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  • Business people sat and waiting in a row
    • Business and employability

    Boost the quality of your hires with English proficiency testing

    By Samantha Yates
    Reading time: 6.5 minutes

    Hire quality is top of the agenda for recruiters and talent acquisition leaders. Discover the impact of English skill testing on hiring fit-for-role employees.

    The results are in… thousands of recruiting professionals and top talent acquisition leaders say that sourcing high-quality candidates is their number one objective in 2024 and beyond.

    54% of recruiters are now prioritizing quality of hire above all else, according to LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions report The Future of Recruiting 2024. The report also highlights that 73% are using a skills-based approach to find top-quality hires, faster, with skills that fit the business both now and in future.

    Getting recruitment right can drastically impact productivity. In the UK alone, effective recruitment boosts productivity by £7.7bn each year, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). Conversely, the direct and indirect costs of mistake hires are a constant concern to organizations, not just in the UK but around the world. According to a survey of 400 hiring decision-makers by CareerBuilder, 75% have hired the wrong person and say that one bad hire costs them nearly $17,000 on average. It’s no surprise then that skills-based quality hiring is such a top priority for recruiters.

    It’s harder than it might seem to systematically increase the quality of your hires, especially when you’re recruiting at scale. But the rewards are high when you get it right and a skills-first approach increases your chances of success – particularly when you focus on core skills like English proficiency that underpin communication. As an added bonus, skills-based testing can speed up the recruitment process significantly.

  • A woman teaching adults stood in front of a interactive board pointing at it
    • The Global Scale of English
    • Language teaching

    A decade with the GSE: Reflections and insights

    By Belgin Elmas
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Prof. Dr. Belgin Elmas is the Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at TED University Faculty of Education and Pearson GSE Ambassador for Turkey. In this post, Belgin discusses her teaching journey with the GSE over the last ten years, including the key lessons and experiences from this remarkable journey.

    In 2014, our rector presented me with the opportunity to be the director of the School of Foreign Languages at Anadolu University. Overwhelmed by the prospect of managing a thriving school with 3,500 students, 220 teachers and 220 staff members, I was hesitant. Despite the challenges I would face from training pre-service teachers at the Education Faculty, I was persuaded to take on the position.

    The Global Scale of English: A framework for success

    I remember my first day as the director, feeling overwhelmed by the workload and unsure how to manage it. While I won't delve into the details or the emotional roller coaster in this blog, I will share how the Global Scale of English (GSE) became my lifesaver. Faced with the challenge of creating a robust system to teach English to new university students who struggled in their initial year, I discovered the GSE. This detailed system guides learners throughout their language learning journey and I immediately knew, “YES, this is exactly what we need.”

    The GSE came to my rescue as I grappled with the task of establishing a robust system to teach English to university students. The GSE's detailed framework was exactly the tool we needed. Our team deliberated on how to integrate this system seamlessly into our curriculum. From deciding on the specific learning outcomes our students required, to choosing methods of teaching, creating materials and assessing outcomes, each decision was carefully considered. This process fostered growth, collaboration and enriched our teaching experiences as a team.

    A key resource

    The GSE played a crucial role in shaping curriculum development. The collaborative preparation with the GSE was invaluable for everyone, especially for me as a new director. We spent long hours enthusiastically shaping our new curriculum.

    Determining the entire curriculum, including materials and formative and summative assessment components, became more straightforward and with a clear understanding of what to teach and assess. Explaining the lessons to teachers and students became straightforward, thanks to the solid foundation provided by the GSE. This framework made curriculum development and implementation much smoother.

    Adapting to feedback and continuous improvement

    When we introduced the new curriculum in the 2014-2015 academic year, we received extensive feedback from both students and teachers on nearly every aspect – materials, midterms, quizzes, pace and more.  During my five-year tenure as director, we continually refined our curriculum and targeted specific facets of the curriculum each year for enhancement. For instance, one year we focused on assessment methods, while another year was devoted to teacher professional development. We applied a similar strategy to our German, French and Russian language programs, ensuring they understood our rationale and adopted comparable approaches in their curriculum development.

    Sharing our experiences of using the GSE in our curriculum developed a lot of interest, as everyone was searching for a more effective way to teach English. Whether at academic conferences or informal meetings, our team eagerly shared their knowledge and insights.

    The GSE today and beyond

    Today, at TED University, I serve as the head of the English Language Teaching Department. A key part of my mission is equipping future language teachers with the latest advancements and GSE forms a crucial part of this preparation. By incorporating the GSE into our pre-service teacher training program, we are ensuring that all teaching materials, lesson plans and assessment products include specific learning outcomes. This serves to build our teachers' confidence in their practice.

    Personal growth with GSE

    My 10-year journey with the GSE has profoundly influenced both my professional and personal life. The principles of the scale serve as a guide in every aspect of my daily life. For instance, during conversations, I often engage in an internal dialogue: "Belgin, what you're trying to explain is at a level 70, but the person you're speaking with is not there yet, so adjust your expectations." Or I might tell myself, "Belgin, you need to read more on this topic because you're still at level 55 and need to learn more to fully grasp what's happening here." As you can see, the GSE functions as a compass guiding every area of my life.

    If I were the Minister of National Education, I would unquestionably integrate the GSE into our national language education system. I would explain the rationale behind the scale and strive to implement a similarly detailed educational framework. This system would guide learners and teachers by indicating their current level, where they need to go and the steps required for each lesson in the curriculum. I hope that in the next 10 years, the GSE will serve as a guide for even more people around the world.

    Here's to the GSE – I am grateful for its existence; it’s made a huge impact on my life. Happy birthday!

  • A group of women celebrating with confetti
    • The Global Scale of English

    The Global Scale of English: A decade of innovation in language education

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    This month marks 10 years since the launch of the Global Scale of English (GSE) and what a journey it has been. As we celebrate this important milestone, it’s time to reflect on everything that has been achieved over the past decade and to take pride in the work that has contributed to the advancement of language learning, teaching and assessment around the world.  

  • A child and a adult reading a book together in a library
    • Young learners

    Choosing the right graded readers for young learners 

    By Rachel Wilson
    Reading time: 4.5 minutes

    Picking out the right graded readers for your young learners takes a little thought. There are thousands and thousands of stories out there. Not only do you have to find the right level but also a range of books that will keep them captivated as they learn to read.

    In this brief guide, I’ll be helping you to choose the right Disney Kids Readers for your students, so they can participate in guided and independent reading in class and at home.

    Let’s delve in.

    First, what’s the difference between guided and independent reading? 

    Guided reading

    In class, students typically read aloud in a small group with a teacher. The teacher supports the children as they decode the words, navigate elements of pronunciation, and make sense of the meaning. At home, a child reads aloud to a parent or caregiver. This is a terrific way to involve parents in a child’s path toward reading fluency.

    Independent reading

    Independent reading, on the other hand, is when students read silently to themselves. These students are already reading with some confidence. They can decode common words and have a good handle on sight words. Their reading speed is fluent enough to focus on the meaning of the text.

    Graded readers can help with leveling

    So, how do you know which reader to choose for your students? Well, graded readers are already organized by level. They also often provide metrics to help teachers make informed decisions about what reading level a child is at. 

    Let’s take a look at Disney Kids Readers as an example: 

  • business people in a board room with a graph on the wall behind
    • Business and employability

    Language proficiency and succession planning: Developing future leaders

    By Berenice Lopez
    Reading time: 7 minutes

    In today’s fast-paced business landscape, proactive succession planning is essential for HR professionals. Preparing the next generation of leaders is a business-critical initiative, to ensure organizational continuity, agility and long-term success.

    Succession planning is often high up on the HR agenda, as it also promotes progression, reduces business disruption, and attracts top talent. There are many components to effective succession planning, including skills development, but one skill that’s often overlooked in this process is communication. One often overlooked yet highly influential component of effective succession planning is language proficiency.

    At Pearson ELL, we believe strongly in the power of language and have designed our succession planning strategy with this in mind. The focus is on creating multilingual leaders who are not only proficient in their respective fields but also have a deep understanding of global culture and market dynamics.

    In this blog post, we explore how communication skills and specifically language proficiency plays a pivotal role in succession planning and the development of future leaders. We’ll also provide actionable insights for HR professionals and managers on integrating language development into their succession strategies. As well as some insights from our very own ELL HR team.

  • Two coworkers discussing some sticky notes on a class window
    • Business and employability

    Local to global: How English skills unlock a career in leadership

    By Samantha Yates
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Of the 1.5 billion English speakers in the world, over half learned it as a second or additional language.

    The “language of business”, English has become a foundational skill for anyone looking to work in an international business or at a leadership level, and many English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers find themselves working in English on a daily basis.

    But working in your second or third language comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

    We spoke to five global leaders about the role English has played in their careers, the challenges of being an ESL speaker, and how businesses can create a culture where everyone has a voice.

  • A woman sat in a library reading books at a table
    • Language hints and tips
    • Study prep

    Master English with fun and effective exercises

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Learning English can be a rewarding yet challenging journey. Whether you're aiming to improve your language skills for travel, work, or personal growth, using the right resources will make all the difference. 

    Types of English exercises you should try

    Grammar exercises

    Grammar is the backbone of any language. Worksheets focusing on grammar can help you understand sentence structure, verb tenses and other essential rules. Look for exercises that cover:

    • Verb conjugation: Practice different verb forms and understand when to use each.
    • Sentence structure: Learn how to construct sentences correctly.
    • Punctuation: Understand the importance of punctuation marks and how to use them properly.

    Vocabulary building

    Expanding your vocabulary is crucial for effective communication. Worksheets can help you learn new words and phrases, as well as their meanings and usage. Try exercises like:

    • Word matching: Match words with their definitions.
    • Fill-in-the-blanks: Complete sentences using appropriate vocabulary.
    • Synonyms and antonyms: Identify words with similar or opposite meanings.

    Reading comprehension

    Improving your reading skills involves understanding and interpreting written texts. Worksheets designed for reading comprehension can help you practice:

    • Short stories: Read short passages and answer questions about the content.
    • Articles: Analyze articles to identify main ideas and supporting details.
    • Inference: Draw conclusions based on the information provided in the text.

    Writing practice

    Writing exercises help you articulate your thoughts clearly and coherently. Worksheets can guide you through different writing styles and formats:

    • Essay writing: Practice writing essays on various topics.
    • Letter writing: Learn how to write formal and informal letters.
    • Storytelling: Create your own stories using prompts or randomly selected features. 
    • Technology and the future

    How to make the most of AI in the classroom

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic concept confined to science fiction. It has become an integral part of various sectors, including education. As educators, integrating AI into your classroom practices can enhance teaching and learning experiences, making them more personalized, efficient and engaging. Here’s how you can make the most of AI in your classroom.

  • A woman walking around outdoors with a camera
    • Language learning

    The benefits of taking part in foreign exchange programs

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    If you are a student or one considering a gap year, the option of foreign exchange programs may have crossed your mind or been mentioned to you. More and more young people are taking advantage of exchange programs and reaping the transformative benefits that come with it.

    Let's have a look at some of the reasons why taking part in an exchange program can be a life-changing experience and how it can help you more than you think.

    What is a foreign exchange program?

    A foreign exchange program is an educational initiative where students have the opportunity to study abroad and immerse themselves in a different culture for a specified period, typically ranging from a few weeks to an entire academic year. These programs facilitate cultural exchange by allowing students to attend foreign schools or universities, live with host families or in dormitories, and engage in activities that foster intercultural understanding and personal growth.

    The primary aim of a foreign exchange program is to provide students with a global perspective, enhance their language skills, and expose them to different educational systems and cultural practices. By stepping out of their comfort zones, students can develop independence, adaptability and a deeper appreciation for diversity.

    What are the benefits of a foreign exchange program?

    1. Cultural immersion and global perspective

    Embracing diversity

    One of the most immediate benefits of an exchange program is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. Experiencing new customs, traditions and ways of life firsthand fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of global diversity. This cultural immersion helps break down stereotypes and broadens your worldview, making you more open-minded and adaptable.

    Develop cultural understanding

    Living in a foreign country teaches you how to navigate and respect different cultural norms and practices. This cultural competence is increasingly valued in our interconnected world, enhancing your ability to work effectively in diverse environments and making you a more attractive candidate in the global job market.

    2. Language proficiency

    Enhanced language skills

    For language learners, an exchange program is an opportunity to achieve fluency. Experiencing a language firsthand is one of the best ways to learn a new language. Being surrounded by fluent speakers provides constant practice and exposure, accelerating your language acquisition in ways that classroom learning alone cannot match. You'll develop better pronunciation, expand your vocabulary and gain confidence in your speaking abilities.

    Real-world communication

    Using a new language in everyday situations—whether it's ordering food, asking for directions, or making new friends—helps solidify your language skills in a practical context. This real-world communication practice is invaluable, ensuring that your language proficiency extends beyond textbooks and exams to actual, meaningful interactions.

    3. Academic and professional growth

    Academic enrichment

    Exchange programs often provide access to unique academic resources and teaching methods that differ from those in your home country. Exposure to new perspectives and approaches can deepen your understanding of your field of study and inspire new areas of interest. Additionally, studying abroad can enhance your academic credentials, making your CV stand out to future employers or academic institutions.

    Career opportunities

    Experience abroad signals to employers that you possess qualities like independence, adaptability and cross-cultural communication skills. These attributes are highly sought after in today’s job market. Moreover, the networking opportunities during your exchange can open doors to international internships, job placements and collaborations that might not have been available otherwise.

    4. Personal development

    Building independence and resilience

    Living away from home in a completely new environment challenges you to become more self-reliant and adaptable. You'll develop problem-solving skills, resilience and the ability to thrive outside of your comfort zone. These experiences build character and prepare you for future challenges, both personally and professionally.

    Forming lifelong connections

    The friendships and connections you make during your exchange program can last a lifetime. You'll meet people from various backgrounds, creating a global network of peers and mentors. These relationships can provide support, inspiration and opportunities long after your exchange program ends.

    Boosting confidence

    Successfully navigating life in a foreign country, mastering a new language, and achieving academic success abroad can significantly boost your confidence. This newfound self-assurance can positively impact all areas of your life, giving you the courage to pursue further opportunities and take on new challenges.

    5. Engaging with the local community

    Volunteer and community projects

    Many exchange programs encourage participants to engage with their host communities through volunteer work or community projects. This engagement allows you to give back to your host country, gain a deeper understanding of local issues, and develop a sense of global citizenship. It's a rewarding experience that fosters empathy and reinforces the importance of contributing to the wider world.

    Gaining valuable work experience

    Participating in volunteer and community projects during your exchange program can provide significant work experience that is highly attractive to future employers. These projects often involve teamwork, problem-solving and project management, all of which are essential skills in any professional setting.

    By contributing to local initiatives, you can demonstrate your ability to adapt to new environments, work with diverse teams, and handle responsibility. Furthermore, these experiences can fill gaps in your CV, showcasing your proactive approach to skill-building and community involvement. Engaging in meaningful projects not only supports your personal growth but also highlights your commitment to making a positive impact, a quality greatly valued in any career field.

    Where can I sign up for exchange programs?

    There are many organizations and programs that offer exchange opportunities for students and language learners. Some popular options include:

    • Study abroad programs through universities or colleges, which often have partnerships with foreign institutions. Check with your institution.
    • Government-sponsored programs such as Fulbright or Erasmus, (depending on your location).
    • Check non-profit organizations in your country, they may also offer exchange programs.

    Conclusion

    Taking part in an exchange program is a life-changing adventure that offers myriad benefits for students and language learners alike. From enhancing language proficiency and cultural awareness to boosting academic and career prospects, the experiences gained through an exchange program are invaluable. By stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new world, you open yourself up to endless possibilities, personal growth and a broader, more inclusive perspective on life.

    If you're a student or language learner considering an exchange program, seize the opportunity. The world awaits, and the benefits are boundless.