A decade with the GSE: Reflections and insights

Belgin Elmas
A woman teaching adults stood in front of a interactive board pointing at it
Reading time: 3 minutes

Prof. Dr. Belgin Elmas is the Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at TED University Faculty of Education and Pearson GSE Ambassador for Turkey. In this post, Belgin discusses her teaching journey with the GSE over the last ten years, including the key lessons and experiences from this remarkable journey.

In 2014, our rector presented me with the opportunity to be the director of the School of Foreign Languages at Anadolu University. Overwhelmed by the prospect of managing a thriving school with 3,500 students, 220 teachers and 220 staff members, I was hesitant. Despite the challenges I would face from training pre-service teachers at the Education Faculty, I was persuaded to take on the position.

The Global Scale of English: A framework for success

I remember my first day as the director, feeling overwhelmed by the workload and unsure how to manage it. While I won't delve into the details or the emotional roller coaster in this blog, I will share how the Global Scale of English (GSE) became my lifesaver. Faced with the challenge of creating a robust system to teach English to new university students who struggled in their initial year, I discovered the GSE. This detailed system guides learners throughout their language learning journey and I immediately knew, “YES, this is exactly what we need.”

The GSE came to my rescue as I grappled with the task of establishing a robust system to teach English to university students. The GSE's detailed framework was exactly the tool we needed. Our team deliberated on how to integrate this system seamlessly into our curriculum. From deciding on the specific learning outcomes our students required, to choosing methods of teaching, creating materials and assessing outcomes, each decision was carefully considered. This process fostered growth, collaboration and enriched our teaching experiences as a team.

A key resource

The GSE played a crucial role in shaping curriculum development. The collaborative preparation with the GSE was invaluable for everyone, especially for me as a new director. We spent long hours enthusiastically shaping our new curriculum.

Determining the entire curriculum, including materials and formative and summative assessment components, became more straightforward and with a clear understanding of what to teach and assess. Explaining the lessons to teachers and students became straightforward, thanks to the solid foundation provided by the GSE. This framework made curriculum development and implementation much smoother.

Adapting to feedback and continuous improvement

When we introduced the new curriculum in the 2014-2015 academic year, we received extensive feedback from both students and teachers on nearly every aspect – materials, midterms, quizzes, pace and more.  During my five-year tenure as director, we continually refined our curriculum and targeted specific facets of the curriculum each year for enhancement. For instance, one year we focused on assessment methods, while another year was devoted to teacher professional development. We applied a similar strategy to our German, French and Russian language programs, ensuring they understood our rationale and adopted comparable approaches in their curriculum development.

Sharing our experiences of using the GSE in our curriculum developed a lot of interest, as everyone was searching for a more effective way to teach English. Whether at academic conferences or informal meetings, our team eagerly shared their knowledge and insights.

The GSE today and beyond

Today, at TED University, I serve as the head of the English Language Teaching Department. A key part of my mission is equipping future language teachers with the latest advancements and GSE forms a crucial part of this preparation. By incorporating the GSE into our pre-service teacher training program, we are ensuring that all teaching materials, lesson plans and assessment products include specific learning outcomes. This serves to build our teachers' confidence in their practice.

Personal growth with GSE

My 10-year journey with the GSE has profoundly influenced both my professional and personal life. The principles of the scale serve as a guide in every aspect of my daily life. For instance, during conversations, I often engage in an internal dialogue: "Belgin, what you're trying to explain is at a level 70, but the person you're speaking with is not there yet, so adjust your expectations." Or I might tell myself, "Belgin, you need to read more on this topic because you're still at level 55 and need to learn more to fully grasp what's happening here." As you can see, the GSE functions as a compass guiding every area of my life.

If I were the Minister of National Education, I would unquestionably integrate the GSE into our national language education system. I would explain the rationale behind the scale and strive to implement a similarly detailed educational framework. This system would guide learners and teachers by indicating their current level, where they need to go and the steps required for each lesson in the curriculum. I hope that in the next 10 years, the GSE will serve as a guide for even more people around the world.

Here's to the GSE – I am grateful for its existence; it’s made a huge impact on my life. Happy birthday!

About the author

Prof. Dr. Belgin Elmas, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at TED University Faculty of Education, has been elected as Pearson GSE Ambassador for Turkey. 

Pearson has selected ambassadors from different countries to support its work in introducing the purpose of GSE to a global audience. Ambassadors will guide teachers and students, and share their own experiences in using the GSE. Prof. Dr. Belgin Elmas has been supporting the GSE for many years in Turkey and has now been officially selected as the GSE Ambassador for Turkey. Learn more about the program here.

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