The English language is a fascinating mix of regional dialects and unique slang, shaped by centuries of history and cultural influences. Throughout its long history, the UK has had many invasions and visitors. From the Romans in ancient Londinium to the rolling hills of the Saxon heartland, and from the Viking raiders of the north to the Norman conquerors of the south, each wave of historical influence has shaped the dialects of the UK. Each region of the United Kingdom has its own distinct flavor of language and accent. Today, we embark on a slang tour to explore some of the expressions from different regions.
6 ways to get the best results on your Versant English test
Versant tests are popular automatically scored English assessments. They allow test takers to prove their English proficiency and demonstrate that they’re capable of using English at work.
If you’re applying for a job or trying to get into a school language program, you may be preparing to take a Versant test right now! But how do you make sure you succeed at it?
Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for your Versant test.
What types of Versant tests are there?
There are four different types of English tests in the Versant suite. Each is designed with the purpose of testing English language proficiency. However, they’re slightly different in structure and the skills they test. As a result, they are used by companies or educational institutions with different goals.
Here are the five types of Versant tests:
- Versant English Test: a short, 17-minute test that focuses on speaking skills. Companies that primarily use spoken English use this test to assess candidates’ ability to communicate in English. For example, it’s popular with call centers.
- Versant Writing Test: a 35-minute writing test. It’s the ideal test for companies that use English primarily in writing. It evaluates writing skills through practical exercises like taking notes and writing emails.
- Versant English Placement Test: a thorough, 50-minute test that evaluates all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Academic institutions use this formative assessment to sort students into language programs.
- Versant 4 Skills Essential: a shorter, 30-minute test that evaluates all four language skills. Companies often use it to find candidates with well-rounded English skills because it helps them fill entry-level positions quickly.
- Versant Professional English Test: a comprehensive 60-minute test that evaluates all four skills. Companies use this test to baseline skills, measure progress and prove employees’ proficiency, oftentimes at the end of a business English training course.
Which Versant test should you take?
Which Versant test you take will depend on what your goals are. Have a look at these examples:
- Arnaldo wants to study abroad for a year in Australia. He will most likely take the Versant English Placement Test to get into the university program of his choice.
- Arjun is applying for a job at a call center. His future employers will request that he take the Versant English Test to demonstrate how he communicates in English.
- Sofia’s aiming to become an email customer support specialist at an international retail firm. She’ll be asked to take the Versant Writing Test to prove her writing skills.
- Farrah is applying for an internship at a fast-scaling startup. So, she’ll need to take the Versant 4 Skills Essential Test.
- Last but not least, Samira is currently a mid-level manager at an insurance company and is enrolled in a course to upskill her communication skills. She’ll be asked to prove her English proficiency by taking the Versant Professional English Test.
Tips for preparing for your Versant test
No matter which Versant test you’re taking, there are things you can do to prepare. Here are 6 ways to make sure you get the best results:
1. Work on your intelligibility
Intelligibility refers to your ability to speak in a way that’s easy to understand for others. Even if you don’t speak flawlessly or have a native-like accent, your speech can still have a high intelligibility level. That is if you are able to express what you mean.
The Versant English Test has an intelligibility score. The system calculates it based on various speech factors like speed, clarity, pronunciation, and fluency. So, it’s important that you work on your intelligibility before tackling a Versant test.
Here are two exercises you can do to improve your intelligibility:
- Record your speech. Recording yourself talking for a minute or so lets you play it back, analyze your speech and identify parts of it that are hard to understand. Maybe you’re mispronouncing some words, talking too fast, or pausing too often. Try to practice talking about the same topic until your speech becomes easier to understand.
- Practice shadowing. Shadowing is a technique that brings together listening and speaking. Find a video of a proficient public speaker giving a speech on YouTube. Try to say the same words as the speaker at about the same time. Do this for about 30 seconds at a time. This will help you mimic the speaker’s speech, improving your intonation, pronunciation, and fluency.
If you can, enlist the help of an English teacher to help you work on your weaknesses, or find a friend who is a native English speaker and set up regular video chats.
2. Practice typing on your computer
Unless you’re taking the Versant English Test, which is a speaking-only test, you’ll be asked to prove your English writing skills. Since Versant tests are most often taken off-site, it’s likely that you’ll be taking it on your own computer at home. That’s why it’s a good idea to practice typing on your computer before your Versant test.
While Versant will not factor your typing into your English proficiency scores, the Versant Writing Test and Versant English Placement Test do include a separate typing speed and accuracy score. They’re provided as supplemental information for 3 reasons:
- Since typing is a familiar task to most candidates, it is a comfortable introduction to the test.
- It allows candidates to familiarize themselves with the keyboard.
- If typing speed is below 12 words per minute, and/or accuracy is below 90%, then it is likely that this candidate’s written English proficiency was not properly measured due to poor typing skills. The test administrator should take this into account when interpreting test scores.
Bear in mind that all the exercises you need to complete are timed. So, if you want to make sure that you have enough time to type your answers correctly, it’s good to get a little practice. This way, you’ll be able to focus wholeheartedly on the content and structure of your sentences, not your typing.
To give you an example, the Versant English Placement Test has a dictation task, where you have to type sentences exactly as you hear them. It also has a passage reconstruction task, where you read a text, put it aside, and type what you remember from it.
Then, there’s a summary and opinion task where you have to read a passage, summarize the author’s opinion, and give your own. These are all practical exercises that evaluate how well you’d perform in real-life situations at work. For example, taking notes at a meeting, writing emails, or putting together a presentation.
3. Listen to everyday spoken English
Another definitive characteristic of Versant is that it tests how well you can understand and use English in an everyday context. It does not test the technical or literary use of the language. So, to get into Versant, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in some everyday spoken English.
For example, you can watch videos of someone on YouTube talking directly to their audience in a casual way. Or, you can listen to a podcast that features a laid-back conversation between two people. And, if you can, don’t just listen but also practice talking about everyday topics. Ask a friend or a family member to chat with you in English about simple things like how your day was or what you had for dinner.
Tips for taking your Versant test
Preparation is key. But it’s also important to make sure that you take the test the correct way. Since Versant is a flexible test that can be completed online or offline and administered remotely, there are a few tricks to making sure you get the best out of it:
1. Choose your testing environment well
Take the test in a quiet room, with no background noise or people talking around you. Make sure that the space doesn’t have an echo. And, turn off your notifications so you won’t be disturbed by incoming phone calls or messages.
2. Make good-quality recordings
The best way to do speaking tests is by using a headset with a built-in microphone. Keep the microphone 3-5 cm from your mouth. Try not to touch or move it while answering questions.
3. Speak in a natural way
Try to speak at a normal conversational speed and volume. Just the way you would speak if you were talking to another person. Don’t raise your voice or speak too softly. Try not to speak too slowly or rush your answers. And, do not repeat your answers again and again.
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Language is not only a tool for communication but also a means to explore and comprehend diverse cultures, traditions, and perspectives. Europe, with its vast array of languages, is a prime example of this linguistic diversity. Each year on September 26th, Europe observes the European Day of Languages, which is a day solely dedicated to celebrating and embracing this linguistic richness.
Europe is a magnificent tapestry of languages, with over 200 spoken throughout the continent. This diversity is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of each nation and reminds us of the intricate historical, social, and linguistic elements that mold our identities. The European Day of Languages inspires people to cherish and honor this linguistic heritage.
Why September 26th?
September 26th marks an important date for celebrating linguistic diversity and promoting multilingualism. This day commemorates the adoption of the "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" by the Council of Europe in 1992, a crucial document that recognizes and safeguards the linguistic rights of minority languages spoken within European countries. By celebrating the European Day of Languages on this date, it renews our commitment to supporting the rich diversity of languages and cultures that make our world a more vibrant and fascinating place.
What type of events happen?
The European Day of Languages offers language learners a chance to participate in language exchanges, which is an exciting opportunity. During such exchanges, learners from diverse backgrounds partner up and teach each other their native languages. This not only helps improve language skills but also promotes intercultural understanding.
Various European cities offer language workshops led by enthusiasts and experts, providing an introduction to different languages.
Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool for learning languages. Libraries, schools, and cultural centers hold multilingual storytelling sessions, where stories from different cultures are shared in their original languages. This helps both children and adults to better understand and appreciate the beauty of linguistic diversity.
Cinema provides a wonderful opportunity to explore different languages and cultures. Throughout Europe, foreign films are often shown with subtitles, enabling viewers to fully immerse themselves in new linguistic worlds.
Museums often showcase exhibitions highlighting the linguistic and cultural heritage of various regions, providing insight into the history and traditions of different languages.
Cafés and restaurants might offer special menus featuring diverse cuisines and multilingual staff – a delightfully tasty way to explore languages and cultures.
Games and Competitions
Language-based games and competitions, such as crossword puzzles and spelling bees, are organized in schools and communities to provide a fun and educational way to celebrate language.
If you are a teacher hoping to celebrate this occasion make sure to check here for ideas on what to do.
Check out what events are happening near you here.
Just like the European day of Languages, we at Pearson Languages are fully committed to empowering and celebrating language learners and educators alike. That's why we are now supporting French, Italian, and Spanish language learning with the Global Scale of Languages (GSL). With these new language learning frameworks at your fingertips, you can confidently design curriculums and personalize learning pathways to help fast-track your learners’ progress and help your learners be themselves in French, Italian and Spanish.
Whether you're a teacher, a language learner, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of languages, the European Day of Languages and the GSL provide exciting opportunities to explore, learn, and enjoy the rich tapestry of Europe's linguistic heritage.
Can we play a game? How many times have you been asked this in class? And how often do you say Yes? Young learners love to play games, and if you choose the right ones, they can have a hugely beneficial impact on their learning.
As well as being fun, games can provide learners with necessary language practice, as well as lowering the affective filter (i.e. anxiety, fear, boredom and other negative emotions that can all impact learning). Games also foster a positive, relaxed environment.
So are you ready to play? Here are a few tried and tested games that work especially well in the primary classroom. Each game is designed to consolidate and review the language students have been learning, and take from 5 to 15 minutes. The games are flexible enough for you to adapt them to different levels, age groups and skills.