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

Celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday with these 4 Readers

Jane Austen was a British author who lived in the eighteenth century. She wrote about love at a time when women were expected to marry well. Her books often criticize the wealth and attitudes of rich families.

“…for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

– Jane Austen

In those days, women were often taught skills that were less academic, such as cookery and sewing. However, Jane was always a keen reader and was lucky to be able to read her father and brother’s books. She also started writing poems and short stories to read to her family at a young age, although she didn’t become a published author until the age of 36.

To celebrate her birthday on December 16th, here are 4 of her most famous stories.

1. Sense and Sensibility (level 3)

Celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with Pearson English readersJane Austen’s first novel is perfect for A2 level learners. It follows the lives of the Dashwood sisters, who have to leave their childhood home when their father dies. They move to the countryside with their mother and adapt to life there, with new friends and neighbors.

It’s a story of romance, as Marianne Dashwood falls in love with a handsome young man called John Willoughby. However, when Willoughby is in London, he meets the rich Miss Grey, leaving Marianne heartbroken.

At the same time, the older Elinor is deciding her feelings for Edward Ferrars. Unfortunately, it seems he may already be in a relationship with another young woman, Lucy.

As the story develops, the two sisters discover more about themselves and each other, as well as the men around them.

To find out if they find true love, get your copy of the book here. 

2. Emma (level 4)

Celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with Pearson English readers

In this wonderful story for B1 level students, we follow Emma as she involves herself in the romantic relationships of her friends and family.

Sadly, Emma isn’t as good at matchmaking as she believes. Although she tries to do well, she often causes her friends heartache. From convincing one friend to turn down a very good marriage proposal to feeling jealous of another friend, Emma is always busy.

But, after all her hard work to find everyone the perfect partner, will they all live happily ever after? And will Emma find love herself? Find your copy of the book here.

3. Pride and Prejudice (level 5)

Celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with Pearson English readers

Perhaps Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the Bennett sisters, focusing especially on one of the older sisters, Elizabeth. It’s suitable for B2 level students.

Elizabeth is an independent young woman and is quick to decide and share her opinion about life. This causes her some trouble, as she can often be stubborn. Her older sister, Jane, finds it difficult to change Elizabeth’s mind once she has made an opinion.

Throughout the story, we follow Elizabeth as she takes care of her sisters – kind, quiet Jane, plain Mary, and the two foolish and irresponsible younger girls, Kitty and Lydia. We also see their father, Mr Bennett, who quietly deals with the situation. Meanwhile, his wife is determined to see all five daughters with good husbands as soon as possible.

It’s an engaging story, with romance and intrigue – but will Elizabeth ever admit to her pride and prejudice? Get your copy to find out.

4. Becoming Jane (level 3)

Celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with Pearson English readers

Our last reader is a biographical novel by Kevin Hood. It tells us more about Jane Austen’s life and her relationship with Thomas Lefroy.

Jane frequently wrote letters to her older sister, Cassandra, and historians were able to read these and put together some details of her life. Unfortunately, Cassandra also threw away many letters, as they often contained insults to family members – like the character of Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Austen wasn’t afraid to share her opinion!

Reading the story, it’s easy to see the inspiration for her novels coming from her own experiences, as well as giving a wonderful idea of what life was like for Austen at the time.

Perhaps after picking up a copy, you’ll be inspired to write your own novel!


All our Jane Austen readers are available with an MP3 pack, so your students can listen along as they read. There is also a teacher’s resource pack available on the website which you can download for free.

Click here to download an audio sample from Pride and Prejudice. 

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

– Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen, 1818)

What’s your favorite Jane Austen novel? Let us know in the comments!

Prefer something for young learners? Read our recent post: 6 delightful Disney Readers to celebrate Walt Disney’s birthday.

The post Celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday with these 4 Readers appeared first on Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English.

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Meet a Teacher Award winner: Ksenia Immel

We had a chance to catch up with Ksenia Immel, one of the 2018 Pearson English Teacher Award winners, to find out how life has changed for her since she was recognized as a top English language teacher.Ksenia Immel


1. How has winning the Teacher Award changed your life?

Winning the Teacher Award has definitely empowered me as a practicing teacher, a constructive thinker, and a policy advisor. Now I am passionate about giving back, helping my colleagues, and generating innovative ideas. I am applying the skills and knowledge at my school and encourage other teachers to take part in the competition. My achievement made an inspiring impact on my students. I showed them that there are a lot of opportunities and some of them dared to apply at top-tier universities and succeeded.

2. Have you felt more connected to the ELT community as a result of winning the Teacher Award?

Participating in the IATEFL conference allowed me to build contacts with professionals from different backgrounds. Forming professional and personal bonds with these people is invaluable. I miss other Teacher Award Winners every single day as we became family to each other.

3. How has your teaching changed since winning the award?

I convinced my colleagues to become a PTE General Test Centre. I was more than happy to receive the status of an approved PTE interlocutor and assessor. This December our students are having the first exam session! My teaching now focuses on developing higher order thinking skills as it is crucial for the success at the PTE exams.

4. What advice would you have for people who are hesitant to enter the Teacher Award competition?

Don’t judge your ideas and abilities. Enter the competition and let other people evaluate you. Enter the competition with a passion for sharing and learning rather than a hunger for approval.


We hope Ksenia’s words will encourage you to enter this year’s Teacher Award competition. Entries are open until the competition closes on January 4, 2019. Read about how to enter or see Ksenia’s entry on the website.

Next year you could be the one writing about how your life has changed for the better since winning the Pearson English Global Teacher Award!

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5 lesson ideas perfect for the holiday season

It’s December already and many teachers will be preparing for the end of term. This can be a tricky time of year to plan for, as your younger learners start to get excited about their winter (or summer, if you’re in the southern hemisphere) vacation!

In this post we’ll look at a few ideas to help you get through those last few weeks of term with some fun activities suitable for young learners of different age groups.

1. Winter time!

Your younger learners will love anything related to snow, especially if you live in a warmer country. Snow can seem fascinating to children who have never seen it in real life, and exciting to those who experience it only a few times a year! Make the most of their interest and curiosity, and teach them language through this motivating topic.

Start by teaching winter clothes vocabulary, by having students categorize types of clothing by season. Give pairs or small groups of students flashcards or pictures of clothing and have them classify them into summer and winter clothes.

If possible, bring in some items such as hats, scarves, and gloves, and have a dressing up race where two students put on the garments you call out. This can be a lot of fun!

Have students brainstorm different activities you can do in the snow or in cold weather and mime each action together. Some ideas are:

  • Make a snowman
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Make footprint trails in the snow
  • Go sledding
  • Go ice-skating
  • Go skiing

Finally, you could do a snowy craft with your learners, such as making paper snowflakes or a snowman paper chain. Search online for instructional videos and templates.

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you could highlight the differences between the winter and summer, and have students come up with activities they can do at the beach, instead.

2. Crazy sweater competition

At this time of year, crazy sweaters abound! Festive sweaters have become a trend in recent years and the more extravagant the better! With older kids, why not try a design activity where they have to come up with their own crazy sweater?

Lots of interesting language can be taught, including adjectives like sparkly, fluffy, baggy, spotted; and the different features students can add to their sweaters, such as pompoms, buttons, zips, and even flashing lights!

Have students write a description of their sweaters, and present to the class. Then have the class vote on their favorite crazy sweater.

3. Countdown Challenge

Vacation is around the corner and both you and your students will be winding down, getting ready for the end of term. Make this a bit more special and maintain momentum in those last few weeks by making a Countdown Challenge calendar.

Count the lessons you have until the end of term and write a challenge for each one on a card, then place it inside an envelope. Write a number on each envelope, and hang up somewhere in your classroom. You could stick them around the edge of your board, or use pegs to hang them along a piece of string.

Each day, nominate a different student (or group if you have a large class) to take that day’s card and do the challenge. This is a nice routine for ending the lesson.

If your students are older, have them write the challenges themselves. You could use this to review vocabulary and structures students have learned during the term. Some fun challenges could be: name 10 things you wear in winter, act out a famous movie without speaking, or perform a festive song.

4. Gift messages

In many cultures, gifts are given and received at this time of year. Children often make long lists of toys and games they want, but sometimes the best gifts are those that make us feel special.

Instead of talking about material gifts, focus on positive messages that your students can share with each other.

Give each student a few cards and have them write a kind message to one of their classmates on each one. This could be a compliment, a thank you message, or something they have noticed about that student’s progress and behavior in class, e.g. Thank you for helping me remember new words or You’re always smiling in class.

To make sure that each student receives an equal number of messages, assign names to each student secretly, for whom they have to think of something kind to say. Messages should be anonymous.

You could set up a post box for the messages and then choose a student to be mail deliverer and hand out the messages at the end of the week, or in the last lesson.

5. Organize a holiday party

Have your students organize a party for the last day of term and work as a team as they do so. When students are involved in a planning task, they are using English to make decisions and really communicate with each other.

Assign a different area of planning to groups of students and give them some time in each lesson leading up to the end of term to discuss their ideas and plan for the party.

Groups could work on:

Food and drink – students make a list of snacks to bring, taking into account any dietary needs (they could write a questionnaire to find out if students have any allergies). Encourage students to think of some healthy alternatives to chips, candy, and soda!

Games –  this group chooses which games to play and makes any materials that are required. These could be traditional party games, or typical classroom games.

Decorations – here students decide how they can decorate the classroom and can make posters, paper chains, party hats, and so on.

Music – this group makes a playlist of songs they want to listen to.

Then, throw the party! Students will enjoy themselves so much more when they have participated in the planning process and worked hard to make the party a success.

Looking for more free content and resources for your class? Check out the Pearson English Advent Calendar, which is full of festive surprises!

What activities are you planning to do over the next few weeks? Share your ideas in the comments below.

And wherever you are in the world, from all of us at Pearson English, we wish you very Happy Holidays!

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8 webinars that will change the way you think about teaching English

In this series of eight inspiring ELT webinars, you will discover lots of new approaches to teaching. From making grammar more fun to looking at the skills students will need in the future – there’s something for everyone!

Below you’ll find a short summary of each webinar. Once you’ve found something that suits your interests, simply click on the link and register to watch. Enjoy!


1. 21st Century Teaching and the Global Scale of English

Sara Davila presents her fascinating webinar on 21st Century Teaching, blended learning, and how to use the Global Scale of English. Focusing on preparing students for their future careers, she summarizes the 4Cs – collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. Sara has over 12 years’ experience as a teacher, educational consultant and trainer. She is the Learning Expert in Higher Education for global English language products at Pearson English.

Register to watch the webinar now

2. How to Organize a Lesson Plan Around a Short Story

Sybil Marcus is a co-author of A World of Fiction – a series designed to teach ESL learners integrated language and critical thinking skills through literature. In this highly practical webinar, you’ll learn how to create a lesson plan using a short story. Sybil covers reading, writing, speaking and grammar. He also looks at how story analysis can develop critical thinking skills.

Register to watch the webinar now

3. Engaging Students in the Classroom Through Photos and Images

Joe McVeigh is a teacher, teacher trainer, and independent educational consultant. In this insightful webinar, he dives into how to engage students more deeply through the use of images. Full of practical ideas, he shows us how to facilitate collaborative lessons and integrate a variety of skills.

Register to watch the webinar now

4. Space for Uncertainty: Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Dr. Ken Beatty is a professor at Anaheim University, specializing in TESOL. He has worked all over the world, lecturing on language teaching and computer-aided language teaching.

His webinar looks at the world beyond course books and classrooms, exploring the language of uncertainty that students are sure to encounter in their everyday interactions in English. Ken offers a range of practical advice, so that you can help your students communicate in the real world.

Register to watch the webinar now

5. Teaching Grammar with Pop Songs: Ain’t No Reason Not To

Author of the popular True Stories series, Sandra Heyer presents her webinar on using pop songs. She notes that many teachers are reluctant to use songs in their classes because they often contain poor grammar, but she has lots of good uses for them! With tips and practical ideas – you’ll soon have a very musical classroom!

Register to watch the webinar now

6. Fostering Independence: Helping Students Become More Effective Self-Directed Learners

Sarah Lynn is an ESOL teacher, teacher trainer, teacher coach, author, and curriculum design specialist. She has also authored several publications, including Business Across Cultures, Future, Future U.S. Citizens, and Project Success. As a coach, she is an expert in helping people realize their potential and become independent in their own learning. In this webinar, you’ll find out how to teach your students to be more autonomous and discover a number of practical strategies that will help them become better learners.

Register to watch the webinar now

7. Ten Tips to Accelerate Academic Listening

Michael Rost is the principal author of Pearson English Interactive and has more than 25 years’ experience in language teaching. His webinar focuses on academic listening and accelerating the learning process for students – turning them from passive into active listeners. You’ll learn how to construct “while listening” tasks with specific objectives and see how to improve your learners’ levels of engagement.

Register to watch the webinar now

8. An Inductive Approach to Teaching Grammar

Geneva Tesh is a teacher, teacher trainer, researcher and materials writer. She has written for a number of ELT textbook series, including the Azar-Hagen Grammar Series, Future English for Results, and StartUp. In her grammar-focused webinar, she flips the traditional way of teaching and presents a more active approach to grammar learning. With inductive teaching students are presented with a target structure and attempt to understand the rules on their own.

This effective and exciting style of teaching will help you think about grammar in an entirely new way.

Register to watch the webinar now

You may also be interested in our series of five webinars focusing on success in primary learning, a webinar on using authentic English in your classroom and also four webinars on how to energize your teens’ classes.

Which webinar did you enjoy the most? What other topics would you like us to cover? Let us know in the comments!

The post 8 webinars that will change the way you think about teaching English appeared first on Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English.

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Pearson English Teacher Award: Judges Announcement

We’re excited to announce who will be judging this year’s Teacher Award competition!

We have assembled a terrific panel of experts and industry-insiders representing different facets of the English language teaching community. Find out more about this year’s judges and why they’re excited to be part of the Teacher Award.


jeremy harmerJeremy Harmer

Author and Methodology legend in the ELT arena, has been working with Pearson for many years and has most recently been involved in some work representing “voice of the teacher,” so he is an ideal person to have as a judge. Jeremy will be looking for a teacher who demonstrates ongoing curiosity about the world around them. ‘Together with genuine care for the students they work with, this shouts ‘great teacher’ at me,’ he explained.

emily galeEmily Gale

BBC Editor of English content, is very excited about being a judge, and explained that what she’ll be looking for when reviewing this year’s submissions is ‘examples of teachers using digital resources in exciting and innovative ways, to support the different learning styles of their students.’

Freya Thomas Monkfreya thomas monk

Recently appointed Senior Vice President of English & Schools, Freya had these uplifting words to say, ‘Teachers can transform lives- millions of learners around the world learn English in a classroom and their teachers inspire them to become proficient communicators of the English language.’ We’re very pleased that she’ll be a judge on this year’s panel.

Nick Robinsonnick robinson

CEO ELT Jam, with his finger on the pulse of all things ELT, commented, ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be asked to work with Pearson in recognizing the amazing work that teachers do.’


We are excited to see who will be recognized as a Pearson English Global Teacher Award winner this year and the impact they will have on the English language teaching community as a result.

Are you thinking about entering the competition? Be sure to submit your entry, following the competition guidelines, before January 4, 2019.

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6 delightful Disney readers to celebrate Walt Disney’s birthday

With elephants that can fly, seven dwarves with peculiar personalities and fairy godmothers granting wishes, Walt Disney created some truly magical movies.

To celebrate his birthday on December 5th 1901, we are sharing with you some of his classic tales.

Perfect for young learners, these stories range from levels 1 to 6, so there’s something for all abilities. Each reader comes with downloadable teachers’ resources and an audio version of the book.

So, sit back and relax and enjoy six of our favorite Disney Readers.

1. Winnie the Pooh (level 1)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with Winnie the Pooh

Have you ever looked in the cupboard when you’re hungry, hoping to find some honey, and found it completely empty?

That’s the problem Winnie the Pooh faces in this level 1 reader. But, he has a plan – the bees in the tree outside have honey. What can possibly go wrong?

Will Winnie the Pooh get the honey? And if he does, will he share it with his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood?

This book is the perfect introduction to reading for younger learners, with engaging characters and an amusing story. Download the audio and get your copy here.



2. The Little Mermaid (level 2)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with The Little Mermaid

It’s a story of an impossible love; she’s a mermaid and he’s a prince. But perhaps a terrible storm at sea will bring them together…dark clouds are in the sky and the prince’s boat is in danger.

With the help of her friends – Sebastian and Flounder – Ariel may be able to enjoy a future with handsome Prince Eric.

With 400 words, this level 2 reader is ideal for beginners who are starting to get more confidence with their reading.

Get your own copy and download the audio and see if the story has a happy ending.



3. Pinocchio (level 3)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with Pinocchio

One of Walt Disney’s early films, Pinocchio, is the heart-warming story of an old man called Geppetto. In the story, he makes a wooden puppet which can walk and talk. But Pinocchio is very naive and easily finds himself in trouble.

Follow Pinocchio’s adventures as he tries to find his way back home, with the advice of his friend, Jiminy Cricket. But does he prove he’s brave and unselfish enough to become a real boy?

This level 3 reader is ideal for learners preparing for the Cambridge Starters exam.

Find out more about Pinocchio’s journey and download the teaching resources here.


4. Robin Hood (level 4)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with Robin Hood

This level 4 reader perfect for A1 level students looking for adventure. It follows the story of Robin Hood. A notorious fox who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

Now the scary lion, Prince John, and his advisor, Sir Hiss, are trying to capture Robin.

Will Robin Hood survive and live a long and happy life with his friends in Sherwood Forest? Download a copy and find out!




5. Ratatouille (level 5)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with Ratatouille

Can you imagine finding a rat in your kitchen? And what if that rat was an incredible chef who cooks delicious dishes with fantastic flavors?

That’s the situation Alfredo Linguini finds himself in when Remy the rat appears one day. Alfredo works in one of the top restaurants in Paris, but he’s not a very good cook. That all changes when Remy sits in his hat and starts controlling his movements.

Read more about the pair’s amazing adventures. Level 5 is suitable for those preparing for the Cambridge Movers exam.




6. Up (level 6)

Celebrate Walt Disney's Birthday with Up

Our last pick for this selection is the level 6 reader, Up. It follows the story of two unlikely friends, grumpy old Carl and optimistic young Russell. They take an incredible trip in Carl’s house, which is being lifted by thousands of balloons.

It’s a beautiful tale of a growing friendship with lots of challenges along the way. Find out more about Carl and Russell’s adventures and download the audio.

Level 6 readers have 1200 words and are great for A1+ level students.



Find out more about the grading system for our readers.

For more magical stories, visit our Disney English Kids Readers page. And don’t forget to let us know in the comments what your favorite Disney classic is!

Do you want to use our Readers in your classroom? Learn more.

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7 reading strategies for primary and secondary learners

Reading can transport students to new places, immerse them in incredible adventures and teach them more about the amazing world around them.

What’s more, in today’s globalized world our students are exposed to written English more and more every day. It’s essential they have the skills needed to be successful in this environment. Many students are also going on to study in English at university and require a number of academic reading skills.

It’s important you work on these areas in class to prepare learners for their future. Here are 7 reading strategies to get you started including tips for both primary and secondary teachers.

1. Predicting what’s to come

Even before students start reading, we can use extra information on the page to get them thinking about the ideas and vocabulary they will find in the text. This encourages them to consider what they may already know about the topic. And, by adding an element of competition, we can also use it as a strategy to motivate them to read.

Divide the class into teams and write the title of the text on the board. Have them work in their teams and write ten words they predict will be in the text, based on the title.

After a few minutes, have teams swap lists and, as they read the text, check the words the other team correctly predicted.

If you are teaching primary, you can do the same activity using any images which accompany the text. Have students describe the image in pairs first and then work in teams to predict the content of the article, as above.

2. Summarizing

This is a strategy that can be used to focus on both the general idea of the text (the gist), and the most important details within it.

To work on using summarizing for gist, give students a text and three short summaries of it, no longer than a sentence each. After students read the text quickly once, have them choose which of the three summaries best matches the general idea of the text.

Then, to practice these skills, have them work in pairs to produce their own summary of the text they have just read. This summary should be approximately one-fifth the length of the original text.

This not only encourages students to identify the main points of the text, but it also requires them to use paraphrasing skills to put the ideas into their own words.

Note that primary learners may find it difficult to create a summary without your support. It’s a good idea to create a gapped text which they can complete with the key words of the text. This will also help build their vocabulary.

3. Identifying topic sentences

Whether your students are reading for gist or detail, a topic sentence can provide them with the information they need. Topic sentences are found at the start of a paragraph and are frequently used in articles and academic research to give the reader the main idea of what is to come. If you are not sure what a topic sentence looks like, the first sentence of this paragraph is an example!

One idea to introduce students to the idea of topic sentences is to find a text with four or five paragraphs and remove the topic sentence from each.

Give the students the gapped text and the topic sentences and have them match each sentence to the correct paragraph. This will highlight how topic sentences provide a summary of the main idea of each paragraph.

This can be an effective task for both primary and secondary students, though it’s likely that primary students will be working with shorter texts. If you have a text with only three paragraphs, you can write a couple of distractor sentences to make the activity more challenging.

4. Comparing and contrasting

As with any aspect of language learning, if students can create a personal connection to the content, they will be more engaged and more likely to remember the information.

We can use compare and contrast questions with any type of text. For example, for texts which tell a personal story, we can ask:

  • How are you similar or different to this person?
  • What would you do in that situation?

For texts which talk about a particular issue, we can ask:

  • Do you think this is a problem in your country?
  • What would you do in this situation?

Students of any age should be given the opportunity to reflect on their learning and the chance to empathize with the people and situations they read about. Even for younger learners, questions can be graded to their level to allow them to compare their experiences to the content of the text.

5. Understanding numbers

Non-fiction texts often include a lot of facts and figures and it’s important that students are able to understand what these numbers mean so they can really understand the text.

Our younger learners might not be able to appreciate long distances or large quantities so providing them with something more tangible can help them a lot.

When working with distances and sizes, try to use familiar locations, such as the length of the school playground or the area of the classroom, and compare these locations to the measurement in the text.

Similarly with quantities, find something which students can relate to easily. For example, if a text talks about the number of people, compare that amount to the number of students in the class.

6. Working with vocabulary

Teaching students how to use a dictionary is important, but it’s also essential that students are able to use other skills to understand new words when they can’t reach for a dictionary.

As teachers, it’s important for us to identify the keywords in a text which we want students to remember and use after the lesson. You may choose to pre-teach this vocabulary so that students can approach the reading with a good understanding of the key lexis.

However, there may be times when you want students to predict the meaning – of key and subsidiary vocabulary – from the context. It’s useful to teach students to read around unfamiliar words as this helps them to identify the type of word it is (noun, verb, adjective, and so on), which helps them understand a particular word’s meaning within a sentence.

7. Separating fact and opinion

While many texts our students read are factual, there will be times when they also need to distinguish between fact and opinion.

Sometimes, we can infer the writer’s attitude towards a topic by looking at the type of language they use and identifying whether words are neutral, or if they give us clues as to the writer’s opinion. This can be a difficult distinction for our students to make but we can do activities with the students to raise their awareness.

Take a subject which students are likely to have different opinions about, such as a famous footballer. Ask the students to tell you about that person, then categorize the words they give you as to whether they give a fact or an opinion. Words such as tall, Brazilian and blue eyes would be facts about the player. Whereas amazing, stupid or the best player ever would show their opinion.

Introducing New Cornerstone and New Keystone

New Cornerstone (for primary learners) and New Keystone (for secondary learners) have a strong focus on developing students’ reading skills through reading strategies. There is a range of interesting and globally-inspired topics that will spark their imaginations. Your students will be engaged and motivated to explore life’s big questions as they develop their academic skills.

What is New Cornerstone?

  • A 5-level, very-intensive primary course with material for 10+ hours of English per week.
  • A new, improved edition of a popular primary course.
  • American English (AE), with 35% new content, which has been mapped to the GSE and includes brand new reading texts.

What is New Keystone?

  • A 4-level, academic secondary course for students aged 10-14, with material for 10+ hours of English per week.
  • Each level has six thematic units organized around a Big Question. Lessons center on authentic readings with a wide range of genres. These include biographies, informational texts, and poems, as well as classic and contemporary literature.
  • It is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the GSE.
  • A new edition of a popular American English (AE) course, with 35% new content.

Sign up to our newsletter for updates.

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4 career moves for enthusiastic teachers

Have you been teaching for a number of years and are looking for ways to challenge yourself and share your experience and passion with others?

Many of us would love the opportunity to progress in our careers and try new things but have no idea how to get started.

So, let’s look at a number of potential jobs out there for English Language teachers, find out what they involve and how you can improve your chances of getting a foot in the door.

1. Materials Writing

For those with a passion for writing and an eye for detail, ELT materials development could be for you. While writing can be hard to get into, there are a number of ways to get involved – especially if you are persistent and build a portfolio.

Here are some of our top tips for aspiring materials writers:

  • Create your own materials in class and think of ways of adapting the current materials you use for different ages or levels.
  • Share the materials you make with other teachers and get them to give you feedback.
  • Review materials for a publisher. Not only will you start to think more critically, if you do a good job they might commission you to do some writing for them. One way to find out about these opportunities is by signing up to their newsletters or following them on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Start a blog and share lesson tips, advice and activities with other teachers. If it becomes popular enough someone from a publisher might spot you and invite you along for an interview.
  • Join the ELT Teacher 2 Writer database where you can create an account and publishers can contact you directly if they are interested in your profile.
  • Finally, write as much as possible – and get people to read your work. Listen to their feedback and take steps to constantly improve your output. You get better and faster at it at the same time.

Read more about this in our recent article: How to get into materials writing: six authors share their advice.

2. Examining

If you like teaching exam classes, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy examining too. Training to be a speaking examiner is a great way to earn some extra money and can also help you gain a deeper understanding of test formats and mark schemes. This will certainly also benefit your students in the future too.

Specific requirements for examiners vary depending on the exam board. However, as a rule of thumb, you need a lot of experience teaching the level you wish to examine at. Here is an example job advert from Pearson English outlining the experience and competencies needed to be a PTE General Examiner.

You can also check out the recruitment sites from Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS and Trinity to get more of an idea if you are eligible.

Like materials writing, examining can be very competitive so here is some advice so to help you get started:

  • Teach more exam classes. The more variety and levels you do, the more opportunities you’ll have.
  • Familiarize yourself with the mark schemes to give you a deeper understanding of the way examiners think. Most of this information can be found in teacher handbooks like this one for the Cambridge B2 First exam.
  • Help organize mock exams at your school. This will give you valuable experience examining as well as organizing students and materials.
  • Start as an invigilator for written exams. If you do a good job, it’ll show that you are competent and you’ll learn more about how exam days are structured.
  • Contact your local exam center and introduce yourself. And who knows? They might even be recruiting!

Learn more about Pearson assessments on our blog.

3. Academic Management

Another common career goal for long-term English teachers is to become an Academic Manager or Director of Studies (DoS). A successful DoS assumes many roles; often having to organize teachers’ schedules, deal with students’ concerns, come up with new courses, and find cover (or teach) classes at the last minute. They may also need to help out with the marketing and business side of the school, too.  

A lot of academic managers are employed internally, so get involved with what is going on at your school and apply for smaller coordination positions to see if it’s something you enjoy.

You can also try:

  • Offering to help with placement testing of new students. This will help you get to know the type of students at your school and the objectives they have, and also learn more about the levels and courses on offer.
  • Not limiting yourself to teaching one kind of course. If you work at an academy that offers courses for young learners, teens, adults, exam preparation, business etc., try them all. A good DoS should be able to offer advice to all the teachers.
  • Taking a course – most academic managers will be expected to have an advanced TEFL qualification like a DELTA, an MA TESOL or something similar. There are also specific leadership and management courses available for those who want to specialize in this area such as the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM) or Leadership in ELT.
  • Offering creative ideas or constructive criticism to the current management team about how the school runs and what you think could be even better.
  • Organizing an event for teachers and students to show you are interested and have the type of skills that are needed.
  • Apply for academic management positions in summer schools to give you a taste of what’s to come.

Want to learn more about being a DoS? Read our post: 10 ways to make the move from teacher to Director of Studies.

4. Teacher Training

If you are interested in teaching methodologies and sharing your knowledge with others, but not keen on the admin side of things, then teacher training might be for you.

As a teacher trainer, you may be required to run workshops on a variety of topics, observe teachers and offer feedback and help with lesson planning. This means it’s key that you can listen to others carefully and explain things in a clear way.

Here are some ideas to give you a better chance of finding work as a teacher trainer:

  • Organize informal workshops at your school. Encourage teachers to share ideas that have worked well for them with the rest of the staff.
  • Try team teaching where you and a colleague teach a class together. It’s a great way to learn from each other and give your students a new experience.
  • Practice giving feedback by doing peer observations with other teachers.
  • Submit a proposal for a conference (here are 10 you can choose from) to see if you enjoy presenting.
  • Mentor a new teacher at your school.
  • Take an advance teaching qualification to boost your knowledge.
  • Find teaching work in a school that also run their own initial teaching qualifications like the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. If you impress the DoS with your teaching skills – they may recommend you get involved with the teacher training department.

Where to apply for jobs

The best place to look for new opportunities is often at the school where you currently work. Start by trying new things and showing an interest in the day-to-day running of the organization. Once you’ve got the attention of the management it will be easier to negotiate a new position. However, if you work at a small school, where there are fewer chances to grow professionally, think about moving to a new school.

Other good places to look for new positions include:

So, whichever way you want to take your career, we wish you luck. And make sure to let us know how it goes in the comments.

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Two festive lesson plans for busy teachers

In the northern hemisphere, the days are growing shorter and the nights a little colder and we’re getting ready for winter.

In preparation for Thanksgiving and Loi Krathong, which are being celebrated this week, and Hanukkah happening at the start of December, we’ve created two free lesson plans and activities which you can download and use in the classroom.

B1 level lesson on Thanksgiving and Loi Krathong for adults 

In this lesson, students read about one of the festivals and share information and new vocabulary with a partner. Afterwards, they talk about the things they’re thankful for and what they wish was different. The activities are suitable for teenage and adult students, with an intermediate (B1) level or above.

Lesson Plan Activity Sheets




A2+ lesson plan on Hanukkah for young learners 

In this lesson, younger learners and teenagers with an elementary to pre-intermediate (A2-B1) level can find out more about the celebration and then write a text about a celebration in their country.

Lesson Plan Activity Sheets




In both lesson plans the Learning Objectives are taken from the Global Scale of English (GSE) Teacher Toolkit.

More themed lesson plans

We hope you found these holiday-themed lesson plans useful. Here are five other festive resources you can use throughout the year.

  1. Happy holiday lesson activities (Adults B2-C1) 

Another winter themed post you can use during the festive season, the three activities, which are all available to download for free, are perfect for upper-intermediate to advanced adult learners.

  1. A sizzling lesson for Bonfire night (Adults and Teens B1-B2)

Learn more about the celebration that remembers the failure of English rebel Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on November 5th, 1605. There’s a speaking activity and two worksheets to improve your students’ vocabulary.

  1. Spring festival lesson plan and activity (Adults B1-B2) 

If your students enjoyed learning about Thanksgiving, Loi Krathong and Hannukah, they’ll love this spring festival lesson plan. Included you’ll find fun activities about Songkran water festival, Las Fallas, Holi festival and Nowruz.

  1. How to create a Young Learners lesson plan using the GSE Toolkit (Young Learners A2)

Teach young learners and short on time? Use this handy guide to quickly create engaging and level-appropriate lessons for kids.

  1. How to plan a summer-themed lesson using the GSE Teacher Toolkit (Teens B1-B2)

Also featuring the GSE teacher toolkit – this post will show you how to plan an interesting class for your students using Lesson Objectives from the Global Scale of English. There’s also an example lesson plan to help you get started.

How do you celebrate autumn where you live? Let us know in the comments.

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Why challenge is good for building language competence

We asked Antonia Clare and Steve Oakes, co-authors of Speakout 2nd Edition, for their thoughts on challenge. This is what they said:

A lot of people are afraid of challenge. They avoid it, and prefer to play it safe and stick to the status quo. After all, challenging oneself means there’s a possibility of failure, and for many people, failure equals disappointment, and disappointment leads to lower self-esteem. If this is how you feel about failure, then why would you risk it? Why challenge yourself?

The answer? You need challenge in order to grow, and to learn. Without challenge there is no learning. So, perhaps you need to see challenge from a different viewpoint.  People with a more positive mindset welcome and embrace challenge. They are not satisfied with the status quo – they want to improve and to develop their skills. These people enjoy the experience of trying something new, they like to taste success, but also to learn from defeat because they understand that failure is just a part of the learning experience.  

So what about when you’re learning a language? Is challenge a good thing to help you develop your skills?

We think so. We believe that learning a language is an inherently difficult task. You need to push yourself outside your comfort zone in order to succeed. One of the things that learners find particularly hard is dealing with fast spoken English, for example.

Challenge students with Speakout 2nd edition

Speakout 2nd edition incorporates extensive use of authentic material, and this genuinely engages learners both cognitively and effectively. It is also challenging for them. The procedures in Speakout support learners and gradually build their confidence in their ability to deal with spoken language. Learners truly enjoy the inherent demand in the tasks because it is satisfying for them to know that the material hasn’t been written especially for the language classroom. It feels more real, and pushes them beyond their comfort zone. However, the challenge needs to be doable, so tasks are designed to be achievable, so that the learners’ interaction with authentic material is meaningful and also gives them a sense of success.

Teachers and learners who use Speakout 2nd edition often comment on the challenge of some of the texts, saying that the course is more demanding than other courses at the level. We have found that ultimately both teachers and learners appreciate this challenge, that they feel better prepared for dealing with “the real world” than they would if they only had exposure to graded material. At the same time, within a level and a unit, we do vary the difficulty of texts so that some are relatively easily accessible to students at that level. These serve as confidence boosters.  

Speaking is another skill that many learners find difficult. Speakout encourages students to speak as much as possible, and most teachers comment that their students talk a lot during the lessons – because they have something they genuinely want to talk about. They are given lots of opportunities to express their own ideas, feelings and opinions, and we focus on giving learners really useful language, as well as building their grammatical and lexical competence. We also provide them with clear speaking frameworks, which help to push them to use this new language in practice.

In essence, we encourage learners to welcome and embrace the challenges that come with learning a language. Overcoming linguistic challenge helps you to gain awareness, knowledge and skills, and can also give you a taste of genuine success, the kind of success that really helps you to grow. And that can be addictive!   

Find out more about Speakout 2nd edition and download a digital sample now.

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4 classroom management tips from our readers

The school year is well underway and there’s a good chance that you’ve had classroom management on your mind from time to time. Whether you’re teaching primary age learners, teenagers, or even adults, you will face challenges and have questions and doubts.

We asked you to share your top classroom management tips and we got a great response. Here is a selection of your top advice.

1. Establish clear rules and consequences

Anna J., who teaches children, teenagers and adults in Poland says “establish the rules together with the students.” This helps young students feel involved in the process and helps them better understand how they need to behave and why.

Linked to this, she says it’s also important to “be consistent when students break the rules.” This is key, because it stops students feeling that you are treating individuals differently, and establishes you as a fair leader – leading into her next point to “be the example to follow” – students need to see you as a role model in the classroom, so always be aware of how enthusiastic you are about activities and your students’ progress.

Anna also says to “allow for the age and level of your students” – we agree that it’s important not to be too hard on very young learners.

Juliana, who teaches primary learners in Brazil, concurs, saying “I suggest teachers work on an agreement with the students. The rules must be clear from day one.” She says you can negotiate rules and consequences with students.  

2. Be an authority figure

As well as setting rules, it’s important to show students that they must listen to you. Silvia teaches adults in Argentina. She establishes authority and expectation in the classroom in a friendly, professional way: “Something I always say, especially in big, possibly noisy/talkative groups, is that ‘I love listening to what everyone has to say, so please make sure you do the same.’”

“Set the tone by telling them your major expectations and repeat, repeat, repeat for at least the first two weeks,” says Maura, who teaches Grade 8 learners in the USA. “But keep that list short. Basically, I review the school-wide student expectations – be respectful, be responsible, and be reliable.”

3. Build rapport with your class

A big part of maintaining control in the classroom is showing you care about your students as individuals. Katherine, who teaches across all levels in Colombia, says you should “learn names as soon as possible”.

RT, a teens teacher in Switzerland explains it’s essential that you “establish goals, respect, trust, as well as clear boundaries” from the very beginning of the course.

And Lacey, who teaches college students in Canada suggests being “very welcoming and prepared”. She says to “state the objectives clearly, do introductory activities, be open to diversity and willing to adapt to student needs”.

Alejandra, a university teacher in Chile says, “make the students feel comfortable; let them know that their needs are valid and that they shouldn’t feel ashamed about their lack of knowledge.”

4. Develop a routine


Juan, a teacher of adults in Spain, says “show them the way you’re going to work throughout the course. In my case, activities that involve standing up and walking around the classroom, work in pairs, change pairs, then work in groups.”

He goes on to say, “also, obvious as it may sound, speak only English in class, even (or especially) when they come to me at the end of the lesson to solve a query.”

More classroom tips from teachers around the world

If you found these tips helpful, see what other teachers had to say about these topics:

Do you have any classroom management tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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Everything you need to know about the Versant tests

From sending emails and participating in conference calls to studying a masters degree or communicating on social media, in today’s globalized world English is being used by more and more non-native speakers in their day-to-day lives.

For this reason, many schools, institutions and businesses now require their students or employees to have a minimum level of English. That’s why we need quick and efficient ways to test people’s proficiency and make sure they have the skills needed to communicate effectively.

This is where Versant tests come in. Our suite of four exams can be used to test a variety of skills and competencies depending on the needs of the organization. What’s more, they can be taken anywhere, at any time and the results are received instantly – making recruitment or enrollment a much smoother process.

This guide will help answer some questions you may have about the tests, and provide some links to useful resources.

What are the Versant tests?

The Versant tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in all or some of the four skills; speaking, writing, listening, or reading. They vary in length from between 17 to 50 minutes, and the results are available immediately afterwards.

There are four Versant products available, and they differ depending on what skills are considered most relevant to the candidates, or their places of work and study. It is possible to focus specifically on speaking or writing, for example, instead of a candidate’s entire skill set.

One thing which is consistent across all the tests is the fact they are fully automated, and can be delivered either online or offline around the world at any time. The scores are then available immediately after finishing the test – so there will be no more agonizing waits for results!  

In addition, other languages are also available in the testing suite; including Arabic, Dutch, French, Spanish and Aviation English.

Who are they for?

Versant tests can be used by organizations, institutions and corporations to establish language proficiency benchmarks.

For businesses they are a simple, reliable, and efficient tool for Human Resources (HR) departments to make sure their staff have the level required in the given language.

In an educational context, the tests are a great way for schools to place students within a certain program, to measure their progress and to check their level at the end of a course to see if they are ready to move on.

What skills do they test?

The structure and content of the tests vary depending on which one you choose. Whichever one you select, all you need to take them is a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a headset with a built-in microphone. What’s more some of our speaking only tests (English, Spanish and French) can also be taken on your smartphone via the mobile app.

The Versant English Placement Test (VEPT) is the most thorough, taking 50 minutes in total.  It focuses on speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The nine task types include reading aloud, repeats, sentence building, conversations, typing, sentence completion, dictation, passage reconstruction, along with providing a summary and opinion. This broad range of assessment is ideal for evaluating every aspect of a candidate’s language ability, from their pronunciation to their knowledge of grammar and complex language use.

But if this is too comprehensive for your needs, there are shorter and more focused alternatives.

The Versant English Test (VET) is a 17-minute assessment designed only to evaluate speaking skills. By assessing a student’s sentence mastery, fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary, this test can ensure that current or future employees meet the standard required to communicate effectively in a second language.

The Versant Writing Test (VWT) is a test of the candidate’s proficiency in writing skills. Taking approximately 35 minutes, the candidates are tested on their grammar, vocabulary, organization, register, and ability to read appropriate texts. Being able to summarize, take notes, and respond to emails in a second language is key to many businesses nowadays, such as call centers. This test will allow companies to create a benchmark for their current and future employees related to specific writing skills.

The Versant 4 Skills Essential recognizes the growing need for people to be adept in all four language skills, even in entry-level jobs. Throughout this 30-minute web-based test, candidates undertake a variety of tasks including sentence formation, listening comprehension and written dictation.

Due to its short time limit, flexible web-based approach, and focused skill assessment, this suits fast-paced recruitment environments, helping to identify the best applicants as efficiently and accurately as possible.

What are the key features?

Once a candidate completes their test, a unique score report can be accessed immediately. This gives details about a candidate’s performance in each stage, suggestions for improvement, and an overall CEFR or GSE score (or equivalent). This is thanks to our advanced speech and text processing technology. There is no need for a human examiner, which means scoring can be done instantaneously.

Moreover, thanks to the objective nature of this technology, results will be given without the potential bias of an examiner. This makes scores extremely reliable and consistent across a wide range of candidates.

VET also has concordances to TOEFL iBT and TOEIC. VEPT is also aligned to IELTS.

Finally, the ScoreKeeper administration tool is available with all Versant exams and allows businesses or educational institutions to manage the testing of their all their candidates in one place. By using this, assigning tests, uploading rosters, and exporting results can all be done remotely, regardless of a candidates location.

If you’d like more information about this test suite, visit the Versant Test website. Or, to view a demo, you can do so here.

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