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

4 Key challenges in secondary education

During our recent Live Classes project, delivered in partnership with the BBC, we addressed some of the challenges facing secondary teachers around the world.

Live Classes is a unique opportunity for students to enter a dynamic global classroom. Teachers also gain valuable teaching experience, ideas and skills to help motivate their students.

View the schedule and register for Live Classes now!

So, let’s examine 4 of the most common challenges secondary teachers have and look into some strategies to help solve them.

1. My students are afraid of making mistakes

You’re not alone! Many teachers say their teenage students are quiet and unwilling to answer questions in class. Sometimes, this might simply be because they don’t know the answers, but more often than not it means they are nervous about making mistakes.

When children grow into teenagers, they tend to become more self-conscious and worried about what their peers think of them – and making mistakes in public is a big no-no for them. However, there are a number of ways to facilitate a safe learning environment where your students are happy and willing to talk. Sometimes, though, it takes a little experimentation. Here are some things you can try:

Celebrate mistakes

When students make mistakes, ensure that you praise them for taking a risk or making an effort. Correct their errors and be clear with the rest of the class that the only way to learn is to try new things.

Be firm

Don’t tolerate any bullying or laughing when someone gets an answer wrong. If your students are afraid that others will mock them for their efforts they’ll stay quiet. So make sure you have clear rules and that your students understand that mistakes are normal and to be expected.

Have students discuss their answers in pairs or groups

If your students are painfully shy and afraid of making mistakes, definitely avoid picking on individuals to answer questions in front of the class. Instead, when asking a question tell your students to discuss it in pairs or small groups first. This will allow them to formulate their ideas and feel more confident. Afterwards, you can ask the pairs to share what they discussed – leading to a natural open class discussion.

Listen to your students

Another, powerful way of engaging your students in discussion is to listen to a conversation they are having with their partners and then express how impressed you are with their ideas during a feedback session. E.g. “You said X, which I thought was very interesting. Could you explain this to the class? It was a great idea.” This gives them the confidence to share their thoughts.

2. My students are not engaged with the activities I choose

This is another very common problem for teachers of teenagers. You spend a lot of time thinking of fun, interesting activities – then when you present them to the class, your students look away and say they’re bored. Soon enough, you’ll get frustrated and not know how to re-engage them. Here are some ideas to help:

Get to know your students

Without fail, the best way to engage your students is by getting to know them as individuals over the course of the year. Find out about their hobbies and interests outside of school, and learn what makes them laugh and what worries them. Use your knowledge of your students to find interesting books to read, videos to watch, or relevant subjects to discuss. This way, you’ll be delivering tailored lessons that your students find truly interesting and useful.

Allow a degree of autonomy

Sometimes quietness is also a sign of disengagement with the learning materials. To get past this obstacle, you can get your students to brainstorm things that interest them in groups, list them on the board and have a class vote on the topic of their next class project. As a teacher you always have the power to veto inappropriate ideas, but giving students a voice is a powerful way of making them feel valued and involved in their own education.

Here are 7 more ways you can develop independent learners.

Make things (a little) competitive

Even teenagers love games! And play is an important part of learning, as it allows our students to be themselves, have fun, and communicate freely at the same time. By allowing them to play language-focused games in class, they’ll soon forget their inhibitions and start talking.

Check out these 5 team building activities to break down boundaries.

3. My students just want to do grammar exercises

Language is all about communication, speaking, listening, reading and writing – yet all your students want to do is grammar exercises. Frustrating as this is, it’s probably a sign that our students are not confident in their speaking or listening abilities. Here’s what you can do:

Encourage free language practice

Grammar activities are very structured and there is often a clear answer. Day-to-day communications, however, are much freer. This can intimidate students who are less confident. This activity will help you combine the two aspects of language learning.

Put students in small groups and give them a set of cards with interesting topics printed on them. For example; music, sports, environment, school, vacations, friends, food.

Tell students that they should each choose a card and speak freely about their topic for 30 seconds – the short time will help students get over their fear of speaking and can be gradually increased as students get used to this type of activity.

Have students record themselves when they are speaking and then, when they listen back, have them identify the grammatical structures they used. They should write down and correct any mistakes under your guidance. Not only will this get students used to talking and encourage a lot of emergent language, but it will help them feel they are practicing grammar too.

If your students really enjoy learning grammar, you can ‘flip’ your grammar activities and make them more communicative. First, provide them with a series of sentences or listening clips which have a common grammatical structure (second conditional sentences, for example).

Then have students work together (in English) to identify how the language is structured, so they can discover the grammar point for themselves. This not only gets them talking, but they are doing something they feel confident at.

Find out more ways to deal with classroom challenges with these videos from our teacher trainers and a psychologist.

4. My students are bored of all the repetition

Repetition is an important part of language learning. By practicing things over and over again, your students will come to understand it better and will be able to produce the language more easily. However, repetition is often quite boring, especially for fast learners. Here’s how you can make things more interesting for your teenage students:

Use a greater variety of activities to engage your learners

If you’ve been teaching your students a particular set of vocabulary, a grammatical structure, or some pronunciation rules, think about how else they can practice them.

For example, instead of drilling pronunciation over and over again, ask students to think of all the words they can think of that have the same sound in them (e.g. book, look, cook, shook, etc.). This will help them ‘hear’ the sounds in their heads and improve their understanding of other words.

If you have been learning vocabulary through reading, have students write or tell stories that incorporate the words.

The idea is not to stop repeating the target language or skill, but to practice it in different ways. Apply this principle to other areas of language learning and your students won’t feel like they are repeating things at all.

What challenges do you face in your secondary education classes? Let us know in the comments!

Would you like to take part in the next round of Live Classes? Register now!

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6 romantic Readers and classroom ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air on February 14th and there are hearts, red roses, and boxes of chocolates across the globe. We’re ready for the big day here and to get you feeling romantic, here are 6 of our favorite love stories for learners of all ages and levels. There are lots of fun ideas for your classroom too!

1. Cinderella (Level 1)

Valentine's Day CinderellaPoor Cinderella lives with her stepmother and two horrible stepsisters. They treat her badly, making her cook and clean, while they relax and wear beautiful clothes. However, one night, Cinderella gets the chance to sneak away and attend a fabulous ball. She meets a handsome prince…but must run away before he discovers her true identity. With only a glass shoe to help him, will the prince ever find Cinderella?

Find this Kids Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this Reader in class:

It’s no surprise that the story has a happy ending! After reading the story, have the learners draw a picture and write about Cinderella’s new life in the castle, with her loving new family.


2. Lady and the Tramp (Level 3)

Valentine's Day Lady and the TrampThis classic Disney story tells the tale of two young dogs who come from different backgrounds. Lady lives in a house while Tramp lives on the street. However, one day, Lady is forced to leave the house and the life she knows. Tramp teaches her about life on the streets and the two dogs fall in love… but with the dog-catcher always chasing them, will the story have a happy ending?

Find this Kids Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this reader in class:

After reading the story, why not watch the animated version with your students? They can choose their favorite character from the movie and write a description of them.

Looking for more romantic Readers for young learners? How about The Little Mermaid (Level 2) or Aladdin (Level 5)? There’s something for everyone in our catalogue.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Level 2)

Valentine's day Pirates of the CaribbeanIf your teenagers are looking for more adventure than romance, this Reader has both. Follow crazy Jack Sparrow, handsome Will and brave Elizabeth as they fight pirates and uncover the curse of the Black Pearl. But will Elizabeth and Will survive the dangerous life on the seven seas?

Find this Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this Reader in class:

After reading the story, why not ask your students to write a review of the story? It’s a great way for them to summarize the plot and share their opinion.


4. Pride and Prejudice (Level 5)

Valentine's Day Pride and PrejudiceA timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of young Elizabeth Bennett. As the oldest daughters in a family of five, she and her sister Jane are both expected to find good husbands and marry soon. But will Elizabeth find love, or will no man be good enough for her?

Find this Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this Reader in class:

While reading the story, learners can keep a diary, writing entries in the voice of Elizabeth Bennett. This helps them to demonstrate their understanding of the novel and encourages them to have a more empathetic reaction to the story’s heroine. They can either write the diary entries using typical language from Jane Austen’s day, or updating it to more modern language.

Here’s an example:

I had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting Mr Darcy today and found him rather rude and reserved. I imagine he feels this country life is inferior and that the locals are uncultured simpletons!


Met Mr Darcy today – what a stuck-up dork! He just stood there, looking down his nose at everyone… you can see he thinks he’s better than us locals.

If you think your teenage learners would enjoy a different modern or classic tale of romance, check out our list of romance Readers here. There are plenty to choose from, including Romeo and Juliet (Level 3), Love Actually (Level 4) and Madame Bovary (Level 6).

5. Tales from the Arabian Nights (Level 2)

Valentine's day Arabian Nights What would you do if you needed to fascinate a king to save your life? This is the problem Sheherezade faces when she marries a king who has killed all his previous wives. So she tells her new husband exciting, mesmerizing stories every night and always ends the tale with the king wanting to hear more. She tells him stories of adventure, love, mystery… and you can read her stories too in this Level 2 Reader.

Find this Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this reader in class:

After reading the book, have students vote on their favorite story from Sheherezade. They can then work in groups to present a short play of one of the stories, working together to write a short script.


6. Wuthering Heights (Level 5)

Valentine's Day Wuthering HeightsUnfortunately, the path of true love isn’t always easy. Set in 19th Century Yorkshire, this tragic romance follows the story of Catherine and Heathcliff. The two childhood friends grow up together very closely. However, although she loves him deeply, Catherine can’t marry Heathcliff because of his lower social status. Instead, she marries another man, Edgar. How will Heathcliff react to this news? Will Catherine and Edgar be happy together?

Find this Reader, with audio and teaching resources, on our website.

How to use this reader in class:

At one point in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff runs away from home because he thinks Catherine is embarrassed by him and doesn’t love him. Have the learners write a letter from Catherine to Heathcliff at that point, expressing her regrets about why they can’t be together. It provides students with the opportunity to use phrases such as If only…, I wish… and I should have… whilst demonstrating their understanding of the novel so far.

If Yorkshire moors and Arabian nights aren’t quite what your students are looking for, there are more tales of romance on our website. Choose from modern-day love stories such as Notting Hill (Level 3) and Lisa in London (Level 1) or  classics like Anna Karenina (Level 6) and Persuasion (Level 2).

If you enjoyed this post here are some more practical posts to get your students engaged in reading:

How do you plan to get your student’s interested in Valentine’s Day? Leave us a comment below!

Win a romantic Reader!

Let us know your favorite romantic Reader and why  in the comments below to be in with a chance of winning!
The most original entry will win. Terms and Conditions apply.

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How does the GSE help me (and why is it better to use it?)

The Global Scale of English (GSE) has a number of relevant uses for students, teachers, institutions and government ministries alike.

It was designed, primarily, to give teachers more information about what students need to learn, as well as to address the limitations of a six-level CEFR. The scale does this by expanding on the original CEFR framework by breaking down the current bands into more granular ‘can-do’ statements.

The global scale of English in action

To make this scale practical for teachers, we developed the GSE Teacher Toolkit to accompany it. This planning tool helps teachers access the information they need, including learning objectives for reading, writing, listening and speaking. It also contains a grammar and vocabulary database, which helps teachers ensure that their classroom aims and content are relevant.

So let’s break down how the GSE supports everyone in the learning process, including students, teachers, language schools, universities, and education authorities.

It is powerful and easy to use

Easy to navigate and use, the GSE allows educators to plan programs or lessons based on class and individual needs. It also helps students to gauge their progress, schools to measure the success of their programs in meeting course outcomes, and materials writers to more easily create targeted content for specific learning objectives. It can support ministries in defining a curriculum which will help their population achieve the level and goals they decide are appropriate.

Ultimately, the GSE helps educators, schools and content developers improve learner motivation and engagement. Not only does it allow them to see the progress they are making but it also helps them move on faster by focusing on new content that is relevant to them.

Find out how you can prepare students for the world of work with the GSE.

The GSE helps teachers answer their students’ questions: ‘What can I do in English now?’ and ‘What do I need to do next to improve?’  

The framework does this clearly by providing levels of proficiency within CEFR levels.

Breaking down milestones within each level of the CEFR shows students and their teachers what they ‘can do’ now, and how quickly they are moving towards the next level of proficiency in English. Additionally, it allows students to understand what they need to do next in order to progress further.

By using the GSE in this way, students come to experience more success and achievement all the way through a course.

It informs teachers and provides resources

The GSE is an invaluable framework in that it can outline exactly what a teacher should focus on next. In course development, it can be used to set out the structure of a course, tailor the content, as well as to outline the assessment criteria required to meet institutional targets.

To summarize the utility of the GSE for teachers, it helps them:

  • Make better-informed choices about course content and resources
  • Develop or select additional, specifically targeted materials
  • Accurately assess where their students are
  • Improve student motivation by demonstrating regular, incremental progress

We can see this in action in the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, a unique multi-cultural university in Beppu, Japan. With a 50/50 split of Japanese and international students, students are able to study in English or in Japanese. There is quite a mix of English ability – and it’s difficult for professors to gauge student’s individual levels of proficiency in English.  

It implemented the GSE for two principal reasons: to establish a common framework that addresses the mixed-ability of their students, and also to help its students better prepare for high-stakes assessments.

The university used Placement and Progress tests to accurately assess students’ levels and advancement throughout the year. Not only does this help university professors make the right pedagogical choices for their students, but it fills their students with confidence – as they are being provided with the right level of challenge.

See more in the video below:

It helps institutions and private language schools identify areas of improvement

The GSE can also provide directors of study or course trainers with invaluable information. For example:

  • It can help private language schools and universities select or align their course objectives to ensure they are at the correct level for their academic students.
  • It can identify gaps in their program when requirements change or improvements are needed.
  • It can be used to suit the needs of adult learners looking to master English suited to their specific field.
  • It can help inform teachers as they’re preparing courses with specific exit exam requirements.
  • It can help teachers understand their students’ ability at strategic points in the year.

Furthermore, administrators and school managers can deliver greater value to their students by ensuring courses and lessons are pitched at the right level, as well as support teacher training and development.

In the video below, you can see how former Director of Teacher Training, Autumn Westphal, introduced the GSE’s Teacher Toolkit at Rennert School in New York. She explains how it has benefited her trainee teachers:

Fill out the form to enquire about using the GSE commercially.

It offers a global overview of progress for ministries of education

Finally, at a government level, the GSE can help education ministers and civil servants answer the key question: How are students making achievements across our various learning segments?

In terms of policy development, this means ministries can set realistic expectations and gain a real insight into progress, year on year.  

The GSE also helps governments understand where institutions are now in terms of curricula development and what they need to do in order to keep students moving forward towards their goals.

It is now being used by governments around the world including Ukraine (for national curriculum reform) and Panama (for teacher development, raising standards in teaching and learning English, creating opportunities for employment).

Learn more about the GSE.

The post How does the GSE help me (and why is it better to use it?) appeared first on Resources for English Language Learners and Teachers | Pearson English.

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A culture of inquiry in the primary classroom

Children are curious by nature. When conditions allow children to satisfy their curiosity through safe, self-initiated, and playful exploration, learning occurs naturally. Our goal as educators should be to help students make the leap from intuitive understanding and natural curiosity to the creation of knowledge and further questioning.

Simply transmitting information and skills is not enough preparation for the challenges students face in their academic, professional, and personal life. Knowing how to dig below the surface, distinguish fact from opinion, using scientific approaches to understand problems and support conclusions, are more important.

So, how can we provide opportunities for students to move beyond being passive recipients of knowledge and become knowledge builders, capable of creative and innovative thinking?

Building a culture of inquiry

An innovative educational context supports collaborative teaching and learning where reflections and inquiries are shared. This leads to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice. This can be achieved in the earlier grades, where students are beginning to think and to become exposed to the world, by building a culture of inquiry in our classroom.

Inquiry implies a need to know. Students who are actively involved in the classroom develop problem-solving skills which can be applied to their schoolwork as well as later in life.

However, creating a culture of inquiry isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and constant work. We need to establish it from the first day in the classroom and work to keep it vital throughout the year.

Read more about inquiry-based learning in our blog post What is inquiry-based learning?

The learning environment

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, called the environment ‘the third teacher’ because, very much like family and peers, it can potentially enhance or detract students from learning. Therefore, it’s essential that we create a safe environment where everyone feels welcome, where students can see that their cultural, linguistic, family and social backgrounds are accepted. This environment also needs to be dynamic so it can meet the unique needs and changing interests of all students.

Engaging children’s natural curiosity

Foster curiosity in the classroom

Curiosity is a powerful motivator, especially at an early age. It provides the incentive to observe and question as children explore their world. So, instead of telling students what they should know, we should create the structure for them to experience discovery and learning on their own.

Inquiry is asking the first question, putting up the provocative text or image or playing a video to excite our students’ curiosity and after that, the room should be full of questions.

For example, in Now I know (a coursebook I collaborated on, which focuses on building children’s natural curiosity), each unit opens with a photograph, a Big Question and a video clip from the BBC. This sparks curiosity and gets students thinking about and activating their background knowledge. This acts as a springboard for ideas, opinions and further questions.

Read more about Big Questions on our blog post Starting with a Big Question.

The key to effective questioning

Inquiry-based learning is based on getting students to ask questions; therefore, it’s essential that we are able to model inquiry effectively.

Research suggests asking four types of questions:

  1. Inference questions that require students to think beyond the information presented to them.
  2. Interpretation questions that propose that students understand the consequences of the information.
  3. Transfer questions that ask students to take their knowledge and use it.
  4. Questions of hypothesis that make students predict and test their knowledge.

Students will be coming up with questions themselves so they need to be something that they are interested in finding out.

Questions must be answerable. If you are having a discussion or reading a text about endangered species, for example in Now I Know, Level 4, Unit 3, a question such as “What does the author want people to do?” can be an effective question. The answer exists and the students can find it, or they may have a strong opinion about it. If you ask a question such as, “Why didn’t the author write the text in a different way?”, students will not be able to answer this question, because they are not the author.

Answers should not be a fact. Imagine the class is discussing tall buildings, for example in Now I Know, Level 4, Unit 2. The answer to the question “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” can be found on the Internet very quickly and does not make it a question that will excite our students’ curiosity. However, “Why do people build increasingly taller buildings?” would make a compelling question because students could initially give and discuss different opinions and then they would have to research this information.

Download a sample of Now I Know.

Scaffolding and becoming co-learners

Many students need support in asking questions and creating different kinds of questions for different situations. We should use a variety of strategies, such as using question starters, to support them in asking effective questions. In addition, we should find ways to value all questions that come into the classroom. If a student brings up a great question, try using it as the basis for a class discussion or creating an inquiry team to investigate. Another strategy might be to create an ongoing list of questions that could be investigated at a later time.

We must also become comfortable as co-learners with our students. Today, teaching is less about knowing everything and more about learning new information together with our students and organizing that information into meaningful branches of learning.

The best answer we can offer our students is, “I don’t know the answer, let’s find out together.” When an educator takes the role of a co-learner, the focus is not on showing students how much their teacher knows but on asking students to reveal how much they know.

We also have to make sure that our assignments also mirror and value inquiry. Do our assignments focus on complexity and justification? Are we valuing student voice and choice in these assignments? Do we create assignments and assessments that allow students to investigate their own questions?

Doing this, we can create a culture where students are constantly working on assignments that value inquiry.

Simply saying that we are an inquiry-based classroom and doing an occasional inquiry-based activity is not indicative of a culture of inquiry. Although this is a great first step, we need to reinforce this culture throughout the year by creating both instruction and assessment that value inquiry.  


Malaguzzi L., For an education based on relationships, “Young Children”, v49 n1, 1993, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Wolf, Dennie Palmer. “The Art of Questioning,” ACADEMIC CONNECTIONS (Winter 1987): 1-7.

Find out more

Read more about curiosity in the classroom in this insightful interview with Annie: Curiosity: a favorite quality in a young learner? An interview with Annie Altamirano and check out Jeanne Perrett’s article on inquiry-based learning.

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3 fun reading activities to celebrate Charles Dickens’ birthday

Charles Dickens was an outstanding storyteller who created some of the most incredible and beloved characters of Victorian-age Britain. Who hasn’t felt sympathy for the young orphan Oliver Twist, feared the mean, old Ebenezer Scrooge, or been surprised by the eccentric behavior of Miss Havisham?

Born February 7th, 1812, Charles Dickens had to leave school aged 12 and start working in a factory to support his family. His own experiences – and those of the people around him – inspired him to write stories of poverty and children in difficult situations. He wanted his readers to know about the problems the working classes faced and often tried to improve the social conditions of the poor.

To celebrate Charles Dickens’ birthday, here are three ideas to bring some of his most famous characters to life.

1. A Christmas Carol  

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol follows the story of an old man, Ebenezer Scrooge, as he learns about the spirit of Christmas. The story starts on Christmas Eve when Scrooge is visited by a ghost. It is his business partner, Marley, who had died seven years before. Marley tells Scrooge that he must become a better person.

During the night, three more ghosts visit Scrooge. The first—the Ghost of Christmas Past—takes Scrooge back to his childhood and reminds him of life when he was happy. They then travel to the night when Marley died and Scrooge hears Belle Marley talking about what a nasty man her husband had been.

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to the house of Bob Cratchit, who works for Scrooge. The family are very poor and Bob’s son, Tiny Tim, is seriously ill. But Scrooge sees how happy they are, despite their problems.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge that nobody would care if he died. Scrooge visits his own grave in the cemetery and sees that nobody looks after it or leaves him flowers.

The visits from the ghosts make Scrooge realize what a selfish person he is. When he wakes up on Christmas Day he’s enthusiastic to change his ways. He visits his family, donates money to charity and sends a turkey to Bob Cratchit so he and his family can enjoy a feast on Christmas Day.

Find this Level 2 Reader, A Christmas Carol, on our website with further teaching resources and sample audio. 

Activity 1: A kindness calendar

The moral of the story in A Christmas Carol is that we should be kind to others and generous with what we have. After reading the story, have students work in groups to brainstorm things they can do to be kind to other people. Write all their ideas on the board, then have students create and decorate a kindness calendar for the next month. Here’s an example with three days:

Charles Dickens Be kind

Students can then complete a daily act of kindness and in subsequent lessons, you can refer back to their calendars to find out what they’ve done.

2. Oliver Twist

Charles Dickens Oliver TwistAs a young orphan in a workhouse, poor Oliver works long hours and gets very little in return. One day, he asks for a second portion of food with the famous line, “Please Sir, I want some more.”

Because of this, he’s sent away from the workhouse to live with a family. Unfortunately, some members of the family treat him badly and so he decides to run away to London.

There, he meets the Artful Dodger, a young pickpocket who introduces him to Fagin. Fagin has a group of pickpockets who work in the streets of London. Oliver innocently believes they make wallets and handkerchiefs.

In a series of incredible events, Oliver is accused of being a thief and ends up living with wealthy Mr Brownlow. However, he’s then kidnapped and taken back to Fagin. Later, he gets shot in the arm in a robbery and finally learns the truth about his parents.

Find this Level 6 Reader, Oliver Twist, on our website with further teaching resources and sample audio.

Activity 2: Oliver’s Diary

To bring the story to life and help students with their comprehension, have them write diary entries as Oliver at various points in the text. Paraphrasing is an important skill for learners. They can also look at changing the register from the more formal language of Dickens’ novel to a colloquial style for the diary. Here’s an example diary entry following the event in the workhouse when Oliver asks for more food.

Charles Dickens Diary Oliver Twist

There are lots of moments throughout the story which provide opportunities to write about Oliver’s life. E.g. his experience living with the Sowerberries, his first impressions when he meets the Artful Dodger and Fagin, and many more. Giving students a specific notebook to write each diary entry in will make the task feel more meaningful and they’ll have a personal reflection of the story in one place at the end.

The diary-writing activity can also be done with other novels by Dickens. Students can write about David Copperfield’s experiences while reading this Level 3 Reader. For a slightly higher level, Nicholas Nickleby is available as a Level 4 Reader.

3. Great Expectations 

Charles Dickens Great ExpectationsThe novel follows the life of Pip, a young orphan. From the age of nine, he spends time visiting an old spinster called Miss Havisham. She has an adopted daughter, Estella, who the young Pip falls in love with. Unfortunately, she isn’t interested in him. Until he is old enough to learn a trade, Pip visits the house regularly, but is constantly rejected by Estella.

Some years later, Pip receives some money and goes to live in London. He thinks Miss Havisham donated the money, but soon finds out it came from another source. He investigates, finding out more about his mysterious benefactor and Miss Havisham and Estella’s past.  

Find this Level 6 Reader, Great Expectations, on our website with further teaching resources and sample audio.



Activity 3: Dubbing a scene from the movie

After reading the novel, show the students a clip from a movie adaptation of the story, such as this version from 2012.

This activity works best with a short scene, around a minute. Two or three characters who share the scene equally works best. 

1. Students watch the clip once and identify which characters appear and where in the story the scene comes from. E.g. in the clip above, Pip has come to confront Estella about her relationship with Drummle.

Then, divide the students into pairs or groups of three, depending on the number of speaking characters in the scene. Within their groups, students decide which character from the movie they would like to play and do a dictation of the script. This will require them to watch the scene a few times. When doing the dictation activity, students can work in groups of the same character – for example, all the Pips together. In this way, they can help each other to write the lines of their character.

To help the students understand what each character is saying, you can slow down the scene. If you watch the DVD through VLC Media Player, you can slow down the speed through the Playback menu. Alternatively, if you are watching a clip on YouTube, you can slow down the speed of the video in the Settings menu.

Finally, have students practice reading the script and move around the classroom to help with any pronunciation issues.

2. When students are familiar with the words, have them watch the video again and focus on the emotion of the characters. Which words do they particularly emphasize? When do they speak more loudly or quietly? Have students make notes about these different aspects on their scripts and practice the scene in their groups again.

3. Now, it’s time to read the script alongside the movie – be careful as it may be a little noisy! Play the scene and have all the students read along at the same time as their character. This will encourage them to focus on connected speech and stressing key words in each line.

Do this a couple of times for students to become familiar with the speed at which their character speaks.

4. When students can comfortably read their part of the video, have them do the same task without playing the sound. Divide the class into groups with two sets of characters in each. Whilst one set reads the script as the video is playing, the other pair watch and give them feedback on how well they match up to the actors’ lips moving. If possible, students can do this activity whilst playing the clip on their own mobile devices so they can pause it and give feedback as necessary.

5. The final stage is for the students to record themselves reading the script and then play their audio alongside the movie clip. Then have a vote on which group has the best lip-syncing skills, who sounds the most emotionally authentic, who puts on the best British accent, and other categories you think will be fun.

Charles Dickens’ novels have been made into movies a number of times, so you can do the same activity after working with any of the Readers in our collection. Here are some links to other movie adaptations for you to work with:

What’s your favorite Dickens story to share in the classroom?


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5 videos to explore inquiry-based learning

Have you ever had a burning question? Something you couldn’t help but know the answer to? Well, that’s exactly how young children feel – all the time!

Now I Know is a 6-level course that promotes inquiry-based learning, sparking the curiosity and desire to learn that children naturally have. As such, it has a number of challenges that are sure to fascinate young learners aged 6-12 (CEFR pre-A1 to B1+ or GSE 19-58). What’s more, it is supported by authentic video from the BBC.

Let’s explore inquiry-based learning and look at five insightful videos on the topic.

What is inquiry-based learning?

What is inquiry based learning

According to Jeanne Perrett, inquiry-based learning is an approach that makes the most of students’ natural inquisitiveness by asking big questions.

Big questions are questions that do not have one correct answer. Instead, they help begin discussions, make students think about their own opinions, and give rise to exciting new ideas.

In the classroom, they let us engage our students’ curiosity – and by providing students with the right materials and activities, we can help them find the answers and information they need.  These big questions also encourage students to develop critical thinking skills and become more observant, analytical and reflective.

Read more in our blog post: Jeanne Perrett on Inquiry-Based Learning. 

1. A look at introducing inquiry-based learning in your classroom

Watch the following video from ELT trainer and author Amanda Davies to get an idea of what this approach to learning is all about. She’ll explain how you can use it in your classroom and also show you the real benefits it has when it comes to engaging learners.

2. A deeper look at curiosity in the classroom

Next, Amanda takes an in-depth look into curiosity and how you can implement an inquiry-based approach in your classroom, using Now I Know to highlight some practical examples.

3. Discovering the answers to big questions

In this next video, Amanda looks at the discovery stage and explains how you can use Now I Know to support your students to ensure they are successful in their quest for information.

4. Promoting reflection in an inquiry-based lesson

In this video, Amanda looks at the third stage of inquiry-based learning – reflection – which helps children think about the learning process. She uses Now I Know to offer some examples, showing you how to find out the best times to practice classroom reflection, how to get students to self-assess their progress, and also how you can support your students in this reflection.

5. Top classroom tips for inquiry-based learning

In our final video on this topic, Amanda provides expert tips for using inquiry-based learning in the classroom. She shows you how to further encourage learner independence and improve your students’ enjoyment of learning.

Have you tried inquiry-based learning yet? Here are some Big Questions from Now I Know you can explore with your students:

  • What makes a family? (Unit 5, Level 1)
  • How are we all different? (Unit 10, Level 2)
  • Why do we go on vacation? (Unit 3, Level 3)
  • How can we choose our jobs? (Unit 5, Level 4)
  • What’s causing extreme weather? (Unit 10, Level 5)
  • How does our body work? (Unit 3, Level 6)

Download a sample now and discover inquiry-based learning in a structured and motivating way with your own young learners.

Learn, think, question and create!

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The art of storytelling with Anna Hasper

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful ways of sharing ideas and transferring knowledge from one generation to the next. It brings people together as they sit and listen to the storyteller, hanging on their every word and enjoying the events as they unfold.

Most importantly, storytelling helps young people develop their ideas about life, culture and their understanding of the world. For learners, storytelling is a memorable experience, often associated with a sense of belonging. I’m sure most of us can recall at least one story from their childhood that left a long-lasting impression.

The benefits of storytelling

Stories are a vehicle for language learning in the young learner classroom. They help students develop an ear for the English language and its rhythm and sounds. They are also a great springboard for young learners’ overall growth and the development of cognitive skills, thinking, and reasoning.

What’s more, storytelling in the classroom can foster a love for reading and provide opportunities to develop young learners’ social and emotional skills through vicarious learning. The characters and situations stories present help young learners to better understand others.

Wells (1986), who investigated the links between storytelling and performance, found that consistent exposure to storytelling and narrative discourse in both the home and classroom environment also has a positive effect on children’s literacy development.

Above all, the enjoyable experience of storytelling can help our learners develop a positive attitude towards learning English.

How to use storytelling in the classroom

Storytelling Anna Hasper

Choose your stories wisely

If you want your classes to be memorable, you must engage your learners on an emotional level. Do this by selecting topics that not only interest your students but which are also developmentally appropriate and meet (or slightly challenge) your students’ language level.

Storytelling can also be a great way to introduce differences and diversity. You can decide to use a story that shows a different way of living – for example, what life is like in a country where it snows heavily in winter. Try to gauge what your learners will find most interesting.

Enable your students

It’s key that you find out about your learners’ prior knowledge and understanding and build on it. Read the story yourself first, with your learners in mind and decide if you need to pre-teach any language before reading. You can create flashcards to pre-teach essential words of the story.

Equally, learners might need to learn more about a key concept before reading, so that they can fully enjoy the story. You could use realia or a short video to introduce any new concepts you touch upon.

Bonus Tip: Move a piece of paper with a shape cut out over a flashcard to show your learners part of the image of a keyword in the story. See if they can guess the image, then teach the English word.

Engage your students

One of the biggest challenges is to hold your learners’ interest and attention. Using a variety of techniques and activities during storytelling can keep them involved and turn them into active participants.

Before you start a story, create a special ‘story atmosphere’. Then when learners are ready, engage them with images or sounds from the story. You can go to to download free sound clips and learners can listen to predict the setting of the story.

Tips for engaging your students:

  • Make storytelling a special time. Introduce each session with the same chant or song (“Are you ready for a story? Clap your hands! Are you ready for a story? Clap your hands! Are you ready for a story? Clap your hands! Now sit down!)
  • Use realia, images, sounds and/or movement, gestures, body language and facial expressions to get the meaning of the story across and get learners to join in.
  • Select rhyming language or a key chunk of language and get them to repeat it after you. However, instead of simply saying it, chant it or sing it with your learners to make it more memorable.
  • Asking questions is an effective way to check students’ understanding of the story and to develop their prediction skills and it also enhances engagement. Vary your questioning, ask factual as well as more challenging evaluative and inferencing questions.

Give your students ownership over the story

Once you have finished the story, return to the text to explore the language or the theme. Make sure you give your learners an opportunity to respond to the story with their own ideas in the follow-up stage. There are various ways of doing this, they can:

  • Draw a story path with the same or a different ending
  • Act out the story
  • Create their own story booklet
  • Retell the story
  • Imagine what happens next

Bonus Tip: to include some variety you can integrate technology. For example, learners can use voice thread to record themselves retelling the story or use to recreate the story.

Finally, enjoy the experience

Educating young learners involves teaching much more than just English; you are guiding them through the world around them. Doing this with enthusiasm and passion can have a huge impact on their attitude toward learning.

Our role is to trigger their curiosity and foster their interest in learning. By providing our learners with an engaging, positive learning experience we can sow the seeds for a life-long love of learning.

Now even though some of us are natural storytellers, most of us are not. But we can all become good storytellers through practice and by becoming aware of techniques we can use to bring a story to life and engage our learners.

Above all, storytelling is an art. This means there is no one right way to do it. Find your own style, one that works with your group and enjoy the experience together with your learners.

Happy storytelling!

Looking for stories to read with your young learners? Check out our range of Pearson English Graded Story Readers.

If you liked this post you should also read our 7 reading strategies for primary and secondary learners.

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Winners announced: 2019 Pearson English Global Teacher Award

We are extremely pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Pearson English Global Teacher Award.

Celebrating the great work teachers do, this year’s award saw a record number of entries. We were truly humbled by the passion and enthusiasm you displayed. It’s clear that you are having a huge impact on the lives of your students.

In the spirit of our mission to work together with the education community to make a difference, address challenges and further positive change; we asked you to make a short video explaining:

  • How you inspire your students to learn
  • Your greatest achievements in transforming your students in their English language journey

The winners will be able to choose between an all expenses paid trip to TESOL or IATEFL 2019.

In total, we received 431 inspiring video submissions, from 65 countries, across six continents. That’s almost twice as many as last year!

The country with the most applicants? Brazil – with a staggering 46 entries!

Check out some of our highlights:

As you can see, the quality was very high and our judges had an extremely tough job selecting a winner and runner up from each region.

The awards ceremony

The event took place at the Pearson English head office in London and, for the first time ever, we broadcasted the award ceremony live on our Facebook page.

Hundreds of people tuned in from all over the world. There were teachers from Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Ukraine, Panama, Mexico, Peru, USA, Jordan, Greece, Colombia, Lebanon, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, UK, Spain, Romania and many more.

Even some of the winners and runners up were watching online. It was fantastic to see their reactions when they found out they won. A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to watch and to say hi.

The winners are…

So without further ado, let us introduce you to the five winning teachers:

Matilda El Hage, Lebanon

Teacher award winnerOur first winner is from Africa and the Middle East. In her video Matilda talks about the methods she uses in the classroom to engage and inspire her learners. This includes getting to know her students on a personal level, gamifying the learning experience, using the art of storytelling and much more.

One thing which really stood out for judge Emily Gale was that ‘Matilda demonstrates an ability to harness the power of technology and seamlessly integrates it into her lessons.’

Watch Matilda’s winning entry now.

Congratulations to runner up in this region: Innocent Weza from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Arata Nishio, Japan

Teacher award winnerArata, the winner from Asia and Oceania, believes that as language teachers we should motivate our learners by providing situations where they are exposed to real world English speaking situations. However, in Japan people have little opportunity to use English in their daily lives. The solution? She has implemented several online opinion exchanges in her classes so that her students can share experiences in English with people from five different countries.

Judge Jeremy Harmer found Arata’s approach to getting her students to overcome their natural reluctance to speak inspiring.

Watch Arata’s winning entry now.

Congratulations to runner up in this region: Nidhi Gupta from India.  


Tetiana Kulynok, Ukraine

Teacher award winnerTetiana is our winner from Europe and Central Asia. Life is tough for her students. Therefore, her mission is to make the world a better place for them. She creates authentic lessons using materials she finds online. Amongst other things, she enjoys introducing her learners to English songs, teaching them about English culture and inspiring them to read more. She’s even gone as far as to become a volunteer in a number of Peace Corps’ summer camps, to increase opportunities for her learners to interact with English speakers.

Jeremy Harmer said he was deeply moved by Tetiana’s commitment to education in the face of a dangerous warlike situation – and how important it is to keep hope alive.

Watch Tetiana’s winning entry now.

Congratulations to runner up in this region: Anastasia Kichkireva from Russia.

Pablo Santos, Panama

Our winner from North and Central America, Pablo, uses his radiant smile to brighten up his students’ days. He wants the best for the kids he teaches so he tries to innovate and look for strategies to help them communicate in a second language.

While his classes are fun, he also emphasizes that his students are there to learn. He also loves telling his learners about his experiences abroad. This includes his recent trip to Jordan where he taught English at a refugee camp. This has inspired them to want to be like him and to travel the world and help people.

“Pablo employs a variety of different teaching strategies to engage his students, his use of role play for English language learning is particularly exciting,” says judge Emily Gale.

Watch Pablo’s winning entry now.

Congratulations to runner up in this region: Jennifer Brummer from the USA.

Mariana Garrone, Argentina

Teacher award winnerLast but not least is Mariana, the winner from South America. She uses her passion for acting to inspire her students and loves teaching English through drama. In her classes you might find her primary and secondary students doing improv, taking part in shows and contests with other schools and visiting museums and theatres. Bringing the language to life really helps motivate her learners.

Judge, Nick Robinson told us “I loved her attitude and style – she’s clearly an utter delight in the classroom.”

Watch Mariana’s winning entry now.

Congratulations to runners up in this region: Joao Campos from Brazil and Miguel Perez from Venezuela*.  

We can’t wait to meet these inspiring individuals at either TESOL or IATEFL 2019. We’d also like to thank all the other entrants and we look forward to hearing from you next time.

Stay up-to-date with the Pearson English Global Teacher Award on our website.

*During our live event we incorrectly identified Miguel Perez as being from Brazil, but he’s actually from Venezuela. We apologize for the mix-up!

Dare to learn, Dare to change with Pearson English

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