IELTS | Speaking | 1 on 1 Coaching | Speaking Part 1 – Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely grateful for bringing on my first ever podcastee from Yemen! This ambitious student is now living in Jordan and will soon do his PhD in Europe.  In today’s podcast, I’ve gone over the most frequently asked questions and provided feedback at the end of the session. So, if you want to hear some critiquing in regards to speaking, here it is!

ARSENIO’S ESL PODCAST | SEASON 5 EPISODE 158 | Grammar | Participle Clauses

Participle clauses are used to make academic writing more succinct. The present participle (-ing) has an active meaning. The past participle (-ed) has a passive meaning. In this podcast, we’ll be discussing examples and I’ll have some exercises for you available on my website!

  • We use participle clauses to express cause, effect, and condition. Introduced effectively, change can be positive. (= if it is introduced)
  • We can use participle clauses with on, while, after, and before to describe time. On/While facing reduced sales, the company implemented change. (= When they were facing)
  • We use the present particle (having + -ed verb) to say that an action finished before another action. Having found his feet, he accepted the change. (= because he had found his feet).

Rewrite the sentences using a participle clause. Use the prompts to help you.

  1. Because they wanted to create a change strategy, senior managers brought in a consultant.


2. When they were reading the consultant’s report, they realize they needed to organize a meeting.

While ______________________________________________________________________________________.

3. The meeting took place in the boardroom and was attended by all management.

Attended ______________________________________________________________________________________.

4. When they heard about the report, the managers had a lot of question.

On ______________________________________________________________________________________.

5. Employees were known to dislike change and so managers thought they may reject the proposals.

Known ______________________________________________________________________________________.

Rewrite the sentences, replacing the underlined section with a participle clause.

  1. As some staff members heard about the changes, they became angry.
  2. Some staff members resigned because they did not welcome change.
  3. After they outlined the need for change, managers received positive feedback from the staff.
  4. All staff received training and successfully coped with the changes.
  5. If they are implemented appropriately, change strategies can succeed.


Patreon – Developing Vocabulary


Complete the sentences with these words. 

Words: back, height, keep, passing, start, statement, world

1. Jake reads fashion magazines to ___________ with the latest trends and big news. 

2. Nobody will be wearing those sunglasses next year. They’re just a ___________fashion. 

3. I remember when long skirts were the ___________ of fashion. 

4. This suit may be old-fashioned now, but eventually it will be ___________in fashion. 

5. That hairstyle is unusual, but maybe you will ___________a new fashion with it. 

6. This watch is not only reliable, but also makes a fashion ____________.

7. Doing a degree is just one of several ways to get a job in the ____________ of fashion. 

Match the halves to make sentences. 

1. John is always buying the latest designer clothes. He’s a real _____________.

2. This restaurant is one fo the few that’s been successful. It’s managed to ____________.

3. Everyone’s wearing these trainers at the moment. They’re ______________.

4. Smart clothing may not be fashionable yet, but I’ve heard it’s…………………..

5. Next year, forecasters predict that hippy fashion will be ____________.

6. Sushi restaurants are everywhere, but not long ago, they were hardly________________.

a. All the rage.

b. Slave to fashion. 

c. Back in vogue

d. The next big thing. 

e. On the radar.

f. Buck the trend. 

Grammar – Present and Past Habits


Are these sentences about the present or the past? Circle the correct option. 

1. They’ll spend time researching before they buy. (PR/PA)

2. They would do that now; I hear you say! (PR/PA)

3. People are always buying clothes and then discarding them. (PR/PA)

4. People would buy designer labels and luxury items to support an image of their lifestyle. (PR/PA)

5. As people, will buy clothes and throw them away, one company has gone a step further. (PR/PA)

6. Take the Danish clothing retailer that now sells fair-trade jeans. (PR/PA)

7. It began selling the fruit and vegetables that it used to throw away. (PR/PA)

8. People were always looking for the cheapest option. (PR/PA)

Match the halves to make rules. 

1. We use will or the present simple to talk about….

2. We use will (stressed) or the present continuous to talk about…

3. We use used to or would to talk about….

4. We use the past continuous to talk about…

5. We use would stressed to talk about….

a. A single annoying event. 

b. Past habits in a factual way. 

c. Present habits, showing annoyance or disapproval.

d. Past habits, showing annoyance or disapproval.

e. Present habits in a factual way. 

Circle the correct alternative. 

1. Some people will write/are always writing reviews online to help others find out about products. 

2. Max will make/was always making jokes about my height so I had to ask him to stop. 

3. You will/would forget your keys again! You always do/’re always doing that.

4. Tim works/would work on Saturdays so he can’t come with us to the concert. 

5. We used to love/love playing board games, especially when we were on holiday. 

Developing Vocabulary – Prefixes


1. Dis-

2. Il-

3. In-

4. Im-

5. Ir-

6. Un-

7. Co-

8. Inter-

9. Mis-

10. Over-

11. Re-

12. Under-

– Effective

– Resistible

– Bearable

– Comfort

– Probable

– Literate

– Active

– Sleep

– Consider

– Exist

– Estimate

– Fortune

Complete the sentences with these words and a prefix. 

1. Students should avoid using emoticons and ____________ language in their schoolwork.

2. I’d like a part-time job, but it’s __________ because I have to study for my exams. 

3. Dropping litter in public places is ____________ and can also lead to a fine. 

4. Eli would have won the race, but she was ____________ because she didn’t complete all the jumps. 

5. I can’t read your handwriting – it’s totally ___________!

6. It’s nearly 40 degrees at the moment – this heat is ____________!

Complete the sentences with a form of the word in bold and a prefix. 

1. You can’t predict the weather in England – it’s always changing. 

2. His lack of experience meant he wasn’t offered a job. 

– He didn’t get the job because he was too __________.

3. My grandmother gave me this watch, and if you lose it, I can’t replace it. 

– This watch is ___________.

4. My parents didn’t approve of my decision to go traveling. 

– My parents __________ of my decision to go traveling. 

5. Don’t rely on Sara to buy the tickets – she’ll only forget. 

– Don’t ask Sara to buy the tickets – she’s too ___________.

6. Personally, I don’t rate his latest book – it isn’t as good as people say it is. 

– Personally, I think his latest book is ___________.

Grit: The Real Secret of Success


Grit: The Real Secret to Success

Read the article and answer the questions down below. Also, this is open for discussion down below, so make sure you comment and give your opinion. 

Critical Thinking

1. What evidence could you give to support the idea that today’s society is obsessed with talented individuals?

2. How could more emphasis be given to grit in schools?

What is the secret of success? At first glance, the answer is simple – success is about talent. It’s about being able to do something – hit a tennis ball, play a musical instrument or solve complex mathematical problems far better than almost anyone else. But this answer immediately invites another question: what is talent?

For many years, talent was believed to be about inheritance, about being born with a set of genes that gave rise to a particular skill. Einstein had the physics gene, for example, and Beethoven the symphony gene. The assumption was that not everyone could be a mathematical genius or grand composer, that no amount of hard work would compensate for innate limitations. 

In recent years, however, the pendulum has shifted. Researchers have suggested that the intrinsic nature of talent is overrated and that our genes don’t confer specific gifts. Psychologists such as K. Anders Ericsson argue that talent is really about deliberate practice, about putting in the now popularized 10,000 hours of intense training that are key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill. 

But if talent is about practice, that raises further questions. Why are some people so much better at deliberate practice? And what factors influence how hard we can work?

To answer these questions, Professor Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania has been conducting research into characteristics of high achievers for over 15 years. As a former math teacher in a New York high school, Lee Duckworth became aware that her best students were not necessarily the ones with high IQs, while many of her most intelligent students did not perform well at school. In order to understand this anomaly, she left her job to do postgraduate studies in psychology. Her research has involved studying successful people in a wide range of contexts; she went into high schools to study which students were most likely to graduate; she went to a military academy in order to establish which cadets would stay the course and not drop out; and she evaluated participations in the national Spelling Bee, a competition that requires hours of practice to memorize spelling rules.

What she found was that the single most significant factor in determining an individual’s success was not physical health or social intelligence. It was not even IQ. It was a quality she calls grit. 

Grit, as Lee Duckworth describes it, is ‘the disposition to pursue long-term goals with passion and perseverance’. It is not about self-control, which would be the ability to resist momentary distractions or temptations such as doing homework instead of watching TV. While that is an important indicator of success in students, grit is more about maintaining momentum and stamina in the long term in order to achieve a goal. 

In the Spelling Bee contest, Lee Duckworth discovered that the participants who studied and memorized words when alone performed much better in the competition than those who engaged in more enjoyable practice activities such as quizzes or leisure reading. 

And even though it was not fun, they devoted increasing amounts of time of solitary study as they gained experience. After analyzing the data, she learned that what drove them to succeed was the ability to be single-minded about their objective, to persevere in the face of failure and overcome hurdles and setbacks. 

Lee Duckworth argues that grit is often unrelated or even inversely related to talent. After all, there are many talented individuals who do not follow through on their commitments. Instead, the key to success, she suggests, is for each individual to find something that they truly value, that is meaningful to them, and then cultivate it. The distinction between discovery and cultivation is important, as cultivation requires effort – in order to truly love the piano, for example, you need to find ways to deepen your appreciation of it. And then having found that mission, remain loyal to it over a period of time, no matter what the cost. 

Science can tell us little about grit at the moment – why some people seem to have more grit than others. However, the belief that effort will result in a positive outcome seems to be crucial in driving success. For this reason, Lee Duckworth believes, it is important for students to be aware that deliberate practice is not always easy. Becoming a high achiever certainly requires considerable effort and will involve feelings of boredom and frustration at times. What’s more, confusion is often a necessary stage to go through in order to learn. This knowledge, she says, should help students develop the attitude that ‘I can get better if I try harder’, which is one of the key tenets of grit. 

There are two interesting takeaways from Lee Duckworth’s research. The first is that while today’s society seems to be obsessed with talented individuals, real success depends on sustained performance. It’s about being able to work hard over the long term and our ability to do that depends on grit. The second is that although education systems tend to value IQ, greater emphasis could be given to developing non-cognitive skills like grit and determination. After all, life is a marathon, not a sprint.


1 According to the writer, talent is…

– Difficult to define. 

– Genetic rather than learned. 

– The ability to acquire a certain skill. 

– Closely linked to hard work. 

2 The research carried out by Angela Lee Duckworth…

– Focuses on the characteristics of intelligence.

– Began when she was working in education. 

– Has been to discover the characteristics of high achievers. 

– Is to find out how students can learn effectively. 

3 The most important fact in grit is….

– The physical and mental power to do something

– Extended and continuous effort

– Not being distracted from goals. 

– The ability to overcome hurdles. 

4 The data from the Spelling Bee contest showed that…

– Success was linked to perseverance in the face of boredom. 

– Participants performed better when the practice was fun. 

– With experience, participants enjoyed their practice more. 

– Quizzes and leisure reading were ineffective ways to learn. 

5 The writer’s main point is that…

– Society should not be interested in talented individuals. 

– Students don’t work as hard as they should. 

– Success in education leads to long-term success in life. 

– Grit should be valued more highly in schools. 

IELTS Part II Speaking

Here’s the question!

Describe a book that you enjoyed reading because you had to think a lot.

You should say

– What this book was. 

– Why you decided to read it.

– What reading this book made you think about. 

and why you enjoyed reading this book. 

I’ll be waiting for either your write-ups, podcast or video about it (remember, you have free coaching hours per month). 

TOEIC Badge – Patreon Special – Parts 1 & 2 + Mechanics of Modal Verbs

Audio is up! Here’s the free version (TOEIC Badge) video on my Patreon!

Parts 1 & 2 are discussed, as well as prepositions, nouns, verbs, interactive exercises (write your sentences and answer the questions on the discussion board).  If you have problems with listening, I’ve also talked about offers, requests, opinions, and listening for the correct modal verb that answers the question.  

Audio for my podcast: