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    • Technology and the future

    How to make the most of AI in the classroom

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic concept confined to science fiction. It has become an integral part of various sectors, including education. As educators, integrating AI into your classroom practices can enhance teaching and learning experiences, making them more personalized, efficient and engaging. Here’s how you can make the most of AI in your classroom.

  • A woman walking around outdoors with a camera
    • Language learning

    The benefits of taking part in foreign exchange programs

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    If you are a student or one considering a gap year, the option of foreign exchange programs may have crossed your mind or been mentioned to you. More and more young people are taking advantage of exchange programs and reaping the transformative benefits that come with it.

    Let's have a look at some of the reasons why taking part in an exchange program can be a life-changing experience and how it can help you more than you think.

    What is a foreign exchange program?

    A foreign exchange program is an educational initiative where students have the opportunity to study abroad and immerse themselves in a different culture for a specified period, typically ranging from a few weeks to an entire academic year. These programs facilitate cultural exchange by allowing students to attend foreign schools or universities, live with host families or in dormitories, and engage in activities that foster intercultural understanding and personal growth.

    The primary aim of a foreign exchange program is to provide students with a global perspective, enhance their language skills, and expose them to different educational systems and cultural practices. By stepping out of their comfort zones, students can develop independence, adaptability and a deeper appreciation for diversity.

    What are the benefits of a foreign exchange program?

    1. Cultural immersion and global perspective

    Embracing diversity

    One of the most immediate benefits of an exchange program is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. Experiencing new customs, traditions and ways of life firsthand fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of global diversity. This cultural immersion helps break down stereotypes and broadens your worldview, making you more open-minded and adaptable.

    Develop cultural understanding

    Living in a foreign country teaches you how to navigate and respect different cultural norms and practices. This cultural competence is increasingly valued in our interconnected world, enhancing your ability to work effectively in diverse environments and making you a more attractive candidate in the global job market.

    2. Language proficiency

    Enhanced language skills

    For language learners, an exchange program is an opportunity to achieve fluency. Experiencing a language firsthand is one of the best ways to learn a new language. Being surrounded by fluent speakers provides constant practice and exposure, accelerating your language acquisition in ways that classroom learning alone cannot match. You'll develop better pronunciation, expand your vocabulary and gain confidence in your speaking abilities.

    Real-world communication

    Using a new language in everyday situations—whether it's ordering food, asking for directions, or making new friends—helps solidify your language skills in a practical context. This real-world communication practice is invaluable, ensuring that your language proficiency extends beyond textbooks and exams to actual, meaningful interactions.

    3. Academic and professional growth

    Academic enrichment

    Exchange programs often provide access to unique academic resources and teaching methods that differ from those in your home country. Exposure to new perspectives and approaches can deepen your understanding of your field of study and inspire new areas of interest. Additionally, studying abroad can enhance your academic credentials, making your CV stand out to future employers or academic institutions.

    Career opportunities

    Experience abroad signals to employers that you possess qualities like independence, adaptability and cross-cultural communication skills. These attributes are highly sought after in today’s job market. Moreover, the networking opportunities during your exchange can open doors to international internships, job placements and collaborations that might not have been available otherwise.

    4. Personal development

    Building independence and resilience

    Living away from home in a completely new environment challenges you to become more self-reliant and adaptable. You'll develop problem-solving skills, resilience and the ability to thrive outside of your comfort zone. These experiences build character and prepare you for future challenges, both personally and professionally.

    Forming lifelong connections

    The friendships and connections you make during your exchange program can last a lifetime. You'll meet people from various backgrounds, creating a global network of peers and mentors. These relationships can provide support, inspiration and opportunities long after your exchange program ends.

    Boosting confidence

    Successfully navigating life in a foreign country, mastering a new language, and achieving academic success abroad can significantly boost your confidence. This newfound self-assurance can positively impact all areas of your life, giving you the courage to pursue further opportunities and take on new challenges.

    5. Engaging with the local community

    Volunteer and community projects

    Many exchange programs encourage participants to engage with their host communities through volunteer work or community projects. This engagement allows you to give back to your host country, gain a deeper understanding of local issues, and develop a sense of global citizenship. It's a rewarding experience that fosters empathy and reinforces the importance of contributing to the wider world.

    Gaining valuable work experience

    Participating in volunteer and community projects during your exchange program can provide significant work experience that is highly attractive to future employers. These projects often involve teamwork, problem-solving and project management, all of which are essential skills in any professional setting.

    By contributing to local initiatives, you can demonstrate your ability to adapt to new environments, work with diverse teams, and handle responsibility. Furthermore, these experiences can fill gaps in your CV, showcasing your proactive approach to skill-building and community involvement. Engaging in meaningful projects not only supports your personal growth but also highlights your commitment to making a positive impact, a quality greatly valued in any career field.

    Where can I sign up for exchange programs?

    There are many organizations and programs that offer exchange opportunities for students and language learners. Some popular options include:

    • Study abroad programs through universities or colleges, which often have partnerships with foreign institutions. Check with your institution.
    • Government-sponsored programs such as Fulbright or Erasmus, (depending on your location).
    • Check non-profit organizations in your country, they may also offer exchange programs.

    Conclusion

    Taking part in an exchange program is a life-changing adventure that offers myriad benefits for students and language learners alike. From enhancing language proficiency and cultural awareness to boosting academic and career prospects, the experiences gained through an exchange program are invaluable. By stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new world, you open yourself up to endless possibilities, personal growth and a broader, more inclusive perspective on life.

    If you're a student or language learner considering an exchange program, seize the opportunity. The world awaits, and the benefits are boundless.

  • Friends studying together around one big table
    • Language hints and tips

    8 things you should try to avoid when learning English

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Learning a new language is an exciting and rewarding journey, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. As English learners, it's important to recognize and overcome the common pitfalls that could hinder your progress. Here, we provide advice and guidance on what not to do to make your English learning experience as smooth and successful as possible.

  • Students sat at a table with a teacher stood with them interacting with them
    • Language teaching
    • The Global Scale of English

    Why don’t my students speak English in class?

    By Silvia Minardi
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Last year, I contributed to a national research project with an article titled “My Students Don’t Speak English in Class: Why?”. The title originated from a concern expressed by a language teacher involved in the project, highlighting a common challenge faced by numerous language teachers. The difficulty of developing learners’ production and interaction skills is a well-known issue in language education.

    Large and increasingly diverse classes, limited time, and learners’ reluctance to speak in class are significant hurdles. During pair and group work, students often revert to their first language (L1), they lack confidence in speaking activities and end up avoiding all interaction in English. These observations are consistent with recent Global Scale of English (GSE) research findings, which indicate that 52% of English learners leave formal education without confidence in their speaking skills.

    Factors contributing to learners’ reluctance

    Several factors contribute to students’ reluctance to speak English in class. Psychological barriers such as lack of motivation, shyness, low self-confidence, fear of making mistakes, anxiety and concerns about negative evaluation play a crucial role. Linguistic challenges, including limited vocabulary, poor pronunciation, and insufficient grammatical skills, further exacerbate the problem.

    Task-related issues can also hinder speaking, especially when tasks are not well-matched to the learner’s proficiency level or focus more on accuracy than communication. Additionally, the classroom environment may not always be conducive to speaking, particularly for learners who need more time to formulate their thoughts before speaking.

    Positive teacher impact

    Fortunately, teachers can positively influence these intertwined factors. By creating a supportive classroom atmosphere and implementing well-designed tasks that prioritize communication over perfection, teachers can encourage reluctant students to participate more actively in speaking activities.

    Leveraging technology: Mondly by Pearson

    One effective tool that can help address these challenges is Mondly by Pearson. This learning companion is especially beneficial for learners who are hesitant to speak in class. Mondly by Pearson offers over 500 minutes of speaking practice, encouraging learners to use English in real-life situations and tasks that prioritize action and communication over accuracy. This approach allows for mistakes - they are part of the game - thus fostering a positive mindset, which is essential if we want to enhance our learners’ speaking skills.

    AI-powered conversations

    A standout feature of Mondly by Pearson is its AI-powered conversation capability, thanks to advanced speech recognition software. Learners can engage in interactive role plays and conversations on topics of their choice, at their own pace, both in class and outside school. This flexibility helps build self-confidence and allows students to experiment with various production and interaction strategies. The instant feedback provided by Luna, the incorporated AI friend, is highly motivating and can significantly enhance the learning experience.

    Comprehensive skill development

    Mondly by Pearson is designed not only for speaking but also to develop all four language skills—listening, reading, writing and speaking—and is aligned with the Global Scale of English. The vocabulary for each topic is selected from the GSE vocabulary database, ensuring that learners are exposed to level-appropriate words and phrases.

    Integration into classroom teaching

    To facilitate the integration of Mondly by Pearson into classroom teaching, three GSE mapping booklets have recently been published. These booklets cater to different proficiency levels:

    • Beginner (GSE range: 10-42 / CEFR level: A1-A2+)
    • Intermediate (GSE range: 43-58 / CEFR level: B1-B1+)
    • Advanced (GSE range: 59-75 / CEFR level: B2-B2+)

    These resources provide practical guidance on how to incorporate Mondly by Pearson into lesson plans effectively, ensuring that the tool complements classroom activities and enhances overall language learning.

    Conclusion

    Encouraging students to speak English in class is a multifaceted challenge, but it is not insurmountable. By understanding the various factors that contribute to learners’ reluctance and leveraging innovative tools like Mondly by Pearson, teachers can create a more engaging and supportive learning environment. This approach not only boosts students’ confidence in their speaking abilities but also fosters a more inclusive and interactive classroom atmosphere.

    Embracing technology and aligning teaching practices with modern educational standards, such as the Global Scale of English, can lead to significant improvements in language proficiency and student engagement.

  • Business people sat at a table together, two of them shaking hands.
    • Business and employability
    • Language hints and tips

    Improving your business English vocabulary for the workplace

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    So, you’re thinking about brushing up on your business English and learning new business vocabulary. In today’s corporate world, having a good handle on basic business terms and business lingo can really set you apart. It’s not just about sounding smart in meetings or crafting the perfect email, though that’s part of it. It’s about feeling more confident and fitting in seamlessly with your colleagues and clients from around the globe. Plus, knowing the right words and phrases can help you navigate tricky situations, negotiate better deals, and make a great impression on customers.

    Whether you’re attending business meetings, writing emails, or networking with colleagues, a strong grasp of business English vocabulary can set you apart and open doors to new opportunities.

    So, let’s dive in and explore some ways to improve your business English vocabulary.

  • A young child smiling in a classroom with a crayon in his hand.
    • The Global Scale of English
    • Language teaching

    Young learners of English deserve more

    By Ehsan Gorji
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Imagine a class of English language students aged 8 – 9 taught by a dynamic teacher they love. The young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The vibe they bring with them to the class, plus the dynamic teacher and the creativity she develops in her lesson plans, is fantastic.

    I have been observing trends in teaching EFL to young learners, and it is clear to me that school directors, syllabus generators, teachers, parents and learners are all satisfied with this image… “Hooray! Young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language. And the teacher is able to manage the class. Bravo!” But is it enough?

    What causes the lack of focus?

    It all begins with the coursebooks. If you take a coursebook for young learners and thumb through the ‘Scope and Sequence’ pages, you’ll see holistic definitions of language input in each unit. The school authorities then design a course based on the coursebook, and the snowball effect happens, whereby they design a course without specific details on what exactly to focus on.

    It is the teacher’s turn now. The creative and dynamic teacher provides an excellent classroom experience through which young learners can learn English together. She also assigns a piece of homework: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday.

    When the teacher reviews the emails, she smiles as she finds many uses of the simple past tense—both in affirmative and negative forms. She then drafts an email thanking everyone and praising them generously. She includes a link to a PDF of other exercises to reinforce the grammar (the next day in class, they will review the completed handouts).

    This hardworking teacher tries to blend her style with digital literacy and applies creativity along the way. Everything seems perfect in her class, and she regularly receives emails from parents thanking her. Nevertheless, some questions remain: What was the task? What was the learning outcome? Which learning objective should have been tracked?

    Let’s reconsider the task – this time with our critic’s hat on – and analyze what has been taking place in this class. It is very nice that young learners sit together to learn English, and the teacher is able to manage the class successfully, but having fun and ease alone is not enough. We should aim for “fun, ease and outcomes”.*

    *Assessing Young Learners of English: Global and Local Perspectives, Dr Marianne Nikolov, 2016.

    Which important dynamics should be considered?

    The assigned piece of homework said: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday. However, what actually occurred was a shift from this task to the students’ best performance in producing simple past-tense sentences. There are other important dynamics that have migrated out of the teacher’s focus. Did the students begin their emails appropriately? Was the tone appropriate? Did they pay attention to organizing their thoughts into sentences and paragraphs? Was the punctuation correct? Did they end their emails in the right way?

    If the coursebook had been equipped with clear and concrete learning objectives, the course directors would have employed them while designing study syllabuses, and the teacher would have used them when lesson planning. Consequently, the student’s formative and summative progress would have been evaluated against those detailed learning objectives rather than according to what some did better than the average.

    How can learning objectives be applied to tasks?

    With the Global Scale of English (GSE), publishers, course designers, teachers, and even parents can access a new world of English language teaching and testing. This global English language standard provides specific learning objectives for young learners that can be applied to tasks.

    For example, for our task, the GSE suggests the following learning objectives:

    • Can write short, simple personal emails/letters about familiar topics, given prompts or a model. (GSE 40/A2+)
    • Can use appropriate standard greetings and closings in simple, informal personal messages (e.g., postcards or emails). (GSE: 37/A2+)

    By applying language learning chunks – learning objectives, grammar and vocabulary – and identifying the can-do mission each one is supposed to accomplish, teaching and testing become more tangible, practical and measurable. Going back to my original scenario, it is excellent that young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language – provided that we know in detail which learning objectives to focus on, which skills to grow and what learning outcomes to expect.

  • A business woman and man sat at a long table discussing with eachother
    • Business and employability

    Improving employee engagement: The crucial role of language learning in business

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 8 minutes

    The ways we approach employee engagement are rapidly evolving and changing. For HR professionals and global business leaders, understanding these trends is essential to encourage a motivated, productive, and loyal workforce. A key yet often overlooked aspect of this engagement is the role of language learning and cultural understanding. Failure to adapt to the international market doesn’t just hinder growth—it can lead to significant financial losses.

    This blog post will delve into current employee engagement trends, provide suggestions for improvement, and talk about the importance of language learning and company culture in fostering a thriving global workforce through an effective employee engagement strategy.

  • Children working together outdoors picking up litter
    • Language teaching
    • Young learners

    How to teach students to be global citizens

    By Jeanne Perrett
    Reading time: 4.5 minutes

    As teachers, we all want our students to work toward making the world a better place. Through focusing on global citizenship, this drive to change the world is something we can help foster every day in the classroom. In this post, we’ll explore how.

    What are global citizens?

     A global citizen is someone who knows that they are part of a worldwide community. They understand that there are people who have completely different lifestyles, appearances, cultures and routines but with whom we share common values and responsibilities. Global citizenship encourages tolerance and understanding, and learning about it helps children become open-minded adults.  

    In a primary English classroom, helping students become aware of themselves as citizens of the world will introduce them to a global way of thinking. We can do this while also helping them become familiar with, and proficient in, English.  

    How can we introduce the concept?

    Before students put themselves in a global context, they should get to know themselves as individuals. But they should also get to know themselves as people who are part of their immediate communities.  

    In the classroom, this can be done by encouraging students to think about something personal, such as their likes and dislikes. We can then encourage students to look a little further: What kinds of homes do they see in their communities? What makes a house a home to them? What about people working in their communities — what important jobs do they do, and how do they make an impact? 

    For language teachers, the idea is to combine vocabulary and grammar structures with a slowly widening view of our world. Simply by introducing the concept that we are part of a worldwide community can take the children out of their own experiences and help them start to consider others.

    Tips and activities

    Social media makes it possible for teachers to contact each other across borders and to collaborate between their schools. Something simple, like organizing a class video call for students after lunchtime and encouraging students in different countries to discuss what they ate in English, can help learners become more globally aware. 

  • A woman with headphones dancing in her living room
    • Just for fun

    Dance your way to fluent language learning and enhanced wellbeing

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Language learning can often feel daunting, with its endless vocabulary lists, grammatical structures and pronunciation rules. However, incorporating dance and movement into your study routine can transform this challenge into an engaging, enjoyable experience while significantly benefiting your overall wellbeing. This unusual approach is not only effective for language learners of all ages but also enriches the learning process with fun and physical activity.

    Engaging in movement and dance can substantially impact mental health, as evidenced by various studies and academic research. For instance, a notable study published in the American Journal of Dance Therapy highlighted that dance, particularly in structured environments, can reduce anxiety and improve mood among participants. This connection between dance and mental health improvement can be attributed to the release of endorphins, often referred to as happiness hormones, which occur during physical activity.