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  • A group of teenagers lying down in a circle in grass, smiling and gesturing a thumbs up
    • Study prep
    • English certification and assessment
    • English for work and migration

    Tips for success with the Pearson English International Certificate

    By Pearson Languages

    Studying for the Pearson English International Certificate (PEIC) is a challenge for any student, but there are many different areas where you can help yourself or your students achieve top grades.

    By becoming familiarized with the test format, equipping test-taking strategies and having awareness of commonly occurring vocabulary and topics, learners can be on the path to success in the PEIC.

    Know the test

    Understanding the test format and what to expect in each exam section will give students the confidence they need on test day.

    Do drills on how many sections there are, how long they have for each section, and the order of the sections too. This will help learners anticipate what’s coming next and feel prepared throughout the exam. For example, the recording is played twice in listening section 2 – dictation. If students are aware of this, they can use the first recording to note key ideas and the second to complete the dictation fully.

    Give yourself/your students plenty of practice under test conditions. Do timed mock exams, without phones or dictionaries, to help get a feel of the real test.

    As the speaking section is done simultaneously for all candidates, get yourself/your students used to communicating in loud environments. Doing mock exams for the writing sections will also help students become aware of their word count and how long it takes to achieve this. It’s important to note that each writing task has a word limit and there are penalties for being significantly above or below.

    Learn test strategies

    Knowing the test format is important, but so is being equipped with test-taking strategies. For all sections, train yourself/students to use the questions and rubric to their advantage. Underlining the keywords from the question will help learners prepare for the task ahead and predict potential answers.

    In the listening sections, students are given ten seconds before the recording is played. Learners should identify and underline keywords and use this time to predict the topic and vocabulary of the recording. Remind yourself/students that even if you think you have the answer, you need to listen carefully to the entire recording, as it’s also likely that some of the keywords will be used as distractors.

    It’s also helpful to highlight keywords in the prompts and questions in the reading sections. For example, when dealing with multiple choice questions like in section 5, test takers should first highlight keywords from the question, then scan the text for these keywords. This is the part of the text where the answer is located, and where they should direct their attention. It’s important to read this section of the text carefully and also be aware that the answer may be paraphrased or a synonym.

    Planning is crucial in the writing sections, and highlighting keywords from the question is an important planning step. Read the task carefully and identify the words that indicate the type of writing that is required and the audience. This will help guide the writing style and register. For example, in section 8, noticing the difference between writing a letter to a friend and a letter to a magazine editor will change the tone of the task.

    Build a strong lexical base

    Prepare further by building a strong grammar and vocabulary base with topical and functional language.

    Introduce yourself/students to a wide range of themes on social and current issues, as well as personal and familiar topics. It's useful for learners to note useful vocabulary and phrases and test themselves on these regularly, making a note of the spelling, as this is essential in all sections of the exam.

    Test takers will encounter gap-fill style tasks in both the listening and reading sections. Students can predict what kind of word is missing by reading around the gap. Train yourself/your students to consider what part of speech the answer will be, and if the other words in the sentence give clues to the topic or theme. Give them plenty of practice with word formation so they can easily identify the missing information.

    Higher points are awarded for complex structures and expressions during the speaking and writing sections. Teachers should provide learners with functional language such as discourse markers and linkers, so they can connect and extend their ideas. It’s also important to have a range of vocabulary they draw on to express their opinions, offer suggestions and to give reasons, as this will help give their answers complexity and depth.

    Studying these things should provide a solid knowledge base of the exam format and structure, coaching learners to use different test-taking strategies and directing their study of vocabulary and grammar, so they can work more efficiently and confidently toward their goal of passing the PEIC.

  • People of various backgrounds and ages standing together holding paper speech bubbles
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    4 poor communication skills (and what to do about them)

    By Pearson Languages

    How to help your students improve their general listening, speaking and understanding

    Do your students ever display poor communication skills?

    Most teachers will answer with a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, communication skills do not always come naturally to many people. Let’s look at some of the most common and egregious errors people make when speaking and listening to each other. I’ll also give you some valuable ways to help your students improve.

    1. They don’t even stop to breathe!

    If you find one student doing a LOT of talking, it’s probably because no one else can get a word in edgeways. It can be tempting to assume that this is because the chatty student thinks their ideas are better than anyone else’s, but, in fact, it is often a sign of nerves.

    Look more carefully and see if they appear breathless or anxious. Whatever the reason, this kind of student may benefit from a more structured approach where students are given time to prepare what they are going to say, and everyone is expected to contribute equally. Or make it into a game where students have to make sure that they speak for 50% of the time each, as would be expected in an exam situation.

    2. They aren’t really paying attention to each other

    Whether your students are looking at their phones, staring out of the window or can’t wait to interrupt each other, poor listeners make poor communicators. Deal with this by always requiring the listener in any pair to do something specific. For example, tell them they will need to summarise what their partner said, or they have to think of three questions to ask their partner at the end.

    We usually have a reason to listen in real-life communication, so make sure you give them one. Otherwise, they may assume that only the teacher needs to pay attention when another student is talking.

    3. They ramble and it’s difficult to follow what they’re saying

    Students may ramble because they are unconfident about the target language. It’s fine for students to struggle a bit to communicate, but it’s sensible to set achievable tasks, or they may give up.

    It could also be that they would benefit from more rehearsal and practice. Being able to speak fluently ‘off the cuff’ is very challenging, particularly in front of an audience. Try giving students time to plan what they are going to say first. They shouldn’t be reading off the page, but writing it first can help with confidence and fluency.

    Repetition is also invaluable in building fluency. Try doing speaking tasks more than once, and see how the quality and quantity improves each time. You can ring the changes by swapping partners or changing the format from pairs to small groups, to the whole class.

    4. They don’t treat others’ feelings with respect

    This can show itself in different ways. Maybe your students just completely ignore the feelings the other person is demonstrating or telling them about. Or maybe they dismiss them in other ways, ‘Oh, exactly the same thing happened to me! I was just walking along…’

    You can model better ways to respond yourself. For example, “It sounds as if you feel quite angry about that?”, “That must have been really difficult.’

    This teaches students the kind of phrases they can use to validate, empathize and talk about emotions.

    If you can deal with these problems, your students will be well on the way to becoming master communicators.

  • A young person in front of a laptop with headphones
    • Language teaching

    Tips for effective online classroom management

    By Pearson Languages

    Online language learning and teaching brings with it a lot of things to think about. The following tips are designed to help you plan your primary-level online classes effectively and manage students in a digital environment.

    1. Keep energy levels high

    The school environment is an active and incredibly social space. It’s hard to replicate this online, potentially leading to boredom and frustration among your students. For this reason, you should take regular 'movement breaks' during the day to energize them. You can do the following quick sequence sitting or standing:

    • Stretch your arms above your head and reach for the sky. 
    • Count to ten. 
    • Drop your left arm to your side and bend to your left while stretching your right arm over your head. 
    • Count to fifteen. 
    • Come back to an upright position and stretch both arms above your head. 
    • Count to ten. 
    • Drop your right arm to your side and bend to your right while stretching your left arm over your head. 
    • Count to fifteen. 
    • Come back to an upright position and stretch both arms above your head. 
    • Count to ten. 
    • Lean forward until your fingertips touch the floor (only go as far as is comfortable for your body), then cross your arms and release your head so it hangs gently between your legs. 
    • Count to fifteen. 
    • Come back upright, shake your arms and legs, and get back to work!

    This excellent energy booster allows your students to revise parts of the body, commands and even make the link with other subjects.

    2. Encourage casual socialisation

    Small talk and gossip are fundamental parts of the regular school day. It’s essential to give students a few minutes to chat freely. It will help them feel relaxed and make your classes more comfortable.

    Let your students do this in whatever language they want and don’t get involved, just like at school. Alternatively, ask someone to share a YouTube video, song, Instagram, or TikTok post in a digital show and tell.

    3. Encourage the use of functional language

    After students have been chatting freely in their own language, take the opportunity to bring in functional language depending on the subject they were talking about in English. This will help get them ready for the lesson. Here are some ways to do this:

    • Singing - Play a song and get them to sing along. 
    • Role-play - When students talk about food, you could role-play in a restaurant or talk about likes and dislikes. 
    • Guessing games - Students must read the animals' descriptions and guess what they are. You can make up your own descriptions.

    4. Consider task and student density

    To optimize learning time, consider dividing your class into smaller groups and teaching each one individually for part of the timetabled class time. You may find that you get more done in 15 minutes with eight students than you would be able to get done in 60 minutes with 32 students.

    At the same time, you will be able to focus more easily on individual needs (you’ll be able to see all their video thumbnails on the same preview page). If it is not acceptable in your school to do this, divide the class so you’re not trying to teach everyone the same thing simultaneously.

    Having the whole class do a reading or writing activity is a lost opportunity to use this quiet time to give more focused support to smaller groups of learners, so think about setting a reading task for half the class, while you supervise a speaking activity with the other half, and then swap them over.

    Alternatively, set a writing activity for 1/3 of the students, a reading for 1/3 and a speaking activity for the remaining 1/3, and rotate the groups during the class.

    5. Manage your expectations

    Don’t expect to get the same amount of work done in an online class as in the classroom. Once you have waited for everyone to connect, get them to turn on their cameras, etc., you have less time to teach than you would usually have. Add this to the fact that it’s much more complex and time-consuming to give focused support to individual learners in a way that doesn’t interrupt everyone else.

    So, don’t plan the same task density in online classes as you would for face-to-face teaching. Explore flipping some of your activities, so your students arrive better prepared to get to work.

    It’s also much harder to engage students, measure their engagement and verify that they are staying on task online than in the physical classroom. In an online class, measuring engagement and reading reactions is harder. Always clearly explain the objectives and why you have decided on them. Regularly check to see if everyone understands and is able to work productively.

    When you’re all online, you can’t use visual clues to quickly judge whether anyone is having difficulties, like you can in the classroom. Ask direct questions to specific students rather than asking if everyone understands, or is OK. During and at the end of class, check and reinforce the achieved objectives.

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