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5 Tips for the IELTS Writing Task 2

Tip #1: Highlight the Keywords

I am going to share 5 tips with you to help you write the essay for the IELTs exam much faster.  These tips will also help you get a higher band score.  There are many words you should study to prepare for the IELTs writing task two.  These are words that are commonly used in English and that can strengthen your lexical resource score.

  On the IELTs exam, you will have 40 minutes to write more than 250 words.

An Example of an IELTS Task 2 Essay Topic:

The growing number of overweight people is putting a strain on the health care system in an effort to deal with the health issues involved.  Some people think that the best way to deal with this problem is to introduce more physical education lessons into the school curriculum.  To what extent do you agree?

  • Highlight the Key Words:The growing number of overweight people is putting a strain on the health care system in an effort to deal with the health issues involved.  Some people think that the best way to deal with this problem is to introduce more physical education lessons into the school curriculum.  To what extent do you agree?




Tip # 2: Substitute the key words with synonyms 

Some of the most common words can be substituted, which shows your ability to use lexical variety and to vary your word choice.  It is a terrible idea to restate the essay topic word for word. DON’T COPY THE TOPIC SENTENCE! 



You can use the highlighted words to brainstorm synonyms.  The more you practice creating graphic organizers like the ones you can see here, the more expansive your vocabulary will become. 



On the IELTS exam, you typically write about social issues on task 2 such as: environmental issues, health-related issues, and questions about technology to name a few.  Therefore, it is a great idea to master the type of vocabulary you could use to talk about problems.Click here for an extensive list of IELTs Writing Task 2 topics! 




Tip #3: Re-write the Introduction for the IELTS task 2 Essay:  

Here is an example of what your introduction might look like.  I italicized the words I changed :

The soaring number of obese people is putting an unnecessary burden on the health care system.  Many people hold the opinion that the best way to tackle this pressing issue is to add more physical education lessons into the school curriculum.  I completely agree with this statement and feel that creating healthy habits and routines is one of the best ways to prevent weight problems in youth early on, positively impacting future generations. 


Tip #4: Brainstorm Words Related to Obesity


  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Childhood diabetes/ heart disease 
  • future generations
  • Sports
  • Healthy habits 
  • School as a place to establish healthy routines and teach health


Tip #4: Structure your essay into paragraphs



In this essay, I might suggest writing the first paragraph about the causes of obesity and the second paragraph about the importance of routines and physical education classes to prevent obesity.  Then, move on to the conclusion.

Tip #5: Write a conclusion

Your conclusion can be your introduction, but paraphrased.  You could add words like:

  • To sum up,
  • To conclude,
  • In conclusion,
  • Finally,
  • In summary,

I would suggest changing the sentence order and using a few of the other synonyms like “manage” or “handle” or “address” in the conclusion.


Would you like additional practice with this topic? Get your IELTS essay writing resource today. 


This is a digital writing activity that I use with my students who are preparing for the IELTS and TOEFL IBT exam and who need practice with word choice and sentence structure in essay writing. Once you purchase the product, I will share a link with you so that you can make your own copy of the google slides activity.  The essay topic is about two environmental issues: global warming and deforestation. Students are given a structure to plan their essay and I help them brainstorm related vocabulary words. I give them a step-by-step process for writing their essay and constructing their paragraphs.

The goal of this lesson is to help students learn how to paraphrase. I use a two-step strategy: 1) word choice. Students are presented with a number of “drag and drop” activities to substitute words in the sentence with a variety of synonyms, which is fun and interactive. 2) sentence structure. Students learn to put the second clause of the sentence first, playing with paraphrasing ideas through sentence structure.

*There are audio instructions on every slide so students can do this independently

*There are transition words to help students use more transitional language in their paragraphs

Unlock the Secrets of the Conditional Tenses in English

Is it hard for you to keep track of all the conditional tenses in English? Many of my students confuse the zero, first, second, third conditionals.  Maybe you need a quick review.  At last, I’ve come up with some amazing charts and tables to help you unlock the secrets of the conditional tenses in English.  I am eager to help you use these constructions effectively in conversation. Foremost, I want to give you some opportunities to practice them in the form of fun, engaging quizzes. I only ask that you share this epic blog post with your fellow language learners.

The Zero Conditional in English

We use the zero conditional in English to describe things that are always true or that happen often.  “If” and “when” mean “every time.”


The Zero Conditional Quiz

This quiz will test your ability to make zero conditional sentences. Remember, the zero conditional is used to explain things that are expected to happen. The structure is: If/when + present tense, present tense...


The First Conditional

We use the first conditional to talk about a possible future.  This may have to do with health, diet, studying for an exam, or activities that help you reach your goals.



The First Conditional Quiz

This quiz will test your ability to use the first conditional. You will find many great examples of when you can use this grammatical structure. Remember, the first conditional is: If + _____(present tense), ...___will.  Good luck!

The Second Conditional

We use the second conditional to talk about the future when we don’t expect something to happen.  In other words, the second conditional is used for hypothetical situations.


The Second Conditional

This is a quiz that will test your ability to use the second conditional effectively.  Remember that the structure is: If + ___(past tense) , would +verb. 

The Third Conditional

The third conditional is used to talk about an imagined past.  This construction could be used to talk about something you regret or something you would have done differently or a result that could have changed.


The Third Conditional Quiz

The third conditional is very tricky.  This quiz will test your ability to use the third conditional in a variety of situations.  The structure of the third conditional is: If + past perfect, would have + participle 

Mixed Conditionals

We used mixed conditionals to talk about something that happened in the past and that influences our lives now.  These situations are hypothetical and we can look at some specific examples to learn how to use them properly.


Mixed Conditionals

Mixed conditionals are used to describe hypothetical situations in the past that influence you now.  The structure is If + past tenses/ would...

Might, Could, and Would with Conditionals

We use might, could and would in second and third conditional sentences to express the probability of a hypothetical situation occurring.


Might is unlikely and unknown, could is unlikely, but possible, and would is the most probably option. I realize this could be tricky for non-native speakers, so we can work on some examples.  You could use any of these words, but it really depends on the likeliness of something hypothetically happening and you want to select the correct word to communicate that idea.



Might, Could, and Would with 2nd and 3rd Conditionals

We use might, could, and would to express the probability of something happening.  You can use any of them, but choose the one that aligns with the likeliness of a hypothetical situation.  

I hope these quizzes and visual descriptions have helped you become more comfortable with using the conditional tenses in English. Focus on practicing these and I’m sure you will have some important breakthroughs.  Please leave some examples of your own conditional sentences in the comments! If you would like me to add a quiz to this where I mix all the conditional tenses and you have to identify which tense it is, then let me know!

7 Phrasal Verbs with Blow


Phrasal Verbs with Blow

1. Blow Away

These phrasal verbs with blow are very fun to use in conversation.  In American English we use the word “blow” more often than you would think and it even as become popular in American slang.  In fact, you can say, “That blows” if you want to communicate that you really don’t like the outcome or to express disappointment.  In this post, I will discuss the different ways “blow” is used as a phrasal verb.  Maybe you are aware of some of these uses, while others are unfamiliar to you.  Nevertheless, I recommend studying phrasal verbs for about five minutes a day so that your English doesn’t get rusty.


There are many things in this world that blow me away.  Starbucks has a matcha latte that simply blows me away every time I drink it.  Apple products such as iphones, ipads, and Macbooks never cease to blow me away.  Also, my two-year-old son blows me away on a daily basis because he develops new reading, artistic, and communication skills so quickly.  What blows you away? Please share your ideas in the comments.

2. Phrasal Verbs with Blow: Blow Somebody Off


It feels terrible when somebody blows you off.  You set a time to meet and are waiting for that person in the coffee shop, wondering where they are.  You try to send them a message, but they don’t respond.  They didn’t stick to their promise to get together with you at the scheduled time.  They make you feel like you don’t matter and that is awful. I remember when I was in Brazil and a friend completely blew me off. I felt like such an idiot waiting for her to appear, but she never did.  Nonetheless, she had a good excuse and communicated that with me the next time I saw her.   Sometimes when someone blows you off, it can hurt your friendship. In the comments, tell me about the last time someone blew you off!

3. Phrasal Verbs with Blow=Blow Out


When you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, do you make a wish? I usually wish for things that aren’t material possessions such as: love, happiness, and an inner flame keep the passion in life burning.  This phrasal verb can also be used to describe a fire.  A gust of wind may come along and blow out the flames, leaving you only with a few hot coals.  For that reason, it is better to build a bonfire on a calm day when it isn’t terribly windy.  Do you build bonfires outdoors in the summer time? What do you typically wish for when you blow out candles on your birthday cake? Leave your comments below.

4. Phrasal Verbs with Blow:  Blow Up


I find American action films to be on the violent side.  It is typical to see cars, buildings and motorcycles blowing up.  Explosions sell when it comes to the entertainment industry.  Honestly, I prefer watching movies with good dialogue and an intelligent plot, but many people enjoy watching action movies where nearly everything blows up.  I have also heard “blow up” used in American slang to refer to getting bulky and big muscles at the gym while lifting weights.  My brother-in-law often says, “Let’s blow up!” when he goes to the gym, but it is used this way less often. How about you? Do you like to watch Hollywood action movies?

5. Phrasal Verbs with Blow=Blow Down


Have you ever read the story, “The Three Little Pigs?”  In the story, the wolf threatens the pigs by saying,  “I’ll huff and puff and blow your house down.”  He is essentially saying that he is going to use the strength of his breath to destroy their home.  This phrasal verb is often used to refer to storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes that blow houses and structures down.  I am originally from Iowa, so our house was nearly blown down by a tornado one summer.   Tornadoes are terrifying and you have to be very careful and hide in the basement of the house if there is a tornado nearby.  Have you ever seen a house get blown down in a storm?

6. Phrasal Verbs with Blow=Blow Over


We use this phrasal verb a lot in the Midwest in the United States because the weather is constantly changing and there are some very intense storms that hit our cities and small towns.  People look up to the sky and say with a sense of hope, “Don’t worry, this storm will blow over in a couple of hours.”  I’ve typically heard this phrasal verb with blow used to talk about weather, particularly about storms. However, you can also use it to talk about a bad situation.  Perhaps people got in a big fight in your house and to describe the tension you could say, “This will blow over soon.” How about you? Do you live in a place where there are many thunderstorms and snowstorms? Do they blow over quickly?

7. Phrasal Verbs with Blow=Blowout


This is a phrasal verb we use to talk about a car tire that has a hole or puncture in it.  You probably have to pull over to the side of the road and fix the blowout.  It isn’t a pleasant feeling when you are stranded on the side of the road having to call the insurance company or a tow truck to help you fix the problem. Have you ever had a blowout? How did you fix the problem? Did you replace the tire with the spare tire in the trunk? Are you good at fixing tires yourself? Leave your comments below.

I hope these phrasal verbs with blow are helpful! Take this quiz:

Phrasal Verbs with Blow

This is a quiz that will test your understanding of these tricky phrasal verbs.


How to Speak Proper English

Have you reached a plateau with your fluency?

My students explain that they reach a certain level with their fluency.  However, they can’t get to the point where they sound like a native speaker.  They read for hours in English, do listening activities, and do grammar exercises.  Nonetheless, when they speak, they don’t sound as well-educated and polished as they do in their own native language.  They feel frustrated and upset when people don’t understand them in English.  They can’t express themselves freely.  The method I have designed is a highly effective approach that takes students from an upper-intermediate level to an advanced level.  In fact, I am going to highlight the story of how I helped one of my students reach this high level of fluency.  Without a doubt,  this method transformed her life and her career.  Now, she speaks English like a rock star.  


What is the Write Speak/ Speak Right Method? 

This unique method involves working with a coach to help you express yourself clearly, efficiently, and properly in English.  It is an approach that will help you internalize new vocabulary words and sentence structures. In this post, I will highlight my work with one of my students, Lena.  She will share her perspective and talk about how she perceived the method.   She will explain how this method helped her improve her speaking and writing skills in English.  


  1. Write your ideas down
  2. Read your written work aloud to your coach
  3. Analyze the sentence structure and word choice to align with what you want to express
  4. Make the necessary changes to the writing
  5. Use the newly- learned structures and words when you speak English

Where did this Method Come From?

I use this method with my students because it worked so well for me.  When I had writer’s block and struggled to finish writing my dissertation, I went to the writing center at the University of Madison-Wisconsin and worked with my coach, Leah, to help me generate ideas, communicate clearly, and enhance my writing skills.  I met with Leah once a week for over a year and oftentimes we would focus on one sentence or one paragraph during the entire hour meeting.  We would deeply analyze the text first, talk about what I wanted to express, brainstorm more ideas, tweak the structure, add more, and then polish the writing.  Leah’s purpose was to help me develop skills that I could transfer to become a better writer independently.  The method transformed me completely, motivated me tremendously, and helped me finish my dissertation much faster than if I had tried to do it alone.  

Leah and I presented our collaboration at a writing conference in Chicago and shared our experience with other writing coaches.  Her help changed my life forever and enhanced my communication skills.  I was the first female in my family to graduate with a PhD.  I was able to achieve that accomplishment because of the effectiveness of this method.

Years later, I thought to myself…could this method work for second language learners?  The answer is YES! I adapted the method to use it with my ESL students.  I am going to talk about how well it worked with my student, Lena and how you should try it too.   


Ideas Flow through Speaking 

This method is based on the idea that the student can elaborate their ideas through talking about them.  Also, your audience may not be able to understand what you’ve written. So, you can explain what you’ve written to your coach and through conversation, determine if you have in fact communicated your message clearly and efficiently.  

My student, Lena, would bring a paragraph to our English class. She would read it out loud first. Why should the student read the writing out loud?  First of all, it is a great way to practice pronunciation, but the main purpose is for the student to re-discover the words on the page and verify that they are expressing what they are hoping to express.  Most coaches and teachers correct students’ work outside of class and review the corrections, however, this doesn’t allow the student to notice their own mistakes and become an independent learner.  Do you want to catch fish for your students or teach them to fish on their own?

My student, Lena, began by reading the paragraph aloud and then we would talk about what she wanted to say.  She brought up key points that she hadn’t written down, she expanded her ideas, and I sometimes tried to take a few notes and write down her thoughts.  Many times, what she wanted to communicate wasn’t clearly expressed in words.  So, by talking about it, we generated even more ideas and came up with a more solid foundation.  Then, we transferred those ideas to the page.


Tweaking Sentence Structure for Greater Fluidity 

Sentences in English are often tricky for second language learners, especially when they try to translate directly from their native language.  Sometimes the word order, the grammatical structure can be hard to understand if you aren’t a native speaker.  In fact, it is hard for native speakers, too.  Lena and I spent considerable time on each sentence and we sometimes moved the last part of the sentence to the front of the sentence to emphasize the main idea.  In addition, we added commas and transition words.  I notice that second-language learners often make their sentences either too short or too long.  In Spanish and Portuguese, the sentences are generally much longer than in English.

It is definitely helpful to have a native speaker coach you in this phase of the process in order to see different ways of eloquently arranging nouns, adjectives, and verbs, and prepositions on the page. A collaborative approach between the coach and student can help the learner develop important skills to structure the sentence to make it more readable.  You might find the Writer’s Handbook useful from the UW-Madison writing center.


Word Choice to Maximize Eloquence 

As writers, it is easy to repeat the same word multiple times.  However, we want to avoid redundancy in our writing.  Lena and I worked hard to search for synonyms and to find the correct word that fit the context.  Her writing became much clearer, but at the same time extremely convincing.  She truly expressed what she desired to say to her audience.  She told me later that she found herself using these more advanced vocabulary words in her everyday conversations in English.

Vary your words to avoid repetition and redundancy.

During our classes, she would often say things like, I would have never been able to say it that well before I started taking these classes. Honestly, over the weeks and months, her writing and speaking jumped to a whole new level.   She found herself becoming the fluent English speaker she’d always dreamed of becoming, deeply transforming her communication skills.  Now, she can communicate with her audience with a sense of freedom and confidence she didn’t have before. 

Here are some advanced vocabulary exercises you can do on your own to improve your word choice and to start using more complex words in your writing.


Collaborate to Gain Confidence 

The ultimate goal of the Write Speak/ Speak Right method is to help you communicate more confidently.  The role of the coach is to help guide you to implement these effective strategies on your own. You will find yourself speaking English more like a native speaker, using idioms, collocations and more complex sentence structures with more ease. 


Lena’s review of this method: 

“Anne’s method of teaching English worked amazingly well for me. Anne and I decided to try it when I needed to prepare for a very important workshop that I would have to teach in English. For that workshop, I needed to write a lot of educational materials. When I first started thinking about doing that I was terrified, so I reached out to Anne to ask her if she would agree to proof-read my writings. Fortunately, she agreed, but she insisted that we needed to do it together. She said that I would have to read my writings to her out loud and we would correct them together, making sure that everything I wanted to communicate to my students was clear. I happily agreed without realizing the greatness of the impact this practice would have on my life. 

Transitions Words Create Flow

So, the first part of the process was me waking up every morning and writing down my thoughts about a particular topic that I wanted to explain to my students. I tried to be as clear as possible, but at first, I simply didn’t know some very important words and expressions that could help me make my explanations clearer and more concise. So, I just used the words and expressions that I knew at the moment, knowing that Anne would help me find the right words during the class. 

Transitions are important to link two different ideas and to connect paragraphs.

When Anne and I met for a class, I would start reading my writings aloud, sentence by sentence. At the beginning, we needed to review and correct every sentence. We would stop on a sentence and start to discuss what I wanted to express. Anne would help me with the sentence structure and with finding the right words. She, of course, always pointed out to my mistakes and I corrected them in the text immediately.

When we finished a paragraph I would read the entire paragraph for us to make sure that the big idea was communicated clearly. Sometimes, we felt that there was a need for transitions between different sentences, so we would continue to work on that paragraph until we both were happy with it. 

Anne also always corrected me when I mispronounced worlds. It was extremely helpful for improving my speech. 

We kept working like this for three or four months, meeting three times a week every week. 

After the first month, I realized that I started making fewer mistakes in my writings.   I noticed that I was using the words and expressions that I hadn’t used before. I also started to notice that I struggled less with speaking English and that my pronunciation improved.  

Fluency in English is Transformational both Personally and Professionally

Lena is living proof that speaking as fluently as a native speaker is possible for people who live in non-English speaking countries.

Now, after having worked with Anne for several months, I am a different person. My writing and speech improved dramatically. I am much more confident when I talk to my English speaking students. The coolest thing is that I don’t need to translate words in my head anymore, instead I think in English now! I even dream in English at night! I have never lived in an English speaking country.  Not only that, I haven’t had a chance to practice English in my day-to-day life, so the classes with Anne have been a very valuable experience for me.

I have never met such an enthusiastic and always ready to help teacher. These classes have changed my life and me as a person. I can’t recommend them high enough. I think working with Anne and using her fantastic method is the best way to accelerate your learning and perfect your English. I’ve finally reached the level of fluency that I’ve always dreamed of.   


Overcome Your Fear of Speaking English

As soon as we open our mouth, we feel our chest tighten, we freeze up, and we can’t get words out.  Our cheeks turn red and we look down in embarrassment.  Does this sound like a familiar feeling? 

We feel these typical fears when we speak a second language: 


  • making mistakes
  • people not understanding you 
  • people laughing at you
  • mispronouncing words
  • not knowing the correct expressions 


It is so common for people to feel this sense of insecurity and frustration when they speak another language.  The truth is that feeling muted or silenced is a really awful sensation.  You are so focused on how others perceive you and you are afraid they might laugh at you.  Not only that, you might be terrified of making a mistake or butchering the words and mispronouncing them.  So, you often just stay silent and listen, which is more comfortable and safer. 

Despite these awkward feelings, it is important to change your mindset and see learning language as a kind of fun experiment, which will help you have a more adventurous spirit and it will give you a sense of empowerment that will allow you to let go of your fear of speaking another language, especially with native speakers.  Remember, the more you speak, the better you become at speaking the language, but you have to open your mouth!


1. Appreciate your Mistakes

The more mistakes you make, the faster you can learn from them and correct them.  Mistakes are natural and common.  Fear limits us and blocks us, which hinders our ability to learn language quickly.  Our fear makes the learning process worse.  If you change your mindset to an attitude of appreciation, then when you speak and catch yourself making a mistake with a verb tense or an adjective, you can correct yourself.  Also, your language partner or teacher can help correct you.  You can even learn to laugh at yourself.  Once, I ordered “poop water” in Portuguese instead of “coconut water” and the waiter thought it was hilarious. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously because life is about learning and the more we fall, the faster we learn to stand back up again. 

mistakes help us learn

Accept the fact that you are inevitably going to make mistakes when you speak another language.  In addition, if a friend or native speaker corrects you, be appreciative and thank them for helping you see the mistake.  One tip is to carry a notebook around with you or use the notepad on your phone to write down some of these mistakes you are making and the phrases native speakers typically use so that you remember them in future conversations.  You can use Anki flashcards on both your desktop and your phone to save and review words you are learning. 


2. Get a Language Exchange Partner 

In the video, you can see that Erica and I are practicing speaking English and Portuguese.  We meet on a weekly basis and practice speaking together.  I find this routine highly motivating and a wonderful way to improve my confidence with Portuguese.  It is so much fun to share your language with a friend and in exchange, you learn their native language and it is completely free. Also, we have some dynamic, memorable and fascinating conversations.  You can learn about your language partner’s culture and lifestyle.  Also, you don’t feel as nervous about making mistakes because the exchange provides a more comfortable, relaxed environment to practice. Did I forget to mention that is is 100% free?  There are some amazing technological tools that you can use to help you find a language partner. 


Here are some websites you can use to find a language partner: 

I’ve been teaching and learning on Italki for 6 years and highly recommend it.  I found Erica, my Brazilian language partner on italki.  To reiterate, italki is a useful website to help you find a language partner to do exchange on Zoom or Skype.  You can also exchange your writing in their notebook and get corrections from native speakers for free.  I also use it to learn Galician and to find Galician teachers.  



I just recently added HelloTalk to my applications library and find it to be really fun and practical.  I’ve been sending voice messages out to people in Spain to connect, but I haven’t had too many responses, but persistence and setting a positive intention is key.  You can meet people around the world to practice with and you can also learn languages through podcasts, dialogues, and vocabulary activities.  The lessons are geared to beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, however, if you want to have access to all of the listening activities, you have to upgrade to a premium membership, but it might be worth it to get more comprehensive lessons and learning tools.  



I just downloaded the application and you can use my referral link to try Busuu.  It is nice because the application sets up a learning program for you and you can study the language for 10 minutes a day at the same time every day.  Research shows that if you study at a consistent time every day, you are more likely to stick with the routine.  Also, if you pay extra for the premium version, you can record yourself saying something in the language and request a native speaker to give you feedback, which is an amazingly useful feature. The vocabulary lessons and dialogues are fun and interactive and the graphs and data trackers help motivate you to continue learning.  


3. Use Meditation to Calm You Down

Meditation is a powerful way that you can calm yourself down very quickly.  In the above interview with Érica Lima, she shows you how to do a heart-centering meditation and breathing exercise before learning and speaking another language.  This exercise is extremely helpful and fast-working.  It calmed me down tremendously and gave me a sense of peace and well-being.  Also, this kind of meditation is wonderful to do before giving a presentation in English or before leading a team meeting. 


You can find more about Érica’s meditations, listen to her podcast in Portuguese, read her blog and discover her amazing, transformational courses: and check out her Youtube channel a Esquecer para Descobrir by Erica Lima and you follow her on Instagram @ericalimainsta.  I really enjoyed her playlist and found her meditations selections to help me stay grounded and centered.

Some people tell me they don’t meditate because they can’t sit still.  I try to meditate while walking and it works extremely well.  You can download the Simple Habit app on your phone and do free meditations while walking. 


4. Confidence through Collaboration

There is nothing that will help you grow more quickly with a language than collaborating with others.  Communities of language learners can give you the support and help you need.  This could be a traditional classroom environment or an online community.   Other people help you push your language skills forward and help you get from point A to point B more swiftly. 


Try doing something creative with your language partners.  For example, you could give a presentation to your language partner in English.  In addition, you could make a video of you speaking in English and share with an audience.  Another idea would be to interview your language partner about your hobbies or passions.  The pressure of sharing information with others will help you improve your speaking skills and you will be more likely to skyrocket your fluency.  Confidence comes from consistency, persistence, and a supportive community.  Good luck friends! You’ve got this!

Common Idioms with Body Parts: Practice Exercises

Add Flavor to your Conversations with Idioms

Idioms are common expressions used in everyday life in the United States.  They are fun expressions to use in spoken English because they add creativity and vibrancy to your conversations.

They demonstrate your fluency skills and help you sound more like a native speaker. Today, we are going to practice 6 idioms with body parts.  In fact, I’ve designed a fun quiz for you to take to test your knowledge of these idioms and practice them a bit more.

twist someone’s arm

get off someone’s back

see eye to eye

pick someone’s brain

bare bones

play it by ear




Take this Fun Quiz on Idioms and Practice Using them in Everyday Conversations

Welcome to your Idioms Practice


I'm not really sure what we are going to do this weekend. Let's just ___________________ and not try to plan too much stuff.


I don't really want more apple pie, but if you _________________, I might indulge and eat another slice!


I know you don't like the way I live my life, but can you please just ____________________ and give me some space.


We have different political beliefs.  She's conservative and I'm liberal and we don't _______________________ on the health care issue.


I need some serious motivation to figure out how the business world works.  I am going to talk to my sister and __________________ about some marketing strategies.


I am confused about where we are going with this massive project. Can you please give me a _______________ description of the plan?


Here are some more great videos and links with more idioms practice:

Idioms practice for IELTS

Idioms video on Youtube




Online English Classes

Online English Classes are for YOU!

Busy Schedule? English Classes Designed for You! 


Are you busy and do you have the weight of the world on your shoulders?  You have to make choices to maximize your time and to focus on improving in the areas of your life that are important to you.  Do you want to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself?  You often start going to in-person English classes and then easily give-up after you realize that you can’t dedicate 3 hours a day to language study. Or, you decide not to sign-up for in-person classes at all because you have a very complicated schedule.  You travel for your job and find yourself unable to maintain a normal routine and take classes at a language school.  You want to continue dedicating time to your language goals, but you need to fit the classes into your busy schedule.  What is the solution? Online English classes that fit your busy schedule.  


Private Classes Help you Learn English FAST


Many students are nervous about learning English online and are a bit uncomfortable about the idea of taking a class online.  Most people are used to the conventional approach to learning a language: sitting in a big classroom with 20 other people with the teacher in the front of the room.  Although these traditional classes can be fun and personal and a great way to meet new people, they don’t offer the language student an efficient way to improve their language skills.  Online English classes offer a comprehensive approach that will help you improve your speaking skills very quickly.   


How do Online English Classes work? 

I teach online English classes on both Zoom and Skype.  We will also login to a platform where we will access the lesson and materials for the class. We then connect through live video and live chat.  I try to create a warm, friendly environment and make an effort to make the student feel comfortable.  I introduce myself and we do a warm-up for the student to start thinking in English.  We might talk about a recent news article from the top headlines we might share a story from our day-to-day experience.  After that, we look at the students’ writing assignment in google docs.  We read the assignment aloud and the teacher and the student brainstorm ways to improve the writing.  

I then ask the student many questions about a video I assigned the student to watch at home.  We might talk about their opinions and their reactions about the video. We use the rest of the class to speak English, review key grammar points, study idioms and common expressions.  It is so important for students to listen to native English speakers and to also have conversations with native English speakers.  Many students complain they live in a rural area and don’t have access to native English speakers. These conversations help the student speak English more accurately.  The student learns to express him/herself freely and talk about a variety of topics.  These speaking opportunities help expand their vocabulary.  Also, since the student wrote about the topic at home before the class, they are already learning and embodying the new words, which they retain in future conversations.  I use interactive lesson plans from Off2Class, fluentize and ESL library that are well-designed and comprehensive, covering the 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. 


Online Classes Motivate you to Speak English 


Many traditional English classes focus on grammar, writing, listening and reading and may dedicate the last 5 or 10 minutes of the class to a speaking activity.  This doesn’t give students the amount of time they need to practice speaking the language.  The truth is, speaking English is the most important and practical skill that will serve you in many different situations.  However, you need the kind of class structure that prioritizes speaking and communication. In my online English classes, I prioritize speaking and help you reach your goals for improved fluency. 

What is your English level?

Before you begin taking classes with me, it is important that I test your overall level and see how fluent you are in English.  I do this by testing your grammar, speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in a 90 minute test that you take on your own at home.  The test will tell you what level your English is, based on the European framework for language proficiency or CEFR, which organizes language proficiency in six levels, A1 to C2, which can be categorized into three broad levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced. You can try to determine your own level by doing this self-assessment.

The level test then helps determine your learning program.  I create an individualized program for you that is designed to strengthen your weaknesses and challenge you at the level you are currently at, without frustrating you with lessons that are either too difficult or too easy. If you sign-up for a consultation with me, I will send you the placement test to complete before we meet.

Corrections Help you Learn from your Mistakes  

Making mistakes is a very natural part of language learning.  However, many times you don’t realize you make a mistake and native speakers are too polite to correct you.  So, you keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  You don’t improve very quickly and reach a kind of plateau with your language learning.   Online classes are very effective because I can give you live corrections if you make any mistakes.  I can correct you verbally and I also write your corrections in the chat bar. You can save these corrections and practice saying the words and sentences throughout the week.  Sometimes, you have to make the mistake many times before you stop making it again, but the native speaker can help you realize you are making it and quickly help you correct it.   By using this live method, you will feel your fluency advancing very quickly.  



Shy Students Excel in a Live Classroom 

I’ve noticed in large classroom contexts, shy students tend to listen more than they speak.  The talkative students dominate the conversations and the shy students say very little.  This prevents the shy students from practicing as much as they need to.   Learning English online gives these students the opportunity to practice speaking, to improve their pronunciation, and to benefit from a more personalized learning experience.  

Improve Pronunciation with Audio Feedback 

After the class, I will record my voice saying the words and sentences that you said incorrectly.  These corrections will help you learn efficiently because you can focus on pronunciation, repetition, and accuracy.  Not all teachers leave audio feedback for their students and many times the students forget the words they said incorrectly.  So, the audio feedback pushes students to review what they learned in the class and become more aware of their language production.  Audio feedback is brilliant and I have noticed that my students retain the words I teach them and make faster progress towards fluency in English.  


The Google Classroom as the Ultimate Learning Tool

I use the google classroom to organize the class materials, homework, writing assignments, and audio feedback.  The google classroom is an excellent tool that will help you visualize what we have completed. The classroom also shows the homework you need to complete.  Many times, teachers just send students homework via email, but they don’t see how much progress they have made and they can’t remember the kind of activities they completed in previous classes.  The google classroom has so many innovative tools that will always keep you excited about learning. Tracking your progress is essential and will help you maintain movement forward.

How can I schedule classes and how much do they cost?

You can sign-up for a free 30 minute consultation and then we can discuss the class package that would be best suited for you.  You can take classes 1x, 2x or 3x a week with me and I offer availability from 18:00-21:00 Beijing time.







A Youtube VIDEO INTERVIEW ABOUT THE ADVANTAGES OF LEARNING LANGUAGES ONLINE IN SPANISH: (Una Entrevista conmigo sobre las ventajas de aprender un idioma online con Blabla Español)

Aprender inglés en 4 minutos diarios

Aprender inglés en 4 minutos diarios 

¿No estás motivado para estudiar inglés? Muchos de mis alumnos en España expresan este sentimiento de querer mejorar el inglés, pero tienen un cierto rechazo al idioma.  La pronunciación es difícil y han tenido malas experiencias en el instituto con profesores aburridos que les han dado demasiadas actividades de gramática, apagando su llama de estudiar el idioma.  Sin embargo, mis alumnos lo necesitan profesionalmente y para viajar.  Empieza a ser un requisito profesional importante en España y muchos necesitan un certificado para poner en el currículo que tienen B2 en inglés.  Aunque mis estudiantes lo necesiten, no tienen ganas de abrir un libro y estudiarlo.  Te voy a dar unos trucos para establecer una rutina para estudiar inglés durante 4 minutos diarios que te van a ayudar a lograr tus metas.

Menos tiempo, más éxito

Dediqué 7 años de mi vida a cursar un posgrado de pedagogía en educación de la Universidad de Wisconsin-Madison.  Conseguí terminar los cursos y las investigaciones, pero cuando necesitaba escribir mi tesis, estaba totalmente bloqueada.  No quise hacerlo.  Me sentía totalmente agobiada y estresada por el tema y pasé muchos meses dudando si lo iba a conseguir o no.  Un día una amiga mía me prestó un libro que se llamaba Write your Dissertation in 15 minutes a Day by Joan Bolker y empecé a establecer una rutina nueva en mi vida.  El primer truco es la idea que menos es más.  

Hoy en día hay muchas distracciones en las redes sociales y acabamos perdiendo mucho tiempo haciendo cosas que no están relacionadas con nuestros objetivos.  El hecho de pensar que necesitamos estudiar el inglés por 45 minutos o una hora nos impide hacerlo.  El inglés se convierte en un gran monstruo con el que tenemos que luchar.  La verdad es que el inglés puede proporcionar mucha alegría a  nuestras vidas si cambiamos la forma de abordar su estudio.  


Truco #1: Menos es más

Si empezamos a estudiar inglés con regularidad durante 4 minutos diarios, creamos un espacio de tiempo corto para pensar solamente en el inglés.  En estos cuatro minutos, nos centramos bien en el idioma, creamos un nuevo sentimiento positivo sobre él porque empezamos a hacer actividades divertidas y ligeras.  No quiero que empieces a estudiar los verbos modales en estos cuatro minutos.  La idea de estos cuatro minutos sería transformar el sentimiento de agobio a un sentimiento positivo.  Entonces, en el calendario que te voy a dar, te doy varias ideas y enlaces que ofrecen recursos en inglés que son atractivas.


Truco # 2: Escribir tu objetivo y ponerlo en un lugar visible

Lo que hago es escribir mi objetivo en un “post-it” y pegarlo en la pared.  Lo veo todos los días y me da motivación para estudiar.  Necesito el C1 de gallego para opositar en Galicia y estoy en una clase en la EOI ahora mismo, pero me cuesta muchísimo estudiarlo y no tengo ganas de abrir un libro de gallego. Las actividades de la clase tratan de temas importantes con el medio ambiente y la filosofía, pero son temas muy serios.  Me parece muchísimo vocabulario y los verbos son dificilísimos para mí.  Por lo tanto, necesito hablarlo bien para mi futuro y escribo mi meta en un papel y lo pongo en la pared para recordarme constantemente  lo que quiero lograr con el C1 de gallego. En tu caso, puedes escribir metas como: ampliar mi vocabulario en inglés con 30 palabras en junio, mejorar la pronunciación del “th”, aprobar el B1 de inglés en septiembre, alcanzar el próximo nivel de inglés para un ascenso en mi trabajo.  Cuanto más específicas y alcanzables que sean las metas, mejor.    


Truco #3: Usar un calendario para planificarlo

He diseñado un calendario para ayudarte a estudiar el inglés durante cuatro minutos diarios.  Es un documento editable en google slides que puedes usar para planificar cada mes  lo que vas a estudiar  y entonces puedes adaptarlo a tu nivel y a tus necesidades.  Cada mes, puedes cambiar las fechas y las actividades.  Es importante establecer una rutina para dedicarle un poco de tiempo al inglés.  Te recomiendo que lo hagas durante la misma hora cada día y puedes poner una alarma en tu móvil para recordarte que el momento divertido de estudiar el inglés ha llegado.  


Truco #4: Crear un nuevo hábito

Para crear un nuevo hábito en nuestras vidas, normalmente se tardan 17 días para establecerlo.  Intenta crear un nuevo hábito tomando un vaso de agua antes de estudiar el inglés y vas a notar que tienes más energía durante los 4 minutos.  Cuando empiezas a implementar esta estrategia vas a ver que comienzas a sentirte más alegre y satisfecho porque estás siendo productivo y estás dando pasos para alcanzar a tus objetivos. 


Truco #5: Buscarte a un compañero para practicar 

He dado clases de inglés durante muchísimos años por Italki, una página web que me gusta mucho y que tiene muchas herramientas gratis para estudiantes de inglés.  Es una comunidad de personas que quieren aprender otros idiomas y buscan a otros para estudiar e intercambiar idiomas.  Una idea es que puedes postear un “notebook” por italki y un nativo en inglés te va a ayudar a corregirlo y es gratis.  Es muy divertido y funciona muy bien. Además, no te sientes tan solo en el aprendizaje. Existe también la posibilidad de buscar a un compañero por italki para intercambiar idiomas. Si hablas español, puedes buscar a una persona que hable inglés para empezar un intercambio.  Tengo muchos amigos en Brasil y España que han hecho un intercambio conmigo y este método me ha ayudado mucho.  Te aseguro que el método es fantástico para divertirse, hacer amigos, y mejorar tu nivel.  


Ya sabes que una fuente importante de motivación es tener un profesor motivador.  Puedes contar conmigo.  Estoy aquí para ayudarte a mejorar tu nivel de inglés.  En junio, puedes acompañarme por facebook Live, donde explicaría cómo usar el calendario.  

También puedes bajar mi ebook gratis y usarlo para motivarte a estudiar por cuatro minutos diarios.



8 Idioms with World

Pronouncing the Word World

Recently, one of my students told me the word “world” was very difficult for him to pronounce.  As I thought back to some of my first English students in Brazil, I remembered how difficult this word was for them to pronounce as well.  It is a common word in English and we use it to talk about politics, history, geography, and society.  Also, it is ubiquitous in song lyrics and in poetry.  Therefore, it is imperative to learn to pronounce this word correctly.  Sometimes you have to repeat a difficult word 17 times before you really learn to say the word correctly.  I would recommend repeating this difficult word aloud everyday for at least 1 minute for a week. In this audio recording, I pronounce the word “world” 17 times.  You can practice saying it 17 times with me!


You could record yourself saying it and compare it to my recording.  You will see great progress in your pronunciation if you find creative ways to say the word.  These idioms will help you learn the word in new ways.  

Idioms with World #1: It’s a Small World


The first idiom with ‘world’ is “It’s a small world.”  Once, when I was traveling in Portugal, I bumped into a childhood friend of mine from Iowa in a small fishing village.  I said, “It’s a small world” and couldn’t believe how serendipitous it was to find my good friend in the middle of nowhere.  We went for a long walk along the beach and talked about childhood memories.  This expression is perfect for those kinds of events in your life that bring you closer to people and experiences that make the world feel like a small place.  In Spanish, we say, “el mundo es un pañuelo,” which expresses the same sentiment that the world is much smaller than it appears to be. 

Idioms with World #2: Out of this World


The Second Idiom with ‘world’ is “Out of this world.”  This is one of the greatest expressions to describe something that is really amazing, fantastic, and wonderful.  My family members usually use it to describe our Thanksgiving dinner.  Our plates our filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, and mashed potatoes.  We describe this delicious meal as being “Out of this world.”  Once, when I went to a famous cupcake bakery in the lower east side of Manhattan, I told my friend, “These cupcakes are out of this world.”  She agreed and said “I couldn’t agree more.”  You can use this idiom with ‘world’ to describe not only food, but also an event like a fireworks show or a musical.  

World Idiom #3: Do Someone a World of Good


The third idiom with ‘world’ is “Do someone a world of good.”  This idiom is used to describe something that could make someone feel much better.  This could refer to self-care practices, long walks, or meditation.  For example, I could say that the spa treatment did me a world of good.  The other day, the government lifted restrictions from COVID-19 and we were allowed to go outside and do exercise for the first time in Spain after being on lockdown for more than a month. My husband said, “That run did me a world of good.”  I was so happy to see him feeling better and looking more relaxed.  

World Idiom #4: Carry the World on your Shoulders


The fourth idiom with ‘world’ is “Carry the world on your shoulders,” which refers to having a lot of responsibility.  This is a heavy feeling that someone may have and may feel they are carrying a lot of burdens and responsibilities.  They may feel a sense of stress and they may feel overwhelmed.  My sister often expresses this feeling and says, “I am carrying the world on my shoulders,” when she talks about being a mom to her two children, a wife, and the president of a multinational company.  

Idioms with World #5: On Top of the World


The fifth idiom with ‘world’ is “On top of the world,” which means that you feel tremendously happy and elated.  In this picture, I went to a special place in Brazil called Chapada Diamantina, a National Wildlife Preserve that has crystal clear waterfalls and expansive views.  I felt like I was “on top of the world” everyday of that trip because I felt a sense of freedom and awe of the nature that surrounded me.  I usually feel “on top of the world” when I travel to new places and experience the sensation of excitement and adventure.  Have you ever been to Machu Picchu?  I felt like I was “on top of the world” when I traveled there after college and saw some of the ancient ruins in person.  

World Idiom #6: The World is my Oyster


The sixth idiom is with ‘world’ is, “The world is my oyster” and we say this to describe the pleasant surprises that are found in the world. If you were to open an oyster, you can imagine the lucky feeling you would experience if you found a pearl inside.  That metaphor relates to a world that is open for play, opportunity, career advancement and joy.  We use this idiom with ‘world’ to describe young people who are surrounded by rich opportunities to move up the career ladder. 

World Idiom #7: Worlds Apart


The seventh idiom with ‘world’ is “Worlds apart,” which we use to describe how different people are.  Native speakers sometimes use this idiom to describe siblings because they truly have very different personalities.  You could say, “Sammy and Ted are worlds apart.  Even though they look like identical twins, Sammy is calm and Ted is active.”  My brother and I are like “two peas in a pod,” meaning we are so similar and get along great.  I would never use the “worlds apart” idiom to describe our relationship.  

World Idiom #8: The World is at your Fingertips


The eighth idiom with ‘world’ is “The world is at your fingertips,” which means that opportunities are available to you.  When the world is at your fingertips, everything flows and even carrying out tasks is effortless.  Thus, the fingers are a good symbol because they represent the ability to mold and shape your world.  The world is like a sculpture and you are the artist, using your hands to craft the most stunning work you could imagine.  


These idioms are creative, fun to say, and used commonly in spoken English.  I encourage you to practice saying them aloud with emotion.  You can use these idioms with ‘world’ in everyday conversations.  You will be surprised by how much you enhance the dialogue with these unique and colorful idioms in English.  


Here are some other Youtube videos with songs that have the word “world” in their lyrics.

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong 

Heal the world, Michael Jackson

Here are a few other blogs you could check-out to read more about idioms with world:

Shayna from Espresso English 

Here is a video with teacher Rebecca teaching idioms with world


The Ultimate Get Guide

Improve your Speaking Skills with the Get Guide

Are you studying the English language?  You will definitely want to get your hands on the “Ultimate Get Guide.”



Are you confused by “get away” and “get over?” Are you unsure of how and when to use these tricky phrasal verbs?  Americans constantly use “get” in everyday conversations. However, “get” is considered informal and shouldn’t be overused in academic writing or in essays. Do you hear “get” a lot in TV series and movies?  Maybe the characters say it so fast and you aren’t sure how to use it when you speak English? Here is a blog post I wrote about using “get” in English that you might want to read as well! In this guide, you can play the audio many times and imitate my voice.  By imitating my voice and repeating the rhythm and cadence of my speech, you can improve your speaking skills in English.  In this guide, I give you some practical phrases that are commonly used in American English. 


Practice Pronunciation with the Phrasal Verbs

Speaking English is one of the hardest skills in language acquisition.  Speaking requires integrating everything you have learned from the grammar books. You have to open your mouth and produce spoken words that you hope are understandable.  You feel insecure about our accent and people look at you like they don’t have any idea what you just said. Speaking a second language takes you from being a passive learner to being an active participant in the conversation. GET THIS GUIDE NOW! 


Anyone who is reading this blog knows the feeling of making a big mistake when you speak a second language or feeling nervous about mispronouncing a word or writing a verb incorrectly.  It all seems so easy on the page when you read it, but then when it comes out of your mouth it is even more of a challenge. Since pronunciation is such a struggle and such a challenge for English language learners, I have made an audio that accompanies the guide.  You can stop the audio and listen to the pronunciation of the phrasal verbs and common expressions with the verb “get” and practice them aloud, with emotion and repetition. If you want to improve your spoken English, it is very important to repeat phrases and sentences many times until they start feeling more comfortable.  You can practice some common expressions and common ways to agree in English at this link.  

Visuals Help you Learn Phrasal Verbs

get-ways-to-use-englishIn this guide, I have made a number of visuals and graphic organizers to help you make associations and categorize the different ways “get” is used in English.  I guide you through these graphic organizers and I provide examples of how you can use the verb when you speak. Learners retain information longer if the information is taught with visuals.  For example, I have grouped together the different ways “get” is used for work, for travel, for illness, and to show transformation.  These types of visuals can help you remember how to use ‘get’ in spoken English, especially when you are under pressure and having a conversation.   Also, when we break down the information into smaller pieces, it is easier to grasp and learn.  

I’m ready to download the Get Guide now! 


Story as a Language Learning Tool 


Most language learners enjoy reading stories that help them contextualize the language.  Stories entertain us and help us see what life is like in someone else’s shoes. Also, stories help us remember language and engage with language in a fun way.  In the Ultimate Get Guide, I have written a story about a vacation to the lake, which I read aloud so you can follow along the story to the sound of my voice.  The story is simple.  A family goes on a road trip and one of the kids gets sick in the car.  The story is full of common expressions, phrasal verbs, common uses of “get” and some tidbits about American culture. 


How can I Learn English on My Own?

Nowadays, we have less time to go to an English school.  We can’t afford to sit in a classroom with a big group of students and study English.  Each person has limited time to dedicate to learning language.  For this reason, I wanted to make the Ultimate Get Guide for the independent learner, who wants to do interactive activities with phrasal verbs that are practical and enjoyable.  There are quizzes, multiple choice questions, and True or False questions, all of which you can check in the answer key at the end of the guide.  


Common Expressions in English


English has so many idioms and expressions that native speakers commonly use.  While writing the story, I added many common sayings to the narration. You can use the context of the story to help you answer the questions in the quiz.  I use “hustle and bustle” and “jam packed” in the story, which are common expressions that we use in daily life in American English.  If you understand these common expressions, you will not only understand more complex conversations in English, but you can use them when you speak English. 


The Ultimate Get Guide Check-Lists: 

check-lists-verb-getI created check-lists with the different expressions with get that you can read and check-off.  If the statement is true for you, you can check it off.   If you ‘get coffee with your friends once a week, then you can check it off. Then, you can use your answers as a discussion starter with your friends.  You also can practice conversation with your English teacher or with a conversation partner.  Personally, I love check-lists because they are a self-discovery tool.  You can  use the check-lists to check your understanding of phrasal verbs and common expressions and see if they apply to your own, personal situation. 


The Ultimate Get Guide Quiz: 

You can also test your knowledge of “get” with a special bonus quiz at the end of the activity. The quiz has multiple choice answers and you can write your answer in the blank to practice spelling.  The quiz is the final activity in the guide and it isn’t a typical, boring quiz. I incorporated questions are from everyday life and show different ways to use “get” in common situations.  

How can I get this guide?