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You know what I love about teaching online?

By | TOEFL iBT | No Comments

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Teaching online has allowed people around the world to open their homes to me.

Every day I get to connect with people from different countries and cultures. They share their hopes and dreams and trust me with their future. What a privilege! As you can imagine, I take this very seriously.

Last fall when I gave my Writing Workshop I had students from California, Chicago, China, Turkey and the Philippines all sign-on together as I hosted our lessons live from France!

Most of you know that I’m an American from New York with over 16 years experience as a teacher. I started teaching in the New York City public school system, then I moved to Spain and became a professional ESL teacher. I taught in China for 3 years and now I’m in France teaching English and preparing students for the TOEFL iBT online from my tiny office in the countryside. Isn’t technology amazing?

Even during my first year as a teacher in New York City I realized that this new profession meant I suddenly became a mentor, friend, mother, sister, confidant, support system, role-model and source of inspiration and positive energy.

I give 110% to my students and they in turn give me their trust and allow me to guide them. I take this relationship very seriously. If it works and we both give an equal amount of energy then they are successful.

My private lessons aren’t for everyone. I know that. My schedule is often very full and I have to limit my hours online so that I can spend time with my family and take care of myself.

Setting limits is very important to me and I often have to teach my students how to set limits for themselves. I help them get organized, I guide them and organize their time so they know when to study different parts of the exam and how to stay on track. I remind them to ask for help and to spend time with their family, friends and themselves.

This month I’m leading some group classes so that I can reach out and help more students with the Writing Section of the TOEFL iBT.

These classes are designed to give you the tools you need to create a high scoring essay. It is not an easy fix that will teach you a secret trick to beating TOEFL. After I teach you the strategies you need to practice! Preparing for TOEFL takes time, effort and energy. I put these classes together to be able to reach more people at once.

If this post speaks to you and you would like to join, just choose your day and click the link below.


➡️ Wednesday classes will be held at 11:00AM CET.

➡️ Saturday classes are for women only and will be held at 16:00PM CET.

If you are a man and you are interested in a Saturday class please send me an email with your location and time preference so I can offer something for you in the spring.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to guiding you through your TOEFL journey!

To find out more about the Integrated Writing Workshop, click HERE

🍃✨Classes are starting this week! ✨🌿

R29 L28 S26 W28! Esteban Says Adios to TOEFL iBT!!!

By | Speaking 26+, TOEFL iBT | No Comments


I guess now it is my turn to tell my story. I am still very excited after receiving my results and I can’t believe that my life doesn’t have TOEFL anymore.


First, let me tell you about me. My name is Esteban Yong Rodríguez. I am a pharmacist from Costa Rica. Since very early in University I wanted to have an international experience working in another country and perhaps following a clinical residency. I always thought it is important to travel and to study to be able to be a better professional and to have a broader knowledge. After writing e-mails for a couple of years I got my opportunity to follow a shadowing program in a Hospital in the US. I loved it and I wanted to be part of that system. Despite several family and working issues in my home country, I took the pharmacy exam in November 2012 and I passed, I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy. After that, I had to return home to continue working and to study for the TOEFL exam.

I was very confident because I felt my English was very good since I was an exchange student in Canada and US while I was in high school. I knew my limitations but I felt pretty sure of my skills. I studied for 2 months in Costa Rica taking some classes and I went to the US to take the Exam. I felt so insecure and nervous at that time. I knew I did awful and the results confirmed those feelings. I felt I needed more practice, so I took an internet class in one of those “popular sites”. I thought, this is perfect I only need to follow a formula and I’ll be ready to move on. Well…that didn’t work out. I felt very frustrated and I knew it was time to take bigger risks.

I quit my job and I moved to US for some time to study. I took TOEFL classes in an English school for foreigners. After two months, I was a little disappointed because the classes weren’t effective. I took the exam and I failed again. So, I started going to public libraries finding new books to study TOEFL by myself. I was feeling desperate because my savings were running out, I took TOEFL three times in a row and I kept failing and my baby was going to be born soon in CR. I knew no matter what I needed to return before she was born. I felt I was getting closer to reaching my target score of S26 but I was always failing at something. I found out about Jamie and English Success Academy  just days before my last exam. In a desperate attempt I contacted her but I only had one class with her before the exam. My time and money ran out and I had to come back.

I contacted Jaime again in January 2017, I felt this was my year and my last chance before my exam expired. Now I had new goals, to show my daughter that you need to be persistent in life and if I finished this process, I could offer her more options for her future. I was glad Jamie remembered me and she soon connected me with Sierra, one of the teachers who trained with her. I knew this time I needed to do things different and follow the advice of a professional.

Before meeting Sierra, my plan was to quit my job again and go back  the U.S. to study harder. I was convinced I needed to live in an English speaking country in order to get my scores. However, I was very surprised when Sierra said that I should stay in Costa Rica.  I hesitated and told her twice I was willing to take that risk, but she said that at this time, she didn’t believe it was necessary and actually it might just create more stress. So, I trusted her even though I had my doubts.  I had to arrange my life to be able to study, work (48 hours a week) and take care of my family, my dogs and exercise. I had to learn to get up at 3:30 or 4:00am to study. I studied almost every single morning, sometimes 30 minutes or sometimes 2 hours. I started going by bike to work 2 or 3 times a week to exercise during that time and to release stress. I stopped some of my family activities during the weekends.

Sierra was always very well organized, way more than me. I had to follow all her instructions and she helped me to arrange my schedule. We had to work on tiny but difficult details, like individual sounds, rhythm and intonation. I felt like a baby learning to talk again. I used to work and do all this funny sounds. I felt like I was the character Rocky Balboa sometimes, but instead of exercising my whole body, I was working out my mouth.

I took the first practice exam like 3 months after we started working, in May. The results weren’t great but I knew I still needed to improve some details like to learn how to manage my anxiety during test conditions and work on time management. So I kept working hard.

Sierra was always telling me, “you are making great progress, we beat one sound, we have another one to go. Let’s keep working hard.”

When August was approaching Sierra told me it was almost time to take another practice exam. I felt I wasn’t completely ready and I wasn’t aware of my progress but Sierra was and she knew it was the right time for another practice exam. Reminding myself that it was just practice, I took the exam and even though I felt I didn’t do so well, I felt relaxed and confident at the same time. For the first time I got a 26 on speaking. Even though it was just a practice exam I was extremely happy with those results; I felt I was finally getting very close to my goal and Sierra assured me that I was ready.

Finally, it was time to schedule my official exam. We knew a key point in my case was to feel relaxed and confident. I bought a plane ticket to Miami and I scheduled an exam in Miami and another one in Chicago. It was important for me to feel that I had more chances to take the exam again. I could not study as much as I wanted because I had a lot going on with my family and Sierra told me not to worry, she said,

“You are ready, you have been ready for weeks, your practice exam was not a matter of luck, there is no such thing as luck in TOEFL” Now I realized training for a TOEFL exam is like running a marathon, once you are able to run 42k, you can do it again, again and again as long as you keep training and stay positive.

So, my last exam came. I took pictures of the place and the airport as if I were a child. I tried to look for positive signs everywhere. I followed Sierra’s advice and went to the exam center the day before. I actually felt good there and I tried to picture myself the next day. Sierra was with me the whole trip asking for details, making a plan.  She was the one worried about all the logistics, like the one in control of the operations room and I focused on  just trying to enjoy my ride. So I took the exam, I followed all her rules, I smiled and said jokes to the people in the exam center, I wrote smiley faces on all the pages and later I found out I got: R29, L28, S26, W28 for a total of 111

R29, L28, S26, W28 Total: 111! Wow!!!

TOEFL has been a journey, when I got my results I was at work in Costa Rica. I was so happy, but no one could really understand me, I had to call my family and I wrote to Sierra.

I have never studied so hard for one exam, I never felt so disappointed in myself and so proud later. I definitely have a story to tell to my daughter one day.

I used to wish that I had passed TOEFL at the very beginning, but now I realized I learned so much on this journey. I learned how to be persistent, how to wake up very early and I proved to my family that I can reach my goals. Also, I found new friends, among which, there is Sierra, who is like the Yoda of TOEFL and now I am her Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, I wish you the best.






Congratulations Esteban! 111 on his TOEFL iBT and a Speaking 26!

By | Speaking 26+, TOEFL iBT | No Comments

One of my hard working pharmacists just got his results back from the TOEFL IBT exam he took this month.

His total score is 111! Most importantly, he reached his goal of Speaking 26 and now he can work as a pharmacist in the United States!

Esteban came to me with very high reading and listening skills. We worked together on his topic development, grammar, and time management skills before moving on to Delivery. During the accent reduction part of our classes we worked on the pronunciation of individual phonemes (sounds), rhythm, intonation and pacing. What a journey this has been! We started in February and have been working together online twice a week for close to 7 months. A special thanks to Jaime Miller from English Success Academy for connecting us! Felicidades Esteban! Lo lograste! I’m so proud of you!

Apart from the test-taking strategies and accent reduction work we did, prepping for the TOEFL exam involves a lot of motivation, coaching and support. He’ll be telling you all about his experience very soon! Just look at these scores!

Reading 29, Listening 28, Speaking 26 and Writing 28!

Congratulations Esteban! All your hard work paid off!
Vamos! Ahora hay que celebrar!

TOEFL Integrated Writing Workshop Starting September 9th

By | TOEFL iBT | No Comments

Is your writing score on the TOEFL exam holding you back professionally?

Imagine feeling completely prepared and confident the day of the exam!



Sign up HERE for the TOEFL Integrated Writing Workshop!



Basic knowledge of the TOEFL iBT exam

Minimum Scores:
Reading and Listening Scores of 22+

Team Spirit:
Willingness to share your essay with other students. During this workshop we will critique and correct your essay live in class!

At the end of the workshop you will take home 4-6 high scoring Integrated essays from your peers. You are encouraged to share your final draft with the group as well!

A positive attitude and a smile!


To get the most out of your investment, please attend all 4 sessions:
September 9th,
September 16th
September 23rd
September 30th

Homework: All homework assignments are due on the Wednesday before class. If you don’t turn in your writing you can still attend, but we won’t be able to critique or correct it.

Payment: Payment in full for the Workshop must be received by Wednesday, September 6th

Confidentiality: Please do not share the material received during the workshop with students who have not paid to attend.

Sign up today to join a group of motivated learners like yourself who are ready to finish TOEFL and move on with their life.


Sign up HERE!




My student Mary scored a S28 and a W27 on TOEFL iBT!

By | Speaking 26+, TOEFL iBT | No Comments

Yes, a 28 in Speaking! We’re ecstatic!

Mary and I have been working together on and off since October of 2016. Last month on June 9th, she took her exam for the third time. She started preparing last year but after taking the exam twice and scoring a Speaking 24 she decided to look for a professional to help her reach her goal of Speaking 26. A friend of hers had studied with English Success Academy so she came to us for a score analysis and private lessons. After 9 months of private lessons with me, she finally scored R25, L26, S28, W27!

Here’s what she wrote about our experience after receiving her scores…

“My name is Mary, I am pharmacist from Egypt and mother of 2 kids. I came to the USA in 2012 and I started to work as a pharmacy technician in 2014. Like most of the foreigners graduates, I started working on my degree to get a good position in the country. It was in 2015 when I decided to take my FPGEE test and I passed like most of the people. When it came to the hardest step, and of course I mean the TOEFL, I said to myself “I will try to do it by myself” because I thought my English is not that bad.

So, I worked for about 4 months from one of the most popular free websites, and I took my first trial in may 2016 but at the test center, I was shocked that most of the students who were taking the exam with me, were almost responding the same way I did, like I heard them delivering their responses and using the same formula that I used. Later on, I got my scores and I got R26, L19, S24, W25. Then, I decided that I will give it another shot and that was a month later, this time I got R24, L24, S24, W21. I was disappointed and I didn’t know what my problem was, in addition of a lot of bad experiences from the people around me who were stuck for almost 4 years at the TOEFL, and even some of them got their FPGEE expired because they couldn’t pass their TOEFL. The situation was really depressing and I was feeling like I am lost.

After that, I met one of my friends who was trying really hard for 4 years to pass the TOEFL and she told me that she took some online classes and she passed it finally. I got all the info, that I needed from her and started emailing them. It was English Success Academy. First, I scheduled a Score Analysis with Jaime Miller and she identified all my weaknesses and gave me a plan to work on, she gave me the option to work by myself or getting some help from English Success Academy.

Actually, I didn’t feel confident that I will be able to do it alone, so I decided to book some classes with one of their teachers, it was Sierra. What made me choose her is that she said that she moved to live in France, and that she totally understands the challenges that can face new language learners. I believed that someone who is living the same conditions I am in, would be the best person to help me. We started our first classes in October, and I can tell that I mastered the Writing in a very short time. I don’t know how she did it, but I started to feel confident about myself, especially, when she told me that I don’t need to write 530 words to get a high score, knowing that was really helpful for me and stress relieving because I am a slow typer and didn’t use the computer that much in my home country.

After one month and a half we moved to the speaking section. Sierra worked on teaching me how to organize my time wisely and how to use the 15 seconds which is a very short time to prepare my response, she worked on reducing my accent and all the letters that as an Arabic speaker might have problems on. She made for a weekly schedule, to help me find time to absorb and practice everything we took in classes. Furthermore, she didn’t forget working on my reading and listening at the same time, she used to tell me that in order to get high scores in speaking and writing, I should keep my listening and reading ones high as well. After months of practice and hard work together, I was ready to take the exam in June 2017. And I couldn’t believe it I got R25, L26, S28, W27. My total is 106!

I don’t know how to thank you Sierra, you gave me the fuel all the time and kept pushing me and taught me how to think positively about myself. You taught me how to feel relaxed in every speaking task, when you told me smile before every task. Texting me the day of the exam and sending me all these kind words, believing that I’m ready to take the exam and that it was MY DAY, all these and more and even all the words can’t express how I want to thank you. Now, I can move on and get closer to be a certified pharmacist. All thanks to you Sierra, you are an awesome teacher, and overall a great and kind person. Thanks to all the staff of the English Success Academy.”

Congratulations Mary and thank you for your hard work, dedication and trust. I am so proud of you!