A meal in an English pub

A meal in an English pub

A meal in an English pub

A meal in an English pub is a great way to meet up with friends for an informal chat, drink and to have something to eat.

However, as you will hear, pubs can be busy and noisy places and are sometimes not the best place to have a conversation – but this podcast is a real-life situation, where Chris and Stéphane went to a busy pub in Victoria, London, England.

Bar snacks: Even pubs that don’t serve meals have a few salty bar snacks available – crisps in a range of flavors, packets of peanuts, and pork scratchings – and sometimes big glass jars of pickled eggs and pickled onions.

Bar food or bar menu: Some pubs that serve lunch and dinner may also have a bar menu of sandwiches through the day. Bar food is only prepared once and is only available as long as it lasts.

Pub meals: Better pubs serve lunches and dinners during set hours. These range from basic, acceptable food to the highest reaches of gastronomy. Several gastropubs, so-called, have even achieved multiple Michelin stars.

Pub meals can be cheaper than traditional restaurant meals but whether they are better value depends on your taste. You may love a Sunday Roast – meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and vegetables. Or you may find it overcooked and tasteless – depends on the pub and depends on you. Nevertheless, there are some pub dishes you can usually count on including:

Sausages and Mash, using locally made, butcher’s sausages
Fish and chips
Steak and ale or steak and kidney pies
Ploughman’s lunches – salad with a hunk of local cheese and bread. Ham or chicken may be included.
Be careful though, the closing hours are much earlier than in continental Europe and elsewhere and most pubs stop serving food at or before 9pm in the evening, so get there early!

Some pubs also do early eaters deals where two people eat for the price of one – if you like eating early, this may be for you.

While listening listen out for how the the following was expressed :

  1. How did Chris say that he had not met Stéphane for a long time.
  2. How did Chris ask Stéphane what he had been doing since they last met?
  3. How did Chris ask Stéphane about how he feels about his upcoming holidays?
  4. How did Chris ask Stéphane if he would like a starter?
  5. How did Chris ask Stéphane if he wanted a main course?
  6. How did Chris ask Stéphane about what came with his meal?
  7. What type of water did they order?
My bucket list Nicolas

My bucket list Nicolas

My bucket list Nicolas

The expression, “Bucket list” comes from kick the bucket (to die) + list, hence a “list of things to do before you die”.

The term was coined by American and British screenwriter Justin Zackham in his screenplay for the 2007 film The Bucket List. Zackham had created his own list called “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket” which he then shortened to “Justin’s Bucket List”.

The first item on his list was to have a screenplay produced at a major Hollywood studio.

After a time, it occurred to him that the notion of a “bucket list” could itself be fodder for a film, so he wrote a screenplay about two dying men racing to complete their own bucket lists with the time they had left.

Articles about the movie are the earliest known uses of the expression “Bucket List”.

Sometimes a new calendar year serves as the ultimate reminder that life is never as long as we’d like it to be.

We tend to harbour thoughts of how our lives are lived and carefully consider the things we have yet to do.

For some time after it was first coined, only people who feared their imminent death compiled a bucket list. More recently, since the expression has become more widely used, it just means ‘a list of things that I would like to do someday’. Such a list typically includes:

  • See the Northern/Southern Lights.
  • Visit, The Grand Canyon, The Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China…
  • Swim with dolphins.

It is quite possible that the expression existed as slang before the film “The Bucket List” screenplay was written.

If it did it can’t have been coined long before 2006 as we were then in the Google era and any use of it online would now be easy to find, and there aren’t any search results that point to unambiguous uses of the expression before that date.

If the origin is 99% established then the meaning must rate as 100%.

The ‘things to do before you kick the bucket’ source for ‘bucket list’ is obviously correct.

There are references to a different meaning of ‘bucket list’ online and in print that pre-date 2006.

These relate to a sorting algorithm called a Bucket Sort.

This is typically implemented on a computer to sort items into alphabetical or numerical order.

The resulting list is called a bucket list – clearly not the ‘bucket list’ that Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson had in mind.

Here are 10,000 ideas for a bucket list, so you will surely find something on here to fire you up!

English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

This is just a bit of fun and is in no way meant to be political and does not represent any political views of the site, as we hold no political views..

At the time of recording, the colourful character, Boris Johnson was / is the prime minister of The UK.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson  born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, writer, and former journalist serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since July 2019.

He has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015 and was MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008.

He also served as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 and Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018. Johnson identifies as a one-nation conservative.

Born in New York City to upper-middle class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School, Ashdown House, and Eton College.

He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1986.

He began his career in journalism at The Times but was dismissed for falsifying a quotation.

He became The Daily Telegraphs Brussels correspondent, and his articles exerted a strong influence on growing Eurosceptic sentiment on the British right-wing.

He was an assistant editor of The Telegraphfrom 1994 to 1999, and edited The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.

He was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and served as a Junior Shadow Minister under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron.

He largely adhered to the Conservatives’ party line but adopted a socially liberal stance on issues such as LGBT rights in parliamentary votes.

Resigning as an MP, in 2008 he was elected Mayor of London, and was re-elected in 2012.

During his mayoralty, he banned alcohol consumption on much of London’s public transport, oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics, and introduced the New Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable car.

In 2015, Johnson was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, stepping down as Mayor the following year.

In 2016, he became a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leavecampaign to support “Brexit”, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

He then served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under Theresa May’s premiership.

After May resigned in 2019, he was elected Conservative leader and appointed prime minister.

Pursuing Brexit, he unlawfully prorogued parliament and suspended 21 Conservative MPs who opposed his approach to leaving the EU.

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism.

Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure, with an appeal stretching beyond traditional Conservative voters.

He has been criticised for using racist, sexist, and homophobic language, and accused of dishonesty, elitism, and cronyism.

Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.

Listen to the ‘interview’ with Boris Johnson.

7 Tips to improve listening

7 Tips to improve listening

7 Tips to improve listening

Why are listening skills important, both for everyday life and for language learning?

Well, if you don’t listen, then you will never learn, as simple as that.

Listeners, and especially good listeners are the best learners, as the Dalai Lama said, “When you speak you are repeating what you already know, but when you listen it gives us an opportunity to learn.”

So here are the 7 Tips to improve listening that we discuss in the podcast :

  1. Listen to silence, focus on yourself and what is around you. Interestingly the word, ‘Silent’ includes all of the letter in the word ‘Listen.’
  2. Listen to backgground sounds, those sounds that we usually try to ignore or block out.
  3. Focus and get relaxed, open your ears (although this is not really something we can do) as you need to be able to hear before you can listen effectively and finally understand what you are listening to.
  4. Listen form differing perspectives and change the perspective by taking different standpoints – agree, disagree, criticise, empathise etc.
  5. Listen to emotion in the listening – happiness, excitedness, sadness, seriousness, anger etc.
  6. For language learners, try to skip over and ignore what you don’t understand and listen globally and not in detail.
  7. Enjoy listening, don’t see it as a chore, do it often and vary the way you listen.


A few days in New York

A few days in New York

A few days in New York.

Have you ever been to New York ? Is it on your list of things to do ? Do you like big cites ? Do you live in the USA? What do you think of tourists to your country?

Listen to this podcast in which Laura, a French-British young women talks to Sue about her holiday, or vacation as they say in American English.

If you are learning English listen very carefully to how Laura talks about her trip. She is half way through her holiday so notice how she describes actions/events in the past and then actions/events in the recent past and then actions/ events in the future. This podcast is a great way to see all these grammatical structures.

Notice the use of the Simple Past tense to indicate something that Laura did in the past. 

I booked the hotel on line. I bought a Tourist pass before I came 

Sue asks Laura; How did you cope with the jet leg when you arrived?

Notice the use of the Present Perfect tense which Laura uses to describe something she has done recently, within the last few days but without mentioning the exact day.

I have been to see the Statue of Liberty. I‘ve done so many things.  I have taken a cab. I’ve been to wrong places. I have been to Five Guys. I’ve spoken to quite a few people from new York. 

Notice the use of the Present Continuous tense to describe a current situation.

Sue asks Laura: How are you getting around ? 

People in the street are all carrying a cup of soda or coffee.

Notice the use of the future tenses.

Sue asks Laura: What are you doing after this diner? When are you heading back ?

I’m going to visit Brooklyn Bridge and the Highline later this afternoon.



To learn more vocabulary don’t forget to do the New York Skyline Quiz… it’s awesome !

The New York Skyline Quiz

The New York skyline is world famous, but how well do you really know it ?


Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English can be difficult, especially if the sounds of the letters are similar to the letters of the alphabet in your own language as this can lead to confusion.

Spelling place names in English is not difficult, but it takes a lot of practice for you to become proficient, especially if you are trying to understand spelling over the phone, for example.

Most people read words more accurately than they spell them. The younger the learners are, the truer this is.

Spelling, however, is a very different matter.

Once learners have learnt more than one way of spelling particular sounds, choosing the right letter or letters depends on their either having made a conscious effort to learn the words or having absorbed them less consciously through their reading.

The problem is generally that learners have not had enough time to learn or absorb the accurate spelling of all the words that they may want to write.

This illustrates the need to fully use the fours skills in language learning ; Listening, Speaking, Reading and writing – it is a little like making a cocktail, too much of one ingredient and not enough of another and the cocktail can taste either delicious or horrible.

In language learning, learners need to use all four skills in a balanced way – reading and writing will ultimately help spelling, but practice is needed to become fully familiar with the sounds of words and letters in order to become skillful in spelling words, which will improve with practice.

Have a go at spelling some of the longest words in the English language.

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