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  • A group of students celebrating and high fiving eachother
    • Study prep
    • English language testing

    Ace the listening section: Tips for English test prep

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Passing an English proficiency test is a milestone for many non-fluent speakers. Among the different sections in such tests, the listening part can often present unique challenges. In most standardized English tests, your ability to comprehend and respond to spoken English will be put under scrutiny.

    This blog post is dedicated to helping you, the ambitious test-taker, sharpen your listening skills and equip you with strategies to excel in the listening section of your English test.

  • Image of a woman with a headset looking at her laptop
    • English for work and migration
    • English language testing

    Picking the right PTE test: PTE Core vs PTE Academic

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 3 minutes

    When preparing to prove your English proficiency—be it for studying abroad, immigration, or professional goals—selecting the right test is extremely important. PTE, renowned worldwide for its English language assessments, offers various tests catering to different needs, including PTE Core and PTE Academic.

    This blog post aims to clarify the differences between these two tests, helping you pick the test that aligns more with your aspirations.

    Understanding PTE Core and PTE Academic

    PTE is a world-leading provider of English language tests, trusted by universities, colleges, governments and professional bodies across the globe. Test scores are accepted in many countries, but which test you choose depends on where you want to go and your reasons why.

    What is PTE Core?

    PTE Core is the test you need to achieve your Canadian dream, approved for economic visa categories. But if you are looking to study in Canada, that is where PTE Academic comes in, approved for both SDS and non-SDS routes.

    PTE Core invites you to experience a test structure designed to assess your general English skills, as opposed to your Academic English, in a short, computer-based format. PTE Core evaluates all language skills—reading, writing, listening and speaking—in one seamless test.

    What is PTE Academic?

    PTE Academic is often the pathway to enrolment for students wanting to study at top universities. Specifically tailored for the academic environment, PTE Academic scores are widely recognized by institutions and are also accepted for visa purposes by the Australian, New Zealand, and UK Visas and Immigration Service. If your destination is higher education or a professional license abroad, PTE Academic is your way in.

    It's also praised for its ability to accurately reflect the speaking abilities of introverts, making it a considerate option for different personality types.

    Test features and acceptance

    When choosing the PTE test you need, consider the following features:

    Test format

    Both PTE Core and PTE Academic offer a computer-based test, which is excellent news for those who prefer not to have the extra stress of speaking to an examiner. Both tests are split up into three parts: Part 1: Speaking & Writing, Part 2: Reading, and Part 3: Listening.

    Speed of results

    With both tests, the results arrive rapidly—typically in just two business days—due to PTE's unique combination of AI scoring and human expertise that also strives to reduce bias.

    Global Recognition

    An impressive list of institutions worldwide recognizes PTE Academic. Its scores are specifically sought after in the academic arena and by Australian, New Zealand, and UK visa authorities. Accepted by over 300 universities across the world, PTE Academic is the English test you need if you are looking to study overseas.

    It is also accepted by the Australian and New Zealand governments for migration visas, so it is the test of choice if that is your dream destination.

    PTE core is recognized by the Canadian government (IRCC) for all economic visas and permanent residency applications.

    Preparation and support

    For those looking to prepare ahead of the test, be it PTE Academic or PTE Core, Pearson offers a range of supporting resources so you can put your best foot forward on test day.

    For PTE Academic, this includes five unique scored practice tests to give you a feel for the full test experience, what to expect, the type of questions that will be asked, and other unique resources.

    For PTE Core, there is a taster test you can try out your skills on, an online course, a handbook, and much more.

    Finding your best fit

    The choice between PTE Core and PTE Academic ultimately hinges on your future plans and destination country.

    To make an informed decision, check out PTE's useful links, which clarify destinations and requirements.

    How do I start studying for PTE?

    Embarking on the journey to master PTE begins with understanding your current level and building a solid study plan tailored to your needs. Arm yourself with our extensive resources, including practice tests and preparation books, to familiarize yourself with the question types and formats you'll encounter.

  • Two coworkers stood in a office looking at a tablet together.
    • Business and employability

    Evaluating the ROI of Language Learning for DEI Initiatives

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Businesses are increasingly prioritizing workforce development and implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies to promote social responsibility and enhance organizational success. Language learning has emerged as a crucial aspect of these initiatives, providing companies with a clear pathway to achieving transformative results.

    For HR professionals and trainers, understanding the return on investment (ROI) of integrating language learning into DEI programs is essential for a forward-thinking business strategy and to ensure language training is always on your organization's mind.

  • A teacher sat with students at a table, the students are using tablets.
    • Young learners
    • Language teaching

    Benefits of using tablets in the primary classroom

    By Jacqueline Martin

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Interactive whiteboards, PCs and laptops are common in many schools worldwide, but have you ever considered using tablets in your young learners' classes? 

    Tablets can be used for many things. Online research, watching and creating videos, playing games, and digital storytelling are just a few examples. Of course, there's also the added environmental benefit of going paper-free.

    In this post, we're going to explore some of the reasons why using tablets can be beneficial in the young learner's classroom and what to consider before you do so.

    What are the benefits of using tablets in class?

    1. Facilitating engagement

    With good direction from the teacher, tablets can emulate natural social interaction and interactivity. They can also offer problem-solving activities, set achievable goals and provide instant feedback.

    Moreover, when young learners are truly engaged in an activity, it may be perceived as effortless - and they learn and use their second language (L2) without even realizing it. 

    2. Introducing authenticity and autonomy

    In terms of content, tablets allow us to bring the real world into the classroom at the tap of a screen. We can provide learners with authentic materials via level-and-age-appropriate videos and real-life communication. As well as interaction with other teachers and learners through teams or by using a secure app such as Stars private messaging

    Tablets also promote learner autonomy. They are easy to use, allowing us to take a step back and let our students work at their own pace, being on stand-by as a facilitator when students require help or a little push in the right direction.

    3. Promoting creativity, communication and inclusion

    Nearly all tablets have a webcam and voice recorder, which means that learner-generated content can be created easily - even without dedicated software. 

    You can have your students make their own vlogs (video diaries), ebooks, comics, cartoons and movie trailers. All you need to do is to install apps such as Book Creator or this series of apps specifically designed for very young learners from Duck Duck Moose. While these apps have been created for 'fluent-speaker' classrooms, they can easily be adapted to an ELT context.

    Tablets also promote communication. This can help improve students' L2 oral skills at any level, when the teacher is there to support and guide them.

    One of the greatest advantages of a tablet as opposed to a computer is that anyone can use one and they are much more portable. 

    For students with special educational needs, tablets can be an essential learning tool and they can also be used by students with low-level motor skills, such as very young learners. Similarly, tablets can work really well with multi-level classes, as they allow you to offer differentiated materials, activities and support where necessary.

    4. Enabling online assessment 

    Tablets can also facilitate interactive online exams or help measure progress. Tests such as 'English Benchmark - Young Learners' are designed with primary learners in mind, to be taken anytime, anywhere. Its game-like format engages students and takes the fear out of being assessed. It also provides instant feedback to the teacher with informative reports and advice for future study. 

    5. Building relationships with caregivers

    Finally, as with any online content, tablets allow you to connect with our learners outside the classroom. You can quickly send links to classwork and feedback to the children's caregivers, fostering a positive relationship and a greater interest in their child's progress and learning. 

    Tips for using tablets in class

    Before implementing the use of tablets in your classroom, there are some things you should consider. Here are some useful tips that will help you gain the maximum benefit from tablets.

    Usability:

    • Decide what you are going to use the tablets for and when. Are you going to allow students to use the tablets for all parts of the lesson or only for specific activities? This may depend on the number of tablets you have available.
    • Use technology to improve an activity or design new activities that would not be possible without the tech, rather than using it to carry on as normal. Think about when a tablet will help learners do something they wouldn't be able to do without one, e.g., make a video or create and share a piece of writing with the whole class.
    • Think about using tablets for creation rather than consumption. Your students can (and probably do) spend a fair amount of time consuming videos in their free time. Whether they do this in English or not is another story, but in the classroom, students should use the language as much as possible (see the next point).
    • Use the tablets for collaborative tasks that require social interaction and communication. It's unlikely that you will have one tablet per student. Make the most of this limitation by having students work in pairs or small groups. Students can use their own devices individually outside the classroom.
    • Try to incorporate tablets into regular classroom activities and interactions. Avoid making them a "reward" or just for "games". Even if games are part of your planned tablet usage, make it clear that students are playing them in order to learn English. Encourage students to think of the tablet as a tool to help them on their learning journey.

    General tips

    • Try out any apps or widgets before asking students to use them. If necessary, make or find a step-by-step tutorial to help students use an app. There's nothing worse than having a class of twenty-five students all raising their hands at the same time because they don't know where to start.
    • Have clear rules and guidelines for tablet use. Educate students about using the equipment responsibly. Do this before you hand out tablets the first time.
    • Provide students and parents with a list of recommended apps to continue their home learning. Whether you have a class set of tablets or are using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), many students will have access to a tablet or mobile phone at home, which they can use for further practice. Students will likely be motivated to continue playing games at home and may wish to show their parents and friends any content they've created in class.

    Practicalities

    • Consider the hardware and technical requirements. Do you need a Wi-Fi connection? How many devices will you have? Which apps and programs do you want to use? 
    • Ensure the features and apps you plan to use suit the age group you're teaching. Do some research, and if possible, choose apps designed for educators, avoiding freebie apps that may contain advertising. Block any websites you think unsuitable and install a search engine with child-friendly filters.
    • Set the language of the devices to English. Even if your students are very young, they'll pick up useful language and will be more inclined to use English as they are using the tablet.
    • Decide where you will keep the tablets and how they will be maintained. How often and where will they be charged? 
    • Think about how you can flexibly set up your classroom to incorporate collaborative tablet use. Move tables together to make group work easier. Create workstations or even have cushions or bean bags in a corner of the classroom.

    Using tablets to assess student progress with Benchmark

    With the right software, tablets can allow us to conduct formative assessments through immediate feedback and learning analytics. 

    We have developed our own English-language test for children aged 6 to 13 in an app designed specifically for tablet use. This fun, game-like test is highly motivating and assesses all four skills in a relaxed environment, removing the stress of traditional exams. It also allows you to see where each learner needs more improvement, providing recommendations on what to teach next and suggested activities in selected Pearson courseware.

    Find out more information about the English Benchmark test.

  • a group of young business people chatting toether
    • Business and employability
    • Diversity and inclusion

    Unconscious bias in the workplace: Overcoming DEI barriers through language learning

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7.5 minutes

    Unconscious bias: it's a quiet murmur in the corridors of our workplaces that can grow into a loud echo, shaping decisions and team dynamics in ways that may go unnoticed. In our collective quest for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), recognizing and tackling these biases is not just important—it's essential.

    By embarking on this path, we create workplaces where everyone feels valued and heard. If you're an HR professional, a leader, or a diversity consultant, it’s essential to always keep this in mind in every aspect of the workplace. Today, let's explore how language learning can be a valuable ally in breaking down the barriers created by unconscious bias.

  • A teacher sat at the front of the classroom smiling at his students.
    • Diversity and inclusion
    • Language teaching

    Encouraging cultural sensitivity in the classroom

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7.5 minutes

    In today's classrooms and schools, cultural sensitivity isn't just a nice to have; it's an essential component of effective language teaching. As educators, understanding and valuing the diverse cultures that learners bring into our schools and classrooms can bridge gaps and foster inclusive learning environments.

    But why is cultural sensitivity so important, and how can we practically incorporate it into our teaching? In this post, we explore ways to help language teachers cultivate a more culturally aware and inclusive classroom.

    Why is cultural sensitivity important in language education

    Teaching languages, including English, involves a significant cultural component; therefore, we must proceed with mindfulness and respect. Recognizing and honoring the cultural backgrounds of our students lays the groundwork for nurturing a safe space where everybody feels seen, heard, and respected. This isn't just about avoiding misunderstandings or conflicts; it's about enriching the educational experience for all.

    Language encompasses more than just vocabulary and grammar; it is a conduit of culture, identity, and worldviews. As an educator, you possess the wonderful opportunity to nurture and encourage your students, allowing each voice to soar individually while harmoniously contributing to a greater collective comprehension.

    Students are better prepared for the workplace

    Embracing cultural diversity within the classroom arms students with a set of skills that are invaluable in the workplace. An example can be found in 'Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire' by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum explores how creativity emerges at the intersection of different cultures and experiences.

    In a business context, this creativity is the driving force behind innovation and problem-solving. Students who have learned to navigate cultural nuances are adept at thinking outside the box, making them valuable assets in any professional environment.

    They are more likely to approach challenges with an open mind and collaborate effectively with a diverse team, recognizing that each unique background contributes to a richer, more comprehensive perspective on work and the world.

    It improves social skills

    Incorporating cultural sensitivity into language education isn't just about creating a respectful classroom; it directly enhances students' social skills.

    Numerous studies suggest that culturally diverse classrooms are breeding grounds for advanced social skills. One theory that explores this concept is Bennett's Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), which illustrates how intercultural encounters can foster individuals' cognitive growth and emotional resilience.

    Bennett states that through various stages of cultural awareness, people develop from mere tolerance of difference to integration of diverse cultural viewpoints into their own life experiences.

    Students can develop empathy and stronger communication abilities by understanding and appreciating cultural nuances. This knowledge empowers them to engage thoughtfully and effectively with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of global citizenship.

    Students have better emotional intelligence

    Robert J. Sternberg's 'Cultural Intelligence and Successful Intelligence' highlights a significant research study that supports the idea that exposure to cultural diversity can enhance empathetic development. According to Sternberg, when individuals are exposed to a variety of cultures, it broadens their emotional experiences and perspectives.

    By interacting with individuals from different backgrounds, students' own emotional intelligence can be greatly enhanced. This is because learning to understand and respect diverse emotional expressions and communication styles sharpens one's ability to read and respond to the feelings of others.

    Moreover, it fosters emotional maturity, as individuals learn to navigate and appreciate the subtleties of human emotion in a multicultural world. Through such enriching exchanges, students in culturally diverse settings develop a more refined sense of empathy, becoming well-equipped to engage with others in a considerate, informed, and emotionally intelligent manner.

    It helps their language learning

    Understanding a culture deeply enriches the language acquisition process for students. When they step into the shoes of those who live and breathe the language they're learning, it becomes more than just memorizing vocabulary and grasping grammatical structures.

    Students begin to notice the subtleties in conversation tones, the unspoken expressions that only those privy to the culture can interpret, and the implicit rules of language etiquette.

    This discernment can be the distinguishing factor between being a functional speaker and a captivating storyteller in their new language. As students immerse themselves in cultural practices, whether through music, film, or literature, they are not just learning a language—they are learning to convey emotions and ideas just as a fluent speaker would.

    It helps with classroom friendships

    This new understanding helps to peel away the layers of hesitation. Engaging in activities that celebrate diversity becomes an exciting exploration, paving the way for students to break out of their shells. They're encouraged to be curious, ask questions, and share about themselves, fostering an environment where every student is a teacher and a learner in their own right.

    As the classroom transforms into a supportive space for cultural exchange, students are encouraged to reach out and connect with peers they might not have approached before. With every shared story and every collaborative project, the bonds of friendship are forged, transcending former barriers and weaving a tightly-knit community that thrives on the unique contributions of each member.

    Embracing diversity in your language classroom

    Wondering how to transform your language classroom into a crucible of cultural sensitivity? Here are a few simple yet significant changes you can start with today.

    Get to know your students

    Make an effort to learn about your students' cultural backgrounds. This gesture speaks volumes about your respect for their identity. Use icebreakers or activities that invite students from diverse backgrounds to share their traditions and norms.

    This doesn't just apply to major cultural differences but also the nuanced aspects of diversity within a seemingly homogenous group of students. This research can also help you plan activities and whether they are appropriate for all students in your classes.

    Fostering a community of belonging

    Imagine stepping into a class where every student feels a sense of belonging and acceptance. This is the power of embedding diversity and equity into your teaching methods. This can be done by:

    • Recognizing holidays from around the world.
    • Sharing stories from varied cultures.
    • Encouraging students to express themselves in ways that honor their heritage.

    These strategies are just a few ways to instill acceptance and belonging in your own classroom environment whilst learning a new language.

    Incorporate multicultural content

    Select texts, examples, and materials that reflect a range of cultures and experiences. Familiarity breeds comfort, but newness breeds growth. Ensure your curriculum and classroom materials reflect a world beyond the traditional English-speaking countries.

    By doing so, you're offering students windows into different worlds and mirrors to see themselves reflected in the learning material.

    Representation is also incredibly important in promoting diversity and inclusivity in education. We can create a more inclusive and equitable society by using materials, programs and stories that feature varied representation.

    This not only ensures that everyone's voices and life experiences are heard and valued, but also helps to challenge stereotypes and foster understanding among different communities.

    Foster open discussions

    Encourage open discussion in the classroom around cultural norms, expressions, and idioms. When students understand the context behind language, they gain a deeper appreciation and avoid missteps that could inadvertently offend.

    Use mistakes as learning opportunities

    When cultural insensitivities do arise, it is important to approach them as teachable moments. Take the opportunity to guide learners with a warm and understanding attitude, providing them with the necessary knowledge, resources and context to foster a more inclusive and respectful classroom environment.

    Reflect on biases

    Be aware and proactive about addressing stereotypes and biases present in class discussions. Challenge your own preconceptions and lead by example. Creating brave spaces for learning helps students feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes, which is where true growth happens.

    Nurture empathy and understanding

    Teach language learning as a journey of empathy. Language is not only about speaking to someone but also feeling with them. Encourage students to step into the shoes of others, fostering a spirit and culture of empathy that transcends cultural boundaries.

    Respect linguistic diversity

    Encourage your students to express themselves in English with pride in their respective accents. Support them in understanding that clarity and communication are the goals, not trying to remove their accent or identity. By doing so, we not only bolster their confidence but also teach the wonderful lesson of inclusivity.

    Practical activities

    Implementing activities and lessons that bring cultural awareness into the forefront can transform your language classroom into a vibrant community of curious minds and hearts. Here are some examples of activities you a teacher could do:

    • A simple yet effective activity is a 'cultural artifact show and tell,' where students are invited to share an item of cultural significance to them and tell its story. This encourages sharing and deep listening, shedding light on the diverse cultural backgrounds represented in the room.
    • Cultural exchange workshops, possibly with guest speakers, can offer students firsthand insight into various aspects of different cultures. These workshops can revolve around traditional dance, music, games, or cooking demonstrations, allowing students to immerse themselves in and appreciate the richness of various other cultures.
    • Having international cuisine days, where students prepare and share dishes from different countries, can be a delightful way to stimulate the senses while emphasizing the importance of cultural traditions tied to food. It's a tasty opportunity for students to express themselves and learn the stories behind international cuisines.
    • Crafting sessions for cultural storytelling allows for the narratives of different cultures to be told through the enchanting medium of stories. Storytelling connects students to diverse societies through emotional and moral threads. The storytelling could be done in the target language you're teaching.
    • A book and film club can open doors to different worlds. Curating a list of international authors and filmmakers for the club enhances language skills and cultural understanding by engaging with diverse narratives and viewpoints.

    The list isn't exhaustive, but there may be other ways to introduce cultural sensitivity into your class, any kind of activity that showcases and introduces cultures or traditions to others in an interesting manner.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, cultural sensitivity can transform our language classrooms and schools into hives of connection and understanding. It takes awareness, intention, and a nurturing heart—qualities that you, as an educator, already possess. Remember, every small step you take has an impact on the young minds you shape and the interconnected world they will navigate.

    Embrace diversity, teach with sensitivity, and watch as your classroom becomes a microcosm of the world we all share—a world of vibrant cultures, languages, and stories waiting to be told and heard. By incorporating diverse narratives and viewpoints from others into our teaching, we can enhance our students' language skills and deepen their cultural understanding.

    So let's continue to strive for a more inclusive and empathetic learning environment, one that celebrates differences and fosters empathy and compassion among all learners.

    Keep developing your understanding

    To dive deeper into creating inclusive learning experiences, explore our free course on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, designed for teachers. To help empower educators to foster classrooms where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is the norm, and everyone feels they belong.

    Craft brave spaces, build a sense of belonging, and instill that all-important appreciation and acceptance of others. Request free course access today.

    On the topic of diversity and inclusion in the classroom, make sure to read our other posts, 'The Importance of diversity and inclusion in your curriculum' and 'Ways to bring cultural diversity into your classroom'.

    We also provide other professional development programs and qualifications for educators; you can check them out here:

  • Teenager studying with open books on his bed
    • English language testing

    What to expect on the day of your PTE test

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 6.5 minutes

    Embarking on the journey of taking the Pearson Test of English (PTE) can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it's a pivotal moment in your study abroad journey or a step towards a career and even permanent residency in an English-speaking country. This comprehensive post is designed to guide you through the entire process, from the moment you decide to take the PTE test to the day you actually sit for it, ensuring a worry-free and breezy experience from start to finish.

    With our detailed walkthrough, you can approach the test with confidence, a sense of preparedness and a calm mind. We'll cover everything you need to know, from what to bring, where to leave your belongings and what to expect. So that when the test day arrives, you can focus on passing your English test and not worry about the small things.

  • A man smiling and high fiving another person
    • Just for fun
    • Language hints and tips

    Ways to express admiration in English

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 4 minutes

    February is commonly associated with Valentine's Day, which is a day to express love and affection to your significant other. However, it's also important to express admiration for others in a platonic, non-romantic way.

    Language serves as the gateway to genuine communication, and one of the most delightful methods of connection is through expressions of admiration. As you practice and immerse yourself in the depths of the English language, you'll likely want to learn ways to convey heartfelt praise, elevating your ability to articulate and forge meaningful connections.

    In today's post, we explore a range of examples to enhance your language proficiency and elevate your conversational English.

    What is the definition of admiration?

    Originating from the Latin word admirari (meaning 'to wonder at'), admiration is the act of expressing sincere approval or deep appreciation towards someone or something, typically as a heartfelt form of praise or recognition for their achievements, qualities, or contributions. It is a sentiment that stems from feeling a genuine admiration for the impact and inspiration someone or something brings to our lives.

    Admiration is an emotion everyone can relate to, and the English language offers a beautiful range of words and expressions to convey it in the most subtle and nuanced ways.

    Whether you're dealing with a complex business transaction or simply enjoying a personal moment of connection, the richness of your words can reflect the depth of your feelings and make them even more meaningful.

    Examples of English compliments

    Let's look at some English phrases you can use to express admiration. There are different types for varying situations and people.

    Straightforward compliments

    To truly convey admiration in English, it's crucial to practice and become familiar with positive affirmations. The following phrases not only highlight the specific reason for your awe but also reflect a deeper, personal connection:

    • Your hard work is truly inspiring.
    • I'm in awe of your creativity.
    • You have an uncanny ability to make things happen.
    • Your perseverance is admirable.
    • Your kindness never goes unnoticed.

    Each of these phrases praises the character traits of the person you are addressing. They showcase attention to detail, appreciation for special skills, and the more intangible qualities, such as character and kindness, that are just as noteworthy.

    Tailored and specific accolades

    A compliment can carry more weight when it is clearly tailored to the individual. Phrases that are specific to a person's achievements and skills add a layer of thoughtfulness that is hard to ignore. Consider these examples of more personalized compliments:

    • The way you handled that difficult situation was masterful.
    • Your presentation was not only informative but also deeply insightful.
    • Your dedication to this project is truly top-notch.
    • I love how you always find a unique perspective.
    • Your attention to detail really sets you apart.

    These phrases go beyond generic niceties and serve to validate specific moments or attributes that set the person apart in a distinctive way.

    Building rapport with positive language

    Admiration doesn't always have to be solely based on achievements or success; it can also be directed toward someone's personality and interests.

    Sometimes, an outward expression of approval, high praise or agreement can forge a sense of commonality and mutual respect. Here are phrases that can help you beam with appreciation:

    • Your choice in music is impeccable.
    • I absolutely adore your sense of style.
    • The way you talk about your family is truly heartwarming.
    • Your passion for this topic is evident and contagious.
    • Your love of life is refreshing and infectious.

    Using these statements, you can create a warm and complimentary atmosphere, helping foster positive connections with others.

    Affectionate expressions for familiar friends

    When it comes to speaking (or writing) to someone you're close with, phrases of praise and admiration can touch on personal attributes and speak of shared experiences, creating an even stronger bond. These expressions should carry the warmth and familiarity that come with a close relationship:

    • Your sense of humor always lifts my spirits.
    • The wisdom you've shared has shaped and helped my own life so much.
    • You approach life's challenges with such grace; it's a privilege to know you.
    • The comfort and joy you bring as a friend cannot be overstated.
    • Your insights always provide a refreshing new angle, revealing things I had not thought about.

    These phrases are centered on intimate understanding and personal connections, deeply resonating with a shared history and mutual appreciation. They carry a more emotive meaning and weight, often used to reinforce the closeness and appreciation that develops through years of friendship or kinship. Therefore, you should use them with care and thought.

    The appropriateness of compliments

    The art of complimenting is nuanced; learning and gauging the appropriateness of a compliment is essential. Certain contexts or relationships might warrant a more conservative or formal approach. Professional settings, for example, often require focusing on achievements and abilities as opposed to personal compliments, which may be mistaken for overfamiliarity or unprofessional behavior.

    Consider culture and personal preferences

    Similarly, cultural sensitivities must be considered; a warm expression of admiration in one culture may be perceived as too forward or personal in another.

    Always ensure that compliments and praises are given in a manner that resonates with respect for the individual's privacy and comfort levels. By being mindful of your surroundings and the nature of your relationship with the person, your words of praise and admiration can be both fitting and heartfelt.

    Play it safe

    Usually, a good overall rule of thumb is the less you know someone, the less personal your compliments should be; if you're unsure, play it safe, or don't use one until you've gauged the situation appropriately.

    A note on delivery

    While these expressions are powerful in their own right, the delivery is key to ensuring the recipient truly feels your admiration. Context, tone of voice, and body language play a significant role in how your words are received. Be genuine, and let your admiration flow naturally. Avoid overuse of flattery, which can come across as insincere.

    Conclusion

    Whether you're networking, meeting with friends/loved ones, or simply conversing with a colleague, mastering the use of admiration and praise in the English language can open doors to deeper relationships and shared connections.

    Integrating these phrases into your lexicon can not only make your expressions more vibrant but can also help you cultivate a spirit of positivity, confidence and appreciation in your daily interactions. So make sure to incorporate examples like these into your own vocabulary; you never know whose day you might make with your compliments.

  • Children stood around a whiteboard, one is writing on the whiteboard smiling
    • Teaching trends and techniques

    Ink's vital role in education: How colors influence student participation

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7 minutes

    In this age where screens often dominate our field of vision, the humble ink pen might seem like a relic. Yet, intriguing research is bringing to light the unsung importance of ink in educational settings, particularly in enhancing student engagement and learning.

    Today, we look at the importance of handwriting and ink, and how it still plays a pivotal role in the cognitive development of students.

    The importance of ink and color

    Studies reveal that color, wrought into our documents and notes through ink, plays a significant role in memory retention and comprehension. Psychologists argue that colors like blue and green foster a sense of calmness and improve focus, making them ideal for environments geared toward learning. Conversely, vibrant colors such as red and orange are thought to stimulate energy and excitement, potentially boosting creativity and critical thinking skills. By strategically incorporating these colors into educational materials, teachers can create a more dynamic and effective learning atmosphere, encouraging students to engage more deeply with the content.

    Delving deeper into the benefits of ink for students

    Writing with ink offers multifaceted benefits in an educational context:

    Enhanced memory and learning

    Research has shown that students remember information better when they write it down by hand rather than typing it. This is attributed to the fact that handwriting requires a bit more effort and thought, leading to deeper processing of the information. For instance, college students were found to recall more information from a lecture when they took notes by hand compared to typing them.

    Brain activation

    Writing by hand activates different brain regions compared to typing. When children write, it stimulates areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory. This stimulation is less pronounced when typing. For example, handwriting has been shown to activate the region of the brain that responds more to handwritten letters than typed letters in young children. For example in James, W. L., & Engelhardt, T. M. (2012) 'The Effects of Handwriting Experience on Functional Brain Development in Pre-Literate Children'. This research highlights how the act of handwriting, as opposed to typing, can influence cognitive development and creative thought processes in young learners.

    Development of fine motor skills and cognitive abilities

    Handwriting also plays a crucial role in the development of fine motor skills and cognitive abilities. It requires a level of hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, and thought about what is being written, which are essential skills for academic success and cognitive development.

    Creativity and thoughtful expression

    Handwriting can spark creativity and encourage more thoughtful expression. Slower than typing, it allows more time for creative ideas to develop and for the writer to choose their words carefully. 

    Emotional and therapeutic benefits

    Handwriting can have therapeutic benefits, such as better immune function and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Writing about stressful events by hand can arouse higher emotional levels, leading to greater therapeutic benefits compared to typing. For example, 'Smyth, J.M., & Pennebaker, J.W. (1999). Sharing one's story: On the benefits of writing or talking about emotional experience.' digs into the emotional and therapeutic benefits of writing by hand about stressful or significant life events.

    Problem-solving and mindfulness

    The process of handwriting can assist in problem-solving and serves as a mindful activity. Writing out problems can help clarify thoughts and lead to solutions. It also encourages a moment of calm and focus in a fast-paced world​​.

    In conclusion, the act of handwriting not only deepens focus and understanding but also contributes significantly to cognitive development, memory retention, creative thinking, emotional well-being and problem-solving skills. These benefits highlight the importance of maintaining handwriting as a skill, even in an increasingly digital world.

    Practical classroom applications of ink

    Teachers utilize various practical applications of ink in the classroom to enhance learning among students. These methods leverage the cognitive and educational benefits of handwriting:

    Handwritten note-taking

    Encouraging students to take notes by hand during lectures can significantly improve their understanding and retention of the material. Studies have shown that students who write notes by hand perform better in recalling information and understanding concepts compared to those who type their notes. This method forces students to process and rephrase the information in their own words, which aids in deeper learning.

    Journal writing and creative tasks

    Assigning journal writing or creative writing tasks can be an effective way to develop student's writing skills and encourage self-expression. The act of writing by hand can stimulate creativity and thoughtfulness, as evidenced by numerous authors and researchers who advocate for the benefits of handwriting for creative processes.

    Practicing cursive writing

    Cursive writing, in particular, can be beneficial for cognitive development. It requires more complex motor skills and can help in the development of fine motor skills. Moreover, cursive writing can be faster than printing, which might engage students more effectively and give them a sense of personal style and ownership over their writing.

    Handwriting for memory and recall exercises

    Using pen and paper for writing exercises focused on memory and recall can be very effective. For example, having students write summaries of lessons or chapters by hand can help them better remember and understand the content. This method can be particularly useful for complex subjects where comprehension is critical​​.

    Therapeutic writing activities

    Incorporating therapeutic writing activities, such as writing letters or reflective essays, can offer emotional and psychological benefits. This practice can be particularly useful in subjects like literature or social studies, where understanding and expressing emotions are part of the learning process.

    Problem-Solving through writing

    Teachers can use handwriting for problem-solving activities, where students are asked to write out their thought processes when solving complex problems. This can, of course, be particularly useful in subjects like mathematics or science, where breaking down problems into smaller, manageable parts is essential.

    Peer review and handwritten feedback

    Providing handwritten feedback on students' work can be more personal and impactful. Teachers can also encourage students to peer-review each other's handwriting, fostering a more engaging and thoughtful critique process.

    Wrapping up: Ink's enduring relevance in education

    In summary, the use of ink and handwriting in the classroom offers a range of benefits for student learning, from improving memory and understanding to fostering creativity and emotional expression. These methods, supported by research and studies, can be effectively integrated into various teaching strategies to enhance educational outcomes.

    Despite the digital age's allure, ink remains a potent tool in the educational arsenal. By nudging students towards the use of ink and harnessing the power of color, educators can cultivate a more engaging, dynamic and effective learning atmosphere.

    Extra insights for maximizing ink's potential

    • Offer students a diverse palette of ink colors to spark their interest and creativity.
    • Promote the use of handwriting in creative and expressive writing exercises.
    • Develop color-coded educational materials to aid visual learning.
    • Encourage personalized stationery: Inspiring students to use personalized ink pens or stationery can increase their engagement and ownership of their written work. It might also stimulate their interest in practicing handwriting more frequently.
    • Implement ink-based art projects: Integrating art projects that require the use of different ink colors can help students explore their creativity while learning about color theory and its impact on emotions and perceptions.
    • Promote the study of calligraphy: Introducing students to the art of calligraphy can foster an appreciation for handwriting's aesthetic aspects and improve their fine motor skills and concentration.
    • Incorporate ink in digital detox sessions: Allocating specific times during which students are encouraged to use only ink and paper for their work can serve as a digital detox, helping them to focus better and reduce screen time.

    Beyond engagement: The art of handwriting

    An often-overlooked benefit of writing in ink is the improvement of handwriting skills. The focused nature of handwriting demands careful attention to letter and number formation, leading to neater, more legible writing. This skill is invaluable for note-taking efficiency and clarity, especially for when they enter the workforce.

    To sum up, the simple act of using ink can have far-reaching effects on student engagement and learning outcomes. We urge educators to rediscover the power of ink in their classrooms and observe the transformative effects it can have on their students.

    From enhancing memory and promoting creativity, to offering therapeutic benefits and aiding cognitive development, the act of writing with ink presents a multifaceted tool for educators and students alike. Whilst we continue to advance in a digital age, it's crucial to remember the foundational skills and benefits that handwriting offers.