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  • A young woman taking notes in a lecture theatre, she is sat by other young people.
    • English for work and migration
    • Language teaching

    Preparing your learners for university study abroad

    By Pearson Languages

    Whether your learners are going for a single semester, academic year or an entire university course, studying abroad is an excellent opportunity for them. They’ll have the chance to discover a new culture, develop new skills and make new friends.

    University study in another country also poses several challenges. But as a teacher, you can equip them for this experience and prepare them for future academic success.

    Why study abroad?

    Most people think that studying at university is hard enough, without the added difficulty of doing it overseas. But that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of university students from leaving the support of family and friends and relocating to a foreign country.

    People apply to study in another country for a range of reasons. A university program abroad might offer the student better tuition and a greater promise of future employment or simply represent better value for money. And in the case of very specialist university courses, studying abroad may be the only option.

    Whatever the reason, the decision to study in a foreign country is likely to involve a high level of proficiency in another language – and more often than not, that language is English.

    A move towards English language in higher education

    There has been a significant shift in higher education in the last ten years, as many European institutions look to internationalize their programs. As a result, across Europe, we have seen a sharp growth in the number of university courses taught in English. English-taught bachelor’s programs offered by universities in the European Higher Education Area have multiplied dramatically over the last decade. 

    What challenges do learners face?

    Academic skills

    There are a whole range of academic skills that students are expected to know when they start university. From research and evaluation, to note-making and referencing, many learners will enter higher education lacking many of the essential skills they require.

    Studying in a foreign language

    Not only will they have to master new skills, but they may need to do them in a second language. What’s more, even everyday things that native speakers may take for granted, such as understanding lectures, reading academic papers, writing essays and even socializing with new friends, will take a lot more effort if English isn’t your first language.

    Administrative issues

    There are many potential pitfalls for a student in a new academic setting. From the administrative process and campus regulations to the types of lessons and assessments, there may be a lot of differences to deal with. Even understanding the etiquette of addressing and interacting with professors can be daunting.

    Problems integrating

    Another challenge is integrating into another culture. Even if the host country is culturally similar, adapting to new surroundings is not always straightforward. There can also be a certain amount of ghettoization, where international students might stick together and remain isolated from the local student population.


    Feeling homesick can be difficult for international students to deal with. Depending on how far they travel to study, your learners may be unable to return home easily, visit their families and alleviate their homesickness.

    Money worries

    Without a grant or a scholarship, studying abroad can be very expensive. If your learners currently live at home with their parents, the cost of accommodation may be formidable. The higher cost of living could mean they have to look for a part-time job to supplement their income.

    What can you do to get your students ready?

    All of the challenges mentioned above have one thing in common. If a student cannot communicate effectively, these situations can be exacerbated. Language is key, whether it’s accessing support, communicating with professors or getting to grips with a new culture.

    Here are some things you can do to help your learners prepare for university life:

    1) Put them in touch with past students

    It’s important that your learners have a clear idea of what university study abroad entails. Creating a chance for them to speak to other students who have already gone through that experience can be extremely valuable.

    Students who have returned from studying abroad can help with your learners' doubts and put their minds at rest. They might be able to provide essential advice about a specific country or university or simply tell their story. Either way, it’s a great way to reassure and encourage your learners.

    2) Use appropriate authentic content

    In preparation for your learner’s time abroad, the language course that you teach should align with their future linguistic needs. One of the main aims should be to develop the language skills required to perform successfully and confidently in their new context.

    3) Teach them academic study skills

    Think back to when you were at university and what you struggled with. Group work, presentations, critical thinking and exam skills are all things which your learners will need to be proficient in, so the more you practice them in class the better.

    4) Promote autonomous learning

    Success at university is deeply rooted in a student’s ability to work independently and develop practical self-study skills. Giving your learners more choice in the language learning process is one way to encourage autonomy.

  • A business woman in a suit sat at a laptop
    • Business and employability
    • Language teaching

    6 tips for teaching business English to low level learners

    By Pearson Languages

    The CEFR describes A1 and A2 learners as ‘basic users’ of a language. So how can we help these students to develop their communication skills for the international workplace?

    Here are our six top tips:

    1. Focus on high-frequency vocabulary for work

    Learning vocabulary for work context is the top priority for many low-level learners in business English classes. It helps them to communicate their message in a simple, effective way. This makes it important to teach common words and set expressions for everyday work situations.

    These include:

    • lexical sets (words related to the same topic or situation) – for example, days, months, numbers, verbs to describe work routines, verbs in the past.
    • common collocations with verbs and nouns (for example, manage a team, have meetings, place an order, solve a problem).
    • functional language and fixed phrases – greetings (How are you? Nice to meet you.) and offers (How can I help you? Would you like…?).

    2. Help students with vocabulary learning

    Teach vocabulary items in realistic contexts. For example, phone calls, to-do lists, short emails, text messages etc.

    While it might be tempting to give students lots of vocabulary to memorize, this can cause overload, be frustrating and ultimately demotivating for learners. Instead, you should aim to present eight to ten new words in a lesson as a general rule. This is an achievable number for working memory and helps to build learners’ confidence. The number of words can be a little higher if items are easy to show in images or there is repetition; for instance, the numbers 20 to 100.

    Have students make simple decisions about new words, as this helps with recall later. Start with simple tasks, such as matching words and pictures or verb and noun collocations they’ve seen in a short text (for example, managing a team, call customers, writing emails, etc.). Next, ask students to complete sentences using the target words and write their own sentences using these words.

    Getting students to personalize new vocabulary makes it more memorable, for instance writing sentences describing their work routines. Repetition also aids long-term memory, so make sure vocabulary is recycled in the materials in later lessons.

    Finally, make a list of vocabulary games to use for revision exercises, warmers and to finish classes.

    3. Maximize student speaking time

    Learners need to develop their speaking skills for work. The classroom is a safe, low-stakes environment for them to gain fluency and confidence.

    Use the audio and video scripts of short dialogues or an extract from a longer script. Students read the dialogue aloud in pairs or groups. Give feedback by drilling the stress and rhythm of any words or phrases which were difficult with the whole class. Back-chaining phrases – starting with the last sound and building up going backwards – is an excellent way to drill. Get students to swap roles and repeat the task.

    You can also use another technique called disappearing dialogue. Put a short dialogue on the board for students to practice in pairs. Then delete parts of the dialogue and ask them to repeat the task, swapping roles each time. Gradually delete more parts to increase the challenge. Students can reconstruct the dialogue as a final task.

    Moreover, surveys, questionnaires, true/false games, and information-gap exercises are ways to practice speaking skills, target structures, and vocabulary.

    4. Provide support for speaking tasks

    Use a model dialogue from the coursebook or one you wrote yourself. Ask students to build their own short dialogues by changing some details (such as names, dates, prices, and quantities). Or use one half of the dialogue and ask students to write the other part.

    Then, have them perform their dialogues together with their script. Then, ask them to try to memorize it without the script. Finally, they should perform the dialogue for another pair or even for the whole class.

    Give students a reason to listen to their partners when they are speaking. For example, a speaking task like placing an order on the phone, gives them a reason. The listening student can note the essential information and check their answers afterwards.

    Repeating tasks with slight variations increases the challenge, improves fluency, helps students remember useful phrases, and builds self-confidence.

    5. Practice work skills your students need

    Students are much more engaged and motivated when the class content is relevant to their everyday situations. Work skills they need to practice include telephoning, socializing and giving presentations.

    Writing skills are also important. This includes formal and informal text messages, simple forms, less formal emails to colleagues (e.g. to update on work) and more formal emails to customers (e.g. replying to a simple inquiry).

    At the start of the class, make it clear what students will be doing in the lesson. You can refer to the lesson outcome on the coursebook page or write the lesson outcome in your own words on the whiteboard. For instance, “Today you will learn to place a simple order on the phone”.

    At the end of the class, ask students to respond to the self-assessment statement: “I can place a simple order on the phone.”

    This is a reminder of the purpose of the lesson. It also helps the students and teachers to reflect on the progress they are making.

    The grammar syllabus should also relate to learners' communicative needs (for example, describing your company, instructions, and talking about arrangements).

    6. Teach functional language phrases

    Draw students’ attention to useful phrases and functional language in speaking and writing. For instance, when greeting visitors (“Nice to meet you.” “See you later.”). They can memorize these utterances and put them to immediate use outside the classroom.

    Use role plays to practice work skills and functional language. Give learners ample time to prepare and write down what they want to say. In a phone call role play, put students back to back to increase the challenge and add an element of authenticity; even better if they can call each other on their mobile phones from separate rooms.

    Similarly, with presentations (for example, introducing yourself and your company), give students time to prepare and rehearse. They can ask colleagues to video them on their mobile phones for later correction work and feedback. Or they could rehearse and film themselves at home and show the final video in the next class.

    These are just a few tips and techniques for teaching English for work to low-level learners. It’s especially important for these students to start simple, recycle language often and build their confidence in their language-learning abilities. 

  • A Teacher sat with a child at a desk in a classroom helping them with their writing,
    • Inclusivity and wellbeing
    • Language teaching

    5 ways to support students with dyslexia

    By Pearson Languages

    Children seem to be starting English lessons younger than ever, often before they can even read and write. This means that learning differences like dyslexia may not have yet made themselves apparent.

    While it’s not a language teacher’s role to diagnose specific learning needs, it is important for us to monitor our young learner students’ progress. If we think a student might be showing signs of dyslexia (or another learning difference), we should feel comfortable referring parents to the right place early on. This can make a huge difference in the learning process.

    There are many forms of dyslexia and it affects students in various ways. However, some signs of dyslexia may include the following:

    • having difficulty reading (especially aloud)
    • struggling with spelling
    • problems remembering the sequence of things
    • finding it hard to follow instructions
    • misbehaving or disrupting the class
    • being very quiet or shy (especially when doing reading or writing activities)
    • falling asleep in class.

    Dyslexia is not a learning disability; it’s a learning difference.

    What do Magic Johnson, Richard Branson and Tom Cruise have in common? They all have dyslexia. So learners with dyslexia are certainly not less capable; in fact, they often excel in spatial thinking and creativity. The difference is that their brain works differently, so they find visual processing and using their working memory challenging. For example, they may struggle to remember what was said and face challenges when trying to link sounds to letters.

    The most common issues are related to reading, spelling and writing, but dyslexia can also impact concentration span and planning skills. And all these challenges have a severe impact on learners’ self-esteem.

    Providing effective learning opportunities for young learners with dyslexia might require teachers to reframe how they see dyslexia. Avoid seeing it as a dis-ability, but rather as a form of neurodiversity: the brain functions and learns in different ways.

    Creating the conditions for learning

    Many – if not most – young learner teachers feel they are not appropriately trained to deal effectively with learners who have dyslexia in a classroom context.

    In an ideal world, all EAL and mainstream teachers would receive in-depth training to better deal with neurodiversity in the classroom. But for now, let’s explore some modifications that help create a more enabling learning environment in which all learners – with or without dyslexia – can progress.

    1. Getting to know them

    If we want all learners to progress to their next level, we need to get to know them. Only then can we provide learning opportunities that start where they are. Get to know their strengths, weaknesses and interests as well as their learning profile; where do they like to work, who do they work well with and what kinds of tasks engage them fully? These are the starting principles of differentiated teaching and all learners will profit from you taking the time to get to know them beyond their name.

    Top tip:

    Observations are an extremely useful tool to gain insight into learners’ levels and learning preferences. My favorite activity is to get young learners to create a personal profile.

    This can be done in their first language – at home with parents – or as a shared writing activity in class. You provide the stem sentences, and learners complete them with drawings or words. You can hang the profiles on the wall and use them to start talking about ‘differences and similarities’. Alternatively, you can have a learner present their buddy to the class based on their profile, depending on the level and age you teach.

    2. Creating a collaborative culture in the classroom

    If we want learners to help each other in class, we need to create a culture of ‘helping hands’. Focusing on developing good relationships in your classroom, between you and the learners but also between learners, is vital for a collaborative culture. Use activities that focus on building understanding through sharing ideas. Integrating collaborative learning activities will help to establish supportive relationships and makes struggling learners feel more confident in the classroom. They know they can first talk things through with others and ask them for help before completing a task independently. This will benefit all learners, not only learners with dyslexia.

    Top tip:

    Think-pair-share is a well-known collaborative activity and can easily be adapted to include some movement too in the form of HuSuPuWu!

    This activity will help learners share ideas and allow for differentiated thinking time. Ask your young learners a question you want them to respond to, give them thinking time and tell them to put their hand up when they are ready to talk (Hu).

    Encourage them to look around, find another person with their hand up and stand up (Su) to walk over and pair up (Pu).

    Together they share ideas before returning to their place and writing up their ideas (Wu).

    This will be especially beneficial for students who need more time to process, love to move and want to get confirmation or support.

    3. Providing multi-sensory tasks and activities

    Providing multi-sensory activities is already common practice in most young learner classrooms. It allows learners to process information using their stronger senses while strengthening their weaker areas.

    Multi-sensory teaching (MST) acknowledges that all brains learn in unique, different ways and is a well-known method used when working with dyslexic students in their mother tongue. So instead of only telling the story, find images that illustrate the events, draw a story path for learners to follow, or get them to visualize the story.

    Doing this increases the ‘routes of memory’ as Kormos (2017) calls it, and enables information to reach the brain via different pathways, visual and auditory, which strengthen the message.

    Top tip:

    When learning new words, break them into syllables by clapping when you say them. Then show the word and break it up visually (e.g. fri-end), and get them to make the word with playdough or in shaving foam as they say it. Get them to keep saying it as they write it and then check it.

    4. Setting clear, manageable instructions

    Because dyslexia often impacts working memory, following instructions can be even more challenging than it already is for young learners. We need to reduce the processing load by breaking up instructions into manageable, achievable steps.

    Focusing on just a small amount of information better enables learners with dyslexia (Kormos & Smith, 2012) and to be honest, all young learners – and our classroom management – can benefit from this.

    Also, check whether you need to ‘tell’ it or can you ‘show’ the instructions? Presenting instructions in a multisensory way where you, for example, use the whiteboard to visualize the instructions, and use gestures and body language to support your oral input will facilitate understanding.

    Top tip:

    Learners benefit from talking things through as talk plays an integral part in meaning-making. So why not get learners to turn to their elbow buddy and repeat what they need to do in their own words? Another effective way would be to record the instructions so they can listen back as many times as they need.

    5. Adapting your materials

    Being aware of what works best for the unique brains of learners with dyslexia allows us to tweak existing materials to make learning more accessible. Think about the color of paper you copy on or the background color of your slides. Learners with dyslexia cope better with colored backgrounds as it reduces word blurring. When learning to write new words in their workbook, use a highlighter to highlight the area between the middle lines where the body of the letters needs to be written.

    Top tip:

    Nowadays, many young learner coursebooks have audio resources available, but not always for readers or stories. Use assistive technology to get the selected reading text recorded. Struggling readers can listen to the audio as they read the text alone. In this way, they will feel that they are reading independently whilst working on letter sound correlation as well as the rhythm of the language.

    The English language classroom can be stressful for learners with specific learning needs. Now, we don’t need to – and can’t – ‘fix’ learners, but we should try to ‘fix’ the environment and provide an enabling, inclusive learning environment for all. By tweaking our teaching, we might better enable learners who face challenges, ensure they feel supported in their learning and allow them to bloom in our classroom.

  • A couple laughing together while having drinks
    • Just for fun

    10 English words and slang terms you should know

    By Pearson Languages

    Not everything can be taught in the classroom – that’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 English words, slang terms and figures of speech for you to sprinkle into your English conversations. Not sure how to use them? Don’t worry, we’ve included definitions and examples of how to use them in a sentence.


    A song or tune that, once you’ve heard it, is stuck in your head.

    Use it: “That new Taylor Swift song is such an earworm!”


    Spending your holiday in your hometown rather than traveling abroad. Often spent relaxing around the house or doing activities in the local area.

    Use it: “I’m having a staycation this summer, as I’m trying to save money.”


    An episode or series created exclusively for online viewing. This can be part of a web series or used to promote a television series.

    Use it: “There’s a new Breaking Bad webisode online, have you seen it?”


    Funding a project or business venture by asking a large number of people (typically online) to invest a small amount of money – usually via websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

    Use it: “We raised enough money to launch our business using crowdfunding.”


    Glamorous camping! Avoiding any rough conditions with luxurious facilities and accommodation, such as a yurt or cabin.

    Use it: “We’re going to be glamping at Glastonbury this year.”


    Something or someone that closely resembles something else, often used to describe someone who looks very similar to a celebrity.

    Use it: “Have you seen the Prince William and Kate Middleton lookalikes over there?”


    This word has a more political significance, in terms of gaining land or ownership. However, its modern usage is commonly in the workplace: The act of passing over control or responsibility to another person while you are off work on holiday or leaving a job.

    Use it: “I’ll send my notes in a handover email so you can continue the project while I’m away.”


    When something is a little uninspiring or dull. Also a word you could use to describe your lack of interest or indifference. It’s basically a verbal shrug.

    Use it: “The film was a bit meh.”


    Watching multiple episodes of a TV show, one after another, in a single sitting. Usually, with a DVD box set or using online streaming.

    Use it: “I’m planning to binge-watch the entire series of Game of Thrones this weekend!”

    Spill the tea

    When someone 'spills the tea' they are telling you all the latest news or gossip. 

    Use it: “Please spill the tea about last week's party!"

  • A pile of open books on top of each other
    • Language teaching

    Using authentic material from the real world to teach English

    By Pearson Languages

    There are lots of resources available to English language teachers today: from textbooks to online teaching tools, they can all aid and enrich English lessons. Many teachers also introduce authentic English material into their lessons to expose learners to the language as it is spoken in the real world.

    Authentic material is any material written in English that was not created for intentional use in the English language classroom. Using this content to teach the English language can make the learning process even more engaging, imaginative and motivating for students. It can also be useful to elicit genuine responses from learners.

    The great thing about using authentic material is that it is everywhere, which makes it easy to find, and simple for learners to practice English in their own time. Remember that it isn’t limited to articles from newspapers and magazines. Songs, TV programs and films, radio and podcasts, leaflets, menus – anything written in English constitutes authentic material.

    Selecting authentic material

    The best content to select depends on the learners, their level of English and the course content the teacher wishes to focus on. It’s also a good idea to find out the learners’ interests – after all, there’s no point trying to get students fascinated by a text on the latest sci-fi movie if they’re all fans of action films.

    The materials should reflect a situation that learners may face in an English-speaking environment – this will help them transition into a world where English is the norm. In this world, people use abbreviations, body language is important and they’ll use 'filler' sounds – such as 'ummm' – when they are speaking English – and learners will encounter these in authentic material.

    It’s important not to overwhelm learners with the first piece of authentic material. So, choose articles, songs or sections of TV programs or movies that aren’t too difficult to understand or take too long to get through.

    Some ways to use authentic material

    Here are two ideas for using authentic material in class: do remember to develop the ideas into proper lesson plans and explain the aims thoroughly to your learners…

    1. Restaurant menus: order your favorite dish

    Food is important to everyone, so introduce language learners to some of the common dishes in English-speaking countries so that they will be able to order meals with confidence. Many restaurants have their menus online, so you can easily download them (no need to walk or drive around the neighborhood!). Try to use local restaurants to make it more meaningful for your students, and ensure you have plenty of copies of the menu.

    You can then either go through the menu and ask students to guess what the meals are, or they can write down what they would order. You could use different menus for each course, which would widen the types of dishes you can cover during the learning activity. You or another team member could pretend to be the waiter or waitress and your students can practice their spoken English by reading their order back to you.

    At the end of the task, you could encourage learners to add up the cost of their courses to calculate their bill – and even ask them to add on a 10% tip to mirror the experience of being in a real restaurant.

    Remember, these suggestions focus on different skills, so you could use them to form lesson plans for a 'speaking' lesson, a “reading” lesson, etc.

    2. Songs: recognizing English lyrics

    Listening to songs with English lyrics is an excellent way of boosting skills in listening and pronunciation, and confidence in using the language. And students will always respond positively to a lesson that involves their favorite singer or bands.

    Ask your learners to write down their favorite artist and a song by them that they like and have listened to a few times. They can then try to remember the lyrics, or look at the video on YouTube – they only need to write down a few lines of the song.

    Then ask them to listen to the lyrics for useful vocabulary, phrases and expressions for everyday language, including colloquial speech. The language used in lyrics can be casual, tell a simple story or convey strong emotions, which should help learners to establish a connection with the language because it will give them new ways to describe their feelings in different situations. You could even ask them to come up with alternative words, as a way of further increasing and using their vocabulary.

    Some song lyrics are commonly misheard, so you could create a quiz in which learners have to choose the next words – words that grammatically fit into the lyrics. This can be a funny lesson – for you as well as your students!

  • a young boy and a young girl sat at desks in a classroom, smiling and looking at another child in front of them
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    Five ways to promote friendship in your English language classroom

    By Pearson Languages

    There is a strong link between well-being and friendship, which is just as accurate for children as it is for adults. Studies have found that children with stable friendships are happier, more able to cope with stress, and have higher self-esteem. Moreover, school friendships impact academic achievement too, and children who experience friendship adjust more easily to school and perform better academically. School friendships are also a valuable way of learning social skills like sharing, resolving conflict, and engaging with peers positively.

    Having friends is an important part of school life, and teachers can play a significant role in creating a positive classroom culture and helping children and young people to form friendships. How can you promote friendships between your students? Here are some ideas:

    1. Make friendship a central theme in your classes

    If there is an example of a good friendship in a book you are reading with students or in your lesson materials, draw your students’ attention to it. For instance, The Jungle Book is an excellent example of a story about friendship. Encourage your students to think critically about the friendships that they read about. You can ask questions like:

    • What are some things a good friend does?
    • What are the qualities of a good friend?
    • What words do you associate with friendship?

    By discussing friendship regularly in the classroom, your students will learn about the behavior and characteristics of being a good friend.

    2. Create opportunities for interaction

    You can create lots of opportunities for students to build friendships with one another during class time. Design activities that call for pair or group work, and include at least one or two in every lesson. Focusing on a common goal or problem is a great way to encourage your students to bond with one another. As a bonus, this collaborative way of working promotes important 21st century skills like communication and problem-solving.

    Another way of promoting friendships between different groups of students is moving them around. Adjust your seating plan regularly to ensure that all your students interact with and work alongside different classmates, to promote positive, friendly classroom vibes.

    3. Discuss and model good behavior

    Friendship is a social skill that children need to learn – and you can help by teaching them. Be explicit about exactly what you expect from them. Saying, “Be kind” is an abstract, vague concept that children might struggle to put into practice. Instead, give them concrete examples of behavior, such as:

    • take turns when playing
    • speak respectfully
    • share pens or other resources

    When you see a student engaging in these behaviors, draw attention to them and praise them.

    But to really convey the importance of school friendships and kind behavior, it’s not enough to tell them. As the teacher, you must model the behavior you’d like to see in your students. Be consistently positive and upbeat in your interactions with students, thank your learners when they offer help with something, and try to refrain from sounding impatient (even when you are!). All these steps will help to build a positive classroom culture where students feel secure, supported and happy.

    4. Help to navigate difficult situations

    Conflict is an inevitable part of school life, but you can help students to navigate arguments and other difficult situations in the classroom. If two students argue, you can help them to resolve it with the following steps:

    • Separate the students to give them time to calm down.
    • Have a conversation with them. Ask for their perspective on the conflict, and find out how their day has been in general. Sometimes, you can better understand a student’s reaction when you look at the bigger picture. Ask them how they feel, and how they could resolve the situation.
    • Bring the students together again to discuss things and find a resolution together. Reconciliation is the goal.

    Following these simple steps teaches children a framework for resolving conflict and gives them the tools to process strong emotions.

    5. Do some friendship-focused activities

    An excellent way to promote a positive classroom culture is to do friendship-focused activities with your students:

    You could do a Venn diagram activity, where students work in pairs to discuss and write down things they have in common and areas of difference. It’s good to pair students who don’t spend much time together for this activity.

    Another positive activity is a 'Honey Roast'. Give students enough squares of paper to have one for each of their classmates. Get them to write their classmates’ names on the paper, and then, on the other side, write down a compliment or something they like about that person, for example, “I like your handwriting”, or “You always use kind words”. Collect the pieces of paper and read out some nice examples to the class. Alternatively, give them directly to the students to read to themselves.

  • Two young women on a sofa talking to eachother
    • Language hints and tips

    9 English conversation mistakes to avoid

    By Pearson Languages

    As humans, we learn and grow through our interactions with other people. Often these encounters are centered around great conversations – rich, meaningful exchanges among a small group of people where each person actively listens and shares. Great discussions are invaluable – they enrich our understanding of people and the world around us. Socially, being someone who can engage effortlessly with others allows us to create deep friendships and gain incredible personal growth and satisfaction. In our careers, we are more effective when we work well with others – the ability to collaborate and solve problems together makes us more effective professionals and makes our businesses more successful.

    Common English conversation mistakes

    But what if you must hold a conversation in English and it is not your native language? One of the many obstacles to learning something new, like English conversation, is that it can be difficult, time-consuming and even a little scary! That’s why we put together a list of nine English conversation mistakes to avoid that apply whether you are speaking with one or several people at once. Keep these tips in mind to help you improve your interactions with people all over the world…

    1) Faking interest in the person

    One of the things that separates a conversation from a 'transaction' (such as ordering something in a restaurant) is the genuine mutual interest of each person in the other. If one isn’t interested in knowing more about the other person, neither will engage meaningfully, and the interaction will become transactional or just 'small talk'. Most people are fascinating – take the time to learn what you can about them.

    2) Discussing negative and sensitive topics

    People are more engaged and willing to share when they are relaxed and happy. Especially when you don’t know someone well, it is always better to focus on the positives – avoid both sharing your biggest troubles and bringing up topics that could be negative from a cultural, religious, political, or even personal perspective. There is always something positive to share!

    3) Trying to 'win' an argument

    Particularly when speaking with someone you don’t know well and/or someone from another country or background, it is precarious for a conversation (especially one where you are practicing your English conversation skills) to evolve into a debate or argument. It is likely that for any two people, there will be many points of disagreement, and if such differences emerge, it’s better to attempt to understand the other person’s point of view rather than to 'win' an argument. It is perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree about specific issues and move on.

    4) Disrespecting others beliefs

    If you want a great conversation, others must feel you aren’t judgmental. When someone feels their ideas and beliefs are questioned or belittled, any meaningful exchange will often shut down. Instead, try listening for understanding, and you may learn something!

    5) 'Hogging' the stage

    It is said that great actors make their fellow performers look great. It is the essence of teamwork, and the same principle applies to great conversationalists. Ask questions that allow others to be positive, confident, and maybe even a little boastful, but certainly remember to do it in a genuine way. The positive energy will be contagious!

    6) Fearing learning something unknown

    There are over seven billion people worldwide, and none are exactly like you! The greatest learning experiences are often from interactions with those who are very different from ourselves. Embrace and celebrate those differences. Allow others to share their unique perspective and journey, always keeping in mind we all share so much in common. We all want to be happy, love others, and have meaning in our lives.

    7) Trying to be someone you are not

    There’s only one person you can be, so don’t try to be someone else or something you are not. A great conversation is based on authenticity; most people can easily sense when another is not truthful or authentic. While keeping in mind all of the other rules, it’s both acceptable and expected for you to share your own journey!

    8) Monopolizing the conversation

    We’ve all been in those conversations where the other person dominates by talking incessantly. At some point, we shut down, just waiting for it to end. Active listening and learning ceases. Engagement requires participation from both parties – don’t hold back from sharing, but at the same time, don’t be that person who dominates and effectively shuts down that engagement.

    9) Focusing on superficial topics

    What separates a great conversation from 'small talk' is the meaningful nature of the dialog. Talking about the weather doesn’t elicit much other than maybe politeness. A great conversationalist elicits meaningful thoughts from others, and those come from purposeful questions. People love to think; asking them something that requires thoughtfulness deepens the conversation's value and strengthens the relationship between the parties.

  • A young woman sat on a laptop outside, smiling and pointing to her laptop
    • Language teaching

    Three ways to learn new words

    By Pearson Languages

    It’s more important for teachers to help students find ways to practice their English outside the classroom. The more efficient students become at autonomous learning, the better they’ll be able to overcome interruptions and make up for lost time.

    It will be even more challenging if you're a self-learner as you do not have a teacher looking over you and steering your learning. But it’s helpful to learn from the teaching world and pick up teacher tips that you can apply to your own studies and techniques.

    Why are learning new words so challenging?

    Students learning new words in English generally progress steadily up until the pre-intermediate and intermediate levels. But after that, they start to struggle.

    This is because there’s a big difference between the volume of the vocabulary that intermediate students and upper-intermediate students need to know.

    • Intermediate (B1/B2 level) students need to know about 2,500 words
    • upper-intermediate (B2/C1 level) students need to know about 7,500-9,000 words.

    That’s a big jump in numbers. But the real challenge is that those 5,000+ new words are not very frequent. Consequently, students don’t encounter them very often, making it difficult to recall them and leap from one level to the next.

    While there’s no simple answer to this problem, there are ways to help students overcome it. The following framework can be a big help in any classroom:

    1. Focus on the most important words: Always teach appropriate words for the levels your students are currently at.
    2. Provide memorable first encounters: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, ensure your student's first encounter with a new word is as memorable as possible.
    3. Teach effective word-learning strategies: Provide your students with valuable tools, tactics and resources so that they can learn new words outside the classroom, too.
    4. Organize repeat encounters: Vocabulary works on a “use it or lose it” basis, so ensure your students encounter the vocabulary you want them to learn repeatedly.

    How to teach effective word-learning strategies

    There are three steps to teach students how to learn new words effectively:

    1. Help learners maximize their exposure to English and find opportunities to use English outside the classroom

    Thanks to the internet and technology, there are many ways that students can engage with the English language outside the classroom.

    However, simple exposure to a new language is not enough – it takes much longer and is less effective than active learning. When students do something with the language they’re exposed to; it is far more memorable.

    That’s why it’s crucial for teachers to help their students seek out English in their own time and use the language, turning passive exposure into active learning.

    • Encourage students to read, listen and view things that they’re interested in or passionate about in English. For example, introduce them to new blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, or TV series that fit their interests – since personalization leads to more effective learning.
    • Help students find ways to use English in different ways. For example, they can start a learning diary, make to-do lists in English, write social media posts, and create word cards to practice their writing. For speaking, they can record voice memos or video stories, take part in Zoom discussions, or participate in speaking projects and live classes.

    2. Provide ways for students to discover the meaning of new words

    It’s crucial to help students improve their guesswork. Instead of asking online translators to translate every time they encounter a new word, they should be able to guess the meaning of new vocabulary differently.

    • One approach is to look at the morphology of words and consider word families. For example, you can ask your students to brainstorm words with a common root. Or, you can have them identify and practice common suffixes.
    • Explore “true friends” or words that are similar in English and your student's native language.
    • Help your students figure out how to guess the meaning of a word from the context. To do this, you must ensure that your students don’t just hear or read new words but also put them into use.

    One way to get students to learn and retain vocabulary is to get them to create word cards:

    • Ask students to collect ten new words that they’re exposed to throughout the week and bring them to class, like a “show and tell” for words.
    • Then have a debate about how useful each of those words is.

    This helps to connect learning inside and outside the classroom, and it’s fun!

    3. Provide students with strategies to consolidate their knowledge of new words

    Finally, teachers should give students ideas on how to memorize words outside the classroom. You can have your students produce word cards and use a Word Store booklet to practice tasks like matching words with images or definitions.

    Lastly, it’s important to teach students memory tricks or mnemonics so they can retain the new words they encounter.

  • Woman wearing headphones outside, smiling and looking hopeful
    • Language hints and tips

    6 easy ways to learn English

    By Pearson Languages

    When you’re learning English, it’s important to keep your motivation up. As with any task, there may be times when it feels a bit more difficult, so switch up your methods and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – you’ll reach the level you want to be at.

    We’ve already provided some unique ways to teach English that you may now have experienced with your teacher. Here, we suggest some easy ways to learn English that you can try any time – at home, at work or on the move. Why not try them today? Surround yourself with English and you’ll see improvements in your language confidence and skills, while having fun at the same time…

    1. English words with friends

    Scrabble is a classic board game in which players use random lettered tiles to create words in a crossword fashion. It’s a fantastic way to strengthen your English vocabulary, and there’s also a Scrabble Junior version for beginners. Playing Scrabble challenges you to really think in English as you try to come up with different words using your set of letters.

    If you’re taking an English class, buy the board game and invite your classmates to play with you. You can also play Scrabble online through websites like Facebook, where it is called Words With Friends.

    2. Add some music

    Not only will your favorite song wake up your mind and put you in a positive mood to learn English, but the lyrics can help you expand your skills. Research demonstrates how music can help second language learners acquire grammar and vocabulary and improve spelling.

    Songs almost always contain a lot of useful vocabulary, phrases and expressions. And since the intended audience is native speakers, the latest tunes include up-to-date language and colloquialisms. The language used in songs is casual and usable, if you pick the right music. Music also has an uncanny ability to stick in our heads, which can help you remember your new English words.

    3. Try, try and try again

    To commit new English words to memory, it’s important to keep using them. Keep a notebook of new words you learn, and try to use them in three different sentences. Write your sentences down and say them out loud. The repetition will help you remember the word, and working out different uses of the word will help expand your vocabulary bank. Remember, taking small steps like these will still help you to reach your goal.

    4. Join online English forums

    The key here is to join forums for subjects you are interested in – that way, your motivation will rub off on your English learning and you’ll be more inclined to participate. So, whether it’s photography, movies, traveling or cooking, discuss your passion with other like-minded people in English.

    If you feel nervous about people identifying you, make an anonymous profile. Then read through the forum to see what people are discussing. Once you feel confident, actively participate in the forum by answering questions posed by other people – or post your own questions and have a conversation with the other members who answer you.

    5. Get with the language

    One of the most effective and easy ways to learn English is to immerse yourself in the language fully. Find an English-speaking radio station to listen to, watch an English-speaking movie or TV show or surround yourself with people having conversations in English. Listen carefully to conversations in restaurants, on the bus or in shops and try to pick up the everyday use of the language.

    Not only will this help your listening skills, but you can also try to pronounce the words yourself in context to improve your speaking skills. With modern technology and apps, this can be done practically anywhere.

    6. Read to learn English

    You could really give your reading skills a boost here – but your speaking skills can benefit, too. The more you read English text to yourself or aloud, the more confidence you will have. If you feel nervous, start by practicing at home then move on to reading in front of an audience and asking for their feedback. Of course, it’s also enjoyable to read some wonderful stories.

    E-readers and tablets make learning English even easier because if you don’t know a word, you can click on it to read its definition. On the Kindle, you can add new words you’ve learnt to its Vocabulary Builder feature, which is stored on the device.

    Others recommend listening to and reading text at the same time as an excellent way to enhance the learning process. Kindle’s Whispersync for Voice is designed for just this purpose and includes audio with selected books, so you can listen and follow the text as you read.