Featured webinar series

Browse the list of all webinars or filter using popular tags, sign up to join us for our upcoming webinars or view past webinars.

Upcoming webinars

Sorry, there are no webinars to display.

Blogs from Pearson

  • A overhead shot of a chalkboard with a cube on, with people around it with chalk and books
    • Teaching trends and techniques

    The coding mindset: Benefits and activities

    By Pearson Languages

    What is the coding mindset?

    Over the past decade, the ELT industry has placed more emphasis on soft skills. The focus has been on developing personal leadership qualities, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and communication and collaboration skills. These are all essential skills for the future of work – and especially useful when students need to work better together and solve unexpected issues.

    A coding mindset encourages students to develop these essential soft skills – and practice them as a coder would. Teachers can use activities and tasks in the classroom that are based on this mindset to help students develop strategies to analyze, understand and solve problems.

    This is integral to computational thinking and is how computer programmers think when coding. Yes, the coding mindset is a way of thinking, but it does not directly relate to computer science. Instead, it follows the skills and mentality that coders and programmers use in their work. Following this mindset can help learners to become more resilient and savvy when faced with challenges in their learning or daily lives.

    Four benefits of the coding mindset

    There are several benefits to developing this mindset:

    1. Gain creativity skills

    One significant benefit of this way of thinking is that students learn that not everything they try will work out just as they expect. In fact, it’s normal to fail several times when trying to solve problems.

    In working to find new strategies to work through challenges, students are also developing their creativity skills.

    Creativity was once synonymous with art, such as drawing or painting. However, this now means coming up with new ideas and is a skill that is particularly sought after by employers.

    2. Learn how to cope in difficult times

    We live in a world where we experience constant change – and we need to be able to find ways of managing. A coding mindset teaches learners how to build resilience.

    By openly communicating with others, evaluating ideas and discussing a range of options, students will be able to work through uncertainties and confront challenges.

    Not only will this help students when coming up against stumbling blocks in their learning, but it will also benefit their day-to-day lives.

    3. Create risk takers

    We can all recognize that learning English isn’t easy and that students are bound to make mistakes.

    However, a coding mindset encourages students to take risks when approaching difficulties. It also helps language learners spot their mistakes and experiment with different options to find solutions.

    Ultimately, learners become more willing to take risks which they need to do to reach a higher level of proficiency.

    4. Develop the ability to overcome obstacles

    When approaching a task with a coding mindset, students will learn how to focus on the important information. They will filter out any irrelevant details and find ways around barriers.

    For example, if learners have to write a text about their last holiday in class, they could hit a wall if they don’t know how to use the third conditional to explain something. Rather than giving up, students with a coding mindset would use the grammar they do know to complete the task. For instance, they can continue with the past simple or past continuous, explaining their story in a different way.

    This encourages learners to focus on their strengths rather than weaknesses to overcome obstacles and keep going.

    Practical activities for use in the classroom

    There are several activities that teachers can use in the classroom to develop the coding mindset for their students. These include:

    Recognizing patterns

    If you teach in a classroom with a whiteboard, you can draw a series of colored circles on the board. The colors should follow a pattern that students must work out in small groups and then continue on the board.

    This simple exercise can be adapted for all levels and ages. You may even want to use flashcards with vocabulary, letters or number combinations.

    Giving instructions

    A great way to develop troubleshooting and problem-solving skills is by asking students to direct one another across the classroom. Put the learners into pairs and ask one of them to give directions and the other to follow.

    They can practice imperatives and language for directions, while they break down problems into smaller, more manageable parts.

    Treasure hunts

    Creating treasure hunts works particularly well with young learners. If you have access to an outside space, you can hide classroom objects or flashcards around the space and give students clues as to where to find them.

    You can also do this around the classroom or school if you cannot access the outdoors. This will help them to think systematically and follow instructions.

    Pixilation of pictures

    If you have access to an interactive whiteboard, another way to develop problem-solving skills is by selecting some pictures from the internet and blurring them with a pixilation tool.

    Choose vocabulary you’ve been working on in class, so students are already familiar with the topic. Show the pictures on the whiteboard and ask students to work in groups to guess what the pictures are.

  • Three young people sat outside holding binders with notes and examining them
    • Study prep

    Acing the Pearson English International Certificate: 10 essential revision strategies

    By Amy Malloy

    Every student and teacher knows how important revision is ahead of exams. It’s not only about how much students revise and practice – it’s also about how they do it.

    So, if you or your students are preparing for the Pearson English International Certificate (PEIC), here are ten top revision strategies to help. All of the advice below can be applied to all six levels from A1 to Level 5.

    Know what to expect

    You can download detailed 'Functions and Notions' guides for all levels. These will give you a very clear idea of the language we expect students to produce at each level. You can download the test guides for each level as well as practice tests and other important documents.

    Work on synonyms and paraphrasing

    Often in the reading and listening tasks, the answers will be synonyms or paraphrased versions of the question. Working with synonyms and paraphrasing in class or at home is a great way to expand vocabulary and help be better prepared for the test. In the A1 test students are expected to show only “a very basic repertoire of words and simple phrases”, but as they progress through the levels, more range is expected in vocabulary and grammar.

    Focus on sentence structure

    As well as helping to improve grammatical control, taking a close look at sentence structure will really benefit you or your learners, especially in the dictation task (section 2). Identifying the tense of a verb or whether they need to use this or these, for example, will help you avoid losing points unnecessarily. It’s also important that they check sentences are complete and correct in the gap-fill tasks at higher levels (Sections 3 and 7), so always tell them/make sure to re-read the whole sentence for every question.

    Create a list of errors

    We all know that learners often make the same mistakes, so a good idea is for them to create a personalized errors list.

    Teacher: Each time you do a writing task, dictation, or gap fill, have them write down the typical mistakes they make. Then, next time, tell them to check their work with their list before you correct it.

    Self-learner: Make sure to take note of the mistakes you make and put them into a list, taking care to avoid them in the future. 

    Use a highlighter

    Get yourself or your students into the habit of highlighting or underlining keywords in questions every time you do a task. This helps learners focus on the information they need to listen or look for and also encourages them to subconsciously start thinking about vocabulary related to the topic. This could be practiced by downloading a sample exam and practicing underlining the keywords.

    Say more

    For the spoken test, train your students to expand their answers and make sure they feel comfortable talking about themselves. At higher levels, give your learners language so they can support their point of view. Remind them that the topics may be more complex, but they still need to be able to give an opinion about them.

    Listen to as much as possible

    In the listening sections, learners will hear a variety of different accents from people of different ages, so it’s important to expose them/yourself to lots of different voices in preparation for the test. That might be a parent talking to a child or an elderly person in a shop, so the more experience someone has listening to different dialogues, the better. As well as the listening activities in coursebooks, encourage students to listen to podcasts or watch videos on YouTube in their free time.

    Be (in)formal

    In the writing and role play, it’s important for learners to know what level of formality is required for each task. They should have lots of practice in written and spoken structures to deal with different types of people, such as a friend, a shop assistant or a bank manager. Also remind them to make the most of the 15 seconds they have to prepare the role play in the spoken test and think about the type of structures and vocabulary they’ll need.

    Keep to the word limit

    For each of the writing tasks, there is a ‘tolerated word limit’ which allows students to be a few words over or under. However, you should train learners to keep an eye on how much they are writing so they become familiar with the required task length. Students can save time calculating exactly how many words they’ve written by choosing an average line from their writing, counting the number of words on that line and then multiplying it by the total number of full lines.

    It’s also essential students practice writing under exam conditions so they get used to completing the tasks quickly. Be sure to include some exam practice in class or as a self-learner, try to practice with a past exam paper in a quiet place, replicating exam conditions as closely as you can.

    Check the answers again

    While our final tip isn’t really a revision strategy, it’s certainly very helpful for students to bear in mind when applying all of the other revision strategies. It is essential that students leave themselves time at the end of the test to check through their paper: Have they filled in every question? Are the sentences complete in the gap fill tasks? Have they checked their writing and remembered their frequent mistakes? Are all the answers clear and easy to read? One final check-through could make all the difference!

    With these top tips, you or your students will be more than ready for the test. Good luck!

  • A group of young people sat together smiling
    • Linguistics and culture
    • Language teaching

    How long does it take to learn English?

    By Pearson Languages

    “How long will it take me to learn English?” This is a question we often hear, especially with summer intensive courses just around the corner. Students all over the world want to know how much time and effort it will take them to master a new language.

    Teachers know the answer isn’t as simple as it seems. It depends on many things, such as; how different the second language is from their mother tongue, how old they are, whether they can speak other languages, how much time they will have to study outside the classroom, their motivation and ability to practice.

    The truth is, it takes A LOT of work to become proficient in a new language – and students need to be aware that they need to study independently if they want to progress rapidly.

    Explaining student responsibility

    Becoming truly proficient in a language can take many years. In a study carried out by Pearson they found that even for fast learners, it can take as much as 760 hours to enter the B2 CEFR level from <A1.

    Also, most year-round courses are around 100-120 hours per level, (not including homework). So the reality is that it should take approximately 1000 hours to go from A1 to C2.

    However, one of the biggest misconceptions students have is that there is a “fixed route” to language learning and that this is linear – and that time spent studying in class is all that’s required to make the progress they expect. This mistakenly puts the onus on the teacher, rather than the student, which means they may not take responsibility for their own learning.

    While most language learners need great course materials, instruction, correction, and mentorship from their teachers, it’s key that they are motivated to become independent learners. Progress and success comes down to regular practice, feedback and the confidence to make and learn from mistakes. Students must understand this from the outset – so make sure this is a conversation you have with your classes from the very first day.

    Understanding language goals

    It’s also extremely important to understand your students’ language learning goals right away. Some, for example, will want to learn a language for travel purposes and may be happy to reach an elementary or pre-intermediate level of English. Others will want to learn it for work or study purposes and will need to reach a more advanced level. By definition, “learning a new language” will be very different for those two groups of students – and this will affect how you design and deliver your course.

    Therefore, it’s key that you discuss individual learning objectives and then form a plan of how students will meet them. You should also explain that not everyone progresses at the same rate, but that is normal and should not be a cause for frustration.

    In private language schools (PLSs), which offer English for specific purposes (ESP), business English, CLIL, English for Academic Purposes, intensive summer classes, and a range of other courses, it’s even more important to do this well. Correctly managed expectations, well-selected materials, and tailored courses will keep students motivated and help the business thrive.

    Setting and meeting targets

    At an institutional level, schools, PLS’s and even government agencies also need to be aware of the pitfalls of rigid target setting.

    Not only can mishandled targets directly affect learner motivation when they are held back or moved up too quickly, but they also can force educators to “teach to the test”, rather than planning classes and designing courses that meet their students’ needs.

    On the other hand, standardized testing systems help place learners at the right level, set benchmarks and show student progression. Examinations also give students firm objectives to work towards.

    So, at the very least, management and governing authorities should consult with educators before setting broad targets.

    Handling feedback and adapting to individual needs

    Honesty is essential when talking to individual students about their progress (good or bad). It’s hard telling someone that they haven’t achieved the grades they need to move on to the next level, but it’s the right thing to do. Putting a person in a higher level to save their feelings only leads to frustration, demotivation, and self-doubt. Likewise, when a student has done well, praise is good, but you should still be honest about the areas in which they need to improve.

    This is what happens at a successful PLS in Japan who run 1000-hour year-round intensive courses. They get results because they consult their learners in order to understand their goals and focus their courses on developing key communicative skills for professionals. At the same time, they track motivation levels and adjust their courses to ensure the student’s progress is on track to meet their expectations. Of course, this is quite a unique setting, with a very intensive, highly personalized approach, and the school has the advantage of tailor-making courses.

    Using tools to help

    They also used the Global Scale of English (GSE) to help design their curriculum and use the ‘can do’ descriptors to set goals. They then selected Versant assessments (which are mapped to scoring against the GSE) to measure student progress on a monthly basis.

    Educators can emulate their approach. By using tools like these, as well as others, such as the GSE Teacher Toolkit, you can design syllabi, plan classes, place students at the right level and measure individual progress, helping you meet your institution’s targets while supporting your learners to achieve their goals.

    An additional benefit from using the GSE, is that this granular framework breaks down what needs to be learned within a CEFR level. Our courseware, Placement, Progress and high-stakes assessments, like PTE Academic, are already aligned to the GSE. To help accelerate the learner journey, our courseware now features three new levels – A2+, B1+ and B2+. By moving to eight-level courses, it ensures students are able to master the content at a more achievable rate.