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Education
Kids & Family
Language Learning

A Cup Of English

Updated about 9 hours ago

Education
Kids & Family
Language Learning
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English practice for beginners and advanced, that will inspire and refresh the anxious language student. Download the text and grammar notes for a complete language experience. You really can learn English well with this clearly spoken and delightful course.

Read more

English practice for beginners and advanced, that will inspire and refresh the anxious language student. Download the text and grammar notes for a complete language experience. You really can learn English well with this clearly spoken and delightful course.

iTunes Ratings

18 Ratings
Average Ratings
17
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Good

By eiluap - Sep 29 2011
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Short,sweet,nice review of vocabulary

iTunes Ratings

18 Ratings
Average Ratings
17
1
0
0
0

Good

By eiluap - Sep 29 2011
Read more
Short,sweet,nice review of vocabulary
Cover image of A Cup Of English

A Cup Of English

Updated about 9 hours ago

Read more

English practice for beginners and advanced, that will inspire and refresh the anxious language student. Download the text and grammar notes for a complete language experience. You really can learn English well with this clearly spoken and delightful course.

Rank #1: Geocaching.

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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 'Geocaching.com' 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.
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Jun 05 2012

12mins

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Rank #2: Helpful Ladies.

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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.
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Jul 30 2015

9mins

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Rank #3: How does he do that?

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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.
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Nov 08 2014

6mins

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Rank #4: A surprise package.

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My morning routine has ups and downs*. First thing in the morning, I find myself rushing around like a frantic woman, trying to get my children up out of bed, and off to school. I'm usually still in my pajamas (pyjamas)* when I drop the kids off, and I drive off quickly before anyone sees me. But, when I get home, I can slow down a little before I start the chores of the day, or run errands. I take my time over my morning coffee, stretch, pet the dogs, check my emails and Facebook, have a bit more coffee, and then plan my day. I was doing that this morning, when there was a knock at the door. A Federal Express delivery man handed me a package, a large box. I had to sign in order to receive it, and then he went on his way. I assumed that the package was for my husband, who buys a lot of cycling and hunting equipment on-line*. However, it was addressed to me! I was instantly awake, and opened the box quickly. The side of the box said 'Greenvale Scottish baby potatoes'. I knew that I hadn't ordered any potatoes; why would I? But the word Scottish gave me a clue as to what was inside, and who it was from. My father lives in Scotland, on the West coast. And, yes, it was from him. Thankfully, the box wasn't full of potatoes, but rather, it was brimming with Christmas presents. I was so surprised! He and his wife had wrapped up all of the gifts in traditional wrapping paper, with colors of red, green, gold, and white. I took them out of the box, and tried to guess what they were. " The children will be so excited to see them under the Christmas tree when they get home," I thought to myself. This is their last week of school, and they are beginning to anticipate# the holidays. I noticed that one of the wrapping papers had one of my favorite English Christmas carols on it: The Holly and the Ivy. The first two lines were visible under the bow. It says: 'The Holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown. And the rising of the sun, and the running of the deer, the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.' It really sets the scene for Christmas. I must rush out and send off a package as soon as possible to Scotland. I hope it gets there on time!
Related vocabulary and expressions: ups and downs, pyjamas, on-line, (to anticipate   at Anna From A cup of English on Facebook).
1. We all have ups and downs; sometimes we are positive and energetic, and other times we are the opposite.
2. Pyjamas is the English spelling. Pajamas is the American spelling.
3. I do a lot of my work on-line, which is very convenient. I can even do it in my pyjamas.
 
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Dec 12 2011

5mins

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Rank #5: Aloha Maui.

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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.

Mar 15 2016

5mins

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Rank #6: Hunger in the U.S.

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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 acupofenglish@hotmail.com  or acupofenglish@live.com.
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Dec 03 2012

15mins

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Rank #7: Basic Pronunciation Practice #37 + Interactive English.

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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!
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Dec 29 2015

13mins

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Rank #8: Basic Pronunciation Practice 8.

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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.
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Mar 21 2013

11mins

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Rank #9: Shingles.

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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.

Mar 13 2019

8mins

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Rank #10: Basic Pronunciation Practice 5.

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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.
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Mar 11 2013

11mins

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Rank #11: Dentist or Orthodontist?

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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.
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Mar 01 2016

7mins

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Rank #12: A better way to waste.

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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!

Jul 01 2016

10mins

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Rank #13: Driving lessons

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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: acupofenglish@hotmail.com  Remember, you're all welcome to join my FACEBOOK page called Anna Fromacupofenglish.
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Oct 15 2013

10mins

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Rank #14: Basic Pronunciation Practice 6.

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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.
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Mar 13 2013

8mins

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Rank #15: Basic Pronunciation Practice 7.

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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.
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Mar 18 2013

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Rank #16: The Purist.

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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

Jun 28 2014

7mins

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Rank #17: Airplane entertainment.

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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.
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Sep 15 2014

8mins

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Rank #18: Alibaba

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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.

Jun 09 2018

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Rank #19: Pioneer village.

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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. '...is 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.
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Oct 20 2015

7mins

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Rank #20: When will she arrive?

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Waiting, waiting, waiting. It's difficult to do sometimes. I found myself waiting a couple of weeks ago at Seattle International Airport. My sister and my two nephews were coming for a two week visit, so I made the three hour drive over the mountains to pick them up. I don't often go to Seattle, but I love to. It's a gorgeous place, if you like forests, the sea, and modern buildings. So, I take any opportunity I can to drive there. The airport is actually outside of Seattle, half way between Seattle and Tacoma, and is therefore called Sea-tac airport. It is a smart, modern facility that, believe it or not(1), smells of coffee. How wonderful! You might think that I'm joking, but it's true. You know that Seattle is where Starbucks started, and Seattle is known for being the coffee capital of the U.S. In fact, it has more coffee houses per 100,000 residents than the U.S. has overall(2). So, even the airport is fully equipped with coffee all over the place. While I waited for my sister to arrive, I found myself(3)at one of the many coffee shops. I bought my soy latte, and wandered around a magazine shop. The plane had come in on time, there was no delay(4). However, because the flight was an international one, my sister and her boys had to go through immigration(4) and customs(4). That is a time consuming necessity. Also, the flight was full, so the two hundred or so sleepy passengers took extra long to arrive at baggage claim. I kept on returning to the arrivals escalator, to see if anyone from the flight had turned up. Nope(5). It took about an hour and a half for the travelers to arrive. It was interesting to stand back and see the different people step off the escalator. There was a real mix of shapes and sizes, ethnicities, and demeanours(6). Some people were dressed professionally, pulling behind them small, black cases on wheels, and obviously focused on business. Others were more casual, looking for family or friends, and openly emotional. There was a tall, military man returning from service abroad(7), who was greeted by his young wife and three year old daughter. She had stood at the top of the empty escalator and called "Daddy, daddy!" impatiently. When he finally arrived and picked her up, she stared at him for a long time with an unsure, curious expression. Then came the stragglers(8): a very hairy man carrying a large, framed picture, a tall African lady with tons of luggage, and a skinny young man with a huge cello case. What a variety of people! Then, last but not least(9), my sister and her two boys came up the escalator with big smiles. Finally, they were here. We hugged and kissed, and immediately started chatting and giggling about the journey. We picked up the luggage and were in the car before we knew it.
1. 'Believe it or not' is not an essential phrase. It is light hearted and introduces the idea that something interesting or unusual will be mentioned:
a. My daughter has, believe it or not, joined a traveling circus.
b. Believe it or not, that very small shop grossed half a million dollars last year.
2. 'Overall' is another way of saying 'all together' or 'in general' or 'added up':
a. There were some imperfections, but overall the performance was a success.
b. The population, overall, prefers coffee to tea.
3. To find oneself can be used with any person:
a. We found ourselves pennyless, out of petrol, and in the middle of nowhere.
b. So, you met the prince in the party, and before you knew it, you found yourself  in the palace! Unbelievable!
4. 'Delay, immigration, customs' are all useful words to do with international travel.
a. The plane was delayed, I had trouble in immigration, and customs confiscated my Elvis toothbrush!
b. The plane was on time, thank goodness. My visa was still valid, so I got through immigration quickly, and then I had nothing to declare in customs.
5.'Nope' is basically 'no' but with attitude. It is used frequently in the U.S.
a. Do you want to go out tonight?       Nope!
b. I've lost the receipt for the bookshelves. Could you look for it?      Nope!
6. 'Demeanor' means the manner or behavior of someone:
a. She looked elegant and formal, but her demeanor was unsure.
b. I can tell by his demeanor that he is confident.
7. 'Abroad' is often used instead of 'overseas'. The two are interchangeable:
a. She will study abroad for six months to learn a different language.
b. They had studied overseas all year, and had decided to stay longer.
8. 'Straggler' describes the odd, few people who are the last to arrive, either from a journey, trip, or race:
a. At the end of the Tour de France we see the stragglers coming in. Some are well known cyclists who unfortunately fell off their bikes, and others are less known riders.
b. The displaced villagers got to the shelter by nightfall, the stragglers arriving by midnight.
9. 'Last but not least' is a quick way of saying "I'm mentioning this person last (on the list) but he is just as important as anybody else".
a. Ladies and gentlemen, we have Princess Sofia, Prince Filipo, and, last but not least, their little sister Princess Angelica.
b. Here we have to crown your dinner tonight, last but not least, a pineapple chocolate bomb for dessert.
Remember to visit me on FACEBOOK  at Anna fromacupofenglish. Also feel free to email me at acupofenglish@hotmail.com
or acupofenglish@live.com    and if you do, I promise to email you back.
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Apr 17 2012

15mins

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