6 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety

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If you experience some level of anxiety before or during an important test, well, you are normal! Whether or not tests are even good at evaluating what we know, they are used in real life for important decisions. Whether or not you can pass a class. Whether or not you can get a score high enough to go to a certain college or degree program. The TOEFL is a good example. It might not even be a very good tool for assessing how well you can understand and communicate in English, but if you don’t get the right score, you may miss out on an important opportunity.

I used to proctor TOEFL tests and I could see some of the basic things that hurt students. For example, during speaking, many other test-takers in the room are talking and it is disruptive. Usually there is no separation between you and the other test-takers; they are just a few feet from you. Test-takers didn’t take enough notes. Test-takers didn’t talk loudly enough. Test-takers didn’t stretch and breathe during the big break.

What are the TOP FIVE things you can do to feel more relaxed and confident on test day?

#1: The most important way to reduce stress on test day is to be prepared. This means having studied extensively, well in advance. (By the way, we offer prep classes which also teach test anxiety reduction techniques! https://ccbatlanta.edu/testimonial/toefl-program/)

#2: Believe it or not, research has shown that writing about your anxiety before a test results in substantially higher relaxation during the test and higher scores too. What to write? Write about how you feel and what the reasons are for this test being so stressful to you. This writing activity is kind of like a breathing activity… it pushes some stress out of you.

#3: Like we just mentioned… breathing pushes stress out of you. Weeks before the test, start a regular routine of relaxation breathing. Search Google for “relaxation breathing techniques” and also “free guided meditation” and you will find many wonderful resources. Here’s a good one: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html

#4: Expect some anxiety… it’s normal! But once you acknowledge that, you don’t have to focus on it either. If you start thinking about the anxiety, move your thoughts to another topic.

#5: Make sleep a priority. Even if you are a night owl, a week or two before the test, make sure you are going to bed a little earlier and getting around 8 hours of sleep each night. This is a “no-brainer!” – in other words, it’s easy to do and there’s just no reason not to do it.

#6: Last but maybe most important: Start an aerobic exercise routine. Aerobic exercise not only improves your mood and lowers stress, it also improves your brain performance, focus, and confidence. For example, simply jogging for 20 minutes, 3x per week, will make a huge difference if you currently don’t do any physical activity.

We hope you like these tips! Oh any here’s one more: take the test again! Just taking it again will usually result in a significantly higher score.

Please ask us for any more advice.

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What’s So Great About Atlanta? 9 Reasons

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The U.S. is the third largest country in the world in terms of total area. It also has the third largest population of any country. That means that there are many, many places to choose to live. There are cheaper places and there are more expensive places. There are places with more to do, and there are places with much less to do. There are places with more people to meet, and there are places with very few people to meet. There are also many language schools to choose from.

So why choose Atlanta?

There are so many positive things to say about Atlanta, that actually, we won’t list them all here. At a later time, we will try to compile a list of all the reasons we can think of, but that would be a huge list with probably over a 100 reasons.

Here are nine reasons, in no particular order, why we think you should seriously consider living here:

1. Housing is affordable and in demand.
Atlanta boasts a very reasonable cost of living, particularly in comparison to some of the other cities on the Penske list. According to RentJungle.com, the average rent for an apartment in metro Atlanta is $1,003 per month, which is tied for lowest (with Phoenix) among the top 10 moving spots.

2. There are many good jobs
If you have the chance to move to U.S. as a legal resident or, eventually, as a citizen, Atlanta takes the number one spot for top 10 U.S. cities for recent college graduates and young professionals, according to MarketWatch.com. Cash Bonus: The median salary for recent college grads is over $50,000 per year in Atlanta, CNBC reports.

3. So many “Fortune 500” companies
If you’re in the market for career opportunities, consider looking south. Atlanta is home to the third most Fortune 500 companies in America, and 16 of the 18 Fortune 500 company headquarters based in Georgia can be found in metro Atlanta, including Mercedes-Benz, Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Aflac.

4. There is no reason to be bored
Atlanta may be the zombie capital of the world — popular AMC series The Walking Dead is filmed here — and home of the World of Coca-Cola, but the city has tons of other attractions. World’s largest aquarium. The 10 million-gallon Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world – and is listed in Patricia’s Schultz’s bestselling book 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die. Hot spots for foodies. The ATL is the fast food capital of America, and its food scene has something for everyone. Enjoy the unique Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market, farm-to-table eateries like Bacchanalia and critically acclaimed restaurants like One-Eared Stag. So many sports. Atlanta has no shortage of diehard sports fans. The area has six iconic professional sports teams, most notably the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons. The Braves and Falcons are now in in new, world class stadiums. Easy escape. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world and totes the most passengers (96 million per year!).

5. The weather is seasonal and nice
The city enjoys four distinct seasons while avoiding the winter cold extremes we see in the Northeast and Midwest, offering the perfect amount of variety for those who are trying to escape the snow: Rainfall: 53.7 inches per year Snowfall: 0.3 inches per year Sunny days: 217 per year Average summer high: 89 degrees Average winter low: 34 degrees During the mid-summer months, expect humidity in the high 80s.

6. Atlanta is diverse
“Atlanta is fast becoming one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the southeast, challenging the inveterate black-white dichotomy that typically frames how people see the south,” Charles Gallagher and Karyn Lacy wrote in their essay, The Changing Face of Atlanta. Atlanta has large populations from around the world, especially large Korean, African, Latin American, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Brazilian, and other overseas countries. You can find every type of food in the world.

7. Atlanta has a lot of higher education, and it’s some of the best in the country. There are amazing programs for MBAs, the hard sciences, medicine, law, and really any field you are interested in. Here are a few of the world class institutions which Atlanta and Georgia are famous for:
-Emory University
-Georgia Institute of Technology
-University of Georgia
-Georgia State University
-Mercer University
-Georgia Gwinnett College

8. Atlanta has a fantastic MUSIC scene!
Maybe you don’t think of Atlanta right away when thinking of hot music scenes in the U.S., but Atlanta is home to an expansive and impressive music scene — with many underground hip-hop and indie artists flocking to the city to get their start in the industry. This is due to Atlanta’s proximity to the ever-hip Athens, Ga. (where bands like of Montreal, Azure Ray, R.E.M., the Black Crows, and Louisiana’s Neutral Milk Hotel gained fame) and what used to be its vibin’ college radio scene.

9. CCB is in Atlanta… well, Duluth!
Duluth is located just outside Atlanta and has been one of the fastest growing cities in the entire U.S. for the last few years. Why? For all the reasons we already said. Plus, Duluth has even cheaper rent and gas prices than inside the city of Atlanta. There are so many great things about Duluth, that living here is like the icing on the cake of Atlanta!

Sports Idioms Used in Business English

Sports and business have a lot in common. They both take hard work, are very competitive, and can lead to big successes or failures. It is not surprising that many sports idioms are used in daily American culture and also in business.

An idiom is an expression that is not literal. Therefore, if you don’t know the idiom, it may be hard to understand what someone meant. Studying idioms is an important part of becoming fluent in English.

Here are a couple examples:

1. Front runner

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The front runner (as you may be able to guess) is the athlete who is in the lead during a race. This person is in front, but hasn’t won yet. A front runner means the favorite or the person who is considered most likely to get or win something.

“I’ve applied for that new management position. Do you think I will get the job?”

“Between you and me, your chances are very good. You are the front runner. Tim applied, too, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

2. The ball is in your court

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In tennis, when the ball is on your side of the court, it is your turn to hit the ball. This is used to mean that it is someone’s turn to take action or make the next move.

“Google wants to buy the app I developed and they will pay me a lot of money. But I think if I keep it, I may be able to make even more money later on. Do you have any advice?”

“I don’t know, Tim. The ball is totally in your court on this one!”

Mr. Ben’s non-traditional field trip: Making a traditional Angolan meal

Mr. Ben’s Level 11 class did something different last week. They gathered at a student’s home and prepared a traditional Angolan meal. This allowed the students to learn more about each other’s background, culture, and cuisine, and to build a strong class community. It also allowed people from all around the world the opportunity to speak English together.

We strongly believe at CCB that students and teachers should see each other as human beings, to respect one another, and to learn from one another. When this happens, students feel more relaxed and comfortable in the class, and they are willing to use their English more and not be worried about making mistakes. It is also fun!

Here is the recipe video they created, and pictures of the fun time they had.

 

 

 

“Just an Old, Sweet Song, Keeps Georgia on My Mind”

Not every state in the U.S. has its own official song. However, Georgia has an official State Song, and that song has an incredible history.

In 1930, Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics) created a song  about Hoagy’s sister. Her name was “Georgia.” (Let’s not forget that before the state of Georgia, the word “Georgia” was commonly used as a woman’s name. It is a feminine form of the name “George.”) The name of the song was “Georgia on my Mind.”

In other words, Stuart Gorrell was in LOVE with Georgia Carmichael and wrote a song about how he was always thinking about her.

However, it was another man – a musical genius and legend named Ray Charles – who made the song very famous in 1960 when he recorded it. Ray Charles was born in the state of Georgia and many people actually thought he wrote the song. As a result, there has been a common belief that the song is about the STATE of Georgia, not a person named Georgia Carmichael.

For many years, Ray Charles did not perform concerts in Georgia because of the racial discrimination there. However, things improved enough that by 1979, Ray Charles began performing there again, and even sang the song “Georgia on my Mind” before the members of the Georgia General Assembly (the main legislative/governmental body in the state).

Shortly after, the General Assembly voted to make “Georgia on my Mind” the state song of Georgia. It is a beautiful song and we hope you will listen to it! Here is the original video of Ray Charles singing it to the General Assembly.

 

Hot July Idioms!

The month of July is just around the corner and things are only going to get hotter here in Atlanta! Here are a couple English idioms (expressions) which relate to the July heat (and also refer to the winter cold, which is the opposite).

“A cold day in July”

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A cold day in July is almost impossible in the United States, especially if you live in the southern states. This idiom is used when we think something is pretty much impossible.

“It’ll be a cold day in July before my boss gives me the raise I want!”

 

Christmas in July”

As you may know, many Americans celebrate Christmas and buy many gifts for their friends and family. But sometimes you might get many gifts at another time, for example your birthday. If you get many gifts or money at another time of the year, you might say “it was like Christmas in July.” Yes, you can say this even when it isn’t exactly July!