Reduce your anxiety if you’re taking the TOEFL test

Over the last 9 years, I’ve spent a lot of time helping people to prepare for important language proficiency tests.  Many of those people have taken the same test, again and again, hoping to achieve a different result.  However, they keep finding that their score isn’t high enough, in at least one area.  One reason for this can be because they have not had an expert help them out with their test preparation.  Another common reason is that of anxiety.

One resource that I recommend for people who have really struggled is Glenn Harrold’s hypnosis MP3. You can purchase it and download it very quickly to begin working on reducing your stress.

For others, who are feeling that stress is reducing their score, I recommend taking the time to focus on breathing. Even in the middle of a high-stakes test, it’s relatively easy to take 3 slow, deep breaths before each speaking session.  This will reduce anxiety, slow breathing and pulse, regulate the voice, and clear the mind.  Don’t wait until test day to do this.  Incorporate the practice into every practice session, so that it will come naturally on test day.

All the best on your big exam, and if you want personalized help to improve your score and reduce your anxiety, you can book lessons with me here:




This Is Your Brain on Nature — National Geographic Magazine

Nature is nurture for me. There are many stresses in modern life, but when I can spend even 15 minutes in a natural environment, I begin to relax and deal with things more effectively. This is a beautiful article showing how nature is used for wellbeing in many areas of the world. Even if you don’t want to read the very interesting article, you can enjoy the lovely images.

When we get closer to nature, be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree, we do our overstressed brains a favor.

Source: This Is Your Brain on Nature — National Geographic Magazine

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferris is a very popular author, blogger, and podcaster.  He’s a person who’s described as a “life-hacker” because he’s constantly trying to find a more effective way to live.  I really admire his high energy, his enthusiasm and energy, and his zest for life.  His books, “4 Hour Body”, “4 Hour Work Week”, and “4 Hour Chef” are all best-sellers.  I don’t read or listen to a lot of what he publishes because he writes and speaks a LOT.  However, I’m so glad that I took the time to read this message.  I encourage you to take some quiet time when you aren’t surrounded by curious people, to read what he’s written here.

Suicide affects everyone.  Even if you are one of the very rare people who has never wanted to give it all up, you know people who have.  Tim was planning to be one of those people at a very stressful point in his life, and he was systematically planning the end of his life.  Take time to read about what and how he changed his mind, and what helps him to avoid that plan on an ongoing basis.  What he says here is really important.  Even if you are “high on life” right now, reading what he says can help you to help someone who is depressed and discouraged.

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss.

Some more useful resources:


I believe that everyone should take suicide prevention courses, just like almost everyone takes First Aid at some point in your life.  You never know when you will be the “first responder” who finds someone who is actively suicidal, or who has just attempted suicide.  It doesn’t take too much time (about 2 days) to take a course, and you will be so glad that you have learned about what to do and say.  I know that I have probably been in this situation at least a handful of times.

Alberta could see rise in illegal immigrants as thousands of TFWs face deadline to return home

Alberta could see rise in illegal immigrants as thousands of TFWs face deadline to return home

Alberta could see rise in illegal immigrants as thousands of TFWs face deadline to return home.

Changes last year in the Temporary Foreign Workers’ program mean that many Albertans are reaching the end of their visas, and many workers may need to leave in April/2015, or soon after.  It’s a stressful time, as many people say goodbye to their friends, family, and co-workers, and as others wait to see what their future will hold.

Do you want to be happy on Blue Monday?


Somebody decided that today is the most depressing day of the year. I think it was a travel agent who wanted to sell winter vacations, but possibly someone thought that it’s very difficult to survive the winter, and people are very impatient by now.  In my opinion, today is a fantastic day.  As you can see in the picture above, the dark part of the day is already much shorter, since the sky was turning red at 0630 hours.  I exercised with friends before starting the day, walked to work, and my students are full of good news today!  These are 2 great stories that I saw about happiness today: one video, and one article.  What’s something that you can do to be happier about your life?  One thing that I recommend is to try to see new stresses and challenges as opportunities for learning and getting stronger.  When we look back on hard times in our lives, we can always find lessons that we learned, as a result of our difficulties.

The $4 Million Teacher – Yahoo! Finance


A private teacher in Korea earns   million/year from tutoring!

“Mr. Kim (a “rock star teacher”) works about 60 hours a week teaching English, although he spends only three of those hours giving lectures. His classes are recorded on video, and the Internet has turned them into commodities, available for purchase online at the rate of $4 an hour.”

I’m always amazed when I talk to Korean students about their punishing schedules as high school students, often spending 16 hours/day and more on their studies.  One of the reasons is the growth of these private schools (hagwons) where students receive further tutoring in the subjects that you study.  This article offers interesting insights into the Korean school system, marketing by the hagwons, and the growth of education as a valuable commodity in one part of the world.  What do you think? Is it a good or bad thing for so much emphasis to be on education?

The $4 Million Teacher – Yahoo! Finance.


Learn to relax before your big test!

Many students get very anxious when they are taking a big test like IELTS or TOEFL.  The test costs a lot of money, and the results are very important.  It can be hard to sleep.  Stress will make it much harder for you to do well on a big test.

I recommend the relaxation MP3 files by Glenn Harrold to help you to relax and sleep well, while you prepare for a test or interview.  I often listen to these files when I’m travelling, or if I have trouble sleeping.