Filter by tag

  • University students sat in a classroom at desks with a teacher speaking to them
    • Success stories
    • The Global Scale of English

    Planning for success with the GSE

    By Pearson Languages

    The Global Scale of English (GSE) is the first truly global English language standard.

    It consists of a detailed scale of language ability and learning objectives, forming the foundations of our courses and assessments at Pearson English.

    The GSE was developed based on research involving over 6000 language teachers worldwide. The objective was to extend the current CEFR descriptor sets to enable the measurement of progression within a CEFR level – and also to address the learning needs of a wider group of students.

    It can be used in conjunction with a current school curriculum and allows teachers to accurately measure their learners’ progress in all four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

    GSE was introduced at the American Language Institute – an English language school run by the University of Toledo in Ohio, USA – with impressive results.

    The American Language Institute

    The Institute provides English courses for students who want to improve their English and prepares students to take the International Student English exam. They offer an intensive language program consisting of 20 hours of classes every week and 40 hours of self-study. This 60-hour week is designed to fast-track students from a lower level of English to a standard which allows them to participate successfully in college courses. There are five course levels offered, from A2+ to B2+ and class sizes average at around 10 students.

    Most students at the Institute are full-time international students planning to attend the University of Toledo once their English language proficiency reaches the required standard. On average, they are between 18 and 20 years old, and enter the language program with a B1 level of English.

    A mission statement

    At the Institute, the main aim of the language courses is to help students develop their English skills to a level that will allow them to integrate successfully into the university community, not just academically but socially. In their own words; “Our ultimate goal isn’t to teach them how to take and pass language tests, but to teach them how to use English and engage themselves with the local communities.”

    So how did the GSE, in conjunction with the Versant test and other Pearson products, help to achieve this goal?

    Transitioning to a objectives-based curriculum

    First, the course coordinator Dr Ting Li adopted the GSE for a more detailed approach to the CEFR. She found that the GSE “made the CEFR more manageable because it broke out the levels and outlined CEFR goals into different categories.”

    Next, she replaced the current course materials with NorthStar Speaking & Listening, NorthStar Reading & Writing, and Focus on Grammar. These courses covered the areas taught in the previous curriculum, as well as the three key areas of study; literacy, speaking and listening, and grammar.

    The instructors also began using Pearson English Connect, a digital platform for teachers and students.This gave them the flexibility to revise questions and reduce administrative burden due to the automatic grading feature.

    Finally, the Institute started using the Versant English placement test to decide which level students should enter when they first begin studying at the Institute.

    Key findings from the case study

    The new curriculum was a great success. Students, teachers and administrators all found that the courses and assessments, all underpinned by the GSE, made the language learning experience smoother and easier. Once students had completed the highest level of the course and achieved a 3.0 GPA, they were able to transition smoothly into their courses at the University of Toledo.

    The alignment between the NorthStar courses, the grammar study books and the Versant test was informed by the GSE. This meant students didn’t have to sit as many assessments as before, reducing time teachers had to spend setting and marking exams, and allowing them to focus more on supporting learners and the quality of their lessons.

    Dr Li highlighted the following key benefits:

    • The Global Scale of English supports the development of a standardized curriculum and a consistent framework for teaching English
    • The average student GPA was highly related to the University of Toledo’s undergraduate GPA, which indicates that if students do well at the Institute, they will have a successful academic career. 
    • There was no group difference between graduates of the Institute and the average University of Toledo student GPA, which indicates that the Institute’s students perform as well as other international students who have been directly admitted to the university. 
    • There was no difference between credits earned 2 years into the university program compared with the general student population.

    What’s more, the Institute was recently recognized by the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA), meaning that the course run by Dr Li is now nationally recognized. Using the GSE to inform the organization of the course curriculum made the accreditation process smoother and easier.

    Working as a team

    One of the main pieces of feedback from Dr Li and the Institute was how helpful they found the Pearson representatives, who offered excellent customer support, building a sense of a team between their representatives and the school. This very teamwork helped the Institute to fulfill the ambition in their mission statement. It makes for an inspiring story of how one school used the GSE to transform their curriculum, and achieved their goal of helping students to improve their English and achieve their academic ambitions.  

  • a young man sat in a lecture hall with other students behind him
    • The Global Scale of English
    • Success stories

    How the GSE helped Salem State University meet learner needs

    By Pearson Languages

    Salem State University is one of the largest and most diverse public teaching universities in Massachusetts. In total, it has about 8,700 students enrolled, 37% of whom are people of color. It also educates 221 international students from 59 different countries – with China, Albania, Brazil, Morocco, Nigeria and Japan among the most represented countries on campus.

    The university runs an intensive English language program. Most students who enrol come from China, Brazil, Albania, Vietnam, and Japan. The program also has a number of part-time English language learners from the local community.

    In 2016, Associate Director Shawn Wolfe and teachers at the American Language and Culture Institute did a review and found that areas for growth included establishing a universal documentation for identifying learner needs, goals and progress.

    “The biggest challenge was that we needed to have a better way of placing students,” Wolfe says. “We also needed to have a way to have our curriculum, our assessment and our student learning outcomes unified.”

    The team lacked programmatic data related to learning gains and outcomes. Additionally, they realized that assessments could be used to inform students about entry requirements at the university and other programs. And that’s where the Global Scale of English (GSE) came in, as a tool which enabled the staff at the American Language and Culture Institute to personalize and diversity their English teaching program to meet learner needs.

    Cultural and linguistic diversity

    David Silva PhD, the Provost and Academic Vice President, highlights the need for this type of personalization when it comes to education.

    “We have to be prepared for an increasing variety of learners and learning contexts. This means we have to make our learning contexts real,” he says. “We have to think about application, and we have to think about how learners will take what they learn and apply it, both in terms of so-called book smarts, but also in terms of soft skills, because they’re so important.”

    Silva makes the point that, as the world gets smaller and technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, we can be anywhere at any time, working with anyone from across the globe. “We need to be prepared,” he says, “for those cultural and linguistic differences that we’re going to face in our day-to-day jobs.”

    The ability to change and adapt

    So how does the curriculum at the American Language and Culture Institute help prepare students for the world of study and work?

    At the Institute, the general review led to the realization that the program needed to be adaptive and flexible. This would provide a balance between general English and academic preparation and would also encompass English for specific purposes (ESP).

    Wolfe says, “The GSE fit with what we were trying to do because it offers three different options; English for academic learners, English for professionals and English for adults, which is another area that we realized we needed to add to our evening program so that we can serve working adults that are English language learners in our community.”

    The English language instructors at the Institute were also impressed with the capabilities of the GSE. Joni Hagigeorges, one of the instructors, found the GSE to be an excellent tool for tracking student progress.

    “What I really like is that you can choose the skill – grammar, listening, speaking – and you’re given the can-do statements, the learning objectives that each student will need to progress to the next level,” she said.

    Wolfe also commented on the GSE Teacher Toolkit and the way that it supports assessment and planning, allowing instructors to get ideas for specific learning objectives for groups or individual students. “It’s enabled us to personalize learning, and it’s changed the way that our teachers are planning their lessons, as well as the way that they are assessing the students.”

    A curriculum that will meet learner needs

    The GSE has allowed the team at the Institute to become more responsive to changing student expectations. The alignment of placement and progress tests to the GSE has allowed instructors to have more input into the courses they are teaching.

    Elizabeth Cullen, an English language instructor at the Institute, said, “The GSE helps us assess the strengths and weaknesses of various textbooks. It has helped us develop a unified curriculum, and a unified assessment mechanism.”

    This unification means that the curriculum can easily be tweaked or redesigned quickly to meet the needs of the students. What’s more, as Elizabeth points out, the students benefit too. “The Global Scale of English provides students with a road map showing them where they are now, where they want to go and how they’re going to get there.”

    Standing out from the crowd

    In this time of global hyper-competition, the challenge for any language program is finding innovative ways to stand out from the crowd while staying true to your identity. At Salem State, the staff found that the GSE was the perfect tool for the modern, data-driven approach to education, inspiring constant inquiry, discussion and innovation. It offers students, instructors and administrators a truly global metric to set and measure goals, and go beyond the ordinary.

  • An image of Max Kortakul, a man with dark hair, glasses and black shirt holding a microphone
    • Business and employability
    • Success stories

    How English can help make a successful business

    By Pearson Languages

    In today's commercial world, proficiency in English can significantly set a successful business apart from those challenged by communication barriers. English acts as a bridge to international markets, enabling businesses to establish worldwide partnerships and connect with a broader audience.

    Effective use of English can amplify marketing strategies, enhance customer engagement, and simplify and manage the complexities of legal and financial dealings across different countries. Let's explore an example where English proficiency has been instrumental in a business's success.

    Max Kortrakul, the dynamic CEO and co-founder of the company StockRadars, has become a pivotal figure in the business world spearheading innovation within Thailand's thriving stock investment scene. His mobile application, a beacon for stock investors in the region, encapsulates the surge of technology start-ups that Southeast Asia is witnessing. With the prestigious Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Award under its belt in 2014, StockRadars exemplifies the caliber of start-ups emerging from this vibrant corner of the world.

    In 2015, Southeast Asia's tech industry saw an unprecedented influx of deals, and as projected by a fascinating report by Temasek and Google Singapore, the internet economy is poised to soar, potentially amassing a staggering US$200 billion annually over the course of the next decade. Amidst this digital gold rush, Max unearths his entrepreneurial saga – from seducing investors with a mere concept, to architecting a budding enterprise with English as a critical cog in reaching an impressive valuation of US$15 million.

    The genesis of a pioneering app for stock investors

    Eager to democratize the daunting task and practice of stock investing, Max identified a crucial void in the market – intuitive and user-friendly analytical tools. "Investment should be accessible. My vision was to demystify the stock market terrain for both myself and the wider audience in Thailand" he reflects. StockRadars embodies this ethos, distilling complex market data into streamlined, actionable insights, accessible right from your smartphone.

    From sleepless nights to a sound business proposition

    Max was burning the midnight oil when inspiration struck - that unshakable idea that jolts you awake at 3 a.m. Consumed by potential, he channelled all his energy and focus into writing and crafting the app. "It's about conviction and the audacity to give life to your concept," Max states. "Some ideas propel you into the celebrated Unicorn list; others are stepping stones to the next big venture."

    The art of engaging investors

    Successful fundraising transcends mere numbers. For Max, it hinged on substantiating his commitment and the sweat equity he poured into StockRadars. "Investors bet on people, not just ideas" he states. Presenting the app as a tool that could help alleviate risk and simplify stock market investment was key to unlocking investor confidence.

    Tackling pitchroom anxieties

    "I shunned the notion of insignificance," Max admits. Being from a region sparse in tech success stories, he focused on his personal goals and conviction to succeed rather than his country’s size.

    Navigating the pitch in English could intimidate, but Max was a proponent of simplicity over jargon. His prior stint in an IT firm in Vietnam had polished his own English skills and vocabulary, a skill he used to his advantage.

    Multicultural mindsets driving innovation

    Working in diverse environments has broadened Max's horizons, teaching him the value of "English variants" in seamless communication. "Diversity shapes our business ideology" notes Max. Interns from Nepal and England have enriched StockRadars, bringing distinct perspectives to the table and fuelling innovation.

    The language of opportunity

    "English is the connective tissue in the global business landscape" Max asserts, underscoring its significance in multiplying prospects and fostering networks. With Southeast Asia becoming a fertile ground for tech start-ups, English proficiency is not just an asset; it's a gateway to turning start-up visions into tangible successes.

    Why is English so important in business?

    In today's global economy, where over 1.5 billion people speak English, it serves as a crucial tool enabling cross-border collaborations and partnerships.

    For successful entrepreneurs, like Max, proficiency in English is not merely an academic accomplishment but a strategic business tool that enables effective communication across diverse cultures and geographic boundaries. It breaks down barriers, allowing businesses to access and engage with international clients, partners and investors effortlessly.

    In settings where colleagues of diverse nationalities meet, English is the shared language that promotes effective communication and understanding, boosting workflow efficiency and fostering workplace inclusivity. Whether it's negotiating deals, drafting contracts, or conducting marketing campaigns, English proficiency is essential, enhancing professional capabilities across various sectors.

    Therefore, speaking and mastering English is not merely a skill but a critical asset, increasing occupational prospects and driving careers and business success in a world where many professionals consider it the language of global business.

    This linguistic skill enhances understanding of global market trends and consumer demands, fostering opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Furthermore, English is the predominant language of the Internet, digital marketing and global trade agreements, making it indispensable for businesses aiming to develop and capitalise on e-commerce and digital platforms.

    In essence, for many business professionals, English is more than a language; it is a catalyst for business expansion, innovation and competitive edge in the increasingly interconnected global economy.

    Ensure your own business success

    Are you an aspiring business maverick? Amplify your reach, unlock investment opportunities, and join the ranks of elite companies and start-ups like StockRadars. The trajectory to success starts with a single step - and sometimes, that crucial step is mastering the English language.

    Unlock the doors to global success with Pearson's Business English Courses. Whether you're an emerging entrepreneur keen to pitch your next big idea with confidence or a seasoned professional looking to enhance your own knowledge and communication in the international market, our courses are designed to refine you or your students business English language skills.

    Read our other posts on workplace English, such as 'Cutting through corporate English: Clearer alternatives to business jargon' and 'Ways language training can transform your business'.