Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 2 – Episode 56 – Pronunciation – Held ‘T’

After having a profound insight with one of my students this evening, I decided to do this week’s pronunciation lesson on the lesson I had with him.  I think it’s remarkable how amazing North American English is.  First, let’s break down the silent ‘T.’

Spelled – Internet; Pronunciation – Innernet

Spelled – Interview; Pronunciation – Innerview

Spelled – International; Pronunciation – Innernational

Spelled – Advantage; Pronunciation – Advanage


Additional words: put, what, lot, set, hot, sit, shot, brought


With -tain, tten and some TN combinations, the T is held. 

Written, certain, forgotten, 

He’s forgotten the carton of satin mittens.

She’s certain that he has written it.

Martin has gotten a kitten.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Special – TOEIC – Grammar & Vocabulary Tip Part II

YES! We are back and doing better than ever, breaking down some more basics for you guys.  As time goes on, I will make this a lot more difficult, but this is “TOEIC FOR BEGINNERS” at this point.  Let’s dive into it!

Present Continuous In The Present & Future


The present continuous can be used for both present and future ideas.

He’s preparing the report right now.

She’s talking on the phone with Joe right now.

We’re having lunch together tomorrow.

They’re arriving tonight.

Going to?



Vocabulary Tip


Numbers can be expressed one way in the conversation and a different way in the answer.

I’m going to buy a dozen eggs.

How many eggs did she buy? 12.

The price was reduced by 75 percent.

How much is the coat now?


6                              half-dozen

6 o’clock                 

7 days                    one week/a week

4 weeks                 a month

25 years                quarter-century

75%                        three-quarters



Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Special – IELTS – Writing Task II – Free-writing a Task

Welcome back, everyone! Let’s check out this Writing Task II I have.

To some people, studying the past is the best way to help young people function well in the modern world.  To what extent do you agree or disagree? What other measures could be effective in helping young people to function well in the modern world?

Now, there are so many ways you can develop an argument from this (depending on what side you choose), but your goal is to do some free-writing for 10-15 minutes on the topic.  It’s far better getting your ideas on paper rather than just having them in your head.

So, here’s my free-writing.

Studying the past isn’t going to necessarily help the modern world.  If we look at our past mistakes, which were made on an grand scale starting with WWI, to the end of of the Vietnam war, we can see how great life truly is.  The world is in a remarkably better state compared to the past. Also, if we look at the education system of the past, it’s completely shambolic.  Sure, sitting in rows with students in a classroom and being told to raise your hand may still work, but it doesn’t create leaders which our society so desperately needs.  Functioning, in the real world, will consist of implementing personal development curriculum in all university syllabi.  Learning about critical thinking, saving money, leadership, defining a definite chief aim, and most importantly, doing more than what you’re paid to do, is the true definition of success.

Here’s a run up of what I kind of talked about, so be sure to tune into the podcast for more!


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 2 – Episode 53 – Pronunciation Skill – Consonant Sounds

Consonant sounds can be very confusing.  Sometimes the ‘G’ sounds like ‘J,’ So, let’s go over some of these symbols, key words, and a few other things so you guys have more of an understanding.

Grow – /g/ as in go      General – /jen/ as in job     Beige = /jen/ as in measure

Words that sound like shock.

Share      Ratio      Social      Assure


Write the symbols used in your online dictionary in the lines down below.

                                                                                                     Symbol                            Key Word

  1. Zero, lose, close (verb), razor                                             /z/                                       zoo
  2. Show, initiate, pressure, special
  3. Check, furniture, nature, situation
  4. Division, usually (yo͞oZH(o͞o)əl/) , Asia, beige
  5. Joke, graduate, agent, schedule


Arsenio’s ESL Task: Reported Situations

Write what the people actually said in each situation. 


  1. The lady asked the man if he was walking to the store at the moment. He said that he wasn’t but that he was going to walk there soon.

Woman: Are you walking to the store at the moment?

Man: No, I’m not, but I am going to walk there soon.


Over to you….

2. The writer asked the man if he had enjoyed her booked.  He said that he thought it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever read.


3. The reported asked the singer why she wouldn’t answer any of his questions.  She told him that she only wanted to talk about her new album and that she wasn’t going to talk about anything else.


4. The teacher asked the class whether they could write an essay for the next day, but they replied that they couldn’t because they had to study for an exam and they wouldn’t have enough time.


5. Julie wanted to know how many times I’d read my personal develop book and I told her that I’d read it three times.


Put them into active voice and post your answers on my blog on my facebook page!

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 2 – Episode 51 – Grammar – Reported Speech – Questions

I’ve already gone over reported speech statements, but now it’s time to dive into the questions to see if you understand both sides.

Reported Speech Questions

Look at these questions and statements.  Which are direction questions and which are reported questions.

  1. He asked her was she was reading at the moment.
  2. He wanted to know if she had seen The Avengers.
  3. How often do you go to the cinema?
  4. He asked her how often she went to the cinema.
  5. Do you prefer reading personal development or horror books?
  6. What are you reading right now?
  7. He asked her whether she prefered reading personal development or horror books.
  8. Have you seen the Avengers?

Rules: We don’t use question marks in reported questions; we don’t use the auxiliary verb do in reported questions; we don’t put the verb before the subject in reported questions; we use if or whether in reported questions when there is no question word (who, what, why, etc.) in the original question.


Complete the sentences with a question word or if/whether.

  1. They asked the man ______________ his favorite writer was. He said Napoleon Hill.

Example: you cannot use whether because there aren’t two choices.  Also, you cannot use if unless the DO is in the sentence.  They asked the man if his favorite writer was Napoleon Hill.

2. Kate asked Jenny _____________ she wanted to do.

3. Paul wanted to know ____________________ I had come by bus or by car.

4. Hannah asked me ______________ I wanted a coffee and I said yes.

5. They asked me _______________ I had brothers or sisters and I said no.

6. My teacher asked me ___________________I hadn’t been at school the day before.

7. Karen’s mother asked her _________________ she had a good time.



Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Special – IELTS – Money Talks

Hello, everyone! I’m going to make this podcast as interactive as possible. I’ll provide a YouTube video, along with a lot of writing in terms of money.  This question could arise during your examination, so it’s always great to be prepared!

Topic Talk

Money is the root of all evil.  Do you agree or disagree?

  • I completely disagree with this statement because if money was the root of all evil, how come the world of technology continues to catapult the human race to amazing heights?  Sure, some countries fund wars and focus on war budgeting to make more killing machines, but that’s the dying paradigm of the world.  This historical perception of what the world is has been long-existing for quite sometime.  It doesn’t mean that money is terrible, it just means people are influenced by what money can buy and they use it for bad causes.

Money doesn’t grow on trees.  Do you agree with the sentiment?

The best things in life are free.  To what extent do you agree?


Simpler questions

What is your biggest expense each month?

  • When it comes to living in Thailand, one thing I always have to pay for is my rent.  This is my gigantic expense each month, and I emphasize that because it takes out a small portion of what I make in a month.

What’s the best way to save money for the future?

What is more important for governments to focus on — health or education expenses?


Part II Question

Tell me about a store in your neighborhood.

  • Where the store is
  • What it looks like inside
  • What it sells
  • Do you enjoy going here? Why or why not?


To what extent do you agree with the statements below?

Investing in stocks and shares can be risky if the market fails.

You should cut down on the amount you spend on non-essential items and luxuries.

Over reliance on credit cards can lead to debt and bankruptcy.


YouTube: Part II Task

The Failure of Credentials (part 2/2)

Arsenio Foreword: Jiun went through the same thing I went through.  While I was sitting outside one morning after USA’s basketball team got ripped apart by the greeks in the FIBA World Championships in 2006, I was talking to a friend (at the time) name Kristine and I told her that I wanted to be an orthodontist.

How ridiculous of an idea that was at the time? Well, it was all about the money, but with the amount of debt I would’ve racked up, I would have been screwed forever.

Sometimes we need these resets in life.  When I was telling another friend about making a career change on my couch in 2008, I told him, “maybe I should just do a minor dental assisting to see if I even like it, and it was the BESTTTTTTT decision I ever made in my life because the dental field — was NOT for me.

In terms of automated jobs and not acquiring skills that will ultimately prepare us for the next couple of decades (especially when AI is 100% going), Jiun is here to explain it again.

He went on to emphasize the 21st-century economy and that it is undergoing a transition from traditional jobs to an entrepreneurial economy because of technology democratising resources that allowed people to become entrepreneurs with a fraction of the cost. Taylor Pearson went on to prove his theory by coming up with case studies like lifestyle entrepreneurs that he networked with during his days as their employee before he ventured out on his own. Also, he emphasized the importance of apprenticeship was better than traditional Socratic and scholastic educational system of the traditional educational system by colleges or universities.

The tech titans in Silicon Valley like Apple, IBM and Google — even Facebook — started to hire people from the non-traditional routes like learning through MOOC and other micro-colleges or universities that emphasized on mastery learning and blended learning.  Also, they are beginning to recognise talents from high school dropouts or never being to college due to higher student debts. With higher student debts, it causes many students questioning their return on investment on their paper credential.

The flaw of the brick and mortar university education will be too rigid in a world of fast pace changes where some graduates finish their schooling would realise their skills are already outdated as being emphasised by a self-help book by a foreign student from Nigeria known as ‘The Tribute’. It was because getting good grades no longer guarantees you a well-paid job because of limited upgraded skills. The writer emphasised continuous learning or lifelong learning to keep your brain young as it was quoted by Albert Einstein — that learning will keep you young and you are old when you stop learning.

In an age of democratised information, educational credentialism has become increasingly irrelevant as many young people are enrolling in colleges or universities competing for better jobs. The competition, as we all know, is getting intense — and value for an educational credential will become extrinsic. Typical autodidacts like Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning could learn skills like coding and other technical skills for a typical geek that could learn and run their lifestyle business for free, and at the same time, at a fraction of a cost — even an expensive online course would be around $1000 to $2000 USD.

The major reason most tech titans will probably start hiring people from outside the traditional route is because the tolerance of diversity and being passionate is a skill that was overlooked. Based on Google Inc research, the greatest skill of all time that never has never been certified or been taught in school, will be having passion for a job.

Companies are hiring with or without degrees because they know we’re are going to soon live in a degreeless world.  When that happens, universities will switch and start charing obscene amounts of money for the skills that are being learned now in the younger generations.

The Failure of Credentials (part 1/2)

Last year, my friend bought me a book that captured my attention about Malaysian youth unemployment that was higher than our Southeast Asian neighbours. Here the question popped up, ‘why Malaysian millennials like me can’t secure employment with a better pay cheque and move up the corporate ladder?’ and ‘did it have something to do with our flawed education system and higher education institutions that only produced unemployable fresh graduates that aren’t competitive with unmarketable skill sets?’ After all, youth unemployment was a problem back in the early 90s that coincided with the Age of Information! It just kept me wondering back then when I was in upper primary, secondary and college days as I always heard these words being whispered” “nowadays, college/university students can’t secure good jobs with good pay cheques.”

As the world economy makes the transition to a new type of economy; the higher education system, which is still built on an archaic model that required students to work in factories, has never gone through a radical reform except for the curricula of schools on school white paper. Here is the catch, it explained why youth unemployment is a real problem for policymakers at the same time they managed successfully to experiment on alternative education, which was student-centric. What is did was put emphasis on hands-on learning by getting students to work on projects. These students had higher chances of getting employment!

The book that I read was ‘The End of Jobs’ by Taylor Pearson. He was invited to give a talk  about his book ‘The End of Jobs’. In his book, he argued that with the internet, you can build a product’s prototype by hiring freelancers from the marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and Guru. Also, you can buy products by sourcing them from AliBaba, a marketplace for suppliers or manufacturers. He even went on further to propose about the educational credential had its own intrinsic value as he had drawn up two scenarios of two graduates who were employed where the other one went on a different route because of he or she was pissed off about the traditional 9 to 5 by becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur just like Taylor Pearson, himself, who took that kind of route. It sounds familiar among the modern day fresh graduate to have the call of the wild.

Taylor Pearson proposed that the economy is undergoing a transition from jobs to an entrepreneurial economy just like hundreds of years ago where society in the past used went through many transitions of the economy.  Later, with the success of the Gutenberg press that distributed the printing of the Bible into mass circulation that led to the printing of knowledge to be distributed massively to the people in Europe. Here, another transition from powerful royalty and aristocrats into the rule of the people due to a distributed knowledge that has already been through the power of printing.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 2 – Episode 49 – Vocabulary – Phrasal Verbs (Reading & Writing)

Some more phrasal verbs for my students out there! I’ve had a request from one of my ex-students to do more of these, so here I am — doing more of them!


Read these sentences.  Can you guess the meaning of the phrasal verbs in italics?

  1. I don’t want to stop now.  I seriously want to read on to the end.
  2. Can you read out your answer so we can all hear it?
  3. I don’t understand some of these words.  I’m going to look them up in the dictionary.
  4. I want you all to turn over the page and continue reading.
  5. Read the sentences and then fill in the gaps.
  6. He flicked through the channels until he found something entertaining to watch.
  7. It doesn’t look good when you make a lot of mistakes on your application and cross them out instead of using ‘white out.’


Match the phrasal verbs in 1 with the definitions. 

a. Read so that other people can hear you properly.

b. Scribbling on paper.

c. Write information in the choices that are blank.

d. Find information in a book.

e. Continue reading.

f. Turn a page to the other side.

g. Changing the channel quickly.