Soooo, I thought we would touch up on a subject that tends to have a lot of you scratching your head and wondering how to simplify your emailing in English.

I recently came across this video on a teacher explaining a simple way of using common expressions in your emails. She has divided the topics into comprehensive sections for you to look at and take note on.

I always tell my students, you do not need to make email complicating. I suggest you stick to the expressions you like best and use them on repeat. You can also copy expressions other emails include if they make you feel comfortable and they are easy for you to remember.  And keep those emails short, concise and efficient. In other words, Keep it Simple!

All you need is a greeting, an introduction and/or reason for writing, any other information and a sign off. Once you have emailing down you can start getting a little more creative.

For example, I always use the lines:

I hope this email/message finds you well

I am writing regarding…or please find attached…

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any doubts

I look forward to hearing from you/seeing you soon/ working with you

Warm Regards,

Now it is your turn. What are some of your favorite lines to use when writing an email? How do you change your voice when trying to be formal or neutral?


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


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:

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!


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.

Photo Source


In our last post, we spoke about moving motivators and what puts us into action. This week I wanted to push the topic a little further and have you ask yourselves who you really are…What kind of worker are you? What kind of learner? Are you introverted or extroverted? Ambitious or relaxed about getting to your final objective? Or maybe you have never given it much thought…

Well, lucky for you, I found a fabulous personality test known as the Myers-Briggs test you can take in less than 15 minutes and find what kind of personality you have. Maybe you agree with the results, maybe not, either way that will make for an interesting discussion…So stop what you are doing and take this test now! 

If you are having problems understanding the questions, have your teacher help you out.

Not familiar with Myers-Briggs? Watch this 5 minute video on the history of Myers-Briggs and why 2.5 million people take this test annually.

It really is useful in becoming more aware of yourself and reaching a better you!

Photo Source


Today is the first day in a long time that the weather is cooler and we all seem to be walking just a little quicker. Did you know that summer is officially over next week? Get your light jackets out, September 22 is the first day of Autumn!

In ode to the summer and to all your brilliant summer tales this week, I thought I would share a very extraordinary story with you about a man, Gunther Holtorf, who decided to go on a 26 year holiday (177 countries and 884,000km (549,000 miles))! Talk about a very long summer.

Here’s a lovely photo-documentary by the photographer, David Lemke:

Gunther’s Travels

This article by the BBC gives you detailed information:

And before we check out for the weekend, how about an informative video on the differences between British and American English Pronunciation?British vs American | English Pronunciation Lesson

Can you tell the difference? Do you use one form of pronunciation more than the other? Or maybe you have a preference??

Photo Source: Philip Barlow


This summer has been a very heated season so far (up to now) and the news is unfortunately filled with a lot of stressful events and tension. I thought that perhaps the video below is a great way to remind us where we come from and that maybe, we should all be just a little kinder to each other. Or at least a little more respectful.

I have had lots of very interesting conversations this last week with many of my students and I hope this post helps spark (light) some insightful thoughts and interesting conversation on your summer table too.

And here are some ideas for Binge Watching this summer:

Feel like taking a leap (a jump, in reference to a challenge)? Here are the 12 New Books The New York Times journalists are reading this summer:

And for those who feel like cooking up a storm (a lot) here are some ideas:

And please be kind to each other…

Photo Source


This Friday, April 22nd is Earth day, a global day on which it aims to inspire awareness of and appreciation for Earth’s environment. As we all know, this planet we live on needs our love and attention, so I thought that we could dedicate this week’s post to all things Earth. Maybe this will inspire you to work on your garden, plant a tree or clean up a littered (dirty) beach. Do you recycle? Maybe now is a good time to start!

Here are some fun links from around the web to get you motivated and at the same time help you learn some new vocabulary;

Earth Day quiz from The Guardian

Some great videos and a quiz on what animal are you? from Google

Why Trees? A great explanation on why we need to plant more trees and a global map with events near you.

Animals that might not survive 2016 

One man’s goal to preserve nature’s sounds for future generations

And finally, if you loved these links, here is a whole page dedicated to videos and articles on Earth Day

Have a great week and stop to smell the flowers!

Photo Source: Bernard Chevalier


Spring is here, the days are officially longer and we cannot wait till the weather is warm enough to put our coats away and head to the beach. In the meantime, we thought we would keep it light this week and share some funny and informative videos on pronunciation.

One of my favorite shows when I was a child was I Love Lucy. Take a look at this short clip as she helps her Cuban husband with some pronunciation issues. Can any of you relate? Pronunciation of -ough video

A quick question and quick answer on connected speech:

An useful website on pronunciation. This is on the difference between British and American English

And finally, the 10 most mispronounced words in English on the streets of London.

Have a great short week everyone and please note, we have postponed our Round Table session #2 to next Thursday, April 7th so you have plenty of time to sign up!

Photo Source: Beautiful Sky Series by Eric Cahan


It is that time of year again, when the flowers start blooming (to blossom/open/flower), days get longer as we Spring our clocks forward and Summer is right around the corner.

This week’s post is on the beauty of Spring and reasons to get outdoors or stay inside and practice your English.

Here’s a short video on the history of the Easter bunny

But have you ever wondered what others around the world do to celebrate Spring? Take a look at these amazing photos on Spring around the world.

If you are feeling inspired to do more listening in English, take a look at these professional podcasts to help you start listening!

Or, if you plan on spending some time with the family, maybe you can propose some educative online video games to help all of you learn?

Are you more of the romantic type? Here are some Spring Poems to get you inspired…or some great stories you can listen to on Spring?

Planning on taking a walk in the mountains? Learn the name of some flowers first and impress your friends and family!

And if you are one of those lucky travelers planning on going away for the week, take a look at this video on how to greet others in English

Have a wonderful start to Spring and Happy Easter!

And don’t forget our Round Table #2 next Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photo Source