Helping a suicidal student

I wrote this on my 101 goals list about 5 years ago: “help someone NOT commit suicide and get them out of a dark place.” I don’t know why it felt good at the time, but the opportunity had presented itself.

Years ago I met a student who was on fire. She was insecure at the age of 15, but with her level of speaking capabilities, I told her she couldn’t stay here in Thailand because ALL universities don’t know what to do with her level passion. She ended up moving to Singapore to go to school and ended up building an online business at the age of 17. The last time I had seen her in 2018, she was so excited and driven. She carried herself like a 30-year-old business professional.

Well, we lost touch and finally spoke again through video a couple weeks ago — to my shock, she completely changed: tone, facial expressions, discontent, and now suffering from severe depression. She went from Singapore back to Bangkok and now she’s around people who AREN’T driven.

While she was telling me these horrifying thoughts she was having, I was glancing to my left and thought of one person that could absolutely help her….and so the introduction was given and now the ball is on her side of the course — but I’m asking everyone out there that you should NEVER be AFRAID to ASK for help.

Full podcast down below!

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 3 – Episode 61 – Grammar – Modal Verbs of Speculation & Deduction (Present)

Oh! Back into the modal verbs! Love these like no tomorrow and of course, so happy to be back at them. Let’s dive into it.

  1. This must be a conspiracy theory.
  2. It might explain the words in his most famous speech ‘I have a dream.’
  3. It could explain why she always wore lots of makeup.
  4. Some scientists are indicating that global warming can’t happen this quickly.
  5. Some people think it may be true.
  6. It might not be just a story.

Task – Country Flags & General

1. It’s a republic.

It must/can’t be the UK because they have a royal family.

2. They speak Spanish there.

It must/might be Mexico because they speak Spanish there.

3. The capital city is Lima.

It must/may be Peru.


4. The currency is the Euro.

It could/can’t be lots of countries because 18 countries or more use Euros.

5. It’s a republic which has a president and a prime minister.

It may/can’t be a France or Italy because they both have a president and a prime minister.

6. Their national anthem is sometimes called “Fratelli d’Italia.’

It could/must be Italy.



Business English: Episode 002 – How NOT To Be a Conversation Killer

Oh, this had to be the most glorious thing I’ve come across in any book in an extremely long time. There were those times that I cringed at every little thing I would hear someone say to someone else because either them not being interesting, ignoring safe topics, jumping into a risky spot, speaking about something utterly taboo, or just hurling conversation killers out there. There are a wide variety of things not only in the world of business, but everyday conversation that can make and break every moment.

What is a Taboo?

Dictionary: a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

However, taboos can occur in everyday English, too. Everyday communication amongst populations, different cultures, and more. So, here we go.

Which topics are interesting, safe, conversation killers, a bit risky, or taboo?

  • Books
  • Clothes
  • Family
  • Food and drink
  • Gadgets
  • How work’s going
  • Jewellery
  • Movies
  • Music
  • People you both know
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sport
  • The city you’re in
  • The hotel you’re staying at
  • The news
  • The weather
  • Your country
  • Your health
  • Your holiday plans

Now, let’s breakdown these conversations (5 of them in the podcast down below.

Conversation 1

The gentleman first approached the other guy at the conference and struct up a conversation about the country. This is a “safe” topic and the best way to go at initiating. Weather is also a great initiator, too, because everyone can relate.


“Ughhh yes…actually it’s a fascinating place.

This is great because he followed up with an -ing adjective to describe the place, which the listener can refer back to.

The initiator then mentioned his job. This could be just a little bit risky. Yes, the man was wearing a badge at the time, but it caught him off guard until he realized his badge. Some people can become very apprehensive in moments like that, especially women. Be very careful.


“Ughhh can I get you a drink?

The man insisted and asked again, making it very pushy on his behalf. He said no the first time, and then he second guessed himself and went along with it so he didn’t make the initiator feel uncomfortable. Rest assured, he asked the man about HIS line of work, drawing interest. This means he’s actually interested in what the man does because he said some pretty relatable things to him. If he had just said, “sure. Just a coffee.” — without any follow-up after that — it would then put the other man in a very peculiar position.


Conversation 2

“Ummmm no”

In this recording, uncomfortability reached its threshold. She introduced herself by her name and asked if she could sit down. His response, as seen above, was “ummmmm no.”

As she sat down, she offered him some food, and again, he was very apprehensive the entire time by saying “ummmm I’m allergic.”

Through my eyes, I felt like she struck out twice by this point. On the third strike, I would’ve thrown a conversation gambit in (maybe my next case study?) to get me out of the super-awkward situation. However, she didn’t. She made the situation worse by offering, again, something that he possibly wouldn’t like.



Have we met somewhere?

So, she asked this question AFTER the three strike-outs, which I think was too late. She asked him if they had met in Oslo before. He then said “I don’t think so.” So now I believe the situation has reached it’s breaking point. The uneasiness has set in and she should’ve found a way out of the conversation. However, she asked a very unsettling question that didn’t relate to anything and blew the situation right over.


You’re an aquarius, aren’t you?

He became even more apprehensive and said he doesn’t follow horoscopes, and then she asked the “taboo” question, a question that shouldn’t be asked within the first 5 minutes or even five days of speaking: “When’s your birthday?”


He, already being uneasy, answered….then she said “typical aquarius.” That could almost be offensive. Saying typical is demeaning one’s intelligence, and that conversation luckily ended before we took in more of the cringing questions.

Conversation 3

In this conversation, the lady immediately related to the man by complimenting him on his talk. He was even more ecstatic to reply because it sounded like he was open versus the previous two conversations.

After the compliment, she then introduced herself and wanted to be of service to him right away, saying that her company may be interested in his product. She then followed up by giving him an ultimatum “let’s fix up a time and meet over a drink. Here’s my card.”

She asked a question after to see what his reply would be in general, and it was great because he dove deeper into creating a bond by mentioning the weather, something that everyone can relate to. He continued, she replied, and then he stepped aside for a moment. I give this lady a solid A-…..the minus is because she said, “don’t worry, I know who you are.” That just sounds a tiny bit weird.

Conversation 4

“So, how’s business?”

He started off strong and could’ve related to the man even more by talking about the difficulties of merging together; however, he chose a taboo topic “railway strikes,” and the man was completely startled.

He went even further by saying, “oh, it must affect a company like yours.”

That’s an assholio thing to say and something you don’t want to say right out of the blocks.

He didn’t terminate the conversation after he knew he got it wrong. The receive worked for Audio and the initiator said, “oh, I thought you were someone else.”


This conversation is done…and the guy from Audi used a conversation killer to get out of the super awkward situation.


That’s the grade he gets. NEVER TALK ABOUT TABOO TOPICS in Business or anywhere in general, especially if you don’t know the person.

Conversation 5

The initiator here gave a compliment. She was quite good at doing it, too. She chose the jewellery topic and complimented the man’s watch before asking where he got it.

She then jumped to another topic such as “the hotel you’re staying at,” doing a pretty good job…but also relating it back to her holiday in Cancun which is opposite of the tundra out there in Moscow, hitting gold with the man because then for just a moment, he escapes his present and visualizes beautiful Cancun.

Right after this she eased, discreetly, into asking him if he wanted anything from the buffet. He not only took the bait, but he went with her.


All in all, these are some excellent conversations to learn from. I do advise you guys to listen to the podcast and listen to each one in their entirety. Would love to hear your thoughts, too! I’ll have to do this again sometime.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: IELTS Speaking Part I – Television

Where do you usually watch TV programmes/shows? Why or why not?

What’s your favorite TV programme/show? Why?

Are there any programmes/shows you don’t like watching? Why/why not?

Do you think you will watch more TV or fewer TV programmes/shows in the future? Why/why not?

Welcome back to another IELTS Speaking Part, everyone! Today are some breakdowns of what to expect and this is from the IELTS Cambridge 13 book.

So, where do you usually watch TV programmes/shows?

The question word is where that’s what’s being asked. It’s very important to understand the -wh question. So, normally someone would watch this in the comfortability of their home. Tell the examiner WHERE and follow up with the “why.”

Always remember to keep the “why” in mind.

What’s your favorite tv program? Why?

For some of you this would be pretty difficult to answer, including myself. I’m not a man that wastes time away sitting in front of a screen. There’s much more to life than that.

However, it doesn’t matter. You will have to answer this question, and that’s when the imaginative side has to come in.

I have to think of a time when I used to watch a TV series, and this dates back to the beginning of 2013 (Hawaii Five-O). I would watch this TV drama series because I loved one of the actors, Grace. However, after a recent dispute regarding salaries, her and another colleague left the show and since then….I no longer watch it.

See, I think back in a point of reference and just use it in the present/present continuous.

Are there any programmes/shows you don’t like watching? Why/why not?

This is great. I would say “all” and give a very hot reason for it.

For some of you who don’t like drama, this is a great way to go about it. The feelings you would feel while watching people mistreat one another on a drama/reality TV show isn’t something you want to feel — because you simply have no control over it.

Do you think you will watch more TV or fewer TV programmes/shows in the future? Why/why not?

In the future, it may be all audio. We may become multi-tasking beings and we’ll never sit down and watch anything anymore. Just think about the future and think about responsibilities that you may have in the near future.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 3 – Episode 55 – Pronunciation – Emphatic Stress

We, Americans, LOVEEEEEE using Emphatic Stress (did you see it?). Guys, sometimes when you speak, you can draw attention to certain words by giving them extra emphasis. These could be adjectives (huge, crazy, tiny) and adverbs (extremely, totally, slowly). Notice the change in emphasis in the second of each pair of the sentences down below.

That was a funny STORY.

That was a FUNNY story.

He was extremely TIRED.

He was EXTREMELY tired.

Listen to the sentences. I want you to figure out which word receives the emphatic stress.

  1. The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a really famous story.
  2. The people in town were pretty dreadful.
  3. The boy was extremely embarrassed by his actions.
  4. The wolf’s teeth were enormous!
  5. The old man was totally ecstatic.
  6. The boy learned a huge lesson that day.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Weekend Special – IELTS – Speaking Part I

We’ve got IELTS speaking back! Since these were some great podcasts/blogs, I decided to bring them back on weekends that I don’t have a special. Super excited about going over some of these questions and giving you a couple sentences that follow, but it’s really up to you to write your feedback and examples. Post them on my Facebook page.


How popular are bicycles in your hometown?

Let’s understand this question. Figure out, within a split second, how popular bicycles are in your hometown. Now, I’m from America. If you’re middle-upper class, you will have bought a bicycle by now and you ride it with other enthusiasts. Remember, America has the most obese human beings on planet Earth.

However, in Australia….bicycles are very popular because it’s one of the fittest nations on the planet.

In Thailand, bicycles are somewhat popular, but also extremely dangerous, due to motorcycle/vehicles on the road that don’t pay mind to pedestrians.

  • Bicycles are somewhat popular because…..
  • Bicycles are ridden on a consistent basis by……
  • Bicycles are hardly popular because people would much rather……


How often do you ride bicycles?

In this question, give me an adverb of frequency, quickly! Pick an adverb of frequency and go from there in explaining why you do it _____________(insert the frequency).


Do you think bicycles are suitable for all ages? Why or why not?

Now, state your stance and then go on with the explanation.

  • I absolutely think they’re suitable.
  • To a certain extent I believe that….
  • I somewhat feel that it’s not suitable for all ages…..


What are the advantages of a bicycle compared to a car?

Give me three reasons and give me examples for each one.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: IELTS – T/F/NG Questions (Reading)

Oh, we’re finally at the reading portion of the IELTS! This is the big one and the biggest one of them all. I do hope that you guys tune into this so you understand.  Today is just a glimpse of what’s to come.  I want to first lay down the techniques, go over some examples, and then we can do the big one next weekend.  So, let’s get into T/F/NG!

True (the statement agrees with the information in the text)

False (the statement is incorrect and does not agree with the information in the text)

Not Given (you cannot say whether the statement is true or false because there is NO information about this in the text.

Cambridge English

Remember that I emphasized the NO! If you do not see it, it’s not there! So, I want you to skim read this passage to get the general idea of the content.

This information is provided by one of the my favorite books out there, Cambridge English, and it deep dives into so many techniques.

Urban Heat

In 1818, Luke Howard Published The Climate of London in which he identified an emerging problem: urban development was having a direct impact on the local weather.  The early 1800s was a time of great expansion for London and Howard noticed that temperatures in the city were gradually becoming higher than those in rural areas.  We now refer to these areas as Urban Heat Islands.  The difference in temperature is usually greater at night and the phenomenon occurs in both winter and summer.  Experts agree that this is due to urban development, when open green spaces are replaced with asphalt roads and tall brick or concrete buildings.  These materials retain heat generated by the Sun and release it through the night.  In Atlanta, in the US, this has even led to thunderstorms occurring in the morning rather than, as is more common, in the afternoon.  Officials there are advising builders to use light-colored roofs in a bid to reduce the problem.

Large cities around the world are adopting strategies to combat this issue and it is not uncommon to find plants growing on top of roof or down the walls of large buildings.  In Singapore, the government has pledged to transform it into a city within a garden’ and, in 2006, they held an international competition calling for entries to develop a master plan to help bring this about.  One outcome was the creation of 19 “Supertrees.” These metal constructions are made to resemble very tall trees and range in height from 25m to 50m.  Each one is a vertical freestanding garden and is home to exotic plants and ferns.  their structure allowed the designers to create an immediate rainforest canopy without having to wait for trees to reach such heights.  They contain solar panels used to light the trees at night and also containers to collect rainwater, making them truly self-sufficient.

Cambridge IELTS

Decide if statements 1-3 are True, False, or Not Given according to the underlined parts of the text.

  1. Luke Howard invented the term ‘Urban Heat Island’.
  2. City temperatures are higher than country temperatures regardless of the season.
  3. Experts have failed in their efforts to create heat-reflecting concrete and brick.

Read statements, then underline the relevant parts in the text.  Are the statements, true, false, or Not Given?

4. Atlanta has experienced more dramatic weather change than other areas of the US.

5. Roofs that are dark in color help address the issue of Urban Heat Islands.

6. Singapore’s Supertrees are made entirely from natural materials.

7. The designers of the Supertrees originally planned to plant very tall trees.

8. The Supertrees require regular maintenance.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 3 – Episode 37 – Grammar – Future Continuous & Future Perfect

Welcome back to another grammar episode! Let’s break this down in even further detail for everyone out there!

  1. By 2050, 3D printers will have become a part of everyday life.
  2. That’s what we‘ll be eating by 2050.
  3. We’ll be using robots at home in the near future.
  4. By 2050, restaurants near touristy areas will have disappeared.

a. We use the future continuous to talk about activities in progress at a particular time in the future.

b. We use the future perfect to talk about activities that will be finished before a particular time in the future.

c. We often use the preposition by with the future perfect.  It means ‘some time before’.

Complete the predictions with these verbs in the future continuous.

Verbs: do, eat, have, not drive, not grow, speak, work

  1. We ____________ our holidays on the moon in 2050.
  2. We ____________ cars that use petrol in 205.
  3. Perhaps we _____________ genetically-modified food in the future.
  4. Most people ____________ at home via the internet, not in an office.
  5. Everybody in the world ___________ English in the year 2050.
  6. Robots ______________ jobs like cleaning or building.
  7. Farmers ______________ any fresh fruit or vegetables because there won’t be enough.

Complete these predictions about the year 2050 with the future perfect form of the verbs given.  Make the sentences affirmative or negative on your own opinion.

  1. By 2050, we ______________(find) a cure for cancer.
  2. We _____________(stop) using computers.
  3. Elephants _____________ (become) extinct.
  4. The North Pole ______________(disappear).
  5. Astronauts ______________(land) on Mars.
  6. They ____________(invent) a device that you can talk to so that you can get information at any time.
  7. Temperatures _____________(get) much higher.
  8. Island _______________ (become) non-existent because of the rising water level.

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Special – TOEIC – Reading Comprehension – Graphs + Podcast/YouTube

Arsenio's ESL Podcast
Arsenio's ESL Podcast
Arsenio's ESL Podcast: Special - TOEIC - Reading Comprehension - Graphs + Podcast/YouTube


Welcome back, everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve done a TOEIC video.  Excuse behind it? None.  It takes a lot of time and preparation.  However, I’ve got a special treat.

Since I’m checking out what the market likes, my reading comprehension video on YouTube has gotten an insane amount of views.  This time I’m coming back with how to deal with charts, tables, forms, double passages in this segment (could be broken up into two).  So without further ado, let’s get this show started!

Questions involving charts, tables, forms and double passages require a slightly different approach.

Let’s first break down an email, which will relate to many of my business English students.  So, down below are some features and how to find information quickly.  I will have A-F and I want you to match it with 1-6.

A. The main focus of the chart/table/form

B. Details of how information in the chart/table/form is meant to be used.

C. Information about who the text is from or intended for.

D. Extra details that indicate changes/differences to information in the chart/table/form

E. Background information that relates to the chart/table/form or the people who use it.

F. Details/facts/numbers/dates/names


**I’ve put the answers next to the numbers for you guys to understand how it works!


1) C



Date: October 27th

Subject: November Visit


2) A

Dear Arsenio,


After my visit last month, I would like to talk about some of the different approaches for improving sales that were discussed at last year’s sales conference.  I would appreciate it if you would set aside the whole day on the 25th of November.


(3) B

so that I can meet with you and your sales team.  I am including, in the attachment, the most recent sales figures from last year for you and your team to review before we meet.

See you next month.




4) F Sales of Cars

5)  D                                    Jan-Mar                     April-June              July-August

Toyota                             1521                              655                            *232

Mitsubishi                       756                               943                            1100

Honda                             1873                              800                             422

6) E  * model discontinued in November






Arsenio’s ESL TOEIC

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 2 – Episode 54 – Grammar – Expressing & Asking about Ability

Since I’ve gone over reported questions and you now understand how can/could is used, it’s time to us them.  We can express and ask about ability by using these, in addition to be able to.

Form                                                                  Example

Present Ability                         

subject + can + base form                                                They can survive  in cold weather.

subject + cannot + base form                                       They cannot survive in cold weather.

subject + is/are + able to + base form                           The professor is able to see me today.

subject + is not / are not + able to + base form      The professor is not able to see me today.


Wh – questions

Wh + can + subject + base form                    What can you remember from the talk?

Wh + is/are + subject + base form               What are you able to recall about that day?


Yes/no questions

Can + subject + base form                                  Can you remember the teachers’ names?

Is/Are + subject + able to + base form               Are you able to remember the details?


Change these statements into the negative.

  1. I can speak Spanish.
  2. That person is able to walk without crutches.
  3. Sheryl can recall all the details from the movie.
  4. Sharks are able to live deep in the ocean.
  5. She can memorize the long story from yesterday perfectly.
  6. I am able to recall all the major news events.

Make one yes/no question and one wh- question for the affirmative statements.  Post them on my Facebook page.