English has become, undeniably and indisputably, the language of the modern world. Spoken at a native level by hundreds of millions of people around the world and at varying levels of proficiency by billions more, it’s been variously described as a universal tongue, the world’s preeminent second language, and ‘hypercentral’ – as in bringing together the global language system.
It’s little wonder then that proficiency in the language is regarded as an indispensable part of one’s professional skill set, capable of enhancing employability and unlocking a world of career growth opportunities, as well as paving the way for personal growth.
Millions of people across Asia now recognise this fact and are taking the plunge to learn the language and fulfil their aim to become global citizens. To that end, we created an in-depth guide with the goal of providing learners with all the insights and tools they need packaged up in one resource (and it’s free!)
We spoke to experts and educators from across Asia – Kayo Taguchi (ELT Portfolio Manager, Pearson Asia); Jarrad Merlo (Co-founder, E2 Language); Lorraine Loquisan (Chief Operations Officer, Enrich); Monette Fetalvero (Manager, Career Consultants Network and BADA Education Philippines) – who share their vast experience and deep insights to help students, such as yourself, learn English with a purpose. Download your free copy today.
Welcome to episode 13 of the Art of Learning podcast.
We're joined by Dr Tran Huong Quynh, Head of the English Linguistics Division (Faculty of English) at the Hanoi National University of Education, to discuss the various nuances of English, its impact on professional growth and the resources available to learners striving to master the language.
We kick off by dissecting how the world of English language learning is changing (2:06), the nuances of business English, academic English and real-world English (6:06), what type of English learners should be prioritising (9:31), learning idioms and how learners can use them to their advantage (12:29), plus more.
Exploring English language learning possibilities, and where it can take learners both personally and professionally, and the added benefits of learning the world’s language — hint: it’s healthy for your brain. Read more.
You might have heard of English being referred to as a lingua franca, which is a fancy way of saying that English is becoming the world’s language of communication among non-native speakers.
This is because it’s estimated that almost 2 billion people speak English across the globe, making English the largest language by number of speakers, and the third largest language by number of native speakers. By many standards, English has become referred to as the world’s language.
Given the fast-changing expectations of today’s employers, the ability to collaborate effectively across cultures, borders and languages is a non-negotiable skill — this is where English language skills are key.
Simon Young, Pearson Asia’s BTEC Portfolio Manager, says now that supply chains and customer bases are global, multinationals have identified English language proficiency as a requirement, not a nice-to-have skill.
“It seems that English has become a key skill for communicating in business in any role. So, in countries such as [those in Southeast Asia] where you might see a strong local workforce, the interaction with other divisions does require a strong ability to communicate in English. English has become the global communication medium.”
While English helps to enhance your career possibilities and professional growth, being multilingual makes you a sharper learner — the cognitive benefits of being proficient in another language is healthy for your brain.
And for English language learners specifically, experts say that multilingual learners score higher on standardised tests, which is likely due to learning different grammatical rules and vocabulary, as well as the ability to focus on relevant information while paying less attention to the details that hold less value.
When learning English coupled with another subject, it’s a far more effective way to learn a language. The two-for-one approach adds context to what you’re learning and encourages the development of workforce skills. For Dr Tran Huong Quynh, Head of English Linguistics Division, Faculty of English at Hanoi National University of Education, English is now considered a tool to open the door of knowledge for today’s learners.
“It’s learning [that matters], and students want to learn something that is useful for them, instead of just purely focusing on English itself. For example, students can learn English and science, English and geography, or even English and learning how to present or other skills relevant in the 21st century.
“You should learn English in context, and you need to be exposed to the language every day, whether in a professional or task-based context, or daily life conversations with a clear purpose of learning. So, learners should have a chance to learn the English that people are using in the real situation, not just the language based on the textbook,” she says.
Learners should identify why they want to learn English to ensure their goals are set correctly and that their focus is in the right area. Dr Quynh notes that to build English proficiency, learners must understand the differences between general, academic and business English, and then approach their learning patterns accordingly.
“For me, building proficiency should be to refer to all three areas, so that means academic English, business English or real-world English. Each of them focuses on one aspect of English that language learners need to use English appropriately in different settings. So, academic English is the type of English you need in the world of research, study, and teaching.
“For business English, learners can use English in a professional setting and the ability to communicate at work. For example, the ability to write emails, to understand them, and to respond to them using appropriate language, they should have the ability to deliver presentations or participate in business meetings in English,” she says.
For Quynh, the value in learning English lies in having an understanding and a level of proficiency in all three English variations to get the most out of their learning journey. She says that to truly unlock professional and personal potential, learners should strive to have the ability to communicate across all variations of everyday life settings.
“We’re all familiar with real-world English – it is the ability to communicate in general and in society. So, learners should have the ability to communicate confidently for everyday life in English, wherever they are — for example, at home or at work, traveling or socialising in everyday situations.
“To unlock the career opportunities and enhance employability, I think learners should know what kind of English they need by looking at what they really want to use English for -- do they need English for their job or for socialising and communicating outside of work?” she says.
Jason Gregory, International Director, UK BTEC & Apprenticeships at Pearson, says that educators need to provide the framework for learners to hone their soft skills on the go, as industry requirements are changing rapidly in the modern world of work. This is a challenge for the teaching of technical, hard skills because they tend to have a shorter shelf life in today’s climate. Whereas soft skills – i.e. people skills, collaboration skills, attitudes and attributes – are evergreen and work to serve current and future workers well in the pursuit of professional progression.
Jason notes that employers expect learners to demonstrate proficiency in the aforementioned three key areas; however, as Jason notes, the reality is these skills are missing from the talent pool.
“We're increasing now in our own research and really seeing that virtually every job role now has some form of digital skills requirements, some information technology (IT) skills, as well. So, it’s about ensuring that we understand what the future, digital skills required for each of those job roles are to ensure the pedagogy is cutting-through.
“Employers are asking for these skills and are saying they’re missing from people coming out of education institutions. We need to have a well-rounded future skills package that covers the technical, digital, data and people skills elements.”
Jason says that in order to assist learners in developing learner knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values as it pertains to future skills is clear: adopt some more applied experiential learning methodologies and pedagogy. He adds that integrated learning is extremely valuable here, too, and it’s an initiative that Pearson assumes with its education partners.
“If you have a problem-solving task at hand, how you best learn to develop and hone the skills and attitude required to handle that task, is to apply that learned behaviour to a real-life scenario and task. For example, if you’re an engineer, you should be applying problem-solving skills to a particular task that you would do as an engineer in your real-life workplace environment.
“This really is what we do to help train teachers to adopt this experiential applied learning approach and problem-solving pedagogy, and then we create assignments and scenarios in our courseware that helps enable the application of those attitudes. I think that’s a real key aspect which sits within our BTEC methodology of teaching and learning, as well. It’s moving away from that didactic to more academic teaching and applied learning.”
The best place to start to determine how much preparation is required for PTE is for students to understand their current English skills and proficiency, and compare that to their desired score. When it comes to test preparation, it can be an uphill battle to get your students enthused and excited about the study work that lies ahead.
But with guidance from educators, students can achieve their desired score and unlock a world of personal, professional and academic possibilities. For effective PTE preparation, students should familiarise themselves with the test format, evaluate their English proficiency, have a desired test date in mind, and from there implement a robust study plan. This is something that you can help drive as an educator to ensure they’re on the right path in the lead up to their test day.
And so, to increase their chances at achieving their desired results, students can take a practice test to assess their likely score, which is a valuable way to guide their preparation and study strategies. To further explore the importance of effective preparation, there are some tips and tricks to ensure your students are set up for success. We’ve categorised these in four sections that covers tips for each key date leading up to the test:
1 month before the test.
Have your students follow the news (or watch a documentary) to assist them with sentence structure and vocabulary organisation, plus it provides excellent listening practice. At this stage, having a study plan is crucial, too.
1 week before the test.
It’s recommended that students sit at least one practice test under exam conditions – this means finding a quiet place and timing their session.
1 day before the test.
Students should have everything prepared for the test, including their identification. Being prepared a day before the test will ensure that students are relaxed and ready for the test.
The day of the test.
It’s important that students arrive on time to avoid any stresses, and that they speak and think in English on their way to the test centre to put them in the ‘test mindset’.
Additionally, educators can add another resource to their student’s PTE test preparation tool kit – the official PTE practice app. The app will help students create a personalised study plan, including a countdown to their test day. Tailored to the individual’s timeframe, the planner makes sure that everything they need to study (and revise) is addressed by the date of the exam.
The app also includes interactive practice questions, providing students with instant scores and feedback on their answers. Additionally, students have access to ‘how to improve’ guides that detail exactly that: how to improve their exam scores with actionable insights that use examples to ensure the advice is clear.
The ‘how to improve’ guides cover all parts of the test – in addition to consistent test practice, the additional content in the official app is designed to help students effectively prepare to perform their best on test day.
Welcome to episode 12 of the Art of Learning podcast.
We’re joined by Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, to discuss the challenges of delivering high-quality education in an ever-changing, fluid world.
We kick off by discussing Dr Corbett’s day-to-day responsibilities as a school head (0:54), the importance of recognising further education managers in the wider education ecosystem (2:27), what the consequences are of sub-par middle management in education (9:28), whether there are inadequate resources dedicated to assist education managers (12:44), the characteristics and traits that make for a successful middle manager in education, and more (16:38).
Our familiarity with artificial intelligence (AI) and the role of algorithms in our lives is increasing, but the intrigue remains around the validity and fairness of how machines are scoring online assessments—are they accurate, are they fair? The key to the success of AI and computer-based tests is to build the infrastructure from the ground up, according to Dr Rose Clesham, Director of Academic Standards & Measurement (English Assessment) at Pearson. The systems that Pearson’s English language tests are built on are highly sophisticated algorithms, and those algorithms are turning computer information back into a form of human scores, notes Dr Clesham.
“When we train our engines, the human scorers give pieces of work – lots and lots of pieces of work – and they score them in a human way and provide a human score, and that then is used to train or to start the journey of training our systems.”
As demand for English language learning grows in popularity across Asia, innovations in learning technologies are changing how educators are approaching the challenge of equipping learners with the English skills (and knowledge) required to succeed personally and professionally – in everyday life, in academia and in professional settings.
The rise of technology-assisted study – or in other words, pedagogy that is underpinned by technology – allows teachers to obtain and analyse student performance data in near real-time and it allows educators to use the gained learnings to tailor the learning experience to meet individual requirements, and it is having a profound effect on modern English language teaching (ELT).
Additionally, as a by-product of technology-driven pedagogy, educators can now leverage education data to provide invaluable insights for learners to help them shape their learning journey, for teachers to understand their cohort’s strengths and weaknesses, and for education leaders to get a clear view on their courseware infrastructure in order to make timely decisions on optimising the wider teaching and learning framework provided at their institution. This current shift is fundamentally presenting data-driven decision-making opportunities in education that simply weren’t possible in previous years.
And there are several variables that have allowed for a more data-driven approach to the modern classroom: an increase in training, coupled with the emergence of new technologies, and the implementation of new common standards, to name a few.