Featured webinar series

Watch webinar recordings

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 girl sat at a desk in a with her head leaning on one hand smiling at the camera
    • Study prep

    Reaching exam success with happiness and wellbeing in mind

    By Sophia Fergus

    Are you or your students preparing for an exam like The International Certificate (PTE General)? If so, you might find that things are more stressful than usual or that motivation is starting to lack. When preparing to take an exam, it’s easy to overlook the fact that people also need to destress and relax a little.

    Exam preparation is an important period. That’s why we’ve come up with some tips and advice that will help increase happiness and well-being. It will also help develop good study habits and ensure you or your students remain happy right up to their exams and beyond.

    1. Create a study plan

    A clear plan can help you get off to a positive start. At the same time, it will inevitably lead to more confidence and better results on the big day. Make sure to gather all the materials and equipment you will need (or provide your students with a list of what they need to gather). Once prepared, set up a comfortable workspace where you will feel happy to spend time. If you’re a teacher, you can ask your students to describe their ideal study spaces in class – this will help them visualize what they need to do at home!

    It's also helpful to create a schedule where you write down what you need to work on and when. Try to include all areas of the exam but prioritize those areas that may need more work and improvement.

    2. Take time out

    If you're starting to feel anxious or stressed as the exam day comes nearer, here are some ideas to help manage:

    Take a break

    It’s better to study for short periods rather than spending hours on end at their desk. It’s a good idea to break up study periods and take a short break at regular intervals. If possible, also go outside and get some fresh air at least once a day.

    Try mindfulness techniques

    Guided meditation apps such as Headspace or Petit BamBou can help reduce stress and prepare learners to focus better on their studies. You can also find guided meditation videos and audio tracks on Youtube or Spotify.

    Be positive

    Remember how far you’ve progressed and celebrate what you can do, and if you’re an educator encourage them to visualize themselves confidently completing the exam.

    3. Have fun!

    Although exam practice and reviewing are important parts of preparing for an exam, you can also have some fun. Play games and base activities around a variety of different media, including short videos and podcasts and other forms of entertainment.

    Make English a part of your leisure time. Watch series or films in English, listen to music or choose podcasts related to your interests. A good tip is to look for English-language alternatives to any materials or media usually consumed.

    4. Stay healthy

    The stress caused by exams can result in bad habits, and eating unhealthily – fast food, snacks and caffeine can provide a false sense of energy. However, the food we eat and drink can greatly affect our body and mind. A healthy diet can improve our mood, our memory and our levels of concentration:

    • Healthy carbs such as brown rice, pasta, whole grain bread and cereals will provide the necessary energy to allow students to keep working through the day.
    • Oily fish like salmon and sardines are great for the brain, heart and joints, as well as increasing serotonin which makes us feel good!
    • Other sources of Omega 3 such as nuts and seeds are a great substitute for vegans.
    • A variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure that students have a balanced diet that will improve memory, brainpower and mental agility.

    5. Get a good night’s sleep

    Sleep is essential for learning to take place. The time you spend asleep is just as important as the time you spend awake. You should aim to sleep for 8 hours a night. This will help your brain to recharge, allowing you to start the day with energy and focus.

    It’s especially important that you sleep well the day before the exam. This will help you relax and ensure that you are alert and ready to give your best performance.

    6. Offer incentives

    If you are studying intensively or for a long time, motivation levels may start to drop. If you’re a teacher and you see this is the case, your class will need some additional support and encouragement to help them keep going. Small rewards can help with this.

    Teacher: You can offer rewards in class by allowing students to choose an activity they enjoy, but it’s also useful for students to give themselves rewards for any goals they set and accomplish. This personalization will make the reward even more satisfying.

    Self-learner: When you get to certain checkpoints of your study make sure to reward yourself with something small that you enjoy. Small rewards include things like listening to your favorite song, eating a sweet treat or watching a funny video.

    7. Reduce the workload

    As the exam approaches, make sure to gradually slow down. Rather than trying to learn something new, spend the last few days reviewing what you’ve studied and practice English as much as you can. On the day before the exam, do something completely different, like go for a long walk or watch a good film. Just to get your mind to wind down and relax before your exam, which will likely be quite demanding on the brain.

  • A  silohuette of a side profile of a womans head inside her head space is a ocean sunset
    • Language learning

    Being bilingual can help keep your brain in good condition

    By Steffanie Zazulak

    Learning and understanding a new language is one of the most challenging things that your brain can do. But as well as the advantage of acquiring another language, it appears that the effort of giving your brain a good workout today by being bilingual could keep it in better condition in later life.

    Research led by Dr. Daniela Perani, a professor of psychology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, found that people who speak two or more languages seem to weather the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease better compared to people who have only mastered one language. Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental deterioration that can begin in middle or old age due to generalized brain degeneration.

    The study involved 85 people with Alzheimer’s – half of whom spoke both German and Italian and half who spoke only one language. The researchers found that bilingual patients had greater connectivity in key brain areas. This was especially in the part of the brain that governs “executive control” – a set of necessary behavioral cognitive processes that include problem-solving, working memory, reasoning and attentional control. The study also noted that the bilingual Alzheimer’s patients showed less severe symptoms of the disease.

    The study concluded: “Our findings suggest that the effects of speaking two languages are more powerful than both age and education in providing a protection against cognitive decline.”

    Bilingualism and the brain

    Although Alzheimer’s disease is currently incurable, the study supports a popular theory that people who have higher levels of education function longer with little manifestation of the illness. Part of the reason why bilingual brains may be better at resisting Alzheimer’s could be due to a lifetime of switching between languages daily. 

    Learning and speaking more than one language changes how the brain carries out tasks that require focus and concentration on a certain piece of information without being distracted. It can also increase the density of white matter (connections) in the brain, meaning that there are more connections between brain parts, thus making this part of the brain more resistant to degeneration.

    This is supported by a study conducted by a team led by Professor Ana Inés Ansaldo at the University of Montreal, which suggests that bilingual people have more robust and more efficient brains compared to those who only speak one language. This is one of the reasons why a bilingual brain can be a buffer against aging and dementia.

    They recruited elderly people, half of whom spoke only one language and the other half who had learned a second language between the ages of 11 and 18. All performed equally well on a task that involved focusing on an object's color while ignoring its position, but brain scans revealed a big difference in how they processed the task.

    “While bilinguals were recruiting very specific brain areas and a small number of areas to perform the task, monolinguals were recruiting a much larger number of areas that were consuming much more resources. And the networks they were using were very, very complex,” says Professor Ansaldo. “That led us to think that the bilingual brain was more efficient in terms of the amount of resources that bilingual people require to do complex tasks as opposed to the monolingual brain.”

    The study concludes that bilingualism shapes the brain in a different way or how people approach complex tasks. It could be because bilinguals must inhibit the language they are not using to focus on the one that they are using.

  • A group of young adults sat at a table in a library looking up towards a older woman
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    Fostering critical thinking in the classroom

    By Pearson Languages

    Critical thinking is a term often thrown around the teacher’s lounge. You often hear, “Of course, teaching critical thinking is essential.” However, in that same space, we may also hear the question, “But how?”

    Teaching students to think critically involves helping them to develop a critical mindset. What exactly does that mean, and how can we do that?

    What does it mean to think critically?

    Critical thinking is a complex process that involves students reflecting, analyzing and evaluating ideas. Building a community of critical thinkers in our classrooms involves going beyond the cognitive domains and building the affective domains.

    The cognitive domain concerns subject knowledge and intellectual skills, whereas the affective domain involves emotional engagement with an idea or learning material.

    This deliberate teaching of critical thinking needs to be part of our teaching toolkit. We need to develop a mindset around it in and out of our classrooms.

    How can teachers develop a critical-thinking mindset?

    Consider all the questions we pose to students during our classes. Do we expect a yes or no answer, or have we established a classroom environment where students offer considered reasons for their responses?

    By following some guiding principles, we can get into the practice of naturally expecting deeper answers:

    1. Students need to engage in critical thinking tasks/activities at all levels.
    2. Teachers need to provide space/time in the classroom to build critical thinking learning opportunities.
    3. Practicing critical thinking must be incorporated throughout the course, increasing complexity as students improve their critical thinking ability.
    4. Students must be given opportunities to practice transferring critical thinking skills to other contexts.

    Activities to foster critical thinking in the classroom

    Activity/Strategy #1: Categorizing

    Provide a set of vocabulary terms or grammatical structures on the board (or pictures for true beginners). Ask your students to gather in pairs or small groups and have them categorize the list. Ask them to be creative and see how diverse the categories can be.

    Example:

    Desk, computer, pencil, stove, dishes, forks, novel, cookbook, sink, shelf

    • Made from trees: pencil, novel, cookbook, desk.
    • Made from metal: fork, stove, sink, etc.

    Activity/Strategy #2: What’s the problem?

    Provide students with a short reading or listening and have your students define a problem they read or hear.

    Tomas ran up the steps into Building A. The door was closed, but he opened it up. He was very late. He took his seat, feeling out of breath.

    • Determine why Tomas was late.
    • Underline verbs in the past tense.
    • Create a beginning or ending to the story.

    Activity/Strategy #3: Circles of possibility

    Present a problem or situation. Consider the problem presented in strategy #2 above: Ask the students to evaluate the situation from Tomas’ point of view, then, from the teacher’s point of view, and then from his classmate’s point of view.

    This activity generates many conversations, and even more critical thinking than you can imagine!

    Activity/Strategy #4: Draw connections

    Provide students with a list of topics or themes they have studied or are interested in. Place one in the center, and ask them to draw connections between each one.

    Afterward, they should explain their ideas. For example:

    “Energy and environment are affected by sports. Most sports do not harm the environment, but if you think about auto racing, it uses a lot of fuel. It can negatively impact the environment.”

    Activity/Strategy #5: What’s the rule?

    Play students an audio clip or provide them with a reading text. Draw students’ attention to a particular grammatical structure and ask them to deduce the rules.

    Activity/Strategy #5: Establishing context

    Show your class an image and put your students in small groups. Give each group a task. For example:

    The Jamestown settlement in the United States
    “A famous historic site is the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. People from England were the first people to live in Jamestown. When did they arrive? They arrived in 1607. They built homes and other buildings. They looked for gold, silver and other materials. They sent the materials back to England. It was a hard life. Jamestown wasn’t a good place to settle. The winters were cold, and the settlers didn’t know how to protect themselves. After some time, they traded with the Native Americans, including tools for food. This helped the hungry settlers. Did many people die? Yes, many of the first settlers died. Later, more settlers arrived in Jamestown. It wasn’t easy, but in the end the settlement grew.”

    Ask questions like this:

    • If this were in a movie, what would the movie be about?
    • If this were an advertisement, what would it be advertising?
    • If this were a book, what would the book be about?

    There are many other wonderful strategies that can help build a classroom of critical thinkers. Getting your students accustomed to these types of tasks can increase their linguistic and affective competencies and critical thinking. In addition to these on-the-spot activities, consider building in project-based learning.

    How can you incorporate project-based learning into your classroom?

    Project-based learning often begins with a challenge or problem. Students explore and find answers over an extended period of time. These projects focus on building 21st Century Skills: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking.

    They also represent what students are likely to encounter when they leave our English language classes.

    An example project

    Consider this project: Our cafeteria is outdated. It does not allow for food variety, or for guests to sit in groups of their desired size and activity level. Survey students who use the cafeteria. Follow up the survey with interviews. Determine how your group can reimagine the cafeteria. Prepare a proposal. Present your proposal.

    You can imagine the amount of language students will use working on this project, while, at the same time, building a critical mindset.

    Teaching critical thinking is all about building activities and strategies that become part of your teaching toolkit, and your students’ regular approach to problem-solving.