{Patreon Special} TOEFL iBT Listening | Discussion | Missing the Trip

Another Patreon special is here! In today’s exclusive badge, I’ve debut the TOEFL iBT Discussion “Missing the Trip,” which a student consults his teacher about missing an upcoming trip. Remember, these episodes are uploaded on a daily basis, so if you’re interested in having these, message me today!


{Patreon Special} TOEFL iBT Reading | Railroads in 19th Century America

Welcome back, everyone! I haven’t been posting blogs lately, but I’m back and giving you sneak peeks into what I have on my Patreon! Three segments are uploaded daily: reading, listening, and an integrated task. For $50 a month, you will have access to these and so much more, so make sure you reach out to me for more details! Here’s the reading segment and questions are available on my Patreon!

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[1] Life in America – and the nation itself – looked very different at the start and close of the 19th century. In 1800, 93% of the people in the United States lived in small towns or on farms, and two-thirds of those people lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. They had no concept of fixed time: towns set their clocks based on the rising of the sun, so when it was midnight in New York, it was 11:55 in Philadelphia. Travel between these two major cities took two days by horse and carriage, prohibitively slow for most people, who had little reason to travel in any case. Their concerns were decidedly local, not national. The country didn’t even have a national anthem until 1812. Of course, all of this changed quite quickly, with rapid industrialization, westward expansion, and political unification, processes that are difficult to imagine without one accompanying development: the expansion of railroads.

[2] The industrial revolution – and “big” commerce in general – was fuelled (at least politically) by the Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812 with England. At stake was control over trade, and when the Americans decided to follow an approach of self-reliance, leaders (political and business) realized that American manufacturing would have to grow, and it did, along with trade in general within the United States. But the movement of goods along the coast and from manufacturing centers farther inland required new means of transport. Canals and highways simply couldn’t accommodate all that was being moved. And so thousands of miles of railroad track were laid throughout the East and Midwest.

[3] Moving goods by rail conferred several advantages, particularly financial. Railroads could be operated throughout the year, unlike shipping on water routes, many of which were subject to freezing in winter. Trains could also move significantly more goods at one time. What these two advantages meant was that shippers and commercial enterprises could carry smaller inventories and pay less for winter storage. They also saved on insurance costs and suffered fewer losses due to accidents and mishaps.

[4] By 1850, over 9,000 miles of track had been built, primarily in the North and Midwest, where every major city was linked by 1860. And in the heartland of American agriculture at this time, in the Corn Belt from Ohio to Iowa, fully 80% of the farms were no more than 5 miles from a railway. Of course, 1860 marked the beginning of an immensely important political struggle – the American Civil War – which would have looked much different without the railways. Both the North and the South used trains to move both men and equipment over great distances. In the end, the North’s more fully developed rail system served as an enormous advantage, and without it, things may have ended much differently.

[5] Before the war ended, the federal government passed a piece of legislation that was to launch the next wave of railway construction: the 1862 Pacific Railway Act. This act authorized the construction of a transcontinental railroad that would link east and west. The settlement of the American West would not have been possible without the railways, and the railways wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of the federal government.

[6] Between 1855 (before the Pacific Railway Act, in fact) and 1871, the government operated a system of land grants. They effectively gave a total of 129 million acres of land to new railways, land which the companies could sell or pledge as they saw fit to finance the construction of the transcontinental lines. Another 51 million acres was supplied by the separate states, and both state and federal governments provided a variety of subsidies to encourage construction. As a result, the first transcontinental line was finished in 1869, and between 1871 and 1900, with the help of the government, 170,000 miles of new track was laid throughout the country. And the western half of the continent became populated by hardworking farmers, many of whom were deeply indebted to the banks that financed their purchase of land from the railways.

[7] Thus, the America of the year 1800 was long gone. Industrialization, urbanization, and westward migration had changed the distribution of peoples on the continent. Economically, agriculture was now rivaled by industry and commerce. And the railroad companies that developed hand in hand with society and the economy had so much power that they could even dictate how people set their clocks, as “railroad time” trumped “natural time” and “local time.” By 1900, when it was 12:00 in New York, it was also 12:00 in Philadelphia.


Arsenio’s Business English Podcast | Season 6 | Sales | Customer Care: Managing Complaints

We’ve all been there, having angry people yell at us from the other side of the counter, rudeness of the maids in shopping centers (Bangkok), or even despicable customer service (the majority of what I encountered in Hong Kong). Now, I have my own online business, and that ceases to exist because I obviously give 120%. However, my place of work is a different story; and although that it is considerably better than living on the outskirts of Bangkok, there are people who have a tendency of complaining to the staff. So, how can you begin to handle complaints directly? Indirectly? Online? And what’s the process?

In today’s podcast, you’re going to learn the process which will guarantee customer satisfaction. 


TOEFL iBT | Listening | Lecture | Astrology

As requested by one of my Patreon students, I decided to make this available to the public by doing a video/podcast response to this specific lecture. I realized that this was one of the longest lecturers I had ever heard and my student had difficulty with comparing notes to the questions that were asked. Now, I love this particular segment because it was very difficult compared to other lecturers, and after hearing some of the listening excerpts on YouTube, I’m afraid that the majority of you will have difficulty if you come across a lengthy lecture on the test. Without further ado, let’s dive into this!


Astrology is…..

anthropology course

influenced by astrology

Roots from manifestations

asia, south america, modern day

what is astrology — celestial objects, stars, planets, moons, movement and position influence human events

broadest = search for meaning in sky

encompasses astronomy

without it, won’t have modern astronomy

no technological benefits of the skies

development = earliest records 25k years

prehistoric men made diagrams on cave walls

men examine, question, and understand process of natural world

bodies have no effect = not true

moon influences tides and rivers

awareness of this helped men and prepared for annual weather like floods

Predictive tool

ancient babylon

recording planetary movements 2k BC

they kept records for 21 years

2300 BC dated back

observations // not predictions

babylonian astrology was concerned with physical events = politics, earthquakes

position of stars can’t determine fate

gods associated with specific planets, displayed some erratic behavior, meant god was angry

Astronomy other cultures too

Alexnader the great = fundamental of the spread in Asia

Bablyloanian beliefs = greek culture

greek overtook international language

1st century BCE, two astrology, PAST, present, future and other soul and stars

greek culture spread to ancient rome

rome, astrology popular amongst lower orders of society

Cato, farmers danger

2nd century, juvenil, roman women hung on every word

high born astrological bug, tiberius started employing astrologers

intellectual romans said other planets are much further, they can only have a tiny influence compared to moons

ignores affect, parenting, health, medicine, have on other people’s characters and fate

Carnitus, belief in fate denied free will

Same time identical can live in tribes and cultures


1 What is the lecture mainly about?

  • how ancient astrology has influenced modern astronomy
  • the evolution of astrological beliefs and practices
  • a comparison of Babylonian and Greco-Roman astrology
  • ancient arguments against the power of astrology

2 What is implied about astrologers in ancient Rome?

  • They were more respected if they had Greek origins
  • They had significant influence, particularly over lower class people
  • They still utilized the ancient Babylonian script
  • They made significant contributions to the study of natural science

3 Which of the following practices took place in ancient Babylon? Choose 2 answers.

  • The positions of celestial bodies were extensively recorded
  • Kings communicated directly with the gods in the stars
  • People consulted astrologers to determine their futures
  • Precautions were taken when celestial omens were observed

4 What can be concluded about Cicero and Carneades?

  • Both of them saw good and bad aspects to astrology
  • Cicero had a negative view of astrology, while Carneades had a positive one
  • Both of them disagreed with the arguments put forward by astrologists
  • Cicero saw both good and bad sides to astrology, while Carneades had only a negative opinion

5 According to the professor, when did Astronomy begin to be used as predictive tool?

  • When Alexander conquered asla
  • Ancient Roman times
  • Around 25,000 years when prehistoric man made diagrams depicting lunar cycles on cave walls
  • Ancient Babylonian times

6 Which of the following is true about the development of Astrology?

  • By the 1st century BCE, there was only one strand of astrology concerned with reading about the past, present, and future
  • The earliest records of astronomical cycles dated back to ancient Babylonian times
  • Alexander contributed greatly to the spread of Astrology
  • Babylonian astrology was concerned with how the position of stars could determine a single person’s fate

TOEFL iTP | Grammar | Structure Mini-test #1

Welcome back to another full mini-test podcast! In today’s podcast, I will be covering a number of different sentences (as seen down below if you’re reading this blog) and break down each individual segment. You guys are going to enjoy this because this will be a round-up of all the past TOEFL iTP podcasts I’ve done, so make sure you refer back! We’re on the homestretch before we get into the Written Expression phase, so let’s kick this off with a BANG!

1. ________ by Anna Baldwin in 1878.

a. The invention of the vacuum milking machine

b. That the vacuum milking machine was invented

c. The vacuum milking machine, which was invented

d. The vacuum milking machine was invented

2. Dry cleaning is the process ________ clothes are cleaned in liquids other than water.

a. by

b. which through

c. by which

d. through

3. Sand dunes are made of loose sand _______ up by the action of the wind. a. it builds

b. builds

c. is building

d. built

4. ______________ book Jubilee, which was based on the life of her great-grandmother, Margaret Walker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

a. For her

b. Her

c. It was her

d. That her

5. Job specialization takes place ___________ of production is separated into occupations.

a. whenever the work is

b. when the work

c. is when the work

d. whenever working

6. _________ are hot is a common misconception.

a. All deserts

b. All deserts which

c. Of all deserts

d. That all deserts

7. ___________ imaginative stories about the origin of the game of chess.

a. Many of the

b. Many

c. There are many

d. Of the man

8. _____________ one of Canada’s greatest engineering projects, is a twenty-seven-mile long waterway between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

a. Because the Welland Ship Canal is

b. The Welland Ship Canal is

c. That the Welland Ship Canal is

d. The Welland Ship Canal,

9. A deep-tissue massage is a type of massage therapy ____________ on one part of the body, such as the lower back.

a. its concentration is

b. concentrating

c. why it concentrates

d. to be concentrated

10. One of the most powerful optical telescopes, the “Big Eye” at Mt. Palomar, ___________ a two-hundred-inch mirror.

a. has

b. that has

c. with

d. which

11. Elfego Baca, ___________ legendary Mexican-American folk hero, was a lawman in New Mexico in the late 1880s.

a. a

b. who, as a

c. was a

d. and he was a

12. __________ relatively inexpensive, the metal pewter can be fashioned into beautiful and useful objects.

a. Even it is

b. Despite

c. Nevertheless, it is

d. Although

13. _____________ is a general category that includes all mental states and activities.

a. What do psychologists call cognition

b. Psychologists call it cognition

c. What psychologists call cognition

d. Cognition, as it is called by psychologists, which

14. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote four novels, __________ The Scarlet Letter, became an American literary classic.

a. of which one,

b. which one

c. one of which,

d. one was

15. _____________ about four years for a new aircraft model to move from the preliminary design stage to the full-production stage.

a. It takes

b. Taking

c. That takes

d. To take


Answers next page

TOEFL iBT | Reading | Evolution of Language

Welcome back to another reading! We’re here with a TREMENDOUS read and with me breaking down the entire passage, yet again! I love doing these, especially for my students on my membership site. So, in saying that, it’s time to dive into this! Here’s the reading passage down below!

[1]  Linguistic evolution, both biological and the evolution of language as a changing system of communication, is a subject of debate. The biological plausibility of linguistic evolution has not had linguists on the center-stage of the debate. Recently language itself has come to be studied as an evolutionary process meeting all of the criteria perfectly: fragments of language are replicators, are subject to mutation, and are subject to selection.

[2]  Human language’s origin has been discussed for several centuries, however, there is still no consensus about the age or origin of human language. This is because there is a lack of direct evidence available. Scholars who have studied the origins of language have had to draw inferences from other kinds of evidence. Due to the shortage of empirical evidence, many scholars find the topic unsuitable for serious study. In fact, in 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris placed a ban on existing and future debates on the topic which lasted in most of the western world until the late twentieth century. However, since the early 1990s, a growing number of scientists have attempted to use new methods to try and solve what some consider “the hardest problem in science”.

[3]  The two focuses of the studies being conducted are language development and biological preconditions.  It is accepted that language development is a process that begins early in human life.  When infants are born they have no language to communicate with, but by the age of 4 months, they can discriminate different speech sounds and begin to babble. There has even been research showing that the fetus starts to recognize the sound and speech patterns of its mother’s voice in utero.

[4]  The recognition of speech sounds and patterns followed by attempts to recreate the sounds to communicate is the beginning of acquiring productive language.  This begins by the child using gestures and vocalizations to let others know their intent. As they learn and develop, new forms of vocalization take over and words are learnt to express the same concept as the gestures in a more easily understood format. This development of language shows that it is a learned behavior, but there is a biological aspect to the ability to acquire language that is being explored as well.

[5]  Evolutionary biologists are skeptical of claims made saying syntactic knowledge is transmitted in the human genome. Many non-biologists are of the belief that the ability to learn spoken language was developed through evolutionary processes and are able to be passed down genetically.  The ability to understand and speak human language is a combination of speech production skills, speech production abilities, and multisensory integration of sensory processing abilities.

[6]  One issue that is debated vehemently is whether the biological contribution includes capacities specific to language acquisition, also referred to as universal grammar. One hypothesis, argued by Noam Chomsky, is that children have language-specific abilities innately that facilitate and constrain language learning. Chomsky proposed humans are biologically pre-wired to learn a language at specific times in certain ways. However, since his development of the Minimalist Program, his latest version of the theory of syntactic structure, has reduced the element of universal grammar to the principle of recursion, therefore, voiding the original endeavor.

[7]  Researchers who follow the belief that grammar is learned instead of innate hypothesize the learning of language results from general cognitive abilities and the interactions between the learners and the people they interact with.  There have also been suggestions that it is the relatively slow growth development of the prefrontal cortex that allows humans to learn a language, unlike other species. Since the prefrontal cortex grows at a slower rate than other animals, more neuropathways are able to be formed within the brain.


1 According to paragraph 1, language meets all of the following criteria EXCEPT

  • fragments of language are replicators
  • fragments of language are subject to being multiplied
  • fragments of language are subject to mutation
  • fragments of language are subject to selection

2 In paragraph 2, the author includes the phrase “hardest problem in science”. What is the purpose of including this statement?

  • to voice an opinion of the subject
  • to demonstrate the struggles of the scientists
  • to give insight into how the subject is viewed by many scientists
  • to imply the importance of the topic

3 According to the passage, what is the focus of studies? Select 2 answers

  • universal grammar
  • language development
  • syntactic knowledge
  • biological preconditions

4 What can be inferred from paragraph 3?

  • language is vital to the development of children even in utero
  • human brains develop more quickly than perviously thought
  • it is important for a mother to think about how they talk while pregnant
  • infants in utero are more developed than previously thought

5 The word ‘they’ in paragraph 4 refers to:

  • researchers
  • the child
  • the mother
  • biologists

6 Which sentence is most similar to the following sentence from paragraph 5?

Many non-biologists are of the belief that the ability to learn spoken language was developed through evolutionary processes and are able to be passed down genetically.

  • the belief that the ability to learn spoken language was developed by evolutionary processes and can be passed down genetically is held by many non-biologists
  • non-biologists believe that the ability to learn a spoken language is genetically inherited
  • many non-biologists believe the ability to learn spoken language is passed down genetically because it was developed by evolution
  • non-biologists believe evolution is the reason humans are able to learn spoken language

7 The word ‘vehemently’ in paragraph 6 is closest in meaning to:

  • intense
  • angry
  • cautious
  • logical

8 According to the passage, why was the topic of linguistic evolution banned from debate?

  • the mystery was already solved
  • there was not a solid theory
  • the lack of empirical evidence
  • no new evidence was being found at the time

9. Examine the four █ in the selection below and indicate at which block the following sentence could be inserted into the passage:

Due to language being susceptible to mutation, the reliance on interaction between humans can result in a misunderstanding creating a new type of communication within the language.

█ [A] Researchers who follow the belief that grammar is learned instead of innate hypothesize the learning of language results from general cognitive abilities and the interactions between the learners and the people they interact with. █ [B] There have also been suggestions that it is the relatively slow growth development of the prefrontal cortex that allows humans to learn language unlike other species. █ [C] Since the prefrontal cortex grows at a slower rate than other animals, more neuropathways are able to be formed within the brain. █ [D]

10 Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

a. the lack of empirical evidence invites questionability about the accuracy of evidence

b. it is likely a mixture of both biological and learned behaviors that allow humans to acquire verbal language

c. scientists of different specialties cannot agree on if the ability to learn human speech is inherited

d. linguists are not in the main part of the debate about linguistic evolution

e. linguistic evolution is divided into the two different emphasis

f. linguistic evolution is divided into three different emphasis

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Personal Development | How to Develop a Plan to Learn Anything

Here’s another personal development special for you. This is unbelievably important for EVERYONE around the world.  Too often we become reactive with our days. We solve problems more than development, and this is what causes us to become lethargic.  So, how can we go about changing that? Well, it’s about going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Coming up with a development plan and putting it into a calendar. In today’s podcast, I discuss just how you can do that.


TOEFL iBT | Listening | Lecture | Helping Behavior

Welcome back to another listening! My TOEFL iBT Listening podcasts have doubled, so I’m going to continue pumping these out for all of you. In today’s podcast, we’re going to do some more note-taking and see if our notes help us answer the lecture.


definition: voluntary actions intended to help others with reward regarded or dis

help regardless of reward

pro-social behavior

benefit another individual or group

sharing, comforting, rescuing, and helping,


behavior without expectation internal/external

helping because it’s right

police officers, nurses, etc

Facet: kin selectin theory – evolutionary perspective

screens out species, preservation is important for survival

people tend to help people with similar genetic base

favors chance of survival

would be wrong to judge the other person

hesitant to help someone if traits not similar

instance, help someone who is black but not white

reciprocal altruism, motivation = based on expectation

reward is there

person risking, rescued for them in the future

negative state relief model –

Notes Section


  1. What is the lecture mainly about?
  • negative-state relief model
  • Kin Selection theory
  • Different forms of altruism
  • Reciprocal altruism

2 According to this lecture, which of the following regarding Kin selection theory is not correct?

  • The behavior in Kin selection theory is an evolutionary process because of the natural selection
  • it explains altruism in evolutionary perspective
  • the tendency to perform behavior that may favor the chance of survival of people with different genetic base
  • it states people tend to help people with similar traits

3. What is the base meaning of Altruism?

  • pro-social behaviors that are carried out without expectation of obtaining external reward or internal reward
  • pro-social behaviors that are carried out only when the reward is immediate
  • pro-social behaviors that are carried out by only guilt every time
  • pro-social behaviors that are carried because you are afraid someone will see you not helping another person

4. What does Kin selection theory refer to?

  • the tendency to perform behaviors that may favor the chance of survival of people with similar genetic base
  • a tendency to perform behaviors that only help animals
  • a tendency to perform behaviors that only help small groups of African tribes in Uganda
  • a tendency to perform behaviors that may favor the chance of survival for your immediate family (husband/wife/children/parents)

5 If you help someone in need only because you are stressed out about the idea of not doing anything, what theory are you proving correct?

  • negative state relief model
  • unfriendly attitude model
  • America’s next top model
  • horrible person model

TOEIC | Incomplete Sentences | Improving Your Knowledge of Prefixes & Suffixes: Tactic Practice

Welcome to another grammar edition of TOEIC! In today’s podcast/video, we’re going to do the full rundown of noun and verb suffixes, a tactic that is needed to get a fine score in Part 5. Also, some exercises and additional task (on my blog) before getting into a 6-question Tactic Practice. With that being said, let’s get into it!

This section will help you familiarize yourself with some of the most common suffix and prefix forms.

Test tactic: Noun & Verb Suffixes

The words below feature some of the most common suffixes use with nouns and verbs. Decide whether they’re a noun or a verb.

  • cooperation
  • criticize
  • partnership
  • department
  • simplify
  • quickness
  • activate
  • celebration
  • security
  • widen
  • assistance
  • realize

Now look at the list of suffixes and mark whether each is a noun or verb suffix.

  • tion/sion
  • en
  • ness
  • (i)fy
  • ship
  • ise/ize
  • ity
  • ate
  • ment
  • ance/ence

Now, for each sentence below, decide if it requires a noun or verb, then choose the best word of the correct type to fill in the blank.

investigation  identify   elevate  repetitiveness  criticize  document  internship   renovate  dependence  soften
  1. The stockholders have called for a(n) ______ to find out where the money went.
  2. Newspapers are starting to ______ the prime minister’s actions.
  3. Doing a (n) _______ is a good way for students to get work experience.
  4. Miller Manufacturing’s _____ on one supplier caused serious problems when that company went bankrupt.
  5. A consultant was hired to ______ the company’s main weaknesses and suggest solutions.
  6. Bill realized he had forgotten to bring a key ______ to the meeting.
  7. The company spent millions to ______ its main office in order to impress its customers.
  8. The sculptor intended to ______ the statue by placing it on a pedestal so that people could see it more easily.
  9. Many people dislike the ______ of working on a factory assembly line.
  10. Cyclists often use special pads to ______ the seat for long-distance rides.

Answers on Next Page

{Patreon Special} Arsenio’s Business English Podcast | Season 6 | Sales | Mini-series Finale

We’re finally here! It’s the end of the “Sales” mini-podcast that had begun at the exact same time as season 6. Although Season 6 is still a few months away from finishing, these mini-series are the next big step in developing you as a whole — and most specifically, the purpose behind it.

In today’s final podcast is a summary of what had been talked about the past couple of weeks, as well as a glimpse into the new mini-series that will be making its debut Friday, the day after I bring on an amazing teacher from Jordan. In saying that, it’s a sweet ending to a great mini-series.