With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
What's the most effective way to learn English?
"What’s the most effective way to learn English?" It’s a question that has perplexed linguists for years. I see room for plenty of innovation in where it all starts - 'Ed'.
The evolution of edtech
In the seventies, reel to reel tape recorders were the latest technology. They enabled us school kids in the north of England to hear French sentences spoken by a first language speaker, rather than by an English teacher.
We looked at pictures projected onto the wall, listened to the sentences and repeated them over and over again. Not only did the audio-lingual methodology use the latest technology – but the pedagogy was also based on the 'sound' learning science of behaviorism. In a nutshell: if you repeat something often enough, it becomes automatic.
This 'drill and kill' approach to language learning has since been discredited and replaced by the communicative approach. Nevertheless, it lasted long enough to inform all of my secondary school French education.
I was considered a linguist and a grade A student. I went on to study for a French degree. But when I finally landed in France, I was unable to participate in even the most basic conversations. How effective had my language learning been?
A focus on outcomes is needed
So what is the takeaway? Publishers, entrepreneurs and edtech companies must think carefully about their products and courses. What problems are they trying to address? What outcomes are they trying to target?
It’s not enough to be innovative or novel. The shiny new toy will only engage learners for a short time if they don’t feel like they are making progress. We need to measure the impact on actual learning.
However, it is great to see so many exciting things happening in the world of edtech. For the first time, I believe we are on the cusp of delivering truly personalized learning journeys to all students –not just those who can afford individual tuition.
Many of us are developing AI that makes the learning journey adaptive, that monitors learner progress and surfaces that progress to the learner, that offers feedback on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, speaking and writing.
We know that feedback has a significant impact on learning. We also know that it is challenging to give feedback on spontaneous language. But this is where AI is heading and soon the vision of learners interacting with virtual tutors on various topics will be a reality.
The role of teachers in the edtech landscape
Will technology replace teachers? Unlikely. Language is a social construct. We learn languages to communicate with others – and an increasing number of language apps are partnering with online tutors and creating language communities to address this need for human interaction. But technology can supplement what the teacher does – and will be able to do so more meaningfully thanks to AI.
It can extend language learning outside of the classroom, driving faster progress. It is available 24/7.It provides learners with a safe space to practice and fail – a way to build confidence. It does not replace the teacher. Instead, it enables the teacher to be replaced in the classroom, focusing on the communicative elements of language learning that are still a challenge for apps.
More blogs from Pearson
Sometimes, it’s nice to share cultural insights with our students so they can get a deeper understanding of the context of the language they are learning. However, without lots of time and money, it can be tough to travel to an English-speaking country yourself and experience what life is like first-hand.
But what if you could learn about British history, customs and culture from the comfort of your sofa?
That’s right - in an instant you could be transported back to the dark cobbled streets of 19th century London, to an industrial town in northern England or a rural village in Surrey.
Today, we want to share six English stories set in Britain that provide cultural, historical and social aspects of British life, both past and present.
So sit back, relax and let us take you on an adventure.
Written by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
This story about the intelligent and beautiful Emma was first published at the end of 1815. The book, which takes place in a fictional village called Highbury (located in the charming county of Surrey), covers themes such as romance, social class and female empowerment.
Emma is a social person who enjoys seeing people happy and contented. She spends her time arranging marriages between her friends but sometimes makes mistakes. Will the problems she causes upset people? And can she find love herself?
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Written by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
This philosophical yet supernatural thriller, first published in 1890, is full of lies, secrets and mystery. The tale revolves around the main character, Dorian Gray, who after inheriting a property from his grandfather, travels to London and soon makes new friends. One of his new acquaintances paints a portrait of Dorian, who makes a dangerous wish that he would give anything - even his soul - to stay as young and good-looking as he appears in the painting.
Soon, things start to go wrong and his life gets out of control. But he doesn’t seem to get older. Why? The terrible secret he’s hiding in his attic is the answer. What could it be? Allow yourself to travel back to Victorian times and see London through the eyes of this handsome and hedonistic young man.
Written by Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880)
Written under Mary’s pen name,George Elliott, this work of realism was first published in eight installments during 1871 and 1872. The story, set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch from 1829-1832, tells a tale of science and discovery. It follows Dorothea, a young woman determined to change the world and Dr. Lydgate, an ambitious man who wants to be a leader in science. Dorothea and Dr. Lydgate are both married, but soon their marriages go wrong.
Can they ever be happy? Will they achieve their dreams? Although the central theme of the book revolves around the marriage of the two main characters, with many historical references such as the 1832 Reform Act, the beginnings of the railways and the death of King George IV, Middlemarch is great for those who are interested in history as well as provincial life.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Written by Richard Curtis (born 1956)
Those looking for a more modern look at British life can learn plenty about customs and cultures in this contemporary book, which has been adapted from one of Britain’s funniest and most popular films. Released in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral is about Charles (played by Hugh Grant in the film), a charming man who is very unlucky in love.
One day, during his friend’s wedding, he meets a beautiful girl called Carrie. Unfortunately, she does not plan to stay in England, and travels back to the United States. But they keep meeting each other, so maybe things can work out for the couple. Laugh while discovering the ins and outs of the British social scene in this romantic comedy.
5. North and South
Written by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
North and South, published in 1855, is about a young woman named Margaret Hale who moves with her parents from rural southern England to an industrial town called Milton in the north. There, she meets a wealthy mill owner named Mr. Thornton, and though she dislikes him, he immediately falls in love with her.
During her time in Milton, she witnesses what it’s like to work in the mills where employers and workers constantly clash. As his workers go on strike, will Mr. Thornton be able to charm Margaret? This complex and provoking story follows the working class struggle during the Industrial Revolution.
6. Oliver Twist
Written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Published in 1832, Oliver Twist was Dickens’ second novel. The story tells the tale of a young orphan we can all feel for. Oliver is brought up in a workhouse where he is beaten, starved and poorly treated. With no parents to look after him, he decides to run away to London, where he joins a gang of thieves.
His new friends look out for him, but can they protect him from a life of danger and crime? An interesting look at the darker side of Britain’s capital, Oliver Twist is still popular today with film, musical and TV adaptations.
Want some more reading inspiration for your English lessons?
Discover graded Readers featuring some of the world’s best-loved authors.
Pearson has Readers adapted from classic English novels with audio files and a comprehensive teacher resources section, meaning you can use them in class with your students too.
In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.