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When I taught students how to prepare for the IELTS test, I found that they could learn a lot of English but were still very nervous when the test came. I started using a new technique in my class to help them to relax and to learn better. The technique is a three-step approach to relaxation.

Step one is very simple. Just start by taking deep breaths. The first few breaths should be very slow. Take about 5 to 7 seconds to breathe in, then hold your breath for a few seconds before breathing out. After a few very deep breaths, you can take in some breaths that are only 3 or 4 seconds long. Your body will have more oxygen, which will allow you to relax and think more clearly.

The second step takes a bit more time. It is called "progressive relaxation". Start by focusing on your head, letting each muscle relax - the muscles of your face, the top of your head, then the back of your head and neck. Focus on the muscles that are around your mouth. Let your tongue, cheeks and chin relax. Feel the muscles around your eyes relax. It feels good, doesn't it? Now do this with each part of your body - your arms, then your back, then your legs and feet. When you are done, your whole body should feel light and comfortable. It's a good feeling, isn't it?

The third step is to add your imagination. Choose a nice, relaxing place and imagine that you are there right now. For me, the best place is the beach. I imagine myself sitting in the sand, or floating on top of the water, with the warm sunshine on my skin - it feels great! Then I imagine the sights and sounds - the sky is blue with a few clouds slowly floating by, and the sun starting to set in the west. I can hear a few birds in the distance along with some small waves hitting the shore. It's very relaxing!

Combining deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation and imagining a relaxing place is a powerful technique. My IELTS students found this very helpful in preparing for and taking their tests. If you do it for at least 10 minutes every day, or better yet, do it twice a day, I'm sure you will enjoy greater success in learning English!









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