Category Archives: Exam Technique

It’s not all about what you know about how you approach the exam paper.

Performance Blaster Approaches for 2016

Before I moved to Germany, most people, including my colleagues and my bosses, seemed to think that I was pretty amazingly organised. I was always juggling career and social life pretty effectively, so it seemed, volunteering at the radio station at Hammersmith Hospital, preparing for post grad qualifications and generally being a busy but bouncy bee. When I moved to Germany, I realised that actually organisation here was perceived as having a tidy desk, being on time and having that cool calm and collected aura.
The bottom line is that I have none of these. Yet.

But 2016 is going to be dramatically different for me, because having balanced teaching English and book selling for the past five years, I have finally taken the plunge to return full time to my freelance language teaching business – hence my recent blog writing  absence – I’ve been on a children’s book selling frenzy.

So from January, my time will be split between walking with clients on the language energy programme, being online for webinars and skype appointments and in my office preparing, moderating and analysing language feedback. I will also be releasing a podcast and bootcamp so boy, I’m going to have to get organised, because otherwise I just know that I’ll get distracted and thrown off track. I’m convinced that my current ‘system’ and I use that term lightly, is going to be as robust as my ambitions.

So I have been reading, a lot!

I enjoyed the Four Hour Working Week by Timothy Ferris, although for me as a working Mum who is over the jet setting era, I had to concentrate hard on finding the nuggets of productivity that were relevant for me in my business. It was certainly inspiring and an enjoyable read but I guess what I really craved was something more concrete. Step by step, easy to implement, no fuss or fluff.

The Bullet Journal by contrast was something I read about this time last year. So of course I needed no excuse to head into TKMaxx, to treat myself to a nice new notebook and naturally a whole wad of Friction pens on the way home in a rediculously OTT range of colours. It took a little bit of time to get my head around but all in all it has been something that has escorted me through the year with varying degrees of loyalty. What I liked about the bullet system was that there were different pages dedicated to different topics, so I could collect my thoughts, action points, resources and ideas all on one page. Plus, because it was indexed, I could find it without having to dive into a sea of words and symbols.

What I found frustrating about the Bullet Sytem was the calendar part. Now I have quite big writing, so if my to do tasks are going to be included on a diary to avoid the ‘some time saga’ I would need to adapt this part. I like to have space in my paper based diary for both events (on the left with a time and location) but also for tasks to be done on that day on the right.

I live on the outskirts of Berlin so I really try to use the travelling time for working on language feedback, quizzes and other post lesson support on the go if I am to have a hope of updating my clients as quickly as possible. Public transport and virtual tech make it possible. But technology alone doesn’t get the job done, the warmth of the tube is a wicked motivation zapper, so I need to be able to see exactly what needs to be done when in an instant.

The book that I have just finished  reading  is “18 Minutes, Find your Focus, Master Distraction & Get the Right Things Done” by Peter Bregman. I liked his approach and although it takes you a long time to get to the point, his storytelling approach based on his quirky life eyperiences, made it an enjoyable read. The great news is that there really does seem to be a pragmatic way to keep your focus in check in just 18 minutes a day. I was relieved to discover that isn’t even a single block of time either. It’s kind of like one of those amazing club sandwitches you get in those ghastly hotel lobbies.

Are you ready? Well first you choose the right type of plate, oval is best, long enough to hold a scewer. That plate is your planning and here I am thinking of a holistic approach, so not just business but our life. Let’s face it we have to split our time to get all the family stuff done too, not just our business priorities right? I won’t give too much away because you really ought to treat yourself to the book ( kindle sneaky business reading approved). Anyway there is planning at the start and the end of the day and weekly self nudges in between. Enough said.

So I am going to combine The Bullet Journal, the 18 Minute self check and some healthy habits (inspired by Superhuman by Habit). Even writing this, it occurs to me that I might be over complicating things but in my heart I feel that 2016 is going to be an amazing year. I never make personal new year resolutions because I tend to make these when we move to another city but for my business 2016 will be more organised and as a result I am going to crack my punctuality hangover from the UK.

After all I have been living and teaching Business English in Germany for 15 years now and whilst I have no aspirations to be the perfect “Hausfrau” or housewife, I think that at the age of 43, it’s about time that I respected other people’s time more because althoug I am not always late, but when I am on time The chances are that I only got there by the skin of my teeth, tell tale signs are erratic hair, flushed cheeks and a general look of relief and quite frankly it is unnecessary. I sure would like a taste of cool, calm and collected.

Can you help?

My problem is that I feel desperately uncomfortable being early. It always feel like a huge waste of time. Anybody got any tips for me on that? What should I do if I am early? Not doing anything at all is really difficult for me.

If I am late meeting you, insist that I get the drinks!

Oh and by the way, this is one of my habits…feel free to download and use yourself

Undercover English – Learning Vocab on the go

Undercover English >>> Try this language learning game…next time you are out and about – either on your own or with friends that are telling a story that you have already heard – go undercover.

REMEMBER You need to resist staring at the people in question – not good for street cred.

Now, look for people engrossed in conversation and try to work out what they might be saying to each other and see if you can interpret in your head. (in English of course!)

You can take it seriously or be a little far fetched and dramatic or just plain silly and rediculous.

Now I know that this isn’t rocket science, but that is exactly the point, learning a language can be a lot of fun. This is just one of many time effective ways of revising without any paper, pen or solitude that will point out your weaknesses.

AND ACTION …. Try it out and report back on our facebook page at
for more tips and tricks  … for the techie chicks (just had to add that because it rhymes)

Language Learning Games

Freaking out about your English exam for your ABI 2014?

Well you are not alone! It feels like though, doesn’t it? Chances are that everyone’s saying that they haven’t started revising yet, but how can you be sure?  You realise that you should have started revising already but the moment you pick up your English stuff you sink your head in your hands, not knowing where on earth to start. Right?

Hey listen, you don’t have to do this on your own. You don’t need to be cooped up in your room like billy no mates, with just dictionaries and grammar rules for company.  Just log in to facebook. Yes, it’s as easy as that, just log in and chat in English, I’ll give language feedback kindly and discretely, either individually in a private message or if I think everybody can learn something from it I’ll write a blog entry about it instead – no finger pointing, just constructive learning.

It costs just 99 cent to try it out for a month, then it’s €9.99 a month. We’ll break up that revision into byte sized chunks with discussions, quizzes, activities, Google Hangouts and much much more. What you really need is practice and you’re not going to get that couped up in your room feeling fed up are you?

Byte Sized English Club – Abi Englisch to the rescue!

No need to sigh, just log in and check out the tasks and activities all neatly bundled into byte sized chunks, making it more manageable, more doable, more fun. Remember though that this is just for techie chicks that need to get a decent grade in English but don’t seem to be able to get started.

It’s a closed group because going forward, this won’t just be about getting you through your ABI exam, but will be THE place to check in if you are worried about the English you will need for entrance exams, job interviews, team management skills and perhaps in the not to distant future, emigrating to work abroad.

This is your network, for IT chicks with the ambition to get on in their career but without the ego that makes people squirm. After all you can be brilliant without shouting from the rooftops right?

It costs €1 to try, €9,99 after that. The great thing is that you get a free month’s membership if you join by February 4th 2014 and a surprise in the post for each friend that joins up by that time too.