Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 166 | Listening | Surfing and Interpreting Idioms

We’ve got a fascinating podcast today. We’re going to be listening and matching sentence parts to complete a summary of the program. After that, we’re going to listen and interpret idioms, which are fixed expressions that use images and metaphor to describe things.

In saying that, here’s the first part.

  1. The host introduces
  2. The writer identifies
  3. The writer outlines
  4. The host introduces
  5. The surfer describes
  6. The surfer explains
  7. The surfer identifies
  8. The surfer describes
  9. The host introduces
  10. The critic provides

a. how she became interested in the sport.

b. an error of thought.

c. the history of surfing.

d. a surfer.

e. a writer.

f. specific benefits of being a surfer.

g. how surfers feel about the sport.

h. a theory about the popularization of surfing.

i. a critic.

j. features of the equipment used.

Listening to Interpret Idioms

They must have had nerves of steel, given the size of the waves and the design of the boards, which were actually made to be difficult to maneuver.

Idioms can be difficult for language learners because the connections between image and idea may not be immediately obvious. Idioms in the learner’s own language may use different ideas and images. However, despite these differences, it is often possible to deduce the meaning of the expression.

– Think about the context the idiom was used in.

– Consider the actual meaning of words in the idiom.

– Look for connections and relationships with the context.

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Listen to extracts from the interviews and complete the idioms.

  1. Dicing with _______ was an important part of the activity.
  2. The town ________ to bursting with surfers from all over the world.
  3. I loved to watch them and I suppose that’s when the bug __________.
  4. …. only a ________ of surfers ever strike it
  5. ….. but we don’t ________ over spilled _________.
  6. They can ________ an arm and a leg for professionals.
  7. ….using artificial materials was a quantum __________ in surfboard construction.
  8. To be honest, your _______ is as good as mine! Part of it is just the luck of the _______.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Real Discussions | Exxon Mobil’s Global Destruction

Pfft, I was thinking for so long that these companies such as PTT, Exxon Mobil and Shell were GREAT. The word Exxon Mobil just sounds like an amazing company, right? When you think Exxon you think hat-wearing people who are “pro-environment,” BOY WAS I WRONG!

Simply put, Exxon Mobil is a greenhouse gas emitting juggernaut the Donald Trump supports. They knew about climate change back in the late 70s and stopped everyone from making it happen. They’re responsible for over 10k oil spills around the world, including the dumping grounds in Nigeria where there are constant battles of “black-market oil” because the constant spills that have now inundated food supply, further worsening the already bleak food supply in the region. The Niger Delta’s mangrove populations have been completely slashed, and with Exxon Mobil infiltrating poor-black countries, it’s happening back home in America, too.

Welcome to real discussions, a now-new series on my ESL podcast the features a range of vocabulary and things that are happening around the world that must be brought to our attention.

TOEFL iBT | Part 2 Question | Speaking | New Tutoring System

Welcome back to another TOEFL iBT speaking question, everyone! And in today’s TOEFL iBT practice, we have the part II speaking question break down that will help you pick up the main ideas so you can include it in your speaking. Watch my note-taking on the video (notes down below) and look at what to include in your speaking question. Now remember, the reading portion should be a brief summary (no more than 7 seconds long) and the rest should be focused on what you hear. Don’t waste too much time on the reading aspect.

Reading – Starting next term, our school will begin a new tutoring system, where all first-year students will be assigned a senior tutor. The main goal for the tutor is to help their student to understand what it takes to be successful at school. This is mandatory for all freshmen, so we are looking for motivated senior students to sign up. On January 15th, there will be an assembly for all senior students interested in becoming a first-year student’s tutor.


Wonderful idea

Helping people

Assigned one senior student and all aspect of school

how can that help?

Key facts: how to take notes effectively, could use that advice, succeeding at school

selecting courses, inexperienced, benefit from senior students

My Best Test


Listening –

Listening – Female: Did you hear about the new tutoring system? I think it is a wonderful idea and I am thinking of joining it as a tutor.

Male: Great idea. You are always helping people with their school work so I think you will make a great tutor.

Female: Actually! There is more to the tutoring system than just helping people with the school work. Each first-year student is assigned one senior tutor that helps with all aspects of school.

Male: That sounds interesting, but I don’t think I want that if I was a first-year student. I don’t see how that could help anyone.

Female: Well, there are some key facts about school that I think a senior student can really help a first-year with, like how to take notes effectively. Many first-year students can really use that advice because taking notes is very important to succeeding at school.

Male: That’s true but other than that, what else can you help them with?

Female: Okay! There is also selecting courses. Many first-year students are inexperienced in selecting courses and can benefit from the senior student’s experiences.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 165 | Discussion Point | Why Are Oceans Important?

We’re back with a totally new segment and we’re now getting into sun, sea, energy, and all things economy. So, what I’ll be discussing in an infographic in my podcast down below is about food, jobs, economy, and climate. Also, these are the discussion points.

  • Which of the categories is most important in your region of the world?
  • What negative effects might some of the points have on world’s oceans?
  • How should we prioritize the uses of the ocean?
  • What are the most important future considerations for the ocean?

Then we’ll be listening to an audio about sun, sea, and energy.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 164 | Gateway to Exams | Are Sports Stars Born or Made? | All Four-Skills

Welcome to Gateway to Exams! This is going to be a LONG ONE! We have reading, speaking, listening and writing ALL-IN-ONE! I’m going to write the majority down below, but remember to tune into the podcast for the listening and speaking segments! Let’s get into it!


What separates a competent player in a school or local team, form a gold-medal winning start? At what stage is it possible to identify potential new starts — in childhood, the teenage years or not until adulthood? Is that potential determined by their genes or their environment? Certainly, there is plenty of superficial evidence for the importance of genes.

1. ___. Well, the short answer is, maybe. That’s because, when we dig deeper into the influence of genes, we find that this is a highly complex area of science. Let’s take something as straightforward as height. It’s reasonable to assume that someone’s height is going to have a major impact on how far they can progress in certain sports like basketball or high jump. And research has also established that it’s a highly heritable characteristic — 80% is down to genes and 20% environment and diet.

2. ___. None of this is to say that genes aren’t important. It’s just that there are other aspects of sports performance that are going to be easier to identify and manipulate. For starters, few young athletes would be able to get involved with sports at all without help from their parents, who provide valuable resources including transportation, finance and emotional support. then it’s also widely recognized that coaches contribute to an athlete’s development in numerous ways.

3. ___. In deed, Sir Clive Woodward, formerly the England rugby coach, believes that there are very few things that cannot be coached. However, most coaches would also recognize that there are certain influences that they do not control and one of the most crucial of these is the wider culture. Why do so many good ice hockey players come from Canada? Footballers from Brazil? Rugby players from New Zealand?

4. ___. Admittedly, there’s little that most sportspeople can do to influence this. But what is relatively easy to change is where a young athlete grows up. Evidence suggests that this should be neither too small nor too big: minor towns lack the necessary facilities and in larger centers and facilities become overloaded. There’s also the debate about age. Is it better to allow children to play a broad spectrum of sports before choosing a specialization, or to specialize young?

5. ___. Given this, specializing too young could be a mistake. But whichever route an athlete takes, this has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with the environment. So is there any role at all for genetics in determining top athletes? The answer seems to be a qualified ‘yes’. That’s because knowing more about our genetic make-up can provide information of great value to athletes.

6. ___. The truth, then, is that top athletes need both nature and nurture. Few, if any, are going to make it to the very top on raw talent alone; it will take years of dedicated training and coaching as well. But certain inherent physical abilities may predispose an individual to reach the highest ranks of a particular sport.


A. The most obvious is to optimize the athlete’s training and so enable them to advance to higher levels of attainment. But their role is wider than is generally understood and may include everything from nutrition to psychology.

B. The choice may vary depending on the individual. Remember, however, that many sports complement each other, lending skills that can transfer to another discipline and enhance a youthful athlete’s abilities.

C. However, that’s where the simplicity ends. Scientists have — so far — identified hundreds of thousands of different variations in DNA that can account for how tall someone is.

D. How else can we explain why some athletes become world-class within 12 months of taking up a sport, while others train for years and are never more than mediocre? Is there any other explanation for why certain countries like Jamaica seem to dominate sprint races while East African athletes dominate distance running events?

E. It may the sort of foods or training programs that are most beneficial fo their body type or learning more about their susceptibility to certain injuries. And it might provide insights into which sports they’re most likely to excel at.

F. That’s because athletes have so far shown very little enthusiasm for this sort of experimentation. Instead, they have preferred to rely on established techniques.

G. this is one aspect of elite sporting success that’s difficult to pin down, but, say the experts, hard to overstate. The fact remains that certain national identities seem to have so much invested in one particular sport that it makes further success in that sport inevitable.

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You are going to listen to five people talking about doing voluntary work. Listen and complete both tasks.

Task 1

For questions 1-5, choose from the list (A-H) what type of voluntary work each speaker is talking about. There are three extra letters which you do not need ot use.

A. collecting money on the streets

B. environmental work

C. helping at a homeless shelter

D. helping at a hospital

E. helping at a library

F. charity shop assistant

G. building a skate park

H. website creation

Task 2

For questions 6-10, choose from the list (A-H) the reason each speaker gives for doing this voluntary work. There are three extra letters which you do not need to use.

A. researching a future career

B. developing business contracts

C. getting to know a new area

D. relieving stress

E. acquiring new skills

F. keeping physically fit

G. being part of a team

H. believing in the cause.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 163 | Listening | Conservation Program

Welcome back to another listening, everyone! This is an IELTS-style type of listening. And before we get into it, I want to first go over a skill. While listening, don’t just write the first ‘possible’ answer that seems to fit the gap as this may be a distractor. Listen carefully: does the speaker give other information that may provide a better answer? Now, in saying that, let’s get into it.

– Silvia describes the accommodation as (1) _________

– She hadn’t expected to collect so much (2) _________ from the beach.

– She admits to needing more (3) _________ when she constructed the fences.

– She describes the researchers’ efforts to save the seals as (4) _________.

– Silvia’s team leader sometimes asked her to take on the role of (5) ___________.

– She is surprised at the number of (6) _________ which developed during the time on the island.

– She admits to feeling nervous about the (7) ________ at the end of the week.

– Silvia uses the word (8) _________ to convey her feelings about her time on the conservation program.

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Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 162 | Life Skills Reading and Listening | Part II | One-Minute Interview

We have an entrepreneur and a networking expert who’s going to talk about a networking website to help people find the work opportunities they really want. No, this isn’t a personal interview, but an audio. The script is down below (or in the podcast), as well as a breakdown of the audio and a listening in regards to two people meeting for the first time.

Many young people don’t go to conferences and presentations. How should they start network?

For start, I’d recommend making the effort to join a club where you can find people with the same interests. I’d also suggest looking for voluntary work or helping out at community events for the same reason. Both these kinds of activities can potentially introduce you to useful contacts who might be impressed by your attitude and initiative. Even if you’re naturally shy, you should be able to make small talk about the things you have in common. Ask questions and listen attentively to the answers: you might be able to use any personal information to restart a conversation when you make contact again. And when you’re at an event, set yourself a target: decide how many people to talk to, and how many email addresses you’re planning to ask for. Even if you later decide that the contact isn’t worth following up, be courteous and email to say how it was a pleasure to meet that person. You never know — further down the line — an opening in their company may come up and you want them to retain a positive impression of you.

Is it worth taking a different approach and emailing someone at a company directly?

Yes, but make sure you approach the right person in the hierarchy. One way to do this is by searching for their LinkedIn profile; it’ll tell you what their current responsibilities are; and what they’ve done previously. it may even say what they feel passionate about — a good hook if you’re trying to find common ground. if you’re still not sure who you should be talking to, call the company, and ask them to point you in the right direction.

How can you make sure your email gets read?

No matter who you’re writing to, remember that everyone is busy. Therefore be specific about what you want. A vague ‘I’d like your help’ will see your email swiftly deleted. So decide before you reach for the keyboard what you’re asking for; perhaps a week’s work experience or an internship or a useful academic program. Keep things concise: you can always attach a ‘Further details can be provided on request’ line if you think it’s necessary.

How can you make sure you get a reply?

It’s human nature to want to feel important, so a bit of flattery can sometimes work. Explain to the person why you’ve selected them: admit you’ve researched their LinkedIn profile and been impressed by their awards, or you’ve noticed a recent project success. After you’ve sent the email, wait for a few days before following up by phone. Chances are you won’t be offered any immediate work, but it’s a chance to make a good impression. Some one-to-one live conversation will always do this more effectively than a chat between avatars. You can ask politely if they’d mind you staying in touch.

And what if things are going well — and the other person does want to extend the conversation?

I can’t stress enough that trust is vital, so however tempting it may be, do not inflate and embellish your achievements and qualifications, or you will risk destroying this. Show you’ve done research and impress the other person with your knowledge at the company and its products. A bit of enthusiasm can go a long way. At the end of the conversation, thank them for taking time out to talk to you. Most people will have some empathy for your situation: after all, they’ve probably been there themselves.

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Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 161 | Life Skills Speaking | How to Network | The Different People

Let’s talk about networking! I’ll be typing some questions up and bulletpoints (on my blog if you’re reading this elsewhere) and we’re going to talk about ways you can network. Let’s get into this long podcast.

  1. What kind of job would you like to do after university? Or would you like to move into? What career field or path would you like to make a leap into?
  2. What is it that appeals to you about this kind of job?

Networking – You

  • Local librarians
  • Your teachers
  • Other teachers
  • Local people (shop assistants)
  • Friends
  • Friends of friends
  • Friends’ parents
  • Family friends
  • Family
  • Family work colleagues
  • Neighbors
  • Neighbors’ work colleagues
  • Neighbors’ friends


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 160 | Speaking Model | Past Modals in Conditionals, Catenation and Elision

You are going to learn about using past modals in conditionals when you speak, catenation, and elision, and preparing and asking questions.

  1. What changes are being discussed?
  2. Why does the management want them?
  3. Who is running the discussion: a lecturer, a member of the management team, or a student?

As you know, the college is proposing some major changes in the coming year. We’re here today to discuss one of these — that is, changes to the courses offered by the college. The college has always offered the more traditional courses in language, business, and math. However, the thinking now is to move to more up-to-date, 21st century courses. You’ve all read the information about these changes, so let’s start the ball rolling.. First question, please.

I have one — a fairly basic one…What exactly is the college planning to change?

Well, the idea is to offer courses that will appeal to employers and students alike. And remember, students are changing… and I are already “old.” To plan for future changes, we need to consider our younger brothers and sisters. What will they want to study? What jobs will they do in the future? The college has done that before. Just think, we would never have had our amazing technology courses if the college had focused on the present and the past. But we need to remember, change, by definition, never stops. these courses are already outdated.

So, can you give us some examples of specific courses the college wants to offer?

At this early stage, there is no list. The management wants to go through a period of consultation, with each party involved sharing their thoughts in an open and positive way. So these “parties” are obviously us, the students, but also the lecturers, the local employers, and even schools and, as I mentioned, the younger generation. However, the management doesn’t want to restrict the discussion by always being involved. They learned that lesson from the discussions about changing college schedules. They acknowledge they shouldn’t have tried to control the agenda. The whole process would have been a lot more positive if they had allowed student-centered discussion groups. But anyways….that’s history now.

Why does the management think these changes are necessary now? Couldn’t they wait until next year…the year after?

If education hadn’t changed over the past few thousand years, we would still be counting with stones now. We have to move with the times. and those times are now.

When do you see the first of these courses being offered?

Well, off the record, I think it won’t be until….

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