Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 4 – Episode 132 – Study Skills – Effective Note-Taking

How do you usually make notes on audio programs you listen to? Videos on YouTube? Or even in classrooms? Do you review your notes after the lesson? If so, how do you do it? If not, why not?

Note-Taking Skills

Note-taking skills are essential, but not everyone knows how to do it. It’s not simply a case of writing down everything the teacher says. Good note-taking requires students to evaluate, organize and summarize information and is a key life skill for students to learn. Students who take notes are seven times more likely to remember information one week after a lesson than those who simply listen. There are different ways to record information, and it’s best to find the system that suits your learning style, but here are some suggestions to help.

Before the lesson

– Start by reviewing the notes from the previous lesson and look at the major ideas or specific facts that you were taught. Think of questions you would like to ask the teacher. This will help refresh your memory and get you ready for the lesson to come.

– Start a new page, and write the date.

– Organize your page in a way that suits you best. One way to do this is to draw a line down the center of the page, leaving about two thirds of the width to the right, and a third to the left. The right-hand section is where you will write your notes during the lesson, and the left-hand side is for reviewing and organizing later.

During the Lesson

– Don’t try to write down everything the teacher says. The average student writes only 1/3 of a word per second, while the average teacher says 2-3 words. Keep your notes brief. Write an outline of the key concepts, with supporting facts and examples using short phrases or sentences only.

– Develop your own system of abbreviations, such as w/for ‘with’ or use mathematical symbols, e.g. <, =, Aim to be consistent with these so that you recognize them easily when you re-read your notes.

– Listen for clues from the teacher about how to organize your notes. Often a lesson will begin with a summary of the points that will be covered. Then the teacher will use phrases to signal what’s important, e.g. ‘There are two points of view…, “The third reason is….’The lesson may then also end with a summary of what has been said.

– Organize the main point son the page in a way that suits you best, for example using bullet points, or a mind map.

After the Lesson

– As soon as the lesson finishes, take a moment to look over your notes. Use this time to highlight in color, or underline key concepts, or to write questions if anything isn’t clear.

– Within 24 hours, look at your notes again to help transfer information from your short – to long-term memory. If you’ve left a margin on the left of the page, write here key words that summarize the main ideas of the lesson. If the notes are clear, you won’t need to waste time writing everything up again.

– Regularly reviewing, reciting and practicing your notes is the best way to learn and remember them.

Gateway B2+

Task on Patreon


You’re going to hear a lecture about language. Everything you just read will be implemented.

Stephen Covey’s Action Plan on Trust

As promised in my podcast, this is the action plan with behaviors 1-13 and here’s an excerpt, along with the action plan, so you can figure out what needs to be done intrinsically.

In the beginning of this 13 behaviors section, I used a personal challenge for you to make this material highly relevant and actionable by identifying two relationships — one professional and one in personal — in which you wanted to build trust. I said that at the end of the section, I would give you the opportunity to look back, determine which two or three behaviors would make the greatest difference, and create an action plan to create change.

Well, here we are. If you didn’t do it before, I encourage you to do it now. This is where you can make decisions that will build trust, that will transform taxes into dividends, that will improve your relationships with two people, and — geometrically — with many others, as well.

Many people find it helpful to use a chat such as this one below. If this approach works for you, I suggest you start with one relationship. Go over the behaviors. Mark on the continuum where you think you are now with regard to each one. Then go back and circle the two or three behaviors that you feel will make the greatest positive difference.

Identify one or two next steps for each of those behaviors to create change. You may want to use one of the Trust Tips at the end of each chapter, or you may come up with something that will work better in your situation. The key is to make the steps actionable and to make and keep a commitment to yourself to do them.

Then go back and do the same for the second relationship you chose.

As you create your plan, keep in mind that the quickest way to make a withdrawal is to violate a behavior or character; the quickest way to make a deposit is to demonstrate a behavior of competence. This may help you in determining how to most quickly build trust in your situation.

If you prefer to use a different approach to implementation, that’s fine. However, you may still want to look at the chart. It will give you an overview of all 13 Behaviors, including their opposites and counterfeits. It’s a good way to capture a vision of the way high-trust leaders interact with others.

Stephen Covey
BehaviorCurrent PerformanceOpposite/
Talk Straight___/____/____/____/____/Lie, spin, tell half
___/____/____/____/____/Don’t care or don’t
show you care.
___/____/____/____/____/Withhold information;
keep secrets;
Right Wrongs___/____/____/____/____/Don’t admit or
repair mistakes
Show Loyalty___/____/____/____/____/Sell others out; take the credit
___/____/____/____/____/Fail to deliver
on activities.
Get Better___/____/____/____/____/Deteriorate; don’t
invest in improvement
___/____/____/____/____/Bury your head in the sand;
focus on busywork
___/____/____/____/____/Assume expectations
or don’t disclose them.
___/____/____/____/____/Don’t take responsibility.
Listen First___/____/____/____/____/Don’t listen; speak first, listen
___/____/____/____/____/Break commitments;
violate promises.
Extend Trust___/____/____/____/____/Withhold trust;
fake trust and then

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 4 – Episode 37 – Speaking Task: Pros & Cons for Inventions

Here we go! You’re going to make either a writing prompt or a freewriting segment on the pros and cons of the following inventions.

Look at the following inventions….how have they changed the way we live?


eating habits energy entertainment
the environment fitness free time friendship health
privacy school sleep stress work

Tune into my Silver Badge ($10 a month) to hear the remaining 12 inventions in podcast/video form.

Napoleon Hill: Cooperation – The Necessary Instructions For Action

Gary Vee kind of s***s on the secret, saying that “if you think you’re just going to visualize sitting in a yacht, thing again!”  He was talking on The Breakfast Club, a controversial show, and shortly after one of the speakers said, “hey, I actually believe that – but you have to follow it with action.”

See you have physical action and mental action.  You can be very active with your mind while your body is inactive.  If you believe that visualizing a billion dollars in your lap will make you obtain a billion dollars without inspired action or a burning desire, think again.

There are some men of action.  One his a dynamo and one is a balanced wheel.

The man who is a “balanced-wheel” who does nothing but compile facts, figures and statistics is just as much as a man of action as the man who goes upon the platform and sells an idea to a thousand people by the sheer power of his active personality.

A good reference is when a man, who has hated me, called for a meeting and almost my ahead.  He sat there showing statistics that were completely covering up the internal problem of the company.  He said, “your renewals are going down.”  I can sit here and justify why my renewals are going down, but the fact and matter is that one of the “top” academic teachers in the company had a 30% lower mark in renewals than me – yet I was being scrutinized heavily for students “not renewing.”

“The world pays you for what you do and not for what you know.”

This statement could be a bit misconstrued.  What the world really pays you for is what you do and what you can make others do.

A man who can make others co-operate and do effective team-work, or inspire others so that the become more active, is no less a man of action than the man who renders effective service in a more direct manner. – Napoleon Hill

The main purpose of this book and what I’m trying to convey is to help you analyze yourself and determine what your native ability.  Figuring out your definite chief-aim is the first part.

Let’s now talk about how action can be developed.

First: Form the habit of doing each day the most distasteful tasks first.  This procedure will be difficult at first, but after you have formed the habit you will take pride in pitching into the hardest and most undesirable part of your work first.

THE MUNDANE TASKS! Remember I’ve been saying this for almost two years.  Completing the most mundane tasks first and free-ing up those attention units are pivotal.  Some people like to brush it aside, but get it done, and out of the way first.

Example, if I have to write monotonously boring reports for students, bet your a$$ I’m going to do it almost immediately.  The philosophy in terms of putting something on paper for a student rather than explaining it to them face-to-face is quite unsettling.

If someone tells me to do something that I don’t want to do…but that I have to do, I’m going to hurry up and do it.

Another example is preparing for a big project.  If my colleagues say: “could you please send this, come in and talk to us about this…blah blah blah” – I’m going to do that immediately.

Second: Place this sign in front of you where you can see it in your daily work, and put a copy in your bedroom, where it will greet you as you retire and when you arise: “Do not tell them what you can do; show them!”

Third: Repeat the following words, aloud, twelve times each night just before you go to sleep: “Tomorrow I will do everything that should be done, when it should be done, and as it should be done.  I will perform the most difficult tasks first because this will destroy the habit of procrastination and develop the habit of action in its place.”

Fourth: Carry Out These Instructions with faith in their soundness and with belief that they will develop action, in body and in mind, sufficient to enable you to realize your definite chief-aim.


How To Eliminate 50% of Your Business Worries

“If you are in business, you are probably saying to yourself right now: “The title of this is ridiculous! I have been running my business for 5, 10, 20 years; and I certainly know the answers if anybody does.  The idea of anybody trying to tell me how I can eliminate 50% of my business worries – it’s absurd!” – Dale Carnegie.

Fair enough.  However, to be frank, there’s already an array of techniques out there such as the 80/20 rule, which is basically finding out what’s 80% of your unhappiness and can you get rid of it – that you can use.

Tim Ferris said in his book that there was one particular client he had that was always nagging, bitching, complaining, and gave him an earful on a daily basis.  Since the client wasn’t really making him any money, he broke it down and gave him an ultimatum.  It wasn’t what the client wanted to hear, but what he needed to hear.

I’ve done this with a many of my colleagues over the last 8 years of my life working in three different countries.  Some of them backed away after I blew up, some of them try sabotaging the workplace and turned other colleagues against me, and others unwittingly quit.


“Positive friends versus time-consuming friends: Who is helping versus hurting you, and how do you increase your time with the former while decreasing or eliminating your time with the latter?

Who is causing me stress disproportionate to the time I spend with them? What will happen if I simply stop interacting with these people? Fear-setting helps here.
When do I feel starved for time? What commitments, thoughts, and people can I eliminate to fix this problem?” – Tim Ferris

This helped me a lot.  Now, I basically initiate conversations at the workplace because I know 90% of the conversations will bring me grief.  (LOL)

Going back into Dale Carnegie now…..

There was a man named Leon Shimkin, a general manager for Rockefeller decades ago.  He had troubling times at work because he would hold conferences, discussing problems all day with no end line.  The arguing and tension would go around the room for hours and when night came, he would be utterly exhausted because of the ordeal.

Well, after fifteen years of getting nothing accomplished at conferences, he came across this specific technique that would change those troubling associates and conferences to something much more effective.

  1. What’s the problem?
  • I recall reading in Jack Canfield’s book a very important part of a principle called “Heart talk.”  Sitting in a circle, you would be given one piece of paper, sign, or object that you would pass around the room.  The object would be NOT to comment on what others say, but to state what has happened on your end.  No one can interrupt the speaker, either.  This could be very effective for the masses out there.

2. What is the cause of the problem?

  • Always go to the root of the problem.  There was a saying a long time ago that I half remember now in terms of taking off the animal’s head because it can’t return after.  I’ve worked with so many colleagues since being here in Thailand who were parasites.  They had insidious agendas and they were full of question marks (about their past life).  This type of workplace madness (my next blog) is what you do not want to be around.  Get rid of the problem.

3. What are the possible solutions of the problem?

  • In the workplace, it’s better to just part ways.  If you have someone who rants about how bad a country is day in and day out, you can’t change that specific individual.  The parting of ways is best.  However, if it’s a problem that can become undone by a shift in the awareness, do that before.  If it’s an individual who constantly bitches about the world, stay the hell away from them.

4. What solution do you suggest?

  • In order to answer these questions, you’re going to have to get all the facts and think your problems through.


Tim Ferris’ Rough Patch & The Point

During his 2013 year, he went on a downward spiral for about three months including:

  • Cried while watching Rudy. (lol. Sorry – had to laugh)
  • Repeatedly hit snooze for 1 to 3 HOURS past his planned wake time, because he simply didn’t want to face the day.
  • Considered giving everything away and moving to Montreal, Seville, or Iceland. Location varies based on what he imagined escaping to.
  • Saw a therapist for the first time, as he was convinced that he was doomed to lifelong pessimism.
  • Took his daily caffeine intake (read: self-medication) so high that his “resting” pulse was 120+ beats per minute. 8 to 10 cups of coffee per day at minimum.
  • Wore the same pair of jeans for a week straight.

We all go through this.  Three months is almost the breaking point which someone begins having suicidal thoughts.  I had this point for about 1 day just a couple days ago and I tried identifying what was the root – nothing.  Thoughts were simply wandering.

In that same time frame of about two months, he changed it all around.

  • Increased his passive income 20%+.
  • Bought his dream house.
  • Meditated twice per day for 20 minutes per session, without fail. That marked the first time he’d been able to meditate consistently.
  • Ended up cutting his caffeine intake to next-to-nothing (in the last 4 weeks).
  • With the help of his blog readers, raised $100,000+ for charity: water for his birthday.
  • Raised $250,000 in 53 minutes for a startup called Shyp.
  • Signed one of the most exciting business deals of his last 10 years—his TV show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment.
  • Added roughly 20 pounds of muscle.

    Realized—once again—that manic-depressive symptoms are just part of entrepreneurship.  Came to feel closer to all my immediate family members.

I guess that’s probably what swallowed me just a few days ago.  Not having any schedule blog posts, podcast plays being low, YouTube becoming ineffective….during those ensuing hours, I was pulling what little hair I have left around my head OUT and couldn’t even focus during my gym hour.


  • Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen.
  • Make a cup of tea (or I take my vitamins after priming) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
  • Write down the 3 to 5 things—and no more—that are making you the most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually equals most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
  • For each item, ask yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” “Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?” Put another way: “What, if done, will make all of the rest easier or irrelevant?”
  • Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
  • Block out at 2 to 3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.

“It doesn’t take much to seem superhuman and appear “successful” to nearly everyone around you. In fact, you just need one rule: What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important.
If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:
Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” – Tim Ferris