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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?



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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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NEXT UP: Cleaning up your act | Living a more sustainable life) with Anna Bezubka Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 19.00-20.30h

Eating Your Way Through Words | Food Vocabulary with Caroline Bagnara

*DATE CHANGE: Thursday, April 25, 2019 from 19.15-20.45h

“Learning never exhausts the mind” – Leonardo da Vinci

*Due to some unforeseen events, we have rescheduled the next round table with Caroline Bagnara to April 25 and May 16. Please take note and keep in mind you have time to sign up to some of our fun round tables but don’t wait too long…time is ticking and we would love to see you and you friends there!

Next up is Anna who will be teaching us how to live a healthier more sustainable life, just in time for Earth Day! Here’s Anna:

“Zero-waste. Eco-friendly. Sustainable.

Do these key words keep coming up in your Google searches and during your conversations with friends? Don’t want your grandchildren to move to Mars? Save our planet while you still can! A brain-storming and ideas-sharing session on how to live a greener, more eco-friendly and more sustainable life. Exchange your ideas and get inspired by actions of others.”

Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 20th

And don’t forget our future events:

Saturday, April 6, 2019, 10am-12.00h: “Meandering through art” led by Rosemary Grieve (Visiting a museum and practicing your English skills in description)

Thursday, April 25, 2019, 19.15h-20.45h: PART I: “Eating your way through words” led by Caroline Bagnara (Learning Essential Food Vocabulary)

Thursday, May 9, 2019, 19.00-20.30h: “Setting yourself up for success” led by Heidi Schmidt (the importance of setting goals and challenges)

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 19.00h-20.30h: PART II: “Eating your way through words” led by Caroline Bagnara (visiting Santa Catarina Market and practicing your vocabulary skills)

Start reserving your favorite activities, invite a friend and we will keep you informed! Each course has a cost of 30€ per person and will include snacks and beverages



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Step outside the class | Drawing Activity with Tim Currant
Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 10am to 12pm
“Learning never exhausts the mind” – Leonardo da Vinci

Remember that next Saturday, March 2nd is our first round table event of 2019 with Tim Currant. We will be sharing breakfast, coffee and an excellent opportunity to learn how to draw and relax, while improving your skills in conversational English.

Here’s Tim:
Are you dissatisfied with your drawing ability – or think “I can’t draw”?

Whatever level of drawing ability you may or may not have, this workshop shows you how to develop authentic drawing skills. I believe that everyone has the potential to draw, but just need to focus on three things:-

1. Change your thinking habits when you draw
2. Learn how to train your hands and eyes to work together.
3. Go and practice them. Practice makes perfect – before Leonardo da Vinci drew the final painting on the Cistine Chapel, he drew 140 pictures that did not work.

The workshop will be hands on and enjoyable and a chance to find out of you really can draw!

Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 27th

And don’t forget our future events!
Thursday, March 14, 2019, 19.00h-20.30h: PART I: “Eating your way through words” this is a two part series led by Caroline Bagnara (Learning food vocabulary)

Thursday, March 28, 2019, 19.00h-20.30h: “Cleaning up your act” led by Anna Bezubka (living a healthier more sustainable life)

Saturday, April 6, 2019, 10am-12.00h: “Meandering through art” led by Rosemary Grieve (Visiting a museum and practicing your English skills in description)

Thursday, April 26, 2019, 19.00h-20.30h: PART II: “Eating your way through words” led by Caroline Bagnara (Visiting Santa Catarina Market in English)

Thursday, May 9, 2019, 19.00-20.30h: “Setting yourself up for success” led by Heidi Schmidt (the importance of setting goals and challenges)

Start reserving your favorite activities and we will keep you informed! You can email us at hello@heidi-schmidt.com
Each course has a cost of 30€ per person and will include snacks and beverages



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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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Well, here we are again…A new year. New chances. New possibilities. I do not know about you but I tend to get inspired at the beginning of the year and allow myself space to think of new objectives, challenge myself physically and or mentally and allow myself to take a risk or two, even if they are minor.

If you think about it, all of our new year resolutions are symbolic since we could begin at any point in the year, but I like to think that changing that last number on the 201_ makes all the difference! So join me in this challenge on changing a few things in our day to day and making this world or at least ourselves a little better.

Since well-being seems to be the current trending topic, I thought  I would focus this new year’s resolutions on a few personal and simple changes such as:

1. Reading more…at least one new book a month

2. Exercise…whether it is walking more, running or swimming but forcing myself outdoors more often and not just to run after a bus!

3. Make some art…that includes writing, painting or producing something with my hands and hopefully imagination.

4. Watch a performance…I need to get out more and see live performances (theater, music, dance) anything that involves people and noise

5. Talk more with friends and send less text messages…

and most importantly, start doing more fun activities with all of you. SO get ready! I will be hosting a series of activities to get you outside the classroom and using English with others.

Really looking forward to this year being a good one and sharing it all with you!

Happy 2019 and here’s to new beginnings

PHOTO SOURCE EElizabeth Playy



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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!

PHOTO SOURCE



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It is that time of year, when we are all racing against the clock and excitedly looking ahead for days of sleeping in, adventure and breaking our routines for long warm days with family and friends.

Many of you will find yourselves with a couple of hours with nothing to do and perhaps wanting to brush up on your English skills and practice just enough to keep you motivated for September.

If that is your case, this post is for you! Below I have compiled some links to help you stay connected and studying. Just 10 minutes a day can make a bigger impact on improving.

Netflix
Here is a list of movies and series that are being released this month of Netflix
 
Podcasts & Online listenings
Some of my favorite podcasts which I have mentioned before are:
H​ow I built this​
Online Listenings:
Story Corps (these stories are heartbreaking, so human, and beautiful all at the same time. I HIGHLY recommended it!)
Exercises
Reading: 
Have a great summer everyone and see you in September!
Love the Team at Heidi Schmidt Business English Specialists


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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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