5 essentials every child needs when you're teaching English

Jeanne Perrett
Jeanne Perrett
Two parents sat with their two children, writing in a workbook togeher

The educational choices available to children are evolving rapidly with apps, online courses, digital games, recordings and videos becoming easily accessible. However, amidst this technological advancement, human evolution has not suddenly accelerated, and the primary aim for teachers remains unchanged - helping children make sense of the world and leaving their mark on it.

Here are five essential ways we can achieve that for every child, regardless of their circumstances, whether it's teaching English or fostering everyday learning and education.


   5 essentials every child needs when you're teaching English
Privacy and cookies
By viewing this third-party content from www.youtube.com you agree to their terms and conditions, privacy notice and acknowledge they may use cookies and pixels for information and analytics gathering.


1. Attention

Paying attention to what we're doing is something that we have to re-learn. Very young children pay great attention to the smallest of things. Washing their hands takes forever as they want to focus on the soap, doing up shoelaces can become a half-hour activity, or an interesting pebble on the road can make a quick trip to the shops a very long one.

So, what happens is that we then start teaching children to hurry up. ‘Hurry up, come on, quickly, now - put on your coat NOW!’ are part of every parent’s repertoire. And we have to do it because we know what the children don’t - that the bus won’t wait for us, that school starts at a certain time and that people will be kept waiting if we don’t hurry up.

Therefore paying attention has to be re-learnt and we need to lead the way. We have to pay attention to the children, what they are saying and doing, and then we have to resist the temptation to do too many things at once. And, most importantly, we have to give our children enough time to let things sink in.

2. Skills

We have so many ways of describing skills now; soft, hard, thinking, critical, communication - the list goes on. In some ways, these descriptors are useful as they make us more aware of the particular skills of a child, but there is still often a gap between knowing how a child is skilled and how that can be useful to the child.

Let’s take a classic example; one of the main qualities people often think of as connected to nursing is a skill for caring, showing compassion and being a good communicator. Yes, that is important, but the main skill needed to be a nurse is dealing competently, practically and non-judgmentally with bodily fluids. So, yes, we absolutely need to make sure that we are educating our children to become skillful in various ways but we also need to think about how those skills are transferable.

3. Knowledge

One of the most significant changes of the past 40 years is how we can access information. Gone are the days of one version of an encyclopedia or whatever your teacher knew; now we have online data, crowdsourced reports, scores of different formats - everything is a click and a swipe away.

So how can we help with this? First, we have to get children interested enough in a topic to want to find things out for themselves. Then we must guide them through what is true and what might not be. And then our main job is showing them that they can add to the tree of knowledge. It’s constantly growing, and they can lengthen the branches, help fruit grow, and even dig up the roots and plant the tree elsewhere.

4. Imagination

Thinking creatively, thinking ‘out of the box’ and seeing new possibilities can and must be nurtured in our children. We can use our imagination in traditionally creative ways such as writing, artwork, music and drama, but perhaps even more importantly we can use it in ‘unseen’ ways. We can unlearn banal responses and consider what we really think; in other words we can ‘think for ourselves’. Again this skill is needed more than ever when surrounded by seemingly wise thoughts in social media memes. The nature of memes is that they look definite, as if they are true. They might be and they might not. We can decide when we use our critical and creative thinking skills.

We can use imagination to find solutions to problems and we can use it to make our own everyday realities more exciting and life-enhancing. Whatever we do, if we have a positive image of ourselves doing it, the task becomes more meaningful and rewarding. And in a practical sense in the classroom, we can bring language learning to life. Imagining and play acting the situations where the language we are learning might be called for; in a restaurant, at an airport or meeting new friends. It can be a great method to teach English to kids, keeping them engaged and actively involved. 

5. Support

Support comes in many forms. First concrete support, such as providing a desk and materials for children to do their homework. This is something that teachers need to be aware of; do the children have that at home? It’s not a question of finance - not everyone can afford a separate room and the space for a desk - but it is a question of realizing that a dedicated, quiet space is needed. For example a cleared kitchen table at certain times of the day. It’s worth bearing this in mind if parents say their children never focus on homework. Look at the practicalities before any attitude issues.

The most important form of support we can give is ‘being there’ for our children. Knowing that someone wants you to do well, is there for you through your mistakes and successes, and empathizes with both. Someone who ‘has your back’ when you need help and is glad for you when you do well; that gives our children a powerful sense of security. And we can flourish when we feel secure.

By implementing these above points, we can equip children with the tools they need to understand the world, pursue their passions and make a positive impact on their lives and others. 

More blogs from Pearson

  • A man and woman sat in a meeting room smiling

    The ultimate guide to learning management systems

    By Pearson Languages

    You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools. 

    In this ultimate guide, we will look at everything you need to know about learning management systems and why they are so beneficial. 

    What is a learning management system?

    A learning management system is a digital platform or software as a service (SaaS) solution that is used to create, organize and distribute online courses. 

    The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training. 

    This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management. 

    Who uses LMS's and why? 

    There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms: 

    • HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit

    • Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler 

    • Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations 

    • Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms. 

    • Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning. 

    • Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students 

    • Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause 

    Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's. 

    Who has access to LMS's?

    In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.  

    Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.

    On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.

    However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher. 

    Key features in modern LMS's

    There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include: 

    • Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses

    • Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities 

    • Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys

    • A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses

    • Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners 

    • Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain 

    • Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets 

    • Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed

    • Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go 

    • Integrations with other internal systems and software 

    This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.

    The benefits of using learning management systems

    Saving time and money

    First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training. 

    Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort. 

    Ensuring compliance training is completed

    These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training. 

    Provide accurate data

    Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.

    Improves the learning experience

    Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated. 

    Simplifying communication

    Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials. 

  • A woman writing in a book outisde

    How novel writing can help your English skills

    By Pearson Languages

    November marks National Novel Writing Month, an excellent opportunity to improve your English skills. While there are several ways to enhance your proficiency in English, writing a novel is a lesser-known method that can significantly refine your understanding of the language. As well as enhancing your vocabulary and grammar, creating a story is an imaginative and fun way to unleash your creativity. So let's have a look at some things picking up the pastime can help you with.

    Expanding vocabulary

    It's a great way to improve your vocabulary naturally. As you create your story, you search for the perfect words to express your thoughts, which helps you explore synonyms, understand the nuances of language, and discover new phrases that can add depth and richness to your writing. Websites like Merriam-Webster and Longman English Dictionary are excellent resources to enhance your word toolkit.

    Mastering grammar and syntax

    When you're writing, having a good grasp of grammar and syntax is vital. To clearly express your ideas, you need to navigate grammar rules with precision. Platforms like Grammarly and Purdue OWL provide comprehensive guides and tools that can help you improve your grammatical skills. By regularly referring to useful resources as you write, you'll be able to identify and correct errors and also enhance your understanding of grammatical structures.

    Developing writing styles

    Writing novels are an excellent opportunity to develop a unique style of writing. You can discover your voice as a writer by trying out different narrative techniques and literary devices. Online writing communities like Wattpad and Scribophile provide opportunities for collaboration and feedback, allowing you to receive helpful criticism and refine your writing style in a supportive environment.

    Reading comprehension

    If you want to create an awesome novel, you've got to read a lot. By diving into the world of literature, you get to experience all sorts of writing styles and pick up some great tips for telling a compelling story. Websites like Project Gutenberg, Pearson Plus and Goodreads offer a plethora of literary works, providing access to various genres and writing techniques. This kind of exposure enhances your reading comprehension and helps you discern the subtleties of language.

    Encourages critical chinking

    Creating a coherent and engaging narrative requires critical thinking skills. As you navigate the complexities of plot development and character arcs, you'll naturally get better and better at it. Websites like TED-Ed and Khan Academy offer resources to sharpen critical thinking skills, complementing the cognitive benefits gained through the novel-writing process.

    Helping wellbeing

    As well as having educational uses, writing is a powerful tool that can be used to process complex emotions and ideas in a therapeutic way. Whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety, or just trying to make sense of a difficult situation, writing stories can provide an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. So, if you're looking for a way to process your emotions and ideas while having fun, novel writing may be your perfect outlet. It's also something you can do without any technology, so a great way to technology detox. 

    Writing a novel is not just about unleashing your creativity but also refining your grammar, enriching your vocabulary, developing a unique writing style, enhancing your reading comprehension and fostering critical thinking. Make sure to use all available resources and take inspiration wherever possible. Creative writing is a journey of constant improvement and self-discovery. You might surprise yourself.

    Need some inspiration? Check out 9 great novels to help improve your English or Books to improve your English: Sci-fi and fantasy edition.