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  • A teacher stood at a students desk helping them - there is also the gse logo to the side of them
    • The Global Scale of English
    • Language teaching

    How the GSE can help teachers personalize activities

    By Leonor Corradi

    Reading time: 4.5 minutes

    Teaching is an art form that thrives on adaptation and personalization. When dealing with language instruction, ensuring that each student is engaged and effectively learning is of paramount importance. In my experience as a teacher, I have learned that we should always teach our students rather than the coursebook or the syllabus. I think most teachers would agree with this.

    However, it may be challenging to adapt activities to cater to our learners’ needs. What does personalizing an activity mean? How can we make it more accessible to our English learners? One would think that making the answers more obvious can be the way to go. Yet, this does not really help students learn and make progress. That's where the Global Scale of English (GSE) comes in as a valuable tool for personalizing teaching activities.

    The essence of personalized learning

    Personalizing an activity in language teaching does not simply mean making the responses more obvious. Instead, it's about tailoring the exercise to elevate the student's learning experience and potential for progress. This demands an insightful approach during the preparation phase of any given lesson.

    Utilizing the GSE in language teaching

    Let’s analyze this listening activity at A2 level for a group of adults:

    Audio script example:

    Emma: Are you working on the Media project?

    Vic: Yes. I may start working on a new project in a couple of weeks, but for now I’m writing the objectives for Media. Why?

    Emma: Well, Adam wants to see the photos for the project. He needs them for the ads.

    Vic: Oh, they’ll be ready next week. OK?

    Emma: Awesome! Thanks. Any plans for the weekend?

    Vic: Well, I have to work on Saturday. We’re taking the Media pictures in the morning, but we’re just going to have fun at the beach in the afternoon.

    Emma: Nice!

    Vic: What about you? What are you doing this weekend?

    Emma: I’m going to a concert on Sunday at 3 pm.

    Vic: That sounds fun!

    Listen and write T (true) or F (false)

    1. Vic is working on a new project.

    2.  Vic is working on Saturday morning.

    3. Emma is going to a concert on Sunday evening.

    GSE Descriptors

    Upon dissecting this example by the GSE descriptors, we can identify the learning objectives that align with an A2 level:

    • Can identify simple information in a short video, provided that the visual supports this information and the delivery is slow and clear. (GSE 30)

    • Can identify basic factual information in short, simple dialogues or narratives on familiar everyday topics, if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 32)

    • Can understand the main information in short, simple dialogues about familiar activities, if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 33)

    • Can identify key information (e.g., places, times) from short audio recordings if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 33)

    We know that learners should be given a global task first for overall listening, which is also one of the communicative objectives in the Global Scale of English:

  • A teacher helping a student at a table there is also a GSE bronze ambassador logo to the left of them
    • The Global Scale of English

    The Global Scale of English and planning: A perfect partnership

    By Leonor Corradi

    As a teacher, I realized that planning had become an 'automatic pilot' routine from which I did not learn much. Like many others, I thought scales such as the Global Scale of English (GSE) or the Common European Framework of Reference are just that; references that are beyond the realities of their lessons.

    However, I've seen that the GSE is a very powerful resource to help us at the level of planning. 

    If you're using a coursebook you may have noticed that, after completing one of the books in the series, students move up one level, such as from elementary to pre-intermediate or from intermediate to upper-intermediate.

    We all understand what it means to be an elementary or intermediate student. These levels are usually defined in terms of structures – conditional sentences, passive voice, and tenses – Simple Past, Future Continuous, etc.

    But why do students want to learn English? Using it means being able to listen or read and understand, interact with others, and communicate in writing. Even if it is parents who enroll their children in language institutes, what they want is for them to use the language. We can see a mismatch between how levels are defined and students' aims to study English.

    Here's how the GSE can help English language teachers

    First, you need the right scale for your group – Pre-primary, Young Learners, Adults, Professionals or Academic, which can be downloaded at:

    Focus on your students' level. There you will see all the learning objectives that students need to achieve to complete the level at which they are and move on in their learning journey.

    What are learning objectives? They are can-do statements that clearly describe what students are expected to achieve as the result of instruction. In other words, these objectives guide teachers in our planning to help students learn.

    When we plan our lessons, rather than working at lesson level only, we should reflect on how the activities proposed are referenced against the learning objectives of the level. We may see that some activities need some adapting in order to focus on the selected learning outcomes.

    At the level of planning as well, I also use the GSE to analyze the activities proposed in the materials I am using. Let me tell you what I do. Let's take listening, for instance. You may use the downloaded scales or the Teacher Toolkit that the GSE provides. Let's run through how this works.