Showing posts with label English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English. Show all posts

How to support learners with dyslexia: a podcast with Martin Bloomfield

Our new Pearson English podcast is a place for English language experts from around the world to share their experiences, discuss innovations and explore trends in English language teaching and the wider educational sector. 

Today, we’re excited to introduce Martin Bloomfield, our guest speaker on episode 2. As a trainer at York Associates and a consultant in international communication skills, dyslexia and autism awareness, ethics, and language training, Martin well placed to share his expertise with our panel. 

In this episode, he brings his enthusiasm, energy and deep knowledge of the subject. He talks about dyslexia in ELT and how teachers can best support students with this learning difference and other forms of neurodiversity. 

What is dyslexia? 

There are a few different definitions or perspectives on dyslexia. The EU definition is “a disorder that is mainly characterized by severe difficulties in acquiring reading, spelling and writing skills.” That view of dyslexia sees it as a literacy issue more than anything else.  

The World Health Organisation characterises dyslexia as “A disorder manifested by difficulty learning to read, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and sociocultural opportunity. It is dependent upon fundamental cognitive disabilities which are frequently of constitutional origin.” Again, the focus here is on literacy. 

However, the British Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “a neurological difference which can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life.” That view of dyslexia is a more neurological view. 

So which definition is correct? Well, when asked how dyslexia affects the learning process, Martin points out that it’s actually part of a family of phonological processing issues. Dyslexic students will find reading, spelling and writing challenging, but they are also likely to experience problems with their working memory, that is their short term memory. They’ll find that they have sequencing issues. However, dyslexic people are also known to be more creative and more visual. 

How can we make our classrooms a space where students with dyslexia can flourish? 

Martin has a few key pointers for teachers when it comes to teaching students with dyslexia. In a nutshell:

  • Avoid long blocks of text: Go for small chunks which are easier to read and digest.
  • Try to use visuals in your teaching: Charts, graphs and infographics are all useful. 
  • Make board work as clear as possible: Use colours to differentiate your ideas.
  • Allow your students to record your classes if they want to. 
  • Text design is important: Choose plain, sans serif fonts (i.e. fonts without pointed serifs: see images below) and avoid using bold or italic text.

Sans serif font are easier for people with dyslexia to process.

Dyslexia in ELT

A serif font, with the serifs highlighted in red.

(Image credit Stannered CC BY-SA 3.0)

Moreover, Martin also suggests changing how you test the progress of students with dyslexia. Consider using oral assessments instead of written assessments and also allow students to use assistive technology like screen readers and speech-to-text apps. 

The most important thing you can do as a teacher? Martin says to ask your students what is helpful for them, what works and what doesn’t. The brain is plastic and with the right support, students who have dyslexia can work up to the activities that more neurotypical students engage in. 

Why is it so important to support students with dyslexia? 

A report on dyslexia published last year found that 98% of parents and teachers think that teachers need more training in how to identify and support dyslexia. And when asked how long it takes a school to provide dyslexia specialised support, the most common answer was that dyslexic children do not receive specialist support. 

When dyslexia is ignored, it means that students aren’t getting the support they need. This can lead to poor self-esteem, a constant feeling of failure and pressure, which in turn leads to dropping out of school, depression, self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse

So taking time to consider dyslexia when it comes to your curriculum is about more than raising your results, or improving the literacy of an individual child. Instead, it’s about making space for everyone in the classroom and ensuring children flourish. 

Further reading and resources

Martin’s website, Dyslexia Bytes, is a good place to start. It’s full of useful information and advice from people who have dyslexia themselves, so it will give you a new perspective! 

For more tips on dyslexia in ELT, have a look at our blog on supporting young learners with dyslexia. 

You can also check out the British Dyslexia Association website for more information, and Made By Dyslexia is a charity run by people with dyslexia. They have lots of interesting reports and free resources. 

Listen to the full podcast with Martin here: 

The post How to support learners with dyslexia: a podcast with Martin Bloomfield appeared first on Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English.



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Meet the 2020 Pearson English Global Teacher Award winners

Every year we celebrate the great work of English teachers around the world. Our aim is to recognize those of you who strive to improve the lives of your learners and demonstrate a love of teaching. For us, it’s both fascinating and inspiring to hear about your challenges and successes – as well as your objectives and ideas for the future. 

This year, we asked you to share videos telling us about an experience you’ve been able to share with other teachers that has made a difference. We also wanted to know about how your English teaching has enabled you to make a difference to your students’ lives. 

We announced the winners from five different regions in our award ceremony on 30th January – and over 3,500 of you watched and joined in on our Facebook Live stream!

For those that missed it, here are some of the highlights from this years Pearson English Global Teacher award: 

Discover more below about what made this year’s Teacher Award winners stand out. 

Africa & Middle East 

Winner: Rasheedat Sadiq, Nigeria

Teacher award winners Rasheedat

“Rasheedat makes a convincing argument in favour of the reduction of teacher talking time- a problem that continues to plague ELT classrooms around the world. Just because you aren’t talking, doesn’t mean you aren’t working!,” says Mike Mayor

Other members of the judging panel commented on the practicality of Rasheedat’s ideas. “I like the way she describes herself as a facilitator and that she has gone against the traditions she faced of the teacher doing all of the talking in the class,” says Jeanne Perrett. 

A special commendation goes to the runner-up for Africa & the Middle East, Omar Titki from Morocco. 

 

Asia & Oceania

Winner: Winnie Xiaowen Chen, China

Teacher Award winners Winnie

“Friendly, energetic, personable. I like that she thinks about how to change our English teaching ways and uses are, science, and music. I imagine her students really enjoy her lessons,” says Jeanne Perrett. 

Our other judges were impressed with Winnie’s overall presentation: “Having the courage to buck the trend of more traditional approaches to language teaching in China, understanding of child psychology and genuine deep learning- and an appreciation that learning another language can also give you insights into your own language and culture,” says Mike Mayor. 

A special commendation goes to the runner-up for Asia & Oceania, Diem Hoang from Vietnam. 

 

 

South America

Winner: Margarita Leon, Ecuador

Teacher award winners Margarita

“I liked her recognition that it’s not about one teacher being strong, but about the teaching faculty being a formidable team. She’s really honed in on one of the most important factors in raising quality in education. She’s also engaging her community,” says Clare Walsh

Other judges commented on how Margarita was selected to be a peer trainer and has been able to both give and learn a lot from this experience. “She also offers free public courses in a communicative way to a wide variety of English learners in her community,” says Mike Solly

A special commendation goes to the runner-up for South America, Cleide Oliveria from Brazil. 

 

North & Central America

Winner: Samuel Odamah, USA 

Teacher award winners Samuel

“Samuel talks inspiringly about motivating students and teachers through storytelling and bringing in his own experiences to the classroom,’” says Mike Solly. 

Other judges said that Samuel has identified a very creative and effective way to engage the whole student, through telling their stories and thinking about who they are, and it’s an approach that any teacher can put into practice. He spoke inspiringly about motivating students and teachers- and brought his own experiences into the classroom. 

A special commendation goes to the runner-up for North & Central America, Yeisie Shayegan from Panama. 

 

Europe & Central Asia

Winner: Medisa Aljukić, Bosnia & Herzegovina 

Teacher award winners Medisa

“Medisa demonstrates how a single person’s enthusiasm and initiative can have an impact on learner outcomes. I was particularly impressed by the inclusion of parents in the English Club as a way to further motivate students whilst offering the parents an opportunity to continue learning,” says Mike Mayor. 

Other judges said of Medisa: “The idea of a cooking club in English is genius. She also seems to have tackled the problem using a wide range of tools and is committed to promoting learning in her wider community and a sense of global citizenship- all very valuable,” says Clare Walsh. 

A special commendation goes to the runner-up for Europe & Central Asia, Hannah Zieb from Poland. 

 

 

Congratulations to all of our Teacher Award winners! Each of you will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend either IATEFL or TESOL 2020.

A big thank you

Finally, we’d like to end with a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to make a video application – and to those of you who supported and encouraged your colleagues to apply. It takes energy, creativity, determination and a love of learning to be a great teacher. We at Pearson English want to continue to support you and highlight your great work through 2020 and beyond!

If you would like to learn more about Pearson English at IATEFL, visit our dedicated event page. 

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Gold Experience 2nd Edition: 8 levels & 8 exciting new features

We’re excited to introduce Gold Experience 2nd edition, a complete 8-level English language course for teenagers – with lots of new features. 

Progressing from A1 beginner to C1 advanced level, the course offers motivating content that builds up skills, confidence and overall language ability as teenage students head towards their Cambridge English exams.

Let’s take a look at the exciting new features in the Gold Experience 2nd edition series.

New Features for 2020 

1. Inspiring unit openers   

Gold Experience 2nd Edition offers engaging, thought-provoking unit openers. Its eye-catching lead-in photos, inspiring quotes and discussion questions get students to think about the unit theme and use their existing topic vocabulary.

2. Preparing teenagers for exam success

Updated for the 2020 Cambridge English qualifications, Gold Experience 2nd edition provides lots of exposure to exam-style tasks. This means when it comes to exam day, learners will feel ready to take on the challenge. 

3. Pearson Practice English App for every student

Extra language practice between classes can greatly improve a student’s understanding of language and their performance in English exams. Every student using Gold Experience 2nd edition can download the unique Pearson Practice App to their mobile device, giving them instant access to fun practice activities and full course audio and video material.

4. Digital resources for teachers in one place                                                

If you’re using the Gold Experience 2nd edition, you have access to all the digital tools and materials you need all in one place: the Pearson English Portal.

This dynamic resource includes:

  • A presentation tool for front-of class presentations with easy navigation and whole-class games
  • Resources, which include teaching notes, grammar presentations, course audio and video, and expanded wordlists
  • An assessment package with an extensive range of test types and versions      
  • Online practice view with a full Learning Management System

5. Switch-on video lessons 

These new lessons, available in the Gold Experience 2nd edition, provide authentic video clips on a variety of engaging and thought-provoking topics. Each lesson follows a similar structure and finishes with a project that requires collaboration, research skills, critical thinking and a final output phase. The teacher’s notes include ways to help you extend these fun lessons even further.

6. Independent learning lessons

This new feature, available in the Gold Experience 2nd edition, encourages students to take charge of their own learning and reflect on how they learn best and developing things they can do to improve. Activities ask students to consider various aspects of their English learning and how they can give better feedback to their peers. 

7. Authentic Video Content                                                                                                

The variety of video material in Gold Experience 2nd edition exposes teens to authentic language, authentic accents, real people and real issues. These include: Switch On Clips, Grammar Vox Pops and Speaking Test Videos. Students have access to this material out of the classroom too, through the course mobile app available for their phones.

8. Editable Grammar Presentations

Teachers using Gold Experience 2nd edition have access to fully-editable PowerPoint Grammar presentations. These bring grammar to life and help you present grammar clearly, while saving valuable preparation time too! The presentation slides contain step-by-step walkthroughs of the grammar points taught in each lesson, covering the meaning/use of the language and how it is formed. These presentations end with a short practice task to check students have understood the key points.  

The only 8-level exam course for teenagers

 8 levels Gold Experience 2nd Edition

Gold Experience 2nd edition presents a complete 8-level course, taking teenage learners smoothly from A1 beginner up to C1 advanced level. With the exam-focused content being skilfully built into the motivating lesson flow, teenagers gradually build the language exam skills and confidence to succeed in the Cambridge exams, and in their future lives.

Download a sample now! 

We’ve also created lots of free resources to use with Gold Experience 2nd edition. 

Find out more! 

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PTE General: an English exam that measures real-world skills

Every teacher wants the best for their students. When it comes to choosing an English language qualification, that means an effective preparation process, a positive exam experience and a reliable, widely accepted certificate. 

However, selecting the right English language qualification for your students’ is not an easy task. 

As the world’s leading learning services company, we deliver over 130 million tests each year – and we want to help you choose an assessment tool that works for your students. In this blog post, we’re going to outline the benefits of PTE General, an internationally recognized English language qualification, so you can decide whether it’s the right exam for your students.  

1. An internationally recognized English language qualification

PTE General is a popular English language exam among students around the world. Learners in over 50 countries hold the certificate and more sign up to take it every year.

Learners choose PTE General because it tests real-world English skills. It also lets them show off all the practical skills they worked so hard on – and be rewarded for it with an English language qualification that’s accepted by hundreds of employers and universities all over the world. 

It’s important to note, however, that PTE General is not recognized for immigration purposes. In this case, PTE Academic is the right solution for your learners. 

2. A broad range of benefits

The PTE General English language qualification is comparable to the Cambridge Assessment English and Oxford University Press exams, but it has additional benefits. 

Firstly, PTE General is regulated by Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation for England – an independent body reporting directly to Parliament. The exams are also marked exclusively in the UK which means learners are judged objectively and with the same standards used worldwide.

The test is delivered at Pearson Edexcel test centers (schools and universities) that have gone through a rigorous approval process and been inspected by our staff. All test centers must prove that they can deliver the exams correctly and securely. This is crucial to guarantee the reliability of the test.

Test centers can provide accessibility for candidates with learning or physical disabilities, on a case-by-case basis. While no unfair advantage can be given, easier access can be provided in the form of max. 25% extra time, vision aids, supervised breaks, large print papers, and more. 

PTE General is widely available globally. Currently, students can take the test in more than 40 countries worldwide, and the number of test centers is constantly growing. 

3. Test structure and assessment methodology

PTE General has six different levels (Foundation to Level 5), each corresponding to a level of the Common European Framework of Reference (A1 to C2). It assesses all four skills – Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing – and includes multiple-choice, short answer and extended writing items. 

The test is divided into two sessions. Session one is a Test of Speaking in the form of an oral interview. The second session involves a Test of Listening, Reading and Writing. 

Session one takes between 5 to 8 minutes depending on the level. Session two takes between 1 hour and 15 minutes (A1 level) and 2 hours and 55 minutes (C2 level).

The exam includes multiple-choice activities, note completions, dictations, and open-ended questions. Students are also asked to complete Writing tasks of varying lengths (like writing a short email or blog post, and a longer story, article, essay or diary entry). At levels A1 and A2, there are three Speaking tasks: a short monologue, a picture description and a roleplay. This is complemented by a discussion task at levels B1-C2. 

The aim of both sessions is to provide an opportunity for learners to express themselves and perform at their best. The exam format empowers students to prove their real-world communication skills through activities such as writing messages, reading and understanding newspaper articles, or engaging in a natural conversation. The test is based on themes which carry through the different skills. 

A scenario-based test such as PTE General, with familiar and realistic tasks, is more likely to provide students with a positive exam experience.

4. Centralized and anonymous marking

One of the characteristics that make PTE General a highly reliable exam is the marking system.

Marking is rigorously regulated up to the highest standards and is completely anonymous to eliminate bias. Completed tests are sent to the UK to be scanned, digitized and marked on-screen. Recordings of the speaking interviews are sent here for marking, too. 

All markers are overseen by Senior Examiners to ensure that their work always meets the highest standards. Centralizing marking means that all candidates are treated equally, fairly and judged against the same criteria. 

The exam of the future

Technology is empowering us to be more precise and work more efficiently than ever before. From late 2020, PTE General will be available in two formats.

  1. The traditional paper-based test with a face-to-face speaking interview
  2. A new, entirely computer-based version using Pearson’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence scoring technology

The digital version of PTE General will offer a number of advantages. 

  • Lightening-speed scoring (in just one week)
  • Flexible, on-demand delivery
  • Sophisticated data analytics
  • AI-marked speaking to eliminate human bias

… and more. 

Stay tuned for a revolutionary digital exam that will take this already widely recognized English language qualification to a whole new level of convenience and trust.

Help your students secure their futures with PTE General

PTE General English language qualification

We hope that we have succeeded in giving you some insight into why PTE General is a great choice for teachers who want to see their students succeed.

By taking PTE General, students can show how well they’ve mastered written and oral communication in English. They can also prove that they’re ready for global education and employment opportunities in English-speaking environments. 

Discover more benefits of PTE General in our university recognition brochure:

Download now!

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Engaging learners with videos: Our partnership with the BBC

There’s no question, young learners love watching videos. They’re fun, immersive and students often see them as a “break” from traditional classroom work. But far from just being filler content, great educational videos can have a big impact on learning – providing real-world contexts, natural language, engaging storylines and relatable situations. 

These are just some of the reasons why we partner with the BBC. Using their content we produce exciting video content to keep your learners engaged and help them achieve their goals. 

Today we speak to CBeebies Series Producer Rachel Bazeley about why video content is so effective when teaching children. She also takes you behind the scenes, so you can see how the BBC creates children’s shows. 

We hope these interview clips also give you more insight into the role of video in the classroom and how it can spark curiosity and teach learners about the world around them. 

Rachel Bazeley: 20 years of creating TV shows for children

Rachel Bazeley is a Series Producer for Children’s BBC, working out of BBC Scotland in Glasgow. She has worked at the BBC for 24 years and she’s been creating children’s television shows for 20. 

Rachel has produced many different programs, from studio to live-action productions and documentaries. Some of the titles she worked on include Same Smile, My Story, My Pet and Me and Down on the Farm

Learning through play: How you can educate and entertain children

In this clip, Rachel explains the significance of learning through play. Children can pick up skills and little bits of knowledge while they’re having fun, so it’s important to keep them entertained while learning. 

As an example, she cites a factual entertainment program she made a few years ago for CBeebies. 

Rachel believes that the kinds of videos CBeebies creates can help non-native English speakers learn about the world around them. It’s actually one of their main objectives. As long as they contain content that’s engaging from a child’s perspective, any child can enjoy and learn from them, regardless of their language skills. 

Watch the video below: 

How the BBC creates children’s shows

Here Rachel takes us behind the scenes of the BBC’s children’s shows and describes the production processes unique to this genre. For example, we find out that to come up with new concepts for children’s content, the BBC often looks at what’s already out there and adapts ideas from shows aimed at adults. 

According to Rachel, the elements that separate a successful pilot episode from a failed one are writing, casting and narrative/storytelling. She also talks about the challenges that producers face when working on a new show, especially with regards to reconciling their ambitions with the production’s budget. Finally, she lists all the common elements of successful children’s shows. 

Watch the video below: 

Learn more about the BBC

In the last clip, Rachel wraps up with a few interesting facts about the BBC and its history of producing children’s programs. She also talks about her own experience in children’s television.

Watch the video below: 

How to use children’s video content in your teaching

Are you ready to make videos a part of your teaching routine, but don’t know where to start? Let us help you! 

Watch this video with Amanda Davies on how to teach culture with BBC content, complete with lesson examples from the GoGetter course. We’re sure it will give you lots of ideas and a big dose of inspiration!

About our partnership with the BBC

The videos we produced in partnership with the BBC are included in some of our most popular courses, such as Now I Know!, Go Getter and Wider World. They are also used in our Live Classes.

Now I Know!, for instance, comes with authentic BBC video content in openers and throughout every unit. This six-level course builds on children’s natural curiosity and provides an exciting learning environment, where inquiry-based challenges take centre stage. The course is complemented by varied real-world content from the BBC. 

Download a sample now.

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A round-up of our 10 most popular blog posts from 2019

2019 is about to come to an end – and what a year it has been! It’s hard to believe how quickly it has flown by. We’ve been busy attending events and welcoming speakers and friends to debate and discuss key themes in education.

Ken Beatty IATEFL 2019 Pearson English
Ken Beatty at our Gallery Walk, IATEFL 2019

One of our biggest highlights has to be the IATEFL Gallery Walk. That’s where we examined the question, ‘Do we still need classrooms?’ and got the chance to interact with a number of influential educators such as Ken Beatty and Nik Peachey. 

Then at TESOL in Georgia, US, we enjoyed looking into the future of learning and meeting the needs of the 21st century workplace. We also attended InnovateELT, a conference in Barcelona where creative minds and forward-thinking educators come together each year. There have also been many excellent local events across Asia, the Middle East, HispanoAmerica and Europe.

It’s been a privilege to learn from and share insights with teachers from around the world, including our amazing Teacher Award winners, announced at our first ever Facebook Live Teacher Award ceremony. We were lucky enough to spend the week with them at IATEFL In Liverpool. 

So, to celebrate a great year we thought we’d share with you ten of our most popular blog posts from 2019. 

1. How to improve student engagement with Assessment for Learning (AfL)

By Amanda Davies

In this popular blog post, Amanda brought us some next-level AfL strategies, giving tips on how to encourage learners to take more responsibility for their own learning. 

Her advice includes sharing learning objectives, setting success criteria, providing formative feedback and making room for self- and peer reflection. 

Read more about AfL

2. Back to school: 5 tips to start the new school year successfully

By Anna Roslaniec

There’s never enough back to school advice. In this blog post, Anna shares her top tips for ESL teachers preparing for the new school year and bundles them together with free downloadable resources. She explains how to make a strong first impression and lay down some ground rules in a new class, build a classroom routine from day one and prepare activities that challenge students. 

She details why a classroom survival kit is important and how to put one together. And last but not least, she shows us how to start building rapport with students from the very first day. 

Read more about effective back-to-school tactics.  

3. Back to school: 5 ways to establish SMART goals

By Jennifer Manning

Another popular back to school article, Jennifer explains the concept of SMART goals and how to implement them in a classroom. Learning goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They provide motivation, focus and a sense of direction, which is why it’s a good idea to start setting them at the beginning of a new term.

In this blog post, you’ll find examples of how to apply the SMART way of thinking in ELT. And remember, these goals aren’t just for students: try setting them for yourself too!

Learn more about SMART goals

4. 5 ways to keep students’ attention in class

By Joanna Wiseman

We are not at all surprised that this was one of the most-read blog posts of 2019. Keeping students focused on a task is a challenge that all teachers face on a daily basis. 

In her article, Joanna gives us lots of useful tips on how to keep students engaged. Teachers should try planning a range of activities, varying the dynamics of the class, paying attention to the mood and using brain breaks to keep students from losing interest. Joanna also explains the benefits of peer teaching and gives examples of useful classroom management strategies. 

Read more about keeping students’ attention

5. Video storytelling: 4 lesson plan ideas from Jamie Keddie

By Jamie Keddie

Video is a great tool that all teachers should try to incorporate into their classes. However, to reap the benefits of audiovisual storytelling in language learning, it’s important to select the right videos and know how to use them. 

In this blog post, Jamie explains through the example of a specific video how the story can engage students and get them listening, thinking and speaking.

Read more about using video storytelling.  

6. Mindfulness in the classroom: autopilot & paying attention

By Amy Malloy

Have you ever noticed your students drifting into autopilot mode? It’s a state when we’re only partially aware of our surroundings, and it often happens in classrooms. In her blog post, Amy walks us through using mindfulness exercises to help students pay attention and move out of autopilot mode. 

Mindfulness is particularly important in school: it can help improve children’s attention span, which translates into other areas of their lives. It’s as easy as using screens and technology mindfully, practising mindful snacking and counting the breath as a daily exercise. 

Read more about switching off autopilot with mindfulness

7. Does mindfulness really work? And can it help your students?

By Amy Malloy

Another post about mindfulness by Amy Malloy, this article focuses on the basics of mindfulness: what it is, why it’s important and how it can help our students. 

Amy goes into detail about the many benefits of paying conscious attention to the present moment. She demonstrates how mindfulness can strengthen different – healthier – pathways in the brain and how this can help students. Towards the end of the post, you’ll find some expert tips on how to introduce mindfulness in your classroom and what you can expect from it.

Read more about mindfulness for students.

8. Reading strategies checklist for primary

By Iram Ahmed

Primary students may need help and guidance from their teachers when it comes to reading tasks. 

In this article, we explore the most effective reading strategies that can help students get the most out of reading tasks. Iram’s post comes with a downloadable Reading Strategies Checklist that teachers can display in their classrooms to take students through activities before, during and after reading. 

Download the Reading Strategies Checklist

9. 5 future skills our students will need

By Ken Beatty

Ken Beatty explains the importance of preparing our students for the future and equipping them with the skills that they’ll need. He covers visual literacy, collaborative learning, critical and creative thinking, as well as the digital environment, and learner autonomy. All his points include actionable tips on what teachers can do to facilitate this type of future-proof learning. 

You’ll also find out how StartUp, an innovative eight-level English course can help you teach for the future. 

Read more about future skills our students will need

10. English for employability: What will jobs be like in the future?

By Nicola Pope

This post is all about the jobs of the future and the importance of English for employability. Nicola shows that in the rapidly changing job market, proficiency in the English language is a very important factor for an increasing number of students around the world. She goes into how teachers can prepare their students for jobs that may not even exist today and shares some advice from Mike Mayor and Tim Goodier.

Read more about English for employability

— 

Which of these posts did you find the most useful? What would you like to see on our blog in 2020?

Before you go, don’t miss the opportunity to enter the Pearson English Global Teacher Award 2020

Applications close on 10th January, at 23:59 GMT, so hurry and apply now!

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Digital literacy: Setting students on the path to success

With the internet at our fingertips, we have access to information on absolutely any topic imaginable. It’s an invaluable tool for learners of a second language, who can access materials in their L2 that students twenty or thirty years ago could only dream of. 

But without digital literacy, the internet can be a difficult – and sometimes unsafe – space for students to explore. Fake news is rife, and misinformation is thrown at us every day, especially on social media. Many people find it hard to evaluate what’s real and what’s not in their mother tongue, so you can imagine how much more complicated it is for language learners to know which information is trustworthy.

Educators have a responsibility to send students out into the online world with the skills and knowledge to be able to navigate online successfully. To do this, we need to make sure that students are aware of the dangers the internet poses and how to evaluate the information they find and decide whether or not it is reliable. This is where digital literacy skills come into play.

How does digital literacy help your students?

Digital Literacy encompasses a whole host of skills, which include how to stay safe online, how to create and share information securely, as well as how to understand privacy issues and online permissions. 

The skill set also encompasses Information Literacy, which means knowing how to search for and evaluate information online using credible sources. Developing this understanding of the internet is essential today and will only grow in importance as our students progress through school and university and then embark on their careers. 

How can you use webquests to help students develop digital literacy?

Webquests are mini online challenges that require students to go online and – using a variety of sources – find information in order to complete an objective. Students often love webquests, because they involve a range of creative and critical skills – and they get to go online in a relatively free way.

Here are a few fun and educational webquest activities you can use with your students. Note that with low levels, it may be beneficial to have these discussions in the students’ mother tongue.

  • Show students a variety of websites from reliable and less credible sources. These could include online newspapers, blogs, and social media posts. Ask students if they have heard of these websites and to think about who owns/writes for them.
  • Give students a soundbite – a small piece of information about something that is reported to have happened recently. Tell them to look for this information online and to find at least five other references to it in different publications. Cross-checking is important and can really help you decide if something is true.
  • Discuss what makes a website trustworthy and provide students with strategies for spotting false information. Use the following checklist as a guide:

1. Examine the layout. Does it look like a professional website? Use of fonts, layouts, and the number of pictures versus text can all be things to pay attention to.

2. Check the language. If there are grammatical or spelling errors, the piece probably hasn’t been edited. Of course, this is very difficult for students to pick up on in their L2. 

3. Look closely at the images. If in doubt, do a reverse image search by copying and pasting the image address into Google Images. Sometimes, people use images from different stories because it “proves” a point they want to illustrate. 

4. Check the URL, especially if the article is from a social media link. If it takes you to a well-known news site, make sure that the URL is exactly the same. It should have no additional letters or numbers in the address.

5. Look for the author of the article. People who write false information usually avoid giving their name.

6. Look for the date the article was written. If it was a long time ago, the information may have changed since then. 

  • Work on critical thinking skills. Have students analyze a website to see if they can identify the facts and check them against other websites. Encourage them to consider what the rest of the information is – is it the author’s opinion? If so, does that conflict with anything else the student has read or knows about the topic?

To read more about fostering critical thinking in your lessons, read How to get teenagers to think critically.

  • Discuss the concept of “clickbait”. Ask students to find links to articles on social media and to click on them, and see whether the article really says what the original headline claimed.

Test your students’ new digital skills with a graded Reader webquest

Once your learners are trained in information literacy, why not test their skills with this WebQuest based on the graded Reader Little Women. Suitable for elementary learners, they’ll have the chance to put their critical thinking skills into use as they complete the collaborative tasks.

Download the student worksheets now!

Download the teacher instructions now!

There are also a number of other activities to celebrate the release of the new Little Women film. Discover them here.

How do you make sure your learners are using appropriate digital literacy skills when they go online? Let us know in the comments below.

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Little Women – a classic story for all

A good book is a good companion – and many of us like to snuggle up on the sofa and immerse ourselves in a new world. 

For language learners, reading a whole novel may be a bit too challenging. So why not point your students in the direction of our graded Readers? Whether they prefer contemporary fiction, non-fiction or classics, the Pearson Active Readers series has something for everyone.

Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women is one of our favorites. To celebrate a new movie version coming out on December 25th, we’ve put together a new set of classroom resources to use alongside the Level 1 Reader, suitable for A1–A2 level learners.

Little Women

Written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868, Little Women tells the story of four sisters and their lives during the American Civil War. Based on the author’s own family, the story explores themes such as the importance of family, friendship, love and work. 

The story begins at Christmas time, where the four girls are unhappy with their lives having recently become poor. However, they soon meet someone who will prove to be an important figure in their lives. The book follows the trials and tribulations of the four girls as they grow up to become women.

Why use graded Readers in class?

Extensive reading can be extremely beneficial to language learners, whatever their age or level. However, reading authentic texts in another language can prove extremely challenging and can be disheartening, putting students off reading in English. Graded Readers are written with carefully graded language to allow learners to read original and classic texts at just the right level. 

With Pearson English Active Readers, the book itself is just a part of the learning experience. Each Reader comes with an audio CD with the full audio version of the book so that students can improve their listening as well as their reading skills. Teacher’s notes and worksheets accompany the Reader to allow you to make the most of the book during lessons, including chapter summaries, vocabulary and language practice, discussion activities, and even progress tests to make sure your students are on the right track.

Free resources available!

As well as all the downloadable resources you can find on the Little Women Reader website, we’ve created some brand new activities you can use in class together with the Reader. 

These include: 

1. Little Women fact sheet

Students learn more about the four main characters from the novel and complete an activity to personalize the language and share information about themselves.

Download the student worksheets now! 

Download the teacher notes now!

2. Little Women webquest

Students complete an engaging webquest, search for information about the author of Little Women and then give a presentation of their findings. 

Download the student worksheets now! 

Download the teacher notes now!

3. Little Women on social media 

Students brainstorm ideas and then write social media posts from the point of view of one of the characters. 

Download the student worksheets now! 

Download the teacher notes now! 

Did you enjoy these materials? Check out some more classic Readers and classroom activities: 

Happy reading!

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5 benefits of using graded Readers with young learners

It’s widely reported that language learners who read develop other language skills more quickly than those who don’t. When we encourage our students to read and enjoy reading, we are helping them to progress in their English language learning. 

Something for everyone

We have a huge variety of Pearson English Readers available for young learners, adolescents and adults, with something to suit all your students’ tastes.

There are different ways to use our graded Readers in class: for example, you may choose to have one book which the whole class reads together. Alternatively, you may have a library and provide time during the lesson for your students to pick up and read a story which interests them individually.

However you choose to use our Readers in class, here are five reasons why we think they’re a great tool for the English classroom.

1. Tap into students’ interests 

Many of our Readers are based on characters and stories which students are familiar with. You can take advantage of this by allowing students to share their knowledge of the text before they even open the book. For example, you can have students:

  • Tell you about the main characters, describing their appearance as well as their personality
  • Explain the main plot in pairs and then check their predictions as a class as you read
  • Write questions about the text which a partner can either answer before reading (checking their answers as they read) or after reading

2. Develop pronunciation 

The full audio is available for all our Readers on our website. This allows your students to follow along as they read. This can help raise their awareness of features of speech such as the pronunciation of individual words and intonation when reading stories or in direct speech. You can also pause the audio whilst reading and have students repeat words or sentences to help them advance their pronunciation skills.

3. Build communication skills

Our Readers include a good variety of text and direct speech, making them easy to use as scripts for short plays. If you want to put on a dramatic production, students can create costumes for their character, allowing their creative side to flourish! 

Producing a short play together also builds their social and communication skills and teamwork – skills which are critical for the future.

4. Develop vocabulary

All our Readers are carefully graded to one of six levels: the grammar and lexis in each story is adapted to suit the needs of your learners. This means students will be able to relax and enjoy reading our stories at the same time as understanding and learning new vocabulary in context.

Encourage students to take note of new vocabulary – and use it in written and spoken contexts. This will help them to build up a bank of new vocabulary which they can use in their own writing and speaking.

5. Enjoy supportive teachers’ resources

All of our Readers come with extra downloadable materials. With ideas for discussion activities, comprehension questions and follow-up tasks, the teachers’ resources provide you with everything you need to make the most of each text.

 Explore the Readers website and inspire your learners today. 

Looking for more inspiration?

Here are four more articles to help get your primary students excited about reading:


Do you use Readers in class with your students? Let us know how in the comments.

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Pearson English Global Teacher Award 2020: Meet the judges

Every year we aim to find interesting stories from teachers who have a real impact on their learners in the world of English language teaching. We want to shine a spotlight on those who improve their students’ lives and make a difference in their community – and then celebrate their achievements in the Pearson English Global Teacher Award.

Teachers from all corners of the globe submit short videos explaining how they are making an impact through teaching. Five winners, each from a different region, will be selected by a panel of specialist judges.

The prize? An unforgettable, all-expenses-paid trip to attend IATEFL or TESOL 2020.

If you want to tell us your story and be considered for the award, please hurry.

The deadline for the fourth annual Teacher Award is just around the corner: 10th January.

Who will be selecting the winners? Take a peek behind the curtain to find out who the judges are for this year’s competition. 

Jeanne Perrett

Teacher award judge Jeanne PerrettJeanne has been working in the language teaching sector for over thirty-five years as an educator, school owner, publisher and writer. She is the author of many acclaimed courses, including Now I Know

“I feel very honored to be one of the judges for this year’s award,” she says. “In the classroom, the saying ‘it’s not what you do, but how you make people feel’ is particularly true. So I’ll be looking for teachers who are enabling a learning environment where students can try things, make mistakes, and flourish.” 

Mike Mayor

Teacher award judge Mike MayorMike Mayor is the Director of the Global Scale of English (GSE) at Pearson. In this role, he leads research into creating learning objectives aligned to the GSE. He ensures that these learning objectives form the foundation of all new courses. On leaving university, Mike worked as an English teacher in France before entering the world of publishing as a lexicographer. 

Currently, one of his key areas of interest is on the ‘soft skills’ that students need to succeed in life and work. He is looking for teachers who are modeling creativity, collaboration and teamwork in their lesson planning –  and is interested to see how this work translates into impactful teaching.

Mike Solly 

Teacher award judge Mike SollyLet us introduce you to the second Mike on our panel. Mike Solly has almost 30 years’ experience in ELT. His roles have ranged from a classroom teacher to a teacher trainer. He has also designed teaching materials and managed projects and networks for the British Council. He’s currently responsible for the British Council’s approach to languages for migrants and refugees. 

When it comes to the Teacher Award, Mike is looking for teachers who inspire their students. 

“Inspiring teachers stay with people forever, in ways the teacher cannot ever fully know,” he says. “These teachers have a spark that is infectious and, I think, ultimately cannot be learned. It is partly innate and partly acquired through an inquisitive and open mind. I’ll be looking for this spark.”

Clare Walsh

Teacher award judge Clare WalshLast but not least is Clare Walsh, a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer. She’s worked as an author on Gold and Expert, as well as numerous other books and online tools. She’s also an examiner and exam writer and is interested in the possibilities of new technologies, particularly games, to allow more complex skills to be assessed and introduced into classroom practice.

Clare is thrilled to be one of this year’s judges and is excited to hear all your interesting stories about how you’ve made a difference to your learners or colleagues. “Everything we do in education is about supporting the person who’s there to greet children and learners as they walk into the classroom” she says. “We know that teachers are there, in person, and they have the opportunity to make real and lasting difference to children and adult learners.”

Apply for the Pearson English Global Teacher Award

Now that you know what our judges are looking for… we want to hear from you! 

The application process is simple. Just tell us about how teaching has enabled you to make a difference to your students or colleagues. There will be five winners chosen, one each from the regions of Africa & the Middle East, South America, North & Central America, Europe & Central Asia, Asia & Oceania. 

Apply now!

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A guide to Pearson & BBC Live Classes

After the enormous success of last year’s Pearson and BBC Live Classes, we’ve brought them back! Once again, students from all around the world have the chance to bring their English learning to life. 

The Live Classes project is a fantastic example of how technology can give learners a unique and exciting learning experience. In these classes, around ten groups of students from different countries come together in a global classroom to learn from and interact with one another.

Each class is designed for a different level and age group and is led by an experienced and enthusiastic English teacher. There are a number of dates available from December until May and the classes take place at various times during the day, making the project accessible to the widest number of students possible. 

Read on to discover the theme for each lesson and find out what you can expect from them.

Lesson A: London Zoo

Do your students love animals? If so, this lesson, might be for you! They’ll start the class by watching a short BBC video about London Zoo and discover some of the animals that live there. Then, they’ll learn lots of interesting new vocabulary which will help them talk to each other about their favorite animals. 

This class is suitable for:

  • Ages: 9 – 11
  • Level: A1 – A2

Who’s leading the lesson?

This Live Class is taught by Elizabeth Beer, an extremely creative teacher and experienced trainer. She has taught in countries all over the world, including Hong Kong, Spain and Vietnam. She particularly enjoys helping students to improve their speaking and listening skills, and she delivers classes with lots of energy!

Register for Elizabeth’s class now!  

Lesson B: Do smartphones make you smarter?

Smartphones are everywhere! Whether your students like playing games, making their own videos or just chatting with their friends, we’re sure this will be an engaging – and extremely useful – lesson for them. During the class, students will learn some new vocabulary related to technology, watch a BBC video and have plenty of opportunities to speak up. It will be a truly global conversation!

This class is suitable for:

  • Ages: 12 – 16
  • Level: A2 – B1

Who’s leading the lesson?

Michael Brand has led Live Classes since the project began two years ago. He is especially interested in collaborative learning, creative ways of using videos and other technology in class. The theme of his Live Class this year fully reflects that.

Register for Michael’s class now! 

Lesson C: Where can we engage with nature and why is it important to do so?

Imagine staying in a sustainable hotel, deep in the cloud forests of Ecuador. The peace, quiet and beautiful surroundings would be breathtaking. Based on a BBC video about such a hotel, your students will learn lots of new vocabulary about travel and nature. They will then discuss their experiences of the natural world with each other and share insights from where they live. If your students want to travel the world one day, this is the lesson for them.

This class is suitable for: 

  • Ages: 16 – 19
  • Levels: B2 – B2+

Who’s leading the lesson?

This Live Class is taught by Daniel Brayshaw, who has been teaching English since 2001. He has taught students of every level and age. He has also written and co-authored student books and workbooks, so you can be sure his lesson will be fun and engaging! 

Register for Daniel’s class now!   

Lesson D: Interesting places to visit in your country

How many of your students dream of visiting the Big Apple? Well now they can! In this Live Class they’ll watch a BBC video and be transported to New York City. They’ll explore some of New York’s iconic attractions, learn lots of new language, and then talk to each other about the most popular places to visit near where they live.

  • Ages: 9 – 15
  • Levels: B1

Who’s leading the lesson?

Rob Dean has been working in the English teaching industry for 25 years. In that time he’s worked as a teacher, a school director and a teacher trainer. He has a special interest in teaching with technology and using culture in his lessons. 

Register for Rob’s class now!   

Lesson E: Local food and markets

If your students are feeling hungry, this Live Class will be sure to make their stomachs rumble. The class is all about food culture in different countries and begins with a BBC video about street food in Mexico. Students will learn lots of helpful descriptive and metaphorical language to talk about their city’s cuisine. Later they’ll share their favorite dishes with the other students in the class. It’s a great opportunity for your students to learn more about the world and share their culture.

This class is suitable for: 

  • Ages: 16 – 19
  • Levels: B2+

Who’s leading the lesson?

This Live Class is taught by John Wolf who is leading the Live Classes for the second time as well. John has many years of experience teaching English and, recently, he’s specialized in teacher training all over the world. He loves looking for fresh and exciting ideas to help teachers and students achieve their language learning potential.

Register for John’s class now!  

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Places are limited in each class, so sign up now to avoid missing out!

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