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A Cup Of English

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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.

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.


United States


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.




A Dog Day.

Mother's Day in the U.S. is May 9th. It's supposed to be a day when people show their appreciation for their mothers in different ways. Some people will take their mothers out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, others will buy them gifts, or perhaps have a special celebration at home. At my home, my family organized a special day for me. My oldest son turned up from university unexpectedly just for the day. We were going to go on a hike, but it would have been a hard one, and I really...



Online group chats have become so common in the recent few months. And is it any surprise? With so many people staying at home, and travel paralyzed, the only way to do any group work or meetings of any kind is by using online platforms(1). People I know have told me about Zoom, but there are many others: Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, EZ Talks, Gotomeeting, and the grandfather of these platforms, Skype. And of course we can also use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp on our phones. We have...


A Dogwood Trail.

One of the great distractions of this time of year are the dogwood trees. Like many other kinds of flowering trees, their display is brief but stunning. I have four in my garden that keep me company while I'm working outside. They look like pretty ladies showing off their new dresses. The traditional dogwoods in this part of the world are fairly round, with masses of medium sized white or pink flowers. The Korean dogwood, of which I have one, is upright, and has huge, creamy white flowers...


Thoughts on the stay-at-home mandate.

Here are some of my thoughts on the stay-at-home mandate because of the Coronavirus, and how I have been feeling about it. First of all, I must say that I am really thankful that the virus hasn't impacted my family, apart from a cousin in Madrid who is now recovering. The demographic here is spread out, and small and rural, so the infection rate has not been high. This is unlike many areas around the world where it is densely populated, and people are therefore more at risk. I'm also...


Rosie's pace.

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...


A mental health break.

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...


A new kind of empty.

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...


Words of Encouragement.

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...



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...


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...


Christopher Columbus, really?

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...


Scared of airports?

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 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....


Cloved Oranges.

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...


Small Talk

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...


New Year's Eve in the U.S.

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...


A Christmas Adoption grammar points.

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...


A Christmas Adoption

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....


A flu fighter grammar points.

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...


Be a flu fighter.

"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...