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  • A woman gesturing to her mouth in a playroom with a child copying the gesture
    • Young learners
    • Language teaching

    Educating young learners: Making phonics fun

    By Pearson Languages

    For many young learners, reading and writing can be one of the most challenging steps in their English learning journey. Even fluent English speakers often find it difficult to understand the connection between how English is pronounced and how it is written.

    Let’s explore how phonics can be a valuable and fun tool to help students and teachers understand this connection.

    What is phonics?

    Phonics is a method of teaching learners how to read by making the connection between sounds and letters. There are around 44 different sounds used in English, and around 120 different ways of writing them down.

    Children learn to identify and say individual sounds (phonemes) and what letter or groups of letters can be used to write that sound down (graphemes). This helps children to read and spell words. For example, the /k/ sound is frequently written using these letters:

    • k as in kite
    • c as in cat
    • ck as in back

    When children learn to read using phonics, the sounds are read out in isolation, for example, b-a-ck. Then they are blended together to form the whole word: back.

    How to teach phonics

    Other methods of learning how to read and spell rely on students memorizing every new word they encounter – that’s potentially thousands of new words! On the other hand, phonics gives students the tools and confidence to read and spell unfamiliar words autonomously. If they know the sounds, they can read the word.

    Simply drilling sounds and letters will quickly become dull for students, so here are some practical, fun phonics ideas you can try out in the classroom.

    1. Use music

    Music can create a positive atmosphere for teaching phonics, and it helps children to memorize sounds in a lively, enjoyable way. Furthermore, it can improve pronunciation and listening skills.

    • Use musical instruments or clap to help students break words into individual sounds.
    • Alternatively, use ‘robot talk’ – say the words in a robotic way, breaking up the words into their component sounds, for example ‘r-e-d’.
    • Tongue twisters are useful for working on the initial sounds in words. Try creating tongue twisters using known vocabulary and students’ names, e.g. Sara sings in the sun.
    • Many ELT courses provide phonics songs that practice new sounds. However, you can also adapt well-known songs to teach phonics.

    Example song:

    Clap your hands and turn around!

    Put your hands up!
    Put your hands down.
    Clap your hands
    And turn around!

    Put your head up!
    Put your head down!
    Clap your hands
    And turn around.

    Put your leg up!
    Put your leg down!
    Clap your hands
    And turn around.

    2. Move your body

    Learning through movement comes naturally to many young learners and can be a dynamic part of your phonics routine. Incorporating movement into your lessons can motivate students and help them retain the sounds and letters.

    • Add an accompanying action when you present a new phonics sound and its corresponding letter/s. For example, say, ‘S, s, s, snake’ and make a snaking movement with your arm. The action becomes a visual prompt, so students call out ‘S!’ whenever you do the action.
    • Air drawing can be great fun. Have students trace the shape of letters in the air with a finger while repeating the corresponding sound. This is also good pre-writing practice.
    • You can even challenge students to work alone or in pairs to make letter shapes with their whole bodies!

    3. Make phonics tactile

    To really embed the connection between the shape of the letters and the sounds they represent, get children to use their hands to feel the shape of the letters while they repeat the sounds.

    These tactile phonics activities have the added advantage of working on fine motor skills, which in turn will improve students’ handwriting.

    • Show students how to trace the shape of the letter in a tray of sand while repeating the sound. Alternatively, try tracing the letter shape in shaving foam.
    • Try modeling the letter shapes out of playdough or a piece of string.
    • A fun pair-work game involves one student silently drawing a letter on their partner’s back. Their partner must guess the letter and say the sound.

    4. Be creative

    There are wonderful, creative ways you can explore phonics with your students. For younger students who don’t yet have the fine motor skills to write letter shapes, using arts and crafts can be an enjoyable way to reinforce the link between the letter/s and the sound.

    • They could make letter shapes from dried pasta or use junk modeling.
    • Have your students decorate letter shapes by painting, coloring, or collaging. This will help them memorize the shapes. Encourage them to repeat the sounds as they do this, or play a phonics rhyme in the background so the association between the sound and letter/s is constantly reinforced.

    Create class displays for different sounds using a variety of pictures and objects starting with that sound. Use them for revision and classroom games. Try splitting the class into teams and then calling out a sound, or a word starting with that sound. The first team to touch the display with the matching letter/s wins a point.

    5. Play games

    Many popular ELT games can be adapted to teach phonics. Games are a great way to bring phonics to life and to give young learners the confidence to produce the sounds themselves.

    • Play ‘Whispers’. Students sitting in a circle whisper a sound rather than a word to the child next to them until it reaches the end of the circle. The last child says the sound aloud, or points to the letters that correspond to that sound.
    • Get children to create their own sets of cards with sounds and pictures on them. These can be used to play card games like snap and pairs.
    • Other games such as i-spy, board rush games, bingo and lucky dip, can be easily adapted to teach phonics.

    Whether you dedicate a whole lesson or just five minutes of your lesson to phonics, make sure to have fun!

  • Students working outdoors, two of them are looking over a open book
    • English certification and assessment

    What to look for in an English placement test

    By Pearson Languages

    If you’re an English teacher, Director of Studies or school owner you’ll know the importance of putting students in the right group. Whether it’s a business English class, exam prep or general English – a placement test is essential. Without one, you’ll teach classes with such varied levels and needs, it’ll be hard to plan an effective lesson.

    Placing students at the wrong level will not only lead to unmotivated learners, but it may also cost your institution money.

    But how exactly do you design a reliable, accurate and easy-to-use test? In this post, we’ll examine the key questions you need to consider before making your own placement test. We’ll also explore what features you need to achieve your goals.

    Problems with traditional placement tests

    Most private language schools (PLSs) and higher education institutions offer new students the opportunity to take a placement test before starting a course. However, these are often just a multiple-choice test, a short interview, or a combination of the two.

    While this does act as a filter helping us group students into similar levels, there are a number of downfalls. Students can guess the answers to multiple-choice questions – and while they might give us a rough idea of their grammar knowledge, these tests don’t consider the four skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading.

    Oral interviews, on the other hand, can give us an indication of the students’ spoken level. However, they also raise questions of objectivity and consistency that even specially trained teachers will struggle to avoid.

    Another big issue with traditional tests is the amount of time they take. Multiple-choice exams are often graded by hand and interviewing every new student uses valuable resources that could be used elsewhere.

    Key questions to consider

    Before you re-design your current test completely, we’ve put together a series of questions to help you think about your objectives, define your needs and explore the challenges you may face.

    Taking a few minutes to think about these things can make the process of finding the right English placement test go more smoothly and quickly. Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be ready to make a checklist of the most important features.

    What will your test be used for?

    • Placing incoming ESL students into the appropriate English language program.
    • Measuring students’ progress throughout the school year.
    • Final assessment of students' abilities at the end of the school year (“exit test”).
    • All of the above.

    Is this different from what you use your current test for? How soon are your needs likely to change?

    What skills does your current test measure?

    Does it measure speaking, listening, reading, writing, or all of the above? Are all of these skills measured in separate tests — or in one test?

    • How many students do you need to test at each intake?
    • How many students do you need to test each year? How many do you expect you’ll need to test in three years?

    How quickly do you currently receive test results? How quickly would you like to receive them?

    If you can test your students weeks before the start of the school term, you may have time to wait for results. However, if you are continuously testing students, or have students arriving just before the term begins, you may need to get results much more quickly.

    What features in your current test do you like and dislike?

    Are there things in your current test that you also want in your new test? Is anything missing, or anything that you don’t want your new test to have?

    What resources are available to you?

    Some English language tests require students to have the computer skills needed to take the test online. You may also need a testing lab that has the following:

    • computers
    • a stable internet connection
    • a headset with a built-in microphone
    • a preliminary checklist for placement tests.

    Once you’ve got answers to the questions, you can use the checklist below to make sure your placement test has the features you need. It may also be useful for comparing products if you decide to use an external placement test.

    A preliminary checklist for placement tests

    What features do you need to achieve your goals?

    Now that you've analyzed how you want to use your new English Placement test, create a checklist of the features that you need to achieve your goals. 

  • A woman looking at a laptop in a library smiling
    • English certification and assessment

    Everything you need to know about the Versant tests

    By Pearson Languages

    From sending emails and participating in conference calls to studying a masters degree or communicating on social media, in today’s globalized world, English is used by more and more second-language English speakers in their daily lives.

    For this reason, many schools, institutions and businesses now require their students or employees to have a minimum level of English. That’s why we need quick and efficient ways to test people’s proficiency and make sure they have the skills needed to communicate effectively.

    This is where Versant tests come in. Our suite of four exams can be used to test various skills and competencies depending on the organization's needs. What’s more, they can be taken anywhere, at any time and the results are received instantly – making recruitment or enrollment a much smoother process.

    This guide will help answer some questions you may have about the tests, and provide some links to useful resources.

    What are the Versant tests?

    The Versant tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in all or some of the four skills; speaking, writing, listening, or reading. They vary in length from between 17 to 50 minutes, and the results are available immediately afterwards.

    There are four Versant products available, and they differ depending on which skills are considered most relevant to the candidates, or their places of work and study. It is possible to focus specifically on speaking or writing, for example, instead of a candidate’s entire skill set.

    One thing which is consistent across all the tests is that they are fully automated, and can be delivered online or offline around the world at any time. The scores are then available immediately after finishing the test – so there will be no more agonizing waits for results!

    In addition, other languages are also available in the testing suite; including Arabic, Dutch, French, Spanish and Aviation English.

    Who are they for?

    Organizations, institutions and corporations can use Versant tests to establish language proficiency benchmarks.

    For businesses, they are a simple, reliable, and efficient tool for Human Resources (HR) departments to make sure their staff have the level required in the given language.

    In an educational context, the tests are an excellent way for schools to place students within a certain program, to measure their progress and check their level at the end of a course to see if they are ready to move on.

    What skills do they test?

    The structure and content of the tests vary depending on which one you choose. Whichever one you select, all you need to take them is a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a headset with a built-in microphone. What’s more some of our speaking only tests (English, Spanish and French) can also be taken on your smartphone via the mobile app.

    The Versant English Placement Test (VEPT) is the most thorough, taking 50 minutes in total. It focuses on speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The nine task types include reading aloud, repeats, sentence building, conversations, typing, sentence completion, dictation, passage reconstruction, along with providing a summary and opinion. This broad range of assessment is ideal for evaluating every aspect of a candidate’s language ability, from their pronunciation to their knowledge of grammar and complex language use.

    But if this is too comprehensive for your needs, there are shorter, more focused alternatives:

    The Versant English Test (VET) is a 17-minute assessment designed to evaluate speaking skills. This test can ensure that current or future employees meet the standard required to communicate effectively in a second language by assessing a student's sentence mastery, fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

    The Versant Writing Test (VWT) is a test of the candidate’s proficiency in writing skills. Taking approximately 35 minutes, the candidates are tested on their grammar, vocabulary, organization, register, and ability to read appropriate texts. Summarizing, taking notes, and responding to emails in a second language are key to many businesses nowadays, such as call centers. This test will allow companies to create a benchmark for their current and future employees related to specific writing skills.

    The Versant 4 Skills Essential recognizes the growing need for people to be adept in all four language skills, even in entry-level jobs. Throughout this 30-minute web-based test, candidates undertake a variety of tasks including sentence formation, listening comprehension and written dictation.

    Due to its short time limit, flexible web-based approach, and focused skill assessment, this suits fast-paced recruitment environments, helping to identify the best applicants as efficiently and accurately as possible.

    What are the key features?

    Once a candidate completes their test, a unique score report can be accessed immediately. This details a candidate’s performance in each stage, suggestions for improvement, and an overall CEFR or GSE score (or equivalent). This is thanks to our advanced speech and text processing technology. There is no need for a human examiner, which means scoring can be done instantaneously.

    Moreover, thanks to the objective nature of this technology, results will be given without the potential bias of an examiner. This makes scores extremely reliable and consistent across a wide range of candidates.

    VET also has concordances to TOEFL iBT and TOEIC. VEPT is also aligned to IELTS.

    Finally, the ScoreKeeper administration tool is available with all Versant exams and allows businesses or educational institutions to manage the testing of all their candidates in one place. By using this, assigning tests, uploading rosters and exporting results can all be done remotely, regardless of a candidate's location.

  • A student writing on papers on a school desk
    • English certification and assessment

    Which exam is right for my students?

    By Pearson Languages

    A guide to the Pearson assessment suite

    Are you stuck on which English exam or test to offer your students? You’re not alone – there are lots of different assessments to choose from and it’s often hard to see how they are different and why you should select one over another.

    We’re bringing it all together in this handy guide to help you decide which English language assessment is right for your students.

    Exams for young learners

    Language exams can be quite daunting for your younger students, especially if they’re taking them for the first time. That’s why we think it’s important to ensure what they have to do is interesting, fun, and motivating.

    English Benchmark and Pearson English International Certificate Young Learners exams are designed with this in mind, so let’s take a closer look at them both.

    English Benchmark

    Who it's for: This assessment is aimed at young learners aged between 6 and 13, and who have Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels between pre-A1 and B1. English Benchmark is a great tool for teachers who want a simple way to assess the English abilities of their classes at any stage of the year.

    With individual reports produced quickly after completion, parents and teachers can quickly see where their children are on the Global Scale of English (GSE) or CEFR. This can help assess their readiness for the next step, such as the Pearson English International Certificate Young Learners exam.

    What it tests: English Benchmark aims to assess a student’s competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing (with the exception of Level 1, which does not test writing). It covers five different ability levels, with three tests per level.

    Pearson English International Certificate Young Learners

    Who it's for: This test is for young learners who are again aged between 6 and 13, and whose CEFR levels range from pre-A1 to A2. It is available in over 40 territories worldwide, and at different times of the year.

    Upon completion, the learners will be able to take pride in receiving an official certificate from EdExcel, the UK’s largest governing body for academic qualifications.

    What it tests: International Certificate Young Learners focuses again on integrating all four of the main skills and these are divided over four ability levels – Firstwords (Level 1), Springboard (Level 2), Quickmarch (Level 3), Breakthrough (Level 4). It focuses on completing realistic communicative tasks throughout, giving them a great first experience of official assessment. 

    Spread out over two separate written and speaking parts; the learners are encouraged to talk effectively about their own lives, rather than simply reciting grammatical or vocabulary structures. This includes activities such as board games and picture matching.

    Exams for adults

    There are many reasons why your students may need to take a language exam. Some adults need proof of their level for work or university, companies may wish to analyze the abilities of their staff, or individuals may be keen on pursuing a personal goal.

    Whatever the motivation, choosing the correct assessment is crucial. By checking out the summaries below of all our assessment options for adults, you’ll be sure you’ve picked the best one.

    Pearson English International Certificate

    Who it's for: Pearson English International Certificate (PEIC) is designed for adults of any level who use English in a variety of daily activities, such as with work, at university or socially. As a result, we’ve ensured that the content of PEIC is suitable for learners in any part of the world, age-appropriate, and available at various times of the year.

    With its widely recognized Ofqual accreditation, PEIC is excellent for those needing a general English certificate for their work or higher-educational institutions.

    What it tests: Throughout the six-level options, ranging from A1 (beginner) to Level 5 C2 (proficiency), authentic materials regarding specific themes are frequently used to assess all four key skills.

    Learners will complete tasks related to note completion, letter or email writing, and speaking role plays, along with defending a point of view at higher levels. This reinforces the PEIC as an exam which best suits those who complete everyday tasks in English.

    PTE Academic

    Who it's for: If your learners are looking for reliable, unbiased proof of their English level for immigration or studying abroad, then the Pearson Test of English Academic is perfect for them. Widely recognized by governments for their visa application processes, and multiple leading universities such as Harvard University in the USA, PTE Academic can be found in over 50 locations globally.

    In addition, the exam is 100% computer-based, can be accessed over 360 days of the year, and can be booked only 24 hours in advance. This suits students and professionals who require more flexibility and benefit from the results being available after only 5 business days.

    What it tests: PTE Academic uses the latest Artificial Intelligence software. This means students can be confident that they’re given an unbiased grade for the four main skills they are tested on. The initial speaking and writing sections assess your learner’s abilities to produce responses to questions and scenarios using academic English.

    This theme continues through the subsequent listening and reading sections, where candidates complete various tasks such as interpreting information, reordering paragraphs, and summarizing a spoken text.

    Versant tests

    Who it's for: Pearson’s Versant tests are designed for businesses that require a simple, quick and reliable way to assess the English competence of their current or prospective staff. Furthermore, they suit educational institutes that require an efficient way to evaluate the English capabilities of their students before, during, or after their courses.

    What it tests: The suite of four different English exams is tailored to suit different requirements, depending on the client's needs. Ranging from 17 to 50 minutes in length, the skills tested will vary from a specific written (Versant Writing Test) or spoken focus (Versant English Test), to the Versant English Placement Test and Versant 4 Skills Essential which integrate all four skills.

    Speaking tests are also available in additional languages including Arabic, Dutch, French, and Spanish for dual language programs.

    All Versant tests are fully automated, and available online or offline throughout the year. This means that you’ll be able to access the results immediately afterwards.


    Who it's for: If you work for an educational institute and need a way to efficiently deliver, mark and administer a placement test for new students, then Placement is perfect for you. Our adaptive software means this single test will generate questions depending on your student’s previous responses, and therefore is suitable for beginner to advanced level learners.

    This results in a single, fair and unique testing procedure, along with reliable GSE and CEFR grades upon completion.

    What it tests: Placement is a 50-minute, computer-based assessment that tests the students on a wide range of topics, including the four skills, plus vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. Using real-life English content reflecting life in the classroom, students complete tasks such as choosing the correct word or phrase, error correction, dictation completion and describing visuals.

  • a hand reaching for a book from a bookshelf
    • Language hints and tips
    • Just for fun

    9 great novels to help improve your English

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading is one of the most fun and effective ways to help improve your English language skills. It can help to expand your vocabulary and expose you to different sentence structures, all while you enjoy 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 even 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.

    9 great novels to help improve your English

    Below, we reveal nine novels, including William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and George Orwell’s Animal Farm, to help improve your English.

    1. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

    This classic tale takes place in the English countryside and shares the adventures of the animals that live by the river. Grahame’s simple use of language with imaginative stories makes this a pleasurable read for adults and children.

    2. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

    This book is a modern classic and a popular study text for schools all over the world. When a group of boys are isolated on a desert island, the society they create descends into ruthless behavior. Golding uses dramatic and descriptive language, almost like poetry, making you feel like you’re in the scenes yourself.

    3. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

    Ernest Hemingway is well-known for his clear, straightforward writing style and short sentence structure, which is great for English language learners and many people have read it in school. It’s the courageous tale of a Cuban fisherman and his battle to land a giant marlin and it’s a perfect introduction to Hemingway as an author.

    4. Animal Farm – George Orwell

    This short, allegorical novel tells the story of animals rebelling against their human masters, and is a satire of the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Orwell uses simple English to appeal to all reading levels with a ‘less is more’ approach, and the animals speak in short, clear sentences.

    5. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

    When Mitch Albom reconnects with Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor, he learns valuable life lessons and shares with readers all the funny, insightful wisdom that Morrie reveals in the last months of his life. It’s a great book to pick up a more conversational reading and writing style. It’s also a great book to read aloud.

    6. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

    A must-read for any music lover, this modern story uses a casual language style. It is written from the point of view of the main character, Rob, a heartbroken vinyl record store owner living in north London. It has a quick-pace feel with short, funny conversations between characters that really keep the story moving.

    7. The Giver – Lois Lowry

    Lowry uses short sentences and simple grammar to create an attention-grabbing story from the start. It’s about a boy called Jonas and his community – where freedom, individuality and choice don’t exist.

    8. Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

    Roald Dahl is one of the greatest children’s authors and very popular with adults too. Beginning with a children’s book is an excellent way to begin reading English novels, as they often have exciting plots and fun dialogue.

    9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

    This is the story about the adventures of a young boy with autism, Christopher. When he discovers the murder of his neighbor’s dog, he decides to investigate it. As it’s told from Christopher’s point of view, his matter-of-fact explanations for everything he sees are clear and easy to understand and take you on an intriguing journey.

  • A man sat at a laptop with headphones on
    • Language teaching
    • Technology and the future

    The advantages of online distance learning

    By Pearson Languages

    The technological component of learning is constantly growing. More and more classes are taking place online – yet rather than simply being a substitute for classroom courses, they can be blended with a classroom-based approach. This often offers students a more engaging and motivating experience. This post talks about the advantages of online learning, why teachers find it useful and why students enjoy it.

    Distance learning versus classroom courses

    Typically, there are two sets of teachers interested in experimenting with online teaching:

    • Those who are considering using distance learning courses for students who can’t attend classes.
    • Those who are looking to supplement their classroom teaching with more interactive, or personalized online components.

    Yet regardless of the category they fall into, they’ll often ask: “What can distance learning courses provide that classroom courses can’t?”.

    And this is the right question to ask. Looking at the relative advantages of online courses helps us discern what is the best use of classroom time for learning and what is the best use of online time for learning.

    Knowing this allows us to make better decisions about how and when to use online learning. Instead of simply adopting an online course, adding online components just because they look attractive, or using great technology just because it alleviates scheduling problems, we can choose them for the added value they provide.

    The strengths of classroom-based learning versus online learning

    The strengths of a classroom-based course are:

    1. Easier community building.
    2. Direct access to a live teacher for inspiration, guidance and feedback.
    3. More 'live' opportunities for communicative practice with other students.
    4. Provision of a structured schedule.

    As for the strengths of a distance learning course, the following come to mind. They:

    1. Provide easier access to course resources.
    2. Offer greater convenience for the teacher and learner, and offer flexibility in scheduling.
    3. Can be personalized – that is, teachers can cater to each student’s proficiency level and learning goals by delivering different online resources (including videos, readings, and listenings) to individual students so they can work on them in their own time.

    However, distance learning courses have some less obvious advantages, too. Distance learning courses have shown the following trends, which have completely changed the way to see and use online learning:

    Increased engagement

    Number one is the rise in engagement. A well-designed distance course is aimed directly at the individual learner: there is much more practice time and immediate feedback, particularly for listening and speaking tasks. We often find that shy students and those who feel unable to participate in a classroom environment are more willing to engage with the teacher and other students in online courses.

    Improved concentration

    Secondly, online courses improve concentration, which, as all teachers know, is a continual problem in classrooms. Rather than being directed on what to do, students working online can select what activities to engage in, for how long, and in what sequence, which helps them stay focused.

    Easier assessment

    The third advantage, which is vital for a teacher, is the ease and fluidity of tracking progress. In classrooms, it’s hard to track how students progress over a whole semester, much less in each class. In online distance learning, you get constant monitoring of how well students are doing on individual tasks and progress checks, no matter what learning management system you’re using.

    Why learners choose online courses

    We’ve seen the potential reasons teachers may incorporate distance learning materials. But why do learners choose online courses over classroom ones?

    Choice is an important aspect of engagement and motivation – and the only way that students are going to learn is if they feel engaged. Give them choices in activities, homework, schedules, tests and even grading.

    For example, if teaching a class on human rights, in which students watch a short video and write a text, you could give students a choice of two videos, rather than directing them to watch a particular video. And in an exam, maybe offer a choice of different reading materials or essay topics to write on.

    What’s more, giving students a choice of a distance learning course over a classroom course, a blended classroom online course, or even a choice of activities can improve motivation and increase engagement. Just make sure not to overwhelm them with too many choices!

  • A woman sat in front of a laptop, with a pen in hand and a paper on the desk. She is looking at the camera
    • English language testing

    International Certificate home testing: Benefits, rules and requirements

    By Pearson Languages

    Education has embraced remote and hybrid learning – and it looks like it’s here to stay as a more accessible option for students everywhere. For the same reasons, even higher-stakes English exams are proving it’s possible to throw off old-fashioned approaches and adapt to the changing needs and expectations of today’s test-takers. The Pearson English International Certificate is available online (as well as in paper-based format) and can be taken in a home environment. It has a number of benefits for both teachers and test takers.

    In this post, we will look at why testing from home is a good option and explore the rules and requirements for the online Pearson English International Certificate.

    5 benefits of remote language testing

    1. Flexibility to take the test anywhere

    One of the great things about taking the online International Certificate is that test-takers can do it from any private location with a reliable internet connection.

    While we offer the option to take the test in one of our authorized computer-based testing centers, we now also offer testing from home with the OnVue online proctoring system. Both delivery methods are backed by the same level of robust security, meaning International Certificate test results can be equally trusted regardless of where the test was taken.

    2. Fits into learners’ schedules

    The online International Certificate allows test-takers to schedule their 2-hour test at a time that fits into their timetable and is not restricted by location. This means that they don’t have to take time off work or education to take the test, or suffer the additional stress or inconvenience this can cause to their lives.

    Using just one system and one log-in, they register for the test, schedule it for whenever suits them and then, when the time comes, sign in to gain access to the online proctoring system.

    3. Easy-to-use testing platform

    The International Certificate is available through Pearson English Test Hub, the online assessment portal that brings teachers, test-takers and tests together in a single, user-friendly space.

    Test Hub is extremely straightforward to use for scheduling, taking tests and accessing results – while also delivering powerful, data-rich insights into test performance for both teachers and test-takers.

    Furthermore, we have clear resources showing new users how to navigate the platform, as well as online videos on our YouTube channel to help learners familiarize themselves with the online International Certificate format.

    Also available through Test Hub is the Readiness Test, which predicts readiness to pass the International Certificate, as well as the Level and Benchmark Tests – assessments that teachers find invaluable for placing new students in the right class and tracking their progress to proficiency.

    4. Quicker to mark and issue results

    All tests are scored using an AI system. This speeds up the turnaround time for results, making the whole process much more efficient than the paper-based exam.

    Governments trust Pearson’s world-leading scoring technology, businesses and universities globally and is powered by the expert input of thousands of skilled, experienced English teachers. Since 2022, the online International Certificate has been scored entirely using this system, bringing the score turnaround time to under 2 weeks – a fraction of the time taken to score the paper-based test.

    5. Accessible to all

    Running an assessment online means that many people from around the world can access it. So, this will allow people in some of the world's most remote areas to get a recognized English certificate and change their lives, as long as they meet the following requirements.

    Pearson English International Certificate requirements

    There are a number of requirements that test-takers need to be aware of when taking the exam from home. These include:

    • a computer - test-takers must have access to a computer or laptop for the test duration. We recommend using a personal rather than a work computer as the testing software uses a secure browser that restricts other programs from running. Therefore, firewalls or network settings on work computers may cause problems.
    • a government-issued ID - To sign in to the online testing system, test-takers must have their government-issued ID, such as a passport, identification card or driving license, ready to present.
    • internet access - As the test requires continuous audio and video streaming, test-takers need to maintain a good internet connection. Additionally, we recommend connecting to a hardwire ethernet cable. Alternatively, test-takers should ask others at home to avoid using the internet during the exam.
    • a headset - Test-takers need a wired headset to take the test, rather than a Bluetooth one. This needs to include a microphone. Make sure it is of good sound quality so that tasks can be completed effectively.
    • a webcam - Test-takers need a webcam as they’ll be monitored by our online proctoring system throughout. This is to ensure that they do not have help from another person, or their notes nearby.
    • a private testing space - Test-takers must ensure they have a quiet and comfortable location that is completely private while doing the test. The proctor must end the session if anyone appears – even momentarily – during the test. The candidate is the only person allowed to see and answer the test questions.

    The International Certificate testing rules

    There are a number of simple, yet critical rules to follow when taking the International Certificate test from home. These include:

    • minors need adult consent - Test-takers who are under 18, an adult must be present to show their ID and provide consent. Then they must leave the room for the test to begin.
    • test taker must remain in webcam view - The test is under 2 hours with one optional 10-minute break. Aside from this break, people taking the test must not stand up or leave their workspace.
    • remove watches - Test-takers must remove all watches and smart watches to be stored out of sight.
    • store personal items away - Test-takers must store all their personal items out of reach during the test. They can not use phones, books, pens, notes or whiteboards.
    • clear exam workspace - There shouldn’t be any clutter on the desk or workspace. The proctor will check that no prohibited items are in the room before beginning.
    • no handwritten notes allowed - Test-takers are not permitted to take handwritten notes during the test. They may use the notes feature in their browser to take notes.
  • A Young woman smiling and gesturing at her friend
    • Language hints and tips

    Improve your English without saying a word

    By Pearson Languages

    Communicating in English goes far beyond simply learning English vocabulary. In fact, there are many non-verbal strategies you can leverage to appear more confident as you improve your English. Below you’ll find three of the most important aspects of non-verbal communication to work on:

    Make eye contact when you speak in English

    When you’re talking to someone, it’s best to look them in the eye as much as possible. This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and listening intently when not speaking. Especially in loud environments, you may find your eyes drawn to someone’s lips as they talk. While it may help you better understand what they’re saying in a noisy place, like a restaurant, aim to maintain eye contact as much as you can (but do remember to take a quick break away once in a while so as to not stare too intently).

    Be mindful of body language

    What you’re doing with your hands and the facial expressions you make can say a lot—sometimes more than words! Not only should you be aware of the body language of who you’re talking with, but you also need to know what your body language is saying about you. Different cultures see hand gestures differently so it's good to be mindful of what gestures you make with your hands. If you want to appear open and friendly you may want to keep your arms open and avoid closed body language like crossing your arms.

    If someone is leaning away from you slightly, this may indicate they aren’t interested in the topic you’re speaking about. They may lean in closer if more interested in what you're talking about. If they smile a lot, this may mean they agree with you.

    Prepare yourself for English conversations you may have

    If you are planning to practice talking in English, it’s OK to prepare yourself for the conversation. Create a script for yourself to speak from that allows you to practice difficult terms and phrases. Not only will this give you real-time experience bettering your skills, but it will allow you to speak English with confidence.

    Either in work situations or casual conversations, there’s more than just English words being exchanged so remember to dedicate your full attention. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice and improve your English skills and you’re likely to learn more than just studying on your own.

  • A man sat a laptop, with his hands to his face looking comtemplative
    • Linguistics and culture

    How using jargon, idioms and colloquialism confuses English learners

    By Pearson Languages

    “How do I learn thee? Let me count the ways”

    Did you get it?

    To ‘get’ the title of this post, you must first recognize that it is based on the famous opening line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, published in 1850. Then you need to understand that “thee” is an old form of the word “you”. Next, you need to appreciate the pun on the word “love”, which has been changed to “learn”. Lastly, you need to figure out the full meaning of the phrase, which likens the idea of learning English to the idea of love, or a labor of love (also an idiom), and the many different ways you can do it.

    That’s a lot of steps, but a fluent English speaker would likely pick it up. That’s because they've learned the language from childhood in an English-speaking country, probably studied some poetry at school and have absorbed this quote through news media, popular culture or at a wedding.

    Understanding jargon, idioms and colloquialism is one of the hardest parts of learning any new language. It’s only achieved by repeated exposure to – and immersion in – speech. In the Global Scale of English Learning Objectives for Adult Learners, listening to, and recognizing a wide range of idioms and colloquialisms doesn’t appear until 83, at the very upper edge of C1. For speaking, joining a conversation in progress with fluent speakers on complex topics comes in at 81. Reading idiomatic or non-standard language appears at 76, again within C1. It all adds up to a very sophisticated level of understanding.

    Yet jargon and idioms are huge parts of English. They are also constantly changing, and jargon morphs with new innovations, professional disciplines, and generations. 

    When an idiom is over-used, it becomes a cliché. Sometimes idioms stick out like a sore thumb because they’re unrelated to context – but not always.

    Even fluent English speakers don’t necessarily realize an idiom is an idiom. Take the phrase “I’ll call you tomorrow”. Most fluent English speakers would see that as a simple declarative sentence. The expression comes from the idea of “calling on” someone in person, or calling their name to get their attention, but a second-language English speaker may not immediately grasp the fact that it now involves a phone, and can be achieved over long distances.

    English is both complex and rich in figurative language; we know this. That’s one of its beauties and also a challenge of learning it. But at what point do these kinds of figurative language become incorrect?

    As Lennox Morrison recently explored, second-language English speakers now outnumber fluent English speakers globally, which means the balance is tipping. Fluent English speakers are doing business with, learning from and interacting with second-language English speakers more than ever. Billions of pounds in trade and countries’ fates can hinge on those written and spoken conversations; the stakes are high.

    Second-language English speakers find idioms and jargon difficult and therefore see far less need for them. Although sayings can be lovely, charming and fun, these linguistic devices mask meaning by their very nature. This makes language less efficient when not every participant in a conversation can decode them. The proportion of people who can’t is growing, which might affect what is considered to be “correct” in the coming decades and have implications for what is taught.

    Want to learn some idioms? Check out - Eerie English idioms and phrases