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Why I love my yoga teacher

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Teachers are the worst students. They judge, question, and find faults. Whenever I'm taught, I do too. I'm also choosy and I have high standards. It's hard to win me over as a student. Not impossible though. In this post, I want to share why I like my yoga teacher.
1. Her class is one continuous flow. The class is one long uninterrupted exercise. She always knows what to do next. I take it as a sign of confidence and experience. The reason I value it is it allows me to stay fully focused for 90 minutes.
2. The exercises are in the right order. I actually don’t know the right order, but even to me the order makes sense. There is always a warm-up and a cool-down. Some exercises are meant to prepare us for other, more complicated exercises later in class. The difficulty of exercises grows gradually. This is how any learning works. This is also the reason the class is easy to survive.
3. Her instructions are clear and meticulous. Instructions in yoga are particularly vital …

Use it or lose it. On forgetting vocabulary.

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Tell me if it sounds familiar: “There must be something wrong with me. I must have Alzheimer's. I forget vocabulary!” I hear something like that on a regular basis. Unfortunately, vocabulary is not learnt once and for all. It’s normal to forget it. In this post, I want to talk about how not to. The post is aimed at high level learners whose vocabulary is large, but they feel like they are losing it.

My strong recommendation is: always assume you might forget any vocabulary at any time. With this in mind, take the steps below to prevent vocabulary loss.
Part 1. Lay the groundwork. Step 1. Record the word. Write it down in your notebook or on an old receipt. Type it. Repeat the word out loud five times. Record the word in some form. If you don’t, consider it gone.
Step 2. Explore the word. A. When I said, “Record the word,” I actually meant, “Record the whole phrase or sentence that the word was used in.” The words around your target word will help you recall it when you need it.

Cracking Britain. Part 2.

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This is Part 2 of Olesya Komarova's guest post about travelling in Britain on a tight budget.

It is the second part of a story on how to make your dream trip come at a dream price and not only in your dreams. In part 1 I told about my Wwoofing experience and some hidden gems of Somerset, in this part we’ll get across the whole island from the very South to the North.

As if amending for the hideous amount of tourists, August in GB repays with warm pleasant weather, becoming the only month for beach season. Yes, they put up tents on the beaches because of the never-ending wind. Yes, the water is bitter cold and you WON’T get used to it. Still, English coastline has some magnificent charm that captures you for good.


It was supposed to be a direct trip from Bristol to Swanage - a tiny scenic sea-town I learned about by hanging on Airbnb. Then it turned out you need to make two changes for a ferry to get there. Also, just in the middle of the route was Salisbury with its splendorous cat…

Why I have taken international English exams 5 times

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Last December I took my fifth international exam in English. “Why do you take exams?” is a question I get asked a lot. In this post, I want to answer this question.

First, my exam history:
2011 IELTS 8.5
2013 IELTS 8.5
2013 TOEFL 115
2016 IELTS 9
2018 C2 Proficiency A (CPE)

So what is this madness for?
1. I want to get an independent assessment of my English. I think my own assessment of my skills is less credible or reliable than an internationally recognized certificate with the C2 English level on it. Additionally, having my level assessed by strangers helps me identify my weaknesses and get a clear picture of what I am good or bad at. 2. I want to see if I can perform under pressure. To be brutally honest, I know my language skills are good even without taking any tests. But I see value in testing myself in high-pressure situations.

Many people underperform in exams because of exam nerves. It’s normal. But the way I see it is if I have great language skills and get low sco…

Cracking Britain. Part 1.

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I am thrilled to present a guest post by Olesya Komarova, an avid traveller and English learner. In her post, she shares her experience of travelling in Great Britain and making the most of it on a tight budget. 
This is a story of how to spend 16 days in a country with average salary 10 times higher than yours and get the most of it.  You know this nice motivation-movie scenario: young people tired of wasting best years of their lives one day hit the road to prove the world how free and independent they are. I used to listen to such stories with awe, until I realized - they were not true. First, you can hardly call ‘freedom’ absolute dependence on other people’s benevolence (that is what hitchhiking is actually about). Second, sometimes this benevolence fails (that is when the ‘adventures’ begin). But being stuck on a road in the middle of nowhere having nothing to eat and nowhere to go is not exactly the type of adventures I was looking for. I figured out a more reliable kind of fre…

What I learned from my 100-day writing challenge

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100 days before the New Year, a friend and a colleague of mine Daria Maslovskaya suggested doing a 100-day challenge. The idea was to do any activity for 100 days for the purpose of building discipline. I agreed. We both went for writing. I had always wanted to blog more consistently and was considering taking CPE, so the challenge was perfect.

The rules were straightforward. We had to write for 20 minutes a day. If we didn’t, we had to make up this time on another day.

In this post, I want to share what I learned from my 100-day writing challenge.
1 Time is plentiful. I had the time to write for 20 minutes a day on 90% of days. There were days when I absolutely didn’t have the time but very few. Most of the time I found for writing came out of my lazy time. No important activities were hurt.

Takeaway: “I don’t have the time” is an illusion. You do.
2 Inspiration is a stereotype. Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” This is very true. I didn’t …

To err is human or my thoughts on error correction

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In June, I went to a great seminar on error correction in ELT conducted by Eva Kartchava, who is doing research in this area. As a warm-up, she gave us 5 questions she was going to cover and asked us to discuss them in pairs. My discussion partner turned out to be a “personal broadcaster”- she turned to me and started talking with total disregard to what the questions were, what I had to say, and whether I was even listening. Since I didn’t get a chance to speak then, I want to speak now. In this post, I want to finally answer Eva’s questions and talk about the way I deal with error correction.
1 Should errors be corrected? Yes. Uncorrected mistakes grow into fossilized errors which are virtually impossible to weed out. That said, not all errors and not always. Which brings me to questions 2 and 3.
2 When should learners’ errors be corrected? Errors can be corrected either immediately or after the speaking activity. The downside of the former is that the teacher has to break the flo…