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  • 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.

  • Students sat outdoors writing in notepads smiling
    • Technology and the future
    • Linguistics and culture

    Why learning a language is better than using machine translation

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7 minutes

    As technology and AI translation tools continue to advance, it's becoming increasingly tempting to rely on them for language-related tasks. However, this can potentially undermine motivation to learn a new language when technology seems to offer a shortcut. While machine translation can be helpful, it also has its limitations. 

    Learning a language goes beyond just communication; it opens the door to different cultures, mindsets, and perspectives of the world. Machine translation, despite its efficiency, cannot replicate the cultural immersion that comes with learning a language. Spoken language nuances, idiomatic expressions, cultural references, and implicit rules that are second nature to native speakers are often lost in translation. Let's delve deeper into why learning a language is better than solely relying on machine translation.

  •  A group of business people clapping their hands
    • Business and employability

    3 ways to boost employee retention with language learning

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Did you know? According to our research, employees who work for a company that provides English language training are more than twice as likely to say they are very satisfied at work, compared to those working in companies that do not.

    To retain top talent in an increasingly competitive marketplace, all evidence points to developing communication and language skills.

    Communication: the most in-demand business skill

    Pearson’s Skills Outlook Summary 2023 showed that communication skills including English language skills are the most in-demand power skills across the board. PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 agrees: the top five predictors for employee turnover all had the same themes in common – communication, empathy and listening skills.

    According to Gallup, a focus on developing employees’ strengths (as opposed to focusing on fixing weaknesses) can lead to a 20-73% reduction in employee attrition. That’s a startling statistic and one that has the potential to transform your business.

    So, the message is clear: by investing in your employees’ existing communication and language strengths, you’re helping them refine a comprehensive range of business power skills. In turn, this will make them feel more engaged and therefore far more likely to stay with you.

    3 ways to implement English training to retain top talent

    Let’s explore three ways to implement an English language skills learning and development plan that underpins communication skills, refines business soft skills and makes your employees want to stay.

    1. Find out what training employees want

    To tailor a culture of learning that supports the development of your employees’ language and communication skills, you’ll find it helpful to get their input first. Survey and interview your team to better understand current barriers to language-specific learning, skills gaps, preferred learning styles and current frustrations.

    For example, is it speaking, listening or reading English that they currently struggle with the most? The better you understand your employees’ needs, the more consulted and engaged with the process they’ll feel.

    2. Reward those who commit to language learning

    In 2023, Forbes outlined 15 strategies to make your employees stay, and perhaps unsurprisingly, reward featured strongly. Your performance management system should include a structure that acknowledges employees who are committing to achieving their objectives and developing their skills, and demonstrates the career trajectory that might be possible with improved communication and language skills.

    What that looks like will differ from organization to organization, but it’s important that employees understand the potential opportunities that come with refining their language skills.

    3. Promote the link between language skills and career progression

    Your employees may not naturally make the link between developing language skills and career progression, so help them understand how better language skills can help them move forward in their role and how you will support them in this.

    When they see that language skills have been built into their development plans, they’ll feel invested in staying with your organization and developing their skills with you.

    In a world where communication-based soft skills are more valuable than ever before, the ability to confidently converse in different languages within a business context is an impressive skill that’s transferable to a multitude of other business soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.

    Once they understand the full range of benefits that come with developing their language skills, they’ll be grateful that you’re committed to helping them do that and will be more likely to stay.

    Boost your workforce’s English language skills and reap the business benefits

    It’s clear that when employees feel that their communication skills are improving, they feel a sense of continued progression and engagement – not only in their language abilities but also across a range of other business power skills.

    The key to retaining talent lies in increasing engagement, and since higher engagement rates are linked to 21% more productivity, according to Gallup, there really is no better way to retain a happy workforce.

    Start building your team’s English language skills

    Learn how Mondly by Pearson can help you reinforce a culture of learning and retain top talent within your organization, with flexible English language learning solutions for your business.

    If you liked this blog post and want to learn more, download the PDF report here.

    Find out more about how language training and assessment can drive your business forward by checking out our resources for HR professionals, including articles, whitepapers and research.

  • A man in a library with a open laptop and notepad studying and smiling
    • Language learning
    • Language hints and tips

    Overcoming language learning plateaus: Strategies and solutions

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 6.5 minutes

    Are you stumped by stubborn language learning barriers or plateaus? Everyone has those moments when it feels like they're not making any progress or are completely stuck in their studies. Let's dive into some of these challenges and explore ways to overcome them.

    Common language learning hurdles

    Plateaus in language learning often occur after initial periods of rapid progress and can be attributed to various reasons. For one, learners may have reached a comfort zone where basic communication is possible, reducing the urgency to improve further. Additionally, the complexity of advanced language structures can be overwhelming, leading to a stagnation in learning.

    The lack of measurable progress can also be demotivating, causing learners to lose interest and reduce their efforts. Moreover, insufficient exposure to the language in a natural setting can limit the ability to practice and reinforce new skills. To overcome these plateaus, it's crucial to set new goals, seek out challenging and immersive experiences, and employ diverse language learning resources and strategies that keep the language learning process engaging and dynamic.

    How can I overcome my language learning slump?

    Hitting a language learning plateau is like running into an invisible wall — your progress seems to halt and the motivation to push forward begins to wane. Here are some ways to overcome this common obstacle and get back on the road to fluency:

    • Reassess your goals: Take a step back and reassess your language learning objectives. Are they still relevant and challenging enough? Setting new, clear and achievable goals can provide a renewed sense of direction and purpose.
    • Change your routine: If your current study routine feels monotonous, shake things up. Try new learning materials, switch to a different language learning app, or alter the time of day you study. A fresh approach can reignite your interest.
    • Incorporate the language into daily life: Find ways to make the language a natural part of your day. Label objects around your home, think or speak to yourself in the language, or change the language settings on your phone and social media.
    • Seek out real conversations: Engaging in conversations with native speakers can provide a reality check on your progress and expose you to the natural flow of the language.

    Techniques to help motivate your language learning

    One effective technique to break through a language learning plateau is the use of Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS). We've spoken about SRS before in our blog post' language learning techniques for beginners,' but be assured it is an incredibly useful technique that can't be recommended enough, especially for keeping out of a slump. This cognitive science technique involves reviewing information at increasing intervals to exploit the psychological spacing effect. As you learn new vocabulary, words or grammar rules, an SRS schedules these items for review at optimal times before you're likely to forget them.

    Here's how you can implement SRS into your language learning vocabulary practice routine:

    • Start with a flashcard app: Use an app like Anki, which is designed with SRS algorithms to help you review vocabulary and phrases at strategic intervals.

    • Create personalized content: Make your own flashcards with sentences and vocabulary that are relevant to your life. This personal connection can make the material more memorable.

    • Gradual difficulty increase: As you become more familiar with the content, increase the complexity of your flashcards. Add phrases or idioms instead of single words to challenge your comprehension.

    • Regular reviews: Be consistent with your reviews, even if it's just a few minutes each day. This regular exposure reinforces your memory and helps solidify the language in your mind.

    • Adjust according to performance: If you find certain items difficult to remember, adjust the intervals to review them more frequently. Conversely, items that you find easy can be reviewed less often.

    By incorporating SRS into your study routine, you can ensure a steady progression in your language learning journey, even when you hit a plateau. This method not only helps in retaining information but also in moving from passive recognition and pronunciation to active recall, a key step in achieving fluency.

    Boosting confidence and motivation in language learning

    Mastering vocabulary and grammar is crucial, yet overcoming the inevitable learning slumps and plateaus is equally vital to your language learning process. Motivation is a critical factor that can drive you past these plateaus, enhancing your learning journey and helping you reach your language learning aspirations. Regular speaking practice not only maintains motivation but also improves overall speaking and listening skills. These are often the first to suffer during a slump, thereby contributing to a resurgence in language skills.

    A strong correlation exists between self-confidence, motivation and language learning. Here are some key points to consider:

    • Self-confidence has been found to be associated with English achievement, speaking ability and self-efficacy.

    • High motivation in self-confident language learners also leads to purposefulness in language learning.

    • This purposefulness can result in better communication with native speakers.

    Embracing mistakes as learning opportunities

    Do you fear making mistakes when you're learning a new language? Sometimes, the fear can be its own obstacle to your learning. By embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, you can enhance your language skills by identifying areas that need improvement and boost your confidence through developing resilience against the fear of making errors. 

    Overcome the worry of language errors, avoid the trap of measuring yourself against others and engage in positive self-dialogue in the language you're learning to make slip-ups feel like a normal part of the learning curve. Tackling this apprehension is a pivotal stride on the path to language mastery.

    Recognizing when to take a break from language learning

    Sometimes, despite our best intentions, life throws us curveballs that can disrupt our study routines and make it hard to concentrate on language learning. Whether it's a demanding job, family responsibilities, health issues, or simply the need for a mental break, it's important to recognize when to step back and recharge.

    Taking a break can be beneficial for your language learning process. It allows your brain to rest and process the information it has absorbed. This can lead to better retention and a refreshed perspective when you return to your studies. It's crucial to listen to your body and mind and not to view breaks as setbacks but as a necessary part of a sustainable learning journey.

    Remember, it's about balance. While consistency is key to language acquisition, overworking yourself can lead to burnout. A well-timed break can reignite your passion for the language and enhance your ability to focus. So, when life gets in the way, don't be too hard on yourself. Embrace the pause, take care of what's important and know that the language will be there when you're ready to return.

    How can I keep my concentration while studying a language?

    Quite often, when you meet obstacles, you might get frustrated and your concentration suffers. Maintaining concentration while studying a foreign language can be challenging but is critical for effective learning. Here are some strategies to help you stay focused:

    • Create a distraction-free environment: Find a quiet space where interruptions are minimal. Turn off notifications on your devices and consider using apps that block distracting websites during your study time.

    • Set specific study times: Schedule dedicated time slots for language study. Having a routine can help your mind get into the habit of focusing during these periods.

    • Break down study sessions: Instead of long, drawn-out study sessions, break your learning into shorter, more manageable segments. This technique, known as the Pomodoro Technique, involves studying for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.

    • Stay hydrated and well-rested: Drink plenty of water and ensure you're well-rested. Your cognitive functions, including concentration, are significantly better when you're hydrated and have had enough sleep.

    How can I fit studying a language into my very busy routine?

    Fitting language study into a hectic schedule can seem daunting, but it's entirely possible with some clever time management and the right strategies. Here are some tips to help you weave language learning into your busy life:

    • Utilize microlearning: Break your study into bite-sized chunks. Even 5 to 10 minutes of focused study can be effective, especially when done consistently.

    • Use technology: Use language learning apps that allow you to study on the go, like during your commute or while waiting in line.

    • Combine activities: Listen to language podcasts or audio lessons while exercising or doing household chores.

    • Stay organized: Plan your week in advance and identify pockets of time that can be dedicated to language learning.

    • Prioritize learning: Make language study a non-negotiable part of your day, similar to how you would prioritize eating or sleeping.

    • Seek out passive learning opportunities: Surround yourself with the language by changing the language settings on your devices or watching shows in the target language with subtitles.

    Remember, consistency is more important than the length of your study sessions. Integrating language learning into your daily routine allows you to progress without overwhelming your schedule.

    Summary

    Overcoming plateaus is crucial for progressing in fluency and keeping motivation high. Re-evaluating goals, diversifying study routines, integrating the language into everyday life, and engaging in conversations with native speakers are all effective strategies for pushing past these stagnant periods. Employing techniques like Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS) can greatly enhance vocabulary retention and be an aid in overcoming learning obstacles.

    Building confidence and staying motivated are pivotal for success in language learning, with self-confidence having a strong correlation to language proficiency. Viewing mistakes as chances for growth fosters continuous improvement and builds resilience. It's also important to acknowledge when a break is needed, as it can actually improve retention and provide a fresh outlook when studies resume. A balanced approach to language learning that includes regular practice and the ability to adjust to life's interruptions is advocated for sustained achievement and pleasure in learning a new language.

    For more tips and guidance, check out our blog where we cover a variety of topics, including posts that offer language hints and tips.

  • Office works stood in a cubicle and in a hallway talking
    • Business and employability

    Goal setting: A path to achieving team fluency

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    We know businesses that invest in skills development are more likely to retain top talent, and see many other benefits as well. Upskilling your team's English proficiency can have a transformative effect on the business, leading to new opportunities, growth, and a more engaged workforce. However, implementing a corporate language learning program can be challenging. Using traditional goal-setting frameworks can support you and your team on this journey. Here's how:

  • A child running with a rugby ball outside, with children behind them
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    How can gaming support language learning?

    By Jacqueline Martin

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Academics and teachers have been writing about the benefits of using games in the language classroom for many years. Wright et al (1984), Lee Su Kim (1995), Ubermann (1998), Ersoz (2000), Yong Mei and Yu-Jin (2000) and Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga (2003) all pretty much agreed that games provide a useful and meaningful context for language use; encourage students to interact and communicate; can both challenge and reduce anxiety (as the emphasis is on the message, not the form); provide practice in all four skills; and help students to make and sustain the significant effort involved in learning a language.

    Kim and others have also noted that games can offer a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class. Playing a game after an intensive test or with over-excited students after break time can help re-engage learners instantly in your lesson, and you'll maximize your time with them.

    Lengeling and Malarcher (1997) took the list of potential benefits of games in the classroom even further.

    Affective

    • Games lower the affective filter
    • They encourage the creative and spontaneous use of language
    • They promote communicative competence
    • Games are both motivating and fun

    Cognitive

    • Games reinforce learning
    • They both review and extend learning
    • Games focus on grammar in a communicative manner

    Class dynamics

    • Games are extremely student-centered
    • The teacher acts only as a facilitator
    • Games build class cohesion
    • They can foster whole-class participation
    • Games promote healthy competition

    Adaptability

    • Games can be easily adjusted for age, level and interests
    • They utilize all four skills
    • Games require minimum preparation after the initial development stage

    It is important to bear in mind that when the above was written over 20 years ago, it was with reference mostly to more traditional games. But more recent evidence seems to indicate that the same principles apply. Some additional benefits cited by teachers I've spoken to are that:

    • Games could make language lessons less threatening for less confident pupils as their concern about getting sentence form wrong was reduced, and so their production greater.
    • Students learn more than just the language of the lesson when playing a game; they may learn instructional language through discussion or rules and sometimes negotiation skills and a lesson in cultural differences too.
    • Students can form a greater variety of emotional connections with language through playing games, for example acting out a word or seeing another student do so, or remembering a clue for a word.

    So, playing games can help students learn a language – but is just playing them enough? Some teachers like using games with less motivated classes who won't engage with straight practice activities and will willingly use key vocabulary and structures in a game, gaining much-needed practice without even realizing it. In today's language-learning context, though, is that a good thing?

    Motivating the unmotivated

    In recent years, much research has shown that students learn better when the intention or objective of the lesson is clear to them. In short, they understand what they're supposed to be learning and why and, when taking it to the next level, can assess their own learning and be actively involved in planning their next steps.

    Would knowing that the games they play are actually a way of doing some additional language practice make these students engage less? Opinion differs, and some discussion seems to center around the actual activity involved. Some games are thinly veiled group-work tasks, but other games that are at the right proficiency level (or slightly above) and take into account factors like cultural context, available time, learning topic and the classroom setting are generally considered to have a positive impact.

    Another major influence on improving motivation is the feedback a student receives, and this is something games can also support. Online games can provide richer simulated learning experiences and immediate feedback to students in a variety of ways.

    Above all, the main issue for the less motivated students is usually that they can't see why they need to learn English. Playing games not only simulates 'real' contexts but also helps them understand that they can accomplish a variety of tasks using English as a medium, which is motivational in itself.

    As teachers, there is a responsibility to explain how or why games will help students learn. This can equally motivate learners (or parents) who fear that playing games is just frivolous time-wasting. For example, informing even adult students that a simple hangman or hot seat game helps them improve spelling skills, gets their brains focused on recognizing the shape and structure of new words, and facilitates their learning of new vocabulary soon helps them see the value (Simpson 2011).

    Can games help learners acquire 21st-century skills?

    Maybe we can draw the conclusion that games can positively impact learning – but is that even enough? Today's teachers have to ensure not just that their students learn but that they acquire the skills they need for life and jobs in the 21st century. Can games help here too? This is a newer area of research, but evidence seems to indicate that games can help students learn a variety of important skills such as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship.

    These ideas were taken seriously by Robert Morris University Illinois, who offered an e-sports scholarship for the first time in 2014. They studied two groups of students – football players and gamers – and found that levels of competitiveness, perseverance, focus and determination were very similar. Both groups showed a similar desire to excel as part of a team. Both 'sports' required the team members to be detail-orientated, have good hand-eye coordination and have a strategic mind. The only difference was in the level of cardiovascular activity. Both groups received performance analysis and tactical advice from coaches and both subsequently made improvements.

    How many universities will start to offer these types of programs remains to be seen. Still, the idea that online competitive gaming can improve performance is being brought to the workplace too. Think about what virtual teams could learn from playing role-based collaborative games. Team members have set roles and clear and shared goals and have to work closely together to formulate an action plan to achieve them. Teamwork, skill, strategic thinking and communication are essential.

    All these are important skills for today's workplace, so maybe gaming can provide an opportunity to hone these in a lower-risk environment and improve business performance.

    These examples are clearly far from the norm, but they do seem to indicate that using gaming to support learning in the classroom is not a waste of time. When you get the right mix of gaming and learning, it develops a student's autonomous learning skills and encourages them to spend more time on task – both of which greatly impact learner outcomes.

    Need language learning game ideas for your young learners? Read our post 5 quick and easy ESL games for teaching young learners.

  • A woman smiling with a backpack stood outside in a cobbled square with many people in the background
    • English for work and migration
    • Language hints and tips

    Language learning tips for international students

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Are you studying abroad (or soon to be), learning a new language and need some inspiration on ways to practice your language skills in the real world? Don't worry. It can be daunting to know how to begin, especially in an unfamiliar place, However, with a little bit of effort and following these useful tips, you will be able to improve your language skills and make the most of your study abroad experience.