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  • A woman stood in a square, holding a map looking around
    • Just for fun
    • Language hints and tips

    Essential English phrases to blend in like a local on your holiday

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Summer has arrived and you might be gearing up for a holiday soon. Knowing some of the local language is always helpful, but to genuinely speak like a native English speaker, you must grasp and use common phrases and idioms that locals employ in daily conversations. Native English speakers have a natural command of these phrases, whereas non-fluent speakers often need to study and practice them to achieve fluency.

    In this blog post, we’ll delve into essential English phrases that will help you sound more like a local and less like a tourist.

  • A business woman sat at a table in a office writing notes
    • Business and employability
    • Language learning

    Hard skills vs. soft skills: The impact of language learning

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    Hard skills and soft skills play a crucial role in defining career success and progression. The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that hard skills are teachable, technical, measurable abilities specific to particular jobs, while soft skills are more interpersonal, universal and related to personality traits. While hard skills refer to the technical knowledge and specific abilities required to perform a job, soft skills are more intangible. They encompass the interpersonal attributes and personality traits that enable individuals to communicate effectively, work collaboratively and adapt to changes in the workplace environment.

    In this blog post, we will explore how learning a new language can significantly enhance both hard and soft skills, making you a more versatile and effective professional in today’s multifaceted work environment.

    Understanding the balance of hard and soft skills

    Hard skills might get your foot in the door, showcasing your qualifications for a position. Developing hard skills to stand out from other job seekers is crucial; take advantage of classes, webinars and workshops offered by your current employer to develop hard skills and learn new technical skills. Examples include proficiency in a particular software, certification in a specific field, or mastery of a technical domain. However, it’s the soft skills, such as effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking and emotional intelligence, that propel you through the door and into the realms of career advancement. Recent research underscores the growing importance of English proficiency as a pivotal element in this dynamic, equally vital for enhancing both sets of skills.

    What are examples of soft skills?

    Soft skills encompass a wide range of attributes that can significantly impact workplace efficiency and harmony. Examples of essential soft skills include:

    Communication: The ability to convey information clearly and effectively is paramount. This includes both verbal and written communication, as well as active listening skills.

    Teamwork: Collaborating well with others, often with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, to achieve common goals.

    Problem-solving: The capability to analyze situations, identify problems and devise effective solutions.

    Adaptability: The readiness to adjust to new conditions, workflows, or technologies, demonstrating flexibility in the face of change.

    Critical thinking: The process of objectively analyzing information to make informed decisions.

    Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage and utilize one's emotions constructively while also recognizing and influencing the emotions of others.

    What are examples of hard skills?

    Hard skills are quantifiable, teachable abilities specific to a job or industry. These skills are typically acquired through formal education, training programs and practical experience. Some examples of essential hard skills include:

    Computer programming: Proficiency in coding and programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, or HTML/CSS is crucial for software development and web design roles.

    Data analysis: The ability to interpret complex data sets using tools like Excel, SQL, or R, providing valuable insights and informing decision-making processes.

    Graphic design: Mastery of design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, enabling the creation of visual content for various media.

    Foreign language proficiency: Fluency in a second language can be an asset in international business, for example, in translation services or customer support roles.

    Project management: Knowledge of project management methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum) and tools (e.g., Microsoft Project, Jira) to plan, execute and oversee projects effectively.

    Technical writing: The skill of crafting clear, precise documentation and instructional materials, essential in industries such as engineering, IT and pharmaceuticals.

  • 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.