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  • A group of friends smiling
    • Language learning
    • The Global Scale of English

    How language learning can improve your life for the better

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 7 minutes

    Language learning is more than just something you study—it's a strategic move that integrates into every aspect of your life—socially, professionally and mentally. With English often being the common ground for global business, communicating effectively in this language has never been more important.
    In this post, we uncover the benefits of language proficiency, particularly in English, backed by relevant statistics and insights from Pearson's recent ground-breaking new research.

  • A woman on her phone travelling outdoors
    • Technology and the future

    The future of remote learning & its role in preparing students for future careers

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    The future of remote learning still holds significant potential in preparing students for future careers by leveraging advanced technologies, fostering flexibility and accessibility, promoting lifelong learning, facilitating global collaboration, emphasizing soft skills, personalizing learning experiences, integrating industry partnerships, and ensuring ethical and responsible use of technology. A significant number of students are enrolled in online courses, and many institutions continue to expand their online offerings with many institutions at least offering some part of their learning online. 

    By embracing these opportunities and addressing challenges proactively, remote learning can play a vital role in equipping students with the knowledge, skills and mindset needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving job market. With jobs moving away from the bricks-and-mortar workplace, tomorrow's job opportunities will have fewer physical and geographical restrictions, so if you can work from anywhere in the world, you can also learn anywhere in the world.

    Here's how remote learning integrates into this evolution, by enforcing these things: 

    Flexibility and accessibility

    Remote learning provides flexibility in scheduling and accessibility to educational resources, allowing students to balance learning with other commitments such as work or family responsibilities. This flexibility mirrors the dynamic nature of many future careers, where adaptability and time management are essential skills. It also allows people who may otherwise not be able to attend a traditional institution in person the same opportunity to learn. 

    Digital literacy and technological proficiency

    Remote learning requires students to navigate various digital platforms, tools and resources, fostering digital literacy and technological proficiency. These skills are increasingly vital in virtually every industry, as technology continues to transform the way we work and communicate. 

    Self-directed learning and autonomy

    Remote learning often encourages self-directed learning, where students take greater responsibility for their education, set learning goals, and manage their progress independently. This cultivates autonomy and self-motivation, qualities highly valued in the modern workplace, where employees are expected to take initiative and drive their own professional development. 

    Global perspective and cultural competence

    Remote learning platforms facilitate collaboration and interaction among students from diverse cultural backgrounds and geographical locations. Engaging with peers from around the world fosters a global perspective, cultural competence, and cross-cultural communication skills, essential for success in an increasingly interconnected and globalized workforce. 

    Collaboration and teamwork skills

    While remote, students often participate in group projects, discussions and virtual teamwork exercises, honing their collaboration and communication skills in digital environments. These skills are invaluable in many careers, where collaboration across distributed teams and effective virtual communication are becoming increasingly common. 

    Problem-solving and critical thinking

    Remote learning activities often emphasize problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical skills as students engage with complex challenges and real-world scenarios. These cognitive skills are essential for navigating uncertainty and innovation in future careers, where the ability to analyze information, think critically and propose creative solutions is highly prized.

    Adaptability to changing technologies and industries

    Remote learning exposes students to a variety of digital tools, software and online platforms, helping them adapt to rapidly changing technologies and industries. By staying abreast of emerging trends and mastering new tools, students develop a mindset of lifelong learning and adaptability, crucial for success in careers that continually evolve. 

    Professional networking and career development

    Remote learning platforms often provide opportunities for students to connect with industry professionals, mentors and alumni networks, expanding their professional network and gaining insights into potential career paths. Building relationships with professionals in their field of interest can open doors to internships, job opportunities and career guidance, facilitating a smoother transition from education to employment. 

    The future of remote learning is poised to undergo significant transformations driven by technological advancements, evolving educational paradigms and societal shifts. Here are just some key trends that may shape the future of remote learning…

    Hybrid learning models

    As we move forward, we're likely to see a blend of traditional classroom instruction and remote learning, known as hybrid learning. This model offers flexibility for both students and educators, allowing them to leverage the benefits of in-person interaction while also harnessing the advantages of remote technologies for convenience, accessibility and personalized learning experiences. 

    Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

    VR and AR technologies are expected to play a more prominent role in remote learning, offering immersive and interactive experiences that simulate real-world environments. These technologies can transport students to historical sites, enable hands-on experiments in science labs, and facilitate collaborative problem-solving activities, enhancing engagement and understanding. 

    Artificial intelligence (AI) and adaptive learning

    AI-powered tools can analyze vast amounts of data to personalize learning experiences, identify individual strengths and weaknesses, and offer targeted interventions. Adaptive learning platforms can adjust the pace, content and instructional methods based on each student's learning preferences and performance, optimizing learning outcomes and promoting mastery of concepts. 

    Microlearning and bite-sized content

    With attention spans decreasing and the demand for just-in-time learning increasing, microlearning—delivering content in small, digestible chunks—is gaining popularity. Microlearning modules, delivered through mobile devices and online platforms, enable learners to access relevant information quickly, retain knowledge more effectively, and apply it immediately in real-world contexts. 

    Gamification and interactive content

    Gamification elements such as badges, leaderboards and rewards can enhance motivation, engagement and retention in remote learning environments. Interactive content, such as simulations, quizzes and branching scenarios, not only makes learning more enjoyable but also facilitates active participation, critical thinking and skill development. 

    Social learning and collaboration tools

    Remote learning platforms will continue to integrate social learning features such as discussion forums, group projects and peer feedback mechanisms. Collaboration tools like video conferencing, instant messaging and shared document editing enable synchronous and asynchronous communication, fostering interaction, teamwork and community building among students and educators. 

    Data-driven decision making

    The collection and analysis of learning analytics data will enable educators and administrators to gain insights into student progress, engagement levels and learning preferences. By leveraging data-driven decision-making processes, institutions can identify areas for improvement, personalize interventions and optimize instructional strategies to enhance student success and retention rates. 

    Continued emphasis on equity and inclusion

    As remote learning becomes more prevalent, it's crucial to address issues of access, digital literacy, and socioeconomic disparities. Efforts to bridge the digital divide, provide equitable access to technology and resources, and create inclusive learning environments for diverse populations will be essential in shaping the future of remote learning. 

    In summary, by leveraging the opportunities provided by remote learning, students, job seekers and career changers can develop the skills and competencies needed to thrive in a dynamic and rapidly changing job market.

  • A woman holding a book to her face, reading in a bookstore with shelves of books behind her
    • Just for fun
    • Linguistics and culture

    Fantasy, the English language and Tolkien

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    A large number of well-known writers have often created or coined words that are used in everyday English. When you think of authors, prominent figures like Shakespeare may come to mind. He enriched the English language with words like "amazement," "bedazzled," and "fashionable." Charles Dickens introduced "boredom," showcasing his talent for capturing profound human emotions and societal issues in a single word. Lewis Carroll added whimsical words to our lexicon, including "chortle," a delightful mix of 'chuckle' and 'snort.'

    But Tolkien is another one of those authors who has added to the English language's colorful dictionary. Tolkien did not just create worlds; he also enriched our language, adding a lexicon that elicits the smell of mead in crowded halls and the sight of smoky mountains veiled in mystery. Language enthusiasts and fantasy fans alike join us on this philological adventure as we uncover the words that J.R.R. Tolkien, the mastermind behind Middle-earth, either coined or brought into the limelight.

  • A teacher stood by two young students looking at a computer monitor
    • Language teaching
    • Technology and the future

    The potential of AI in English language teaching

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    The integration of Artificial Intelligence systems (AI) into English language teaching represents a significant shift in educational methodologies. This emerging technology offers English teachers a myriad of opportunities to enhance their teaching strategies, making the learning process more engaging, personalized and effective. In this blog post, we will explore practical tips on how AI can aid English language teaching and empower both educators and learners.

    One noteworthy reference highlighting AI's impact on education is the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 'Digital Education Outlook 2023'.  This comprehensive study outlines how AI technologies, assists administrative and assessment aspects of teaching but also revolutionizes the way students learn. AI tools are paving the way for a more adaptable and learner-centric approach in English language teaching by offering bespoke, adaptive learning pathways and instant feedback.

    How is AI currently being used in schools?

    Currently, schools are just beginning to harness the power of AI to enhance English language learning in several innovative ways. One notable application of educational technology is the use of intelligent tutoring systems, which provide students with personalized feedback and learning paths tailored to their individual needs and proficiency levels.

    Additionally, AI-driven language learning apps and platforms have become increasingly popular, offering interactive and immersive learning experiences through natural language processing and machine learning technologies.

    These platforms can simulate conversation practice, offer pronunciation correction, and even adapt the content in real-time to challenge students appropriately.

    Furthermore, AI is also being used for administrative tasks, such as grading and assessing students' work, allowing teachers more time to focus on curriculum development and one-on-one student interaction. This integration of AI into English language teaching is enhancing the efficiency of learning processes and actively contributing to a more engaging and dynamic educational environment.

    How AI can enhance English language teaching

    Personalization at scale

    AI systems can analyze individual student learning styles and preferences, allowing for personalized lesson plans that cater to the unique needs of every student. By customizing content, pacing and learning activities, AI ensures that students remain engaged and receive targeted support, significantly improving learning outcomes.

    Interactive learning experiences

    AI-powered applications, educational games and tools can create immersive and interactive language learning experiences. From chatbots that simulate conversation, to platforms that offer real-time feedback on pronunciation, these tools can help students to practice speaking and listening skills in a controlled and safe environment outside the traditional classroom setting.

    Autonomous learning support

    With the assistance of AI, students can self-study more effectively. AI tutoring systems can provide instant feedback on written work, ensuring learners can progress even when a teacher isn't immediately available to teach. These systems offer consistent, unbiased support, which is invaluable for building students' confidence.

    Enhanced assessment capabilities

    Assessment is a crucial part of the learning process. AI can take on the laborious task of grading and provide detailed insights into a student's performance. Teachers can then use this data to identify areas where students struggle and tailor future instruction to address these gaps.

    Expanding the creative horizons

    AI's applications extend into creative writing, offering students prompts and suggestions to overcome writer's block and develop storylines. This enhances creativity and motivation in students by providing them with a springboard for their writing skills.

    Utilizing ChatGPT in language teaching

    ChatGPT, an AI language model, can aid and save time on the way language lessons are conducted by creating a highly interactive and responsive environment for students. Teachers can harness this technology to simulate real-life conversations, enabling students to practice their language skills in a dynamic setting. Students can also be encouraged to use it to start first drafts and use their critical thinking.

    By inputting specific scenarios or topics, ChatGPT can generate dialogues that challenge and teach students how to use new vocabulary and grammar structures in context, bridging the gap between theoretical learning and practical application. Furthermore, its capacity to provide immediate feedback allows learners to correct their mistakes in real time, fostering a learning atmosphere that is both efficient and encouraging.

    The versatility of these kinds of AI chatbots means they can be tailored to suit learners at different proficiency levels, making them an invaluable tool for language teachers aiming to enhance engagement and facilitate deeper learning.

    Tips for teachers integrating AI in English lessons

    1. Start with a clear goal: define what you aim to achieve by incorporating AI into your lessons.
    2. Combine traditional and AI methods: use AI as a complement, not a substitute, for human interaction.
    3. Prioritize privacy and ethics: ensure any AI tools used are compliant with privacy laws and ethical standards.
    4. Stay updated: AI is a fast-evolving field. Attend professional development webinars and workshops to stay current.
    5. Foster a growth mindset: encourage students to view AI as a tool to aid their own effort and perseverance.
    6. Demystify technology: explain how AI works, alleviating any concerns or misapprehensions about its use.
    7. Experiment and iterate: not every AI application will suit your classroom – be prepared to try different tools and approaches.

    What about cheating and plagiarism with AI?

    The issue of cheating and plagiarism is a significant concern in our higher education institutions and is becoming more pronounced with the advent of AI technologies. However, AI itself can be a formidable ally in combating these challenges. AI-powered tools can analyze student submissions to detect plagiarism effectively, providing educators with robust mechanisms to ensure the integrity of academic work. Additionally, AI systems can be programmed to recognize students' unique writing styles, making it easier to identify discrepancies that suggest dishonesty.

    It's important for educators to discuss these topics openly with students, emphasizing the value of originality and the serious consequences of academic misconduct. By leveraging AI not just for educational enhancement but also as a means of maintaining academic standards, educators can foster a culture of honesty and integrity within the classroom.

    The AI webinar series for English teachers

    To fully unlock the potential of AI in the world of English language teaching, continuous learning is a must. We're excited to introduce an upcoming webinar series that will guide English teachers through the nuances of AI:

    Featured webinar series: Unlocking the potential of AI in English language learning

    From March 11 to March 15, 2024, join us for a series of engaging webinars designed for English teachers. Delve into various topics including generative AI, speaking practice, ethics and storytelling.

    Benefit from insights shared by experts like Ken Beatty, Kacper Łodzikowski, Magdalena Kania, Billie Jago and Ilya Gogin. Plus, earn a professional development certificate for your participation.

    Webinar sessions:

    • Artificial Intelligence: Shining Light in the Language Classroom – get an overview of AI in language learning and best practices for integration.
    • A Teachers' Guide to Safe and Ethical AI Usage for Learners – gain insights into safe and ethical AI integration in the classroom.
    • Practice English Speaking with AI – learn how to use AI to build learners' confidence in speaking.
    • AI and Storytelling – harness AI's power to inspire creativity and improve narrative skills.
    • Teaching in the Age of AI – prepare for the educational evolution with actionable tips.

    Join us as we explore the frontiers of AI in education and discuss how to prepare for the evolving educational landscape. It's time to equip yourself with the knowledge and tools required to thrive in an AI-influenced educational environment.

  • A group of students celebrating and high fiving eachother
    • Study prep
    • English language testing

    Ace the listening section: Tips for English test prep

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Passing an English proficiency test is a milestone for many non-fluent speakers. Among the different sections in such tests, the listening part can often present unique challenges. In most standardized English tests, your ability to comprehend and respond to spoken English will be put under scrutiny.

    This blog post is dedicated to helping you, the ambitious test-taker, sharpen your listening skills and equip you with strategies to excel in the listening section of your English test.

  • Image of a woman with a headset looking at her laptop
    • English for work and migration
    • English language testing

    Picking the right PTE test: PTE Core vs PTE Academic

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 3 minutes

    When preparing to prove your English proficiency—be it for studying abroad, immigration, or professional goals—selecting the right test is extremely important. PTE, renowned worldwide for its English language assessments, offers various tests catering to different needs, including PTE Core and PTE Academic.

    This blog post aims to clarify the differences between these two tests, helping you pick the test that aligns more with your aspirations.

    Understanding PTE Core and PTE Academic

    PTE is a world-leading provider of English language tests, trusted by universities, colleges, governments and professional bodies across the globe. Test scores are accepted in many countries, but which test you choose depends on where you want to go and your reasons why.

    What is PTE Core?

    PTE Core is the test you need to achieve your Canadian dream, approved for economic visa categories. But if you are looking to study in Canada, that is where PTE Academic comes in, approved for both SDS and non-SDS routes.

    PTE Core invites you to experience a test structure designed to assess your general English skills, as opposed to your Academic English, in a short, computer-based format. PTE Core evaluates all language skills—reading, writing, listening and speaking—in one seamless test.

    What is PTE Academic?

    PTE Academic is often the pathway to enrolment for students wanting to study at top universities. Specifically tailored for the academic environment, PTE Academic scores are widely recognized by institutions and are also accepted for visa purposes by the Australian, New Zealand, and UK Visas and Immigration Service. If your destination is higher education or a professional license abroad, PTE Academic is your way in.

    It's also praised for its ability to accurately reflect the speaking abilities of introverts, making it a considerate option for different personality types.

    Test features and acceptance

    When choosing the PTE test you need, consider the following features:

    Test format

    Both PTE Core and PTE Academic offer a computer-based test, which is excellent news for those who prefer not to have the extra stress of speaking to an examiner. Both tests are split up into three parts: Part 1: Speaking & Writing, Part 2: Reading, and Part 3: Listening.

    Speed of results

    With both tests, the results arrive rapidly—typically in just two business days—due to PTE's unique combination of AI scoring and human expertise that also strives to reduce bias.

    Global recognition

    An impressive list of institutions worldwide recognizes PTE Academic. Its scores are specifically sought after in the academic arena and by Australian, New Zealand, and UK visa authorities. Accepted by over 300 universities across the world, PTE Academic is the English test you need if you are looking to study overseas.

    It is also accepted by the Australian and New Zealand governments for migration visas, so it is the test of choice if that is your dream destination.

    PTE Core is recognized by the Canadian government (IRCC) for all economic visas and permanent residency applications.

    Preparation and support

    For those looking to prepare ahead of the test, be it PTE Academic or PTE Core, Pearson offers a range of supporting resources so you can put your best foot forward on test day.

    For PTE Academic, this includes five unique scored practice tests to give you a feel for the full test experience, what to expect, the type of questions that will be asked, and other unique resources.

    For PTE Core, there is a taster test you can try out your skills on, an online course, a handbook, and much more.

    Finding your best fit

    The choice between PTE Core and PTE Academic ultimately hinges on your future plans and destination country.

    To make an informed decision, check out PTE's useful links, which clarify destinations and requirements.

    How do I start studying for PTE?

    Embarking on the journey to master PTE begins with understanding your current level and building a solid study plan tailored to your needs. Arm yourself with our extensive resources, including practice tests and preparation books, to familiarize yourself with the question types and formats you'll encounter.

  • Two coworkers stood in a office looking at a tablet together.
    • Business and employability

    Evaluating the ROI of Language Learning for DEI Initiatives

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Language learning has become a pivotal component of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies in forward-thinking organizations, especially for those with international workforces or those working to unlock new markets across the globe.

    As businesses increasingly prioritize workforce development and social responsibility, integrating language training into DEI programs offers several advantages:

    • Enriching team morale and employee well-being.
    • Increasing employee engagement, loyalty and trust.
    • Delivering fresh ideas and fostering innovation.
    • Enhancing problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.
    • Strengthening customer relationships and amplifying brand reputation.
  • A teacher sat with students at a table, the students are using tablets.
    • Young learners
    • Language teaching

    Benefits of using tablets in the primary classroom

    By Jacqueline Martin

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Interactive whiteboards, PCs and laptops are common in many schools worldwide, but have you ever considered using tablets in your young learners' classes? 

    Tablets can be used for many things. Online research, watching and creating videos, playing games, and digital storytelling are just a few examples. Of course, there's also the added environmental benefit of going paper-free.

    In this post, we're going to explore some of the reasons why using tablets can be beneficial in the young learner's classroom and what to consider before you do so.

    What are the benefits of using tablets in class?

    1. Facilitating engagement

    With good direction from the teacher, tablets can emulate natural social interaction and interactivity. They can also offer problem-solving activities, set achievable goals and provide instant feedback.

    Moreover, when young learners are truly engaged in an activity, it may be perceived as effortless - and they learn and use their second language (L2) without even realizing it. 

    2. Introducing authenticity and autonomy

    In terms of content, tablets allow us to bring the real world into the classroom at the tap of a screen. We can provide learners with authentic materials via level-and-age-appropriate videos and real-life communication. As well as interaction with other teachers and learners through teams or by using a secure app such as Stars private messaging

    Tablets also promote learner autonomy. They are easy to use, allowing us to take a step back and let our students work at their own pace, being on stand-by as a facilitator when students require help or a little push in the right direction.

    3. Promoting creativity, communication and inclusion

    Nearly all tablets have a webcam and voice recorder, which means that learner-generated content can be created easily - even without dedicated software. 

    You can have your students make their own vlogs (video diaries), ebooks, comics, cartoons and movie trailers. All you need to do is to install apps such as Book Creator or this series of apps specifically designed for very young learners from Duck Duck Moose. While these apps have been created for 'fluent-speaker' classrooms, they can easily be adapted to an ELT context.

    Tablets also promote communication. This can help improve students' L2 oral skills at any level, when the teacher is there to support and guide them.

    One of the greatest advantages of a tablet as opposed to a computer is that anyone can use one and they are much more portable. 

    For students with special educational needs, tablets can be an essential learning tool and they can also be used by students with low-level motor skills, such as very young learners. Similarly, tablets can work really well with multi-level classes, as they allow you to offer differentiated materials, activities and support where necessary.

    4. Enabling online assessment 

    Tablets can also facilitate interactive online exams or help measure progress. Tests such as 'English Benchmark - Young Learners' are designed with primary learners in mind, to be taken anytime, anywhere. Its game-like format engages students and takes the fear out of being assessed. It also provides instant feedback to the teacher with informative reports and advice for future study. 

    5. Building relationships with caregivers

    Finally, as with any online content, tablets allow you to connect with our learners outside the classroom. You can quickly send links to classwork and feedback to the children's caregivers, fostering a positive relationship and a greater interest in their child's progress and learning. 

    Tips for using tablets in class

    Before implementing the use of tablets in your classroom, there are some things you should consider. Here are some useful tips that will help you gain the maximum benefit from tablets.

    Usability:

    • Decide what you are going to use the tablets for and when. Are you going to allow students to use the tablets for all parts of the lesson or only for specific activities? This may depend on the number of tablets you have available.
    • Use technology to improve an activity or design new activities that would not be possible without the tech, rather than using it to carry on as normal. Think about when a tablet will help learners do something they wouldn't be able to do without one, e.g., make a video or create and share a piece of writing with the whole class.
    • Think about using tablets for creation rather than consumption. Your students can (and probably do) spend a fair amount of time consuming videos in their free time. Whether they do this in English or not is another story, but in the classroom, students should use the language as much as possible (see the next point).
    • Use the tablets for collaborative tasks that require social interaction and communication. It's unlikely that you will have one tablet per student. Make the most of this limitation by having students work in pairs or small groups. Students can use their own devices individually outside the classroom.
    • Try to incorporate tablets into regular classroom activities and interactions. Avoid making them a "reward" or just for "games". Even if games are part of your planned tablet usage, make it clear that students are playing them in order to learn English. Encourage students to think of the tablet as a tool to help them on their learning journey.

    General tips

    • Try out any apps or widgets before asking students to use them. If necessary, make or find a step-by-step tutorial to help students use an app. There's nothing worse than having a class of twenty-five students all raising their hands at the same time because they don't know where to start.
    • Have clear rules and guidelines for tablet use. Educate students about using the equipment responsibly. Do this before you hand out tablets the first time.
    • Provide students and parents with a list of recommended apps to continue their home learning. Whether you have a class set of tablets or are using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), many students will have access to a tablet or mobile phone at home, which they can use for further practice. Students will likely be motivated to continue playing games at home and may wish to show their parents and friends any content they've created in class.

    Practicalities

    • Consider the hardware and technical requirements. Do you need a Wi-Fi connection? How many devices will you have? Which apps and programs do you want to use? 
    • Ensure the features and apps you plan to use suit the age group you're teaching. Do some research, and if possible, choose apps designed for educators, avoiding freebie apps that may contain advertising. Block any websites you think unsuitable and install a search engine with child-friendly filters.
    • Set the language of the devices to English. Even if your students are very young, they'll pick up useful language and will be more inclined to use English as they are using the tablet.
    • Decide where you will keep the tablets and how they will be maintained. How often and where will they be charged? 
    • Think about how you can flexibly set up your classroom to incorporate collaborative tablet use. Move tables together to make group work easier. Create workstations or even have cushions or bean bags in a corner of the classroom.

    Using tablets to assess student progress with Benchmark

    With the right software, tablets can allow us to conduct formative assessments through immediate feedback and learning analytics. 

    We have developed our own English-language test for children aged 6 to 13 in an app designed specifically for tablet use. This fun, game-like test is highly motivating and assesses all four skills in a relaxed environment, removing the stress of traditional exams. It also allows you to see where each learner needs more improvement, providing recommendations on what to teach next and suggested activities in selected Pearson courseware.

    Find out more information about the English Benchmark test.

  • Two women in a pottery room talking over a laptop
    • Business and employability
    • Language hints and tips

    Cutting through corporate English: Clearer alternatives to business jargon

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    The corporate world can often feel like an echo chamber of confusing phrases. Terms like "blue-sky thinking" and "tiger teams" might dominate conversation in boardrooms and email chains, but what do they actually mean in practice and are they the best way to communicate?

    This blog post simplifies workplace English by offering straightforward business English alternatives to common corporate jargon. These replacements will resonate with fluent English language speakers and ease communication with non-fluent English speakers who are vital contributors to the workplace. Plus, a clearer form of communication can help foster inclusivity, improve understanding and ultimately enhance productivity.

    What is corporate jargon?

    Corporate jargon refers to the very specialized vocabulary and language used within the business world, often characterized by buzzwords, acronyms, jargon and phrases that are usually unknown to outsiders.

    Why should we avoid professional jargon?

    Jargon often acts as a barrier to clear communication, creating an environment where messages are misunderstood or misinterpreted. This misunderstanding can lead to inefficiencies, errors and frustrations among team members, particularly those who may not be fluent English speakers or are new to the corporate environment.

    Furthermore, overusing complex language can unintentionally exclude or push away parts of the workforce, undermining efforts to build an inclusive and collaborative team culture. In essence, simplifying language and avoiding unnecessary jargon can make available information more accessible to a wider audience and ensure that all team members have the necessary information to contribute effectively to their roles.

    For example, let's look at "think outside the box." It means to think in new ways, but it's said so much that it doesn't really grab attention anymore. A better way to say this might be "think creatively" or "come up with new ideas." Also, the word "synergize" really just means to work well together for better results. Saying "work together effectively" is much clearer and easier for everyone to understand, no matter if they're used to business terms or not. Using simple words helps everyone get the idea faster, making the workplace more welcoming and efficient.

    The difference between English jargon and slang

    Jargon functions as a shorthand among professionals, representing complex concepts among those in the know. Slang is less formal than jargon, often coming from cultural or societal trends and used more in casual conversations.

    An example of jargon vs slang

    An example of jargon and slang could be comparing "low-hanging fruit" to "no-brainer." "Low-hanging fruit" is a piece of jargon that refers to tasks, projects or targets that are easily achievable and do not require much effort.

    On the other hand, "no-brainer" is slang that implies something is an obvious or easy decision, often used in more informal settings. While both terms convey the idea of simplicity and ease, "low-hanging fruit" is more likely to be used in strategic meetings or project planning sessions, whereas "no-brainer" might be used in informal discussions or brainstorming sessions.

    Examples of jargon and their plain English alternatives

    Blue-sky thinking

    Avoid saying, "We need some blue-sky thinking." Instead, use, "Approach this problem with unlimited creativity."

    Helicopter view

    Avoid saying, "Give me a helicopter view of the situation." Instead, use, "Provide a broad overview of the situation."

    Get all your ducks in a row

    Avoid saying, "Before the busy season, get all your ducks in a row." Instead, use, "Ensure you're well-organized before the busy period begins."

    Thinking outside the box

    Avoid saying, "This client expects us to think outside the box." Instead, use, "The client expects unique and unconventional ideas from us."

    IGUs (Income Generating Units)

    Avoid saying, "Our goal is to increase our IGUs this quarter." Instead, use, "Our goal is to increase our student enrolments this quarter."

    Run it up the flagpole

    Avoid saying, "That's a great idea. Run it up the flagpole." Instead, use, "That's a great idea. Share it with the team for their input."

    Swim lanes

    Avoid saying, "To understand your tasks, refer to the swim lanes." Instead, use, "Refer to the job responsibility diagram to understand your tasks."

    Bleeding edge

    Avoid saying, "This new software is bleeding edge." Instead, use, "This new software represents the latest in research and technological innovation."

    Tiger team

    Avoid saying, "We'll need a tiger team to tackle this project." Instead, use, "We'll assemble a specialized task force for this project."

    While some professionals may use jargon to appear more knowledgeable, the truth is that simplicity is key. Clear and straightforward language not only levels the playing field for everyone but also cuts through possible misunderstandings.

    The case for plain business English

    In today's global business environment, where interactions occur across diverse linguistic backgrounds and languages, it's paramount to ensure that our words are as clear and simple as possible. By favoring plain English vocabulary over opaque jargon, we promote an inclusive and efficient workplace where every member, fluent or not, understands and contributes to their fullest potential.

    Continue to seek clarity in your communications. Remember that the true mark of expertise is not using complex language but making complex concepts understandable for everyone. Keep challenging yourself to simplify your language without diluting the meaning of your message. Remember, whether you're a seasoned professional or a new recruit, clear communication will always be your strongest asset.

    If you or your team are looking to improve their business English skills, check out our business English courses and blog posts for up-to-date tips.