How to make a plan to improve your English


So your dream is to improve your English. But how many times have you failed?

You have spent a lot of time dreaming, thinking or talking about what you want. But you haven’t taken the necessary steps to achieve it.

It’s not because you are lazy or incapable. It’s because perhaps you are confused or you don’t know where to start. You don’t have a PLAN yet.

English learning plans, can serve as a roadmap or guide to making your dreams a reality.

An English learning plan can help you if:

  • You are confused
  • You feel that your learning progress is out of control
  • You feel your learning progress is stagnant
  • You struggle making the right decisions
  • You feel lost and lack direction
  • You have tried many things and nothing has helped
  • You are tired and want to give up

What is an English learning planing?

An English learning plan is both a roadmap and a reminder of your goals. It helps you realize your dreams and the things that you need to do to make them true.

An English learning plan can help you to become aware of your strengths and your weaknesses.

Your English learning plan doesn’t need to be super detailed. It should be flexible so you can adapt it according to the circumstances.

Don’t forget that LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE. Things happen. Your plan needs to leave room for unexpected changes and crises.

Making English learning plans can help you achieve your goals easier than if you are confused and have no idea what to do.

5 benefits of having an English learning plan

1 An English learning plan helps you make your dreams a reality

An English learning plan gives you the confidence to take action and be proactive.

2 An English learning plan helps you prioritize

Making an English learning plan helps you identify what you want and focus on things that move you in the right direction

3 An English learning plan helps you make better decisions

When you know your goals it is easier to make the right decisions that help you accomplish your goals

4 An English learning plan keeps you motivated

When you write down your goals it’s easier to stay focused and motivated.

5 An English learning plan makes you recognize your strengths and weaknesses

An English learning plan is a tool that makes you think critically and reflect on your learning needs. It helps you identify the skills that you master and the skills you need to improve to achieve your goals.

How to make an English learning plan: step by step

1. The most important thing to making any plan is, to BE HONEST with yourself.

2. Take a moment to reflect on your habits, your learning story, your circumstances, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

3. No one but you can identify the things that are easy for you and the things that are challenging for you.

4. You are the only one that can identify the things/ habits/ beliefs that are preventing you from moving forward.

5. Finally, remember that becoming fluent in English is a goal that will require that you spend a lot of time and resources. If you are not willing to pay the price then it will always be a DREAM.

6. If you are not willing to organize your life, give up unhealthy habits or if you can’t change your lifestyle to accommodate time to practice, then it’s going to be very difficult to improve your English.

Now it’s time to make your own learning plan

Below you can see a template that will help you reflect and create your own English learning plan.


Reporting Verbs


Reporting verbs are verbs which are used to tell someone what another person said. They are used in reported speech.

Say and tell are the most common reporting verbs. However, there are other reporting verbs that we can use instead of say and tell to communicate our ideas more clearly.


He said that he would drive me to the airport (this sentence is correct but long)

We can say instead:

He offered to drive me to the airport (this sentence is shorter and absolutely clear)

Common reporting verbs patterns


recommend and suggest are special verbs that can be followed by a “that clause” when we want or need to mention who is the recommendation/ suggestion for.

recommend/ suggest + that + someone + base form


I suggested watching a horror movie. (suggest + gerund)

If you want to be more specific and want to add information about who is the recommendation for, you can use a “that clause” (noun clause)

I suggested that my friends watch a horror movie.

My friends suggested that I study for the English test tonight.

My teacher recommended that Maria practice speaking with me.

Practice time

Level of difficulty: ⭐

 Speaking Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐

Student A:

  1. Choose one box
  2. Read the sentence out loud.
  3. Tell your partner the hint.

Student B:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Listen to your partner
  3. Complete the following sentence: My friend __________________


Student A: If you stay in a hostel it will be cheaper (Hint: explain)

Student B: My friend explained to me that staying in a hostel would be cheaper.


How to describe photos and pictures

for the B1 Cambridge test (PET)


In some English exams you have to speak or write about photos or pictures.

Here is a list of useful vocabulary and expressions for describing pictures or photos for oral/written exams.

What is there in the picture?
(people, things, animals, places, etc)
In the picture I can see
There is a/ an +(adjective)+ singular noun
There are (a couple/some/ a lot of) + (adjective) + plural noun
There isn’t a + (adjective) + singular noun
There aren’t any + (adjective) + plural noun
What is happening?
(actions & weather)
For actions use present continuous
The person/ animal is +verb-ing
The people are + verb-ing
It’s raining/ snowing, etc.
It’s bright/ dark/ sunny/ cold/ hot, etc.
What might be happening?
(If something in the picture is not clear you can make a guess)

It looks like a + noun
It looks as if + person/animal + verb …
It looks as though + persona/animal + verb …
It seems that person/animal is …
Maybe the person/animal is + verb-ing
The person/animal might be +verb-ing
What could have happened before?
(You can use your imagination and make a guess about the actions that happened before the picture was taken)
The person/animal might have + past participle
The person/animal may have + past participle
The person/animal could have + past participle
The person/animal couldn’t have + past participle
Where in the picture?
(location/ position)
At the top/bottom of the picture …
In the foreground …
In the background ….
In the middle/ center of the picture …
On the left/right of the picture …
next to
in front of
across from
on top of

Now that you know the vocabulary and phrases that should be included in picture description, let’s see an example:

I think this is a family photo. There are five people, all of them are smiling. They are having lunch in the dinning room. The dining room is so bright and modern. In the background we see the kitchen and some appliances. For example, a microwave and a coffee maker.

In the foreground
we see the mother sitting at the head of the table. It seems that she is taking a selfie. Her children are sitting around the table. On the left side of the photo there is a boy and a girl. The girl is smiling. The boy has his mouth open, and he looks as he is going to eat the whole spaghetti.

There are two teenagers sitting across from the children. The young man is smiling, and the young woman is posing for the photo. The young man has his arm around the young woman.

There are five plates with spaghetti, three glasses of orange juice, and two glasses of red wine on the table. There might be some bread in the middle of the table. The food looks very delicious.

They might be having a video call with the father. The father could have travelled for work to a different city. It looks as though they are having a good time. This photo reminds me when I was younger, and I used to have lunch with my family every Sunday.
Time to practice

The best way to improve your writing and speaking is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.

Choose ONE picture and describe it.

What can you see in the picture? Write your answer in the comments below


How to express wishes


This mini lesson includes a review of verb wish.

Verb wish is used to express our desire for something different from how it is now. Wish expresses a desire that is impossible or almost impossible to happen.

In this mini lesson you'll learn how to express desires in English

 Grammar Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐

Wishes about present situations

Put the words in the correct order

Wishes about past situations

Student A:

  1. Choose one box
  2. Read the sentence out loud

Student B:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Listen to your partner
  3. Make a wish (I wish + past perfect)

Student C:

Write the sentence on a piece of paper

Switch roles <>

 Speaking Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐


Assertive Communication for English Learners

Finally!!!!! Ousman’s book is available in English “North to paradise” .

I recently heard about @ousmanumar immigration story. I heard his story on Aprendemos Juntos BBVA . He said something that resonates with me “Si dos personas quieren se entienden”. That means that when two people really want to communicate, it doesn’t matter what mother tongue they speak. His story is a testimony of assertive communication. In the midst of hopelessness he spoke up with his heart and an angel listened to him with her heart.

Ousman immigrated from Ghana to Spain when he was 17. At that time he didn’t speak Spanish nor Catalán. His trip to Spain was like a hell. He didn’t have any family in Spain. One day, he met Montse in a park in Barcelona. She didn’t speak English. Even though none of them spoke each others languages, they were able to communicate. Montse became his foster mother. To make a long story short, Ousman became an entrepreneur and writer.

Communication is a two way process. If the other person doesn’t want to listen to you, he/she will make excuses not to understand you.

If some people don’t understand you, perhaps they are the ones who have communication issues.

If after making a big effort, still you don’t understand some people… Perhaps they don’t want to be understood.

Have you ever been able to communicate with someone who didn’t speak your language? How was that experience?

P.S. You are enough! and your accent is cool 😉

Speak to me with your heart because I will be listening with my heart

Teacher Julieta

Wanna know more about Ousman’s story? Watch the following video


Christmas idioms

Christmas came earlier this year

Meaning: When someone gets an unexpected surprise.

Example: John got a promotion last week. Indeed, Christmas has come earlier for him this year.

Good things come in small packages

Meaning: Used to say that people or things do not have to be large to be good


A: I’m upset at my boyfriend. He only gave me this tiny box for my birthday.

B: Don’t get upset until you know what’s in it. Good things do come in small packages!

The more the merrier

Meaning: More people will make something more enjoyable. This set phrase is used to welcome one to join a group or activity

Example: Oh sure, you can come to the party with us—the more the merrier!

Christmas comes but once a year

Meaning: Since Christmas only comes once a year, people should be good to one another in the Christmas season


A: I’m going to volunteer at the orphanage center, do you want to join a hand?

B: Of course, Christmas comes but once a year.

All my Christmases have come at once

Meaning: Said when one is experiencing a an extraordinary amount of good fortune

Example: The day I got married, I heard I’d passed my exams and got a promotion, so it felt like all my Christmases had come at once.

Like turkeys voting for Christmas

Meaning: The most popular choice of food for the Christmas in several parts of the world is turkey. When people choose or accept a situation that is not in their interest or will be directly harmful to them.

Example: The employees agreed to go back to the office in the middle of the pandemic without any increase in their pay. It was like turkeys voting for Christmas.


Practice time

  1. Roll the dice or spin the wheel
  2. Can you remember the idiom?
  3. Write a sentence using the idiom


Introduction to Phrasal Verbs


Phrasal verbs are two-word verbs. They include a verb and a particle. The particle can be a preposition or an adverb. Common particles are: up, down, back, out, on, off, or in.

When a verb and a particle are put together the resulting verb phrase has a complete different meaning.


I usually eat out on Sundays. (I usually eat in a restaurant on Sundays.)

My computer broke down suddenly. (My computer stopped working suddenly.)

Mike works out every day. (Mike does exercise every day.)

Phrasal verbs are divided into 2 big groups:

  • Intransitive phrasal verbs
  • Transitive phrasal verbs

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs

  1. Intransitive phrasal verbs DON’T need an object to complete their meaning.

Remember that the object is the person or the thing that receives the action of the verb. The object of the sentence is the answer to the question who or what the subject does something to.

Example of objects:

Susan opened the door.I will invite Tony to the cinema.
Subject: SusanSubject: I
Verb: invitedVerb: will invite
object: the door (what)object: Tony (who)

Examples of intransitive phrasal verbs:

Sit down, please

Can you stand up for a moment?

They will come back tomorrow.

2. The particle always comes immediately after the verb.


Can you stand for a moment up?

Can you stand up for a moment? ✅

We will go next weekend away.

We will go away next weekend. ✅

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

Transitive phrasal verbs need an object. Transitive phrasal verbs can be divided in 2 groups:

1 Separable phrasal verbs

Some phrasal verbs have an object and are separable. That means that you can put the particle before or after the object.


Take out your shoes before getting in the house.

Take your shoes out before getting in the house.

  • When the object is an object pronoun (me, you, him, her, us, them), the pronoun always goes between the verb and the particle

Take out them before getting in the house.

Take them out before getting in the house. ✅

2 Inseparable phrasal verbs

Some phrasal verbs have an object and are inseparable. That means that you cannot put the object between the verb and the particle.


Look your keys for.

Look for your keys.

My friend is friend is sick, so I offered to take her dog after.

My friend is sick, so I offered to take after her dog. ✅


Practice time

Label the phrasal verbs T (transitive) or I (intransitive) according to their use in the sentence. Circle the object

  1. She walked into the room and then ran out.
  2. Her plane takes off at 12 o’ clock.
  3. She broke down in tears.
  4. Write down my phone number.
  5. My mom throws it away.
  6. Is the manager setting up a new project?
  7. Can you turn the radio down? I’m doing my homework.
  8. She decided to give up smoking.
  9. She’ll call back later.
  10. I don’t get along well with my neighbors.


Online Class Etiquette

Globalization has changed the way we communicate with others. Nowadays, we can use the internet to attend classes or work meetings. Therefore, we should learn how to behave during our online classes and meetings.

Netiquette allows people to communicate with others over the internet in a polite and professional manner.

The word netiquette comes from the words network and etiquette. It is defined a set of rules that facilitates social interactions online.

Here there is a list of netiquette rules that you should keep in mind during your virtual sessions:

1 Be on time

It’s better to be at least 5 minutes early rather than late.

Punctuality is a good habit that builds self-confidence. Being on time also eliminates stress from your life by removing the anxiety of being late.

2 Come to class prepared

Have every thing that you need for your class ready, including your textbooks, notebooks, pens and other materials that you might need.

If you use an online dictionary, an app or PDFs open them before your class starts.

3 Settle into a quiet spot

Maybe you can study in a noisy place. However, most students can’t focus and pay attention to the class if the virtual classroom is noisy.

Stay on mute. Keeping your mic off lessens distractions. Background noise can be annoying and make it difficult to understand what people are saying.

Pro tip: If you are in a noisy place, use a noise-canceling headset to eliminate background noise. You can also activate a noise suppression filter. Most video call platforms such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc have the option to activate a noise suppression filter.

If the noise suppression filter is not enough you can use a noise cancelling software to remove noise.

Krisp is a FREE software that you can use with any communication app.


4 Turn your camera ON

Having your camera on creates a more personal class atmosphere.

When we communicate orally with other people we use our voice, body gestures and facial expressions. Camera use allows your teacher and your classmates understand you better. So they can sense how you feel and give you feedback to improve communication.

5 Participate and be helpful

Class participation is super important if you want to learn faster. Also, your classes will have more fun and you will feel more energetic if you participate during class. If you are a shy person or don’t know how to participate during your online classes, check the following article:

Practice Time
  1. How easy is for you to communicate with other people if you are in a noisy place?
  2. Which do you prefer, taking classes in person or online? Why?
  3. Do you prefer just speaking with people on the phone/Whatsapp? or Do you prefer having a video call? Why?
Online Class Etiquette


How to Express your Opinion in English


Imagine that you are in a meeting where an important discussion is going on and suddenly your manager calls you out and says “What’s your opinion about this topic?

You start feeling nervous and you can’t say anything. You have a lot of great ideas but you don’t know how to express them.

It is common that when we have to share our opinion we feel insecure and nervous. The fear to speak up can be ever worse if we have to speak in a different language. Fear often prevents us to share our opinions with our classmates, colleagues, managers, and other English speakers.

It’s time you learned useful phrases that will make you feel confident enough to speak up. This in turn will allow you to grow professionally, academically and personally.

In this post I share useful phrases that you can use in your next class or meeting.


I (don’t) think…I (don’t) really think …As far as I know,…
I (don’t ) believe …I strongly believe that …As far as I’m concerned, …
I (don’t) feel …There’s no doubt that …It seems to me that …
In my opinion/ view …I honestly think that ….I might be wrong but …
The way I see it …I’m convinced that…You probably won’t agree, but …


What’s your opinion?

What do you think?

How do you feel about …?

How do you see the situation?

What’s your view?



I agree.I disagree.Really?
I think so too.I don’t think so.+ That’s a great suggestion
– That doesn’t make any sense
I couldn’t agree more.I’m not quite sure.I’m not very familiar with the topic.
You might be right.That’s not true.Know what I think?
I couldn’t have said it better.I totally disagree.I see what you mean.

Practice time

What do you think about this blog?

What topics would you like to be discussed in this blog?

Essential Vocabulary for Online Meetings

How to Participate in an Online Class

Asking for Clarification

Assertive Communication for English Learners


How to Participate in an Online Class

Class participation is important if you want to learn faster. Participating in class will allow you to use your English like you would do in the real world. When you participate you are practicing and the more you practice using the language, the faster you will improve it.

Your classes will be more fun if you participate actively and communicate with your classmates and your teacher. Nobody wants to be in a classroom where nobody speaks. It is normal to feel nervous when you have to participate or ask a question. But after you participate you will feel more energetic and alert. That in turn will help you remember what you learn and feel more confident.

Here I’m going to share with you different ways of participating during your online classes:

1. Be proactive and thoughtful
  • Turn ON your camera and keep it on during the whole class.
  • Turn ON your microphone when you participate.
  • Turn OFF your microphone when other people participate.
  • Use the chat box to ask questions or communicate with your teacher and classmates during the class.
  • Join the breakout rooms and participate in the group activities.
  • Offer to share your screen
2. Ask questions

If you have a question or if you are confused you can ask for help to your teacher or your classmates. Here there are some sentence starters that you can use during your class.

Here you have a list of useful phrases that you can use during your English classes:

  • I have a question about _________________.
  • I’m confused about _____________________.
  • I need help with _______________________.
  • I have difficulties understanding __________________.
  • I would like to know more about ___________________.
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What’s the difference between ________ and __________?.
  • What is the answer to question/ exercise ______?
  • What does _______________ mean?
  • How do you pronounce this word?
  • How do you spell _________?
  • How did you get the answer?
  • Can you repeat the last part that you just said?
3. Offer your help

If you want to help your classmates or if you know the answer you can use the following sentence starters:

  • I might know the answer to that.
  • I think I can help you with ________.
  • I’m not sure, but I think the answer is _____________.
4. Volunteer

If you want to volunteer or start the activity

  • Can I go first?
  • I’ll go first.
  • I can do it
  • Who’s next?
5. Share your gratitude
  • Thanks for helping me understand __________.
  • I appreciate your help.
  • I really liked that activity.
  • It was a really fun/ interesting activity.
  • I liked that!

Practice Time

It’s your time to participate!

How important is class participation for you? How do you feel when your classmates refuse to participate in class?


Essential Vocabulary for Online Meetings

Asking for help

Useful English Phrases for Better Communication (Asking for Clarification)