• Pearson’s ScoreKeeper 3: the new and improved test management platform for Versant

    We’re proud to announce that we’ve launched ScoreKeeper 3, the new and improved, all-in-one test management platform for Pearson’s Versant language tests

    As your partner in managing automated English language testing, ScoreKeeper 3 empowers you to make informed decisions by giving you access to rich data about each test taker’s language abilities. Use it to assign tests, monitor candidates, access materials, track progress, and retrieve scores. 

    The newest version of the platform has features that make your organization’s life even easier. Whether you’re screening job applicants, benchmarking your employees’ English levels, or assessing your students’ language proficiency, ScoreKeeper 3 is the only tool you’ll need to manage the process.

    Learn more in our explainer video:

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  • New innovations in assessment: Versant’s Intelligibility Index score

    Bill Bonk has a love of learning languages and taught English as a foreign language for over a decade in countries such as Italy, Ecuador, Japan, and Brazil. He has a M.A. in Second Language Studies and a PhD in Cognitive Science and has worked on various second language learning (L2) tests within Pearson for the past seven years, including new tests for young learners (TELL, English Benchmark Young Learners) and adults (English Benchmark). 

    In this article Bill talks about what intelligibility in communication really is and introduces us to the Intelligibility Index, which is found exclusively in Pearson’s Versant English Test. This 15-minute test is used worldwide by schools, recruiters, and employers who need a quick and accurate measure of people’s English language skills. 

    Communication can be easy

    After basic needs like food, water, and shelter are met, communication is pretty much our primary task in life as human beings. It’s no coincidence that virtually all the elements of higher intelligence involve communication. Think language, culture, technology, sensory systems like vision and hearing, memory, learning, etc. At times communication can feel so automatic and easy. Just a look on the face of someone you know well at work or a random conversation with your sister can communicate something so quickly and easily. 

    Talking on the phone with someone you know well, you get the impression that verbal communication works perfectly. You take it for granted that you can understand everything someone says, even when the ideas get more complicated. 

    Sometimes people use the example of driving while talking as an amazing talent. You can perform a complex task like driving while doing something else. Well how about the fact that you can talk while driving? Talking with someone can become so automatic that we don’t even feel like we are dedicating any effort to it while we are performing another task simultaneously. But it is a very complex and amazing skill. 

    Communication can be hard

    Nevertheless, there are other situations when it takes us more effort to communicate. From a listener’s perspective, when we’re not familiar with the other person’s accent, it takes work to understand them. It often takes a while to adjust our ears to that accent. 

    In an increasingly globalized world, we communicate with people from different countries in English much more often nowadays. We also get the chance to listen to many accents and styles of speaking on news, television shows, and movies. But when we actually need to engage in communication with someone, we really notice the effort that it sometimes takes to successfully navigate this situation. 

    From a speaker’s perspective, if you’ve ever studied another language, you know how hard it is to get REALLY proficient. Even if you studied the language since high school, practiced for many hours, or lived in a country where that language is spoken, you may find that you hit a certain plateau in your proficiency. This means you might never get perfect. You still have an accent, you still struggle to say things with the same precision that you can easily say in your first language, to hit just the right expressions. People may ask you to repeat what you just said because they did not understand you the first time. It’s frustrating.

    The concept of Intelligibility

    Intelligibility is a term that refers to how easily understandable a message is, usually referring to the speech or writing that delivered that message. When everything comes together, it’s like one of the effortless communication situations described above. 

    However, it is often the case that there are factors that make the communication take some effort. This breakdown can be caused by many factors. For example:

    • A noisy environment
    • An incorrect assumption about the intentions of the person speaking to you
    • A difficult concept to express in words, etc. 

    But, certainly, the speaker also has a very big role in this. 

    As mentioned earlier, speaking in a foreign language can be hard for many different reasons. We do our best to speak in a way that people will understand us. Yet, we do not always have a perfect accent. Instead, we search for words and expressions, we make grammar errors, and the communication can go wrong in all these ways! 

    However it does not always go wrong. Some people have strategies and skills that they use to make themselves more intelligible more often, even if they don’t speak ‘perfectly’. For example, they might:

    • Slow down, or speed up
    • Be more aware of particular sounds that they have trouble with
    • Make adjustments, for example, they might speak more carefully, only using phrases that they are more sure of. 

    It’s based on a wide variety of things, and there is no one recipe for improving intelligibility. Sometimes you just try a bunch of strategies to see which ones seem to work for you.

    Intelligibility as a Versant score

    At Pearson, we did research to investigate intelligibility. We wanted it to be recognized that you don’t need a perfect accent, grammar, or vocabulary to be understandable. In reality, you just need to be understandable with little effort by listeners. You can be intelligible to English speakers whether you are from Kathmandu, Khartoum, or Kentucky. And if you don’t score a high intelligibility score now, you still can get there with some effort, practice and information. 

    Our new Intelligibility index score is found exclusively in the Versant English Test. This 15-minute test is used worldwide by schools, recruiters, and employers. It offers a quick and accurate measure of people’s English language skills. 

    Versant has been in use for more than twenty years. It offers subskill scores and an overall score, which you can use to see if people have made progress in their English proficiency over time. It also breaks down where the candidate’s English skills are strongest. At the same time, it shows whether the test-taker has the proficiency needed for a job or education institution.

    Intelligibility index scores are an addition to the Versant English Test. They are a new metric that no other test possesses, indicating a new direction for evaluating English communication skills.

    Learn more about Versant and our new Intelligibility index score or contact your local Pearson representative.

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  • Introducing the Versant Professional English Test by Pearson

    A team that has a chance to grow is a happy team. HR leaders know that professional development opportunities bring new skills and make their companies more competitive. At the same time, staff retention is boosted. According to a recent study by LinkedIn, 94% of staff would remain at a company for longer if it invested in their career development.

    But still, there’s a lot that goes into running a successful career development program. If you want to help your employees improve their language skills, for example, providing training is not enough. You’ll also need to benchmark their skills and monitor their progress.

    The Versant Professional English Test (VPET) is a new assessment product by Pearson. It allows language trainers and HR managers to effectively measure the progress of employees and training professionals who are learning English. The test also evaluates candidates’ abilities to deal with a range of workplace situations, including professional and social interactions with customers and colleagues. This will show you each candidate’s ability to manage real-life situations in an international work environment.

    Let’s take a closer look:

    What is the Versant Professional English Test (VPET)?

    The Versant Professional English Test is a comprehensive language proficiency test. It can be used to assess the language skills of learners in professional development programs and business English courses.

    The test measures all four skills that are vital to effective communication in English: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  Questions in the test are designed around of real-life workplace scenarios typical of an international working environment.

    The Versant Professional English Test is automatically marked by Pearson’s patented Versant AI scoring technology. This eliminates bias and ensures consistency in scoring. As a result, personalized score reports are available within minutes. These allow test administrators to access meaningful insights into a learner’s progress.

    On top of this, the score reports contain suggestions for improvement and recommended activities to help learners achieve their professional development goals related to English.

    Candidates can take the Versant Professional English Test on a computer anytime and anywhere. This makes taking the test flexible and convenient.

    What are some ways to use the Versant Professional English Test?

    The Versant Professional English Test is for corporations, private language schools, and training providers who want to:

    • benchmark employees’ English proficiency skills;
    • measure progress in a professional development program;
    • pinpoint learners’ strengths and weaknesses to inform course planning;
    • evaluate learners’ proficiency at the end of a training program.

    Whether you’re preparing your learners to succeed in an English-speaking business environment or upskilling your workforce, you can use VPET to objectively measure and monitor their skills.

    What types of questions make up the Versant Professional English Test?

    The Versant Professional English Test has two levels of difficulty, ensuring that the test is appropriate for the learner’s ability. Levels are based on CEFR ranges:

    • Level 1 is designed to assess abilities across the A1 to B1+ range
    • Level 2 is for the B1+ to C2 range

    Test takers have 60 minutes to complete the assessment by responding to 58 questions.

    The 10 question types that appear in the VPET are:

    • Sentence completion: Complete sentences with a missing word.
    • Passage reconstruction: Read a short passage and write a summary of it.
    • Reading comprehension: Read a passage or interpret a simple graph and answer multiple-choice questions.
    • E-mail writing: Read a short description of a situation and write an email in response.
    • Dictation: Listen to a sentence and type it out.
    • Response selection: Listen to a sentence and select one of three possible responses.
    • Passage comprehension: Listen to a short passage then answer three questions.
    • Repeat: Repeat a sentence exactly as you hear it.
    • Speaking situations: Listen to and read a brief scenario then respond.
    • Story retellings: Listen to a brief story then retell it in your own words.

    The questions are designed to evaluate an employee’s English language skills as well as their ability to cope with a wide range of real-life workplace situations. This way, test takers can prove their ability to use a combination of business and social language skills.

    The responses that test-takers give allow Versant to gather information on a variety of key points, including:

    • pronunciation
    • fluency
    • sentence
    • construction
    • vocabulary
    • organization
    • voice and tone
    • listening
    • and reading comprehension.

    Then, the platform analyzes all of this to provide data-rich insights into the test taker’s language skills.

    How is the Versant Professional English Test scored?

    Pearson’s patented Versant AI scoring technology analyzes over 20,000 data points in every response. Our technology and integrated approach to measuring language skills ensure that results are always accurate and consistent. We developed our scoring models using hundreds of thousands of responses from English learners and native speakers, which allows us to deliver reliable results.

    The automatically generated Versant Professional English Test score reports contain:

    • an overall score reported on the Global Scale of English (GSE) and mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR);
    • individual scores in speaking, listening, reading, and writing;
    • an in-depth analysis of language proficiency across the fours skills;
    • suggestions for improvement by skill set;
    • and customized follow-up activities mapped to selected Pearson English courseware.

    Trainers can access the score reports from the easy-to-use ScoreKeeper test administration platform. You can use the same platform to upload rosters, deploy tests, and monitor results.

    Are you considering investing in your workforce’s professional development to help your employees and company grow?

    Learn more about the Versant Professional English Test and get a sample now.

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  • Discover Remote Monitoring with Versant

    In any exam situation, security and candidate authentication are key considerations. Under normal circumstances, test centers provide employers and institutions with all the assurances they need to be able to accept the results of exams for professional purposes. 

    However, schools and universities around the world have locked their doors and international test centers are being temporarily closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This unexpected global state of alarm means that many employers and universities are struggling to offer their applicants qualifying tests during their recruitment and admissions processes. As a result, they have no real means of confirming whether their candidates have the required level of English, which may lead to missed job opportunities or lost university places.

    Both corporate and university administrators are therefore looking for flexible, reliable and secure digital language assessment solutions. Corporations particularly need a layer of security built into their tests for recruiting activities and Higher Education institutions require an alternative means of remote testing solutions for their placement and entrance tests.

    So are there viable alternatives to test center-based exams? 

    Remote assessment with Versant

    At Pearson, we offer an alternative assessment solution to help institutions and companies test the capabilities of their students, staff and applicants.

    Versant is a series of flexible digital language assessments for adults and has a number of use cases:

    How does the Versant test work?
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  • Six top tips for teaching English online

    teaching english online

    More and more, schools are offering blended language and remote teaching options. There are lots of benefits of teaching English online. Firstly, it’s sustainable, saving on transport, travel costs and it reduces the number of printed materials. Secondly, it allows you the flexibility to teach students when you’re away from school and the classroom. 

    So, if you’re faced with a new remote class and you’re not sure how to approach it, follow these six tips and you’ll soon be an online teaching pro.

    1. Find the right technology

    If you want to become a great online English teacher, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a reliable online platform or learning management system to help you communicate with your students. The good news is that there are lots of free options available to you.

    Platforms for teaching one-to-one classes and small groups

    If you are running one-to-one or small group English classes and are mostly focused on conversation, Google Hangouts is an easy-to-use option. It’s free and web-based, which means desktop users do not have to download applications to use it. If you have a Gmail address, you’ll be able to send recurring calendar invitations to your student(s) and they will be able to sign in to the Hangout directly from their email.

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  • Correction to Press Release: NetDragon Collaborates with Pearson, Expands Education Library with Agreement to License Digital Content

    (November 20, 2020) –  Pearson issued the following correction:

    A press announcement from Pearson and NetDragon made on October 23, 2020 erroneously claimed that the products Reading Street®, enVisionMATH®, digits®, and Interactive Science™ are part of the Pearson portfolio. Pearson does not own those products, and they are not associated with Pearson’s licensing agreement with NetDragon. Those products are now owned by Savvas Learning Company, and no Savvas products are part of the license of content to NetDragon.

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  • Pearson and Liverpool FC partnership

    Pearson and Liverpool FC partnership

    Today, I am delighted to announce a partnership with leading Premier League football club and current Club World Cup Champions Liverpool FC, to offer international sports industry qualifications designed to provide pathways to careers in sport, fitness and physical activity for young people and adults. 

    Available to overseas learners from September 2020, these new qualifications are:

    • BTEC International Level 3 in Sport, Business and Management,
    • BTEC International Level 3 in Sports Coaching and Development, and
    • BTEC International Level 3 in Sports Facilities Operations and Management.

    These new qualifications are being developed to meet the needs of a growing global sports industry, within which new careers are emerging and developing all the time.  Young people and adults wishing to pursue and make progress in the sector will acquire up-to-date industry knowledge, skills and behaviours that open doors to a range of exciting careers in sport, such as coaching, management, facilities operations and fitness instruction. Building on Liverpool FC’s experience as a major sports employer, the BTEC will ensure that learners have their learning brought to life in real world sports contexts.

    The qualifications are presented in a series of modular bitesize units, meaning learners can engage in short courses or a full 2-year programme of each. Units include health and wellbeing, sports psychology, nutrition and fitness, business, technology and self-employment.

    The BTEC will provide learners with a range of transferable skills and behaviours that are highly valued by employers through units in business, technology and self-employment, as well as developing the skills and knowledge to tackle two of the biggest health issues of our age - physical fitness and mental wellbeing. These skills are especially valuable in a changing world where job roles are likely to continue to change and the emphasis from industry and employers is increasingly on flexibility, adaptability and transferable skills.

    The aim is for these new BTECs to inspire learners amongst Liverpool FC’s millions of fans to develop their skills and knowledge and gain a qualification that supports new global career opportunities and elevates sports education and professionalism around the world.

    Read our press release here >

    I would like to say a huge thank you to James Emmett, Becky Laffan, Jason Gregory and everyone who has worked on making this partnership happen. Thank you also to Janet Clarke, Hannah Lee and Sonia Sakaria on the great work you’ve done getting the communication and marketing ready for today’s launch.

    Best wishes,

    Cindy Rampersaud

    Senior Vice President - BTEC and Apprenticeships 

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  • The Vietnamese Companies Powered By Learning Millennials

    All eyes are on Vietnam. That’s because the ambitious Southeast Asian country’s young, tech-savvy population is helping position it as a future global leader in industries like blockchain technology. But what is it like harnessing the skills of a country with 40% of its population under 25, and how are some of Vietnam’s biggest employers making learning key to help train and retain their teams?

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