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  • 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 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.


    • 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.


    • 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.

  • A teacher sat at the front of the classroom smiling at his students.
    • Diversity and inclusion
    • Language teaching

    Encouraging cultural sensitivity in the classroom

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7.5 minutes

    In today's classrooms and schools, cultural sensitivity isn't just a nice to have; it's an essential component of effective language teaching. As educators, understanding and valuing the diverse cultures that learners bring into our schools and classrooms can bridge gaps and foster inclusive learning environments.

    But why is cultural sensitivity so important, and how can we practically incorporate it into our teaching? In this post, we explore ways to help language teachers cultivate a more culturally aware and inclusive classroom.

    Why is cultural sensitivity important in language education

    Teaching languages, including English, involves a significant cultural component; therefore, we must proceed with mindfulness and respect. Recognizing and honoring the cultural backgrounds of our students lays the groundwork for nurturing a safe space where everybody feels seen, heard, and respected. This isn't just about avoiding misunderstandings or conflicts; it's about enriching the educational experience for all.

    Language encompasses more than just vocabulary and grammar; it is a conduit of culture, identity, and worldviews. As an educator, you possess the wonderful opportunity to nurture and encourage your students, allowing each voice to soar individually while harmoniously contributing to a greater collective comprehension.

    Students are better prepared for the workplace

    Embracing cultural diversity within the classroom arms students with a set of skills that are invaluable in the workplace. An example can be found in 'Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire' by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum explores how creativity emerges at the intersection of different cultures and experiences.

    In a business context, this creativity is the driving force behind innovation and problem-solving. Students who have learned to navigate cultural nuances are adept at thinking outside the box, making them valuable assets in any professional environment.

    They are more likely to approach challenges with an open mind and collaborate effectively with a diverse team, recognizing that each unique background contributes to a richer, more comprehensive perspective on work and the world.

    It improves social skills

    Incorporating cultural sensitivity into language education isn't just about creating a respectful classroom; it directly enhances students' social skills.

    Numerous studies suggest that culturally diverse classrooms are breeding grounds for advanced social skills. One theory that explores this concept is Bennett's Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), which illustrates how intercultural encounters can foster individuals' cognitive growth and emotional resilience.

    Bennett states that through various stages of cultural awareness, people develop from mere tolerance of difference to integration of diverse cultural viewpoints into their own life experiences.

    Students can develop empathy and stronger communication abilities by understanding and appreciating cultural nuances. This knowledge empowers them to engage thoughtfully and effectively with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of global citizenship.

    Students have better emotional intelligence

    Robert J. Sternberg's 'Cultural Intelligence and Successful Intelligence' highlights a significant research study that supports the idea that exposure to cultural diversity can enhance empathetic development. According to Sternberg, when individuals are exposed to a variety of cultures, it broadens their emotional experiences and perspectives.

    By interacting with individuals from different backgrounds, students' own emotional intelligence can be greatly enhanced. This is because learning to understand and respect diverse emotional expressions and communication styles sharpens one's ability to read and respond to the feelings of others.

    Moreover, it fosters emotional maturity, as individuals learn to navigate and appreciate the subtleties of human emotion in a multicultural world. Through such enriching exchanges, students in culturally diverse settings develop a more refined sense of empathy, becoming well-equipped to engage with others in a considerate, informed, and emotionally intelligent manner.

    It helps their language learning

    Understanding a culture deeply enriches the language acquisition process for students. When they step into the shoes of those who live and breathe the language they're learning, it becomes more than just memorizing vocabulary and grasping grammatical structures.

    Students begin to notice the subtleties in conversation tones, the unspoken expressions that only those privy to the culture can interpret, and the implicit rules of language etiquette.

    This discernment can be the distinguishing factor between being a functional speaker and a captivating storyteller in their new language. As students immerse themselves in cultural practices, whether through music, film, or literature, they are not just learning a language—they are learning to convey emotions and ideas just as a fluent speaker would.

    It helps with classroom friendships

    This new understanding helps to peel away the layers of hesitation. Engaging in activities that celebrate diversity becomes an exciting exploration, paving the way for students to break out of their shells. They're encouraged to be curious, ask questions, and share about themselves, fostering an environment where every student is a teacher and a learner in their own right.

    As the classroom transforms into a supportive space for cultural exchange, students are encouraged to reach out and connect with peers they might not have approached before. With every shared story and every collaborative project, the bonds of friendship are forged, transcending former barriers and weaving a tightly-knit community that thrives on the unique contributions of each member.

    Embracing diversity in your language classroom

    Wondering how to transform your language classroom into a crucible of cultural sensitivity? Here are a few simple yet significant changes you can start with today.

    Get to know your students

    Make an effort to learn about your students' cultural backgrounds. This gesture speaks volumes about your respect for their identity. Use icebreakers or activities that invite students from diverse backgrounds to share their traditions and norms.

    This doesn't just apply to major cultural differences but also the nuanced aspects of diversity within a seemingly homogenous group of students. This research can also help you plan activities and whether they are appropriate for all students in your classes.

    Fostering a community of belonging

    Imagine stepping into a class where every student feels a sense of belonging and acceptance. This is the power of embedding diversity and equity into your teaching methods. This can be done by:

    • Recognizing holidays from around the world.
    • Sharing stories from varied cultures.
    • Encouraging students to express themselves in ways that honor their heritage.

    These strategies are just a few ways to instill acceptance and belonging in your own classroom environment whilst learning a new language.

    Incorporate multicultural content

    Select texts, examples, and materials that reflect a range of cultures and experiences. Familiarity breeds comfort, but newness breeds growth. Ensure your curriculum and classroom materials reflect a world beyond the traditional English-speaking countries.

    By doing so, you're offering students windows into different worlds and mirrors to see themselves reflected in the learning material.

    Representation is also incredibly important in promoting diversity and inclusivity in education. We can create a more inclusive and equitable society by using materials, programs and stories that feature varied representation.

    This not only ensures that everyone's voices and life experiences are heard and valued, but also helps to challenge stereotypes and foster understanding among different communities.

    Foster open discussions

    Encourage open discussion in the classroom around cultural norms, expressions, and idioms. When students understand the context behind language, they gain a deeper appreciation and avoid missteps that could inadvertently offend.

    Use mistakes as learning opportunities

    When cultural insensitivities do arise, it is important to approach them as teachable moments. Take the opportunity to guide learners with a warm and understanding attitude, providing them with the necessary knowledge, resources and context to foster a more inclusive and respectful classroom environment.

    Reflect on biases

    Be aware and proactive about addressing stereotypes and biases present in class discussions. Challenge your own preconceptions and lead by example. Creating brave spaces for learning helps students feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes, which is where true growth happens.

    Nurture empathy and understanding

    Teach language learning as a journey of empathy. Language is not only about speaking to someone but also feeling with them. Encourage students to step into the shoes of others, fostering a spirit and culture of empathy that transcends cultural boundaries.

    Respect linguistic diversity

    Encourage your students to express themselves in English with pride in their respective accents. Support them in understanding that clarity and communication are the goals, not trying to remove their accent or identity. By doing so, we not only bolster their confidence but also teach the wonderful lesson of inclusivity.

    Practical activities

    Implementing activities and lessons that bring cultural awareness into the forefront can transform your language classroom into a vibrant community of curious minds and hearts. Here are some examples of activities you a teacher could do:

    • A simple yet effective activity is a 'cultural artifact show and tell,' where students are invited to share an item of cultural significance to them and tell its story. This encourages sharing and deep listening, shedding light on the diverse cultural backgrounds represented in the room.
    • Cultural exchange workshops, possibly with guest speakers, can offer students firsthand insight into various aspects of different cultures. These workshops can revolve around traditional dance, music, games, or cooking demonstrations, allowing students to immerse themselves in and appreciate the richness of various other cultures.
    • Having international cuisine days, where students prepare and share dishes from different countries, can be a delightful way to stimulate the senses while emphasizing the importance of cultural traditions tied to food. It's a tasty opportunity for students to express themselves and learn the stories behind international cuisines.
    • Crafting sessions for cultural storytelling allows for the narratives of different cultures to be told through the enchanting medium of stories. Storytelling connects students to diverse societies through emotional and moral threads. The storytelling could be done in the target language you're teaching.
    • A book and film club can open doors to different worlds. Curating a list of international authors and filmmakers for the club enhances language skills and cultural understanding by engaging with diverse narratives and viewpoints.

    The list isn't exhaustive, but there may be other ways to introduce cultural sensitivity into your class, any kind of activity that showcases and introduces cultures or traditions to others in an interesting manner.


    In conclusion, cultural sensitivity can transform our language classrooms and schools into hives of connection and understanding. It takes awareness, intention, and a nurturing heart—qualities that you, as an educator, already possess. Remember, every small step you take has an impact on the young minds you shape and the interconnected world they will navigate.

    Embrace diversity, teach with sensitivity, and watch as your classroom becomes a microcosm of the world we all share—a world of vibrant cultures, languages, and stories waiting to be told and heard. By incorporating diverse narratives and viewpoints from others into our teaching, we can enhance our students' language skills and deepen their cultural understanding.

    So let's continue to strive for a more inclusive and empathetic learning environment, one that celebrates differences and fosters empathy and compassion among all learners.

    Keep developing your understanding

    To dive deeper into creating inclusive learning experiences, explore our free course on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, designed for teachers. To help empower educators to foster classrooms where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is the norm, and everyone feels they belong.

    Craft brave spaces, build a sense of belonging, and instill that all-important appreciation and acceptance of others. Request free course access today.

    On the topic of diversity and inclusion in the classroom, make sure to read our other posts, 'The Importance of diversity and inclusion in your curriculum' and 'Ways to bring cultural diversity into your classroom'.

    We also provide other professional development programs and qualifications for educators; you can check them out here:

  • A child running with a rugby ball outside, with children behind them
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    How can gaming support language learning?

    By Jacqueline Martin

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Academics and teachers have been writing about the benefits of using games in the language classroom for many years. Wright et al (1984), Lee Su Kim (1995), Ubermann (1998), Ersoz (2000), Yong Mei and Yu-Jin (2000) and Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga (2003) all pretty much agreed that games provide a useful and meaningful context for language use; encourage students to interact and communicate; can both challenge and reduce anxiety (as the emphasis is on the message, not the form); provide practice in all four skills; and help students to make and sustain the significant effort involved in learning a language.

    Kim and others have also noted that games can offer a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class. Playing a game after an intensive test or with over-excited students after break time can help re-engage learners instantly in your lesson, and you'll maximize your time with them.

    Lengeling and Malarcher (1997) took the list of potential benefits of games in the classroom even further.


    • Games lower the affective filter
    • They encourage the creative and spontaneous use of language
    • They promote communicative competence
    • Games are both motivating and fun


    • Games reinforce learning
    • They both review and extend learning
    • Games focus on grammar in a communicative manner

    Class dynamics

    • Games are extremely student-centered
    • The teacher acts only as a facilitator
    • Games build class cohesion
    • They can foster whole-class participation
    • Games promote healthy competition


    • Games can be easily adjusted for age, level and interests
    • They utilize all four skills
    • Games require minimum preparation after the initial development stage

    It is important to bear in mind that when the above was written over 20 years ago, it was with reference mostly to more traditional games. But more recent evidence seems to indicate that the same principles apply. Some additional benefits cited by teachers I've spoken to are that:

    • Games could make language lessons less threatening for less confident pupils as their concern about getting sentence form wrong was reduced, and so their production greater.
    • Students learn more than just the language of the lesson when playing a game; they may learn instructional language through discussion or rules and sometimes negotiation skills and a lesson in cultural differences too.
    • Students can form a greater variety of emotional connections with language through playing games, for example acting out a word or seeing another student do so, or remembering a clue for a word.

    So, playing games can help students learn a language – but is just playing them enough? Some teachers like using games with less motivated classes who won't engage with straight practice activities and will willingly use key vocabulary and structures in a game, gaining much-needed practice without even realizing it. In today's language-learning context, though, is that a good thing?

    Motivating the unmotivated

    In recent years, much research has shown that students learn better when the intention or objective of the lesson is clear to them. In short, they understand what they're supposed to be learning and why and, when taking it to the next level, can assess their own learning and be actively involved in planning their next steps.

    Would knowing that the games they play are actually a way of doing some additional language practice make these students engage less? Opinion differs, and some discussion seems to center around the actual activity involved. Some games are thinly veiled group-work tasks, but other games that are at the right proficiency level (or slightly above) and take into account factors like cultural context, available time, learning topic and the classroom setting are generally considered to have a positive impact.

    Another major influence on improving motivation is the feedback a student receives, and this is something games can also support. Online games can provide richer simulated learning experiences and immediate feedback to students in a variety of ways.

    Above all, the main issue for the less motivated students is usually that they can't see why they need to learn English. Playing games not only simulates 'real' contexts but also helps them understand that they can accomplish a variety of tasks using English as a medium, which is motivational in itself.

    As teachers, there is a responsibility to explain how or why games will help students learn. This can equally motivate learners (or parents) who fear that playing games is just frivolous time-wasting. For example, informing even adult students that a simple hangman or hot seat game helps them improve spelling skills, gets their brains focused on recognizing the shape and structure of new words, and facilitates their learning of new vocabulary soon helps them see the value (Simpson 2011).

    Can games help learners acquire 21st-century skills?

    Maybe we can draw the conclusion that games can positively impact learning – but is that even enough? Today's teachers have to ensure not just that their students learn but that they acquire the skills they need for life and jobs in the 21st century. Can games help here too? This is a newer area of research, but evidence seems to indicate that games can help students learn a variety of important skills such as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship.

    These ideas were taken seriously by Robert Morris University Illinois, who offered an e-sports scholarship for the first time in 2014. They studied two groups of students – football players and gamers – and found that levels of competitiveness, perseverance, focus and determination were very similar. Both groups showed a similar desire to excel as part of a team. Both 'sports' required the team members to be detail-orientated, have good hand-eye coordination and have a strategic mind. The only difference was in the level of cardiovascular activity. Both groups received performance analysis and tactical advice from coaches and both subsequently made improvements.

    How many universities will start to offer these types of programs remains to be seen. Still, the idea that online competitive gaming can improve performance is being brought to the workplace too. Think about what virtual teams could learn from playing role-based collaborative games. Team members have set roles and clear and shared goals and have to work closely together to formulate an action plan to achieve them. Teamwork, skill, strategic thinking and communication are essential.

    All these are important skills for today's workplace, so maybe gaming can provide an opportunity to hone these in a lower-risk environment and improve business performance.

    These examples are clearly far from the norm, but they do seem to indicate that using gaming to support learning in the classroom is not a waste of time. When you get the right mix of gaming and learning, it develops a student's autonomous learning skills and encourages them to spend more time on task – both of which greatly impact learner outcomes.

    Need language learning game ideas for your young learners? Read our post 5 quick and easy ESL games for teaching young learners.

  • A teacher stood at the front of a class with a book, pointing at a student. Students are sat at desks with their hands raised.
    • Language teaching
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • English certification and assessment

    Assessing and tracking your students' language learning

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 4 minutes

    As a language teacher, your goal is not just to impart knowledge but to guide your students on a transformative journey toward fluency. Assessing and tracking learning progress is a dynamic process that empowers both educators and learners, rather than being just a routine task.

    In today's language learning blog post, we will explore the significance of assessment in language teaching and provide valuable insights on how to track and assess your students' linguistic development.

    The benefits

    Informed instruction

    Regular assessments enable teachers to tailor instruction to meet individual student needs. Identifying strengths and weaknesses helps educators adapt teaching methods, promoting a more personalized and effective learning experience.

    Motivational tool

    Assessment results can be very useful in motivating students. Even small progress should be acknowledged as it can boost their confidence and encourage a positive attitude towards learning. It is important to share success stories, celebrate achievements and foster a culture of continuous improvement within your language classroom.

    Feedback for growth

    Assessment feedback can help students improve their skills by giving them a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can use this feedback to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning journey and foster a growth mindset that is resilient even in the face of linguistic difficulties.

    Tracking and assessment methods

    Diverse assessment methods

    Embrace a variety of assessment methods to capture the multifaceted nature of language learning. Beyond traditional exams, integrate speaking assessments, project-based evaluations and collaborative activities. This diversity ensures a comprehensive understanding of your students' language proficiency.

    Example: Consider assigning projects that involve researching, creating presentations and demonstrating creative expression (like plays or videos) in the target language. Assessing various aspects such as language skills, creativity and critical thinking. Design projects around your class's interests and motivations.

    Formative assessments

    Integrate formative assessments into your teaching strategy. These ongoing evaluations, such as quizzes, class discussions and short writing assignments, provide real-time feedback. For instance, if you notice that your students are struggling with a particular concept, you can use formative assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching approach and make necessary adjustments.

    Example: Conduct regular quizzes, polls or short assessments during class to evaluate students' understanding. Use quick checks to gauge student understanding to adjust teaching methods accordingly. This will help you tailor your teaching methods in real time to ensure effective lesson delivery.

    Portfolio assessment

    Encourage students to maintain language portfolios. These portfolios can include samples of their written work, recorded conversations and reflections on their language learning journey. Portfolio assessments offer a holistic view of progress and provide students with a tangible record of their achievements.

    Example: Conduct periodic portfolio reviews to discuss progress and set goals. Encourage frequent reflection to show learners how far they've come. 


    Empower students to self-assess. Encourage reflection on their language skills, setting goals and evaluating their own progress. Self-assessment also fosters a sense of responsibility and independence in the learning process. When students take ownership of their progress, they become more invested in their education and are more likely to achieve their goals.

    Example: Provide your language students self-assessment checklists or rubrics for them to evaluate their proficiency and set personal goals.

    Technology integration

    Use language learning platforms' analytics and progress reports for data-driven decision-making. It's great to help save time and provide reliable and up-to-date reports. 

    Example: Using online platforms for assignments, quizzes and collaborative projects with built-in tracking features. Our learning platform, Pearson English Connect (PEC), can help you keep track of your students' progress.

    Cultural projects

    Cultural projects are a great way to engage students in the broader context of the language they are learning. These projects could involve researching cultural practices, traditions or historical events related to the language.

    Students learn how to navigate cultural nuances, understand diverse perspectives and effectively communicate in different cultural contexts by participating in cultural projects. Such projects help students form a personal connection with the language and bridge the gap between theory and real-world application, making language learning more meaningful.

    Example: Assign projects that explore certain cultural aspects of the target language, encouraging a deeper understanding of context. These can be evaluated on how well it's presented, its clarity, and how factually accurate it is.

    Peer reviews

    Peer review is a valuable practice that promotes a sense of community within the language learning classroom. It involves students working together and offering constructive feedback to each other, which leads to the development of their language skills. It creates a collaborative learning environment where students actively participate in the improvement of their peers, learning from one another's strengths and weaknesses.

    Students often put more effort into assignments when they know peers will review their work. This increased accountability can lead to higher-quality work and a greater commitment to language learning.

    Example: Implement peer review sessions where students provide feedback on each other's written or spoken assignments. Encourage constructive criticism to enhance collaboration and learning. To accommodate shy students, this process can be anonymous.


    Assessing and tracking language learning progress is integral to effective language teaching, requiring continuous interaction between educators and students.

    By utilizing diverse assessment methods and fostering a culture of constant improvement, language teachers play a vital role in guiding their students toward linguistic fluency. Helping language students celebrate their successes and overcome challenges helps them to be not only proficient speakers but also lifelong language enthusiasts.

    Are you an English teacher preparing for assessments? Check out our post Motivating your students through assessment.

    As well as our learning platform, PEC, we offer various English assessments and courses to help track your learner's progress and to certify their English level, so make sure to explore our range to find the best solution for your students.  

  • Students working together laughing with a laptop in front of them
    • Language teaching
    • Teaching trends and techniques

    Improve student vocabulary and memory with these classroom activities

    By Vaughan Jones

    Reading time: 6.5 minutes

    Vaughan Jones has more than 30 years of experience as an EFL Teacher, Trainer and Author. He’s lived and worked in France, Japan and Spain, and has worked to produce a number of coursebooks, including Focus, an English language learning series for upper-secondary students.

    In this post he explores some tips and techniques for language teachers to help students improve their ability to remember vocabulary. 

  • A teacher stood at a students desk helping them - there is also the gse logo to the side of them
    • The Global Scale of English
    • Language teaching

    How the GSE can help teachers personalize activities

    By Leonor Corradi

    Reading time: 4.5 minutes

    Teaching is an art form that thrives on adaptation and personalization. When dealing with language instruction, ensuring that each student is engaged and effectively learning is of paramount importance. In my experience as a teacher, I have learned that we should always teach our students rather than the coursebook or the syllabus. I think most teachers would agree with this.

    However, it may be challenging to adapt activities to cater to our learners’ needs. What does personalizing an activity mean? How can we make it more accessible to our English learners? One would think that making the answers more obvious can be the way to go. Yet, this does not really help students learn and make progress. That's where the Global Scale of English (GSE) comes in as a valuable tool for personalizing teaching activities.

    The essence of personalized learning

    Personalizing an activity in language teaching does not simply mean making the responses more obvious. Instead, it's about tailoring the exercise to elevate the student's learning experience and potential for progress. This demands an insightful approach during the preparation phase of any given lesson.

    Utilizing the GSE in language teaching

    Let’s analyze this listening activity at A2 level for a group of adults:

    Audio script example:

    Emma: Are you working on the Media project?

    Vic: Yes. I may start working on a new project in a couple of weeks, but for now I’m writing the objectives for Media. Why?

    Emma: Well, Adam wants to see the photos for the project. He needs them for the ads.

    Vic: Oh, they’ll be ready next week. OK?

    Emma: Awesome! Thanks. Any plans for the weekend?

    Vic: Well, I have to work on Saturday. We’re taking the Media pictures in the morning, but we’re just going to have fun at the beach in the afternoon.

    Emma: Nice!

    Vic: What about you? What are you doing this weekend?

    Emma: I’m going to a concert on Sunday at 3 pm.

    Vic: That sounds fun!

    Listen and write T (true) or F (false)

    1. Vic is working on a new project.

    2.  Vic is working on Saturday morning.

    3. Emma is going to a concert on Sunday evening.

    GSE Descriptors

    Upon dissecting this example by the GSE descriptors, we can identify the learning objectives that align with an A2 level:

    • Can identify simple information in a short video, provided that the visual supports this information and the delivery is slow and clear. (GSE 30)

    • Can identify basic factual information in short, simple dialogues or narratives on familiar everyday topics, if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 32)

    • Can understand the main information in short, simple dialogues about familiar activities, if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 33)

    • Can identify key information (e.g., places, times) from short audio recordings if spoken slowly and clearly. (GSE 33)

    We know that learners should be given a global task first for overall listening, which is also one of the communicative objectives in the Global Scale of English:

  • A business woman looking and pointing at a wall full of post it notes
    • Language teaching

    The art of goal setting

    By Ken Beatty

    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Dr. Ken Beatty defines goals and explains why we should think of them as doors to open rather than fixed targets.

    Goals as doors

    My eldest son, Nathan, failed to achieve the biggest goal of his life: becoming a garbage truck driver. It's hardly surprising - he was only four years old at the time. His ambition likely dissolved once he realized that garbage trucks sometimes smell bad. Before then, he'd mostly observed them from the safety of our apartment window.

    As is the case with most people, his goals have changed. Completing his degree in international economics, hoping to work in technology startups until he forms one himself. Or maybe not. Goals evolve.

    Researchers and teachers have known for decades that goals are vitally important motivations in general education and language learning. After examining 800+ studies, Hattie (2009) identified goals as among the most powerful instructional interventions for improving student success.

    The basic message is that goals are good. However, other researchers (Rowe, Mazzotti, Ingram, & Lee, 2017) suggest that teachers have trouble embedding them in lessons.

    Part of the problem might be in finding a way to visualize goals. Goals are often pictured as archery targets or soccer nets, but a more useful metaphor is a door. When we have a goal, we may not fully understand it until we enter into the goal, as if it were a room, inevitably finding choices of other doors leading off in other directions.

    Understanding where goals come from

    Before we start to set goals for our students, it's important that we have a degree of self-awareness and understand where our own attitudes and ideas come from.

    As teachers, we tend to resemble the people who inspired us most. Our own teachers, good and bad, shape our attitudes toward teaching and language-learning goals.

    Who was your favorite teacher? In my case, my all-time favorite teacher was Mr. Chiga, who, in 1970, taught me Grade 7 and was about to retire. He was a Renaissance man. Short and tough with fingers like cigars, he would occasionally lead us from the playground up two flights of stairs to our classroom… walking on his hands. Yet these same hands were delicate enough for his hobby of making violins, a fact I only learned later, because, unlike me, Mr. Chiga was modest.

    Mr. Chiga loved literature and taught us Greek and Roman history with a sense of joy that has never left me. One would think that his educational goals would be a perfect foundation for my own. Perhaps. But a quick check on the timeline shows that if he was about to retire in 1970, he was probably born in 1905 and likely graduated from teachers' college around 1925.

    It's ironic that although my Ph.D. is in the area of computer-assisted language learning, my favorite teacher began his career two years before the invention of the television, and, moreover, all his teachers would have been born in the 1800s.

    It's a long story to make a short point: as teachers, we need to reflect on where our teaching and learning goals come from and question them. We also need to avoid those things that our least favorite teachers did.

    Setting goals

    Are the goals we set for our students sometimes too low? Undoubtedly.

    As a Grade 11 student, my only ambition in life was to take a two-year photo technician course. My counselor discouraged me, saying I wasn't academic enough and suggested a job at the wood mill instead. In a sense, he closed a door.

    I switched schools where another favorite teacher, Mr. Ferguson, patiently kept me after school for six weeks, teaching me how to write essays and, by extension, how to think. He dangled the motivation of a university education before me and set me on my path there. And that was a door opened.

    So what's the lesson here? More than just knowing where goals come from, we also need to be aware of the power of goal setting and how it can drastically alter a particular student's life trajectory.

    Closing doors, rather than opening them, often stunts growth and limits possibilities. It can even lead to students forming life-long assumptions about themselves that just aren't true - "I'm no good at math," "I'm not cut out for independent travel", etc. Opening doors, however, can bring our students entirely new perspectives on life.

    Expecting goals to change

    When it comes to changing goals, there are a number of factors to take into account, including forming a better sense of self. We might start off with many ambitions but we measure ourselves against the realities of our skill sets and modify our goals.

    For example, a student who experiences a lot of success in learning English is more likely to consider careers that require it. Teachers, too, are more likely to offer direction: "You write very well. Have you considered a career in journalism?"

    Today, countless jobs require a second language or provide better promotion opportunities for students who speak two or more languages. Yet, students oriented toward employment opportunities may have difficulty understanding the long-term advantages of learning a second language if specific jobs are not on their radar.

    This leads to two questions:

    • What goals should we help students set for themselves?
    • And how should teachers suggest them?

    Many goals are based on the educational standards that govern our profession. The Global Scale of English (GSE), in particular, is helpful to both textbook writers and teachers in identifying language goals and provides teachers with detailed steps to achieve them.

    But beyond such standards are those two magic ingredients that teachers share with language learners: joy and motivation.

    Teachers spread joy in learning by example, making language learning engaging and pleasurable. Teachers also motivate students by helping them identify personal goals, giving them reasons why language proficiency is not just worthwhile in general but is perhaps one key to future success.

    It might even lead to a job driving a garbage truck.

  • A teacher stood by a student in a classroom smiling
    • Language teaching

    Online language teaching tools: A comprehensive guide for educators

    By Pearson Languages

    Online language teaching has become a prominent facet of modern education, especially in light of recent global changes. The ability to instruct and learn languages online has opened up new possibilities for educators and students alike.

    The importance of using tools in online language teaching cannot be overstated. In this digital era, these tools serve as the linchpin for effective and engaging instruction. They enhance the learning experience, promote interaction and provide valuable resources that traditional teaching methods often lack.

    The digital language teaching landscape

    The shift to online education

    As a result of the digital revolution, which has completely changed how information is accessible and disseminated, education is moving toward being done online.

    Online education has several benefits, such as:

    • Accessibility: Online language courses break down geographical barriers, allowing students worldwide to access quality instruction and teaching.
    • Flexibility: Students can tailor their learning schedules to their needs, making education more accommodating for a diverse range of learners.
    • Interactivity: Online platforms offer numerous interactive features, such as virtual classrooms, video conferences and chat tools, enhancing student-teacher and peer-to-peer interactions.
    • Rich resources: Online language teaching can harness a vast array of multimedia resources, making learning more engaging and effective.

    Challenges for language educators

    While the shift to online education presents opportunities, it also brings challenges that language educators must navigate, including:

    • Adaptation: Educators must adapt to new teaching methods, technologies and platforms, which can be a steep learning curve for some.
    • Engagement: Maintaining student engagement in an online environment requires creative approaches and the integration of various teaching tools.
    • Assessment: Assessing student progress can be more complex online, but it also offers the opportunity for innovative assessment methods.
    • Technical issues: Connectivity problems and technical glitches can disrupt online classes, requiring educators to be tech-savvy troubleshooters.
    • Isolation: Online learning can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation among students, so educators need to foster a sense of community and support.

    Essential online language teaching tools

    The right tools are essential to create engaging and compelling learning experiences. This section explores the key categories of tools that educators can utilize to enhance their online language teaching.

    Tools for interactive lessons and activities

    • Video conferencing platforms: These platforms enable real-time interaction with students, allowing educators to conduct live lessons, engage in discussions and facilitate group activities. Video conferencing helps replicate the classroom experience online. Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet provide a virtual classroom environment with features for video, audio and chat communication.
    • Interactive whiteboards: Tools like Jamboard and Microsoft Whiteboard allow educators to write, draw and share resources in real time. This feature enhances engagement and enables educators to illustrate concepts effectively.
    • Screen recorder: Screen recording software allows educators to capture their lessons, which can be invaluable for students who miss a live session. Recorded lessons can also serve as a reference for students during their self-paced learning.
    • Teleprompter: A teleprompter tool helps educators maintain a smooth and organized delivery during recorded lessons. It ensures that lessons stay on track and within a predefined timeframe, improving the clarity and effectiveness of instruction.

    Tools for assessment and feedback

    • Quizzes and surveys: Platforms like Google Forms and Quizlet allow educators to create online quizzes and surveys for assessing students' knowledge.
    • Assignment submission tools: Learning management systems (LMSs) such as Pearson English Connect (PEC) enable students to submit assignments electronically, making it easier for educators to grade and provide feedback.
    • Feedback forms: Google Forms and Microsoft Forms can collect student feedback, helping educators improve their teaching methods.

    Tools for content and resource creation

    • Video creation tools: Video editing software empowers educators to create engaging educational videos, lectures and tutorials. This multimedia approach can make complex concepts more accessible to students.
    • Video compressor: Video compressor tools reduce the file size of videos without compromising quality. This is especially useful for ensuring students can easily access and stream video content, even with limited bandwidth.

    How to implement online language tools

    Implementing online language tools effectively is crucial for creating a dynamic and successful learning environment. Here are some best practices for integrating these tools into language teaching.

    • Alignment with learning objectives: Ensure your tools align with your course objectives. They should enhance the learning experience and help achieve specific educational goals.
    • Teacher training: Invest time in training educators to use these tools effectively. Familiarity with the tools' features and functionalities is essential.
    • Clear instructions: Provide clear and concise instructions on how to use the tools. Create tutorials or guides to help students navigate them effectively.
    • Accessibility and inclusivity: Ensure that the tools and content you use are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. This means considering factors like screen reader compatibility and providing transcripts for multimedia content.
    • Regular feedback: Encourage students to provide feedback on their experience with the tools. Use this feedback to make improvements and adjustments.

    Explore the tools discussed in this guide, experiment with them and adapt your teaching methods to the digital age. By staying curious, adaptable and open to innovation, you'll be better equipped to provide your students with the best possible language learning experience in the online realm. Happy teaching! 

    If you're a teacher looking for more hints and advice to level up your language teaching, check out our language teaching blog posts. We also have opportunities for professional development.