Determination and Success – My Story (by Liz)

Hi guys,

This is my personal story. I am sharing it with you to show how keeping positive, using time effectively and staying determined can change your life regardless of how difficult your situation might be right now. I hope my story will inspire you to be proactive and keep strong during the Coronavirus situation. Make a cup of tea, sit back and read about success through adversity 🙂

In 2013, my health collapsed. I became very seriously sick. I lost my job. I lost most of my money. I lost my friends. I lost my apartment. I lost my independence. I was too sick to go outside. I was locked in. I struggled to walk around the house and all basic actions (even washing my hair) were very difficult. At times, just sitting in a chair was incredibly painful and I had to return to my bed to lie in isolation, darkness and silence. I couldn’t get food for myself. I struggled to speak easily. I was sick and seriously disabled.

The doctors told me there was nothing they could do to help me. They said I would probably be sick for quite a long time, but they couldn’t say how long or even if I would ever recover. My situation was similar to the uncertain situation many of you face today with Coronavirus. Feeling you have no control over your lives or your future. Watching all your dreams and plans disappearing and there’s nothing you can do. Feeling worried and alone. The feeling of isolation from the world became normal for me when I was sick. But I wasn’t facing a few weeks or months without work, without income, without health, without friends, without freedom – I was facing years.

It took about a year of suffering for my health to improve enough for me to be able to sit on a sofa and use a laptop for 30 mins or 1 hour a day. I started making plans for a website to give people free lessons for IELTS. But I was still so sick. It was all very difficult. Even typing was hard because I struggled to use my arms. After 6 months, I was well enough to make video lessons in a spare bedroom. All my videos were made by myself while I was sick. My website and videos started to become popular in 2015.

I believe that each situation we face is a challenge. And many challenges have to be fought psychologically. Each day I woke up and decided – what single thing can I do today? I had little strength. But I did have determination, a strategic approach and a positive mindset to improve my life in small ways. My tips are:

  1. Never wake up and compare your life today to what you had before or what you don’t have anymore or what other people have.
  2. Try. Just because your dream seems distant or impossible right now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Trying is what it is all about. The more you try, the more doors open. You might just discover you have incredible hidden gifts that you didn’t know about 🙂
  3. Always find the positive in what you choose to do or what you must do. Your perspective matters. Smile and enjoy – it makes everything easier.
  4. Don’t listen to negative voices in your head or from others. If you are surrounded by negativity, drown it out by filling your mind and life with positive thoughts. It isn’t easy. It’s a challenge, but you can do it. 
  5. If things get hard for you, reach out to someone or find a solution. The very strongest and most success people are often those who have known what it feels like to struggle or suffer. Making wise choices at tough times is what it is all about. 
  6. Don’t delay. None of us know what is round the corner. Use the uncertainty you find yourself in to remind yourself that time matters.
  7. Life is a gift. Appreciate it. Like many gifts, there may be incredible surprises inside if you learn to use it well 🙂 Don’t presume life is just a box to open, it is an opportunity and you are responsible to make the most of it.

To continue with my story, in 2015 it looked like my life was going to get better at last. A successful website and improved health. It felt exciting. But on December 25th, 2015, my health collapsed again for a second time. This was the hardest time for me. I had already been fighting for 2.5 years and now I had to face more years in sickness and pain. I felt deep despair at this time. The support from my family started to fail. I ended up living completely alone while still being sick, disabled and unable to walk outside.

I have been living in considerable isolation since 2016. For these years, I have talked with a human being for only about 1 hour a week. There have been times when I have struggled, both physically and emotionally. Of course with the Coronavirus lockdown, I now do not see anyone at all. Worse still, during these years, I have rarely received any loving messages from my family to keep me strong and give me comfort.

When you face such situations on your own, I believe you must find strength, love and positivity within yourself. If other people don’t give you love, give it to yourself. If others are not a source of strength for you, find that strength within yourself or by reading about inspirational people. If you feel alone, connect to something within yourself that connects us all together and nourishes us. Surround yourself and give yourself what you need to survive and conquer. Never let fear, doubt or complacency stand in your way. Never let any situation or any person stop you from moving forward with your life. Achieving success is within us all.

The concept of “seize the day” is well known, but how many of us actually live this way? While I was sick, I wasn’t able to “seize the day” because I was unwell most of the day. But I did seize 15 mins, 30 mins, one hour or two hours when possible. With such little strength and such little time, I achieved great success. Small steps are not less valuable than large steps. They all lead somewhere. They can lead you to success. But many of us delay too long or give up too soon because we don’t get what we want quickly enough or because it was harder than we imagined. Be patient. Persevere. Trust in your future. Keep taking those small steps with a focused, clear mind. Don’t just take those small steps to achieve success, take those small steps because you love life and you love what you do. Your perspective will change everything.

I became successful by taking very small steps. I never gave up. I stayed determined, focused and positive no matter what life threw at me. My Youtube channel has now reached just over 1 million subscribers. My website is one of the biggest worldwide for IELTS preparation. I have just over 1,000 high band score results shared by successful IELTS candidates (Results Page) which keep me encouraged to continue my work. Knowing that I help people reach their future goals is a wonderful way to live. By working from a sofa whilst being sick at home, I have achieved all this.

I hope my story and my perspectives of how I created a bright future while in isolation, uncertainty and sickness will help you at this difficult time. I hope you will all find happiness and strength even though your lives are not as you wish them to be right now. There are so many positive things you can do even if they do not seem to have a direct impact on your future plans they will help indirectly in ways you can’t imagine right now.

Your life is not at a stand still because you are in lockdown. If you continue developing and being proactive each day, your life will be moving forward regardless of your geography.

Keep Positive! Stay Focused! Be Proactive! Continue taking those Small Steps 🙂

I am thinking of you all at this time.

All the best


Please feel free to share your own positive stories or thoughts in the comments box below 🙂

Thank you message from Liz: I would like to thank you all for your kind responses to my story. I apologise for not being able to answer each of your comments individually. However, I read each one carefully and was touched by them all. Your instinctive insight really affected me.

I have always had deep respect for anyone striving to change their lives for the better. It takes a certain type of person to do this. IELTS is a steppingstone to a new and hopefully better future for you all. While you have been striving to push past frustrations or disappointments, I have been in a similar situation but for a different reason. Maybe that is why this website has such positive vibes. We understand one another, respect one another and appreciate one another 😊

There are some of you out there who are struggling right now with extremely difficult situations, some much worse than mine. Take strength in my story and take those small steps whenever you are able. Changing your situation at this moment in time might not be possible, but you can still allow positive energy to come into your life regardless of your situation. From actively learning something new, developing a new skill or helping others to just simply appreciating the beauty of a flower, all these tiny positive thoughts and actions will help to gradually change life as you know it. For those of you who have survived past suffering, I hope you will also share your story one day. By sharing our stories, we remind ourselves and each other of what life is really about.

Behind a smile may be a painful past. Behind tears and weakness may be a hero. Never be too quick to judge.

Thank you all for your kindness and support. Good luck to you all !! 😊 All the best, Liz

FREE IELTS Lessons: This website contains hundreds of pages of free lessons, tips, model answers, topics etc. Go to the HOME page to access them.


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Countries and using “the” – Answers

Below are the answers and explanation for the lesson about using the article “the” when referring to countries and nationalities.

If you have not completed the test already, please do so now. To complete the test, click here: Articles & Countries Grammar Test

Country Names and THE

Almost all country names do not require the article “the”. We refer to France, England, Britain, Vietnam, Canada, China, India – all without “the”.

However, there are exceptions. Countries that are made up of a group of states or islands use “the”, such as the Philippines and the US. Any country that uses the words “states” or “united” or “republic” also use “the”, for example the UK, the US, the Republic of China.

Please note, the word “Britain” is not a synonym for England. Britain means the UK. Britain refers to the group of countries that make up the UK: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The word “Britain” actually means “Great Britain”.


We need to use the article “the” when referring to nationalities as a group of people: the British, the Americans, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the English.

Do not confuse the rule of nationalities, above, with a different rule about using similar words as part of a noun phrase where it does not form the main noun. For example, the words “a British car” is a noun phrase and in that noun phrase the word “car” is the main noun, not the word “British”. So, the rule about using “the” with nationalities is only when referring to a group of people under the umbrella of their nationality – not when using the nationality as an adjective to another noun. One more example: “the hard-working British” is a noun phrase referring to the whole group of British people as a nationality and requires “the”. But we could say “a hard-working British man” – in this noun phrase, the word “man” is the main noun and can use any article depending on how the noun is used. To learn more about this, refer to two chapters in my Grammar E-book: the chapter on Articles and the chapter on Noun Phrases. Also note that when referring to “Americans”, it is possible to drop the article “Americans are friendly” and it is also possible to use “the” – “The Americans are friendly”.

I hope you found this useful. Rules about articles (a / an / the) can feel confusing. But you can learn them all simply and easily in my new Grammar E-book 🙂

Answers for the Grammar Test:

Number 3 “the America” is wrong. Number 4 “the Britain” is wrong. Number 8 “the England” is wrong.

Correct: the British, the UK, the English, the US, the Americans. Note it is also possible to say “Americans” without an article as noted on the page above.

Grammar E-book

My Grammar E-book is now available in my online store. There is a comprehensive chapter on Articles as well as over 200 pages of other grammar to push your English to a higher level. You will find content and details of the e-book given in my store. See below:



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Quick Grammar Test: Countries and use of “the”

Many people make mistakes using “the” when referring to countries. For example, we say “the Philippines” and “France” (without the). This can be confusing for many people.

Below is a short test to see if you can use the defined article “the” correctly in relation to countries and nationalities.

Question: Which of the following are wrong?

  1. the British
  2. the UK
  3. the America
  4. the Britain
  5. the English
  6. the US
  7. the Americans
  8. the England


You can find the answers by clicking below:


All the best,



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Grammar E-book coming on Tuesday May 5th

Hi guys,

UPDATE: my Grammar E-book is now available. Click here: Visit Store

You will be able to download this Grammar E-book as pdf files. My Grammar E-book has two aims:

  1. English Language Development – to take your English to a higher level by learning complex grammar in easy steps.
  2. Writing Task 2 – tips and specific focus pages to help you increase your score through grammar.

Grammar E-book Preview

Download a preview of the Grammar E-book .



How to get the E-book?

Visit my store. Click here: Visit Liz’s Store


My online store accepts all major cards from almost all countries around the world. Or you can use Paypal.

All the best, stay safe & keep learning 🙂


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IELTS Speaking Part 3: Coronavirus & Health

Below you will find some predicted IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions for the topic of Health & Coronavirus. As you know, IELTS like to use current world issues for their topics and this will no doubt appear at some time in one form or another.

Questions will probably be phrased carefully to avoid you having to talk about deeply emotional or disturbing aspects of the virus. They will also avoid political questions.

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Health & Coronavirus

Predicted questions for this new topic. I do not usually predict topics or questions because I feel it is not required due to the large number of known recycled topics. However, I do think now is the time to predict this topic and help you prepare.

  1. Do you think health is important? Why?
  2. What types of activities do you think help people stay healthy?
  3. What is the difference between physical health and mental health?
  4. What difficulties did some people face with social distancing and lockdown at the time of the Coronavirus outbreak?
  5. What did some people do to stay positive at that time?
  6. What useful technology helped us combat the Coronavirus?
  7. During the Coronavirus crisis, some people did courageous deeds. Can you give an example of one from your country?
  8. What do you think could have been done better to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak?

Model Answers: Health & Coronavirus Topic

Below you will find a link to model answers with list of useful vocabulary and an audio to help you with word pronunciation.


All the best


Useful Coronavirus Vocabulary



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Grammar Answers to Yesterday’s Lesson

Below are the questions and answers to the lesson I posted yesterday which focused on Articles (a /the) in English grammar.

Did you feel it was a difficult lesson? This might be because you need to learn more rules about using a and the. You also need to learn about using no article.

The other problem is that there are irregular nouns that never use articles when used in a particular way, such as prison, hospital etc. I’ve explained below. However, you should consider getting my New Grammar E-book which lists the rules very clearly. The e-book is written for you to learn on your own at home.

Model Essay: Click here to see a full model essay for this topic: Crime & Punishment Model Essay

Questions & Answers

  • The reason for most first-time offenders committing crimes again, once they have been released from prison / the prison, is due to lack of / the lack of rehabilitation.
    • Answers: prison the lack of
    • Correct Sentence: The reason for most first-time offenders committing crimes again, once they have been released from prison, is due to the lack of rehabilitation.
    • Tips:
    • a) usually a singular countable noun would require an article (a / the). However, there are exceptions to this rule. Words such as “prison, hospital, school etc” are referring to a function. Such nouns never use an article (no “a / the”) when used in this way.
    • Example: He went to hospital.
    • In the above sentence, we are not referring to one particular hospital (a hospital or the hospital), we are referring to hospital as a function.
    • Here is a typical dialogue:
    • i) “My wife went into hospital last night.”
    • ii) “Really? Was she very seriously ill?”
    • i) “No, not very. But we didn’t want to take a chance.”
    • ii) “Which hospital did she go to?”
    • i) “Oh, you know, the hospital on the corner of Dower Street.”
    • In the dialogue above, you can see the first use of hospital is general and not specific. The second use of hospital is specific.
    • As I said, these words “hospital, prison etc” are irregular.
    • My new Grammar E-book gives you lists of irregular words and use of articles like this.
    • b) “lack” in this sentence is a noun. As explained above, nearly all singular countable nouns will require an article. We use “the lack of ” because we are referring to a specific lack. When we refer to something specific we use “the”. This is a common error with this noun.
    • “lack” is also a verb: “The NHS are currently lacking sufficient PPE in the UK.”
  • Repeat offending is also owing to the difficulty that people / the people with a criminal record have of finding employment / the employment.
    • Answers: people / employment
    • Correct Sentence: Repeat offending is also owing to the difficulty that people with a criminal record have of finding employment.
    • Tips:
    • a) we only use “the” (as explained above) when we refer to something or someone specific. In this case, it is not a specific group of people. It is people in general. 
    • When we have a plural noun that is speaking in general, we do not use an article at all. 
    • Example: Cars are the most common form of transport.
    • In the above sentence, the word “cars” is plural and also non-specific (general). We are not talking about a particular group of cars, we are talking about cars in general. When we speak in general with a plural noun, we do not use an article.
    • b) employment is an uncountable noun and in this sentence, we are referring to employment in general (it is not specific). This means it does not require an article at all.
  • Ensuring that people serving prison sentence / a prison sentence learn useful skills will help them find jobs / the jobs when they are released.
    • Answers: a prison sentence     jobs
    • Correct Sentence: Ensuring that people serving a prison sentence learn useful skills will help them find jobs when they are released.
    • Tips:
    • a) In this sentence, although we are referring to people, each person only serves one prison sentence at one time. This means we talking about people serving “a sentence”. It means one sentence that is not specific and this means we use “a”.
    • b) jobs is a plural noun referring to all jobs in general. This means we do not use an article at all. In this sentence, it would also be possible to have “a job”. This means a non-specific job – any job.
  • When offenders are released from prison / the prison and can find employment / the employment, it helps them reintegrate back into society / the society.
    • Answer:  prison     employment    society
    • Correct Sentence: When offenders are released from prison and can find employment, it helps them reintegrate back into society.
    • Tips:
    • a & b) see above.
    • c) the word “society” is another irregular noun. When we write about society in general rather than one specific society, particular society, we never use an article. “Society should take care of the vulnerable.” In this case, we are referring to society as a whole – in general. Or you could also say “A society that does not take care of its vulnerable people is a bad society.” – we are referring to one society which is non-specific.
  • Harsh prison sentences deter people / the people from considering crime / the crime.
    • Answers:    people     crime
    • Correct Sentence: Harsh prison sentences deter people from considering crime.
    • Tips
    • a) explained above.
    • b) the word “crime” is another irregular noun. Normally a singular countable noun would require an article. However, “crime” is irregular and does not require one when we are referring to crime in general rather than a specific crime.

I know this was difficult, but I hope you also found it a useful lesson. If you have problems in this area, now is the time to fixed those problems.

All the best



Answers to Sponsored Walk Listening Practice

Below you can find the answers and transcript to the listening practice lesson about a sponsored walk. If you have not completed this lesson, please do so before looking at the answers. Click here: Listening Practice Lesson

I have posted the audio under the transcript so that you can listen and read together. I also recommend that you use the audio to practise your pronunciation.


Army veteran Tom Moore did a sponsored walk at the age of 99 years old to raise money for the NHS (the National Health Service in the UK). His aim was to raise £1,000. This was an ambitious walk of 1.6 miles in his back garden given that he had recently been treated for a broken hip and skin cancer.

As he began his sponsored walk, he was surprised to see the response from the British public as donations started pouring in. By the end of this sponsored walk, he had raised not £1,000 but a staggering £21 million. Many around the country are now calling for Tom Moore to be knighted for his remarkable fund-raising efforts.

Tom Moore has stated that he was “overwhelmed by this sum of money” that was donated. His praise for the NHS struck a chord with many around the country today as the population watch doctors, nurses, other hospital staff and all front-line workers put themselves in harms way to save lives as they battle against the coronavirus crisis. This story truly is an example of how a humble, unambitious person can stir the nation and effect incredible change. Surely we should all be doing more in one way or another. As the saying goes “Every little helps” and who knows whether your modest attempt to help might not also create a flame of support throughout your own country.




The answers are highlighted in bold below.

  1. Does Tom serve in the army?
    1. NO
  2. How much does he hope to raise?
    1. £1,000
    2. You do not need the comma, but it is recommended to use it because it is easier for the person marking.
  3. Where was his sponsored walk to take place?
    1. GARDEN
    2. back garden is two words and not a possible answer.
  4. Tom eventually raised a …………. £21 million.
  5. Many hope that Tom will be ……….. for his efforts.
    2. This is a high band score answer and people who are around band score 6 level will probably not get this right.
    3. to be knighted means to be given a special award by the Queen of a knighthood and from that moment on that person would use the title “Sir” instead of “Mr”.
  6. Tom’s aims to support the NHS have struck a ……… with many people in the UK.
    1. CHORD
    2. This is a high band score answer and people who are under band score 8 probably might not get it right.
    3. The spelling must be correct or the answer is marked wrong.
    4. The “h” is a silent letter for pronunciation.
    5. “to strike a chord” means:
      1. a) to say or do something that other people agree or approve of.
      2. b) to say or do something that causes emotions to rise or triggers memories in another person.
      3. This is idiomatic.
  7. Tom has shown how a single person can ……….. the nation.
    1. STIR
    2. “to stir someone”  means to awaken strong feelings. 
    3. Please be careful because there is a phrasal verb which is “to stir someone up” and this means to “awaken bad feelings in someone – to bother them”. Don’t confuse these two idiomatic expressions.
  8. Every ……. helps.
    1. LITTLE
    2. This expression (every little helps) means that even small deeds or small amounts of money will help.

I hope you find this both useful and inspiring 🙂

All the best



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IELTS Indicator Test – IELTS Test at Home

Great news! IELTS has set up a new method of taking the IELTS test in your own home. The test is called IELTS Indicator. It is an IELTS test online which you can take at home on your laptop or desktop. Please read all information on this page carefully to get an idea if this is for you or not.

This online test from your home has been designed by IELTS to help people in countries where the Coronavirus has delayed tests. The IELTS Indicator test is an Official IELTS Test. At the moment, it is only for Academic IELTS, not GT. However, this is early days. All organisations world wide are adapting to this new situation and possibly the GT test might be available at some point.

This page will give you information and answer the following about the new IELTS Indicator test.

  1. Which countries and how much?
  2. Does this test have four skills?
  3. Difference between IELTS and Indicator IELTS tests
  4. Can it be used for immigration?
  5. What you need at home to take the test – technology & conditions
  6. Speaking Test Info
  7. How to Book IELTS Indicator test


Read this page very very carefully before you jump at this new test. You need to check that it is suitable for you.

1) Which Countries and How Much?

This new IELTS test is only available in some countries where the Coronavirus has caused tests to be suspended. The countries where this test will be available will be released on April 22nd when booking opens. It is only available for a limited time!! FEES: IELTS will release information about the fees on April 22nd as well.

2) Does this Test have all Four Skills?

Yes, it does. It will be the same as the Computer Based IELTS test and will cover all 4 skills. If you are unfamiliar with the computer based test, read this page: IELTS Computer Test Pros and Cons. You can also find practice questions to get used to using a computer for your test on the IELTS BC website for free.

The results for the IELTS Indicator test will arrive within 7 days.

As with a normal IELTS test, each section of the test will be strictly timed. For example, you will have one hour for reading, not more and not less.

Official IELTS examiners will mark the IELTS Indicator test in the same way and with the same marking criteria as the normal IELTS test.

3) Difference between an IELTS Test and an IELTS Indicator Test?

For the test format and difficulty level, IELTS Indicator is the same as any other IELTS test.

However, there is a difference. The IELTS test is well known and accepted by organisation and educational institutions around the world. The IELTS Indicator Test has been created only for this current period of global difficulties. Not all organisations or institutions will accept it.

This means you must contact the university or organisation that you are applying to before you book the test. You must get confirmation from them (in writing preferably) that they will accept these results.

4) Can I use it for Immigration?

No, you can’t. This new Indicator IELTS test is for those wishing to enter Higher Education, according to IELTS Official. However, as I mentioned above, we need to keep checking this information as things might change later this month or next month.

5) What you Need at Home to Take the Test

You need to have:

  • a guaranteed quiet space for the length of the test. Once the LR&W sections begin, you can’t take a break. The test will run and you can’t stop it or pause it. Any unwanted interruption in your home and you will lose time and lose marks.
  • Laptop or Desktop (Mac or PC). Not a tablet or phone.
  • Strong, reliable internet connection. If your internet connection is not stable, you shouldn’t take this test.
  • Good quality headphones to listen to the listening test. Do a volume check before you start your test. Make sure it’s all working properly.
  • Download SEB (Safe Exam Browser) on your laptop successfully. You can find out details of install it here: SEB from IELTS
  • Computer with a web cam.
  • Zoom application should also be downloaded on your laptop.
  • Computer with microphone for your speaking test.

6) IELTS Speaking Test Online

The IELTS Indicator test does have all four sections including IELTS Speaking. You will do the IELTS Speaking test with an examiner over your computer using a microphone and with video call. This means it is still face to face, but over the internet using a video call. Make sure it is a good microphone and that you have previously checked that the volume controls. Have your pen and paper ready for when you need to make notes in part 2.

7) How Can I Book IELTS Indicator?

As long as you are sure that this test will be accepted by the university or organisation you are applying to and you are sure you have everything you need for the test at home (see the above list), you can plan to book this test.

Bookings for this new test are now open. Click below:

CLICK HERE TO BOOK: IELTS Indicator Official Test.

You will also find the above information confirmed and more FAQs to help you understand more. Check to see if this test is available in your country.


Please read this page again carefully. Do not make the mistake to pay for this test until you are 100% sure it is for you.

Will this be the Future of IELTS?

Who knows. It is a great way for IELTS to see how well it works. We might see more similar test options in the future. It would certainly make things easier for many candidates if this option would remain open after the Coronavirus situation has been resolved.

All the best



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