made up of multiple lines. Each line was a different color, and made up of many circles. The combination of colors was very striking. But what I liked more than that was its imperfection. The lines were not perfectly straight. The circles had tiny shapes inside of them, sometimes triangles, sometimes stars, but these were irregular. The art work reminded me of a picture I have at home by an artist called Paul Klee. It's called Cityscape, and is made up of squares, rectangles, triangles, parallelograms(3), trapezoids(4), and one large circle, representing the sun. I don't know why I find the combination of shapes to be so beautiful; but it is. And again, the artist makes each shape irregular in color and form. They are more like shapes that you find in nature, soft, not so sharp. Well, waiting for my mother's plane to arrive was not boring at all, because I had this fascinating panel to stare at, and was very happy to do so. 1. A mosaic is a picture or pattern made by putting together tiny pieces of colored material. a. The mosaic in the public spa is from the Roman era. b. The students were making mosaics out of glass squares in their art class. 2. 'To be made up of' is the same as saying 'consists of', but the former is better to use when talking about something that has been fashioned like a piece of art.  a. The floor mosaic is made up of tile and glass. b. Our reading club is made up of people from all over the world. 3. A parallelogram has four sides, with two sets of completely parallel lines.  a. A square is a kind of parallelogram. b. If you think about it, a diamond is a rhombus, and a rhombus is a parallelogram. 4. A trapezoid has four sides, but only one pair of parallel lines. a. I love that modern table design; it's a trapezoid which is unusual for a table. Click on the following link if you need my app for iOS.  Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Mighty Nike.

Apr 30, 2014 08:33


I have been in and out of the sporting goods store recently, as my children are all involved in sports. I had to get some soccer shoes for my daughter, and some shin pads(1), so we made another visit to the place. I don't particularly like to shop; I have to do it more than I would like to(2). My daughter, however, adores shopping. It's always a problem taking her to any clothes shop, as she sees many things that she loves and wants to have. I usually move around the shop as fast as I can, buy what I need, and leave, before she can fall in love with trousers, t-shirts, shoes, and hats. "What's the rush, mum?" she'll ask me. "I just have a lot to do at home, darling," will be my reply, as I drag(3) her out of the shop. When we went to get her shoes, though, I took my time, gazing(4) at the latest Nike soccer shoes. They were so attractive and impressive. Bright colors are in fashion now, on the soccer field, so I had to photograph a row of beautiful Nike shoes. The company has a knack for design; they've been in business since the '60's, and have grown to become a Fortune 500 company. Most highschoolers here in Wenatchee wear Nike everything to school; it gets expensive for the parents, but it's great for the shops that sell the clothes. Professional basketball, advertising, and music videos totally influence teenagers to buy Nike; it's a huge business. I must admit, that the clothes are good quality, and last quite a while. My oldest son, thankfully, is beginning to experiment with other clothes, less well-known brands, and is enjoying being more of an individual in the way he dresses. Thankfully that stage is over, but I can understand why teenagers find it hard to give up their Nike addiction. 1. 'Shin pads' are pads that protect the front part of your leg, in between your ankle and your knee. Your shin is a thin bone that can easily get kicked in soccer. a. He had bruises all over his shin after the soccer match. b. My shins really hurt; I think I've been running too hard. 2. 'I have to do it more than I would like to'. This sentence is in the grammar notes because of its ending. It is actually short for 'I have to do it more than I would like to do it.' We do not want to sound repetitive, so we miss off the 'do it'. It is also common to miss off the final 'to' of the verb. a. I have to work more than I would like (to). b. She has to clean more than she would like (to). c. They have to study more than they would like (to). 3. 'To drag' is a verb that is similar to 'to pull' in meaning. However, it implies that the object being pulled is on the floor, and it is either heavy or unwilling to be pulled. a. I had to drag the heavy bag of tools to the garage. b. I had to drag the dog away from the neighbor's cat. 4. 'To gaze' is similar to 'to stare'. You gaze at something when it is beautiful or fascinating; it isn't a quick look. It's as if you cannot stop looking at it. a. We gazed at the sculpture for at least 20 minutes. b. The children gazed at the fireworks with their mouths open. Follow the blue link to rate or buy my app, or find it in iTunes, called A Cup Of English. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Birds in Spring.

Apr 26, 2014 07:09


As I was cleaning the kitchen sink yesterday, I saw something move outside. There is a red leaved tree right outside the kitchen window, so the movement could have been one of the leaves. I looked carefully, and through the shadows, the lines of lights, and the leaves that were rising and falling(1), I saw a bird. It was hopping about on a branch, and looking at me. In its mouth was a white feather, which contrasted with its own dark brown color. "It's nesting," I thought to myself. All of the birds in my back garden are doing the same thing. They are busy, and noisy, and aggressive at the moment; they have a very important job to do, and a short time in which to do it. The eggs will be coming soon, and then the chicks, so their home has to be ready, and just right. Last year, I noticed another bird building a nest in the bird house that is also just outside of the kitchen. It was trying to get into the bird house, through the small, round hole. However, in its mouth were some long pieces of dry grass. It tried and tried, but didn't realize that it had to turn its head sideways(2) in order to get in. It finally just forced its way in, bending the grass. Most birds build new nests each year. However, eagles will often reuse a nest for many years. Incredibly, there are some birds, like the cuckoo, don't rear their own young(3). They steal an egg from another bird's nest, quickly lay an egg there, and leave. The other bird raises the chick, thinking that it is one of its family. There is a lot more going on in the bird world than we realize. 1. 'Rising and falling' describes the movement of the leaves in the wind; it is an up and down movement. We talk about leaves falling in the autumn, which means that they fall to the ground. However, rising and falling is a phrase in which both verbs go together. a. I saw the balloon rise and fall as the wind took it into the sky. b. His chest was rising and falling while he slept. 2. 'Sideways' is a perspective, movement, or position that is not straight on; it is when the sides face forward. a. It's so funny to watch the crabs walk sideways. b. He looked at my sideways, out of the corner of his eye, without turning his head. 3.'To rear their young.' Here we have the verb 'to rear' which we use when talking about animals raising their children. 'Their young' is the noun that describes the babies, as we do not use the word 'children' with animals. a. Polar bears rear their young until they are fully independent. b. Some birds rear their young only until they learn to fly, and then they leave them. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

Basic Pronunciation Practice #33 + Interactive English.

Apr 25, 2014 14:01


1. Peter: Hi Liz, hey great jacket. 2. Liz: Thanks Peter. It's new. What do you think? Does it suit me? 3. Peter: Yes, its the perfect color for you. 4. Liz: I decided that it's time for a new coat. My other clothes are for the winter, and I end up getting too hot, now that it is spring. 5. Peter: I know what you mean. The weather changes a lot; sometimes the wind is quite cold, and then the next thing you know, it's sunny. 6. Liz: Exactly. That's why I bought this jacket. It's a wind blocker, and it's light. I can have more layers of clothing underneath. Peter: I didn't know you were so fashionable, Liz! Follow the link to buy or rate my app. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

An Easter Wish.

Apr 22, 2014 11:55


On Saturday, I scrambled(1) to buy as much chocolate as I could. It had to be really good chocolate, Swiss. I had a project in mind(2), and I only had a few hours to finish it. I had decided to make an English style chocolate Easter egg for my children. Traditionally, in England, that is the gift that we give on Easter Sunday. The egg represents new life, and new hope; it's one of the main symbols of Easter. And you wouldn't believe the sizes of some of the chocolate eggs that you can find in the shops in the U.K. Over here, a very different tradition takes place. People boil eggs, and then color them. They will then hide them all over the garden, or in a park, and children have to find them. The Easter bunny is also a well-loved(3) Easter character, but really a commercial one. It has taken me a very long time to get used to boiled eggs instead of chocolate ones. Honestly, I still haven't got used to that. So, I set about(4) making the Easter egg. I unwrapped several bars of chocolate and a couple of bags of wrapped chocolate pieces. I put them all in a bowl, melted them over hot water, and then coated the inside of a plastic mold(5). I did this four times, each time putting(6) the egg in the fridge to make the chocolate hard. Everything went well, until I had to remove the chocolate egg from the plastic. I had to bang, and squeeze, tap and shake it. The bottom piece actually broke into several pieces; however, the large top part of the egg came out in one piece. I was so happy. Instead of an egg, it was more like a dome, but at least it had worked. The kids loved it. I aim to improve the technique, so next year I can make excellent Easter eggs. They're a sweet way to celebrate new life.  1. 'To scramble' has a few meanings. We scramble eggs when we beat them. A radio message can be 'scrambled' if it is mixed up. And finally, to scramble to do something means to rush or hurry. a. We scrambled to pack our bags and get to the airport on time. b. We scrambled to clean the house before the guests arrived. 2. 'To have something in mind' is to have a plan or an idea. Once the idea is expressed, the speaker can say ,"I have ....." in mind (to add further detail) or a listener can ask 'What do you have in mind?' to get further details. a. I'd like to buy a book. I have a horror story in mind. b. I plan on going on vacation.     Oh really, where?     I have somewhere exotic in mind. 3. 'Well-loved' a. Their pets are well-loved. b. Those kids are well-loved by their grandparents. 4. 'To set about doing something' is to get on with, or to start doing a project. 'To set about' indicates that the project has several steps, needs equipment, ingredients, or stages, whereas 'to start' is very simple and can be used for 'one step' projects, like writing an essay. a. I set about organizing all of my packets of seeds for my vegetable garden. b. We set about painting the house; there was a lot to prepare. 5. 'Mold' is a growth of fungus, but it can also be a shape or frame that is used to create other similar shapes from different substances. Note that in England, both words are spelled 'mould'. a. The plastic mold that I used for the Easter egg was too hard. b. There is mold growing on the bread; throw it away. 6. 'I did this four times, each time putting the egg in the fridge.' The second part of this sentence (with the gerund) is a quick and fluid way of adding detail to a sentence. I could have said, 'I did this four times, and each time I put the egg in the fridge' which is correct, of course. But the first sentence flows better. a. She vacuumed every room, each time making sure she got the corners really well. b. He sent the invitations, writing each one by hand.  Need my app? Follow the blue link. p>Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

The Grey Dove.

Apr 16, 2014 09:58


There is a bird in my back garden that has a special meaning for me. Here they call it a dove; in England its name is a wood pigeon. It isn't spectacular to look at, in fact it's quite difficult to see because it is mainly grey. Its looks vary from country to country. Here it is totally light grey, whereas in England, it has a blue-green head, and some pink on its belly. Both, however, make a haunting(1) sound that takes me back to my childhood. As I grew up in a small, rural town, surrounded by farms and woods, I heard the call of the wood pigeon most of the year. I used to climb trees a lot, and sit and daydream(2) in them, so I became familiar with the sounds of all the different birds. The wood pigeon sounds like an owl; it hoots or coos(3) five times in a row. The sound is soothing(4). Now that I live in the country, after spending years in cities, I have found wood pigeons again, and it feels like I'm back, as a little girl, sitting in my tree daydreaming. They are a strong bird that eats a variety of things: young shoots(5), seedlings, pine nuts, worms and ants. They actually produce a thick milk, so their babies get fat quickly. They pair(6) for life, and each year both the mother and father sit on the eggs to keep them warm. The wood pigeons that live in cold, northern areas migrate, whereas those in warmer countries don't need to. I have two pairs in my garden who disappear in the winter, but return in early spring. They are always welcome here, my garden companions. 1. 'Haunting' comes from the verb 'to haunt'. Though the verb is related to ghosts, and their scary presence, the word haunting is used quite poetically and beautifully. A piece of music, a memory, or a sound can all be haunting. They leave a strong impression, an echo of some kind, often deep and emotional. a. His words still haunt me. b. Some of Mozart's music is haunting; I keep thinking about it. 2. 'To daydream' is simply to dream during the day. a. Children need time to daydream; it's good to let their imaginations be free. b. Sorry! I wasn't listening; I was daydreaming! 3. 'Hoot and coo'. Both are sounds. An owl hoots, other birds  coo. Both sounds have the long 'oooo' in them. 'Coo' is often used to describe the noise that a happy, young baby makes when it is making an 'oo' sound. a. I couldn't sleep. There was an owl on my roof hooting all night. b. I love baby noises, especially the cooing. 4. 'Soothing' comes from the verb to soothe. It means to give relief, to ease pain or discomfort. It can be figurative as well. a. The cold water on my hot forehead was very soothing. b. After a stressful day, violin music can be very soothing. 5. 'Young shoots' refers to very new plants that are just emerging from the ground. Animals and birds like to eat these because they are sweet. a. I will keep the pea shoots covered otherwise the birds will eat them. b. I can tell its Spring; there are shoots all over the garden. 6. 'To pair' means to join together as a couple.  a. Pair (up) with a partner to practice the conversation. b. Those monkeys pair for life; they stay with the same partner.   Click on the following link if you'd like to buy my app. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

A Way To Save.

Apr 9, 2014 10:37


Today, as I drove my oldest son to High School, we got stuck in traffic. The road where we were stuck isn't usually a busy one. It is a windy road that goes through a residential area. The people in the traffic jam were not adults going to work; they were highschoolers. Here in the U.S, most students who are 16 years old or older have cars. Often they work after school to pay for the gas and insurance, and perhaps also to make the monthly car payment(1). They spend a lot of time working, so they can afford to have a car. Of course, it's not necessary when there are buses; however, it's an expectation. As I sat in the traffic jam, I thought about how wasteful the situation is. If only half of the students had cars, a lot of people would save money and time. Two people could travel to school in each car, instead of just one per car. There could be a car pooling(2) system, so a car owner could receive a little money for giving other students a lift. That would help him to pay for the gas, and he might not need(3) to work after school, but focus on his homework instead. The first time that I heard about car pooling was years ago. My mother-in-law was driving me somewhere, and we drove past a sign that said 'Park and Pool'. "Oh," I said. "I didn't know that there was a park and a swimming pool there." My mother-in-law laughed loudly and said, "No Anna, that's where you park your car and then car pool to your next destination." I had never heard of car pooling. Soon, after that, I found myself carpooling with about 10 other people. We would park our cars in that parking lot, and then get on a  van to go to Central Washington University. It was a very economical way to get there and back, much better than each person taking his or her own car. Car ownership(4) in this country is a huge part of the culture, an expectation. I think, though, that life would be much easier if more people car pooled. 1. 'The monthly car payment' is the payment made to the bank every month for ownership of a car. a. Our monthly car payment is about $300 dollars. b.  They couldn't make their monthly car payment, so they sold the car and bought a smaller one. 2. 'To car pool'. The word 'pool' is often used in English to mean 'share'. So car pooling is basically sharing a car. Here are some examples: a. The lost mountaineers pooled their resources, and found that they had enough to survive. b. They pooled their ideas and came up with a great solution. c. How about the four of us car pool, instead of driving four cars? 3. 'He might not need to' is a very native sounding phrase that introduces hypothesis. a. If you work more hours during the week, you might not need to work at the weekend. b. If you car pooled, you might not need to get an extra job. 4. 'Ownership' is the noun, like owner, that means that you possess something. It is the state of owning something. Let's see the examples. a. House ownership is something that most people want.  (You could also say, 'Everybody wants to be the owner of a house/ everybody wants to own a house). b. The company is focusing on land ownership because, at the moment, land is a good price. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

Fool's Gold.

Mar 26, 2014 09:43


On Sunday, we had a family picnic. It was one of the rare days(1) when the children didn't have any sports tournaments, and the weather was perfect. We quickly made plans to go down to a local river to spend a few hours. The river was quite high because it is early spring, and there is a lot of snow melting(2) in the mountains, filling the rivers and streams. We walked along the riverbank until we found a flat, beach area where we set up our chairs, food, and equipment. When I say equipment, I mean specifically our metal detector, and our gold panning (3)tools. There is gold in the Wenatchee Valley; a gold mine was quite profitable for many years. And now, you can find small deposits (4)here and there, especially in river banks. After we ate, we immediately started digging up the muddy sand, putting it in the sieve(5), and rinsing it in the river. As the fine mud washed away, small rocks and bits and pieces were left behind. It was so exciting whenever we would find a shiny, yellow flake(6). "This has to be gold," my kids would say. Each time they found a piece, they would put it in a small, glass vial(7) filled with water, and show it to my husband. "Nope, that's fool's gold," he said most of the time. Of course, they chose not to believe him. And they carried on gold panning as if their lives depended on it. Funnily enough, three groups of people walked past us, carrying serious gold panning equipment. So we realized that we were probably in the right place. So what is the difference between real gold and fool's gold? Well, they are chemically totally different. The symbol of gold is Au, and that of fool's gold is FeS2. One is a pure mineral, the other is iron pyrite. Gold is shiny yellow even in the shade, and has round edges, whereas iron pyrite is not as shiny, and has straight edges. You can often find gold and pyrite near eachother, so some of the flakes we found could be real gold. I have them now on a dark plate, and one or two of them look like they could be the real thing. I have a feeling that we will be visiting that riverbank more in the future. 1. 'One of the rare days' a. It was one of the rare days that there wasn't any rain. b. It is a rare occasion when he gives a speech. 2. 'Snow melting/ snow melt'. a. The trees will be watered by the snow melt. b. You can see the snow melting in the sun. 3. 'Gold panning'. a. We went gold panning, and found a few flakes. b. Gold panning is a verb and also the noun; just like 'cooking'. 4. 'A deposit'. a. The minerals get deposited/ deposit themselves on riverbank. b. I went to the bank and made a deposit. 5.'A sieve'. a. You always need a sieve when gold panning. b. I need to sieve the flour to get the lumps out. 6. 'Flake/fleck'. a. You can use 'flake' for many things, like snow flake, potato flake, a flake of gold, a flake of paint. It is also a verb. b. Fleck is used specifically to talk about a tiny, thin piece of gold. 7. 'A glass vial'. a. Glass vials are small, long, glass containers used to collect samples. b. We put our gold flecks in a glass vial. p>Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet // 赞   //   //

An eye exam and parts of the eye.

Mar 19, 2014 07:25


At this time of year, the schools have tests of all kinds for the children. Reading and writing tests, math skills tests, and tomorrow, there will be hearing and vision tests for the whole school. If you think about it, the two last mentioned tests are fundamental; if a child cannot hear or see properly, he will have a very hard time in school. My youngest son had a vision test today with an eye specialist. He had had a reading test the other day that raised a few questions about his eyes. His eyes are very sensitive to the white and black contrast of the print and the paper. It was found that when a blue plastic sheet was put on top of a text, then he could see the words clearly and read properly. This is considered a syndrome of the eye called Scotopic Sensitivity. I had never heard of it. It is a newly found syndrome, apparently. It is so new that some eye specialists don't take it seriously. Well, I bought some blue plastic to help my son read without getting frustrated, and I also made an appointment for a thorough eye test. We arrived at the clinic, where my son was first tested by a nurse. She asked me questions, put drops in Robert's eyes to dilate(2) them, and then left us in a room full of fascinating eye equipment. Robert and I both looked around and wondered how the doctor was going to use the devices(1) that were hanging here and there. Finally, the doctor came in and immediately started testing Robert's eyes. He put one metal device up to Robert's face and asked him to look into it and to tell him what he could see. He did the same with another larger piece of equipment, and wrote down a few things while Robert was talking. It turns out that his eyes are fine, but he is a little far-sighted(3). We become more near-sighted as we mature, so reading isn't such a strain. He gave us the option of Robert having glasses for school, until his near-sightedness develops. Thank goodness there is no real problem with his eyes. It's definitely worth having a test so you know what your options are. Grammar notes. Related vocabulary: A device, near/far-sighted, to dilate, parts of the eye: pupil, iris, white, bags, eye lids, eye lashes. 1. A device can be a tool, or a piece of equipment. 2. I have no problem seeing far away because I am far-sighted.  3. The nurse put drops in his eyes to dilate them; his pupils got really big, and they were very sensitive to light for a few hours after that.   4.  The fascinating eye has many parts. The pupil is the black center of the eye which regulates the light going into the eye. The pretty colored circle is the iris. This is surrounded by a white area which we just call ‘the white of the eye’ in English. The  eye is protected by the two eye lids. The row of hairs on each eye lid is called ‘the eye lashes’ which also protect the eye. And if you don’t sleep enough, you might get ‘bags’ under the eyes which are also called dark circles, even though they are actually semi-circles. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

The Science of Spring.

Mar 11, 2014 07:32


Primulas are one of the first spring flowers to appear in this area. I was thrilled to see them this morning. Most people I know are excited about the spring, and hoping that the snow will not come back, and that the cold conditions will wait for next Winter. It seems miraculous and surprising when you spot a flower in an area where there are still dead leaves from the previous autumn, and when there are patches of ice still around. So, how is it that plants know when to grow? The science behind it is interesting. During the autumn, a hormone that brings on dormancy(1) builds up(2) in the plant. It makes the plant ‘sleep’ during the coldest months, so the plant is protected from winter damage. The cold of the winter slowly destroys this hormone, and produces a growth hormone which builds up in the plant. Trees and bushes store food in their roots. The warmer temperatures of spring help this food to flow up to the buds. But what about light? We all know that it is essential(3) for plant growth. You could say that plants have an internal clock. They have genes that tell them when they are exposed to the light or to the dark. Proteins are activated by light, specifically  red light which is found in full sun light. So the plant produces these during the day, and the process is turned off when the red light stops. That’s why, if you look at a fast growing plant in the morning, and then again in the evening, sometimes you can see that it has grown. We are similar to plants, not by the way we grow, but by mental activity and feelings. When we are in the sun, our brain produces serotonin which makes us feel happy and energetic. Also, our skin produces vitamin D which protects us from some cancers, and maintains serotonin.  As the light fades, our brains produce melatonin which starts our sleep cycle. So, now that there is more daylight, our bodies are ready to get active, just like plants. We have been sleepy all winter long; it’s time for some light, and some growth.   1. a. It is best to transplant trees when they are dormant.     b. The volcano is dormant; it hasn’t been active for 100 years. 2. a. There was a build up of rubbish in the river, so the council cleaned it.     b. I could feel that the tension in the room was building up, so I left. 3. a. Clean water and good food are essential for basic health.     b. It’s essential that you listen to him.       Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   赞 //

The Dining Room.

Mar 7, 2014 08:05


It has been some time since we had an episode of A Tour of Homes, so today we will take a close look at the dining room. It, like the kitchen and lounge, is a focal point of family life. A lot of good things happen here, and it is a place where we celebrate special occasions. This room centers around a table and chairs. Here in Western society, there are often more than four chairs around a table. When there is a special occasion, often friends and family come to celebrate, so more chairs are needed. The table is 'laid' (what we say in England), or 'set' (which is what we say in the U.S.) To do this, we need cutlery, crockery, glasses, sometimes a table cloth or a 'runner' which is a much skinnier version of a table cloth, and a salt and pepper shaker, and perhaps some candles. Don't forget serviettes, or napkins as they call them here in the U.S. For special times, the table can be decorated with candles, flowers, or some craft type arrangement. Here in the North West, it is very popular to mix candles in some pretty arrangement for the table, especially during the Winter. I have seen some center pieces that are a mix of flowers, pebbles, plastic fruit, and candles. But it's up to the imagination of the owner. Anything goes. Other furniture in the room includes dressers to store crockery and cutlery, wine glasses, and wine bottles. Often a dining room is decorated with art work of different forms, pretty curtains, perhaps a rug, and often a chandelier or other light fixture that has more than the average amount of detail. We use our dining room for family meals often during the week, even though sometimes we will eat at different times depending on our schedules. The special occasions are: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Birthdays. These are the times that I really dress the place up, get out the nice plates and glasses, and make the effort of ironing a table cloth. Even though the way of life in the U.S. is crazy busy, the dining room still can be a place of togetherness and relaxation. Grammar notes. Dining room vocabulary: cutlery, crockery, runner, center piece. 1. We like to get out the decent cutlery when we have people over to dinner. 2. We store the nice crockery in the dresser in the dining room to keep it safe and on display. 3. My mother bought me a lovely Indian table runner the other day which goes perfectly with the art in the dining room. 4. At Thanksgiving, we usually have a center piece that has Autumn flowers and fruit of the season.   Could you rate my podcast? Follow the link. Thanks.   Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

Natural Enemies.

Mar 5, 2014 07:32


Recently, we gave our dog, Foxy, to another family. It was a difficult decision, but a necessary one. She is a working dog, very intelligent and very active, and she needs a job. The family that has adopted her has other dogs of her breed, a lot of land, and horses. She is in a much better situation, and is able to run over acres and acres every day. Now, my other dog, Rosie, has become more of a spoiled house dog. She has a very different personality, and it seems, her instincts are focused on eating, sleeping, and being petted. Leave the exercise to the athletes! Her life has also changed for the better, but now she has a different challenge: the cat. Lilly, my miniature tiger, owns the house, or at least she thinks she does. She and Rosie don't tolerate each other; they have different ideologies. But, are they really natural enemies? Research will tell you how similar they are: they both walk on four legs, they are carnivores, they have super senses of smell and hearing, and they are both very territorial. It's this last point that apparently makes the difference. Both species compete with each other for territory and food. Add to that the attitude of a dog to its owners: it is protective. It might see a cat as a threat to its human family. Cats, on the other hand, see dogs as a threat to their lives; dogs will hunt and eat anything small and furry. Plus, cats are independent, not a group animal like dogs. Of course, all of this isn't a rule. Some domestic cats and dogs get on really well, especially if they have been raised together. It must be a question of getting used to eachother. Over time, my animals are. I'm training Rosie to not bark when she sees the cat. Now, they are able to be in the same room without a war starting. Hey, that's progress. I read that there are some tricks you can use to make them like each other. If you feed the their favorite food when they are quite close to each other, they will transfer the good feelings of eating to their relationship. They will even get used to each other's smell. I wonder if anyone could try this on the Republicans and the Democrats; they might learn to control their barks, and to tolerate each other's smells. However, unlike cats and dogs, I don't think that sharing territory will ever be possible.  1.a.The little girl asked if she could pet the lady's dog. b. Cats don't like to be petted very much. 2.a This breed of dog is good for working on a farm. b. If you want a relaxed dog, choose the breed carefully. 3.a He took the man's words as a threat. b. They received threats in the mail! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

A Volcanic Project.

Feb 28, 2014 07:41


"Mum, I want to make a volcano," said my son Cass on Sunday morning. "You know, the kind that we can make out of paper," he added. That is an unusual request for a Sunday morning. Papier mache is what he was talking about. I remember making heads and masks out of papier mache in school. We would blow up balloons, and then cover them with a mixture of torn up newspapers, flour, and water, and then leave them to dry for a couple of days. Then, the balloons would be popped and removed, and we would paint and decorate the project. Sounds like fun. This would be a bit more special because, in its center, we would put a plastic container, into which vinegar and baking soda could be poured, in order to get the bubbling, lava-like reaction. We sat and brainstormed for a while: what its base would be, did we have enough newspaper, how to make the lava realistic, could we put model villages at the base of the volcano, etc etc. Our imaginations took off. After we came to a consensus, we made the preparations. We covered the dining room table with newspaper, mixed the glue, tore up lots of pieces of newspaper, and decided who would do what. Oh, it was so messy! The flour water mixture was wet and gooey, and I had to really supervise my kids who unintentionally would flick the goo from their fingers, and it would go all over the place. Slowly, slowly, the volcano took shape. It even has a lake on one of its slopes. It is drying at the moment in the garage, soon to be painted, varnished, and made more real. Some people I know are quite anxious to see the lava flow, and the warring villagers fight. Grammar notes. Practice of the past continuous with related vocabulary: gooey, warring, to brainstorm, to tear. 1. When I was little, my brother and I would make gooey mud pies in the garden by mixing soil and water. 2. The warring island nations would stop fighting for a few years, and then start all over again. 3. Our high school English teacher would make us brainstorm in groups, in order to get lots of ideas for stories.   4. Oops! I have torn a page in my book. I used to do that deliberately when I was a toddler.   Rate my podcast by following the link. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

U.S. Health Care.

Feb 27, 2014 08:27


You have probably heard that President Barack Obama signed into law his medical reform bill. 'Obama Care' is its nick name. Some people are very excited about this new development, and other people are not. The question of whether the U.S. needs universal health care has been debated for months. The government has been split about the idea. Democrats, in general, are in favor of it, but Republicans have not wanted it. The main problem is cost. The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. There are lots of federal programs that help people receive health care. The two biggest ones are Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare supplies low-cost health insurance to the elderly and disabled, while Medicaid is for the poor. All of these programs are very expensive to run, and yet not everybody is covered. There are millions who have no health care coverage. Even those who can afford health insurance are not guaranteed help for all of their needs; some who have a pre-existing condition are refused help for that illness. Another problem has been the huge expense of medicine in this country. Lots of people actually go to Canada to buy cheaper medicine. Regulations need to be made on how much pharmaceutical companies can charge for their products. Historically, costs have also risen because of the many malpractice lawsuits, and the legal system allows huge sums of money to be paid in compensation. This has driven up costs in general. There is a lot of work to be done in the government to make the system fair. I suppose health care systems always need to be monitored and improved. Personally, I agree with universal health care coverage. It must be absolutely dreadful to be in a position where you cannot get medical care for your own children or other loved ones. Plus, a healthy nation is a productive one. Mind you, I can also see the Republican's concerns about 'big government' and too much taxing of citizens. The central question is, as far as I can see, a person's right to have health care. It's a moral question, not just a financial one. So it becomes a little more complicated. Perhaps, if the government is smart about the details, this could be the beginning of a very good thing. Grammar notes. Medical system related vocabulary: universal coverage, health insurance, pharmaceutical, to reform. 1. Universal coverage is when everyone is covered, or has access to something. 2. People pay health insurance companies every month, the same way we pay car insurance companies. 3. The pharmaceutical companies are very wealthy and have a lot of power. 4. The health system is being reformed; it is being changed and updated.   Click on the link to rate my podcast. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Part 2 of Basic Pronunciation Practice #32 + Interactive English.

Feb 26, 2014 12:14


Liz: I came as soon as I found out. How is she? Parent: Thank you, Liz. She went straight into the operating theater when she got to the hospital, and now she's sleeping. She'll recover, but it'll take a while. Liz: Car accidents are so scary. Parent: I know. We're just so happy that she's alright. The person who hit her was busy texting, not even watching the road. He's also in this hospital, but not much happened to him. Liz: Oh my gosh! Everyone should ignore their phones while they're driving.   Parent: I agree. I suppose it's easier said than done. If you have time, could you rate my podcast by clicking on the following link?    Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #32 + Interactive English.

Feb 25, 2014 12:07


Liz: I came as soon as I found out. How is she? Parent: Thank you, Liz. She went straight into the operating theater when she got to the hospital, and now she's sleeping. She'll recover, but it'll take a while. Liz: Car accidents are so scary. Parent: I know. We're just so happy that she's alright. The person who hit her was busy texting, not even watching the road. He's also in this hospital, but not much happened to him. Liz: Oh my gosh! Everyone should ignore their phones while they're driving. Parent: I agree. I suppose it's easier said than done. Please rate my podcast/app by clicking the link. Thanks.   Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Strawberries and Cream.

Feb 22, 2014 09:00


Easter Sunday, a day of family, celebration, and fun. Today, after church, my family and I got together with my in-laws in the East Wenatchee Country Club for lunch. The club is actually for golf, but even if you don't golf, you can go to the restaurant which is really very good. For special occasions, their kitchen puts on quite a spread. Today they had lamb, ham, and chicken with mushrooms. Often they will serve prime rib beef which just melts in your mouth. And for those of you who are vegetarians, they also have a variety of egg and bean dishes with lots of fruits and vegetables. We dressed up a little more than usual for this lunch; it's a tradition, I suppose. While we ate, the children had an Easter egg hunt on the golf course. It was so cute to see little girls running around in their pretty dresses carrying baskets, and the boys dressed up like little men, all searching for the plastic eggs that had been hidden by the club staff. As we ate, we chatted away, and finished up with dessert. As usual, there was a choice of about six different desserts: cheese cakes, brownies, tiramisu, and some other rich chocolatey thing that I have no name for. It was a time for indulgence! Everything looked so good! I scanned the table to see what everybody else was eating, so I could make my choice. I noticed that each of my children had chosen about three things. "Well," I thought to myself, "it's Easter; I'll let them this time." As I chose my desserts, I made a quick trip to the table where they had fruit, cheeses, and pastries laid out. I piled a few of the freshest looking berries on my plate and headed back to our table. When I got there, my children noticed the strawberries on my plate and said, "Hey, good idea, Mum," so they went off and got some. What can I say? There was too much to choose from, and everybody was being greedy. Before I knew it, my kids were tucking into plates of strawberries and cream, as if their lives depended on them. It really is the perfect combination of tastes and textures for an Easter dessert. Grammar notes. Common expressions: as if their (his, her etc) lives depended on it (them), to put on a spread, to melt in your mouth, to tuck into. 1. The girl clung hold of her balloon as if her life depended on it.   OR     They ate their hamburgers so fast, as if their lives depended on them. 2. My grandmother is such a good cook. She always puts on quite a spread at Christmas. 3. How did you make these cookies? They melt in your mouth! 4. The hungry travelers tucked into the stew because they hadn't eaten in such a long time. Please rate my podcast by clicking the following link. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Haitian Art

Feb 20, 2014 07:46


Leavenworth is fast becoming my favorite local place to have lunch. I took my mother up there today for a yummy trip to Pav's restaurant as an early Mother's Day gift. It was a perfect day, sunny and cool. Actually, they had had a heavy snowfall a few days previously which everyone thought was a bit crazy, but considering that it is a mountainous region, it's not that surprising. We wandered around the main streets a little and window shopped, until we got hungry enough for lunch. Pav's opens at eleven thirty, and we got there bang on time. We were the first ones there, so we chose the very best spot to sit. After we had ordered, we chatted, both admiring the surroundings at the same time. The metalwork on the walls caught our attention, and as we commented on it, the waitress told us that they had bought it all from Haiti. Each piece was for sale, she said, but they weren't sure if they would ever get any more, because of the situation in Haiti at the moment. "They are made out of oil drums", she said. We were immediately intrigued, so we got up, and wandered around the other rooms, looking at the different wall decorations. There were motifs of hearts, crosses, birds, and twisted vines. They were simple yet beautiful, primitive but with delicate detail. My mother couldn't resist it; she had to buy one. As we ate our meal, we read the little attached paper that came with the piece that she had bought. It said that the artisans cut the oil drum open, stuff it with straw, and burn the inside to get rid of residues. Then, sections of metal are cut, and the wall decor evolves out of the use only of a hammer and a chisel. It must be time consuming work, and one that shows how people can become imaginative and resourceful when in need. Looking at the art, we would never have guessed that it came from Haiti. The restaurant, after all, is supposed to look French. However, I can see a connection, and these unusual pieces of art add something special to any decor. Grammar notes. Useful expressions: considering that..., to window shop, to intrigue, to evolve. 1. Considering their financial situation, I'm surprised that they've bought a new car. 2. I don't want to buy anything; I just want to window shop. 3. That man intrigues me; he seems shy, and yet he speaks very confidently.   4. This has evolved from a small project into a time consuming major one. Click the link to rate my podcast or buy my app. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Strength and Flexibility.

Feb 19, 2014 08:39


I was just listening to a Swiss podcast about health. The presenters were talking about free radicals and how to fight them. They first of all listed all the situations in life that cause free radicals to be produced in our bodies: emotional and physical stress, pollution, medicines, a poor diet, alcohol, smoking and more. Jokingly, one of the presenters asked, "What doesn't produce free radicals?" because it seems that everything does. A discussion developed about a healthy life style, the importance of eating right, and how physical activity is crucial to general good health. So, what are good forms of exercise? Walking and swimming are probably the two best; you get the most movement with the least strain. Then there is cycling, running, weight training, ball sports, types of skiing, and yoga. Really, anything that moves your body, uses your muscles, and increases your heart rate is good. There are different benefits to different types of exercise. Some will build muscle, while others will make you flexible. When I was young, the idea of being strong was based on muscle that can lift a lot of weight. Thankfully, now the definition of strength is broader. Weight lifting strength is just one kind, then there is endurance (which is how long you can keep doing something), and flexibility. There are other kinds, as well, but in this podcast, I'm focusing on these three. It's not difficult to keep kids active. I find that my children just need to be given an opportunity to do something physical, and they will take it. While my sons play ball sports, my daughter does gymnastics. Watching her and other older children do gymnastics certainly makes me think of strength. They stretch, they bend, they hang from bars and swing. You can see that they use all of their muscles without even realizing (realizing). There are posters in the waiting area that show how, with the right training, a body can become both flexible and strong, where the muscles are useful and quick, not just big and bulky. Gymnastics reminds me of martial arts: both require speed, accuracy, strength, and flexibility. I hope to introduce my daughter to martial arts at some stage. The physical discipline is admirable, and self defense is very useful. Maybe we could do it together. As she grows up, she needs to develop physical confidence, and as I get older, I need to maintain my flexibility. Grammar notes Related vocabulary: free radicals, flexibility, broad, crucial. 1. Eating burned meat releases a lot of free radicals into your body, so be careful when you barbecue. 2. That gymnast has incredible flexibility; she can bend her body into all sorts of positions. 3. The term of strength is very broad; it means many things. 4. It is crucial to get regular exercise and quality food to maintain a healthy life.  Please rate my podcast or app by clicking on the link.  Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Fatty, fatty.

Feb 13, 2014 07:37


I heard today that eating nuts helps to lower bad cholesterol. That's good news because I love nuts of all kinds. I always have a stash of almonds and walnuts in the fridge. Apparently, in order to have the full benefits of these nuts, they should be plain: not salted, not sugared, and obviously not roasted. There are some naturally occurring chemicals in nuts that counteract the LDL (or low-density lipoprotein which is the actual name of the bad cholesterol). You probably all know that here in the U.S there is quite a cholesterol problem. Obesity is on the rise, and of course, all of the related diseases as well. As I was thinking about this today, I remembered a sign that I saw in the recent carnival a few weeks ago. It was a list of some fast food items that were particularly high in saturated fat, sugar, refined flour, and all of those dangerous foods. If you check out the blog you will see the photo of the list. The worst item, I think, was the 'deep fried candy bar'. Wow! Just imagine, a candy bar that is already full of calories and so, so sweet, being dipped in a batter (made of flour, milk, and oil) and deep fried in oil. Now, I have a sweet tooth; I like to have something sweet in the house most of the time, but that treat sounds ridiculous. I wonder how many grams of saturated fat were in those fried candy bars. And how much sugar, come to think of it. Curiosity probably makes a lot of people try one of them. Let's hope that it doesn't become a habit. Obesity is predicted to cost the U.S health care 344 billion dollars by the year 2018, because of all the related diseases, complications, loss of work time, and extra health care needed. That is a huge cost! It sounds like some people should trade their candy bars for a few healthy nuts. Grammar notes. Related vocabulary: a stash, naturally occurring, on the rise, saturated fat. 1. She has a stash of candy bars in her car. No wonder she is overweight! 2. Vitamin C is a naturally occurring vitamin found in many fruits and vegetables. 3. Many people are trying to get fit. However, aerobic related injuries are on the rise.   4. Animal meat has saturated fat. It's best to cut it off rather than eat it.   Click the link to buy or rate my app. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   //

Basic Pronunciation Practice part 2 + Interactive English.

Feb 12, 2014 11:41


Liz: Thank you guys for all your help. I couldn't have organized this event without you! Mary and Peter: You're welcome. Mary: There's no way that one person could do all the work, and get it done on time.  Peter: It's a pleasure to help. I really think that the concert will be a success. Mary: Yep. I've heard that the community is buying a lot of tickets. The way things are going, we'll be able to raise all the money we need for our health and safety campaign. Liz: Let's hope so. We've tied up the loose ends, so that's it! I can't believe the concert is in two days! Peter: Me neither. Talking on the radio and to the newspapers made all the difference, Liz. Well done for that! Liz: I think so too. I'm looking forward to seeing the money come in, so we can afford a great health campaign. Click the link to buy or rate my app, or to rate my podcast. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #31 + Interactive English.

Feb 11, 2014 12:37


Liz: Thank you guys for all your help. I couldn't have organized this event without you! Mary and Peter: You're welcome. Mary: There's no way that one person could do all the work, and get it done on time.  Peter: It's a pleasure to help. I really think that the concert will be a success. Mary: Yep. I've heard that the community is buying a lot of tickets. The way things are going, we'll be able to raise all the money we need for our health and safety campaign. Liz: Let's hope so. We've tied up the loose ends, so that's it! I can't believe the concert is in two days! Peter: Me neither. Talking on the radio and to the newspapers made all the difference, Liz. Well done for that! Liz: I think so too. I'm looking forward to seeing the money come in, so we can afford a great health campaign. Join me on my FACEBOOK  page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Need the app or want to rate it? Click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

What's for breakfast?

Feb 6, 2014 08:44


What do you feel like eating in the morning? Are you a breakfast eater, or do you just have a coffee or tea? There are so many things to choose from when it comes to the first meal of the day. Traditionally, in England, we have what is called the 'great British breakfast'. It is a substantial meal; if you happen to miss lunch, it doesn't matter because you will still be full with breakfast. Normally it includes: bacon (meaty not fatty), eggs, toast, stewed, skinless tomatoes, sausages, sometimes some black pudding (or blood sausage), orange juice, and coffee or tea. It's perfect if you are going to do lots of physical labor all day. Personally, I can't eat very much straight away after waking up. My stomach isn't ready. I need to be awake a good hour before having a heavy breakfast. A lighter, sweeter kind of breakfast would be french toast or waffles. They are two of my children's favorites. And, nowadays waffles are very conveniently found in the frozen breakfast aisle, in the supermarket. I do make them fresh sometimes, but I've found a brand that my kids like; it's fortified with vitamins, and they can pop them in the toaster themselves. Mind you, I have to supervise them, not just for safety either. They tend to go a little heavy on the syrup when they make their own waffles. As I say to them,"Do you want some waffle with your syrup, or syrup with your waffle?" I much prefer French toast; I find it more substantial and nutritious. It's quite a simple recipe: two eggs, about one cup of milk, beat together, and dip in the white French bread. Then fry in a little butter until both sides are light golden brown. Then you can put whatever you want on top. Syrup is the norm, but we like to put peanut butter, or jam, or sometimes even a piece of ham.It's up to you to choose what you want for a topping. Sometimes getting creative in the kitchen is worth it; it's just a little more interesting than a bowl of cornflakes. Grammar notes. Common expressions: to happen to, to pop (British), to go heavy/to go easy (American), the norm. 1. I happened to see an old college friend in town. 2. Pop over for a cup of tea this afternoon. OR I'll just pop to the butchers. OR My neigbor popped in to borrow some sugar. OR Spread the cream on the cake and then pop it in the fridge. 3. Go heavy on Peter's plate with the icecream, but go easy on mine. 4. The weather has been so different this year. Daily rain is the norm, but it hasn't rained yet. Please click on the link to rate my app or podcast, or to buy the app if you need it. Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet    

New Passports.

Feb 5, 2014 07:21


As I was going to the recycling center today, I passed the postman (or, the mail man in U.S). He was sitting in his cute little mail van, next to the mail boxes where he was inserting all of the letters, cards, and junk mail. I pulled over and asked him for our mail which he very kindly gave me. Back in the car, I had a quick look through the collection of things that he had given me, and I found two official looking envelopes from the U.S Department of State, - the place where you get important documents. "I don't believe it," I said to myself, "they've arrived!" The passports that I had sent off for, for my two youngest children, had been issued. When I sent in the applications, I was told that it would take six weeks. It had taken only three, so I was amazed to see them in my hands. It's a miracle! Government paperwork has been completed early! This is one for the history books! Okay, I won't go on. I opened the envelopes and found two, brand new, dark blue U.S passports. Of course I quickly looked for the photos. My son looked very serious; he had had a big smile on his face, but then the photographer had told him not to. So he had quickly turned his happy face into one that looked very serious indeed. My daughter, the day before the photos, had decided to cut her fringe (or bangs in the U.S). So, her forehead had a large, triangular chunk of hair missing. Well, I suppose she is still very cute in the photo, and she'll be able to change it in about five years. So, our most important documents for traveling this Summer are ready. That's one thing that I can cross off my list of things to do. Most of our flights are booked; I just have to tie up a few loose ends and book some rental cars, and our plans will be complete. There is a lot involved in making a big trip, but I'm glad that we have the all-important documents already here. Grammar notes. Expressions with the preterite: to tie up loose ends, kindly, this is one for the history books. 1. Why did you leave the project unfinished? You need to tie up all the loose ends. 2. My car broke down, but a passer-by kindly helped me get a tow-truck. 3. I don't believe it! You did the washing up! This is one for the history books.   Please rate my app, or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Do it yourself and win $5000.

Feb 1, 2014 09:01


Do-it-yourself is more than a hobby in this town. It is more like a craze. When a job needs to be done around the house, a lot of people will do it themselves, instead of hiring someone else. You don't always need to be an expert to fix a pipe, to paint a wall, to hang a door, or to replace a window. You just need to know how to do it, and you also need the right tools. There are a couple of stores where I live that supply those two things. They have employees who are very knowledgeable about all 'fix it' possibilities. And they have aisle after aisle of tools and equipment which will help you get the job done. As you might have guessed, these stores are huge. They are the biggest shops in the whole town, and they are always busy. They have a gardening section, a lawn care area, a lighting area, a lumber yard (which is where different kinds of wood sheets are available), doors, bathroom and kitchen appliances, floor coverings, paint, and tools. Phew! You could be in there for weeks without seeing everything. People keep coming back out of a desire to improve their homes, to save money, and to take pride in something they have done with their own hands. But now, something else brings them back, the chance to win $5000. Every time you buy something and receive your receipt, you will see on it an invitation to do a survey and enter the code that is on the receipt for a chance to win some big bucks. I have a few receipts at home that I haven't used yet. I should do. A $5000 card to the hardware store would be extremely useful. The list of things I could buy is very long: light bulbs, batteries, fertilizer for the lawn, cleaning fluids, paint, plants, picture hooks, garden tools.....well, I could go on. Apparently, one person each week wins the shopping card. That means that there is probably someone who comes to the store near me, who has already won, and who is buying 'freebies' for his projects. Grammar notes. Related vocabulary: a freebie, a survey, to take pride in, knowledgeable. 1. A freebie is something that is free to buy, or a gift from a store. 2. After staying at the hotel, we were asked to do a survey about our stay. 3. That gardener really takes pride in his work, and, as a result, his garden is spectacular. 4. My father is knowledgeable about the world wars; he is always reading the war history books. Click the link to buy or rate my app Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

A Tree House.

Jan 28, 2014 08:51


My children have begged my husband for years to build them a tree house. He has said "No," for a long time, but in 2013, for some reason(1), he changed his mind. I always agreed with the kids, because secretly, I think it would be very exciting to have a tree house. So, when he told us that he wanted our ideas about the project, we were all surprised and excited. The kids drew all sorts of designs, some realistic, and some pure fantasy. As Tom and the boys were going to do all of the building, the plans had to be very clear and simple. Each person had to know what his job was(2). Also, Tom decided to cut the cost(3) by using unwanted wood and fallen trees from land owned by relatives. So off he and the boys would go in the truck to search for wood. They would come back a few hours later, with the trailer full off tree trunks. One by one they would carry them to the back garden. It was heavy, hard work for the boys, but they're all big and strong, and if they wanted a tree house, they had to work for it. Gradually, the building started to take shape(4). The support wood went in the ground first, then the floor was placed on top of that. It seemed that in a few days the walls went up, and then the roof appeared. This all took place towards the end of November, because Tom knew that usually we get snow right at the beginning of December. Well, that didn't happen this year at all. We've had a snowless winter. Because it hasn't been too cold, the kids have already been playing in the house. Inside it you'll find a mattress, a lantern, and a stash (5)of food which went missing from my kitchen. My little squirrels must have transported it up into the tree house for their winter supply. 1. 'For some reason' is like saying 'I don't know why'. a. I called her three times, but for some reason she didn't pick up the phone. b. He's highly qualified, but for some reason he can't find a job. 2. The use of the verb at the end of the sentence shows that it's not a question. We would not say, 'Each person had to know what was his job'; that would be incorrect because that has the structure of a question.  a. He asked me what time it was/ what the time was. (We would not say 'He asked me what was the time). b. I need to know how much the cakes cost. (We would not say 'I need to know how much cost the cakes). 3. 'To cut the cost' means to make a project cheaper. a. The council is cutting the cost of lighting the streets by turning on only half of the street lamps. b. We cut the cost of painting our house by having our friends help us. 4. 'To take shape' is a phrase we use that describes the progress of a project. It can be used figuratively as well. a. The garden shed is half finished; it's really taking shape. b. We're planning the wedding reception; it's really taking shape. 5. 'A stash' is a collection of food or other substances that are hidden for some future use/ secret use. a. I cleaned my son's bedroom and found a stash of chocolates under his bed. b. The police came across a stash of marijuana in the boys' locker room in the High School. Click the link to buy or rate my app. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #30 + Interactive English.

Jan 25, 2014 18:14


At the radio station. Greg: Today we have a special guest from the university who is here to talk to us about the Student Union, and some of its important activities. Welcome, Liz. Liz: Hello Greg, thanks for having me. Greg: Congratulations on becoming the Student Union President. What are your goals for the students for this year? Liz: Three things really. I'm working with the other elected students to increase safety on campus; we'll have visiting speakers from the community who will educate us about safety issues: not walking alone late at night, reporting suspicious behaviors, and keeping personal property safe. Greg: Good, because crime on campus should be unacceptable, don't you think? Liz: Absolutely. We're also organizing a big concert to raise money for a health outreach. Some students deal with depression, drug addiction, bullying. So we want to spend that money on speakers, counselors, and workshops. We're also working with the universituy to see if students can get credit for going to the workshops. Greg: Well that's impressive, Liz. You're trying to solve some very important problems. I wish you all the best. We'll support your efforts by running ads about the concert every day. Liz: Thanks Greg, I really appreciate it.   Click the link if you wish to rate my app or buy it Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

A Photo Shoot.

Jan 24, 2014 07:27


I'm happy to tell you that I'm building a website that will soon replace the blog for A Cup Of English. I'm very excited about the change, and I hope that soon I will have it finished. One thing that I did a few days ago for the website, was to have a personal photo shoot. I have had the podcast for over five years, and have only shown my voice. However, the website will be a little bit more personal, so there will be a page about me, Anna, with a few photos. So you will be able to connect a real human being to the voice that you hear in the podcasts. I normally take photos; I don't usually have them taken of me. So, I'm more comfortable behind a camera, instead of infront of one. I had an idea of what I wanted: relaxed, casual photos of me looking fabulous but professional at the same time. Well, was that too much to ask? The cameraman seemed really nice, but was young and very quiet. He sat me at a desk that was very low, on a chair that was too high, told me to sit up straight, but lean forward. Then I had to lower my chin, but look up. Finally I had to turn my head to the left, but tilt (1)it to the right. Oh my gosh, I was so uncomfortable! I was as stiff as a board, which means as hard as a piece of wood. I tried to give a relaxed smile, but that just wasn't going to happen. We checked the photos and my smile looked like the corners of my mouth had been pulled back by big, metal hooks(2). What made it worse, was that the photographer was really quiet, as quiet and still as the camera. "Why don't I make myself laugh?" I said pathetically. I tried doing some fake laughs, hoping that that(3) would make me laugh. It did, once, but the camera didn't go 'click', and so the moment was lost. I  was feeling ridiculous. An hour and a half had gone by and I was exhausted. But I think, that's when it happened. I was tired and wanted to go home, so I stopped caring about the photos. When I stopped caring, I relaxed. And when I relaxed, suddenly 'click, click, click', the photographer got to work(4). The poor man was probably desperate to get rid of this stiff English woman. Anyway, three decent photos were the result of the photo shoot. I never realized that posing for photos could be so painful. 1. 'To tilt' is to put something on its side. a. Can you tilt the lampshade, the light is right in my face. b. He tilted his hat to cover his eyes; he looked very cool. 2. 'Hook' is a noun and a verb. In this podcast it is used as a noun. It can be made out of metal or wood, is formed like a sharp 'U', and is used to grab items. a. We need some hooks if we're going fishing. b. The butcher hung the meat up on the hooks. 3. 'That, that' here the word 'that' is used as both a conjunction and a pronoun. a. I read him a story, hoping that that would send him to sleep. b. She cooked a chicken stew, knowing that that would satisfy her family. c. We sent the rent check early because we know that that will keep the landlord happy.   Join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. You're all welcome.  Need the app? It's in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Click the link to buy or rate it. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Drug addiction in High School.

Jan 22, 2014 07:18


I made the mistake, last night, of turning up to the High School too early to pick up my son. He was in basketball practice, and still had almost an hour left(1). "Oh, silly me!" I thought to myself. There was no point driving back home and then returning later, so I decided to check my emails on my iPhone. Well, most of them were advertising or spam, and after deleting all that I could, I looked around for something to do. The hallway, where I was waiting, was covered in posters that High Schoolers had made. As I started to read them, I could see that they were all about drug addiction. This is a real problem in High Schools. Somehow drugs make their way(2) into the schools, and have become big business. Often students who are depressed or who have family problems, will start taking drugs as an escape. There is pressure also to look 'cool'(3), and to do what others are doing. I think that having informative posters on the walls about common drugs like LSD, Morphine, Crack, and Marujuana, is a good thing. I learned a lot by reading them, and I'm sure that there are many parents, like myself, who don't know enough about all the drugs that circulate in the High Schools. I was pleased to see that each poster had a section called 'drug prevention' which gave advice about avoiding the trap of taking drugs. They said things like: "Just say no," "Stand alone," "Avoid drug users", "Stay busy with healthy activities", and "Talk with a counselor". I talk to my children about the dangers of taking drugs, and how they should always respect their bodies, and never feel pushed into dangerous behavior, even by good friends. Reading the posters reminded me that High School can be a wonderful place of development and learning, but also an environment that has its potential dangers. 1. 'Left' is a word we use with 'time' to show that there is still time remaining. We also use the phrase 'to go' after an expression of time. a. There are still three hours of daylight left. b. You can finish writing your paragraph; there are still 45 minutes to go/ left. 2. 'To make one's way into something/ somewhere'. This phrase is used to describe how someone or something can get into/ appear in a location. a. I don't know how it happened, but the rats made their way into the building, and started to live in the walls. b. The soldier made his way slowly over the snowy fields. 3. 'Cool' is used, particularly in the U.S to mean sophisticated, confident, fashionable, individual, and a maverick (which means a person who does what he wants to do and is admired/ a person who is confident to go his own way). It is used a lot as slang, and can describe events and places as well as people. a. Your new bike is so cool. b. My English teacher is really cool; she's patient, kind, and teaches really well.   Please rate my app, or buy A Cup Of English in iTunes. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

The Campaign.

Jan 17, 2014 10:37


Last year, for the first time, I got involved in(1) a political campaign. A friend of mine decided to run for a position(2) on the local School Board. She is a busy mother of four, and running for that position would take a lot of time and energy, so a group of us decided to help her. The campaign was like many others; she had to get her name out(3) into the community, talk on the radio, go to public events, and attend lots of meetings. It just so happens that(4) those are the sort of things that she does anyway; she is a natural politician. Where I had to help was handing out information flyers on her, and waving banners on the street corners. For years, I have seen other people do that. They stand in small groups, near busy roads, and wave banners that say, "Vote John Brown for Council," or "Vote Judy Green for Mayor". These people generally face the traffic, show the banners, and wave. I could never imagine myself doing that(5). However, when I found out that my friend Jennifer wanted to run for the School District position, I was willing to do anything to help her. For years she has volunteered in schools, and has helped on the Parent Teacher Association, so she knows about our education system, and where it needs help. The School Board represents all of the schools in our area, about ten of them. They help to decide on spending, renovations, employment, and program(me)s of all sorts. As Jennifer is energetic, studious, determined, and personable, I knew that she would be a perfect addition to(6) the School Board, and would help to make positive changes. So, I found myself on the busy street corners, waving banners, smiling and waving, and saying, "Vote for Jennifer!" My kids even helped me. They got plenty of attention from the passing drivers. And guess what? Even though the person running against(7) Jennifer was well known in the community, and had huge banners, Jennifer won. The campaign was a success. I look forward to hearing about the changes in the School District, now that a new, dynamic person is on the board. 1. 'To get involved' - means to become part of a project, goal, or work. To do something to help. a. I want to get involved in the local community, to help solve some of its problems. b. She is very involved with a volunteer reading program. 2. 'To run for a position', the verb 'to run' is used when someone is in a political campaign of any kind. a. No woman has ever run for President yet in the U.S. b. My uncle is running for Mayor. 3. 'To get one's name out' means to inform the public about yourself, your name, and what you do or wish to do. It's like 'spreading the word' about yourself. a. Part of any campaign is getting your name out into the community. b. The business will increase as its name gets out. 4. 'It just so happens that' is the same as saying, 'it happens that', 'coincidentally', 'it's significant that'. It shows a connection between two things. a. My father makes shoes; it just so happens that he has huge feet, and finds it difficult to buy shoes. b. We need a large location for the party; it just so happens that the school gymnasium is available on that day. 5. 'I could never imagine myself (doing something)..' / 'I can't imagine myself (doing something)...' These phrases are interchangeable, but the first is also used when the action or event that you could not imagine, has taken place. a. I could never imagine myself singing on stage, but then I did it, and I wasn't too bad! (the event actually took place). b. I can't imagine myself as a politician. (the event hasn't taken place). 6. We talk about a person being 'a perfect addition to' a company, an organization, and even a family. a. When Julie marries Peter, she will be the perfect addition to the family. b. He's the perfect addition to the company; it will really benefit from his skills and experience. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish, and send your questions to my email at I look forward to hearing from you!   Need the app? You can find it in iTunes, called A Cup Of English. Click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //    

Basic Pronunciation Practice #29 + Interactive English.

Jan 16, 2014 12:43


Liz: Excuse me Professor Cameron. Prof: Yes Liz. Liz: I just wanted to hand in my essay today. I know it's due tomorrow, but I won't be here, and I don't want it to be late. Prof: Ok. What are you up to tomorrow? Liz: Actually, I'm having an interview for the city newspaper. Prof: Really? About what? Liz: Well, I was just voted the President of the Student Union. Prof: Congratulations. Liz: Thanks. So I will be talking to them about my goals, raising money, and student activities this year. Prof: I had no idea that you were political, Liz. I look forward to reading the article. I invite you all to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Buy or rate my app by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Just a trifle.

Jan 11, 2014 09:21


When it's a special time of year, most cultures celebrate, among other ways(1), with traditional food. In England, we have lots of special food, both savory and sweet, that we enjoy during Christmas and the New Year. I have started my own tradition of making English trifle during the winters. It is a very well-known dish that can be enjoyed any time, really. But for me, because it is my favorite, I keep it for the winter holiday season. One reason for that is that it is creamy. In the long, cold winter months, most people I know feel like eating heavier food. Instead of salads and other light dishes, we feel like rich food, lots of calories, things like meat, potatoes, cheeses, and cream. Well, I'm a fan of cream, but it has to be respected: don't use too much, and don't make it too sweet. I make trifle from scratch(2), and cream makes it extra special. The base of a trifle is custard: a mixture of milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla. My secret ingredient is evaporated milk which I add after I have cooked the custard. It's heaven! Then, I pour some sherry over 'ladies' fingers' which are like a very light sponge cake. Then the technique is simple: you layer everything. So, you layer the ladies' fingers with jam, thin slices of banana, and then custard. When the bowl is full, you make a layer of heavy, whipped cream (not sweetened), topped with toasted, sliced almonds. When you have finished, the trifle needs to be chilled all night. Then, finally, you use a long, large spoon to serve it, because each person needs to have several layers of the trifle. I suppose it's like making fine art; you have to take time, and work hard to produce something special. 1. 'Among other ways' in the first sentence means 'there are many ways, but we will focus on one particular way.' The phrase is used with other nouns, not just 'ways'. a. What I need for college, among other things, is a laptop. b. He explained, among other grammar points, the subjunctive and imperative. c. We visited Stonehenge, among other sites. 2. 'From scratch' when you are talking about cooking, means that you made it yourself; no part of it was premade.  a. If you make the meal from scratch, it will take longer than using premade food. b. They never make anything from scratch; they always eat food from a box. 3. 'To whip' is the verb we use when we beat cream or butter. When we do the same thing to eggs, we use the verb 'to beat'. a. Whip the cream and slowly add some powdered sugar, then spread it on the cake. b. You must beat the eggs; add the spinach. Fry the omelette and then add cheese. 4. 'To chill' or 'chilled' are used in cooking. a. You must chill the dessert to get the right texture. b. He poured the martinis into chilled glasses. 5. 'To sweeten' is to add sugar or something else that is sweet. a. Do you like to sweeten your coffee? b. The Cherokee Indians would sweeten their food with honey or sap from the maple tree.   You're invited to my Facebook page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. If you have questions or comments about my podcasts, please let me know at  Click the link to rate or buy my app.  Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #28 + Interactive English.

Jan 6, 2014 15:18


Jennifer: Hi Liz, I just thought I'd come by to say "Hi", and "Happy New Year." Liz: Happy New Year to you too Jennifer. Did you have a nice time with your family? Jennifer: Yes, we just had a quiet and relaxing time. A few friends came over and we had dinner. How about you? Liz: I had an amazing time. A large group of us went to China Town for the celebrations. I was amazed at how exciting and lively they were. We usually have a quiet New Year's Eve, so I was really surprised at the difference. Jennifer: So what did you all do? Liz: Well, first of all we had dinner: fish and dumplings, delicious! You know how much I love fish! Then we walked through the center of China Town to see all the decorations; there were lanterns and red paper art everywhere. I bought an upside down 'Fu' and 'Dui Lian' to hang in my room, for future good luck and prosperity. Then the fireworks started. Oh my goodness, they went on all night. Infact, the celebrations go on for about two weeks! We actually stayed up all night, and went to the morning market which is traditional. They were selling lots of flowers, so I bought sunflowers and plum blossoms which are supposed to give me a good year. Jennifer: Wow! You really had a cultural experience. My New Year's Eve was really boring compared with yours.   Thanks for joining me. You're invited to my FACEBOOK page which is called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Send your questions and comments to   Please rate my app, or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Angel of the New Year.

Jan 6, 2014 09:59


I can't believe it's January, 2014. We say that Christmas 'came and went', which means that it was over very quickly, in the blink of an eye. I know that all around the world, people celebrate New Year's Eve with big parties, and in many different ways. Usually, we have a quiet, family time at home.We typically buy food like smoked salmon, cheeses and wines, and chocolates. As it's cold and dark outside, we always light a fire. And then we watch the New Year being celebrated around the world on telelvision. It's a quiet, lazy evening for us. However, this year was quite different. We were invited to the house of a couple who always have a big celebration on New Year's Eve. They have what we call an 'open house'. It means that anyone can turn up. Their house is really decorated with Christmas lights outside; it looks like something out of Disney Land. They have won awards for their decorations, and often you will see cars slow down as they drive by, so the people in the cars can have a good look. Well, this year, they had a fire pit outside, where we could roast hot dogs, and marshmallows. Inside, the kitchen was full of more food and drinks. We played Bingo in the lounge, and we also had fireworks outside. At one point, a policeman came by to warn us about the fireworks: they were too close to the road. But by then, Dan, the home owner, had already let off the big fireworks, so we were quite satisfied. The children ran around the property, through all of the Christmas lights, playing games, and squealing with delight. And I wandered around, as I usually do, with my camera, photographing all the pretty scenes that Dan and his wife had created for the holidays. I came upon an angel blowing a trumpet, next to a group of Christmas trees. "Perfect!" I thought. The scene glowed with hope, beauty, and goodness. It was a physical representation of what, I think, we all want for the New Year. It's interesting how a simple scene like that, even one made of plastic, can give a powerful image of the beauty that we can find in life, and of the meaningful future that the human family desires. 1. 'Came and went' is a useful phrase that emphasizes how time goes quickly. a. Our vacation came and went. The time flew (by) because we were having so much fun. b. I was nervous about the interview, but it came and went. It was over in the blink of an eye. 2. 'As it's cold and dark outside'.... Here the 'as' is used the same way as 'because'. a. As it's raining, we won't go for a walk. b. As the flight is cancelled, we will catch the train instead. 3. 'At one point, a policeman came by...' Here the phrase 'at one point' is used to mean 'at a certain time in the party', 'during the party', 'while the party was still going'. a. At one point during the movie, we got up and left because it was so bad. b. At one point during the lecture, I fell asleep. My friend had to wake me up! 4. 'To let off/ set off fireworks'. Two verbs are used when we talk about lighting fireworks. The preposition 'off' is used to add the meaning that the fireworks 'fly off' once they have been lit. a. We all stood back, and Mr. Jones set off the first rocket. b. He was in charge of letting off the fireworks. 5. 'Squeal' and 'shriek' are fabulous verbs that describe a kind of scream. They are both high pitched, the first probably being the highest. It is the noise made by young children having fun, or a pig and sometimes other animals stuck somewhere, or in pain (a squeal). 'Shriek' is like a scream when someone is scared or angry. Again, because it is a high pitched sound, it is associated with women more than men. a. The children squealed with delight when the clown walked in the room. b. The lady shrieked, "You clumsy fool!" when the waitress spilled red wine on her white dress.   Thanks for joining me. You're all welcome to my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Send your questions or comments to and I will get back to you.  Please rate my app or buy it by clicking on the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //   >

Basic Pronunciation Practice #27 + Interactive English.

Dec 16, 2013 13:56


Peter: Are you going home for the holidays? Liz: Yes I am. We're going to have a big, family get-together. It'll be fun, but there's loads to do. I think my mother is already stressed. Peter: Stressed? Why get stressed at such a fun time of year? Liz: She doesn't choose to get stressed. It's just what often happens. She has most of the responsibility for the get-together, so there is a lot to think about. Peter: I can't see what the fuss is all about. She just has to do the cooking, right? Liz: No, there's much more to organize. She has to make the sleeping arrangements for all the visitors, including buying more bedding. We can't have eighty year old aunt Betty sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag. Then there's the food. I don't think we have enough chairs, so where will everyone sit for dinner? My job will be to make a huge grocery list, buy everything, and then put it all away neatly. My Dad and I will drive to the airport to pick everyone up, but they're all arriving at different times. Peter: What a headache! When I go home for the holidays, I just turn up! Liz: Well you're lucky, and spoilt! Please rate my app, or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Little Eiffel Tower.

Dec 6, 2013 11:07


A few weeks ago, I went to pick up my son from High School. Usually I park away from the heavy traffic, on the right side of the parking lot, and he meets me there. I usually sit waiting for a few minutes, and catch up with(1) my emails while I wait. This particular day though, I suddenly heard the back of the car open, and a voice say, "Hey Mom, can you help me with this?" I looked back and saw an enormous, brown, wooden tower. Hudson was carrying it, and it was so large that I couldn't even see him. "Wow!" I said, as I jumped out of the car(2). "Let me put the back seats down for you(3), otherwise, it won't fit in the back." I lowered the two back seats of the car, and helped Hudson put his creation from his art lesson in carefully. As we drove home he showed me the gift certificate(4) that he and his team mates had won for building this mini- Eiffel Tower. "Well done, darling," I said. "It's quite a work of art." The night before, he had asked me if I had any extra Christmas lights that he could use for his art project. I gave him some, but didn't ask him about the project. I actually expected it to be some normal, small art project, perhaps something that shows a certain painting technique, or some specific medium, like oil paint, clay, or metal paper. This, however, was much more than I had expected(5). It completely took me by surprise(6). It sits in his bedroom now, and is lit up. I'm considering bringing it downstairs for our Christmas entryway decoration. It'll make a change from a Christmas tree. 1. 'To catch up with my email' this verbal phrase can be used in many contexts. It means to get up to date, or to read the latest emails, to hear the latest news etc. a. Yesterday I caught up with my bills; thankfully I paid every one on time. b. Last week I caught up with my best friend. She had a lot of news to tell me. 2. " I jumped out of the car." In this part of the podcast, I don't literally mean that I jumped out of the car. In English, we often use a verb such as jump to describe a quick, enthusiastic movement or decision. a. I jumped to volunteer; I could see that he needed help. (speed) b. He jumped up from his chair and started to sing. (enthusiasm). 3. "Let me put the back seats down for you." Here in the podcast, I literally mean, " Let me fold down the seats so the project will fit," or "Let me fold down the seats so we can fit your art project in the back of the car." You can see that these two sentences would be quite long and unnecessary. As in any language, English will often use a shorter version. It is understood that we have to make room in the back of the car for the project, so it is much simpler to say, "Let me + verb for you." If you are helping someone do anything physical, you can just use this phrase instead of going into detail. a. Let me open the door for you.  (to carry the old tv out and to bring the new one in). b. Let me hold that up for you. (the sofa, while you look underneath for your phone). 4.  Gift certificates are a very popular present for all occasions. a. I got a Starbucks gift certificate for my birthday. b. Let's buy him a gift certificate to the hardware store. 5.  "This was much more than I had expected." I have included this sentence in the grammar notes because it is perfect to learn by heart in order to use it in multiple situations. a. (Realising that there is a surprise party for you) "This is much more than I had expected." b. (Being given the award for excellence by your company) "This is much more than I had expected." 6. "It completely took me by surprise." This is another 'ready made' sentence that you can use in your conversations. a. The rain storm caught us/got us while we walked home. It completely took me by surprise. b. He turned up with his luggage at midnight. It completely took us by surprise. Click here to rate or buy my app. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

A Glowing 'Starpath'.

Dec 2, 2013 09:15


'Luminous', 'glowing', 'radiating' are the words which came to my mind(1) after reading an article about a very special, new technology. It's called 'Starpath', an earth-friendly(2), inexpensive, and efficient way to light our streets. A company in England called Pro-Teq Surfacing, has developed a material made out of ultraviolet particles. These particles are spread onto a path, where they absorb sunlight during the day, and then they glow(3) blue at night. The first public demonstration of this took place in the city of Cambridge. I found a photograph of the path in the newspaper called 'The Telegraph', and it does show the path glowing at night. This is a very exciting development in lighting because it is clean, sustainable(4), and very cheap. I can imagine the cost of lighting our streets with traditional street lamps. However, this Starpath technology could cut our national lighting costs by hundreds of millions each year. We certainly cannot do without(5) light at night, to keep us safe, to help us find our way home, and to discourage crime. What a fantastic development. And this is just the beginning. Starpath technology offers the possibility of different colors of light as well. Also, the material used can last up to seventy years, so it is very sustainable stuff. As councils are turning off street lamps to save money and to meet carbon emissions targets, Starpath could be a valuable solution to both problems. 1. 'To come to mind' means that something reminds you of something else; it could be an image, a word, even a color. a. When I think of my Kindergarten students, a tornado comes to mind. b. When I think of my good friends, a garden of flowers comes to mind. 2. 'Earth-friendly' is a very popular and very important phrase. It means something that doesn't harm the natural environment. a. This plastic bag is earth-friendly; it decomposes quickly and is not toxic. b. My earth-friendly light bulbs take a few minutes to produce bright light. 3. 'Glow' is one of the main ideas in this podcast, and it means the same as 'radiate', or 'emit light'. It can be used figuratively as well. a. His face was glowing with success when he found out that he had passed the exam. b. The moon glowed through the clouds. 4. 'Sustainable' comes from the verb 'to sustain' which means 'to keep going' or 'to support'. a. That forest is sustainable because the trees that are cut down are quickly replaced. b. We need an educational program for prisoners that is sustainable. 5. 'To do without' is interchangeable with 'to go without', but the latter often means that a person lacks some basic necessity. a. The homeless shelter cannot do without funding, even for a day. b. The play cannot do without the main actor; it just wouldn't work. c. People can only go without water for a few days, but they can go without food for about a month. d. I can't do without/ go without my coffee in the morning.   Thanks for joining me! You're welcome to join my Facebook page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Send any questions and comments to Please rate my app or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #26 + Interactive English.

Nov 12, 2013 10:37


Brian: "What are all these boxes doing out in the hall?" Liz: "I decided that it was finally time for me to get organized?" Brian: "You? Organized?" Liz: "I'm not that bad, am I?" Brian: "Well, I don't know anyone else who loses her keys everyday, or her phone, or her bag." Liz: "That's called being normal." Brian: "Well, I don't lose my things everyday." Liz: "That's because you're not normal, ha, ha! I've made a resolution: I will be more organized. I'll use my iPhone calendar. I'll get rid of my junk, and become more efficient." Brian: "Wow! God help us all! An efficient Liz is hard to imagine." Liz: "That's because overly organized people like you lack imagination."   Questions or comments? Email me at Feel free to join me on my Facebook page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. You're all welcome.  Please rate my app or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

A Creepy Education.

Nov 4, 2013 08:39


Recently, when I was substitute teaching in a local school, I came across a very unusual creature. It was an Austrian leaf bug. It was in the elementary classroom, along with(1) other animals such as a corn snake, a hampster, and an old display of tarantulas, moths, and beetles. This particular(2) insect didn't catch my eye at all at first because it was perfectly camouflaged. It was hanging from a raspberry branch, but it was so still, and looked so much like a dry leaf, that I thought there were no creatures in the cage at all. I asked the students about their classroom pets, and they had lots to say. They called the bugs, "gross", "wierd", "freaky", and even "boring". "They don't do much," said one boy. "They just hang there all day. They eat, and they poop, and that's all." I took a video of one of them and then looked them up on the internet. I found out that they are not as boring as they seem(3). They live a long time: 18 months for females, and about 6 months for males. The females produce huge amounts of eggs, and what's amazing is that(4)they don't even need the males. If there is no male, their eggs will all be female bugs; it's called parthenogenesis. The females are also twice as big as the males, but unlike them, they cannot fly. Poor males, they may aswell fly if they're not needed. So, for a classroom, the female Australian bug is an ideal and easy pet: cheap, durable, static, and 'wierd'.   1. 'Along with' is similar to saying 'as well as' or 'close to'. a. Cats are perfect hunters. They are fast, quiet, and along with their sharp claws, they have nocturnal vision. b. The kitchen drawer was a mess. In it were coins, wires, papers , and pins, along with old receipts and pebbles. 2. 'This particular..'  is a useful short phrase used to emphasize a noun that you then describe.  a. There was a man in the crowd in a red coat. This particular man was well known. b. Snakes can dislocate their jaws; this particular ability enables them to eat animals larger than themselves. 3.  'as' praticing comparisons: a. He's as tall as the man. b. It's as sunny as it was yesterday. c. She's as capable as anyone in the class. 4. 'What's amazing is that..' Here, 'amazing' can be replaced with any adjective, and often 'that' is omitted in speech, and after 'who', 'when', 'where', 'how' and 'why', or the infinitive or gerund of a verb. a. What's tragic is (that) he doesn't study for his tests. b. What's funny is how he eats so fast. c. What's encouraging is seeing their progress. 5. 'Durable' means that it either lives a long time, or that it doesn't wear with age or use. a. The new, efficient light bulbs are durable; they last up to 7 years. b. those cheap tires are not durable; they'll wear out in a year or two.   Questions? Comments? Email me at    Please rate my app, or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app   Tweet        

Basic Pronunciation Practice + Interactive English #25.

Oct 19, 2013 13:30


John: Hi Liz, are you still playing with that thing? Liz: Oh yes, hi John. I'm still getting used to my new iPhone. I'm getting to know the apps really well. John: I can see that. I was standing next to you for 5 minutes before you looked up. Liz: Oh gosh, sorry! It's just so fascinating. I actually missed the bus yesterday because I wasn't paying attention. John: Well, at least you weren't waiting to catch a plane! Liz: Ha! Yes! It's absorbing a lot of my time at the moment. But, once I get used to it, I'm sure I'll be back to normal. John: Sure, it takes a while to get used to new technology. How are you liking the bigger bill? Liz: Not much. But I suppose you get what you pay for. Why do they make cell phone bills so complicated: data, minutes, plans, taxes, surcharges? It's more confusing than my Science teacher! John: I know. I just pay the bill, and hope that they're being honest.   Would you like to join my FACEBOOK page? It's called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Just send me a friend request. If you have a question or a suggestion, let me know at  Rate my app or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Driving lessons

Oct 16, 2013 10:27


In the United States, young men and women are allowed to start driving lessons when they are fifteen. They apply for an 'Initial Permit', take lessons, and have the opportunity to drive the family car. They have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian(1) who is over 21 and who has a proper(2) driver's license. After a year of good driving, on their sixteenth birthday, they can get their driver's license. None of this meant anything to me until my oldest son, Hudson, asked me if he could apply for his initial permit. "What!" I said to myself. "This is crazy! He's only fifteen! His brain isn't fully developed yet!" When I had calmed down, I realised that everybody starts young over here. And, the best way to keep my son safe, is to allow him to get proper training, and lots of experience. So, even though(3) I would like to say "No", I haven't. I am actually the one who sits next to him when he is driving around. Thankfully, he is very careful. It's nerve wracking(4), however, as a parent, to sit there in the passenger seat, and have no control at all. I'm definitely more nervous than he is in that situation. I have to control my breathing, bite my tongue(5), and try not to slam my foot onto my imaginary brake. As he is enouraged by his driving instructors to drive everywhere, in the morning, he drives his three siblings to school, and then goes on(6) to the High School. So, first thing in the morning, I find myself sitting in the passenger seat in my pyjamas, heart racing, wild eyed like a trapped cat, just hoping for it all to be over soon. I smile, of course, and say things like, "That was a really good corner, Hudson. You used the brakes really well." By the time I get home, though, I look like I've seen a ghost. So I destress with some Yoga, and a long shower. 1. 'Guardian' is a person who looks after someone, even though he is not a parent. a. Tell your parents or guardians about the school meeting tonight. b. Their aunt became their guardian. 2. 'Proper' is often used in English to mean, the 'actual', 'real', 'authentic'. It is also, occasionally, used as 'neat', or 'fully prepared.' a. The little boy has a toy computer, but his older brother has a proper one. b. He has become a proper baker, with his own business and delivery van. 3. 'Even though' is worth practicing: a. Even though it's raining, we should go for a walk. b. Even though it's late, you should do your homework. c. Even though they didn't want to, they stayed behind after school. d. She decided to quit her job, even though she had been offered a raise. e. We went by train, even though by car would have been quicker. 4. 'Nerve wracking' is a common expression that expresses extreme stress. a. I can't go on roller coasters anymore; it's too nerve wracking. b. All the noise and demands of running a preschool can be nerve wracking. 5. 'To bite your tongue' means to deliberately keep quiet in order to not say the wrong thing and cause a problem. a. He was going to say that she looked fat in her new dress, but he bit his tongue. b. Please bite your tongue instead of arguing. 6. '...goes on' here is used instead of 'continues driving to'. Using the verb 'to go' + on is a quicker and more informal way than repeating the original verb. a. We'll drive to the park first, and then go on to the shopping mall. b. They skied to the valley, and went on to the hotel.   Please send me your emails with any questions and comments that you may have:  Remember, you're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Need the app? Rate it if you have it. Click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  


Oct 10, 2013 10:38


As I look at the calendar, I realise that I have about five weeks left, five weeks before the snow 'flies'(1). There are lots of things to do before the beautiful, white blanket of snow covers our town. I'm a gardener, a self-proclaimed (2)addict. But that's not a bad thing. As I sit here typing, looking out at the back garden, or 'yard' as they say here, I see a transformation slowly evolving. There is a long, raised bed(3) of soil, two trees, and one, two, three bushes. Soon, I hope, that amount will be multiplied by four. So what is my goal? It's a mini-forest that will have a seating area in the middle, accessed only by two windy(4) paths. It will also hide the neighbor's ugly white barn that looks over my garden. To take on a project like this, you have to have a vision. And my vision has helped me to continue working hard. When the soil or 'dirt' was delivered, I thought, "Gosh, that's a lot of soil. Will I really be able to transport all of it from the front garden to the back garden?" The thought was intimidating. My children helped me a little bit, but I think they did that just to keep me happy(5). They had their own agenda. They took possession of this mountain of soft soil, like it was powdered gold. Before I knew it(6), they were digging tunnels, building rooves, and having battles right in the 'dirt pile'. In fact, my son Cass, who had just celebrated his birthday, suggested that next year I buy him his own dirt pile for a birthday present. My! How life has changed! When I was young, I played in dirt all the time, and drove my mother crazy. Now, in our ultra-clean, ultra-scheduled society, children are requesting dirt piles as presents. They are abandoning their computers and iPads, and waiting for Santa to pour three cubic feet of soil down the chimney. I applaud their connection with the soil. It's magnificent stuff, the foundation of nature's architecture. 1. 'Before the snow flies' is a phrase used here in the U.S which really means 'when the snow comes'. a. I must get the bulbs planted before the snow flies. b. After the snow flies we will build a snowman. 2. 'Self-proclaimed' is when a person calls himself or herself something. a. Michael Jackson was the self-proclaimed 'Kind of Pop'. b. She is a self-proclaimed authority on fashion. 3. 'A raised bed' is an area of soil that has been built up. It can be used for flowers, vegetables, or trees. However, planting beds do not have to be raised. a. The raised bed will help to hide the neighbor's barn. b. There is a bed of roses around the corner. 4. 'Windy' note the spelling. With a sharp 'i', as in 'ink', it describes weather that has a lot of wind. With a longer, softer 'i', as in 'hi', it describes a curvy line or path. a. Hold on to your hats! It's a windy day today. b. To get to the abandoned house, you must follow a windy path that goes through the forest. 5. 'To keep someone happy' means to appease them, usually for a purpose. a. Walk your dog and feed him everyday. That will keep him happy, and stop him from misbehaving. b. Big speeches with lots of promises often keep the voters happy. 6. 'Before I knew it' is a great phrase that communicates something quickly happening, taking you by surprise. a. The carpet cleaner arrived while I was cooking, and, before I knew it, he had finished the carpet and left. b. Dark clouds gathered while we walked, and before we knew it, we were in the middle of a storm.   Click the link to rate or buy my app. Click here to buy or rate my app Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice + Interactive English # 24.

Oct 4, 2013 11:16


John: What have you got there? Liz: Oh, it's a new cell phone. John: Nice. Is it a smart phone? Liz: Yep. I decided that it was about time for me to get one. John: What kind is it? Liz: An iPhone 4S; it's quite basic really. There are newer models, but this is all I need.  John: Well, you've got internet access and a camera. I think those are so useful. Liz: And don't forget the apps. They really make life easier. My favorite is Google Maps. It's free, and there is a pleasant voice that tells me exactly where to go and when. I never get lost!   You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email me at   Need the app of this podcast? Find A Cup Of English app in iTunes. Click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #23 + Interactive English.

Sep 19, 2013 13:42


Sam: So Liz, are you going to go to the doctor, or do I have to take you myself? Liz: Yes, yes, I'm planning on going. You don't have to force me; believe me, I feel terrible. Sam: Well, you look terrible. Liz: Oh thanks! That makes me feel better. Sam: You know what I mean. Look, you've had a temperature for two days, you have a sore throat, and you have no energy. If I were you, I would go immediately. Liz: Yes, I suppose you're right. It's just that.... Sam: What? Liz: I hate hospitals, and clinics, and needles, and pills.... Sam: So do I. I don't even like smell of hospitals, but what choice do you have? If you delay seeing a doctor, you might end up with an infection. And you know what that means. Liz: Yes, antibiotics. Okay, you've convinced me. I'll call and make an appointment.   Join me on my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Send your questions and comments to  Please rate my app or buy it by clicking the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Messing about on the river.

Sep 12, 2013 07:45


These September days are glorious. They are still extremely sunny, but there is a coolness in the air which makes it easier(1) to be outside. On Sunday, we took a trip to Leavenworth, a nearby town. I often go there for a change of scenery. It is very mountainous and well kept(2). The town has been deliberately made to look German, and the calendar in Leavenworth is full of special German-style(3) celebrations. The reason we went, was to go to the park. What makes it special, is that part of it is an island, called Black Bird Island. It is surrounded by the Wenatchee River, and accessible from one bridge. As you cross the bridge, you enter into a gentle forest that has a maze(4) of pathways. We walked until we could see the river through the trees, went down an embankment, and chose a spot on one of the rocky, sandy beaches. I found a shady area to sit and take photos, while my kids took off their socks and shoes and got straight into the water. They became hunters, hunters of fish and unusual stones. We also took our metal detector, to see if we could find some treasure. Well, a coke can and an old nail aren't exactly treasure, but it was fun to hear the metal detector come alive and make noise. The embankment next to us was actually full of natural treasures. We found a snake, empty birds' nests, a bird's egg, and a little den full of seeds; it must have belonged to a mouse or some other rodent. The hours flew by(5); and before we knew it, we had to leave. It was a perfect day of simple relaxation and childlike discovery. 1. 'To make it easier' is a phrase that we use often in English. a. The new parking area makes it easier to access the shops. b. On-line shopping makes our lives much easier. 2. 'Well kept' means 'well looked after' or 'neat and tidy'. a. My neighbor's garden is so well kept; it looks like a park. b. The baskets of flowers outside that shop are really well kept. 3. 'German-style'. The use of '-style' is very common, and almost any noun can be put in front of it to add sense to a sentence. It is correct to do this, even if you the phrase appears 'made up' or 'newly created' by you. It is an informal grammar structure. a. I love their French-style house; their English-style garden compliments it. b. Their 1920's-style wedding was very classy. 4. 'A maze' means the same as 'a labyrinth'. a. You can pay to walk around the corn maze, and try to find your way out. b. The hotel was like a maze; there were so many hallways that you could get lost easily. 5. 'The hours flew by'. Time is often expressed with the verb 'to fly' to give the meaning of it going quickly. a. The summer flew by; before we knew it, it was over. b. The time I spend with my sister always flies by because we have so much fun.   Questions? Comments? Email me at  You are all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Click the link to rate or buy my app. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #22 + Interactive English.

Sep 10, 2013 14:35


Samantha: Hello Liz! Liz: Hi Samantha! How are you? Samantha: Really well thanks. I'm calling because I have a question. Liz: Oh, go ahead. Samantha: Do you want to join us for the protest tomorrow? Liz: What protest? Samantha: Haven't you heard? The teachers' salaries are going to be cut by 30%, and the cost of tuition is going up. Liz: Oh my gosh! No, I hadn't heard. When will the changes take effect? Samantha: In a month. So, tomorrow, at noon, the teachers and some students are going to walk from the university to the governor's building in protest. We've got some banners to carry; it'll only take about two hours. Liz: There won't be any trouble, will there? Samantha: Oh of course not; it'll be totally peaceful. Nobody wants to cause any trouble. But something has to be said about the cuts, those poor teachers! Liz: I agree. And students can't afford another rise in tuition. That's crazy! Well, count me in. I will definitely be there. Samantha: Excellent. We'll meet  at the fountain just before noon. I'll see you there! Liz: Ok, thanks for letting me know. I'll see you at the fountain.   You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Send your questions to Click the link to rate or buy my app. Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet //   //  


Aug 22, 2013 09:33


Those of you who have followed my podcasts for a few years, will know that (1) I love trees. One of my dreams is to have a tree farm. Another, more ambitious dream, is to take back (2)deserts by planting heat tolerant trees. At the moment, I can't do any of that, but instead, I spend time in my large garden. I have plans this autumn to (3) plant quite a few trees to create a mini forest, a place of shade and comfort. One tree that I learned about this summer is the Mimosa. It is actually called the Persian Silk Tree, though it originates from China. It has a beautiful, round shape, with many thin leaves, and huge pink flowers that look like collections of feathers. It's also associated with sleep. It's Persian modern name is 'shabkhosh' which means 'sleeping tree', and in Japan its name is 'nemunoki' which means the same. Its leaves slowly close each night and bow down, and that is why it is associated with sleep. I came across this tree at a wedding. The event took place in a large, back garden which had been decorated with lots of pots of flowers. As I looked around and observed all the decorations, I found the Mimosa tree. It took my breath away (4). It looked as if it had been planted deliberately (5) for the wedding because of all the soft, pretty flowers. A lady there told me that she was surprised to see a Mimosa in Wenatchee. She grew up in New York where they are quite common. But here, they are very rare, in fact, that is probably the only one in the whole town. One place in the U.S where you find them a lot is Florida. They are classed (6) as 'invasive', just like a weed. In that state, many methods are used to get rid of them. Well, I wouldn't want to do that. In fact, Mimosa is at the top of my list of trees that I want to buy. 1. The use of 'will' in the first sentence is to be noted. It could be missed out. Both are correct. a. Those people who have listened to his songs for thirty years, (will) know that he sings alot about his childhood.  b. Those of us who have skied for years, (will) have issues with our knees. * There is a very slight difference between using 'will' in these sentences, and not using it. The word 'will' shows hypothesis, suggestion, not a definite conclusion. If you do not use 'will', the feeling is that you are sure about the experience of the subjects 'those of us', 'those people' etc. 2. 'To take back' has several meanings. Here, I'm using it in the sense of 'to reclaim'. a. They took back the wasteland by introducing water, and planting crops. b. They took back the land that had been stolen from them. 3. 'To have plans to ...' a. We have plans to paint the house next month. b. She has plans to move next year. c. The government has plans to boost the economy by lowering taxes. * Note that we usually use the word 'plans' and not 'a plan'.  4. 'It took my breath away' shows surprise and admiration. a. She was so beautiful that she took my breath away. b. The building was so impressive that it took my breath away. 5. 'Deliberately' can replace 'on purpose'. a. He left his muddy boots on the carpet deliberately. / He deliberately left his muddy boots on the carpet. b. They interrupted the film by deliberately make noise. / They deliberately interrupted the film by making noise.   You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish.  And remember, for an instant download, my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Just click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice #21+ Interactive English.

Aug 2, 2013 15:45


Liz: Come on you two, we need to get going. Mother: I thought we didn't have to leave for another half hour. Liz: We don't really. I want us to have extra time though, just in case there is a traffic problem. Father: Good idea Liz. There's nothing worse than rushing to an airport. It's such a hassle! Liz: Well, is this  all your luggage? Tickets? Handbags? Let me help you. Mother: How about you lock the door and Henry will press the button for the elevator? Liz: Ok. Mother: I can't believe that we're leaving already.  Father: Yes, the time has really flown. Great, there's the taxi; come on. Liz: Mum, are you sure you have your passports? I have a feeling that we're missing something. Mother: Yes darling, they're right......oh, hang on....they were here. Gosh,I must have left them in the bedrooom! Liz: Oh great! Tell the taxi to wait. I'll run back up and get them. It's a good job we have some extra time!   Join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Questions, comments, need Skype conversation classes? Email me at Click the link to rate or buy my app. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

I'll Borrow Your Pitbull.

Jul 29, 2013 09:01


'There is an animal that helps to fight crime, is therapeutic(1)to be around, and is a good companion. However, this animal is also used for fighting and guarding illegal drugs. It's a Pitbull. It's a dog with a reputation. Over the past few centuries, this dog has been used as a tool and a weapon. When immigrants first came to North America, they brought this mixed breed(2) for defense and hunting. The English had crossed(3) bulldogs with terriers, and the result was an animal that had the best characteristics of both. Bulldogs are very strong and athletic, while terriers have a 'never-give-up' attitude. That combination makes a naturally dominant breed of dog. In fact, pitbulls, along with german shepards and rotweillers, are the three notorious(4) breeds that have been involved in attacks on humans. But there is no concensus about this. Some studies show that it is bad training, no training, and poor conditions that lead these dogs to violence. It's a bit like trying to drive a tank through town when you actually don't know how to drive. Something bad is bound to(5) happen. Humans need lots of guidance, and dogs are no different. Any dog needs to be trained properly, but a dog that has natural aggression and strength needs extra training. I saw a pitbull the other day while I was having coffee with a friend of mine. It wasn't aggressive or dominant. In fact, it wasn't even very big. It was a puppy, and oh my goodness, how cute. It's owner asked if he could leave 'Sally' with us while he went into the cafe to get his coffee. "Of course!" was our answer. "Be careful, because she nips when she gets excited," warned the owner. The little puppy was warm and wiggly and very enthusiastic. I could see how anyone could fall in love with a young pitbull, without realising the work and responsibility needed to bring it up properly. And yes, she did nip me. I thoroughly enjoyed petting and playing with her. I hope that Sally will be well trained, so she and people around her can always enjoy eachother safely.  1. 'Therapeutic' means healing in some way. a. Foot massage can be quite therapeutic. b. Knitting is very useful and also therapeutic. 2. A 'breed' is a kind of animal, a type of the species. a. That breed of dog is very energetic. b. Mixed breeds are often healthy and intelligent. 3. 'To cross' sometimes means to mix different breeds of animals, or types of plants. a. They crossed a plum tree with a cherry, and made a tree that produces giant cherries. b. What do you get when you cross a dinosaur with a pig?   Jurassic pork. 4. 'Notorious' means a person, animal, or thing with a bad reputation. a. He is a notorious thief. Don't lend him any money! b. She is notorious for spreading people's secrets. 5. 'Bound' is followed by the infinitive of a verb. This combination means that something is destined to happen, like a natural consequence. a. He's naturally clumsy. He's bound to have an accident sooner or later. b. They are so talented. They're bound to be famous one day.   You are all welcome to join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions, comments, or need conversation practice via Skype? Email me at Check out my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English.Click the link. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Basic Pronunciation Practice 20 + Interactive English.

Jul 16, 2013 12:49


Liz: It's nice to get back and put our feet up. Mother: You're telling me! My feet are killing me. But we had such a lovely day, dear. Father: I had no idea that there were such wonderful museums in this city. Mother: I could have spent all day in the art gallery.  Liz: Me too Mum; and I was thrilled that there was an exhibition of Paul Klee. I love his work. Father: No, that's not my cup of tea, - too many squares and rectangles. Liz: Oh Dad. It's expressionism. There's a world of expression and depth in all his shapes. Father: Well, there's nothing quite like a Rafael Santi's battle scene. Liz: That's not my cup of tea, thank you very much. I'm a pacifist. Mother: Oh, they're all splendid in their own ways. Today was just the ticket. We're so fortunate to have access to great art.   Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. If you have questions or comments, or need Skype lessons, email me at My app is available in iTunes. Click on the link here. Click here to buy or rate my app // Tweet //   //  

Glass Blowing.

Jul 12, 2013 08:42


"It's the best place in Wenatchee," I said to my husband, as I described the new Pybus Market. This all-year-round(1) shopping center and farmer's market is the latest addition(2) to Wenatchee. It is a real step forward for this town which, up until now, hasn't had a substantial farmer's market. Also, because our climate has very cold, snowy winters, and very hot summers, we need a place indoors where shoppers can find fresh produce and locally made goods. But it's not only about food. There is a certain amount of art in Pybus. Past the rows of fruit shops, cafes, and a bistro, is a side door that leads to a very different space. The first thing you see is a huge, unfinished clay(3) statue of Mr. Pybus, the English immigrant who built the steel(4) building that now houses this market. Beyond him, is a very hot and colorful corner of activity: glass blowing. It's the first I've ever seen in Wenatchee. There is a long, glass display cabinet full of large, ornaments of all colors of the rainbow. The craftsman sits at the end, goggles(5) on, holding a torch that has a white hot flame. He focuses totally on his art. He is melting a long stick of glass and shaping it into a flower. A small group of observers gather(6), and we all stand silently watching while he creates his art. When he finishes, he introduces himself and hands us some pamphlets, "We do glass blowing classes now down by the river," he says enthusiastically. Now that would be something unusual to try, fascinating, potentially dangerous, but also beautiful. I will return to Pybus, regularly I think, and perhaps eventually take a private class in that colorful craft. 1. 'All-year-round' is an adjectival phrase. Can you guess its meaning? Yes, it means 'all year long' or 'all year'. a. They opened an all-year-round heated swimming pool. b. The shop has all-year-round Christmas supplies. 2. 'The latest addition' is an efficient phrase that can be used in multiple ways. a. That baby girl is the latest additon to their family. b. The latest addition of the iPhone is now available in shops. c. Do you have the latest addition of the monthly magazine? 3. 'Clay' is a super thick soil that can be used to make bricks and pottery. a. Some bricks are made of clay mixed with straw. b. He makes clay pots. 4. 'Steel' is a very strong metal alloy, made mainly from Iron. a. The frame of the skyscraper is steel. b. The film 'Man of Steel' is about Superman. 5. 'Goggles' are special glasses used in sports of all kinds. They usually have a rubber rim that has contact with the face. a. Put your skiing goggles on so you can see when you come down the mountain. b. These are the best swimming goggles I have ever bought. 6. 'To gather' means to collect. a. We gathered the new flowers from the garden. b. A crowd gathered outside the club. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Please send your questions and comments to Need Skype lessons to improve your pronunciation and fluency? Send me an email request and I'll send you the details. Tweet //

Basic Pronunciation Practice #19 plus Interactive English.

Jul 3, 2013 11:23


Liz: I hope the food gets here soon; I'm starving! Father: Yes, sorry I slept for so long, I just couldn't seem to wake up. Liz: That's alright Dad. It's better that you sleep than be grumpy all day..... Father: Me? Grumpy? Never! Liz: So, after breakfast what would you two like to do first? Art museum or park? Mother: Well, we should do the park first while it's still cool, don't you think? Then, when it's hotter we can go to the art museum. Father: Good thinking dear. But if I don't eat soon I'll pass out and you'll have to carry me. Where are my eggs and bacon? Liz: Yes, they are taking a long time. I wonder what the problem is. Father: It sounds like they're still gathering the eggs from the chickens and chasing the pigs! Liz: Oh, so you're never grumpy, eh? Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Need the app? It's in iTunes and called A Cup Of English. Please send your questions and comments to Thanks! Tweet // //

Nik Wallenda's wife.

Jun 27, 2013 11:00


Well, you've probably all heard about Nik Walenda, the man who recently walked 1,500 ft above the Gran Canyon on a two inch thick wire, with no protection, and no net. I watched him 'live' as he took every step, and every breath. I actually found myself(1) holding my breath while he walked and balanced and prayed. Judging by(2) his facial expression, he was more relaxed than I was. I was so nervous; my hands were sweaty, and my fingers were tingling. And then I remembered to breathe. "Oh, that's right. He's doing it, not me." It was too much for any normal person to see comfortably. And the "Thank you Jesus", and "Halleluyah" that he repeated, which I'm sure helped his performance, made it worse for me, because I kept on(3) imagining one of those Halleluyahs turning into a "Halleluyah!" His wife and three children and a group of friends and family were watching him from the other side of the Canyon. I couldn't decide if that was good or bad. Of course his family wanted to support him by being there(4), but what about them? What if he f-e-l-l in front of them? What a tragic and bizarre situation that would be for his kids. What would they do? Gasp, and then call out a quick, "Bye!" But, Nik Walenda is good. Infact, he's spectacular. He is 7th generation of a family of tightrope walkers, so as he says, "It's in my blood." I bet his wife wishes that accounting was in his blood instead. Imagine the sleepless nights that she has experienced, the nerves, and the stress. She must be a woman of steel, and unusual patience. He's done the same across the Niagara Falls, and plans to walk between two skyscrapers in New York. He is brave, focused, and determined. And he's now a bit of a national hero. But my hat goes off to(5) his wife. Most husbands come home and talk about what went on at the office. He comes home and talks about how much he wobbled(6) in practice. She's the one who I'd love to interview. What does she do to relieve stress? Does she have any hobbies? Is she an extreme knitter? If she is, her house must be full of the most amazing sweaters and socks. Maybe it's her knitting that drives(7) Nik Walenda to get as high up and far away as possible. Ok, I'm being strange and random. But, don't you think that crossing the Gran Canyon at 1,500 ft is strange and random? Add to that a wife and children. How does that all work? Well, even though I don't understand how extreme tightrope walking and a family can work well together, it does seem to. And I think it all works because of the wife. She is like the Gran Canyon, solid as a rock, and her patience just as big. As they say here in the U.S, "He owes her big time!" 1. 'To find oneself' + gerund is a common expression in English. It implies that you started doing something almost unconsciously or that some emotion or instinct pushed you into doing it. a. She found herself agreeing with everything he said because he was so handsome. b. He found himself washing his car. It was a habit; he always did it on Sunday's. 2. 'Judging by' speaks for itself really. It is like a comment on what you hear or see, and then a conclusion follows. a. Judging by his tone of voice, he was not please at all. b. Judging by their lazy attitude, the project won't be finished on time. 3. 'I kept on imagining' to keep on + gerund is the same as 'to continue + gerund'. a. He kept on golfing even though it was raining hard. b. They kept on interrupting while we were talking. 4. 'To support someone by + gerund' a. We support them by donating every month. b. They support the arts by giving talks in schools. 5. 'My hat goes off to' means I honour/ respect/ look up to/celebrate. a. My hat goes off to the second place runner who had a knee injury. b. Our hats go off to the even organizers who did such a great job. 6. 'To wobble' is to move in an unbalanced way. a. The gymnist walked across the wooden beam and didn't wobble at all. b. That ornament wobbles each time someone walks in the room. 7. 'To drive someone to do something' means that a person is emotionally forced into a situation. a. My noisy neighbors have driven me to talk to the police about them. b. His bad behavior drove them to leave early. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Need the app? Click the link to buy or rate it. Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 18 + Interactive English.

Jun 20, 2013 11:03


It's so good to see you both again; I can't believe it's been almost 3 months! That's what your father and I were saying darling. Time flies, but especially for you. Yes, it's been a busy two and a half months. Lots of ups and downs, but mainly ups. I'm glad. It's such an exciting time of your life. Well Mum, I was thinking that as soon as Dad wakes up, we'll go to my favorite cafe for breakfast. Oh, that sounds lovely. Frank does get jet-lagged quite badly, much more than me. I'm sure it's because he insists on drinking wine on the plane. It gets you so dehydrated, you know. Yes, he would be better off drinking water on the plane. But hey, he's on vacation! Join me on my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Need an instant download? My app is available in iTunes; click on the link to buy or rate it.  Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet // //

Lake Chelan.

Jun 18, 2013 09:45


"A change is as good as a rest" is a common saying in England. And that's what I've been having. It's summer, the children are out of school, our routine is up in the air(1), and we've been getting out of town. Have you noticed? I haven't been talking into my little snowball microphone recently because I've been going here and there(2). The place I've been to most recently is Lake Chelan. It's only a forty-five minute drive(3) from Wenatchee, but it feels as if you are in another state. Obviously, there is a lake there, and it's a huge one. It's actually the 26th deepest lake in the world, at 1,486 ft. It's name, Chelan, is taken from the Native American word 'Tsillan' which means 'deep waters'. It's also very long: 55 miles total. It's a popular place for boating, water skiing,  and fishing. There are many species of salmon, trout, and bass in the lake. The salmon, called the Chinook, can get up to 30lbs in weight, with the average weighing between 9 and 16lbs. It's very exciting fishing when you can get such a big fish, and one that's so delicious. When we fished there unfortunately the salmon were not interested in our bait(4) or hooks. Maybe we were making too much noise because we were having too much fun. The fun continued later, back at the campsite, when we rode our dirt bikes(5) along a dirt road(6) that circled through the forest and back up to where we were camping. Night came, and we settled into our trailer, the trailer that we use for the dirt bikes. We slept on mats and in sleeping bags, all packed in like sardines. It was funny, uncomfortable, and we didn't sleep much, but that's all part of the camping experience.  1. 'Up in the air' is a phrase that means 'random', 'unorganized', 'unsure' and 'unplanned'. a. My plans for summer are up in the air still; we haven't planned anything definite. b. I don't know if their wedding is on or off; it's all up in the air. 2. 'Here and there' talks about unspecific locations. a. Where have you been?    Oh, here and there.  b. He leaves his shoes here and there, all over the house! 3. 'A forty five minute drive' 'a thirty minute walk' 'a two hour hike'. Can you see a pattern here? Even though we're mentioning more than one minute or hour, the phrases are singular. a. It's just a twenty minute train ride into town. b. It's a three hour flight to the capital. 4. 'Bait' is the word for food that is put on a hook for fish, or that is put in a trap for hunting. a. The bait for fishing is usually worms. b. Fresh meat is good bait if you want to hunt cougars. 5. 'Dirt bikes' are motor bikes that can ride on hills, and rough roads. They usually get very dirty. a. I took the dirt bike on the mountain trail; it was so much fun! b. If you get the right license, you can use a dirt bike on a normal road. 6. 'A dirt road' is usually a primitive road that is not paved, or tarmacked. It can be a private road that is not maintained by the local council. 'Dirt' in the U.S means 'soil' or 'earth'. In England it means any substance that is 'dirty', not necessarily soil. a. We walked up the dirt road until we came to a sign that read 'Private Property'. b. The road up to the houses is a nice asphalt, smooth road. Beyond the houses it turns into just a dirt road. Join me on Facebook at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions, comments, or do you need conversation classes to improve your spoken English? Email me at Tweet // //

A slimy surprise.

Jun 4, 2013 09:58


A poet called Robert Southey who lived in the late 1700's and early 1800's wrote: What are boys made of? Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails. That's what boys are made of. What are girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice. That's what girls are made of. I think that there is some truth to this poem. I know we can't always generalize, but I have noticed some differences between my boys and my girl and her girlfriends. The boys take more risks as far as physical danger, whereas the girls seem to be careful. The girls are very interested in social situations and 'playing' like adults, but the boys are more interested in adventure, survival-type situations, and the wilderness. And finally, boys seem to bring the outside world into the house a lot more than girls do(1). My boys went to a large pond to fish with their father, and came back happy and tired. They had managed to catch creyfish. They talked about their trip, put their gear(2) away, and then didn't really say anything else. The next morning I woke up to a humming(3) sound coming from downstairs. I went down and found, on the desk next to the computer, a large, plastic box half full of brown water. The hum was coming from an air pump(4) that had been placed inside (this was one that we had used in the past for gold fish). I looked inside.To my horror, I saw about five shiny, black creyfish sitting on top of eachother on a rock. Their antenna were moving, their eyes were slimy, and when they saw me, they slid into the water. The smell that came up from the water was just like the stinky pond weed that they live in. I was not a happy camper(5). "Just how many days were you planning on keeping these creatures in the lounge?" I asked my boys with a frown. "I don't know," was their answer. Great! We've got two dogs, a cat, a mouse that sneezes all the time, and now some stinky, creepy wet things. As I put them outside under a tree, I asked myself, "What next? Frogs in the fridge? Slugs on the sofa? Beetles in the bathroom? Why don't I rename myself Noah, and open my front door to all the creatures of Wenatchee?" When I had calmed down, I told my boys that they had to look after the things in the box. I washed my hands, and sat down to watch television with my clean little girl. 1. The use of 'do' and 'does' at the end of a comparative sentence. a. He reads a lot more than you do. b. She eats a lot more than her husband does. 2. 'Gear' is a general word for all types of equipment, especially used for sports and hobbies. a. After skiing, it takes a while to put all of the gear away. b. The fishing gear had to be sprayed with water to wash off the stinky pond weed. 3. 'Humming' comes from the verb 'to hum'. It is a sound made by a human, animal, or device that is like a vibration. Someone 'hums' to music when they don't sing the words, but make the melody with their mouths closed. a. He hummed happily while he worked in the garden. b. I didn't know the lyrics, so I just hummed the tune. 4. An 'air pump' is a device which forces air to flow from one place to another, usually via a tube or pipe. a. We need to find a high pressure air pump because my tires are flat. b. We pumped air into the plastic mattress for a more comfortable camping experience. 5. 'Not a happy camper' is a jokey phrase often used in England to mean that a person was upset or angry. a. He borrowed the car without asking permission; his mother was not a happy camper! b. A stinky creyfish escaped and crawled across the carpet. I was not a happy camper! You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions? Comments? Do you need Skype lessons to improve your English? Let me know at Tweet // //

Scenes of Spokane.

May 22, 2013 09:14


Last week we had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Spokane. It's a city of about 210,000 people, making it the second largest city in Washington State. It's about a three hour drive for us, but it's only 90 miles from the Canadian border. It's name is taken from the Native American Indian tribe that used to live in that area; Spokane meaning 'Children of the sun'. The reason we went there was for a basketball tournament. My son Cass had four games to play, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We set off early on Saturday morning, with everybody yawning and dozing(1) in the car. We checked into our hotel, and then made our way(2) to the High School where the basketball games were going to be played. When the second game was over, we decided to go downtown(3) and look around, as we are not familiar with the city. The center has a very large park with a river running through it that becomes Spokane Falls. This is a huge waterfall that tumbles(4) under a wide bridge. The river was high because of the recent melting of snow in the mountains, so the waterfall was extremely turbulent. In another part of the park we saw a monument that was built for the 1974 World's Fair. It was refreshing to be in a city again, especially one that is clean and interesting. We had dinner in the center of downtown Spokane, and then wandered through the shopping area. I happened to see the 'Mobius' center which is an interactive museum that I wrote about a few months ago. The streets, hotels, and restaurants were quite full, as it was the graduation weekend for both universities of Spokane: Whitworth, and Gonzaga University. So there were celebrations going on everywhere, and lots of students dressed up(5) looking very smart. Normally, our children's tournaments are only about sports, but I'm glad to say that(6) this trip turned into a cultural outing. 1. 'Dozing' comes from the verb 'to doze'; it's a sleepy verb. It means to half sleep. a. During the university lecture I dozed. b. We all doze during political speeches. 2. 'To make one's way..' means to find your way to a place; it can be figurative as well. a. We made our way through the crowd to the museum. b. She made her way through a difficult career. 3. 'Downtown' is the word we use to describe the center of a city or town. Note that it is not necessary to use 'the' with 'downtown' unless it is followed by another noun, such as area. a. Let's go downtown and see what we can find. b. They'll go downtown Spokane to visit the park. c. I would like to visit the downtown area, as I've never been there before. 4. 'To tumble' is a wonderful verb that means to fall in a turning motion. a. I opened the dryer and all the clothes tumbled onto the floor. b. The children's toys tumbled down the stairs. 5. 'To dress up' is when a person puts on special clothes or a special costume. This is different from 'getting dressed' which is the normal, daily act of putting your clothes on. a. You can't wear jeans to the wedding! You have to dress up! b. We dressed up as ghosts for Halloween. 6. 'I'm glad to say' is a wonderful set phrase that can be included in many sentences, at the beginning or at the end. a. He finally passed his exams, I'm glad to say. b. I'm glad to say that the council approved the plans for the park. Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Let me know your questions and comments, or if you need to practice English through Skype by sending me an email at  Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 17 + Interactive English.

May 15, 2013 10:27


Liz (on the phone): Hi Mum, are you all packed and ready for your visit? Mother: Yes darling; we're so excited to see you again. Liz: Me too. But there's been a change of plans. Mother: Oh, yes? Liz: I've booked you into a hotel that is opposite my appartment. Mother: Why? Don't you want us to stay with you? Liz: It's not that, Mum. It's just that the appartment is tiny. You and Dad would have to squeeze into my bed or the sofa. That's not going to work. Mother: Oh, I hadn't thought about that. Mmm, well, whatever you think is best is fine with us darling. Liz: Your room has a King size bed; it's non-smoking, and has internet access. Mother: Perfect. It sounds lovely dear. We'll see you in a couple of days! You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; just send me a friend request. Comments, questions, need Skype lessons, email me at Tweet // //

Get it built.

May 8, 2013 11:42


I volunteered this year to build my mother an arbor in her back garden. She has a small patio at the back of her house with three borders(1) for planting. Because it gets so hot from late spring to the middle of autumn, she decided that she'd like a cover of some kind. Parasols are not big enough to cover the whole area, and the housing rules(2) do not allow her to attach anything to the house itself for extra shade. So, the only option is to build a 'free standing' arbor, or one that stands alone. Now, I actually like building things, believe it or not. I have slowly accumulated some experience of cutting and shaping wood, using power tools, digging holes, measuring and leveling(3), and mixing and pouring concrete. It's hard work, but it's so satisfying to see the finished product. To make my mum's arbor safe, I have to use 10 ft poles(4) that go into 2ft holes, and sit in concrete(5). Then, the lateral beams(6) will be screwed across the length and width(7) of the patio on both sides of the poles. It'll be a very strong structure; well it has to be. I can't have anything falling on my mother's head! Then, when the basic frame has been made, I will attach a lattice in between the beams. A lattice is a criss-cross pattern of wood. This will create shade with a pretty pattern. I'm almost half way finished, and I need to hurry up and get it built(8), because the days are getting hotter. Shade is what we're after. 1. 'A border' is an area of land, usually in the shape of a strip. It is here that you can plant. This word is also used to represent the line of separation between two countries. a. The border is full of flowers all year long. b. We'll cross the border to Mexico next week. 2. 'Housing rules' are usually called 'covenants'. The limit what you can and cannot do with the outside of your house. Notice the word 'housing' sounds like it has a 'z' instead of an 's'. a. The housing covenants don't let us paint the doors anything but brown. b. I'll have to read the housing covenants to see if I can buid an attached arbor. 3. 'Measuring and leveling' could be one of the most important parts of building. You have to get the lengths correct. Making a pole or piece of structure level, means that it is either exactly 90 degrees, 0 degrees, or 180 degrees. A 'level' is the device which is has liquid and a bubble to show if something is level. a. Make sure the pole is level; that way it'll be strong and safe. b. The bubble in the level is not in the middle; it shows that the shelf is not level. 4. A 'pole' is a long, piece of wood used as a support. a. The pole that holds up the raspberries is rotten. b. We need lots of poles to build a tree house for the kids. 5. 'Concrete' is the white, pasty, rocky substance that we use to make side walks and floors. a. The concrete will take all day to dry; then we can walk on it. b. Mix the concrete with water, but don't breathe in the dust! 6. 'Lateral' is the same as saying 'side'. a. She'll hang baskets of flowers from the lateral beams. b. Side beams will make the structure even stronger. 7. The 'length and width' are the two most basic measurements. They measure how long something is and how wide it is. a. She can swim a width of the pool, but not a length. b. Check the length of the sofa before you buy it. 8. 'Get it built' is a command using the past participle. Most verbs can be used this way. a. Hurry up and get the bathroom painted; you're taking too long. b. Get the essay written and handed in as soon as possible. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions or comments, email me at Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 16 + Interactive English.

May 3, 2013 09:42


Peter: Hi Liz, I see your cast is off. Liz: Yes, finally! Life is so much easier without one. Peter: You had some bad luck breaking your arm. Liz: Yes I had two lots of bad luck: breaking my arm and losing my job. Peter: Wait a minute. You lost your job? Liz: Yes, well not exactly. I quit. Peter: Because of the lady you were working with. Liz: Yep. I told the boss that I was doing my work, and most of hers. Peter: And what did she say? Liz: She told me that the woman denied it. What could I do? I hate confrontation, and I don't like complaining, but I couldn't take it any more. Peter: That's too bad. Liz: Well, never mind. I'll take some time off before looking for another job. My parents are going to visit soon, so I'll job hunt after they leave. Join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Need an app of the podcast? Find my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Questions or comments? Email me at Tweet // //

Table of Knowledge.

May 2, 2013 15:06


It's 8:45 at Tom, Dick, and Harry's. The coffee's hot, the door's unlocked, and that corner table - the one by the jukebox(1), is gathering a familiar crowd. They're retired farmers, contractors, businessmen, a few old law enforcement guys(2), a former postmaster(3) and more. There are about 17 in all, with ages ranging(4) from the early 70's to 90. They meet daily, but show up(5) in greatest numbers on Fridays, when they take turns(6) bringing doughnuts. They've been around the block once or twice(7), and they love talking about it. In fact, they love talking in general, about everything from football, to politics, to how best to plant tomato seeds. "Sometimes there are three or four stories going on at once and you can't hear anything," says Kenny. "Put it this way," adds Bill, "when I started coming here I didn't have hearing aids(8). Now I do." Another of them adds, "We enjoy each other's company. We don't always agree, but we don't get too annoyed at each other." There is a real diversity of opinions and life experiences in this group. "We have a vast table of knowledge," says Sackman, a retired state trooper. His comment provokes snickering(9) and eye rolling from his friends. The first members of this group started getting together 35 years ago. When asked if wisdom does really come with age, half of the members say "yes", and the other half, at the same time say "no". And then there's more laughter. 1. 'Jukebox' is a typically American word which describes something that is very important in American culture. It is a machine which plays different pieces of music when money is put in it. a. This jukebox takes quarters. You need to put a quarter in it before you can choose a song. b. The diner is very retro; it has 60's style decoration and even a jukebox. 2. 'Law enforcement'/ 'a law enforcement officer' basically means a policeman. a. He's taking his law enforcement class in order to become a policeman. 3. 'Postmaster' is the same as a postman or a mail man. 4. 'With ...ranging from ....' when comparing ages, weights, sizes, colors, or other characteristics. a. The shop has antiques with prices ranging from $50 to $3000. b. The concert has performers from countries ranging from India to South America. 5. 'To show up' means the same as 'to turn up' which means to arrive, appear, or be present. Both imply that the opposite would be possible. a. I'm glad that you finally showed up! b. They didn't show up until the party was over. 6. 'To take turns' is fairly self explanatory. In a game or arranged activity of some sort, one person will have a turn, then another, and so forth. a. When we play cards, we have to take turns. b. If you don't take turns, it's not fair for everybody else. 7. 'To go around the block' or 'to have been around the block' means to have lived a long life. 'A block' refers to a block of houses, or a square formation of homes around 4 streets. a. He speaks from experience; he's been around the block a few times. b. He's too young, he hasn't been around the block yet. 8. 'A hearing aid' is a small device that you put in your ear to help you hear. a. My hearing test showed that I need a hearing aid. b. His hearing aid is so small that you can hardly see it. 9. 'To snicker' is a way of laughing. There are many verbs for different types of laughter, 'to chuckle', 'to chortle', 'to snigger', 'to giggle'. The most common ones are 'to giggle' and 'to chuckle'. 'To snicker' is more American, and implies that you're laughing at someone or disagreeing with what has been said.  a. The children giggled while they mixed the mud with water, and wiped it on the dog. b. He snickered at my comment. I knew that he disagreed with me. Thanks for listening! You're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Comments, questions, suggestions? Let me know at Need an app to learn English? Check out A Cup Of English in iTunes. Tweet // // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 15.

May 1, 2013 09:14


At the clinic: Doctor: So, how have you been getting along with this arm? Liz: Fine. I can get around alright, but it has definitely slowed me down. Doctor: Have you had any pain? Liz: At first I had some at night, but that only lasted a few days. Doctor: We'll take the cast off today, so you will be almost back to normal. I need to take an X-ray first, to make sure that the bone has healed completely. Liz: Will my arm be back to normal once the cast comes off? Doctor: Not immediately. If you have no pain, and a good range of motion, you can slowly start to use the arm, but you have to take it easy. You might have some swelling, or loss of muscle. Liz: Okay, I'll make sure I'm careful with the arm. Tweet // //

Analysis Time - Social Activities Prolong Life.

Apr 30, 2013 11:35


In a study in The Harvard University Gazette called 'Social Activities Found to Prolong Life', scientists talk about the great importance of socializing as we get older. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the foundations of good health, but scientists now say that socializing is just as important. Thomas Glass, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health says, "Social and productive activities that involve(1) little or no physical fitness lower the risk of all causes of death as much as exercise does." So, how did the scientists reach this conclusion(2)? They studied 2,761 elderly(3) men and women for 13 years. Activites such as going to church, restaurants, and sports events, taking short trips, playing cards, gardening, cooking for others, community work, and paid employment can all impact a person very positively. Ideally, the elderly would also exercise, preferably(4) with friends or in small groups. That way they would get double the benefits(5). It is best to do both: to exercise and to socialize. Scientists admit they don't know exactly why socializing is so beneficial. Glass says he believes that keeping social and busy causes, "changes in the brain that protect against damage and keep the immune system healthy." Knowing this affects not only the individual, but also society(6) because in most societies people are living longer. Programs are developing in the U.S. to keep the elderly active in society, helping in schools, volunteering, and exercising. This way, society benefits from the wisdom and experience of the elderly, and the elderly benefit by staying healthy and happy. 1. 'To involve' is a concise verb that means 'to have something to do with' or 'to work with'.  a. Teaching involves preparing, communicating, and correcting. b. The community project involves hundreds of people, lots of money, and lots of time. 2. 'To reach a conclusion' can also be expressed as 'to come to a conclusion'. a. They came to the same conclusion/ they reached the same conclusion. b. We came to the conclusion that the house had to be pulled down. 3. 'Elderly' is a polite way of saying 'old' when we are talking about people. 'Old' can give a negative impression. a. The elderly are a great source of wisdom for the community. b. She is elderly now and needs extra help. 4. 'Preferably' is like saying 'ideally'. a. Arrive at the office for the interview prepared, and preferably 10 minutes early. b. I need an internet connection for my home, preferably a wireless one. 5. 'Double the + noun' is similar to saying 'twice as much .......' a. In his new job, he'll get double the pay that he gets now/ twice as much pay as he gets now. b. Compared to that computer, this one has double the speed/ is twice as fast. 6. 'Not only..., but also...' remember we had this the other day; it's worth practicing again. a. Encouraging the elderly not only affects their feelings, but also how active they are. b. Socializing not only improves the brain, but also the immune system. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Download my app that's in iTunes for instant downloads, and send questions and comments to  Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 14.

Apr 26, 2013 10:19


Hi Liz, what happened to your arm? Oh, you won't believe it. I was coming out of the cellular phone store the other day, and I slipped on something and landed on my arm. It's broken in two places! You're kidding? No, I wouldn't joke about something like this. It's a pain! What did the doctor say about the break? Well, he said it's a bad one, and it'll take about two months to recover. Is that your writing hand? Yep!  So, what will you do for writing? The professors all said that I can dictate my essays, or type with my other hand. That'll be interesting! Hey, if you need help typing, I can do it for you. That's really sweet of you. I might just ask you for some help. Thanks. Tweet // //

My Wonderful Snowball.

Apr 24, 2013 10:43


I listen to podcasts nearly every day. Not only do I love the fact that I am learning each time I hear one, but I also(1) love the fact that they are free and accessible. It's interesting to consider(2) the differences between one podcast and another. What makes one better than another? What are the elements of a good podcast? One that I've been thinking about for a while is sound quality. For years, I have used a cheap, skinny microphone that is really basic. It has done a reasonable(3) job, but you can't expect very much from a cheapo(4) product. At times I have been editing, and have realised that the microphone records not only my voice, but also the noise of my dog barking at the cat, my children arguing in the kitchen, or even the general creaking(5) of the house. So, I've upgraded. I went on-line and looked up(6) the company called 'Blue'. I had heard that they make quality microphones. And they do. I ordered a 'Snowball' which arrived just a few days later. I was so excited to receive it; I opened its box like a child opening a Christmas present. It works beautifully, and gives digital quality sound. I'm so glad. And it's so cute! It has a big, round head, and a tripod underneath, like a mini-robot. And it's retro(7) style, so it has personality. It's my prized possession(8), and nobody is allowed to go near it apart from me. It's like my new pet, but a useful one that doesn't bark or scratch the furniture. So I'm motivated to continue podcasting. Good job Blue! 1. 'Not only....but also' is a great sentence structure which enables you to show two ideas. a. Not only does he work all day, but he also cleans homes every evening. b. Not only can you speak commands to the new phone, but also it can lock and unlock your house when you are far away. 2. 'To consider' is a verb that means 'to think about'. a. Consider your options, and then make a decision. b. Consider the differences between the two candidates; one is more experienced, the other is more personable. 3. 'Reasonable' is like saying 'logical' or 'rational'. It also means 'just okay' when you are judging a performance. a. He made a reasonable argument; it really made sense. b. The car's performance was reasonable, but not great. 4. 'Cheapo' is slang for cheap. It also adds the idea of something being poor quality as well as cheap. a. This cheapo can opener broke the first day I got it. b. Don't buy those shoes; they're cheapos and will hurt your feet. 5. 'Creaking' comes from the verb 'to creak' which means to make a noise like an old door opening. a. I heard footsteps and then a door creaking open; who was there? b. I can't play football anymore; my bones are too creaky. 6. 'To look up' means to search either on-line, or in a directory or list. a. I looked up her name in the phone book, but it didn't show her address. b. I looked up the website and bought an item. 7. 'Retro' or 'retro style' means a fashion that is no longer in fashion, but that is considered good taste, or perhaps is coming back into fashion. 8. 'My prized possession' is self explanatory. It is an item you own which you really value. If something is prized, it is considered as important as a prize even if it isn't one. a. My grandmother's books are my prized possessions. b. The flowers she grew from seed are her prized possessions. Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Do you need an instant download? Get my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English. If you have questions or comments, or need Skyped lessons to improve your English, let me know at Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 13.

Apr 21, 2013 09:47


In the cellular phone store. Customer service assistant: Hello ma'am, how can I help you today? Would you be interested in one of our 4G phones with voice command? Liz: Oh, no thanks. Actually I came in because my phone isn't working. I dropped it in the sink, and I think the battery got wet. C.S.A: Could I have a look? Liz: Sure. C.S.A: I'll have to take it in the back and open it to see what I can do. Liz: Ok. A few minutes later. C.S.A: Here you are ma'am. It's working fine. We had to replace the battery, but I believe your insurance covers that.  Liz: Great! That's a relief! C.S.A: You know, you've had this phone for two years, so you are entitled to a free upgrade. Would a smart phone interest you? You can access email, the web, and do word processing on it. Liz: How much is it per month? C.S.A: It depends on the model. Between thirty and a hundred dollars. Liz: Well, I'll have to think about it. C.S.A: Of course. Here's my card. Just give me a call if you're interested.   Send your questions, suggestions, or your request for Skype lessons to Need an app for your smart phone or iPad? My app of A Cup Of English is in iTunes. Tweet // //

The Blue Bees.

Apr 19, 2013 12:51


The Spring season brings all sorts of life and activity to this valley. You see people out on the streets, walking their dogs, in the parks with friends, and the school fields are full of sporting activities. For the first time, my daughter is in soccer. There was a big build up to this(1) as we had to register a long time ago, and she has been waiting, counting the days(2), for the sport to begin. It's also her first time playing a team sport. Previously, she has done swimming, gymnastics, and tennis. But her excitement for soccer is much greater than anything else. Being the youngest(3) in the family, she has watched her brothers play team sports for years, and has cheered for them. But now, finally, it's her turn. She made her debut(4) yesterday with her team, The Blue Bees. And gosh, are they cute! You can imagine a team of little eight year old girls, in a blue uniform, with their hair in ponytails(5), running around and trying to score goals. They played against a green team, and they won. It was a wonderful first experience for Domini; she even scored two out of(6) the winning four goals. I jumped up and down, and cheered and clapped so much that my husband moved about ten metres away from me. But I didn't care; it was so much fun to watch. One thing that I realized, is that all the girls were polite, and would kick the ball, then allow others to have a chance. Unfortunately, that gave the opposing team lots of chances to take the ball. The girls haven't learned to be aggressive yet, but they will. Judging by(7) the older girls who were playing soccer close by, they will learn to be aggressive quite soon. 1. 'A build up' is like saying 'anticipation', 'excitement', 'expectancy' when you are waiting for something to happen. a. There is always such a build up towards Christmas; you can feel it in the air. b. There was an orchestral build up to the main speaker. 2. 'Counting the days' also adds to the idea of a 'build up' of emotions. When you are impatient for something to happen, you count the days that are left before the event. We also use the expression 'to be on the count down.' A count down is said before a rocket takes off into space 5-4-3-2-1 blast off! a. It's his birthday in three weeks, and he's counting the days/ he's on the count down. b. They'll marry in May, so they're counting the days/ they're on the count down. 3. 'Being the youngest, ....' Using a gerund at the beginning of a sentence allows you to make a 2 part sentence and avoid an 'and'. Listen to the two sentences: She's the youngest, and for years has watched her brothers play sports. Being the youngest, for years she has watched her brothers play sports.  Both are perfect sentences, but it's worth noting the use of the gerund to create variety in your sentences. a. Being an honest man, he gave the lady the money that she had dropped. b. Seeing the bus in the distance, he ran fast to the bus stop. 4. 'Debut' is used in English, as are many other French words. It means 'the beginning' or 'the first show'. a. The magician made his debut performance last night in Las Vegas. b. The singer's debut album will come out in July. 5. 'Ponytail' is a hair style. All the hair is pulled up towards the back of the head, and held by an elastic band at the scalp, the hair hanging down freely. It looks like the tail of a pony or horse. Another common hair style is a braid or platt. The hair is divided into 3 parts which are woven together to make one rope-like patter. A 'bun' is also a common hair style. All the hair is placed near the top of the head in a secured, round shape, like a bread bun. 6. 'She scored two (out) of the winning four goals.' a. He ate seven (out) of the ten cookies that I had made. b. We saw three (out) of the six houses that were for sale. 7. 'Judging by' economises your sentences. It enables you to make one sentence out of two: I saw that the older girls were aggressive. I think the younger girls will learn to be aggressive soon. Judging by the older girls, the younger ones will learn to be aggressive soon.  This second sentence sounds more fluid and natural. a. Judging by the restaurants popularity, the food or prices must be good.  b. Judging by his behavior yesterday, we won't invite him to dinner. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Check out the app A Cup Of English in iTunes for convenience. Questions? Comments? Do you want to have lessons via Skype with me? Let me know at  Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 12.

Apr 16, 2013 10:13


Liz:How are you feeling today? Maria:Oh, much better. Thanks so much for taking care of me. The soup you made, and the medicine you bought me really helped. Liz: I'm glad. Maria: Are you working today? Liz: Yes, unfortunately. Maria: What do you mean? Liz: Well, I'm having some problems with the lady I work with. Maria: Oh yeh? What's going on? Liz: Well, I have to do my work, and some of hers, and she's started to leave early. Maria: It sounds like you need to talk to the boss. Liz: Yes, I do. I'll do it today.   Tweet //

No podcasts this week.

Apr 11, 2013


Sorry everyone, I have finally caught my daughter's horrible cold, so I won't do podcasts this week. My voice is very difficult to understand, so it would be a waste of time! Hopefully I'll be 'back in business' next week. Have a great weekend! Tweet //

A Long Look At Wheels.

Apr 8, 2013 08:32


"Clunk, clunk. Clunk, clunk," it was time to have the wheels looked at(1) and the tires changed from winter tires to summer tires. For a few weeks I had felt something bump and rattle(2) under the car; it must be the wheels. So, I took the car down to 'Dick's tires' and left it there for an hour. I walked out of the office, and headed to the shops. As I left, something caught my eye. It was a huge pile of wheels, hundreds of them. They looked like they had already been used. I don't know if they were going to be reused, but they reminded me of dinosaur bones, big, dry, heavy things. I thought about wheels in general, how we take them for granted(3), and how old they are. They have been around for a long time, in their most basic form since the Paleolithic Era. Then came the clever Mesopotamians, or Iraqis. In around 3,500BC they made the first wheels for chariot transportation. Then the Egyptians and the Greeks improved upon the first models(4) for better and faster transportation with spokes, and the H-type wheel. The first iron rims(5) around the wheels were seen in 1000 BC on Celtic chariots. Then, for a long time no great changes were made until the 1800's when Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire. Since Karl Benz's 1885 Motorwagen, wheels have changed dramatically, using greater technology, and new materials. It's amazing what a "clunk, clunk" can lead you to, a trip back in time, and a look at distant history. 1. 'To have ... looked at' is like saying 'to have ...checked'. It is used for people's health as well as items. a. You need to have your tooth looked at; it might have a cavity. b. I need to have those pipes looked at; there might be a leak. 2. 'To rattle' is an intermittent sound; it sometimes indicates that something is loose that shouldn't be. a. That window is rattling again; I'll need to fix it. b. The snake rattled its tail; there was no mistake about its identity. 3. 'To take for granted' means to not value a person or thing when you should. a. He takes her for granted, eats her cooking without saying thank you, and borrows money without paying it back. b. It's easy to take our modern comforts for granted. When they're gone, then we realize how useful they improve our lives. 4. 'To improve upon something' means to take something and make it better. a. They took our idea and improved upon it. b. He improved upon his previous exam results. 5. 'A rim' is usually the top edge or lip of a circular item, like a cup, or a volcano. a. He ran his finger over the rim of the wine glass and it made a loud note. b. We walked around the rim of the volcano. Join me on FACEBOOK; you're all welcome to join me at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Need an app? A Cup OF English is in iTunes. Questions, comments, or suggestions? Email me at and I will email you back. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 11.

Apr 5, 2013 10:01


In the supermarket, Liz is on the phone: Liz: Maria, I'll get the stuff for the soup. I'm in the supermarket right now. Maria: Oh, thanks Liz. But you really don't have to bother yourself. Liz: Listen, you've got a really bad cold, so you need sleep, medicine, and some good soup. I'll be back at the appartment soon. Maria: Okay, see you then. And thanks again. Liz: Excuse me, can you tell me where the chicken stock is? Assistant: It's on aisle five with the spices. Liz(to herself): Okay, what's next on my list? Celery, garlic, chicken, and potatoes. There they are. This soup will be ready in no time. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. Questions? Comments? Do you want to have lessons on Skype? Email me at and I'll email you back. Tweet // //

Sissy's diner.

Apr 3, 2013 11:40


I love to discover good places to eat. I know what it is to cook a lot, and clean up afterwards. So, if I stumble across(1) a place that can do all of that for me, and do it well, then I am happy. Sissy's diner(2) is just that kind of place. It is an American style diner, with decor from the '60's, and large, fresh portions. I discovered it a week ago after I left my car at the mechanic's(3); he was changing the tires, so I was without(4) a car for about an hour. I walked along the main street in Wenatchee and window shopped, until I became hungry. As I looked along the street, I could only see furniture, clothes, and appliance shops. But then, I noticed, right on the corner, a colorful building with 'Sissy's diner' written at an angle. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that it smelled really good, like fresh bread. At a glance(5), I could see that it was clean, and the people who were eating there were happily talking and eating at the same time.These were all good signs. I ordered a beef and vegetable sandwich, sat down, and checked my emails. A few minutes went by, and a friendly waitress put a plate in front of me. "Gosh!" I said. The plate was full. The sandwich was huge. "That's a good choice," said the waitress smiling. "There is no way that I can eat all of this," I said to myself. But I did. I ate every crumb, every last bit of it(6). After the first bite, I realised that the bread was fresh from the oven and light. The meat was lean(7), and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. And when I finished, I felt satisfied but not bloated(8).Oh Sissy! I should have discovered you years ago! 1. 'To stumble onto/across' means 'to discover', 'to come upon', 'to find by chance'. a. I stumbled across some good silver in a yard sale, and I bought it for just a few pennies. b. The detective stumbled across some new information. 2. 'Diner' is a word from American culture for a simple, often 50's or 60's style cafe. It is often long in shape, has a bar that you can eat at, and serves simple, American style food. 3. 'The mechanic's' is short for 'the mechanic's shop/workshop'. The apostrophe followed by an 's' shows that something belongs to the mechanic, but we don't have to say what. Why? Because from the context we know that we're talking about: the mechanic's workshop. a. Pick up the cake from the baker's, and I will get the meat from the butcher's. b. I love the vegetables from the grocer's; they're always fresh. 4. 'To be without ....' is another way of saying 'to not have something'. Instead of saying 'I didn't have my car for an hour', you can say 'I was without my car for an hour.' a. My husband went hunting yesterday, so I am without a husband for a week. b. I dropped my cell phone in the toilet, so I am without a phone until I get a new one! 5. 'At a glance' means 'with a quick look'. a. At a glance the policeman could see that the man had a gun in his pocket. b. At a glance she didn't like the shop. 6. 'Every last bit' means 'every final piece'. We often use this phrase when talking about food, but it can be used in other contexts. a. You need to eat every last bit of that meat, or you won't get any dessert. b. I picked up every last bit of the rubbish that the wind had blown on the lawn. 7. 'Lean' means 'with no fat'. It can be used with food or animals and people. a. They are opposites. He is fat, and she is lean. b. I can't eat fatty meat; it has to be lean. 8. 'To bloat' is to 'blow up' or 'inflate'. We describe feeling too full as 'bloated'. a. I ate too much cake and felt bloated afterwards. b. Stop eating before you get too bloated. Join me on my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. If you have questions or suggestions, or if you'd like to get information about Skyped le ssons, email me at  Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 10.

Apr 2, 2013 11:12


Hey Peter, fancy meeting you here! Hi Liz, I've come to book a holiday. Really? No, I'm only joking. I'm a poor student, remember? I can't afford a holiday yet. Carl told me that you work here, so I thought I'd pop in to see you. What a lovely surprise! So, how is the job so far? So far so good. The people here are really nice, and helpful. I'm learning a lot. It sounds like the perfect part-time job for a student. I think so. Tweet // //

Science at home.

Mar 30, 2013 15:01


As a parent(1), I think a lot about my children's education(2). Is it good or bad? Is it varied, hands-on(3), relevant? The only way to really(4) find out, is to look at their text books, go to their schools, and talk to their teachers. And then, we have to remember that each person is unique; each has different preferences, ways of learning, and abilities. Some people are comfortable with academics, and others are not(5). Some students are good at taking exams, and others prefer to demonstrate their knowledge in other ways. Recently, my son Robert has been at home with a bad cough. He has been bugging me to buy him an electrical circuit. So, we shopped around until we found the perfect 'kit'(6). It has batteries, a light, a motor that spins, sound devices, and connecting wires. There is also a booklet(7) that gives instructions and warnings, pictures, and general advice. So Robert has spent hours connecting, fiddling(8), and creating, and every minute that goes by he learns something. Play and imagination are great teachers. And learning doesn't necessarily happen on paper, or on a computer screen. When I asked Robert what was so good about his kit, he said, "It's the energy hook-ups(9), and seeing what you can do with them." 1. 'As a parent' this kind of phrase is used with different nouns/titles.  a. As a teacher, I try to understand how my students learn best. b. As a policeman, he tries to be observant. 2. 'I think a lot about my children's education'. This is a good format for other sentences. a. We think a lot about our father's health. b. They think a lot about their safety because they live in Hurricane Valley. c. He thinks a lot about buying land in the future. 3. 'Hands-on' refers to activities that involve touch and manipulation. a. The new children's museum in Spokane is hands-on; the kids can really touch, feel, and play with the displays. b. Babies and toddlers learn most of their lessons in a hands-on way. 4. 'The only way to really +verb..., is to ...' another great format for a sentence. a. The only way to really make money, is to work hard for a long time. b. The only way to really make a point, is to speak intelligently. c. The only way to really understand a culture, is to live in that country. 5. 'Some people are comfortable with academics, and others are not.' In this sentence, the adjective doesnot have to be repeated at the end. a. Some people love chocolate, and others don't. b. Some laws are fair, and others aren't. c. Some people work eight hours a day, and others don't. 6. A 'kit' is usually a set of objects that all fit together or work together for a common purpose. Like Robert's kit, all the parts in the box can be used to build different electrical circuits. a. I bought a kit to build a bird house for the garden. It had wood, nails, glue, and paint. b. My husband always has a tire repair kit with him when he goes biking. 7. A 'booklet' is a small, soft book, similar to a pamphlet but bigger. We usually receive booklets with new appliances for instruction. a. The booklet that came with my new vacuum cleaner is not clear.  b. You need to read the instructions that came in the booklet so you know how to put the drawers together. 8. 'Fiddling' comes from the verb 'to fiddle' which means 'to manipulate with your hands', 'to mess about', and 'to experiment physically with something'. Kids are good 'fiddlers'.  a. Someone has been fiddling with my alarm clock, and now it doesn't work. b. I wish you wouldn't fiddle with my make-up; it's all untidy now. 9. A 'hook-up' is often used generally for a connection of some kind, especially electrical or metallic. a. Where is the hook-up to the power supply? b. We need the correct hook-up to connect the boat to the truck. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Questions and comments? Would you like Skype lessons? Contact me at Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 9.

Mar 27, 2013 10:06


Hello Mrs Fontaine. Oh, hello Liz. Welcome back to Fontaine's Travel Agency, and this time as an employee. Thanks, I'm excited to start. Well, we're glad to have you. What would you like me to do first? I think if you sit at Angie's desk, she'll tell you what to do. Just watch her use the computer system, and maybe you can help her with paper work.  That sounds like a good plan. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Feel free to email me questions and comments to And if you're interested in Skyped lessons with me, let me know, and I'll send you the details. Tweet // //

Housing Market Up.

Mar 22, 2013 11:35


 Sales of low-priced(1) homes here continue to feed(2) a housing market that has buyers eager(3), sellers satisfied and some real estate agents scrambling(4) to keep up the pace."Put an entry-level home on the market and - wham! It’s gone in no time," said a broker in Wenatchee. "They go almost as fast as we can list them. Sure, we’d like to see prices rising and more sales of higher-end(5) homes, but these low-end sales can be a good thing— sell a lot of entry-level homes now and, down the road, you’ll likely have a lot of second-home buyers." Looser credit and some of the lowest interest rates in recent history(6), this week at 3.875 percent, have juiced(7) sales and spurred activity across the market, regardless(8) of price. "We’re seeing more interest, more showings in the $400,000 range than we’ve seen in years.“ It’s welcome activity. "Buyers are also wiser in their preparations to buy a home," said Paine, another  broker. "They come to the table with cleaner credit, higher incomes and better documentation —They’ve got their ducks in a row and are ready to purchase." 1. 'Low-priced homes' is the opposite of 'high-priced homes'. 'Low' and 'High' can be added to other nouns as well. a. Low-priced land is selling quickly in our area. b. High-priced furniture is finally on sale. 2. 'To feed a housing market'. When it comes to markets, we say that they are 'fed' by sales or demand. 'To feed' is used figuratively in many situations. a. What you say will only feed the fire of his anger. b. Play feeds the imagination of children and adults. 3. 'Eager' is the same as 'keen' or 'very willing to'. a. They're eager to find jobs and a home in their new town. b. I'm eager to meet my new boss. 4. 'To scramble' means several things. We scramble eggs (beat them and add milk). It can also mean to hurry, or to run with both hands and feet on the ground, usually up hill, in an uncontrolled fashion. a. The cat scrambled up the tree to get away from the dog. b. I was late! I scrambled to get all of my things, and then I ran to catch the bus. 5. 'Higher-end' is similar to 'high-cost'. It is usually to describe property. a. The higher-end houses are around the golf course. b. The company party is always at a higher-end restaurant (high-end). 6. 'In recent history' the word 'recent' can be put in front of other nouns, such as 'years', 'months', 'governments' etc. a.  In recent weeks, demonstrations have increased. b. In recent years, there has been less rainfall. 7. 'Interest rates have juiced sales' the word 'juiced' here is American terminology. It is the same as saying 'encouraged' or 'fed'.  Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Comments or questions? Send them  to  Do you need English lessons via Skype? Email me to find times and prices for lessons. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 8.

Mar 22, 2013 11:42


So, tell me about your job hunting. Well, I needed something part-time. So, I tried several places. And what did you end up with? Believe it or not, I'm going to work on Saturdays in a travel agency. Wow, that's interesting. You'll probably learn a lot. Yes. I've done waitressing before, so I think this should make a nice change. Plus it leaves my week days free for studying. Congratulations! Thanks. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 7.

Mar 18, 2013 10:06


How was your night out? Great, thanks. We went to dinner and then went to a club called 'Shapiro's'. We danced for hours. You look tired. I am. It was really loud, but we had a great time. What have you been up to? I've been looking for a part-time job. Really? Had any luck? Yes, I'll tell you about it after class. Tweet // //

New growth.

Mar 14, 2013 10:36


Those of you who have followed my podcast for a few years will know that I'm obsessed with gardening. Trees, bushes, flowers, vegetables, seeds, and even soil get me all excited. After a long, dull winter, it's time to spring into(1) life. People have been telling me, "Anna, it's too early to dig; the ground is still too cold," "you can't transplant anything now," "you have to wait to put (2)seeds in the ground." But, I've been doing all of that. I don't always 'go by the book'(3), sometimes feelings and instinct can be more accurate. Anyway, about one month ago, I got out the chainsaw. You know, a woman can have a wonderful time with a chainsaw. Using a chainsaw is usually the domain of men, like war, and boxing. However, as I told my husband, "It's not rocket science(4), you know." It really is quite simple, if you're careful. I cut down a large area of 30 year old bushes, then dug up(5) the huge roots. I've transplanted blueberry bushes there, and planted a lot of bulbs. My plan is to have a mass of flowers. Also, I've started flower seeds in containers on my kitchen window. They have all sprouted(6), and look like happy, little faces, all in a row. When they are bigger, I'll put them in this newly planted area and show you photos of all the pretty and colorful growth. 1. 'To spring into life' means to jump or leap into life. The verb can be used by itself to imply enthusiasm. a. I had a good night's sleep, so when I woke up, I sprang out of bed. b. The basketball players will spring into action when the game starts. 2. 'You have to wait to put...' this is a string of three verbs, as you can see. The sentence could have been written as 'You have to wait before putting...'. We often use the phrase 'to wait to + verb'. a. You need to wait to go outside; it's still raining. b. They'll have to wait to order their meal; the restaurant is very busy. 3. 'To go by the book' is a set phrase that means to follow the normal pattern of behavior, or what is generally recommended or taught. a. The strategies for taking exams that we learn are helpful. It's best to go by the book to get a good result. b. The artist doesn't go by the book when he uses color. 4. 'It's not rocket science' is also a set phrase that means 'It's not very difficult'. a.  I can build a shed; it's not rocket science. b. Of course you can make dinner; it's not rocket science. 5. 'To dig up' the preposition 'up' implies that you're not just digging a hole, but you are removing, 'pulling up', 'lifting up' something from the ground. If you were digging a hole without removing anything, we would just use 'to dig'. a. We must dig up the rocks before we can plant the trees. b. I accidentally dug up a water pipe! 6. 'To sprout' is similar to 'to spring' but it refers to a plant emerging from a seed. It can be used figuratively. a. The onions have sprouted. b. Those children have really sprouted; they're getting big! Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. You're all welcome! If you have questions or comments, email me at Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 6.

Mar 13, 2013 08:59


 What did you find out about retakes?Oh, we can retake small tests, but not end of term finals.That makes sense.Thankfully, I did ok on the last test, so I won't need to.Yes, my result wasn't too bad; I got 85%.Good job! I got 80%.Are you going to the library later?No, I'm going to a club with friends; I need a break!   Thanks for joining me. You're all welcome to my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Also my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Tweet // //

Time To Kill.

Mar 12, 2013 12:47


What do you do when you have time to kill? It's a bit of a violent phrase, isn't it? It really means to use up spare time, or extra time. That is just(1) what I was doing this weekend, while I was waiting for my son's basketball game to start. We had a break of three and a half hours in between(2) games which is a long time. My thoughts were(3): lunch, a walk, Facebook, and maybe a podcast. And surprisingly enough(4), I got all of those things done. Robert and I went down to the lake for a walk, and watched the ducks and geese land on and take off from the water. It was there that I found the fox statue. Later in the gym I searched the web for info(5) on the statue. Well, that wasn't so easy. You know how web searches go(6); often they take you all around the world, and you end up with unimaginable(7) results. I ended up reading about a famous German sculptor called Julian Voss-Andreae who does sculptures about physics. One of his sculptures called 'Quantum Man' is here in Moses Lake, of all places(8). I looked through the list of his works and was amazed at his uniqueness(9). So, I'm glad I had time to kill because it led me to a lake, which led me to a fox, which led me to a very unusual German sculptor. 1. 'That is just what I was doing'. 'Just' here means 'exactly'. It can also mean 'only' or 'almost'. Let's see examples of it used as 'exactly'. a. It's funny what you said. It's just what I was thinking! b. They look just the same. 2. 'In between' can often be replaced with just 'between'. Both are correct. a. You've got food in between your teeth. You've got food between your teeth. b. I parked in between the bus and the truck. I parked between the bus and the truck. 3. 'My thoughts were...' is a short way of saying 'what I was thinking was....'/'what I was planning was'/ 'my thoughts about the matter were../. The use of 'thoughts' to express plans and ideas can be used with any person and in any tense. a. The company needs to invest. What are your thoughts? b. They were thinking: eat, play basketball, sleep. Those were their plans. 4. 'Surprisingly enough' in this phrase you can miss out 'enough'. The meaning of 'enough' is quite vague, and not always necessary. It's meaning when following an adverb is 'quite' or 'somewhat'. a. Interestingly enough, he works nights and studies during the day. c. Oddly enough, she works and he stays at home. 5. 'Info' is often substituted for 'information'. 6. Adding 'you know' at the beginning of a sentence is good practice, and there are many examples of this usage. a. You know how much work it is. b. You know when they're coming, don't you? c. You know the teacher won't allow that. d. You know what he's like. 7.  Un-imagin-able    un-imagin-able    un-imagin-able   un-imagin-able 8. 'Of all places' means 'it is really unlikely to be here'/'this place even though it is unexpected'. 'Of all' can be put in front of other nouns to show a similar 'surprise'/'disappointment'/'sense of irony'. a. Of all people, I bump into my ex-husband in the middle of Tokiyo! b. Of all places, we had to have a flat tire here (e.g  in the middle of the desert). c. Of all things, you had to lose your passport! 9. 'Uniqueness' is the state of being unique. Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Remember, basic pronunciation practices are on Monday's and Wednesday's. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 5.

Mar 12, 2013 11:09


That test was really hard. How do you think you did?Alright, I suppose. I'm glad I studied all of the notes that the teacher gave us.Yes, me too.When do we get the results?Next Monday, I think.Can we retake it? I'm not sure. You'll have to ask the teacher. I know she let's us retake some of them. Let me know what she says.Sure, I will. Tweet // //

Analysis Time - Detecting Explosives.

Mar 8, 2013 16:00


Technology being(1) developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could put(2) explosive-sniffing(3) dogs out of business. Just like dogs, the technology can 'sniff' the air to detect vapors from explosives. Unlike dogs, it doesn't need to be fed, exercised, rested, and given breaks(4). It also shows promise(5) to accurately detect minute(6) amounts of explosives. It takes in a sample of air from around an object and examines that air. An explosive called RDX does not easily vaporize, and so it is difficult for dogs to detect it. However, this new technology can detect vapors of RDX from a fingerprint when there are less than 25 parts per quadrillion. "This technology is more sensitive than anything out there(7) now," said a senior research scientist. The technology could be used to screen(8) passengers or luggage at airports or large containers at ports. 1. 'Technology being developed' is a shorter than 'technology that is being developed'. Both are accurate and work in the sentence. There are many other occasions when you can miss out the pronoun 'that' and the verb in the first half of the sentence, and simply use the second verb in the gerund form. a. The teacher helping students every day can make a difference. b. Clouds gathering show the promise of rain. c. Flowers appearing show us that Spring is around the corner. 2. 'To put someone out of business'. We use the verb 'put' here when referring to a business or a person who is being forced to stop work, usually because of competition. a. The bigger shops have put the smaller shops out of business. b. High prices put the shop out of business. 3. 'Sniffing' comes from the verb 'to sniff'. I love this verb; it is onomatopeoic, which is a fancy way of saying that it sounds like its meaning. a. "I have lost my last penny," sniffed the sad old lady. b. The dog sniffed the air; someone was cooking bacon. 4. 'It doesn't need to be fed, exercised, rested, and given breaks.' This sentence shows how adjectives, or past participle verbs can be used in a list. a. The car was washed, dried, waxed, and driven to my house. b. The document was signed and delivered to the office. 5. 'To show promise' means that the subject gives signs of usefulness, hope, health, or some kind of positive capability. a. He shows promise of becoming a great chef. b. She always showed promise of singing success. 6. 'Minute' is spelled the same as 'minute'. The first means 'tiny'. a. The shells are minute; you can hardly see them. b. There was just a minute amount of bacteria left. 7. 'Anything out there' means 'anything available/ that can be found/on the market'. a. This is the most powerful motorbike out there. b. I don't think you'll find a cheaper computer out there. 8. 'To screen' is 'to examine for substances'. a. All the passengers in the airport were screened before boarding the plane. b. Screening luggage keeps us all safe. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 4.

Mar 7, 2013 10:00


That was a really good lecture. Yes, it was. That professor keeps it interesting. Well, I have a lot to study for the next test. Me too. Do you need a study partner? That would be nice. Okay, let's go to the library.   Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. If you have questions or comments, email me at And remember that my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Tweet // //


Mar 5, 2013 13:59


Xylitol is a wood sugar that I've been using for a few years. It has many benefits. A dentist friend(1) told me that because its molecular structure(2) is different to normal sugar, plaque bacteria cannot absorb it; they try to, but they can't. Because of this, the plaque dies, and our teeth stay healthier. It might sound strange if you're unfamiliar with it. I'm impressed with it, and so I thought I would share(3) it's description as it is written on the packet that I buy. Xyla has 40% fewer calories than processed sugar, and 75% less carbohydrate(4). Xyla is a natural sweetener derived(5) from 100% North American hardwood. With many benefits, it is a popular sweetener widely(6) used in Europe, Scandinavia, and many other countries for its similarity to sugar in taste and texture. It is a low-glycemic sugar, and is safe for diabetics or anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle. It is perfect for coffee, tea, and cereal. It doesn't promote(7) cavities, and it leaves no after taste, and dissolves quickly.  1. 'A dentist friend' this is a quick way of mentioning the occupation of a friend; you simply put the job title next to the word 'friend'. a. An electrician friend of mine told me that our garage is electrically unsafe. b. A plastic surgeon friend of mine told me that he can change my nose. 2. 'Molecular structure' is a great thing to say to impress people, so let's practice the pronunciation: mol-ec-ular  struc-ture   mol-ec-ular  struc-ture   mol-ec-ular   struc-ture 3. 'To share' here has a second, less common meaning. Normally it means 'to give what you have', 'to pass out to people'. It can also mean 'to tell' or 'to open up(in conversation)'. a. He shared with me that he's having a lot of trouble at work. b. She shared some difficult secrets with me. 4. 'Carbohydrates' is often shortened to 'carbs'. a. They're eating a low-carb diet. b. These growing kids need more carbs. 5. 'Derived' means 'to come from', 'taken from', 'produced from'. 6. 'Widely used', are two words that go together. When talking about a large usage, such as state-wide, nationally, or globally, we use the word 'widely' with 'used'. a. Safety belts are widely used in Washington, but less so in Idaho. b. Organic produce is widely used in Europe. 7. 'Promote' means to 'spread', 'accelerate', 'encourage'. In this podcast it means 'to cause'. a. Schools are promoting the consumption of vegetables. b. His words will promote a disturbance. Please send me your questions and comments to , check out my app in Tunes called A Cup Of English, and join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice 3.

Mar 5, 2013 06:33


After you (holding the door) Thank you, that's very kind. Are you new to the class? Yes, I'm starting late because I've just moved here. Well, I'm sure you'll fit right in. It's a great class. I hope so. So far, so good. Thanks for joining me. Please send me your questions and comments to You're all welcome to join me on my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

Analysis Time - Science For The Young.

Mar 1, 2013 13:51


Science education has taken new life(1) with the opening, six months ago, of the Mobius Science Center in Spokane, Washington. A $14 million fund put the new Science Center into operation. It is operating along with(2) the Mobius Children's Museum which has been open for seven years. The museum, aimed at children up to 8 years old(3), has been a very successful part of downtown Spokane. The demands for better-informed(4) and trained people in science have led to support for both centers. The Mobius Science Center has 26,000 square feet of exhibition space. There are 65 hands-on(5), interactive science and technology exhibits, plus educational programs. Here, young people can experience the worlds of Robotics, Flight, Space, Optics, Earth Science, Math and many more. It's a lively place that curious minds of all ages(6) will love. 1. 'Science education has taken new life....' this is an unusual sentence, though we can understand the meaning. Another phrase that talks about new life is the following: 'New life has been breathed into...(science, business, the district, education etc). We talk of new life being 'breathed into' something. a. The project has breathed new life into the city. b. The updated curriculum has breathed new life into my class. 2. 'Along with..' is like saying 'as well as' or 'side by side'. The meaning here is that the Children's Museum and the Science Center are two parts of the same project. a. The water park, along with the golf course, are open to the public 6 days a week. b. School children, along with other people from the neighborhood, planted trees in the park.  3. 'Up to 8 years old' here 'up to' is showing the limit, or maximum age of those served in the museum.  We also use 'over' to show the minimum and above. a. This film is for eighteen year olds and over.  b. The class is for children up to the age of 12. 4. 'Better' can be attached to many adjectives with a hyphon. a. We need better-equipped police on the streets. b. We need better-educated teachers in the schools. c. I wish the teenagers were better-behaved. 5. 'Hands-on' is a very popular expression. It means that a person can physically touch, play with, and experiment with something. a.  It will be a hands-on experience for the kids. b.  It will be a hands-on job, action, not just talk. 6. '....of all ages' is also a common expression when mentioning people of many ages who have a certain hobby or preference. a. Sweet lovers of all ages will adore this new chocolate shop. b. Children of all ages will appreciate this book. c. Dance fanatics of all ages can use this new dance video. Thanks for joining me. Send your questions and comments to Also, you are invited to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

Basic Pronunciation Practice.

Feb 28, 2013 07:14


Excuse me, am I close to the college? Yes, it's just around the corner. Which department do you need? I need to go to the Science department. Ok, that's on the fourth floor. Go through the main entrance, and on your left you'll find the stairs. Thank you so much! You're welcome. Questions or comments? Email them to me at and I promise to email you back. You are welcome to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

A Human Sandwich.

Feb 26, 2013 17:26


It's not often that(1) I find myself trapped, stuck in the middle of two things. However, I put myself in the middle of two things the other day deliberately(2). The two things were my dog and cat. The dog wanted to get the cat, and the cat wanted to test her young claws on the dog's nose. I have been training my little kitten. She is getting used to(3) the front garden, so when she's older, I can let her out by herself. I have a little harness(4) for her, (I call it her bra), which attaches around her chest. Then the leash(5) clips into it, so I can gently hold the leash and follow her while she explores. Perfect. Well, not really. My dog Foxy can jump over the gate and come to the front garden whenever she wants to(6). That's the problem. She is very, very smart. She approaches us, focusing on the cat. I tell her "no" and act like a confident boss. She responds by lying down and acting sweet. However, I can see in her eyes that she is just pretending for her stupid human owner. Really, she's ready for war, and her enemy is the cat. She looks at me with sad, sweet eyes, and then back at the cat with an unbreakable(7) stare. She licks her lips. I feel quite proud of myself for staying(8) right in the middle, the great protector. Suddenly a car scares the cat and she runs for the door. Foxy, the dog, jumps to attack, but the cat is too quick. She gets out her weapon, her claws, and goes for the nose. This is a new experience for Foxy; her precious nose must be protected, so she backs away(9). When the cat and I are back inside the house, I realize how ridiculous that scene was. And was I even necessary? I'm sure the natural dog and natural cat don't need a civilized woman to keep the peace. Why? Because naturally speaking, there is no peace between a cat and a dog. 1. 'It's not often that I...' this sentence and the use of 'often' could be written a different way, and with 'often' at the end. a. I don't find myself trapped (very) often.  OR   It's not often that I find myself trapped. b. It's not often that he reads all night.       OR  He doesn't read all night (very) often. c. It's not often they visit us.                    OR  They don't visit us (very) often. 2. 'Deliberately' means 'on purpose'. Let's practice the pronunciation.     Del-i-ber-ate-ly         Del-i-ber-ate-ly      Del-i-ber-ate-ly      Del-i-ber-ate-ly 3. 'To get used to' is a phrase that we have covered before. It is the same as 'to familiarize yourself with' or 'to become accustomed to'. It is much easier to use 'to get used to', a. It might take a long time, but you will get used to the weather here. b. I just can't get used to my new work schedule. c. Get used to it! You have no choice. 4. 'A harness' is like a piece of clothing made of straps that fits around the body. In rock climbing, a rope is attached to it to keep the climber safe. a. The rock climber checked his harness before he started climbing. 5. 'A leash' is the cord or rope that is attached to a dog or cat collar when you take them for a walk. a. I bought a new leash for my dog because she had chewed the other one. b. You need a stronger leash for that big dog. 6. 'Whenever she wants to' in the U.S the preposition 'to' is often missed out. In England, however, we normally include it. a. They'll do it whenever they want to.     OR    They'll do it whenever they want. b. I'll say whatever I want to.                  OR    I'll say whatever I want. c. They always went wherever they wanted to.     OR They always went wherever they wanted. 7. 'Unbreakable' means that it is impossible to break.   Un-break-able       un-break-able      un-break-able     un-break-able 8. 'I feel quite proud of myself for staying.....' it is the structure of this sentence that is useful:       Subject + emotion + preposition + (oneself) + for + gerund a.  He's happy with himself for getting the promotion. b. I'm disappointed in myself for getting angry. c. She's ashamed of herself for being lazy. d. They're proud of themselves for building the house. 9. 'To back away' can also be expressed as 'to back off'. 'To back down' is similar, but it also means to give up in a fight, or to stop offering a threat. a. The protesters backed off when the police arrived. b. The younger lion backed down when the alpha male confronted him. Thanks for joining me! Let me know your questions and comments at, and I will send you an email in return. You're all invited to join my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

Basic pronunciation practice.

Feb 25, 2013 07:38


Can I help you? Yes please. Which way is it to the college? You are on the right road. Keep going straight, and then take a right. Is it far? No, you're quite close. It'll take you about five minutes.   Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.   Join me on Monday's and Wednesday's for more basic pronunciation practice. My regular intermediate level podcasts are Tuesday's and Thursday's. I hope it helps! You are all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; just send me a friend request. Tweet // //

A Rubbish Poem.

Feb 21, 2013 14:30


Throw it, chuck it(1), give it away! All of this furniture can't possibly stay! Every room, cupboard, and closet is filled to the brim(2), But most of this stuff should be thrown in the bin!(3) So off to(4) the dump with these old, broken possessions, Chairs, tables, and computers that long ago were in fashion.  Just look at this old sofa; it's seen better days,(5) Why do you think that keeping it pays?(6) The mattress, pillows, and table are on their last legs,(7) They're covered in stains, holes, scribbles, and bacon and eggs!(8) The kids have used them as a castle, a playground, and even a hobbit's hole, But to throw them all away is definitely my goal. So, give away want you want, and don't forget to recycle, Take our ornaments, broken kitchen appliances, records, toys, and bicycle. The dump is a glorious place, with an unforgettable smell, It's there we get rid of our trash, and feel free, and clean, and well. At first sight it's quite scary, deep, and dark, with mold, dust, sticky stuff, and fungus,(9) But be brave, chuck that ancient computer in there, and come and join us. We'll celebrate our clean houses and new lives with martinis one, two and three, And promise to never again spend too much on junk, now that's the key!(10) 1. 'To chuck' is the same as 'to throw away' or 'to get rid of'. It's mainly used in England. a. Chuck those old papers in the fire, would you please? 2. 'Filled to the brim' we have seen before. It means to be completely full, up to the very top. a. He filled my wine glass to the brim. 3. 'Bin' is another word for 'the garbage can' or 'the trash can'. a. Oh dear, I think I threw ten dollars in the bin! 4. 'Off to' is like saying 'go to' or 'let's go to'. a. Off to the swimming pool! Let's go! 5. 'To have seen better days' means that something or someone is very old and in bad shape. a. My television has seen better days; it huge, black and white, and only three channels work. 6. 'Something pays' means that something is worth it or worthwhile. a. It pays to study a little everyday instead of once a week. 7. 'To be on your last legs' can apply to people, animals, or objects. It is just like 'to have seen better days' in meaning. a. That car is on it's last legs; it will break down any day! 8. 'Scribble' is a messy piece of writing or drawing that children do on paper, and sometimes where they shouldn't do it, like furniture, or on the walls. a. My son scribbled all over our new table with a permanent pen. 9. 'Fungus' is a growth similar to a mushroom. We generally think of fungus growing on old food, or damp materials. a. I opened the closet and found fungus growing on the wall. 10. 'That's the key!' is a set phrase that means, 'that is the solution', 'that is the answer'. a. Prepare yourself for your classes if you want to be successful; that's the key! Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish and I will friend you. Please send me your questions and comments to and I will email you back. Remember my app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English. Tweet // //

Memories on the wall.

Feb 20, 2013 00


Do you have photos around your house? Perhaps photos of family and friends? I have been in some people's houses where there are photos in every room. The fridge, in the kitchen, is a place where a lot of people place photos of loved ones or fond memories. I have had our family photos in a huge box for quite a few years. The project of sorting through them, putting some in chronological albums, and others in frames, has been a project that I have avoided for all this time. Am I lazy? I don't think so. It's just a really big job that requires a lot of time and concentration. I want to do the job right, after all. So, the other day, after buying some frames that were on sale, I decided to at least start the project. The photos I selected to put in the frames are our most recent family and individual photos. We had a professional photographer come to our house in the Autumn (Fall). It was the first time that we had hired anyone to take semi-formal pictures of us. It happened to be the perfect time of year, because the light in the Autumn really adds color and depth to a picture, plus the leaves had changed color and fallen on the ground, creating a pretty background. I love how these photos turned out. They are casual, and show each person's character. She did such a good job. A few days ago, I cleaned up the frames, and divided up the pictures. There were twelve photos and three frames, each with four holes. A perfect match! Every frame would have one of each of the children. I placed the photos carefully in each frame, put sticky tape on the back to secure them, closed up the back of the frames, and then decided where to hang them. Should I put them in the entryway next to the mirror, or on the stair wall? Should I put them all together, or separate them? Decisions, decisions. I ended up putting two on one wall, and one a little further up the stair case. I've had positive comments about them already, and I am quite satisfied with what I have done. Grammar notes. Related vocabulary and expressions: chronological, to avoid, after all, (it) happens to .... 1. The video of the man's life was not in chronological order, so it was a bit confusing.                                                              2. I would avoid that part of the city, if I were you.3. Sit down and relax. You have been working hard all day, after all.4. It happens to be my mother's birthday. OR She happens to be my best friend. OR They happen to be our relatives. Click the link to rate my podcast if you like. Thanks! Click here to buy or rate my app Tweet // //

Great Value.

Feb 19, 2013 16:18


These days(1) everybody seems to be trying to(2) save money. On the television, we hear about sales, discounts, and 'cash back'(3) on things that we buy. Most receipts now give opportunities to win money, or products. And the shops do the same. Have you noticed generic brands in your local shops? A generic brand is a line of products made for that shop, not a famous brand name. They are always cheaper than other brands. The question is, "Are they good quality, or of the same quality as(4) the brand name products?" Over the past few years, I have shopped almost exclusively(5) at Walmart, and I have got to know(6) some things about generic brands. Great Value is a brand name made for Walmart. The boxes, packets, and bottles(7) of products are simple to look at, and stand out from the rest. In my opinion, the basic products like detergents(8), paper products, and simple house items are worth buying. However, when it comes to eating, the cheaper product often doesn't taste as good. Pastas, bread, dairy products, and canned goods are not quite as good as(9) the brand name ones. I'm fussy about what I eat, and so cheaper ingredients are not always the best option(10). It might be better to spend a few more pennies, to taste good quality food. However, you can always save your money on the non-edible(12) items. 1. 'These days' can be replaced with 'now-a-days'. They are interchangeable. a. These days, we spend a lot of time in the car. b. Now-a-days, people drive a lot. 2. 'Everybody seems to be trying to save money'. Notice there are 3 verbs in a row. This isn't complicated, you just have to decide how you wish to follow 'seems to be'. a. The cat seems to be trying to climb the tree. b. They seems to be walking very fast. c. The clouds seem to be getting dark over the mountains. 3. 'Cash back' is a very common thing over here. When you buy something with a credit card, sometimes, if it is a big purchase, like a car or a computer, you might get 'cash back', meaning a check from your credit card company in a few months or at the end of the year. a. I will get my cash back at the end of the year; I have bought a lot of things, so I should get a big check. b. With the cash back from buying my car, I bought an iPad. 4. '...of the same quality as..' a. That material is of the same quality as the more expensive one. b. That sofa is made of the same leather as the chair. 5. 'Exclusively' means 'only' when excluding other options. It is a great word to practice as, when used correctly, gives the impression of fluency. Ex-clu-sive-ly    ex-clu-sive-ly   ex-clu-sive-ly   ex-clu-sive-ly 6. 'To get to know' is the same as 'to come to know', and 'to become familiar with'. a. When I stayed with my grandmother in the summer, I really got to know her. b. Let's get to know eachother before we go on a date. 7. 'Boxes, packets and bottles' are some of the containers of products. Others are 'cans, jars, tubes, bags, containers and tubs'. a. We need a packet of cookies and a large container of icecream, like a tub. b. I have jars of spaghetti sauce and cans of soup on the shelf. 8. 'Detergent' is the name of a soap that is not used for the body. a. I like the new laundry detergent; all the clothes smell really nice. b. That detergent makes me itchy. 9. '....are not quite as good as..' is an effective use of comparison, but in the negative. a. The second and third films were not quite as good as the first. b. The painting is not quite as colorful as the photo. c. My new gloves are not quite as comfortable as my old ones. 10. 'The best option' could be replaced by 'the best choice', 'the best idea', 'the best decision'. a. I think that the cheaper hotel is the best option. b. He recently broke his leg so I don't think that night skiing is the best option. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish and practice posting and chatting in English. If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at, and I promise to email you back. Tweet // //

Which language to choose?

Feb 14, 2013 14:06


Over the years I have collected books and cassettes to learn different languages. I have them lined up(1) on my desk, all in a row: Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. Unfortunately I don't speak all of them, only Spanish and French. I learned a little Russian as well, but only a few sentences. I would love to know all of these languages, but I know that it would take me years and years to both study and practice(2) them. I pick up the books sometimes and look at the Chinese and Arabic characters. "Wow!" is usually what I say to myself as I look at these beautiful but unrecognizable(3) shapes. So, what are the steps to learning a language? First, decided which one you need to learn. That sounds obvious, but, if you're like me, you will want to learn several. Limit yourself because you need lots of time to learn a language. Perhaps you can plan to(4) listen to 2 podcasts a day, read a paragraph, and practice singing a song. If you did this five days a week, you would progress quickly(5). Memorize some basic conversation sentences. Make a list of the twenty most important verbs and expressions. Read a joke book in that language, perhaps a children's joke book. What do you think? Do you have any suggestions? Is there a better way to learn a language? Personally, I think that the ear is the key. If you hear a language a lot, it will become part of you. And then, you must repeat what you hear, to hear yourself speak the language. And, finally you must have fun! Humor, laughter, and silliness can make you relax and remember. 1. 'To line up' is to put in a line or a row. It can be used for things or people. It is similar in meaning to 'to queue up';however, we would not use 'to queue up' with objects. a. The child lined up all of his cars in a straight line. b. We queued up outside the cinema, and the taxis were lined up on the street. 2. 'To both study and practice'. The use of 'both' here gives a nice sound of fluency in English. It can be used in front of two verbs, or two adjectives, and two nouns in many different occasions. a. He will both run and swim in the race. b. She has both intelligence and generosity. c. The bank employees are both unprofessional and slow. 3. 'Unrecognizable' means something that you don't recognize, that is not familiar at all. Un-re-cog-niz-able     un-re-cog-niz-able    un-re-cog-niz-able     un-re-cog-niz-able 4. 'To plan to ..' is useful when talking about the future. a. I plan to travel this Summer if I can get plane tickets. b. He plans to finish his exams and then look for an apprenticeship. 5. 'If you did this...., you would progress quickly'. This is an example of subjunctive with conditional. The simple past is used in the first half of the sentence, then 'would' plus the infinitive with no 'to'. a. If you drank this, you would feel better. b. If he read the letter, he would understand. c. If they came early, they would have time to talk. d. If they invested now, they would make an early profit. Thanks for joining me today. Please send your questions and comments to, and feel free to join my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet // //

If You Have The Flu.

Feb 12, 2013 17:50


The subject of many people's conversations is the flu. Everybody is talking about it. The clinics and hospitals are full of people who have flu symptoms, and supermarkets have shelves full of medicines, tissues(1), and vitamin powders. I've been lucky so far(2); my children and my husband have had it, but not me(3). And I'm not going to, I keep telling myself. I'm using mind over matter(4). When I do go to the supermarket, I'll often hear a horrible cough in one direction, and a sneeze in another(5). So what do I do then? I get as far away as possible(6). I push my shopping cart to the opposite part of the store as quickly as possible. I bumped into a man I know the other day, and he said, "Anna, you are the fastest moving thing(7) in the store!" At home I've been moving fast as well. There is extra washing to do. I wipe the countertops with disinfecting wipes(8). I remind the kids to wash their hands with soap and water, and to drink lots of water and juice. And I open windows as much as possible. And after all of that, really the only thing you should do is rest, stay warm, and sleep.  1. 'Tissues' here mean paper handkerchiefs. The word 'tissue' is the general word used, as 'handkerchief' is out dated. It is also the general word for organic material. a. Do you need a tissue? It sounds like you have a bad cold. b. He lost tissue from his hand in the accident. 2. 'So far' could be replaced by 'up until now'. a. So far he has been very successful in his career. b. We haven't been able to get a loan so far. 3. 'My children and husband have had it, but not me.' The last part of this sentence is a simplified way of speaking. It is equally normal to say 'but I haven't' at the end of the sentence, as I have already used the verb 'to have'. However, I think an easier way of completing the sentence is by saying 'but not me'. It is correct and also common use. Even if I had used the verb 'to do', I could have finished the sentence the same way. a. They did it, but not me (but I didn't). b. The class read the book, but not her (name). 4. 'Mind over matter' is a set phrase which means that you are trying to convince yourself, and control your own physical symptoms. a. I was terrified of bungie jumping, but I used mind over matter, and I did it! b. He doesn't like giving speeches, but with mind over matter he manages. 5. As with most languages, the word 'another' or other implies the repetition of a noun, so you don't have to mention it twice. a. In my kitchen I found a mouse on one chair, and a spider on another! b. He cut his finger on one knife, and his thumb on another. 6. 'As far away as possible' is an example of the phrase 'as possible'. The words 'far away' might make it seem more complicated, but it's actually not. 'Far away' is simply put in between 'as' and 'as possible', like many, many other things. a. He ran as fast as possible to catch the bus. b. He always stands as close as possible to people, but his breath stinks! c. She writes her essays as carefully as possible. 7. "Anna, you're the fastest moving thing in the store" this sentence uses 'moving thing' to add humor because it shows me as a thing and not a person. In fact, the speaker could have said just 'the fastest thing in the store' and missed out 'moving'. We use a superlative adjective with 'thing' in these sentences. a. That child is the loudest thing in the whole shopping center. b. That dog is the ugliest thing I've ever seen! c. That article is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read! 8. 'Disinfecting wipes' are disposable cloths that have disinfecting liquid in them. The word 'wipe' is a verb, and a noun with two meanings: the action of wiping, and the cloth, a. I need a 'baby wipe' to clean the baby. b. Wipe your mouth, you have spaghetti sauce on it. c. He cleaned the glass with one wipe. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. My app is available in iTunes called A Cup Of English, and my email address is if you wish to give me any suggestions or if you have any questions.  Tweet // //

Teddy For You, Teddy For Me

Feb 7, 2013 11:48


It's been a rough couple of weeks(1). My three boys have had the flu, and one of them has had two different kinds. As a mother, I try to do all that I can to make them comfortable: medicine, liquids, blankets, and peace and quiet(2). I try to give them some extra attention, if they want it. At times(3) I have taken their temperatures, asked them how they feel, felt their foreheads, and given them popsicles(4) for their sore throats. Sometimes, however, they have wanted to be left alone(5). I can understand that. As a mother, you have to become a judge of who will want what and when(6). My daughter gave me a good suggestion today, to help Robert feel better: buy him a teddy. He is ten years old, almost too 'cool' to have teddies, but not quite. And, of course, there are teddies and teddies(7). The one she chose for him is a gorilla with a tie and a big smile. That's perfect for an 'almost too cool boy'. It's soft, cuddly(8), and funny, but it's also masculine looking, and it goes well with his giant soft lion that he uses as a pillow. It was a good idea, I told Domini. It's a little, soft creature that wishes him well, with a huge smile to make him feel better. 1. 'A rough couple of weeks'. 'Rough' is a common word to describe a length of time that has been difficult. a. This week has been rough at work. b. The two years after the divorce were very rough. 2. 'Peace and quiet' is a set phrase that is used in both England and the U.S. The meaning is self-explanatory, but it should be noted that they often, automatically go together. a. After a noisy week, I really need peace and quiet at the weekend. b. When you have the flu, you need medicine, liquids, rest, and peace and quiet. 3. 'At times' is the same as saying 'sometimes', though it can indicate less occasions than 'sometimes'. a. At times he looks happy, but then at other times he looks sad. b. At times I really don't know if he is joking or not. 4. 'Popsicle' is like a cross between 'pop' and 'icicle'. It is a frozen lollipop, and comes in many different flavors and shapes. a. In the Summer we always fill the freezer with popsicles. b. Popsicles can help a sore throat feel better. 5. To be 'left alone' often goes with the word 'want', or it is phrased to show that the person desires to be alone. 'Left' indicates other people letting go, or permitting. a. I just want to be left alone. b. I'm sure he'll calm down if you leave him alone/ if he's left alone. 6. 'Who will want what and when' is an example of a string of interrogatives. Because I have already mentioned the medicines, blankets, liquids etc and the boys, I don't need to repeat these nouns. The sentence that is full of interrogatives is simply referring back to those nouns. a. We have ham, cheese, salad, soup, and cake for everyone. Anyone can help themselves to what they want, when they want it. b. I don't know why, when, or how this mess was made; I just want it cleaned up! 7. 'There are teddies and teddies' echoes a similar sentence that I discussed in a previous podcast. This sentence format is comparing equal things, but it implies that they are not equal. Some teddies are better than others. a. We saw the musical Les Miserable. Of course there are musicals and there are musicals, but that's one of the best. b. I wish you didn't buy that cheap ham. It's not all the same you know. There's ham and then there's ham. 8. 'Cuddly' is one of my favorite words. It means something that is easy to hug, perhaps even built to hug. a. That homemade pillow is so cuddly; I could just hug it all day. b. When our cat is sleepy, she is so cuddly. You're all welcome to join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. I will email you a reply if you write to me at to send me your questions or comments. Tweet // //

Analysis Time - A Chemical Ban.

Feb 6, 2013 14:15


Some state lawmakers are pushing to ban(1) potentially(2) cancer-causing(3) chemicals from children's products and sofas. The two flame retardant(4) chemicals are known as TCEP and TDCCP and are found in car seats, strollers(5), changing pads(6), other children's products, and furniture. Manufacturers often add the chemicals to foam(7), plastics and fabrics to prevent fires and to slow down fires if they have already started. The chemical industry says that flame retardants have been useful in reducing fires and saving lives. However, supporters(8) of the bill say there are better ways to protect against fires without the chemicals. 1. 'To ban' is the similar in meaning to 'to forbid', 'to stop', or 'to not allow'. a. Certain weapons are banned for civilian use. b. Chewing gum is banned from the schools. 2. 'Potentially' means 'having the power to' or 'possibly'. It is a powerful word to use in the right context. a. The new flu virus could potentially affect all of us. b. The recession could potentially cause the cost of flights to double. 3. '-causing' can be added to many nouns, especially names of diseases. a. The street party had lots of conflict-causing elements; I'm not surprised there was a riot. b. Cholera-causing bacteria were found in the drinking water. 4. 'Flame retardant' is a set phrase used for particular chemicals that reduce the risk of fire. 'Retardant' means 'stopping' or 'slowing'. a. Often, kids' pajamas are flame retardant. b. Sofas also have a flame retardant chemical added to them. 5. 'Stroller' is the American word for a 'push chair' used to transport a baby or youngster while the parent is walking. It's basically a seat with wheels and handlebars at the top. The word is taken from the verb 'to stroll' which means to walk slowly. a. It was such a lovely day that I put the baby in the stroller and walked in the park. b. We need some equipment for the new baby, including a stroller. 6. 'A changing pad' is another piece of equipment or furniture used when a person has a baby. It is like a long, flat, waterproof pillow that you lay the baby on in order to change its diaper. The word 'pad' is used for many things, such as: a seat pad, a panty pad, a pad of paper. Also 'padding' is similar to a material filling, such as in a cushion. It can be used figuratively. a. The changing pad needs to be disinfected after each use. b. He's on a diet. He said that he has five pounds of padding on his stomach that he wants to lose. 7. 'Foam' is an aerated, bubbly substance that is either made out of rubber or plastic material, or an organic substance such as egg, toothpaste, or sea water. The padding in furniture is often made out of 'foam'. a. The foam padding in the sofa has gone flat; it needs to be replaced. b. There is a lot of foam on the waves today. 8. 'Supporters' are people who agree with a person, a group, or a cause. A supporter is also someone who helps financially. a. The supporters of the presidential candidate filled the stadium. b. It was the supporters of the Committee of Arts and Culture who paid for the statue. You are all invited to join me on my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Send me your questions and comments to and I will get back to you.Tweet // //

Analysis Time - Wolf Debate.

Jan 31, 2013 13:46


Farmers, ranchers(1) and county officials(2) from Eastern Washington said a plan to manage(3) wolves as they are re-established in the state has good ideas but doesn't go far enough to cover their potential losses(4) or protect their property. Wolves are making a remarkable comeback(5) in Washington. A year ago there were five confirmed wolf packs in the state: now there are eight confirmed packs and three more suspected (6)packs. But wolves will remain protected under Washington's endangered species(7) law until there are at least 15 packs for three years. In the meantime(8), the department has developed a management plan with farmers, ranchers, wildlife experts and conservationists to minimize damage caused by wolves to livestock(9) and domestic animals. It's a combination of nonlethal techniques to keep wolves away and capture and relocate them, and includes killing them under certain circumstances. Senator John Smith said the state should be ready to list wolves as a big game(10) species, which would allow for hunting when they reach a certain level. 1. A 'rancher' is usually a farmer who has cattle, sheep, or pigs. a. The rancher takes his cows up to the mountains for the good grass. b. The rancher uses sheep dogs to help him control and direct his sheep. 2. 'Official' refers to a person with a recognised position in government, and has sometimes been elected. a. Local officials said that they will make safety their priority. b.State officials met today to discuss the new tax laws. 3. 'To manage' in this context means to control. Managing the wolves would mean allowing them freedom to populate an area, but only up to a certain number. a. The deer population in this area is managed by the department of fish and game. b. Predatory animals need to be managed for our safety and to maintain healthy numbers of their prey. 4. 'To cover a loss' relates to insurance paying to replace valuable property or possessions, including livestock. a. What we got from the insurance company will cover our loss of sheep. b. We must cover our losses before we look for any profits. 5. 'A comeback', the meaning of which is self-explanatory, is often paired with the word 'remarkable', which means 'to be noted', 'astonishing', or 'surprising'. a. The old singer has made a remarkable comeback, and still sings very well. b. Tight jeans have made a comeback; I remember wearing them twenty years ago. 6. 'Confirmed and suspected'. Studies have been carried out to count the number of packs of wolves. The 'confirmed' packs are definitely there; the 'suspected' packs have not been proven to exist. a. The suspected engagement of the Royal Prince and his girlfriend has been confirmed; they will marry in May. b. Cadbury has confirmed international contracts for the next year of up to two billion dollars. 7. 'Endangered species' are the groups of animals that are in danger of extinction.      En - dangered  spe - cies     En - dangered  spe - cies   En - dangered  spe - cies 8. 'In the meantime' is a handy phrase to add to a conversation. It means 'until then' or  'while we are waiting for that to happen'.   a. They'll get here in two hours; in the meantime, let's get the food ready. b. We're still waiting for rain; in the meantime, the grass is getting dryer and dryer.  9. 'Livestock' means farmed animals of all kinds: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, geese, chickens etc. 10. 'Game' is used in hunting terms to describe the animal as being available to be hunted. 'Big game' are the larger animals, of which the wolf would be one. a. Does the hunter prefer small or big game? b. He's a big game hunter; there are big heads all over his walls. Remember you are all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. I can answer your questions and comments at, and if you email me, I promise to email you back. Tweet // //

An Elizabethan Collar.

Jan 30, 2013 12:03


Do you ever check your bills? It's a good practice(1), but sometimes seems unnecessary. If you do, however, you might find the occasional odd charge, or you might have a question about something on the bill that you don't recognize. That is exactly what happened to me last week when I took my dog, Rosie, to the vet. The poor thing had a skin infection of some kind. Apparently it was the result of an allergy. She obviously felt itchy because she would scratch herself all over. Well, the vet got to the bottom of (2)the problem, gave her a medicinal (3)bath and prescribed antibiotics and steroids. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked over(4) the bill and spotted(5) an item that immediately made me curious: an Elizabethan collar. I blinked because I thought I had misread(6) the words. An Elizabethan collar, no I wasn't mistaken; those were the words written, along with the pills, the bath, and the ear cleaning. A mental picture of Queen Elizabeth I came to my mind, with her wide, ruffled collar. What was she doing back there with the animals? Pet owners can never really know what is going on beyond(7) the waiting room. Perhaps the vet likes historical costumes....Maybe her assistants dress up all the animals to put on a Tudor play, “Ok people we need an Elizabeth, a Henry VIII, and a Mary Queen of Scots, … and a few servants and advisers of course. Rosie, if you want to play Elizabeth, make sure you put on her collar..., and get ready for that Armada scene, ok?” “Woof!” replies Rosie. Oh my! My imagination can certainly run wild(8) when I'm bored! So, I asked the lady behind the counter about the Elizabethan collar, and she told me that it's just a plastic cone that is put around the dog's head so it doesn't scratch it's ears. Oh, well that's disappointing. It's not even frilly(9). My idea was far more interesting. 'A good practice' is something that you do that is beneficial, practical, or helpful. a. It's good practice to double check that your doors are locked. b. Helping your neighbors is a good practice. 'To get to the bottom of...' is to find the solution or the answer. a. The detective got to the bottom of the crime. b. We need to get to the bottom of what happened. 'Medicinal' means 'of medicine'. It is used when we refer to a treatment. a. He put a medicinal wrap on his wound. b. That tea is medicinal; it has many health benefits. 'To look over..' is often used when we talk about examining a document of some kind, a collection of information, or a list. a. We looked over the plans for the house and found three things that we didn't like. b. I looked over the phone bill; it was higher than last month. 'To spot' something is 'to notice'. a. I spotted her orange coat in the crowd. b. I've spotted a family of doves in my back garden. 'To misread' means to read incorrectly. The prefix 'mis' shows an error or negative slant given to the verb. Similar words are: mistake, mismanage, misinform. Notice, the past of 'to misread' is spelt exactly the same but pronounced 'misread'. a. I misread the highway directions, and ended up in Canada instead of Idaho! b. Read slowly so you don't misread the words. The use of 'beyond' here shows three things: distance, separation, and mystery. It is the context that gives 'beyond' those meanings. Normally, 'beyond' means 'further on from/ than', especially when you are giving directions. However, because 'beyond' often refers to a place that is not yet seen, there can be an element of mystery attached to it. a. I love the series 'Stories from beyond the grave'; it's really scary. b. God exists probably beyond space and time, beyond what we see. To have your 'imagination run wild' is an expression that is self explanatory. a. When you write this descriptive essay, let your imagination run wild. b. When the kids are playing, their imaginations run wild. 'Frilly' refers to the 'ruffled' collar in the paragraph. It describes material that is folded, wavy, or doubled, often with delicate edges. a. The edge of the skirt is frilly; it looks like a country dress. b. Queen Elizabeth's collar was very wide and very frilly. Remember to join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all invited. If you have questions or comments feel free to email me at and I will get back to you. There is an app available for your smart phone called A Cup Of English in iTunes. Tweet // //

The Price Of Copper Theft.

Jan 25, 2013 12:31


  Nationwide(1), metal theft has become a serious problem since about 2005, according to(2) a 2010 report on metal theft by the U.S. Department of Justice. That's when metal prices rose substantially(3). In 2002, for example, copper prices hit a record low(4), falling to 65 cents a pound. By 2006, it was worth $4 a pound, prompted mainly by the industrialization(5) of Asian countries. One figure(6) was available for copper losses. According to a survey, about $20 million worth of copper was stolen in(7) more than 50,000 incidents at U.S electric utilities in 2008. Another indicator comes from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which reports that claims(8) for metal theft are up significantly. 'Nationwide' is similar to 'nationally' or 'national'. a. The program is being broadcast nationwide. b. There will be educational improvements nationwide. 2. 'According to' is used in front of persons, organizations, or bodies of information, such as surveys or polls. a. According to a recent survey, women prefer the color green to blue. b. According to the boss, we can't have another raise. c. According to the weather update, we will get snow tomorrow. 3. 'Substantially' is a difficult word to pronounce, so let's practice it in sections Sub – stan – tially sub – stan – tially sub – stan – tially 4. 'Record low' similarly to 'record high', is used for financial decreases or losses, and also temperature changes. Occasionally, it is used for emotion. a. Record low temperatures have been reported nationally. b. The value of gold is at a record high. c. He told me that his confidence is at a record low these days. ' 5. 'Industrialization' is a long word and needs to be practiced In-dus-triali-zation In-dus-triali-zation In-dus-triali-zation 6. 'A figure' can be a shape, the shape of a person, or a number. a. That dress suits her figure. b. Write the correct name under each figure on the math sheet. c. The latest figures show that the stock market has improved. 7. 'Copper was stolen in more than 50,000 incidents'. I'm going over this phrase to talk about the use of 'in'. 'In' is referring to the incidents of theft, the occurrences 'in' which the thefts took place. You will more usually hear the word 'from' with the verb stolen, because often we will mention the person or place 'from' which something was stolen. a. The diamond was stolen from the museum. b. Three cars crashed in the incident. c. Five homes were lost in ten flooding incidents in the state. 8. 'A claim' is a noun, as opposed to the verb 'to claim', though both are obviously related. If you have suffered a loss due to fire, flooding, theft, or some kind of accident, you make or report a claim to your insurance company. a. We will have to make a claim to the insurance company because of the fire. b. They made claims that were false; they just wanted the insurance money. Tweet // //

Playing with whales.

Jan 23, 2013 13:54


"Mum, can you put in your password?" is a question that I hear almost on a daily basis. My kids are into apps in a big way(1). We are slowly getting sucked(2) into the app market. I allow my daughter to play on my iPhone every now and then(3). That's fine. There are lots of fun, creative apps that you can download for free, so we do(4). After a few days, however, the credits, or ammunition, or points, or whatever currency it is that you need to play the game, run out. Then my children look around to find their saviour, me. They suddenly remember how much they love me. They become very polite and very sweet, as they ask me to solve their problem of a lack of (5)credits. They do this with one eye on me, and one eye on my purse. Ha, ha! I have their full attention, the power of an emperor. Will it be thumbs up or thumbs down(6)? Exactly how nice(7) can they be to me if they really need those credits? May be they can vacuum the lounge, or clean out the cat's litter box(8). Or maybe I'll just have them kiss the ring on my right hand. Oh the power has gone to my head(9). I do realise that the older I get, the less power I will have. So, for now, I'll make the most of it(10). A few dollars here and there for app credits is fine; I let them buy them most of the time. It would only be a problem if I had an iron will. However, it is satisfying to know that my hand holds the purse strings(11). 1. 'To be into something in a big way' is an American expression for really liking something, or really practicing something. a. My brother is into photography in a big way; he does it as often as he can, and he's very good at it. b. They're into Minecraft in a big way; they play it everyday. 2. 'To get sucked into something' is an expression that means that you are slowly being forced to do something. You can get a mental image perhaps of stepping into mud and getting sucked into it. It is used figuratively, and implies that you are not happy about it. a. I have been asked to be the president of the committee; I don't really want to, but I'm getting sucked into it. b. He got sucked right into buying that car, but it was a bad one and broke down in two days. 3. 'Every now and then' is similar to saying 'sometimes' or 'occasionally'. 4. The verb 'to do' has many uses; one is emphasis.  a. They told us not to, so we didn't. b. He won't let us eat in the lounge, so we don't. 5. 'A lack of' is not having enough of something. a. The project cannot continue due to lack of money. b. This talent show has a real lack of talent. c. She has so many shoes that you won't believe it; she really does. 6. 'Thumbs up' is a phrase that is used sometimes to give approval of something. However, the 'thumbs up or thumbs down' is a reference to Roman Emperors and their 'life or death' use of this signal. 7. 'Exactly how + adjective / noun' is used a lot in both questions and statements to show doubt about someone's attributes, actions, abilities, or about something that has or will happen? It can show attitude, impatience, or sarcasm. a. Exactly how clever is he supposed to be? b. Exactly how late are they going to be? c. Exactly where are we supposed to be? d. Exactly how tall is he? 8. 'A litter box' is the box filled with a sandy substance that cats use as a toilet. I'm not sure why it's called a 'litter box'. 9. 'To have something go to your head' means that you become proud or fixated on an accomplishment?desire, and because of that, your behavior is affected. a. He won the race, but his win went to his head and he spent the whole week bragging. b. Don't let your new wealth go to your head; you might do something stupid. c. She let his words go to her head; she was easily influenced. 10. 'To make the most of ....' means to either thoroughly enjoy something, or to take advantage of an opportunity. a. I have nothing to do tonight; I'm going to make the most of it and relax. b. We made the most of our free cruise; we tried all the food, and went to every activity. 11. 'My (someone else's) hands hold the purse strings' is a saying which means the person has control of the money. Purses used to have string tops instead of zips or buttons, so if your hand is holding the strings, you control when the purse is opened. Tweet // //

Analysis Time - New Gun Laws.

Jan 18, 2013 15:46


Facing powerful opposition to new gun laws, President Barack Obama is considering(1) 19 steps that he could take through executive action(2). The steps could include punishing(3) people who lie on gun sale background checks(4), getting more complete records in the federal background check database(5), more federal research into gun use, ordering tougher(6) penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to improve safety. "My starting point is not to worry(7) about the politics," said the President. "My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, on what works." At the same time Obama said that he will not back off(8) of his support for sweeping(9) gun legislation that requires  congressional support. There is, however, great opposition from the very influential gun lobby(10). "Will all of these (changes) get through Congress? I don't know," Obama said at a news conference on Monday. 1. 'To consider' is to think about before making a decision. The word 'considering' is used a lot in English in the same way as 'understanding that' or 'taking into account'. a. We're considering buying the house; we'll make a decision in a few weeks. b. Considering the bank's past mistakes, I wouldn't invest in them. 2. 'Executive action' is the ability of the President to pass laws, or make changes to laws without Congress. This power is limited. The word 'executive' comes from the word 'to execute' meaning to put into action, and also to kill. It is, therefore, used as the title of the head of a company. The person who makes the decisions. 3. 'The steps could include punishing...' this sentence has a list of verbs, all in the gerund form. You wouldn't actually use the infinitive form of the verbs instead; the gerund sounds more normal. a. To make a cabinet, the steps include buying and cutting the wood, finishing it, drilling holes, measuring, and putting it all together. b. The steps to make a good cake should include buying good quality ingredients, and having the right setting on the oven. 4. 'A background check' is an investigation into someone's background or personal, past life. 'Background' is like the back scene of something, a picture, or a person.  a. You have to have a background check before you can become a teacher. b. His background check revealed that he had been in prison for stealing. 5. 'Database' is a collection of information or 'data'. It is like a big file. a. Your computer's database is full; you need to get more memory. b. They lost information from their database. 6. 'Tough' or 'tougher' can be used when talking about penalties, punishments, laws, or luck. a. He lost his job and then crashed his car; what tough luck! b. We must have tougher punishments for violent crimes. 7. "My starting point is not to worry.." here you could say 'to not worry'. There is only a slight difference. If you want to emphasize that you are deliberately avoiding worrying, then it is more effective to have 'not' first. The other way around emphasizes the whole meaning rather than the negative of the verb. a. I will control my classroom by not paying attention to noisy, distracting students. b. They were advised not to go on the lake while it was frozen. 8. 'To back off' means to walk away from, to back away, to leave alone, or to forget. I have mentioned it before in a previous podcast. In this instant, it describes how President Obama doesnot want to walk away from proposed changes. 9. 'Sweeping ' is often used when talking about the making or changing of laws. When a big change is made it is described in this way. a. Sweeping changes have been made to the way the office is run. b. Sweeping legislation about school safety will be proposed. 10. 'Lobby' is a noun and a verb. The verb means to try and influence, and the noun is a group of people who do just that. It is also the entry into a hotel, where you book your room, or like an ante room or a gallery. a. The environmentalists are lobbying for forest preservation. b. The turkey protection lobby is asking for more rights for turkeys. You are all invited to join my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish. Also, if you need instant downloads, you can purchase my app from iTunes called A Cup Of English. Send me any questions and comments to and I promise to get back to you. Tweet // //


Jan 16, 2013 11:56


We have a new addition to our house. It's a furry, playful little thing that, at the moment, is fast asleep(1). Lilly is her name, but I'm not sure if it suits(2) her. Most of the time 'mini monster' would suit her, as she hides around the corners, waiting for us, and then jumps out and attacks our ankles. Thankfully, she doesn't use her claws very much, and she's not big enough to do any damage, though she seems to think that(3) she's as big as the local mountain lions. We bought her a few weeks ago from the humane society, or the pound(4). She was, what they call, a throw-away(5)cat. They have so many of them in the pound; they're often not wanted, and so they are very cheap. When Lilly's not dashing(6) around, or attacking us, she naps. Well, of course she naps, she's a kitten. And then, everybody fights over her. We all want her to be on our laps(7) because she is so cute and warm and cozy. It's surprising what a comforting influence a cat can be. Mind you, our dogs would disagree. They are outside dogs, and only rarely(8) come in the house. Lilly has learned that a window can be the ultimate weapon. She stands at our glass door and stares, while on the other side, both dogs are going bananas, barking and jumping up and down, trying to get her. "Oh, what a fuss," she seems to think, as she licks her paw, gives them one last look, and climbs onto my lap. 1. 'Fast asleep' means to be deeply asleep. 'Fast' is an old English word meaning 'thoroughly', 'quickly', or 'deeply'. We often use 'fast' in this way when talking about something being thoroughly stuck (with glue). a. The two pieces of wood are stuck fast and can't be separated. b. When he is fast asleep, it's very difficult to wake him up. 2. 'To suit' means to go well with, to look good on, to complement, to seem natural with. a. The landscaping really suits the house. b. Red suits you; you look good in it. 3. '...seems to think that...' is a normal part of English speech, and is good to practice. It can be said as an observation, or it can be used humorously or ironically. a. He seems to think that women don't have opinions of their own. b. The Chancellor seems to think that the public loves to pay taxes. 4. 'The pound' is a nickname for the humane society, where unwanted animals are cared for and held up for adoption. It is obviously written and pronounced the same way as the currency and weight 'pound'. a. Our pets came from the pound; they had been found on the road, and taken there for safety. b. Some teenagers volunteer at the pound. They walk the dogs and play with the cats. 5. 'Throw-away' is a made up compound. It is self-explanatory, and used infront of items that are for sale. a. I bought a throw-away camera for our vacation. When the film was used and developed, I threw it away. b. Those are throw-away knives and forks; you can only wash and reuse them a few times, they they need to be thrown away. 6. 'To dash' is similar to 'to dart' which means to move very quickly and suddenly. 'Dashing' is also used as 'handsome'. a. The cat dashes here and there around the house; you never know when she will do it. b. He looks very dashing in that long, black coat. 7. 'Lap' is the top of your leg, between your knee and your hip. It is where a child or animal will sit, if they sit on you. In fact, we never say, "Come and sit on my leg"; we use the word 'lap'. The same word is also used in sports: a lap of a swimming pool (is one length), and a lap when running (is one circuit). a. The cat sat on my lap and fell fast asleep. b. We swam ten laps and then had a break. 8. 'Rarely' means not often. It is mainly used just before the verb. a. We rarely go to the theatre, but I do love to go there. b. There are coyotes in town, but you rarely see them because they are so well disguised. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish, and send me your questions and comments to If you do, I promise to get back to you. Remember, also my app is available in iTunes under A Cup Of English. Tweet // //

Analysis time, - Quiet Books.

Jan 10, 2013 10:08


This following paragraph was taken from a home magazine that focuses on storage and using spaces well in the home. It might seem, in this age of electronic books and computer tablets, that a library is an outdated (1)room to include in a home. But, it could be argued(2), that it is because we have so much noise and technology in our lives that we need a quiet room of books. Libraries are places of peace. When we are in them we need to whisper (3)and walk quietly. Sometimes they are the perfect place to go to when we want to be alone, or perhaps when we need time to think. In such moments(4), books are the perfect companions - not a TV and certainly not a computer. Books are silent and respectful(5) and their weight and even their smell can be comforting. Even though we are all attached to(6) e-books, most of us still have many real books in different parts of the house. Why not put them all in one place, and make that place special, cozy, and quiet. It would be a place to enjoy a new book, or an old favorite.  1. 'Outdated' is a funny combination of two words which together mean 'old fashioned' or 'no longer fashionable'. a. Our house is so outdated; it's not historic, nor is it modern. It's just out of fashion. b. Some people thinkt that curtains are outdated, but I think they are an important part of decor. 2. 'It could be argued' is like saying 'you could say' or 'the point could be made that...' a. He is the laziest music student, but one could argue that he's the most talented. b. The building is impressive, you could say that it is over-the-top. 3. 'To whisper' is one of my favorite verbs; it just means to talk very, very quietly. I like it because it sounds like its meaning. a. Grandma is asleep; you should whisper. b. The library rule is that everyone whispers. 4. 'In such moments' is like saying 'at times like these', or 'on these occasions'. a. National holidays can bring us together. On these occasions we can enjoy being with family and friends. b. Being stuck in an airport is no fun. At times like these it's really handy to have an iPhone. 5. 'Respectful' has a meaning that is easy to imagine: full of respect. It only has one meaning. a. He is very respectful; he always listens carefully to whatever anyone says. b. I wish they would be more respectful in this public area. 6. 'To be attached to' is an interesting expression which means that a person likes something very much. You can visualize the meaning of being connected to the thing you like. a. I know my car is really old, but I'm very attached to it. b. My neighbor is so attached to her five cats that she takes them everywhere, even to her doctor's apppointments! Join me on my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish; you are all welcome. Feel free to email me your questions and comments to or and I promise to send you an email. Tweet // //

Start the year with light.

Jan 7, 2013 11:54


One of the great  consolations(1) of the end of the year is a New Year's Eve party. We don't always go to a party on New Year's Eve. Sometimes we prefer to stay at home, by the fire, with good food and drink, family and maybe a few friends, and welcome the new year quietly. This December 31st, however, was different. We were invited to two parties, and we decided to go to both of them. The first was  quiet and relaxed. A friend of mine, Barbara, was hosting(2) it, and she had decided that it should only be two hours long. It went from five o'clock until seven(3). She has two small children and wanted to be able to put them in bed by eight o'clock, which I understand. So, it was an unusual party, short and sweet(4). "The party will finish when it's New Year's in Sao Paolo" she joked. The next party was quite different. There were lots of people, lots of noise, food, music, drink, and games. This felt like a celebration. I bumped(5) into a few people I knew, and we caught up with eachother. Then the hostess of the party announced that we all had to go outside. There was a large wooden fire burning in a round fire pit; people were standing around it keeping warm. Large, colored paper rectangles were handed out to groups of three or four people. They gently opened them, and I could see that they were tissue paper (6)bags. But they weren't just bags. These groups of people then held them upside down and lit a pad(7) of paper that was attached to a small wire frame. The paper had some kind of flamable fluid in it that burned well, and filled the paper bags, or lanterns with hot air. After a few minutes each lantern lifted slowly into the air and we all cheered and clapped. It was a beautiful sight. About seventeen of them, of different colors, floated up into the night's sky. We were all moved by the scene; it seemed to symbolize part of us leaving, and new hopes rising, a silent prayer for the New Year. 1. 'Consolation' is a noun that means a 'benefit' or 'positive element that makes up for negative ones'. a. He didn't win; he was second in the race. However, he got $2000 which was a great consolation. b. We missed our plane, and got home late. Our only consolation was that there was no traffic. 2. 'To host' means to organise an event, and to be in charge of the location. a. Toyota will be hosting an international party celebrating clean energy cars. b. I'm going to host a surprise party for my best friend. 3. Often with expressions of time, we miss out the word 'o'clock'. a. The movie starts at five thirty and finishes at seven. b. We'll leave at six o'clock, so we should arrive at their place by eight. 4. 'Short and sweet' could be a literal description, but it is often used figuratively as 'conveniently brief and to the point'. a. My doctor's appointment was short and sweet. She answered all my questions and explained everything without going on and on. b. "Did you get your wall painted?"          "Yes, thanks. The project was short and sweet." 5. 'To bump into someone' can mean the literal act of knocking into someone, but it often means to meet someone by chance. a.  I was coming out of Safeway, and I bumped into my neighbor. b. You'll never guess who I bumped ex-husband. 6. 'Tissue paper' is a very fine, very breakable paper that is often used to fill up a gift bag. a. Fill the bag with tissue paper so the present inside doesn't move around. b. You can use tissue paper for many craft projects. 7. The word 'pad' has several meanings. 'A pad of paper' is like a small book of paper, pad being like a block. 'Pad' is also slang for a house/home. And 'cotton pads' are often used to cover injuries that have bled. a. I need to buy each of my children 6 pads of writing paper for school. b. Hey, this is a nice pad. How long have you lived here? c. In the hospital they put cotton pads on his injuries and held them in place with bandages. Remember to join me on Facebook at Anna fromacupofenglish; you are all welcome! Also you can email me at or if you have questions or comments. Tweet // //

Spin the wheel.

Dec 14, 2012 13:08


Now that the Christmas vacation is coming up, we will probably play some board(1) games in the evenings. We have so many of them! There is a big collection of them, stuffed(2) into a closet in the lounge. Monopoly, Axis and Allies, and Scrabble are three of the more well known ones. My favorite is probably Monopoly; I love games that lead you along a path to a destination, with question cards, and unexpected(3) opportunities or problems along the way. I was actually playing a similar game this morning on the computer, except it wasn't(4) about buying streets or buildings. It was an information game created by a company that deals with retirement. I'm not close to retiring, in fact, I'm probably still about twenty years away from it(5). But the reason I was playing the game, was to try a win the 1st place prize of $50,000. I probably don't stand a chance of(6) winning, but you know, the game turned out to be very interesting. You had to spin a wheel, walk up to 5 steps along the path, and then answer questions, or read and watch informational video clips. The whole point is to get educated about retirement, health, finances, and volunteering. It was an interesting, casual(7) way to learn a lot about retiring. What I realized is that I don't know very much about retiring. One of the aims of this organization is to get retired people involved in the community, to keep them socially healthy. The game, with its spinner and pathway, is a great teaching tool for any subject. 1. A 'board game' is a game played on a board (ha! ha!). And by a 'board' I mean either a piece of strong cardboard with a picture on it which can be square or rectangular, or it can be wooden. The board serves as a table on which the other pieces are put. A board can also be a useful table-like structure, like an ironing board or a bread board. The word sounds exactly like 'bored' which has different meanings. It can mean that you are not entertained at all, or that you have drilled a hole. Let's look at some examples: a. Where is the game board for Monopoly? I have the pieces and the houses but not the board. b. I need to buy a new ironing board, because mine is broken. c. I'm so bored; I don't know what to do. d. The insects bored holes in the wooden door, so it had to be replaced. 2. 'To stuff' is a verb that I've covered before in a previous podcast, but it is very common, especially in England. It basically means to fill until very full. It can be used figuratively, and is also a noun. It also can be used in an insult, or a way of dismissing something. a. He built the chair, and then stuffed the seat cushion so it was very soft and comfortable. b. We ate too much and felt completely stuffed. c. My attic is full of stuff! d. I was so angry that I told him to get stuffed! e. We can't go into work because the office is flooded. Stuff it! (forget it!) 3. 'Unexpected opportunities' is quite a mouthful; however, it's a great phrase, and will impress people if you use it correctly, so let's practice the pronunciation. Un-ex-pected  opp-or-tun-ities       un-ex-pected  opp-or-tun-ities    un-ex-pected  opp-or-tun-ities 4. The use of 'except' is a tool that is similar to saying 'similar but different'. A sentence is written or said, but then 'except' is put in half way, and then a contradiction is added. a. I bought a coat just like yours, except it was red. b. We also went to Mexico for a vacation, except we went in the winter not in the summer. c. They'll come to visit again, except next time, they'll stay longer. 5. To be 'away from' in time means that you are not yet ready for something chronologically or in some other way. a. He's a few years away from retiring, but he's thinking about it. b. They are dating, but she is a long way away from getting married (marriage).  c. He's just started High School, so he's four years away from graduating. 6. 'To stand a chance' means to have a chance; both are interchangeable. a. They stand a good chance of winning the race.   They have a good chance of winning the race. b. That boxer doesn't stand a chance of winning.     That boxer doesn't have a chance of winning. 7. 'Casual' is relaxed, comfortable, and not formal. a. It's just a casual dinner party, nothing formal. b. When we go for walks we wear just casual clothes. Tweet // //

Hunger in the U.S.

Dec 3, 2012 15:49


In a recent interview with Howard G. Buffet, farmer, philanthropist, and son of billionaire Warren Buffet, he commented on the relatively unknown problem of hunger in the U.S. Studies show that one in five children don't always know where their next meal will come from.  Interviewer:You've supported global(1) hunger relief for years; what made you turn your attention(2) to America? Howard Buffet :Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse. In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it.The number of people who are living on the edge(3) has exploded. If you're choosing between medicine and food, or paying the electric bill and food, those are tough(4) choices, and they happen everyday. But there's no reason why we can't put hunger out of business(5) in this country. Farmers produce more food today than we did five years ago. People are hungry not because there aren't enough farmers or food, but because they can't afford it(6). There's also an estimated $3 billion worth of food(7) wasted because farmers either can't get the labor to harvest it or it doesn't look perfect enough for the store shelves(8). There are some great programs that collect produce that isn't acceptable for the supermarket and get it into the food banks. That's next on my list - making that system work better(9). 1. 'Global' is self explanatory. The word 'world' can also be substituted. a. The global economy is in recession. b. That piece of news will go global. *Here we wouldn't substitute with 'world'. c. Global wheat prices will go up because of droughts. 2. 'To turn one's attention to...' is to focus on. You can imagine someone turning his head to look at something. a. He finished fixing the broken pipe, then turned his attention to mopping the floor. b. When I finish my essay, I will turn my attention to my art project. 3. 'To be on the edge' or 'to live on the edge' can mean a couple of things. The first could mean that you are at risk (in danger, eg. in poverty, likely to get ill). It can also mean that you are very stressed or close to having mental health problems. The second phrase implies that you either enjoy living a risky life, or that you are poor. a. I sky dive in the morning, and cave dive in the afternoon; I like living on the edge. b. That neighborhood lives on the edge (of society); most of the residents are hungry. c. If he gets any more pressure from work, I'm afraid it'll push him to the edge. 4. 'Tough' is one of those miserable spellings in English that I'm afraid you just have to memorize. It's actual meaning is strong, durable, or hard to chew, but it's used often as the word 'difficult'. a. That apple pie was as tough as an old boot! b. Having a knee operation was a tough decision to make; but I can now walk without pain. c. That truck is so tough; it can handle heavy loads and bad weather conditions. 5. 'To put something out of business' can be used figuratively meaning to stop something. a. Good education will put ignorance out of business. b. That chain store put the smaller shops out of business. 6. The format of this sentence is important to understand and use: '.....not because, .......but because....'. This is good practice. a. The students do well in his class not because he's friendly, but because he explains things well. b. He should be respected not because he's rich, but because he is generous. c. The film was a success not because it was good, but because it was popular. 7. '....worth of ....'  a. There are 5 million pounds worth of gold coins in the chest. b. There are $150 worth of lottery tickets in her bag. c. There were $10,000,000 worth of investments in the project. 8. 'Store shelves' here means the shelves that are in the shops and supermarkets. Remember 'shelves' is the plural of 'shelf'. Words with similar singulars and plurals are: Self, selves; elf, elves; half, halves;wife, wives. 9. More examples of this sentence are: a. That's next on my list, - getting (to get) into shape. b. That's what we need to do next, - employ more staff for each store. c. That's his plan, - going (to go) to Germany and finding (to find) a job.  You're all welcome to join me on my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish. My app is available for you in iTunes, and you can send any questions or comments to  or Tweet // //

A No-Joke Fruit Cake.

Nov 29, 2012 14:40


Recently, when I went back to England, I indulged in(1) something that I don't often get to indulge in; fruit cake. It might not seem very important, in fact, it might seem like a joke, depending on where you come from. Here in the U.S, for some reason, fruit cake is a joke. People joke about receiving a fruit cake at Christmas, and then trying to find a secret way of disposing of (2) it: put it in someone's mailbox, disguise it as a pet, or leave it in a basket outside a hospital......I've even heard of a book called 'One hundred and one ways to get rid of(3) a fruit cake.' Well, this is all a new experience for me. I love fruit cake. But, then again, there's fruit cake and there's fruit cake(4). Maybe the problem is that people here have never had a decent one. In England fruit cake is on the essential list when it comes to(5) baked goods. The recipe originates in Roman times, and was changed a little in the Middle Ages. Traditionally, it is made with wheat, and loaded with(6) dried fruit, nuts, and brandy. It's just the thing(7), after a long walk, with a slice of quality cheese and a cup of tea. And that is how I ate it in Yorkshire with my sister. We had been for a long walk through a forest and fields, to a panoramic (8)viewpoint. Then we walked back to a cafe that is actually a converted farmhouse. It was a warm, rock building, with wooden tables, views of the fields, and the smells of a bakery.  1. 'To indulge in' often means to eat or drink something that is quite special, though it can also be used as 'to experience' with some non-eating activities. You can miss out the word 'in' if the object is not mentioned. 'To indulge oneself' is used as 'to treat oneself'. a. We indulged in the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever had. b. They over-indulged at the New Year's party, and felt ill the next day. c. I indulged myself in the spa with a manicure, pedicure, and a facial. 2. 'To dispose of' is the same as 'to throw away' or 'to get rid of'. a. Dispose of old batteries responsibly: take them to a recycling center. b. He disposed of the evidence; he threw it in the sea. c. The waste disposal is in the sink (machine that liquefies food waste). 3. 'To get rid of' is an English expression that is very common: a. Could you just get rid of that old pair of shoes? b. What did you do with the car?   Answer: I got rid of it. c. What should we do with the corrupt politicians?    Answer: Get rid of them! 4. 'There's fruit cake and there's fruit cake.' Why did I make this repetition? What does it mean? It means that there is good fruit cake, or real fruit cake, and there is also bad, or not real fruit cake. You can use this repetition about anything. Sometimes the word 'then' is used in the middle of the comparison to emphasize the contrast in quality. If you really want to contrast one with the other, you can also add an adjective in front of the second object. a. My mother doesn't like hamburgers. But, you know, there are hamburgers and (then) there are hamburgers. b. That shop says that it sells antiques. Well, there are antiques and then there are antiques. c. There are tires and then there are quality tires. 5. 'When it comes to...' is similar in sense to 'on the subject of' or 'while we're talking about...' a. It's always best to double check your plans when it comes to traveling. b. When it comes to baked goods, we should always use quality ingredients. c. When it comes to the house, I think we spent too much money.  6. 'To be loaded with' or 'to load with' is, again, a very English sounding, common expression that can be used for more or less anything. a. They loaded my plate with chips; there were far too many. b. His car is loaded with all kinds of junk. c. This cereal is loaded with iron. 7. 'It's just the thing' is an odd expression that means 'it's the perfect thing'. a. Ah! A hot bath is just the thing when you're cold. b. Some discipline is just the thing for lazy people. c. My muscles ached after work, so I took an aspirin, and it was just the thing. 8. 'Panoramic' is a difficult word to say, so let's practice it. a. Pan -o-ramic, pan-o-ramic, pan-o-ramic. b.  That photo is panoramic; you can see the whole view. c. My camera has a panoramic setting. Remember you can join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish. If you need my app. you can find it in iTunes under A Cup Of English. And feel free to email me at or  Tweet // //

Storm trooper, hands up!

Nov 21, 2012 14:58


When I travel I feel really alive. There is something about getting away from my daily routine that helps me see things from a different perspective. I find it exciting, refreshing, and inspiring(1). Even when I travel to familiar places, such as England, I'm open to learn, and I thoroughly(2) enjoy observing. Another thing that I love about traveling, is the unpredictability(3) of it. Sometimes the unexpected happens. Recently, I went back to England for a couple of weeks to visit my family. While I was there, I visited the historic town of York with my sister. I have been to this rural city many times, but I never get tired of going there. I think, for me, it is just about(4) a perfect place. First of all, it's beautiful. It's cathedral, fourteenth century buildings, and Roman wall, are both perfectly preserved, and fully used(5). It's very clean, very green, and also prosperous. It's a university town, so it has a culture of learning, and it is also very arty. By arty, I mean that there are many places in York where art of all kinds can be experienced. You even find it in the streets. Now, I expected to see(6) buskers on the streets: people playing an instrument, or singing for money. But, as my sister and I walked into the heart of the city, we had a little surprise. Standing at the side of the pavement, dressed completely in white, hard, plastic, and carrying a long, black gun, was a Storm Trooper, a Star Wars Storm Trooper. We were delighted. We had never seen one in person (7) before. He was standing around, displaying his costume for money. I asked if I could take a photo of him, and he suggested that my sister take one of both of us. He handed me the gun, and we posed for a "Hands up!"(8) photo. He told me that he had bought this genuine costume in the '80's for quite a lot of money, and now he was having fun making money by wearing it. Brilliant! It's a good idea. Perhaps our politicians can get out their old costumes, dress up, and make some money to help with the financial crisis. Disney costumes would be the best for them. Anyway, I was thrilled to be with a Storm Trooper,especially considering that I was the one with the gun, and the force. 1. 'Exciting, refreshing, and inspiring'. A list of adjectives like this is a great way to make yourself sound natural when you speak English. It's worth choosing and practicing a few adjectives that you feel comfortable with, so that you can throw them into conversation. Here are a few examples of lists of adjectives: a. The situation was difficult, uncomfortable, and negative. b. My teacher is encouraging, knowledgeable, and positive. c. The project was long, ambitious, and expensive. 2. 'Thoroughly' is a very English sounding word. It means 'fully' or 'totally', but there are specific occasions when we use it. a. We thoroughly enjoyed the play.    (You will hear it most often with the verb 'to enjoy'. It sounds most natural when it is in front of the verb. Note: if you hated the play, you would probably say, "We completely/ absolutely hated the play", you wouldn't use 'thoroughly' with 'hated'. b. Wash the pot thoroughly before using.  (it is often used with 'to wash' in instructions). 3. 'Unpredictability' is a difficult word to say. It's meaning is 'the not knowing, and the changeability' of a situation. Let's practice the pronunciation: Un-pre-dicta-bility 4. 'Just about' is a highly useful phrase used in front of adjectives, 'the' + adjective, and before or after verbs. It's meaning is 'almost completely'. Used by itself (as a response) it means 'more or less'. a. It was just about the worst party I've ever been to. b. She is just about the best singer in the whole competition. c. He ran just about the whole mile. He just about ran the whole mile. d. We painted just about the whole building. We just about painted the whole building. e. Did you understand the lecture?  Answer: Yes, just about / more or less. 5. 'Fully' is another word that means 'completely', and is used after a past participle. a. The hospital has been fully renovated. b. The project is fully funded by donations.  *Note:'fully funded' is one of the more common uses of 'fully'. 6. 'A busker' is a person who entertains on the street by playing an instrument or singing. a. The busker was fully clothed in silver. b. That busker is just about the best that I've ever seen. 7. 'In person' means 'live' or 'in the same place' when referring to an individual. a. I've never seen that singer in person, but apparently she's quite beautiful. b. I've seen pictures of the Queen, but the other day, I saw her in person. 8. "Hands up!" is usually what is said when someone is arrested. Other phrases are "Stick them up!" (meaning your hands, though this phrase is used mainly playing), or "Drop them!" if the person is carrying a gun. a. "Drop them buddy, and hands up!" Remember you are all invited to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna fromacupofenglish. Also, if you have questions or suggestions, feel free to email me at or and I promise to email you back. If you wish to have instant downloads, you can purchase my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English.  Tweet // //

A House Of Fright.

Nov 6, 2012 14:55


Halloween is a time of screams and fright, horrible faces and hideous (1)costumes. It's a time when people who love to be scared can fill up on that experience(2). Those of us who don't like witches, skeletons, zombies, and Draculas hope that the day of Halloween passes quickly. Though the roots of this holiday are ancient, it has become a very modern celebration. By this, I mean that each year Halloween is updated. My almost daily(3) trips to Walmart showed me that that is very true. If you want to give your neighborhood a full Halloween night of fright, you have to jump into the world of shopping. It's no longer enough to carve out a pumpkin(4), put a candle in it, and leave it on your front door step. Your house has to undergo(5) a full theatrical production. While most houses in our town had not been decorated, there were some that should have received awards for their effort and creativity. We took our two youngest children out to 'trick or treat', and we knew just where (6)to go to make the occasion memorable. The neighborhood up the road, ironically next to the cemetery, has one particular house that has to be visited. We weren't sure which road the house was on, but as we walked along the dark road, flashes of blue light and sounds of screaming were coming from the next street. When we got there we found a house on a steep hill, fake fog floating all around, robotic spiders and skeletons, and three humans at the top of a very long flight of stairs, but they certainly didn't look human. My children, who are usually very brave, stood still and stared. They didn't want to go up the stairs. “Come on,” I said. “I'll go first.” I took my daughter by the hand, made a joke about the silly dressed up teenagers who were trying to look like zombies, and up we went(7). My son followed right behind me. By the time we got to the house, I was actually a little scared, but I didn't admit it. The zombie teenagers were hideous, and the atmosphere was even worse. Was it worth going through this(8) just to get some candy? Well, we didn't stay to find out. Before long we were back at home, and the kids were counting out their candies. They soon forgot about the house of fright as they made their Halloween harvest disappear. 'Hideous' is another word for ugly or scary. Or more like really ugly or really scary. a. At the Halloween party I couldn't look at him, his mask was so hideous. b. That chair is just hideous, plus it looks terrible with the rest of the furniture. 'To fill up on an experience' means to have a complete experience, or a lot of it. This expression can be used in different ways. a. The night at the opera really filled us up; it was a wonderful experience. b. You should fully experience what it is to be a patient, if you want to be a doctor. 'Almost'. I'm sure that you're very familiar with this word; however, it is used in many different ways in a sentence. In this instance I am using it in front of expressions of time and routine. a. My almost weekly visits to the spa soon stopped my migraines. b. His almost hourly snacking makes him fat. c. Their almost constant complaining drives me nuts! 'It's not enough to …' It is useful to learn how to copy this sentence format. a. It's not enough to appologize; he needs to give back the money he stole. b. It's not enough to talk about the dinner party; we need to plan it and invite people. c. It's not enough to eat right; we have to exercise as well. 'To undergo' is used for surgery, and for building renovation. Sometimes we use 'to go through'. a. Our house will undergo a complete renovation. b. You'll have to undergo some surgery if you want your hip to function. 'Just' in the given sentence 'we knew just where to go' has a special meaning. It's the same as saying 'exactly' or 'precisely'. a. He knew just what to say to make me feel better. b. She knew just what to cook on a cold wintery day. c. I'm sure they'll know just what to do. 'Up we went.' You know in English we usually always use the verb before a word like up. But, if you have already given the context of going up by mentioning stairs, or a mountain, or an elevator (etc), then, a phrase like 'up we went' or 'up we go' can be used as the final mention of the action. a. We will dive down into the cave. Come on, down we go! b. We thought a long time about going into the Halloween house, and finally in we went. c. Your plane will climb to 35,000 ft.. You'll get in your seat, put on your seat belt, and up you'll go. 'To go through something' has 2 meanings. It is the physical act of passing from one place into another. Or it is the same as 'to experience'. a. I can't go through another night of no sleep. b. They went through the forest and out into the field. c. She'll go through another divorce if she's not careful. Please join me on my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Also, feel free to email me questions and comments to or and I promise to email you back. Tweet // //

Forest Chocolate.

Oct 22, 2012 15:47


My sons love anything to do with survival. I have often seen them playing in the garden, pretending(1) to be lost in a forest. They act out a story(2) of being three brothers, helping eachother to survive by building a  cabin, finding water, catching fish, and making tools. Usually, in my garden, they only get as far as(3) digging a big hole in my vegetable area, and propping up(4) odd bits of(5) wood in it for the cabin walls. By the time they do that(6), they're hungry, so they come into the house to eat, and forget about any more surviving. Their half-made cabin usually falls over, and I clean up the mess. But, I understand their excitement about survival. It would be a challenge, and adventure. It would even be a little scary, but they would have eachother. It would be very different to their real lives. Thankfully, we have a big back garden. It is mainly grass, so the kids can run around and play. However, we do have a fire pit. It's a circular area that my husband built: he brought in(7) extra earth and rocks to make a slight hill. Then he planted all sorts of trees and bushes on the hill. Right inside, at ground level(8), is a flat, grassy area with rock walls all around, and a rock fire pit right in the center. Now that the plants and trees have really grown, it is like a mini forest. Robert was in a survival mood(9) the other day, and persuaded me to help him make a little fire and heat up some hot chocolate. He chose not to(10) use the fire pit, but to make his own very small fire on the hill. We found small, dry twigs, moss, and pine cones for the fire, and we put rocks all around in a circle. Robert was the chef. He mixed the water and hot chocolate powder, and tasted it a few times until it was sweet enough and hot enough. And, you know, it was an adventure. We were out in our mini forest, surrounded by trees, surviving for just a few minutes. 1. 'To pretend' is a verb which means 'to act as if'. Children do it all the time when they play, and sometimes adults do too. a. He pretended to be Darth Vader, and his sister pretended to be Luke Skywalker. b. She'll make a great actor one day; she's very good at pretending. 2. 'To act out' is the verb used 'to perform'. It is followed by the noun, or the scene or play that is performed. It has a second meaning as well. It can mean to behave disruptively. This second sense can be expressed as 'to act out' or 'to act up'. a. The students acted out the play they had written; it was very good. b. The class was really acting out/up; they weren't listening, and they were hard to control. 3. 'To get as far as' means 'to accomplish' or 'to achieve' but not enough, or not totally. It has a sense of measuring how much was done, but knowing that it the job wasn't completed. It is often preceded by 'only'. a. He wrote for two hours, but only got as far as the middle of his essay. b. I bought the book that you recommended, but I have only got as far as page 28. c. We visited the art gallery, but we only saw as far as the second floor. 4. ' To prop up' is like saying 'to lean something up'. The item that is propped is not securely fixed. a. The tree branches were propped up with wooden poles because they were so heavy with fruit. b. I don't have time to fix the table legs; I'll prop it up now, and fix it tomorrow. 5. 'Odd bits of' is similar to the expression 'bits and pieces'. a. My daughter found odd bits of string, and made a pretty collage. b. My dad made a path of odd bits of broken pots. 6. 'By the time....' is similar in meaning to 'when' but it indicates that time has been spent, or has gone by before something has been achieved. It can be used with any tense. a. By the time we arrived, the party had finished. b. By the time you hurry up, you will have missed the train. c. You need to stop talking because by the time you eat your soup, it will be cold! 7. When there is building or construction of some kind going on, often we use the phrase 'to bring in' when talking about equipment or machinery; we don't just say 'to bring' or 'brought'. a. The workmen brought in a bulldozer to make the land flat. Later they brought in a crane to put the roof on the house. b. To build our fire pit, we brought in lots of rock and soil. 8. 'Ground level' is easy to understand; it's the level of the land.  a. The restaurant is at ground level, near the reception area. b. Let's park the car at ground level, and then take the elevator to the shopping area. 9. 'To be in a .... mood' is a useful phrase. Notice that an adjective or a noun can go before 'mood'. a. I'm in a coffee mood; I haven't had a good coffee for ages. b. They're in a party mood; they've finished their studies, and they want to celebrate. c. He's in a cozy mood; it's snowing outside, and he wants to stay by the fire and read. 10. 'He chose not to use the fire pit' has an important and flexible format. You could  say 'He chose to not use the fire pit'. The sentences are interchangeable. Both are more specific than 'He didn't choose to use the fire pit.' They are deliberately rejecting the fire pit. The choice is 'to not use the fire pit'. a. I chose to not take my iPhone; I didn't want to lose it.  b. She chose not to wear her engagement ring; she didn't want anyone to know about it. c. They chose not to drive; flying would be safer. d. We chose to not stay in that hotel because of its bad reviews. Remember you can email me questions and comments at or and I promise to email you back. Also, check out my app in iTunes called A Cup Of English. And all of you are invited to join my FACEBOOK page Anna Fromacupofenglish.   Tweet // //

A good buy.

Oct 17, 2012 13:44


I have been trying to think of ways to save time recently. I even read a book once on how to save time, but that took too long. I really admire people who are efficient, can plan well, and can get lots of things done. It takes a lot of thought. My children and my husband have been telling me to get a smart phone for a long time. I don't know why, but for some reason I thought that more technology in my life would take up(1) more time. It wasn't until last Saturday that I realized that my family was right(2). It was the day that we had four baseball games. If you're not familiar with baseball, you might not understand how time consuming(3)it is. The games are two hours long, and the players have to warm up before the game for about forty five minutes. So, if you're any good at mathematics, you can calculate that we were in the park all day. I should have been prepared with books, and perhaps my iPod, but I wasn't. And in between games(4), I had to drive home to check on everyone else to make sure that my other kids were okay with their babysitter. So, I was flying around all day, but standing around (5)at the park. What could I do with my time there? If I had had a smart phone, I could have answered emails(6), sent emails, written a bit of a podcast, or even skyped with my sister. It was half way through the third game that I made the decision. I had to stop being a dinosaur. I needed to update my phone, and update myself. Wow! What a revelation! What a great step forward for mankind. Well, a couple of days later, I found myself in a very busy Verizon store. It was full of customers who were being served by very smart looking Verizon employees. They each had an iPad, and would quickly take the customers details, and just as quickly, take their credit cards. It was so efficient that it was almost scary. And before I knew it(7), I was getting in my car with my brand new iPhone. So, yesterday, while I was waiting at my daughter's tennis lesson, I read my emails. Great! Then I tried to write a podcast. That is still a bit difficult. My fingers are not used to the small keypad(8). They seem to touch the screen like heavy elephants, and I misspell words, or accidentally change programs from one second to the next. I'm sure I'll get used to it. I look forward to the day when I upload a podcast, and at the bottom it says 'sent from my iPhone'. 1. 'To take up' is used when referring to time or space. a. That sofa takes up too much space; there's no room for anything else! b. My dog takes up so much of my time! He demands that I play with him every five minutes! c. Our Friday office meetings take up too much time. 2. This sentence format is worth practicing. a. It wasn't until I arrived at work, that I remembered (that) I had left my front door open. b. It wasn't until sixth grade that we started to learn Spanish. c. It wasn't until two months later that he apologized. 3. 'Time consuming' literally means 'eating time'. It is used as an adjective. a. Gardening can be very time consuming, though it is also very beneficial. b. Setting up parental controls on computers is very time consuming. 4. 'In between' is an efficient use of words. Instead of saying, for example, 'After the first practice, and before the second practice....' we just use 'In between practices'. a. In between lectures, the students have a coffee. b. In between meetings, I took a nap. 5. 'Around' is one of those multi-purpose words in English that you just have to get used to. 'To stand' is just the physical act of standing; it could be brief, or go on for a long time. It also seems deliberate. BUT, if you say 'to stand around', it means that you don't have anything else to do, or that you don't know what else to do. a. We were standing around waiting for the game to begin; it was so boring. b. She just sits around all day. I wish she would find something to do. c. He's always racing around. Is he really that busy, or is he hyper? 6. This type of sentence with the past subjunctive is not that difficult; we basically use the pluperfect tense. Let's practice: a. If they had needed money, I would have given it to them. b. If he had studied every night, he would have got a better grade. c. If we had known you were in town, we would have visited you. 7. 'Before ... knew it' is a very native sounding phrase, also used in the present (for a  future sense). a.  Before you know it, you will arrive. b. Before they know it,  they'll be married. c. Before he knew it, he had graduated. d. Before we knew it, a storm had come, and we were lost at sea. 8. 'A keypad' is the part of a computer or device where you type. It is also numerical. a. One of the letters is missing from my keypad. b. The door lock has a keypad. You have to put in the correct code to open the door. Remember to join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish ; you're all welcome to join.  Also, if you have any questions or comments, email me at  and I promise to email you back. Tweet // //

Kendama fever.

Oct 11, 2012 14:19


"Practice makes perfect" is a saying that I've heard ever since (1)I was a little girl. To become good at something, you must practice.  We all know that. Those of us who are naturally disciplined are quite happy with that saying. Those of us who are not find it annoying. Academics, hobbies, sports, and languages all require loads of (2)practice. Tonnes of practice(3). Here, a recent fashion has appeared that needs a lot of practice. It is the hobby of playing with a Kendama. A Kendama is a Japanese, wooden toy that has three cups of different sizes, a spike, and a ball attached by a string. Children of all ages are begging(4) their parents to buy them. They play with them individually or in groups before and after school. And of course, they compete. The idea, is to flip (5)the ball up so it can land in one of the cups, on the spike, or even balance between the spike and a cup. There are, apparently, 101 tricks that you can master with practice. It's refreshing (6)to see children using a wooden toy, for a change. I'm so used (7)to seeing them with digital, plastic toys that have screens and internet connections, that it is quite surprising to see them play with something that is non electronic, and quite basic. All the creativity comes from themselves, not the toy. We have two, so far, in our house. "Mum, I know a kid who has 32 of them," said my son Cass, as he flipped up the ball of his Kendama with skill. "Why on earth does he want so many?" I asked. The conclusion was that this boy likes collecting, and has too much money. So, the competitions have started at my house. I haven't got involved(8) yet, and I'm not sure if I will, because my children are already way ahead (9)of me. There are formal competitions in Japan, where the skill level is extremely high. I'm expecting to see a lot of practicing here, and I'm quite happy for the kids to do so, as long as it's away from the television and other breakable(10) objects. So, for a while, instead of watching something on a screen, we can have live entertainment in our living room, and see who is the latest Kendama king or queen. 1. 'Ever since' is used on a daily basis in many situations in English. a. Ever since he crashed the car, he hasn't wanted to drive. b. He got promoted, and ever since (then) hasn't spoken to us. c. Ever since he had the operation, he has had more energy and has been able to work. 2. 'Loads of...' is an informal way of saying 'lots of'. a. There were loads of people at the school meeting. b. I couldn't believe how much spaghetti she ate, loads of the stuff! c. You'll need loads of practice to be able to play that piece of music. 3. 'Tonnes of..' is more or less the same as 'loads of', but with a sense of even more. a. Did you say that he owns four hotels? Well, he must have tonnes of money! b. I have tonnes of bills to pay today. 4. 'To beg' is often used figuratively instead of 'to ask for' a. My daughter begged me to buy her a Hello Kitty jacket, even though she already has one. b. I hope I get a raise, but I'm not going to beg for one. 5. 'To flip' describes how, with your wrist, or with your fingers, you can throw something up into the air quickly. a. He read the note and then flipped it to me. b. I'll flip a coin. If it lands on 'heads' I win; if it lands on 'tails' you win. 6. 'Refreshing' can be used to describe a cool drink or cool food, or it can be used to mean 'a nice change'. a. Cold watermelon is so refreshing on a hot day! b. His speech was refreshing; it wasn't the usual boring nonsense. 7. 'To be used to ...' is a daily expression that is worth learning. When you are familiar with something, or have had a habit of doing something, then you are 'used to it'. a. She was used to getting up very early to milk the goats. b. I have to give myself insulin injections, but I'm used to it. c. We are used to the noise of the construction work; even my baby can sleep through it. 8. 'To get involved' means to take part, to become informed, or to become mixed up in something unpleasant/ dangerous. It can also mean to have a romantic relationship with someone. a. I became involved in the movement for the rights of girls to be educated. b. Don't get involved in their argument! They'll upset you! c. She became involved with the main actor, but their relationship didn't last long. 9. 'To be way ahead of...' is an American phrase that is also used in England. It means to know more, or to have gained more skill than someone else. a. He's way ahead of me when it comes to computers. He's had tonnes of practice, and I've had very little. b. That company is way ahead of its competitors. c. I'm way ahead of the class because I have already read the book. 10. 'Breakable' is easily understood. It refers to an object that can break. a. All of those antiques are breakable; please don't let your dog in there! b. The package said breakable, so the mail man carried it carefully. Remember you can always join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish    or email me at or and I will email you back. My app is available in iTunes! Tweet // //

How it all started.

Oct 5, 2012 12:09


It's time you had an update(1) on the fire situation here in Wenatchee, and the rest of Washington State. Most of the month, we have had smoke in the valley. We have been told that the air quality is hazardous(2). The local shops have been selling face masks for people who need to be outdoors. I actually bought a box of them the other day, and used one for the first time in my life. The smoke was really thick that particular day, and I found myself holding my breath as I went from the car into shops and out again. "This is ridiculous!" I thought to myself. "I have a box of brand new breathing filters at home; I should be wearing one!" We have got used to the situation now. It has become normal to see people walking around with filters or face masks on. It's also normal to receive emails each day of activities being canceled. It's funny how you quickly get used to a change in lifestyle when you have no choice. And this situation, like a natural disaster, has been ruling our lives. It all started with a lightening storm. I have been in storms before, but never like that one. That day, I had actually been thinking that my life needed a bit more excitement; I was bored and uninspired. By the early evening, however, I was riding on the back of my husband's new motorbike, going up through the wheat fields, and at the same time, watching the drama of a violent lightening storm. The valley was all in shadow, and fork lightening was coming down out of thick clouds. The bolts(3) were striking all over the place, and in the wheat fields as well. I suddenly realized that my life was far too exciting, almost scary. The lightening was getting closer and closer, and I wanted to go home. Most of the fires near us have been put out, but the wind will often blow the smoke from distant fires into the valley. So we have to keep our face masks at the ready(4), and be flexible with our schedules. The 2 or 3 clear days that we have had, have been glorious. Everybody has poured out of(5) their houses into the parks for walks. The noise of children at outdoor recess has been in the air. And people like me have charged into the garden to dig, and plant, and enjoy every second of clean air. For a while, we were let out (6)of prison. If we had rain, it would be over by now. Those of you from dry climates probably understand what I'm saying. When the fires are out, there will be a big celebration, but until then, I will have a face mask in my handbag, just in case(7). 1. 'An update' is a very common word. We see it used when talking about computer programs, and also news. a. Your photo editing program has been updated, but your anti-virus program still needs to be updated. b. The following is an update on the situation in Syria. 2. 'Hazardous' means the same as dangerous, but it is usually associated with chemicals, gases, or building materials. 'Dangerous' can be used more broadly. a. Old batteries are hazardous; they must be recycled properly. b. The air quality is hazardous; the gases and poisons in the air can affect our health. 3. 'A bolt' is a metal lock that slides into place. 'To bolt down/in' is used when meaning to lock something into place with metal or chains. However, we use the word bolt with lightening, especially if it strikes the ground. a. The bolt on the door will keep the wild animals out. b. The bolt of lightening struck the tree, and split it in two. 4. 'At the ready' is a military expression. It means to keep something close by, so it can be quickly picked up and used. In the military this term would be used with weapons, but we use it also for everyday objects. A more everyday and less serious expression to use would be 'handy'. a. Keep your medicine at the ready /handy in case your symptoms come back. b. The doctor keeps his beeper at the ready / handy in case he gets called to the hospital. 5. 'To pour/to pour into/out of' is used figuratively to describe how living and non-living things move. a. The sheep poured out of the field as the dogs chased them. b. The smoke poured out of the building and covered the surrounding parking lot. 6. 'To be let out' is a phrase that is easy to understand, but again, it is used figuratively a lot. It means 'to be allowed to exit'. a. When the neighbor's dog had gone, we let the cat out. b. They let the children out early to play because they had finished their work. 7. We have already seen a couple of examples of 'just in case', but because it is such a common expression, let's see some more. a. Just in case the baby gets hungry in the night, I've left a bottle of milk in the fridge. b. I'll check the route on the GPS just in case we get lost. c. They checked in early at the airport just in case. They wanted to avoid large crowds. Join me on FACEBOOK at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome.  And, if you have comments or questions, please email me at  or   Tweet // //

Fashion dictates.

Sep 19, 2012 17:04


"Mum, please don't buy me any clothes. I just want to go shopping for clothes with Dad." This request was made by my almost thirteen year old, and echoed(1) by my fourteen year old. It was totally unexpected. In fact, I have never heard anything like that before(2). I've shopped for my children's clothes all of their lives, and now, suddenly, I've been told not to. Did their request hurt my feelings? Not really. I understand that my two oldest are adolescents; they have what we call a 'mental fog'(3) of hormones and changing feelings. I was the same. Perhaps they no longer like my style. Perhaps the brand names I buy are just not cool. Or perhaps they know something that I don't know about fashion. I have never really followed fashion; I just buy what I like. But fashion, for my boys, has suddenly become quite important. The reason they want to shop with their dad, is that he doesn't care about bargains, sales, or saving money. I, on the other hand, am always looking for a bargain. I shop around(4). My husband will find the nicest shop, and buy whatever(5) the boys want. That's why they now prefer dad over mum, the traitors. So, I decided to show my kids that I'm not out of touch(6), I can be fashionable, and perhaps even cool. The latest thing now, apparently, in middle school are Elites. They are a super duper(7), special, wonderful, cool-to-the-extreme(8) type of sock. Everybody wears them, well, everybody who is anybody(9) wears them. If you want to be seen as normal you have to have Elites, otherwise your life is meaningless. So, I followed the dictates of fashion, and spent far too much money on socks. And, you know, I think there is something special about them, some kind of magical power. As soon as my boys put them on, they seemed happier, more confident, and definitely cooler. They walked into school like two zebras joining the herd(10); they belonged. 1. 'Echo' can be used figuratively when someone's words agree or reflect someone else's. a. My sister's words were echoed by her husband: I should go to the doctor immediately. b. My grandmother's voice echoed in my daughter's laughter. 2. 'I have never heard anything like that before' is a useful sentence to practice with different verbs: a. I have never seen anything like that before. b. I have never eaten anything like that before. c. We have never been anywhere like that before. d. They have never done anything like that before. e. She has never said anything like that before. etc etc 3. 'Mental fog' is used when talking about health issues, when a person feels forgetful or not fully awake. a. If I don't sleep enough, I have a real mental fog. b. Depression gives you a mental fog, but exercise and a good diet can make you mentally sharper. 4. 'To shop around' means to spend time going from one shop to another to find the best price. It is also slang for dating lots of people to gain experience. a. I liked the car, but it was too expensive. I think I'll shop around. b. You don't have to marry the first man you meet; shop around a little. 5. 'Whatever' is too important to not mention. It's a great word to use in many situations. a. Buy whatever you want. Eat whatever you want. Listen to whatever he says. (The negative of this is 'don't listen to anything he says'). Do whatever you want.  6. 'To be out of touch' is to not see or respond to reality the way most others do; or to not be realistic. It is also used for being non-communicative with friends and relatives. a. My family thinks that I am out of touch because I don't have a computer. b. I'm so out of touch; I really need to get on Facebook and catch up with my family and friends. 7. 'Super duper' is a traditional slang; it's an extension of super and is lighthearted. a. After dinner, we had Maria's super duper yummy apple pie. b. I think the Honda Leaf is a super duper car. 8. '' can be used with many different adjectives. a. They are sporty-to-the-extreme; it's all they talk about, and all they do. b. They are unhealthy-to-the-extreme; they smoke, drink too much, never exercise, and only eat at McDonald's. 9. 'Anybody' or 'somebody' are both used to refer to someone who has social importance. The opposite is a 'nobody'. a. He really thinks he's somebody. He left the party because he said it was full of nobodies. I'm glad he left. b. You must see the Oscars; anybody who is anybody will be there. (Here you can say 'everybody who is anybody will be there') also. 10. A herd is a group of animals, usually 4 legged. a. The herd of cows ran when the thunder started. b. The huge herd of zebras covered the plains to the horizon. Tweet // //

Fire to the West.

Sep 11, 2012 12:39


Do you remember a few episodes ago, a podcast called Smoke to the North? We learned how to say that something is going on in  a particular direction. Well, recently, we have had very bad fires to the West which are still burning. The photo on the blog page was a late afternoon view from my back garden, unusually dark, with a beautiful but very unusual sun. That was taken a few days ago. Now the hillside is completely black, and the fire has swept up(1) to the forests and hills behind our valley. First of all, when the fire was small and confined to an area of empty, dry hillside, it seemed just interesting, and even a little exciting. You could hear the whining (2)of emergency sirens here and there, and of course, it was the main topic of conversation. But these fires have dragged on(3). For the past two mornings we have woken up to a valley full of smoke; you can't even see the hills anymore. The local school district has cancelled all outside sports and recesses, and sporting clubs have done the same(4). People we know have had to evacuate their homes, though some have decided to stay in order to wet their rooves, trees, and gardens, to prevent fire. And remember, it's not just people who have been affected. The hills around here have many different kinds of wild animals, including predators. They are on the move(5) now, trying to get away from the smoke and ash, to reach cleaner, greener areas. One of my husband's favorite hunting areas is getting heavy traffic of deer and coyotes; the bears and cougars will be following as well. The whole thing started with a lightening storm several days ago. There was fork lightening everywhere, and of course, after the summer, the surrounding hills are completely dry. A fire was bound to (6)start. Add to that our desert climate of very little to no rain, and you find us here, still in this smokey situation. The fire fighters have been working around the clock(7), and helicopters go to and fro(8) collecting water from the rivers and taking it up the mountains. Now, it's a question of sitting and waiting. There's nothing really that we can do. It is not so bad that we have to leave, but it's certainly not yet under control. I hope that in a few days we will be back to normal; I look forward to breathing clean air again. 1. 'Swept' or 'to sweep' is used often to describe how something has moved, especially if that something looks similar to a brush, or acts like a brush. It is similar, in this case, to 'wipe'. a. She swept her long, thick hair out of her face, and pinned it up at the back of her head. b. The fire swept through the fields in no time, burning up the wheat. 2. 'To whine', 'whining', or 'whiny' is an uncomfortable sound used to describe a certain noise that people make, though it can be used to describe mechanical noises as well. a. I can't stand it when children whine; their tone of voice when they moan, beg, or complain is tiring. We must teach them to express themselves differently. b. That man is a whiner. He complains about everything; he's always negative. c. The fire alarm whined loudly, and immediately everybody evacuated. 3. 'To drag on' means to continue tiresomely. a. The musical rehearsal dragged on; the beginner players tried their best, but sounded awful. b. Gosh that meeting dragged on! I wish people wouldn't repeat themselves  and talk on and on for no good reason. 4. 'The same' is short for 'the same thing'. The sentence talks about sports clubs doing the same thing as the school district; it is unnecessary to always add 'thing'. a. They have just painted their fence, and we've done the same (thing). b. She got 99% on the math exam, and he got the same. (* Here, you wouldn't use 'thing' because you are specifically referring to the percentage). 5. 'To be on the move' is used when referring to animals migrating, or large amounts of vehicles moving. a. The wildebeest are on the move, walking many miles each day in search of food and water. b. The tanks have been given their orders, and are now on the move. 6. 'To be bound to...' means the same as 'was/were going to'. 'Bound' is the past participle and adjective of 'to bind' which means to tie up, to secure. So, 'to be bound to...' means that something will happen, and there is no other choice. a. With the economic crisis hitting this town, there is bound to be a lot of unemployment. b. He's bound to go to the pub; he can't stay away from them. 7. 'Around the clock' is a phrase we use in order to say 'a lot' or 'for many hours' or 'night and day'. a. The builders have to work around the clock to get the stadium finished on time. b. The investigators are working around the clock to find the criminals. 8. 'To and fro' is similar to 'back and forth'. a. The deer would come into our garden and then go back to the forest, to and fro all Winter. b. We watched the tennis players hit the ball to and fro, until our heads got tired. Remember to join me on FACEBOOK at Anna fromacupofenglish; it's an open invitation to all listeners! If you wish to contact me, you can do so at      My app 'A Cup Of English' is available in iTunes. Tweet // //

Back in business.

Sep 6, 2012 11:56


We're back in business! In fact, I'm back in business. This is an English expression, an idiom(1). And what does it mean? It means that things are working again as they should. I decided to call this podcast 'Back in business' because I am beginning to do my podcasts again, after missing several weeks. I do apologize for disappearing during the summer, but life became very hectic(2). Now that there is more of a routine in my home, I can take time to work on my podcasts, and enjoy bringing you the expressions and useful language that will make your English sound natural. It's good to be back in business. You will hear this expression in all English speaking countries. If, for example, your car has a flat battery(3), and you charge it, hoping that when it has enough power, you will be able to start your car. You finish the charging process, detach the cables(4), and turn the key. Suddenly, "Vroom!" it works; the battery is full of energy, and your motor is working. That is when you say with a smile, "We're back in business." The car is working as it should. This idiom can be used in most situations. Let's say that you are going to catch a plane but it is delayed(5). After waiting and waiting, you hear the airport announcer say, "Flight 801 to Madrid will begin boarding (6)in 15 minutes," your response could easily be, "Hey, we're back in business!" So, this expression is often said with a smile. An opposite expression that you use when your plans have to suddenly change, or when things are not working, is "There's a bump in the road." You can imagine a smooth road that you are traveling on, and suddenly you can't go any further because of a big bump. There is a delay, you need to call for help, or you have to solve the problem yourself. This expression can also be used in many situations. An example of a coversation that you might have using both expressions is the following: "Our company had its annual meeting yesterday." "Oh really? Did it go well?" "Yes, but there was a bump in the road." "What happened?" "The main speaker choked on an olive and had to be taken to hospital. Thankfully, his assistant was familiar with the presentation, so we were back in business." 1. The word idiom sounds a lot like 'idiot' but has nothing to do with it. An idiom is an expression that is native to a country, and not obvious in meaning. For example, in Spain, if you want to describe someone as being talkative, you could say, "He talks through his elbows." In other countries, it might not be obvious that that person talks a lot. The expression is typically Spanish, and needs to be interpreted, and learned as a complete expression, not translated. 2. Hectic is another word for 'too busy'. It is like a mix of 'chaos' and 'busy'. a. I have a hectic schedule at work. I hope I can surivive! b. The tour of the city was too hectic; we were in a rush, and we saw too many things. 3. There are certain words that we use with batteries. A battery has 'power' of course. When it has its maximum power, we say that it is 'full'. When it no longer has power, we say that it is 'flat'. You could say 'empty' as people would understand, but the correct word is 'flat'. And, in order to regain power, we 'charge' batteries. a. I need to charge my cell phone battery because I have almost no power left. b. My car battery is completely flat. I don't think I can charge it anymore. I just need to buy a new one. 4. In the podcast I mentioned detaching the cables from the car battery. In other words, I was talking about taking off the wires that were charging the battery. A cable is generally a wire conductor that is covered in plastic. A 'wire' is not always a conductor of electricity; it might be used for something else (like hanging a picture). Cables are used when charging cars. Infact, those specific cables are called 'jumper cables'. a. Be careful when you detach the jumper cables from the car battery. You could get a shock! b. She makes the most beautiful art  out of copper wire. 5. 'Delay' and  'delayed' are essential words in English. Delay is a verb and a noun, and delayed is used as an adjective. a. The plane was delayed for three hours, so we took the train instead. b. He's going to delay our plans if he keeps talking/ he's going to make us late if he keeps talking. 6. 'To board' is another essential verb in English which means to get on a plane/ boat/ train. It sounds exactly like 'bored' (which means unentertained) but has a slightly different spelling. a. It's time to board the train; hurry up, let's go. b. We can't board the plane for at least 15 minutes. Tweet // //

NBC Olympic frustration.

Aug 10, 2012 11:46


Oh, I'm frustrated. I haven't seen the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. I've been searching on the internet, but all I can find are a few highlights(1). NBC, here in the U.S. refused to show a live stream (2) of the event. They had their reasons. They said that, because of the time difference, not many people would watch it, plus they would make more money if they waited until prime time(3) the next day. Because they paid $1.3 billion for the rights to show the games, the National Broadcasting Company wanted to show the opening ceremony at a time when they would make the most money from advertizing. Unfortunately, the television network  made the mistake of cutting out  a lot of the event, and switching to studio commentary. I've heard many disappointed, and even angry comments about this. Danny Boyle, the film director who created and organized  the ceremony, did so as a continuous production, like a play that needs to be watched completely, unlike a Superbowl intermission (4) when you can leave the room and get popcorn, or cut your toenails. When so much time has gone into a work of art, it deserves attention and recognition. Many, many television viewers here in the U.S were deprived of the live showing, and that's just not on (5). So what could have happened? What would you or I have done? Nobody wants to lose huge sums of money, even for historical art, and global traditions. Could NBC have had a live showing of at least part of the ceremony, and then said,"For the whole ceremony, join us again tomorrow at such and such (6) a time,"? Perhaps they could have explained as well that the time difference was the main problem. Perhaps a link on their website with the whole opening ceremony could have solved the problem. Who knows? I have, actually,  been enjoying the sporting events very much, and recording them, but I'm still not a happy camper (7). I found  the commentaries by the NBC commentators, as the teams came out, to be very negative, and not in the spirit of the games. They were even derrogatory about the team from Greece, immediately talking about the country's financial problems, and saying that they were "lucky" to be at the Olympics. How condescending! The past 4 Olympics that I have seen here have been the same; the U.S commentators tend to be patronizing to other countries. Surely NBC must realize that commentators of an international event have a tremendous responsibility to educate the public, and to be a good example of their country's best values. It's not just about sports; it's about being globally minded. And,what is the spirit of the games? Several things:  friendship, excellence, respect, and peace. It would be so refreshing to hear more informed and impartial comments. I understand that each country has its perspective, its sense of patriotism, and its pride. We all have it. But commentators of international events surely should be intelligent and sensitive, and very carefully chosen, otherwise they do their own public a disservice(8). Well, I have vented, but I don't think that I've been unjust. I look forward to the day, perhaps at the next Olympics in Brazil, when I can hear the U.S commentators really reflect the spirit of the games. 1. 'Highlights' is a word that has several meanings. In this context it refers to the most important parts of an event. Highlights are also a lighter, random hair coloring. The verb 'to highlight' is often used in place of 'to emphasize' or 'underline with a pen'. a. Later tonight, I will watch the Olympic highlights to see who won what. b. Just for a change, I had highlights put in my dark hair. c. A good way to study history is to highlight the important dates, names, and other details. 2. 'A live stream' means a showing of something on television (or computer) that is taking place right now. a. There was a live stream of the royal wedding, so the whole world could see it as it happened. 3.  'Prime time' is the hour or two when the most people watch television. The word 'prime' means 'best'. a. That obscure film won't be on prime time; most people won't want to watch it at 7pm. 4. 'Intermission' is basically a break, a time during a film, a show, or some performance, when you can get a drink, stretch your legs, or use the bathroom. a. It's a good job that there's an intermission because this play is two hours long. 5. 'It's not on', 'That's just not on' is a term that is used (mainly in England) to say that something isn't right, fair, or appropriate. a. He volunteered his time, and nobody even thanked him. That's just not on. b. Taxes are going up for businesses again.           Well, that's not on.      I know. It's not on at all. 6. 'Such and such' is a very common phrase used when giving examples or hypothesis, butwhen you're not wanting to be specific. It is often used instead of a specific person, place, or time. a. Angie could tell him, "Come back later, at such and such a time".   Here a person is suggesting that Angie could tell a man to come back later, but the time is not specified. b. "Let's pretend the party has started, and the guests are arriving. You need to say,"Good evening Mr. and Mrs such and such, please take a seat. The waiter will be with you shortly.'"  7. 'A happy camper' just means a happy person. It's a playful phrase used in England. a.  I got a free watch when I bought my laptop, so I was a happy camper. b. He was thrown out of the theatre before the play started. He was not a happy camper. 8. 'Disservice' is a lack of service, or bad service. The phrase is 'to do someone a disservice'. Tweet // //

Smoke to the north.

Jul 24, 2012 12:57


  The view from the back of our house faces north, looking at the hills on either side of the Columbia river. They are brown this time of year, after a hot and dry summer. For a few days, the view was hard to see because there was smoke to the north(1). The bridge that crosses the Columbia from Wenatchee to East Wenatchee has a view that follows the river upstream(2) for a long way. As I drove across it the other day, I took a quick photo on my phone of the thick smoke that was now filling the valley. I know that I shouldn't really do that when I'm driving, but it was just a quick second snap, and I had the picture. A fire had started in a place called Chelan, and the smoke had blown in our direction. Thankfully, it cleared up(3) in a few days. If you are familiar with forest fires, you might know that they can last much longer, and the smoke can invade surrounding towns, bringing everything to a halt(4). Once, a long time ago, my husband and I left Wenatchee for the day because the smoke in the valley was so bad; we couldn't stand it any longer(5). I don't envy the work of the firefighters this time of year. It's grueling(6). Smoky the Bear is a cartoon character that appears on television and talks about avoiding forest fires. He is part of a campaign by the government to educate the public. He appears as a friendly bear in a hat, carrying a shovel, and his motto is “Only you can prevent wildfires.” Statistics show that, in this country, 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans. And, as you can imagine, a 'wildfire' is one that is unwanted, and out of control. As you drive near forests, you will randomly see Smoky the Bear posters on the side of the road as a reminder to be careful with fire. The effects of being careless can be devastating. The wildfire up in Chelan is out now, and the smoke to the North has cleared, but the expense and waste of forest will be long lasting. 'Smoke to the north'. When we talk about what we see in a certain direction, we use 'to the..' a. The mountains are to the north, and the desert is to the south. b. This house has a lot of windows, and to the east is a view of a golf course. 'Upstream' is a direction. It refers to rivers and streams, and it is the opposite direction of the water flow. Generally it is said that a river flows 'down', and so 'upstream' is against the flow of water. a. Salmon swim upstream when they return to their birthplace to lay eggs. 'To clear up' has several meanings. It can mean to tidy up. It can also be used when an infection is going away/getting better. And it is an expression used with the weather. a. Let's clear up these toys; the place is a real mess. b. Her ear infection has finally cleared up. c. The thick clouds have cleared up/ the storm cleared up later in the day. 'To bring something to a halt', 'to grind everything to a halt', or 'to bring everything to a grinding halt' are often used to describe how something (powerful or unwanted) will stop normal activity. 'Grinding' is an excellent descriptive word that refers to metal brakes. a. The sudden snow storm brought the whole town to a grinding halt. b. When Lady Sotherby found the cockroach in her salad, it brought the dinner party to a halt. 'To not stand it any longer' is a very common phrase which means the same as 'to bear' or 'to put up with'. a. I had to put earplugs in last night. The neighbors were having a party, and I couldn't stand the noise any longer. b. I tried so hard to not scratch my mosquito bites, but then I had to do it. I couldn't stand it any longer. 'Grueling' means extremely exhausting and physically punishing. It comes from the word 'gruel' which is an old, rare word meaning a kind of soup. The exhausting activity leaves a person like gruel. It can be used figuratively as well. a. The triathlon was grueling; it took us days to recover. b. My interview was grueling. I don't feel confident about the result. If you have comments or questions, feel free to email me at And join me on Facebook at Anna Fromacupofenglish. Tweet //

King Tut - where's the mask?

Jul 2, 2012 10:58


 Once in a while a fabulous opportunity comes along, an opportunity to experience something excellent and unusual, a wonder of the world, perhaps. I had just this kind of opportunity in Seattle this month. The Pacific Science Center has the collection of items found in King Tutenkhamun's tomb. My son's class had planned on making(1) a special trip to this exhibition as a final field trip. All year long, the school had been raising money for this special event by having bake sales(2). Everyone had bought and eaten cakes and cookies all year, and helped to pay for the museum visit. My job was to drive. I was lucky to go; in fact, once I had heard about the Egyptian exhibit, I was determined to find a way to go. A teacher, a parent, and an extra student came in my car, as well as my son. Each driver was given an itinerary and a map of the museum. Our schedule was going to be busy and packed. In the space of(2) five hours, we were going to go to the planetarium, see a laser show, see an Imax movie, and finally see the tomb items of King Tut. Somewhere in the middle we were going to squeeze in (3)lunch. So, we had lots to chat about on the way there. The three hour journey went very quickly. We all gathered in the parking lot, and made our way into the Science Center. The place is huge. There are different floors, and different rooms filled with exhibits from dinosaurs to insects, and planets to robots. It's impossible to see everything in one day; you have to be selective. We made our way through the exhibits, lunch, and the movie, and finally it was time to see King Tut's gorgeous stuff. I was so excited. The whole area was elegantly painted black, with spotlights on each individual item. I was amazed by the amount of relics, statues, and jewelery found in his tomb. I was busy photographing a statue, when I realized that my son had disappeared. He had raced through each of the rooms, just glancing briefly at everything, and was near the exit. He wasn't interested in reading about anything; he's nine. It was fun enough for him to sneak through a series of dark rooms. When I caught up (4)with him, I asked him if he had seen the king's mask. “Yep,” he said, “it's right over here.” He took me to a glass case and pointed at a statue. Well, it looked like King Tut's face, but it wasn't the mask. I looked around quickly, wondering where it could be. A security guard was standing nearby(5), so I asked him where it was. “Oh, it's not here,” he said. There was a pause. “It has stayed in Egypt since the late 70's.” I felt completely deflated. How disappointing! Everything else was stunning, of course, but I had been expecting to see what was on the posters that advertised the exhibition: the mask. The icon of Egypt simply wasn't there. If I want to see it, I need to take a trip to the Cairo Museum, and, in order to do that, I'll have to do a few bake sales of my own. 'To plan on doing something' is good, native sounding English which can have many variations: a. We planned on driving all night. b. They planned on meeting us half way. c. She planned on freezing the cake after she made it, and keeping it for Christmas. 'In the space of....' in this case refers to time. The word 'space' means an area or span of time. a. In the space of two hours, I cleaned the house, taught a class, and paid the bills! b. In the space of three days, they hiked over the mountain and across the border. 'We were going to squeeze in lunch' means that you are trying to 'fit' lunch into a busy schedule. a. If we hurry, we can squeeze in a nap after lunch, just before the meeting. b. They didn't have much time, but they managed to squeeze in a museum visit before they caught their plane. 'To catch up with someone' has 2 meanings: it is to physically follow and meet up with a person, or it is to find out what has been going on in the life of someone who you haven't been around for a while. In this paragraph, it is the former. a. He ran ahead of me, but soon I caught up with him. b. I hadn't seen them for years, so we spent some time catching up. Tweet // //


Jun 5, 2012 12:57


 Field trips are always fun for school children. The typical trips are to museums, parks, and science centers. Of course, it depends on where you live. You have an advantage if you live in a city because there is more variety and entertainment. In a rural area, a school may have to be more creative to keep their field trips interesting. One activity that my kids took part in recently was geocaching. It has very quickly become popular globally, even in this small, rural area. So, what is it? Geocaching is considered an outdoor sporting activity in which players use some kind of navigational device (1). Coordinates (2)of a certain place are given, and the participants have to find their way there. Once they reach the exact spot, they search and find a container of some sort(3). Inside are inexpensive items such as toys, nicknacks(4), or items of interest or meaning. These can be taken and kept by the person doing the geocaching, but it is expected that the finder replace these items with something else. Also, inside the container will be a logbook where the geocacher will write the date and his or her personal geocaching code(5). You can receive a code by registering on-line as a geocacher. So, basically, this sport is like hide and seek, except that you're not hiding yourself but a cache, a treasure of some kind. As long as the container of the cache is waterproof, it will be safe until someone finds it. Geocaching started in Oregon in the United States in May of 2000, when a man by the name of(6) David Ulmer hid a cache and posted the coordinates on-line on the international Usenet newsgroup. Since then, geocaching has taken off(7), and is currently in 100 countries, even in Antartica. People continue to register on-line at sites like '' where you can find coordinates of caches in your area, and the rules of the game. So, it sounds like fun, doesn't it? It's a great, free activity that you can do with friends and family. Schools, of course, are taking advantage of this as well. When we went geocaching, my childrens' school split up into several groups and hunted around in the parks. While they walked from one cache to another, they picked up litter. As they came to the spots where the coordinates met, there was a lot of excited hunting, looking in bushes and trees, until someone would shout out excitedly, “I've found it!” One cache was tiny. We wouldn't have found it without the help of the teacher who had been there before. The container was a tiny, metal cylinder, about a third of the size of (8)a pencil. It had a screw top, and was inserted into a hole in a sign post. The logbook was a very small rolled up paper, and the cache was a sticker. The students were fascinated. After finding that cache, they discussed the possibilities of creating tiny and unusual caches that they could plant. I'm forming a list of activities to do this summer, and I think I have found one more thing to add to it: geocaching.   'A device' is a general word for a useful tool. It can range from a simple pair of scissors, to an iPad. a. When scissors were first invented, they must have been considered incredible devices. b. To geocache properly, it is best to have a navigational device. 'Coordinates' is an unusual word. Two 'o's' together usually create the 'ooo' sound, but not in this case. A similar word is 'cooperate'. Let's practice. 'Of some sort' is the same as saying 'of some kind'; the two expressions are interchangeable. a. When you plant a new tree, you should use some sort of support for it for the first year. b. He contracted some kind of skin disease, and had to use antibiotics to get rid of it. 'Nicknacks' has the same meaning as 'trinkets'. They are usually small items of little value such as collectibles, ornaments, fridge magnets, and memorabilia from vacations. a. After lunch, we walked around the town and looked at the trinket shops. We bought a few nicknacks. b. I wish you'd buy something decent, and not all of those cheap nicknacks. 'Geocaching' is the topic for today. One point to remember is the pronunciation of the 'ch': it sounds like 'sh'. 'By the name of' is used instead of 'called' or 'is called'. a. A woman by the name of Elizabeth Brown established this line of ceramics. b. A man by the name of Rodger Snoops informed the police about the suspect. 'To take off' is used in several contexts. A plane can take off (when it first leaves the airport). Also, a hobby or sport can take off, as in become very popular. a. Geocaching has taken off over the past twelve years because everyone likes to hunt for treasure, and it is inexpensive. b. Reality shows took off about ten years ago, and are now in every country. When comparing sizes using fractions, we use expressions like 'half (of)the size of' or 'three quarters (of) the size of'. The first of is usually included in British English, whereas in the U.S it is missed out. a. The dog is half (of) the size of the cat. b. The museum is three quarters (of) the size of the bus station. Tweet // //

Money For Blondes.

May 26, 2012 12:48


 I came across some interesting information the other day, bizarre information, crazy information, that has led me on a journey of discovery. I was watching one of my sons run during a track meet (1). There were six middle schools all competing in the various track events, and the place was packed. I sat in the middle of the large crowd of parents who had come to cheer on (2) their children. A lady who I knew was talking to me about children growing up, entering high school, and applying for scholarships. “My oldest is a few years away from all of that,” I said. “But still (3), I should probably start looking into (4) scholarships.” She told me that she had already done so, as her son is older than mine. “There are all kinds of private scholarship funds out there. You won't believe it. There's even one for being blonde!” There was a long pause, as I frowned and thought about what she had said. “For being blonde?” I asked in disbelief(5). So many questions rushed into my head. “How blonde do you have to be?” “Could I bleach (6) my hair blonde to get a scholarship?” “And who decides if you qualify? Does a little old lady with a huge Madonna wig come to your house and check-out your hair?” This couldn't be true, I decided. How ridiculous. But, my friend told me that lots of rich individuals will leave money for people who have certain qualities. I had to investigate. So, back at home, I did some research on the internet. I came across a website called '45 of the weirdest college scholarships'. Well, I didn't find any scholarships for being blonde, even though there were many searches for 'scholarships for blondes'. But I did find a lot of other bizarre ones: if you are a male over 6' 2'' or a female over 5'10'', you could qualify for $1000 by writing an essay entitled 'What being tall means to me.' If you're a nudist, a vegetarian, if you wish to study fungi, if you enjoy duck calling, or if you like to watch the series 'Star Trek', then you can get money for college! Or if you can pred