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Tomorrow is the last day to RSVP for Cleaning up your act | Living a more sustainable, healthier life led by Anna Bezubka on Thursday, March 28 from 19.00-20.30h.

Join us for some fascinating conversation, new vocabulary and the know-how on being kinder to our Earth. The round table is open to all levels and we will provide you with snacks and drinks. Newsletter information linked

We hope to see you there!



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It has happened to all of us. We really want to put the pedal to the metal (to exert maximum effort) and study. We want to prove to ourselves that we can learn something and improve, but sometimes, it is so difficult to find the time and much less the energy to sit down and study.

Today’s post is dedicated to all of those who just feel too tired to sit down and study a little. Hopefully, these tips will help you organize your time a little better, know when is the best time to study and how to study. You all invest so much time, energy and money into learning, so let’s take advantage of it!

1. Critical or Not Critical?

Before sitting down to study, and if you feel extremely tired and just not inspired, ask yourselves this, “Is it critical I study right now or can it wait?” In other words, if you have a very important interview, presentation or exam, make the effort to sit down and study, even if it is just for 30 minutes. But if this is something that can wait, then wait! You will not learn by forcing yourselves to memorize and do work that is not motivating. Step away, get some rest and try again tomorrow and perhaps try some of the tips below. But do make sure you are not using the excuse of being too tired to not study! We need to be disciplined and consider re-evaluating how we prioritize our time.

2. Change your study time to fit your energy

This topic is key when deciding when to study. Most of us already know if we are morning-people or night-owls. When are you at your best? Early in the morning or late at night? Decide when you learn best and make a gap in your schedule to study then. Whether it is reading for 15 minutes, listening to the news for 5 or doing a few workbook exercises, set aside time in your agenda to stop and study. I suggest setting an alarm or reminder on your phone to help you remember that now it is time to study. If you find that during the week it is too challenging, even though I am a firm believer that we all have 5 minutes to listen to the news, then set aside some time on Sunday to study. It is like going to the gym! You have to force yourself but once you pick up the habit it becomes so much easier. Trust me!

3. Do the easy things first

If you find that you are too tired to sit down and read or finish that homework assignment your teacher left you, then do not force yourself to do it. When we are tired, our cognitive thinking requires much more energy and many times it is futile to force ourselves to focus on something that will only make us more tired. Perhaps consider watching something online like this, or this or this or do some household tasks that need to get done to free up some time to study tomorrow. Any little attempt you make will pay off in the long run.

4. Wake yourself up

As easy as 1, 2, 3 before sitting down try the following:

  • Drink a tall glass of water
  • Have a shower
  • Serve yourself a cup of coffee or warm tea and grab a cookie or two
  • Get some fresh air (I find going out for walks is a real winner and helps me clear my mind and get more creative. Take a look at this 5 minute video that talks just about that: Want to be more creative? )
  • Do 5 minutes of housework
  • Put some loud music on and dance and sing…your family and friends will love you for it and might even join in the fun!

5. Study with lots of breaks

Do not set out to study for hours without taking some breaks. You can try different ratios of time to benefit your study time. For example, try 25 minutes of studying, 5 minutes to get up, stretch or go to the bathroom. Or 30 minutes of studying, 15 minutes to break (again, take a short walk, have a snack or call a friend!) or even 60 minutes of studying then a 30 minute break.

It might not seem like you will get much done but if you are diligent about the time, you will see how staying focused will help you finish your studying tasks. It goes without saying that you need to set your phone aside, very far from you and put it on silence so as to not get distracted.

6. Are you getting enough sleep?

This next question might sound silly but is very important. We all know that getting a good amount of sleep helps us in being better thinkers, have quicker reactions and feel more motivated. SO, make the effort to get yourself into bed and have at least 7 hours of sleep. You will be a happier person. Also, studies have shown that looking at a screen right before going to sleep disturbs your sleeping patterns,so try to set aside your screen time at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Try reading instead or simply laying in bed and doing some breathing exercises until you doze off. Believe me, you will doze off!

Another issue to consider is what you are eating before going to bed. Check out this blog post on what foods can help you sleep like a baby!

There are many other things we can do to guarantee a full night’s rest

7. Are you too busy?

In our fast paced world today, we tend to put much more than we can handle on our plate so perhaps now is a good time to re-consider if everything we are doing is worth the energy and time it is consuming. We all want to learn something new, spend time with friends and family, do sports, work and the list goes on and on and on but perhaps we do not have to spread ourselves thin. Sit down and look at your agenda. Is there anything that you can set aside for another day? With all these activities, we eventually reach a point of burn out and risk not doing anything at all. So evaluate yourselves, set your priorities straight and start tackling those things that have more urgency. You will feel less exhausted, more productive and accomplished.

Life is short so let’s focus on those things that make us feel fulfilled and that help us grow!

And just in case this has inspired you to take on the challenge to study, here are some ideas to help you get started:

BBC 6 Minute English

General Knowledge Quizzes

Great Ted Talks videos for language learners

Local news in English and this and this and this!

Photo Source and inspiration for this post from here



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As the summer comes to a swift close and the temperatures begin to drop, I want to offer you one last scoop of rose ice cream to welcome you back to work, new challenges and perhaps even new resolutions to finish off the year. I have always thought of September as being an excellent month to take on new hobbies, learn something new or get to work on those New Year resolutions you set up for yourselves at the beginning of the year.

And so in ode to loving and hating certain routines or new intentions, I thought we could look at some idioms on how to express your likes or dislikes. Here we go!

To express likes you can say: “I’m crazy about it!” which is equivalent to “I love it!”

EXAMPLE: I’m crazy about this new series. Have you seen it?

“It’s right up my alley (or street).” is equivalent to “The kinda thing I like.”

 EXAMPLE: Sushi for dinner is right up my alley.

“I dig it!” is equivalent to “I like it!”

 EXAMPLE: I really dig this new music group.

To express dislikes you can say: “It doesn’t float my boat.” which is equal to “I don’t like it”  EXAMPLE: Meeting at 8am doesn’t float my boat.

“It’s not my cup of tea.” is also equal to “I don’t like it.”

EXAMPLE: Having to present in front of a large crowd is definitely not my cup of tea.

“I can’t stand it” is equivalent to “I really hate it” or the Spanish version of “No lo soporto!”

EXAMPLE: I can’t stand people who interrupt others when they are speaking.

“I can’t bear it” is similar to disliking something so much you almost can’t accept it.

EXAMPLE: I can’t bear having to start all over again.

And there you have it. A colorful way of sharing your likes or dislikes on something. We hope this makes starting a new term just a little easier. And if you still have not signed up to our classes, what are you waiting for? We can’t stand knowing you could quickly start improving your level but haven’t done anything about it yet!

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Photo Source: Ryan Johnson for NPR

Last week we spoke about “Thin Slices of Joy” and living in the present. Have you tried it, yet?

And so in honor of Valentine’s day tomorrow and living in the present, I thought we would talk about a recent interview I heard on detoxing from Smartphones. I know, eye roll, and how trendy, right? Wrong. David Greenfield, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut found that hearing a notification from our phone is identical to the study Ivan Pavlov did over a century ago. Greenfield compares us to those dogs and warns us that high usage of our telephones can cause serious disorders and addiction. 

According to Greenfield, the average user checks their phone 50 to 300 times a day and compares it to gamblers on slot machines. In another study, Dr. Anna Lembke, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, considers this problem a “spectrum disorder” that can go from mild to extreme forms. She doesn’t think we should stop using our phones completely, that would be too much of an extreme, but does advise us to consider controlling our use of the phone and being more present.

Dr. Lembke suggests we spend less time on our phones to help increase our creativity, enjoyable time with family and friends and efficient time at work.

But before you decide to take on the challenge of detoxing from your phone, as this week’s exercise, I invite you to listen to this fascinating report:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/12/584389201/smartphone-detox-how-to-power-down-in-a-wired-world

When you are done listening, I challenge you to turn off your phone for the next 24 hours and enjoy Valentine’s day without any interruptions or notifications and instead, soak in the pleasures of such a romantic day!

And in case you are curious, a little video on the history of Valentine’s day!



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Artist: Brigitte Cazenave

On this rainy cold day, when warmer weather seems distant and bouts of the flu are sprouting everywhere, I thought we could talk about something comforting as we patiently wait for longer sunnier days.

With Spring on the horizon, I wanted to talk about an interesting blog post I read recently in regards to slowing things down and taking in our surroundings. Basically, to live in the present and enjoy the now…Not an easy task when we are running around from place to place, is it? But maybe, 2018 is a great year to try and re-focus and take pleasure in the small things in life. You might have heard of mindfulness and meditation. If you haven’t here are a few links to get you informed:

https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-how-to-do-it/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/?

In essence, mindfulness is being aware of yourself and your surroundings. Of soaking up or absorbing our sensations and learning how to view experiences through an easier or at least calmer perspective. This is not anything new or revolutionary. Artists and philosophers have been doing it for centuries, but in this fast paced world in which loneliness is now officially an epidemic and with a Minister of Loneliness in the UK, maybe we need to step back and take pleasure in the smaller things in life.

So, what are thin slices of joy? According to Chade-Meng Tanthey are small little pleasures throughout the day that make us feel, better, happier and it doesn’t take much to do it.

Usually these events are unremarkable: a bite of food, the sensation of stepping from a hot room to an air-conditioned room, the moment of connection in receiving a text from an old friend. Although they last two or three seconds, the moments add up, and the more you notice joy, the more you will experience joy, Tan argues. “Thin slices of joy occur in life everywhere… and once you start noticing it, something happens, you find it’s always there. Joy becomes something you can count on.” 

Remember the French movie Amelie? When she sticks her hand in a bag of dried beans and gets pleasure out of it? Those are thin slices of joy…Can you feel it too Scene from Amélie. - Imgur

 

So, which are your thin slices of joy? Do you celebrate them daily?

And since we are talking about the present, I thought we would do some practice exercises on the use of the present simple & present continuous. Good Luck!

Present Simple and Continuous: https://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/simpre-prepro



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Ok, let’s get down to business and skip the nonsense. More than once, in fact, countless times, I have been asked by students to work on emailing skills with them since it is one of the most frequent forms of contact they have with English and to make it worse, the most stressful since it is usually for work and/or important matters. So, I thought I would give you two very interesting websites that might help you through this tricky situation.

This British Council website gives you some great tips on improving your writing and exercises to go along with it. Maybe you can consider doing this over Winter break and see if you can add it to your list of resolutions?

And have you heard of grammarly.com?? It’s like the auto corrector on your WhatsApp, but better! It gives you a variety of words you can use (synonyms), corrects your grammar mistakes and helps you improve your writing skills. Best of all, you can get it for free on Chrome and have it on your desktop or laptop for those important emails you need to whip out for work in a dash.

You are running out of excuses to not have a properly written email.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! And thank you for being such great readers!!

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As we get closer to tying up loose ends and considering New Year Resolutions, I thought we could work on a fun professional quiz this week to see if you are working in the sector that is right for you. And when we say, “right for you”, we mean, what makes you happy.

According to this The Guardian article, John Lees quoted, Work isn’t the only thing that influences happiness, but it’s where you spend a big chunk of your waking life. Can it really make you happy? Many factors come into play – the role, the way you’re managed, the organisational culture, how much you like your colleagues – but work that matches your motivation and your interests is far more likely to keep you absorbed and reasonably contented.”

So, perhaps it is time to take a moment to answer these 10 simple questions, learn some new vocabulary and find out if you need to mind map your career…Have fun! https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/quiz-what-job-best-fits-your-life/

Photo Source Jerome Masi



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This week we are going to focus on the topic of success. How to be successful at anything and Ralph Emerson’s poem on success. Before we dive into the subject, what does success mean to you? Do you consider yourself a successful person? Each culture has its own interpretation of what success means and how it identifies a person and quite honestly, I can never get enough of the topic.

Oliver Emberton has a fascinating explanation on how to be successful and it is as simple as limiting yourself to 3 objectives or aims. He claims that we tend to want to focus on too many things at the same time and that distracts us from our original goal. His article, “If you want to follow your dreams, you have to say no to all alternatives” is a colorful insight on how to stay focused and eventually reach our destination. Imagine your aims are bumblebees or in his words, “Our brains behave like a beach ball filled with bees. Hundreds of conflicting impulses, pushing us in different directions.” And so that means you move nowhere, unless you learn how to control those bees and allow just one to lead.Beachball-11

Read more here:  http://oliveremberton.com/2014/if-you-want-to-follow-your-dreams-you-have-to-say-no-to-all-the-alternatives/

And once your done reading the article, perhaps consider the fact that you are already successful. Take a look at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem on success. And if you do not know who Ralph Waldo Emerson is, perhaps today is a good day to find out…https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/ralph-waldo-emerson

What is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

PHOTO SOURCE: UNKNOWN



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It has been well over 6 months since I have been able to share interesting posts with you and I am happy to announce we are back and extremely happy to be here once again. Since last Winter, much has changed and as I welcomed our baby boy to the world, I also welcomed new thoughts on how we work, learn and grow. I am conscious or aware that the seeds I plant now will be so essential for the future of our little one and the example I set as a working adult will be for him to follow as he grows. Therefore, as Spring came and went and we begin to quickly invite Summer I have given thought to who we are when we work, when we learn, age and evolve. I know,  a bit deep for coming back suddenly, but hey, why not?

This post is dedicated to making us think about the pleasures of being necessary and ourselves at the same time, making those weekends stretch longer and longer and being productive…

One of my all time favorite writers, Toni Morrison, recently wrote on defining the person you are and the work you do. Two separate entities which we sometimes forget. Especially in today’s age when our work weighs so much on us as well as on our identity and we can inevitably lose the definition of who we really are and as a result, that fine line of leaving work behind when we are done with work becomes blurry (not focused). After speaking with her father as a child about work and being unhappy, her father responded the following:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.

3. Your real life is with us, your family.

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

Morrison ends the article with the following: “I have worked for all sorts of people since then, geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. I’ve had many kinds of jobs, but since that conversation with my father I have never considered the level of labor to be the measure of myself, and I have never placed the security of a job above the value of home.”

If you want to read the full articlehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/05/the-work-you-do-the-person-you-are

What do you think? Do you feel defined, confined or reassured by your work?

On a sweeter note, did you know you can make your weekend feel longer?? Yep, 48 hours can stretch just a little further…here is how (think new): http://nymag.com/scienceofus/article/how-to-make-the-weekend-last-longer.html

And finally, how to keep your sanity if you work alone…this is for all you freelancers or anyone who feels trapped in front of their computer on a daily basis! http://jkglei.com/freelance-sanity/

What are your thoughts? What do you do to make your working life happier?

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The holidays are fast approaching and the smell of Christmas is in the air and we are very excited around here…As many of you already know, Oriol and I are happily expecting an addition to our family any time now and we could not be more excited! I could also have not asked for a better Christmas…But before I sign off to impatiently await this little member, I thought I would share a heartfelt (touching) video on learning English. Apparently, it has become the most watched commercial this last week and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do. Heat up some hot chocolate, pop some pop corn and bring out the tissue.

The Polish Christmas Ad

If there is anything I have learned these last few years is that every single one of you have a different and very personal reason for learning English and there is not a single reason that is better than another one. What does not cease (stop amazing) to amaze me though is the passion in which all of you want to learn and how you achieve your goals each and every time, be it small or large. This is what makes our job so amazing. And I think I can speak for all teachers, that we are fortunate to form part of your learning experience. Congratulations to every single one of you for wanting to learn something new and doing it.

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