Showing posts with label Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English. Show all posts

PTE Young Learners: Preparing students for Springboard (level 2)

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Young Learners is a dynamic language exam aimed at students aged between 6 and 13.

Springboard is the second test of four levels. It is preceded by Firstwords and followed by Quickmarch and Breakthrough.

The exam is designed to match challenges students face in the real world and focuses on English communication in realistic contexts. It measures listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills, using fun and familiar activities.

For further information, read An Introduction to Pearson Test of English Young Learners, or visit the PTE Young Learners website.   

Springboard (Level 2)

  • Exam time: 80 minutes
  • Equivalent CEFR Level: A1

Download Guide to PTE Young Learners – Springboard (Level 2)

Who is it for?

The test is aimed at young learners with a CEFR level equivalent to A1. They can talk about their feelings, habits, likes and dislikes, as well as form questions and get information from other people. They should also be able to read and listen in order to understand the main ideas of a piece of communication and be able to communicate simple information through writing.

How is it structured?

The test is split into two main sections: a 60 minute written test and a 20 minute spoken test. The written test is split into 6 sections, covering listening, reading and writing skills. The spoken test requires candidates to interact with an examiner and four other test takers while completing two tasks.

Download the guide to PTE Young Learners – Springboard for a more in-depth look at the exam format, a description of the task types and an overview of the scoring.

Low preparation activities to do in class

Activity 1 – Listen and grab!

In this easy to prepare classroom game, students compete with a partner to grab the correct answer card. The game integrates a number of key skills required in the listening and writing sections of the exam. The primary objective is to test the students’ ability to understand and identify parts of a simple discourse.

Prior to the class, prepare the following set of answer cards and print out one set per pair of students and cut them into individual squares.

6 o’clock 7 o’clock 8 o’clock
The cinema The school The park
The Big Fish The Big Wish The Big Kiss
£4.50 £5.50 £6.50
Sarah Katie Danny
3 tickets 4 tickets 5 tickets

Then write the following six sentences on the board:

  1. The children are meeting at 3pm.
  2. The children are meeting in the town center.
  3. The film is called The Lion Cub.
  4. Katy and Phillip are coming to see the film. 
  5. The cinema tickets cost £2.
  6. They need to buy 4 tickets.

Put students in pairs and tell them they must write the questions to match the answers on the board. For example:

Question: What time are the children meeting?

The children are meeting at 3pm.

Do the first one together on the board as a model answer. This helps them prepare for the Reading and Writing Dialogue completion activity that tests reading and writing skills.

Then, get students to call out their answers and write the correct questions on the board as follows:

  1. What time are the children meeting?
  2. Where are the children meeting?
  3. What is the film called?
  4. Who is coming to see the film? 
  5. How much do the cinema tickets cost?
  6. How many tickets do they need to buy?

Erase the answers, but keep these questions on the board as the students will use them to play the game.

Next, distribute the answer cards. Tell students to spread the cards face up on the table. Explain that they are going to listen to a story and that they will need to answer the questions on the board using the information they hear.

Then, read the following dialogues (answers are highlighted in bold) one question at time. Tell students that the first person to grab the correct answer card wins a point.

If someone grabs the wrong answer card they lose a point. If a student doesn’t pick an answer card they neither win nor lose points.

Write the correct answer on the board after each question. At the end of the game the student with the most points wins.


Question one: What time are the children meeting?

Denise and Sam are talking on the phone about meeting after school.

– “Hi Denise!”

– “Hi Sam! What time can you meet tonight?”

– “How about 6 o’clock?

– “Okay, that sounds good!”

Question two: Where are the children meeting?

– “I can’t wait to see the film tonight!”

– “It’s going to be great! Where should we meet?”

– “Let’s meet in the park.”

– “Okay, see you there!”

Question three: What is the film called?

– “Which film should we see?”

– “Hmm, I like romantic films.”

– “Okay, let’s watch The Big Kiss.

– “Great!”

Question four: Who is coming to see the film?

– “Who is coming to see the film with us?”

– “Sarah is coming to meet us.”

– “Okay, good. We can buy the tickets then.”

Question five: How much do the cinema tickets cost?

– “Excuse me, how much are the tickets for The Big Kiss?”

– “They cost $5.50.

– “Okay, thank you.”

Question six: How many tickets do they need to buy?

– “We’d like three tickets to The Big Kiss please.”

– “Did you say four tickets?”

– “No, just three tickets please!”

Extension activity: choose two volunteers and have them read the full dialogue in front of the class to practice their reading and speaking skills.

Activity 2 – Celebrity roleplays

In this low-preparation classroom roleplay students practice question formation, using information to answer questions, and writing a simple text.

Prior to the class, prepare the following role cards and print out one set per group of four.

Celebrity one

  • Name: Joan Soap
  • Age: 20
  • Job: Actress
  • Hobbies: Watching films with friends
  • Favorite food: Pizza
  • Weekend activity: Riding her bike

Celebrity two

  • Name: Barry Green
  • Age: 19
  • Job: Singer
  • Hobbies: Playing video games
  • Favorite food: Hot dogs
  • Weekend activity: Going to the beach

Celebrity three

  • Name: Nicki Nightshade
  • Age: 23
  • Job: Artist
  • Hobbies: Playing sports
  • Favorite food: Fruit
  • Weekend activity: Visiting friends

Celebrity four

  • Name: Kasper Kofsalot
  • Age: 30
  • Job: Baseball player
  • Hobbies: Going to museums
  • Favorite food: Chocolate
  • Weekend activity: Traveling

Put students in groups of four and distribute the role cards. Tell them that they are famous celebrities and they are at a party together.

First they must solve a puzzle. Write the following question prompts on the board:

  1. What/name
  2. How/old
  3. What/job
  4. What/hobby
  5. What/ favorite/food
  6. What/like/weekend

Have students individually write the questions in their notebooks using the prompts (See answers below).

  1. What is your name?
  2. How old are you?
  3. What is your job?
  4. What are your hobbies? / What is your hobby?
  5. What is your favorite food?
  6. What do you like to do at the weekend?

Finally, have students take it in turns to ask and answer the questions using their role cards, making sure they answer using full sentences.


Have students write a short story about what their celebrity did at the weekend. Use the following prompts:

  1. Where did you go this weekend?
  2. What did you do?
  3. Who did you see?
  4. What did you eat?

Discover practice tests and other resources on the PTE Young Learners website.

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Preparing learners for the world of work using the GSE Teacher Toolkit

If there’s one thing all our learners have in common, it’s that they are going to graduate school or university and enter the world of work.

As well as introducing our students to essential 21st century skills they’ll need to get ahead in life, we can also get them thinking about their futures and help them achieve their career goals.

The Global Scale of English (GSE) Teacher Toolkit allows you to look for specific language objectives for different professions, meaning you can tailor your classes to your students’ career interests and consolidate the knowledge of students already working in those fields.

In this post we’ll show you how to find different work related learning objectives and share two ideas for how you can use them in class.

How to choose professional learning objectives

Professional learners GSE teacher toolkit

On the main page of the toolkit, select the Learning Objectives tab and choose Professional Learners from the Who are you teaching? drop-down menu. Next, select a Job Role; choosing first an area, such as Architecture and Engineering, and from there a specific job.

There’s a range of jobs within the database, from Air Traffic Controllers and Travel Guides to Plumbers or Video Game Designers – so make sure you speak to your students about their career aspirations before planning your class.

Note: you can also look for a specific job using the search bar at the top.

Work and the GSE teacher toolkit

You can also focus on specific skills: either language related (reading, writing, listening, speaking) or business related (Managing staff/Being managed, Negotiating or Writing Emails and Letters).

Using the objectives in the classroom

Now you are more familiar with how the toolkit works – let’s look at some examples of how we can use it to plan a lesson for specific business needs.

1. Business discussions

Imagine you have a group of B1 students who haven’t yet decided on their future professions, but you’d like to teach them some useful language and transferable skills to take part in a business discussion.

Select Professional Learners and move the scale to incorporate all language objectives from A1 to B1. Click on the Choose Skill box and select Business Skills, then Discussions.

This gives you eleven learning objectives matching the search requirements, one of which is Can discuss what to do next using simple phrases. When you select this objective, you can see the related grammar you can use to work on this objective, as well as the job roles in which learners might be expected to use this language.

Job profiles GSE teacher toolkit

You can then give the learners a situation and some useful phrases to enable them to communicate their ideas effectively.

For example:

Your company has bought a new computer for each member of staff in the office. Decide on the best order for the manager to do these actions:

  • Teach workers how to use computer programs
  • Connect the computers to the internet
  • Give each worker a password for their computer
  • Connect the computers to the printer
  • Move documents from the old computers to the new computers
  • Check staff can listen to music on their new computers

To do this it will be useful to pre-teach some phrases which they can use when discussing the options and deciding on the order of events:

  • It will be better to do X first, because…
  • If we do X first, then we will be able to do Y
  • When we have done X, we can do Y
  • We should definitely do X before Y, because…
  • If we’re going to do Y, we’ll need to do X first
  1. Writing a report

Here we prepare an activity related to a specific job and students write a report.

Select Professional Learners with the Job Role of Legal/Lawyers and a B2/B2+ level and choose one of the 45 learning objectives e.g. Can understand specialized terms used in reports in their field.

Download all 45 learning objectives here. 

Next, click on the vocabulary tab and select Adult Learners with a B2/B2+ range and in the Choose Topic menu – Language related to laws and legal agreements (you can find this in the law and crime category). This gives us 56 terms which our learners will find useful in this area. You can download the terms to share with your students or just select the vocabulary you think is most appropriate.

Learn vocabulary with the GSE teacher toolkit

Download the first 50 terms here to use in your class. 

Holding the mouse over each word gives us a definition (and you can also listen to how the word is pronounced in British and American English by clicking on the small speaker icons).

Select 10 of the words from the list and prepare a game or activity where the students have to match the words with their definitions.

Next, provide learners with a model of a report and point out the key features of report writing (title, subheadings, use of formal language, passive structures, etc.)

Here’s an example you can use in class.

A report on the rise of crimes committed by juveniles




The aim of this report is to identify a type of crime which is increasingly being committed by young offenders in our town and steps which could be taken to combat this issue.


A major problem


According to the town council, reports of young people breaking the speed limit have doubled in recent years. In an incident last week, a witness reported a vehicle traveling well over the speed limit in the residential area of the town. Despite mandatory speed restrictions in the town center and rules in force prohibiting the use of car horns in residential areas, young drivers often speed around playing loud music into the early hours and using their horns when picking up friends at any time of the day or night.




Measures need to be taken to combat the noise these young drivers create and if there were more police officers patrolling the area on a regular basis, they would be more able to catch these juvenile offenders. Furthermore, if there were a greater police presence in the areas affected, these juvenile drivers would be less likely to disobey the speed limit as if caught, they would be liable to pay a fine. Another option to combat speeding would be to expand the CCTV network in the town center as this has been shown to deter criminals.

Finally, have students write their own report on a topic of their choice (provided it’s related to the chosen profession) using the new vocabulary they learned in the matching activity.

By using the tools available on the GSE Teacher Toolkit and tailoring your lessons to your students’ professional needs and interests, you can increase their motivation and provide meaningful learning objectives for them.

For more ideas about using the GSE Teacher Toolkit in class check out these articles:

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The 2019 Pearson English Global Teacher Award is back

Entries are now open for the 2019 Pearson English Global Teacher Award!

Win an all expenses paid trip to IATEFL (UK) or TESOL (US) 2019 and help us celebrate the important work of English language teachers all over the world.

What’s the competition all about?

Our aim is to uncover your inspirational teaching stories and share them with the global ELT community.

So if you are a teacher who constantly strives to improve your students’ lives and learning experiences and would like to show us just how passionate you are about education, we would like to hear from you!

What do you have to do?

To enter the competition you will have to film a short video of yourself (max 3 minutes) answering these questions:

  1. How do you inspire your students to dare to learn?
  2. What are your greatest achievements in transforming your students in their English language journey?

To do this, complete the following steps:

1. Decide what you would like to talk about. Aim to tell a story related to teaching that demonstrates just how passionate you are about your profession.

2. Record your video. Make sure you don’t exceed the three-minute time limit or include any of your students.

3. Create a private YouTube account (if you do not already have one).

4. Upload your video as unlisted.

5. Submit your entry video to the competition via our submission page.

Make a good impression by following these seven tips for filming yourself:

Winners will be selected from five different regions; Asia and Oceania, Africa and the Middle East, South America, North and Central America, Europe and Central Asia, and will have the opportunity to choose between a trip to IATEFL (UK) or TESOL (US).

For more information about entering – including the competition timeline and terms and conditions – visit the website.

Last year’s winners

Need some inspiration? Check out last year’s winning entries:

Noorjahan Sultan – winner of Asia & Oceania

Our judges loved Noorjahan’s recognition of the fact that students are making progress in English when the language they’ve learnt crosses into other classes.

Ksenia Immel – winner of Europe & Central Asia

The way Ksenia links English teaching with the real-life usage impressed the judges.

Angel Gaytan – winner of North & Central America

The judges enjoyed Angel’s passion for teaching and his understanding of students’ progress when they enjoy English language outside of the classroom.

Leila Jauch – winner of South America

Our judges loved how Leila’s students travelling abroad and becoming exchange students is her marker of progress in English.

Ghazal Parsa – winner of Africa & the Middle East

The judges thought Ghazal’s understanding of progress – students who use English to adapt to their environment – very forward-thinking.

Discover more about last year’s winners.



We can’t wait to hear your stories of inspiration and achievement. Head over to the website now and enter the 2019 Pearson English Global Teacher Award!

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Encouraging self-assessment in young learner classes

How often do you assess your students? Assessment forms a large part of many primary courses and often takes the form of review pages, unit tests, and progress tests. Children are very keen to find out their grade but are not particularly interested in what questions they got right or wrong. This type of assessment can give us useful information about how well a student is doing, but it does not involve the student or show them how to continue their progress.

In order to encourage students to take an active role in their learning and take responsibility for it, other types of assessment are much more beneficial. Assessment for Learning and self-assessment does this by using different types of activities to help students discover what they have or haven’t learned and how they can take action.

So how can we get young learners to assess their own progress?

Set clear objectives

give clear objectives

The first step is to write down the objectives that you want students to reach during the unit of work. Many coursebooks will have Can Do statements in either the Teacher Book or Student Book you can use. Alternatively, you can create your own based on the needs of that particular group. For best results, make these as specific as possible, for example:

  • I can talk about my family
  • I can describe my bedroom
  • I can read and understand a dialogue about shopping
  • I can write sentences and questions using the present progressive

At the beginning of each lesson or unit of work, display these statements on the board so students know what their objectives are. Show them again at the end, and have students think about whether or not they can do each one. You may wish to have them copy the statements they agree with in their notebooks, or provide them with a printout with boxes they can check.

Find out more about setting lesson objectives, success criteria, and continuous assessment in this post about visible learning.

5 fun activities to help primary students reflect on their learning

There are lots of fun ways we can get students to reflect on their learning. Let’s look at a few below.

1. Exit passes

Exit passes are a useful way of encouraging students to think about what they have achieved in a particular lesson. Give each student a slip of paper and have them write down three things they have learned or enjoyed during the class. As they leave the room, ask them to hand in the slips of paper. Use these to find out what students think they learned (this may be different to what you think!), what they enjoyed, and what they need to work on.

2. Stick it!

Young learners love stickers and manual activities can also help them focus.

Hand out a selection of colorful stickers and have students choose a color or smiley face to represent their feelings about their work during the lesson. Depending on their age and ability you might ask them to explain their feelings too.

3. Two stars and a wish

In this activity, students choose two things they think they have worked well on and one thing they would like to improve.

Give each student a card from the template below and have them complete it. They can then hand in the cards, or you could set up a display or area in the classroom for students to keep their cards. At the end of the week, have students look at their cards and check whether or not their wishes have come true.

Download: Two stars and a wish template

4. I’m a star!

For non-writers, this alternative to Two Stars and a Wish is recommended. In this activity students color in the parts of a star using a color code to show how well they think they are doing. You can tailor the areas of learning in the star to what students have been doing in class. For very young learners, you can use pictures instead of words. See the template below for an example of I’m a star!

Download: I’m a star template

5. Reflection journals

To encourage students to evaluate their progress regularly, you could have them make reflection journals. After each lesson or week, have students write or draw the activities they have completed and how they felt about each one. Students can draw emojis to express their feelings about each activity. Reflection journals can be completed during class time or for homework.

Things to remember!

  • Make sure goals and objectives are clear at the beginning of the lesson. Then recap at the end.
  • Encourage honesty. Students may find it difficult to assess their own progress at first. Have them look back at their work and see which activities they found difficult to complete.
  • Self-assessment should be individual and private in order to help prevent students from being influenced by their peers.
  • Encourage a growth mindset by praising effort and persistence during self-assessment tasks. Ask students to think about activities that made them think hard, mistakes they made that helped them learn and what strategies they used when they encountered a problem.

Self-assessment does not have to be limited to areas of study. You can also include attitude and behavioral goals to any of the activities above. This can be a useful classroom management tool for students who may need to try harder with their behavior and work rate.

Take action

Once your students have completed one or more of the self-assessment activities above, why not take independent learning a step further and have students choose how to work on those areas they need to improve? If possible, include some self-access resources for students to choose from, e.g. extra vocabulary exercises, role cards for role plays, etc. If you have tablets or computers in the classroom, you can even include listening activities and online games.

Giving students the responsibility to decide how to take their learning further can have hugely positive effects on student engagement and motivation.

How do you help your students reflect on their learning? Let us know in the comments below.

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Introducing Project Literacy’s IlliteraCity, supported by Idris Elba

The Project Literacy Program aims to put an end to illiteracy around the world by 2030 and help improve the lives and futures of hundreds of millions of people.

Imagine an American city with 32 million inhabitants, packed in like unhappy sardines. It’s not a safe modern place like most of us are used to, instead it’s plagued by unemployment, homelessness and misery. People have poor health and the life expectancy is lower than anywhere else in the country. When it comes to the work, the city costs the economy $225 billion in lost tax revenues, low productivity and crime. Worst of all, you won’t find this city on any maps and no one is coming to help.

At least, that was true up until recently. But why is this city such a terrible place?

These problems all have the same root cause: illiteracy.

Welcome to #IlliteraCity

Called IliteraCity, this place is a representation of the 750 million people worldwide who cannot read or write. The above description is what IlliteraCity would look like in the US. In the UK, it would be the second largest city by population.

Despite there being so many illiterate people around the world, it’s almost as if they were invisible.

But once we start to think about populations of illiterate people in terms of cities and come to understand the severe problems these people are experiencing, we start to get a much clearer idea of how terrible the issue really is.

Supported by Idris Elba, IlliteraCity is part of the Project Literacy Program, which you can explore here on our interactive website – Project Literacy: IlliteraCity.

You’ll be able to explore different parts of the city by clicking and dragging your mouse. You’ll visit the poverty section and see how illiteracy affects people’s lives, you’ll see how hard it is for people to find employment and discover why people often get sucked into a life of crime. But most of all, you’ll see how you can get involved to help build more literate futures.

More about Project Literacy

Project Literacy began in response to the global illiteracy crisis. Its aim is to recruit people and organizations from all corners of the earth in order to enact change and improve people’s lives.  

We hope that by 2030 we will have put an end to the crisis and brought more wealth, happiness and health to people by helping people learn to read, write and communicate effectively.

Of course, this is by no means an easy task – and no one person, government or company can do it alone. We are very thankful to the 100 plus partners, which are working hard in more than 35 countries, for their support and action.

By building these partnerships and sharing our collective resources and expertise, we can help those 750 million people change their lives for the better.

And it’s working.

As we explained in our previous article announcing the initiative’s launch, “over 7 million people are directly benefiting from Project Literacy’s investment campaigns and programs.”

Let’s work together for positive change

We’re off to a great start, but we can’t achieve our goals without driven, enthusiastic people.

Together we have all the resources, money and privileges we need to make sure that no child grows up without an education and without being able to read and write. We simply need to pull together to make it work.

We’re sure you’re wondering how you can get things moving. So here’s how other people are contributing:


Volunteer your time at a local literacy charity. Not only is working with your community a very rewarding experience, but it has a lasting impact on the people you are supporting. However much time you can offer is valuable. Whether you just do it once, or commit to regular volunteering, you’ll make a difference.

If that sounds like you, become a volunteer today!

Reading Wanda’s story

Support the program by downloading Wanda’s story – here you can learn about how we are helping to  re-write the lives of those living with illiteracy for free. For every download made, we will donate $1 to Project Literacy.

You can download Wanda’s story here.

Learning more

Finally, Project Literacy supporters can subscribe to the newsletter. Here, you’ll learn more about the initiative and the work that our partners are doing in their communities.

Support project literacy and work with us and make the world a better, more literate place.

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How to do action research in class

There’s been a lot of discussion in English Language Teaching (ELT) whether academic research can help teachers improve their practice. Two questions often arise:

  1. Is academic research relevant to the classroom?
  2. How easy is it for teachers to understand academic jargon and complicated statistics?

One solution to these problems is action research, which involves teachers designing their own studies that are both relevant to their work in the classroom and are written in such a way that it can be understood and used by other practicing teachers.

In this post we’ll look at action research in more detail and examine what it is, why it’s beneficial, and how you can start doing action research in your own classroom.

What is action research?

Action research is not unique to ELT, or indeed, teaching. In fact it’s used as a development tool by professionals in many industries, and as such, there are many definitions for action research.

However, within an ELT context, it can be characterised as research that is done by teachers to bring about a transformation in their current teaching practices. To explain further, it’s a systematic and teacher-led approach to ‘real-life’ problem solving in the classroom, questioning and critically analysing areas of teaching in their particular context.

Action research is not like ‘traditional’ academic research, though, as results are not intended to be generalized. It’s more rigorous than exploratory practice and encourages teachers to act on their initial reflections. By insisting upon reflection, it encourages teachers to take action to change particular aspects of their teaching.

Why is it beneficial for teachers?

There has been a growing argument that teachers find themselves presented with fewer opportunities to engage in their own continued professional development (CPD), and any CPD that they are involved in is irrelevant to their particular teaching contexts. Therefore, teachers need to be able to move away from a top-down, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach towards teacher development, and this needs to be replaced with a bottom-up approach to CPD that is not just meaningful and sustainable, but also evidence-based and relevant to teachers.

Action research is able to provide these opportunities for teachers, and as long as teachers stick to the process, they should be able to witness a transformation in their teaching.

It’ll also make them more critical in their assessment of various aspects of their lessons, less vulnerable to myths and fads that end up in the classroom, and most importantly, provide them with a huge degree of personal satisfaction after having completed a process that is challenging.

Seven steps to get started with action research

1) Identify the problem area you’d like to focus on

It could be how a particular student behaves or simply an area of your teaching you’d like to be better at, such as error correction or teaching pronunciation. To start your reflection, ask yourself:

What one area of your teaching practice would you like to improve the most?

2) Create your research question

Once you’ve identified this problem, you should reformulate it into a concise research question. Remember, the action research project is going to be based around this question, so make sure that it’s both relevant and meaningful enough to generate more than just a ‘yes/no’ answer.

An example research question might be:  

To what extent do teenage students respond differently to delayed and immediate error correction feedback on spoken production activities?

3) Read up on your topic of interest

After having designed your research question, you’ll want to read around the topic you’ve chosen. What have other teachers, teacher trainers, researchers discovered regarding this issue? A quick search online should help provide you with some more background information on the topic and provide you with some more ideas about how to carry out your research.

4) Collect your baseline data

Now you know more about the topic, it’s time to think about how to best design your action research project. How are you going to collect data that can be used to answer your research question? Before you do this, though, you’ll need to have a better idea of what the current situation is like in your classroom. To do this, you’ll need to collect some baseline data from your participants.

For example, if you’re investigating error correction techniques, try recording your lesson to see whether you mostly use delayed or immediate feedback when error correcting students during spoken production tasks. You may also want to have students complete a questionnaire, or interview them – on their attitudes towards certain types of error correction.

Note: video recording will require permission from your students (or their parents if teaching young learners). If this is not possible just record the audio of your class (using a mobile phone or dictaphone) and assure your students it will be deleted once you’ve finished your research.

5) Design your action research project

Using this baseline data, you can develop a more concrete plan of action for your research project. When designing your study, think about the aspect of teaching that you’re focusing on, and how you can change it. E.g. If you discover from your baseline data that you predominantly use immediate error correction feedback techniques, your action research project may look at replacing this with delayed error correction feedback.

Remember, in an action research project, the aim is to measure how your changed approach differs to the baseline data collected at the beginning.

6) Collect your data

Now you have a more detailed plan, you can start collecting actual data. This could be done with a questionnaire or a test, but could also involve recording your lessons or interviewing your students.

Once this has been collected, evaluate the results carefully. What do they show? What can you transform about your teaching? Once you’ve had time to reflect on this, it’s time to collect new data!

Perhaps, for example, this particular cycle of action research showed that students prefer delayed error correction when speaking because it makes them less nervous. However, interviews suggest that students aren’t sure if delayed error correction helps them to speak more accurately. Therefore, the next cycle might involve recording some students during speaking tasks, and analysing the accuracy of their language.

7) Share what you’ve learned

It’s great to do action research and improve different areas of your teaching but make sure you share the results too. Seeing other teachers benefit from your hard work can be really satisfying and motivate you to carry out more research.

Why not run a short workshop at your school? Or write a blog post about your findings. You could even submit a proposal to present your results at a conference. Whatever you do – tell someone about it!

Action research is an empowering way to focus on aspects of your own teaching and areas in your classroom that you feel are overlooked. It may sound difficult, but with time and dedication, you are sure to see a transformation in aspects of your teaching. Good luck!

Have you done action research in your classes? How successful were you and what did you end up changing? Let us know in the comments!

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8 reasons to enjoy the new school year

This is the third post in our blog series, connecting with our readers and teachers all over the world to share their ideas, tips and advice. If you missed our first two posts – 6 things to consider when planning your first classes and 5 first day activities from our readers – you can catch up with them now!

The beginning of the new academic year is always an exciting time. Teachers and students alike are a little nervous to meet their new groups, but mostly they can’t wait to get started!

With so many challenges and achievements ahead, who wouldn’t be full of energy and motivation?

Well, we found out just how excited you were, when we asked teachers all over the world what they were looking forward to most about the new school year.

Here’s what you had to say.

It’s time to meet our students

Maira who teaches young learners and adults in Brazil tells us she is looking forward to meeting her new groups.

“What I’m looking forward to most is getting to know more about my students, and what I can teach and learn from them, thus having an exchange of experiences.”

We are sure this is a very familiar feeling – meeting new groups and different personalities is always an exciting proposition at the beginning of the year. We love the fact that Maria wants a dialogue with her students.

Finding out your students’ interests and motivations is an extremely important part of getting the new academic year off to a good start because it can help you understand your students’ expectations and tailor your English classes to suit their needs.

Tran, who teaches adults in Vietnam, agrees. He says, “I look forward to building good relationships with my students, meeting the objectives of the course, and helping my students improve their English.”

Starting as we mean to go on!

Daria, who teaches secondary school students in Poland, is interested in hearing about her students’ experiences over the summer holidays.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing how my students have changed during holidays and hearing their memories from their holidays (they are usually willing to talk about pleasant memories),” she says.

Daria is absolutely right – it’s a great idea to talk to your students about their holidays. Not only are students enthusiastic about their experiences, but you can find lots of opportunities to work on language points and structures in class.

Also, by carefully observing your students, you’ll be able to see areas in which they need to improve their speaking skills. This will help you structure and develop your course over the coming weeks.

She is also interested in seeing all the energy and enthusiasm of the students at the beginning of the new year and how new students fit in with their groups.

“I also look forward to their enthusiasm (which can be observed sometimes only at the beginning of the school year). With new students I look forward to seeing what they are like—I like discovering their personalities and observing their social progress when they are new.”

Daria’s enthusiasm is infectious! We think it’s a great idea to harness this energy and motivation at the beginning of the year to set personal objectives, set classroom rules and also try some team building activities and project work to make new students feel welcomed.

Let’s encourage a growth mindset

Favi, who teaches teenagers in Mexico, is excited about a fresh start with his students too.

“I’m looking forward to meeting my new students and changing their perspective that English is difficult,” he says.

And Maria who teaches adults and young learners in Brazil says she is looking forward to “having some fun but also some serious learning. We can all grow a lot through the year!”

Lacey, who teaches college students in Canada, agrees with this sentiment when she says. “I look forward to working with the students to help them to attain and surpass the pre-established objectives.”

We also like to see the new school year as an opportunity for growth. By instilling a growth mindset in your students you can stop them feeling like they are bad at English, or that it’s too difficult. It’s important to show them that their progress is dependent on their motivation and the amount of effort they are willing to put in.

Read more about a growth mindset in our article ‘what it means to have a growth mindset.

Let’s involve the students more

Finally, lots of you were enthusiastic about getting students more involved in their education this year.

Halina in Poland, who teaches adults and teenagers, told us she was looking forward to allowing “students to be involved in the development and implementation of goals.”

Halina explained further that “students will be increasingly engaged in classroom management strategies if you give them collaborative responsibility in the creation and implementation of expectations.”

Giorgiana is a teacher of young learners between the ages of six and nineteen in Romania. She agrees: “I’m looking forward to getting my students involved in all the lessons, in projects and activities.”

What are you most looking forward to this new school year? Leave a comment below and let us know. And don’t forget to keep checking the blog – you might be featured next!

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Boosting creativity in the secondary classroom

How do you encourage your students to use their imaginations? Creativity is one of the most important 21st Century Skills – and also one of the most misunderstood.

Contrary to popular belief, creativity is not just about coming up with ideas. It’s also about evaluating and improving existing ones, and brainstorming multiple solutions to problems. What’s more, it includes understanding real-world limits when developing new ideas and then elaborating on those ideas and outlining the smaller steps which will make them possible.  

Traditionally, academic success was measured on the ability to recall and repeat information – meaning that creativity was often not given the space it deserved in education. But today, educational systems are changing to meet the future needs of 21st century learners who will need essential skills such as creativity, collaboration and critical thinking to stand out in a competitive and global job market.  

Five ways to incorporate CREATIVITY into your classes




1. Art and design

There are lots of ways we can encourage students to use their art and design skills in the classroom. One of the most effective is to use the course materials you are covering to generate ideas for presentations. This will further engage your students and develop digital literacy, as they will need to identify facts and form opinions about what they are reading. Older or more advanced students will also be able to read around the topics presented and further develop their knowledge, vocabulary and ideas.

Another quick but fun idea is to create themed posters. They allow students to show off their creative side and can cover any topic; whether it be a content-based project, a grammar explanation of how and when to use the present perfect, or even a picture dictionary with vocabulary of the town.

And why not make a ‘graffiti wall’ in your classroom? Cover a corkboard with poster paper, shaded to look like a brick wall. Encourage students to graffiti the wall with jokes, phrases or images of things they like in English. Better still, this graffiti wall can develop throughout the year, giving your students a constant reminder of the things they have learned and how they are progressing.

In your day-to-day classes, you should look for opportunities that go beyond simply learning English. Many younger learner courses incorporate CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) into their syllabus – and we can do the same for our teenagers too. For example, in a unit on the environment, have your students make models of different landscapes and talk about the geographical features or wildlife of each one. Or on the topic of hobbies, they can do mini video tutorials about their hobbies, such as How to train for a football match or How to make cupcakes.

2. Predicting what’s to come

It may sound obvious but when we give students the opportunity to predict content we are tapping into their creative sides. Here’s how you can do it:

Before doing a reading or listening task, show students an image associated with the topic, or write some of the keywords from the text/transcript on the board. Then have them imagine what the text is going to be about and encourage them to expand on their ideas. This will also motivate them more to engage with the text as they’ll want to see if their predictions were correct. 

After the reading or listening task you could then get students to come up with an alternative ending or write a play or comic about the events which followed.

3. Personalization

Allowing students the space and opportunity to respond to a topic in a personal way encourages them to form a deeper connection to the language.

Take a linguistic point such as the past simple, for example. You can have students imagine the past week of their favorite movie star or athlete and ask them to write a text about what that person did.

Or, working with a language function (such as giving personal information), you can have them invent a dialogue between their favorite celebrity and a classmate’s when the two meet at the gym or a red-carpet event.

4. Using grammar to your advantage

Grammar doesn’t have to be boring! We can also use any grammar point to get creative. The second conditional is particularly good for students to demonstrate their imaginations.

One way to do this is to give students a series of sentence stems and a dice. Have them roll the dice and take a sentence stem and imagine as many possible endings for the sentence as the number on the dice. For example,

If I saw a ghost, …

…I’d run away.

…I’d find out his name.

…I’d probably hide.

…I’d invite him to come home with me.

…I’d find out if he was friendly.

…I’d call the Ghostbusters.

Or to practice comparatives, have students invent something for the house, like a self-cleaning frying pan or a color-changing light bulb which reflects your mood.

After students have imagined and presented their inventions, have them compare their design with others. For example, a self-cleaning frying pan is much more useful than a color-changing light bulb. But the light bulb is more exciting and probably less expensive.

5. Encourage self-expression

Language doesn’t always have to be presented and practiced in the same way and vocabulary doesn’t always have to be written in a list.

With this in mind, you can get students to show their artistic nature by allowing them to create picture dictionaries or by using color to categorize the language. For example, purple could be for high frequency words or words which are below the level or those which have a negative connotation.

Allowing students to develop their own systems and categories for recording language is another positive step towards both creativity and critical thinking – another key 21st century skill.

Read more about the six other essential 21st century skills for secondary learners on our blog.

Materials with creativity in mind

We offer a number of courses with a focus on 21st Century Skills to best prepare your teenage students for their futures.


Boost creativity with gogetter

GoGetter, our secondary series aimed at younger teens, provides students with opportunities to personalize the language and be creative. From imagining crazy houses where the bed is in the bathroom to dreaming up their ideal home, creativity is evident throughout this four-level course.

In addition, the cliffhanger endings of the Grammar and Communication videos will get students using their critical thinking skills and creativity as they imagine what will happen next.

Download a sample now.



Wider World

Boost creativity with Wider World

With Drama, BBC Vox Pop and BBC Culture clips in every unit, Wider World provides lots of audiovisual input which students can imitate and recreate, making their own videos to cover the grammar and vocabulary of each unit.

Wider World asks students to think about the world around them and imagine the possibilities for the future.

Download a sample now.


How are your students demonstrating creativity in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

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PTE Young Learners: Preparing students for Firstwords (level 1)

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Young Learners is aimed at students aged between 6 and 13. It assesses candidates comprehension and use of age-appropriate, practical English.

Comprising of four different levels (Firstwords, Springboard, Quickmarch and Breakthrough), PTE Young Learners measures listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills and focuses on communication in realistic contexts, using fun and familiar activities.

For further information, read An Introduction to Pearson Test of English Young Learners, or visit the PTE Young Learners website.   

Firstwords (Level 1)

  • Exam time: 80 minutes
  • Equivalent CEFR Level: Pre-A1

Download Guide to PTE Young Learners: Firstwords (Level 1)

Who is it for?

PTE Young Learners Firstwords is the first of four qualifications and is aimed at learners with a pre-A1 level.

Firstwords is for candidates who can read the English alphabet and recognize simple words and phrases in both written and spoken English. Students taking the exam should also be able to understand and talk about information related to their own lives.

The emphasis is on familiar, day-to-day English, rather than on how well they can recall vocabulary and sentence structures.

How is it structured?

PTE Young Learners Firstwords consists of a written paper that lasts 60 minutes and a spoken test that lasts 20 minutes.

The written part has six sections – testing listening, reading and writing skills. The spoken part of the test has two sections that require candidates to interact with an examiner and four other candidates.

Download the guide to PTE Young Learners – Firstwords for a more comprehensive look at the exam format, a description of the task types, and an overview of the scoring.

Low preparation activities to do in class:

Activity 1 – Reading and speaking

In this quick classroom activity, students will match and find parts of a dialogue. This activity helps students practice section 3 of the written paper (Reading Match) in a fun and dynamic way. The objective of this part of the exam is to match questions to answers. It assesses candidates’ ability to understand simple dialogues.

Prior to the class, write a set of questions and responses on cards, ensuring there are enough for each student. For example:

  1. Hello, how are you?
  2. Hello, I am fine thank you.
  1. What is your name?
  2. My name is Harry.
  1. Where do you go to school?
  2. I go to school in London.
  1. Do you study English at school?
  2. Yes, I study English.

Distribute the cards to each student. First tell them to identify if they have a question or an answer. Those with questions must predict a possible answer and those with answers must predict a possible question.

Next tell students they are going to play a game: the students who find their partners the quickest win!

Ask students with questions to stand on one side of the room and those with answers to stand on the other. Tell them to mingle and attempt to find the person with the matching phrase. The students with questions should begin by asking the question. If the question and answer cards match, they should sit down together. If students do not have a matching card, they should answer the question anyway.

The first pair to find their correct partner is the winner of the game. The remaining should continue until they have found their correct partner.

After the first round, collect the question and answer cards in two piles. Tell students to stand on opposite sides of the room again, in their question and answer groups. Have students swap roles, redistribute the cards, and repeat the activity as before.


After the game, distribute more question cards have students ask and answer each other freely. For more advanced groups you can ask students to write their own questions with your support.

Activity 2 – Speaking

Classroom survey

In this quick classroom activity, students survey their classmates and find out information. This activity helps students practice section 7 of the spoken paper (Question and Answer) in an interesting and dynamic way. The objective of this part of the exam is to assess candidates’ ability to ask and answer short questions about personal information and interests.

Prior to the class, prepare a set of questions on a survey grid. Include enough space to write the answer and a name and print out one per student. See example below:

Question Answer Name
What color are your shoes?
How many desks are there in your classroom?
What is your favorite color?
How many children are in your class?
How do you spell your teacher’s name?
What is your favorite hobby?

During class distribute the surveys and read through each of the questions, ensuring that students understand them. Drill pronunciation of each question as a group and go around the class and have each student answer one of the questions in open class. Try to identify problems with comprehension, language production and pronunciation at this stage.

Next have students stand up and interview their classmates. They should ask each person one question and move on to a new partner, filling out the information in the boxes and writing the names of the people they interview in the space provided. Monitor and offer students language support as they do so.

When all of the students have completed their surveys, have them sit down in pairs and compare answers.

At the end of the activity offer positive feedback and corrections and note any issues to work on in subsequent classes.


Collect the surveys from the students and ask “who” questions, based on the information in the surveys and have students call out their answers. For example “Who has red shoes?”, “Whose favorite colour is red?”, “Who likes horse riding?”, etc.

Discover practice tests and other resources on the PTE Young Learners website.

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