Latest news

What is the hardest language to learn?
Play
Privacy and cookies
By viewing this third-party content from www.youtube.com you agree to their terms and conditions, privacy notice and acknowledge they may use cookies and pixels for information and analytics gathering.

Follow us for exclusive updates

Join our community for the latest news, promotions and behind-the-scenes content. Explore exciting events and resources at Pearson Languages. Follow us to keep up to date with what's going on.

Our latest blogs

  • A Parent reading to his two children from a book with all three of them laying on the floor
    • Young learners
    • Teaching trends and techniques

    How can teachers encourage parents to get kids reading at home?

    By Donatella Fitzgerald

    “Sharing a story with your child is one of the most incredible things you can do for them.” The Book Trust.

    Research shows that getting kids reading at home can increase their reading ability at school – and improve their overall well-being. Parents and guardians can make a big difference. But how can teachers encourage parents to get their children to read more at home? We explore some strategies you can use.

    Tell parents about the benefits

    Reading can give children a break from technology-centered activities. It can help them to relax and unwind; reading a book can make children laugh and feel happier! Through hearing stories, children are also exposed to a rich and broad vocabulary.

    “It is important for teachers to establish contact with parents as much as possible and give very clear guidelines on the benefits of reading, and how they can create a reading routine and help their children read at home,” says Kasia Janitz-De La Rue, Product Development Director at Pearson.

    So, encourage parents to find time for a reading routine. Just before bedtime is a great time, as a nightly reading routine is associated with improved sleep in children.

    Give parents practical ideas for reading strategies

    Encourage parents to read with and not to their child. It doesn’t matter how long they set aside to read – just 10 minutes of quality reading time can make a big difference.

    Here are a few tips concrete reading tips for teachers to share with parents:

    • Ask children lots of questions while reading.
    • Use encouragement and praise to keep children engaged. Saying things like “what fantastic ideas” or “you thought so carefully about that, what might happen now?" will keep their minds working.
    • Use their past experiences to talk about what’s being read. Things like “have you learnt about…at school?” or “do you remember when we watched…and found out about…?” are good conversation starters.
    • Tune in and listen to children, and be curious about their interests. “I didn’t know you knew so much about…” or “I love reading stories about…with you,” are good phrases to keep in mind.

    It’s also a great idea to share online resources with parents. You can also suggest that parents look up read-aloud YouTube videos featuring authors, teachers or librarians reading their favorite stories. This way, children can watch and listen as often as they like.

    Recommend graded readers

    Graded readers are books that use language in line with a child‘s learning level. They can help children build confidence, and help slowly expose them to authentic reading levels.

    Encourage parents to identify what genre their child is interested in and show them the readers available. Each time parents see their children move up a level, they’re sure to see their children’s love for reading grow.

    Suggest before, during, and after reading activities

    Before reading

    Parents can take turns with their children to predict what the story is about – or what will happen next. Here is an activity teachers may suggest they try:

    “Start with the cover of the book and the blurb on the back cover. Reveal the cover slowly to ask the child what they can see. Ask them to guess what is on the cover. Once they have seen the cover, ask them questions about the images on the cover – who, what, why, where and how?”

    While reading

    Remind parents to focus on their children’s reading comprehension by using strategies like prediction, questioning, clarifying, and summarising. Teachers can ask parents to:

    • check ideas and understanding as the child reads: ‘So, you think that….’ ‘Did you expect…to happen?’ ‘Why do you think that happened?’
    • use the pictures in the book to help with comprehension
    • describe what is happening and talk about the characters.

    After reading

    Don’t forget: parents can continue to explore the book’s topic once reading time is done! A few ideas to share with parents include:

    • organising a puppet show for family members and siblings after making puppets of the characters in the book
    • having children draw a picture of their favorite character or their favorite page in the story
    • encouraging children to express their opinion on the book.
  • A child and parent laying on a carpet staring at eachother and smiling
    • Inclusivity and wellbeing

    Mindfulness activities for kids to reduce stress

    By Pearson Languages

    How can we help children (and ourselves) deal with turbulent situations?

    As humans, we are programmed to position ourselves according to the constants around us: people, structures and boundaries. When those constants shift, it can be unsettling for adults and children.

    Sometimes we find ourselves in unprecedented situations, and we each have our own approach to managing things. If you feel confused and without direction because of a turbulent situation, please know that that is okay.

    We’ll look today at why that is, to help us understand ourselves a little more and why these simple mindfulness activities can help us navigate it.

    What causes social stress?

    There may be many reasons for feeling stressed in life, but during turbulent times in society, it is often due to not feeling safe.

    Something in our environment is alerting our survival instinct. This makes our brains produce stress hormones, which get us ready to fight the threat, run from it, or freeze until it’s gone away.

    The threat might be to our physical or even social survival – and the two are linked. Things can feel even scarier when we also feel isolated from our social group, which keeps us protected from that threat.

    Human beings are social by nature. We live and work in communities, we connect through love and empathy and we protect each other. There’s truth to the saying “there’s safety in numbers”.

    But it’s not just about safety. We also define ourselves by comparing ourselves to others and working out what we are not.

    Research has found that we identify deeply with our role in society and the ‘pack’ to which we belong. This holds deep ties with our sense of safety, contentment and self-esteem. If the boundaries by which we define and position ourselves have shifted or continue to shift, we will feel unsafe, threatened and therefore stressed.

    Are children affected by social stress in the same way?

    If we then apply this to children, the constants to whom they look for security are the adults in their life. If the adults are behaving differently, the children will feel a shift and feel unsafe and stressed too. If they don’t have their friends alongside them for social positioning, this too can lead to them feeling confused and uncertain.

    Here are some key ways we can help:

    Communicating and listening

    Children may often lack the language to express what they are feeling, or even to recognize it themselves. Therefore, we must offer ways to help them make sense of the world around them, to help them feel safe and to help express their concerns.

    Communication provides the necessary social interaction and models for them on how to handle the new situation. It firms up their boundaries, and provides a safe space where they feel listened to and acknowledged and this, in turn, helps diffuse their stress.

    The activity below is a lovely way to invite children to express any worry they might be feeling, mindfully and with support – and give them something to do with their feelings. It also has the benefit of helping them breathe fully and slowly, which will calm down their nervous system.

    Breath activity: Worry bubbles

    1. Sit together and invite your child to put their palms together.
    2. Invite them to take a big breath in. As they breathe in, they can draw their palms further and further apart, spreading their fingers as they imagine blowing up a big bubble between their hands.
    3. Invite them to whisper a worry into the bubble.
    4. Invite them to blow the breath out nice and slowly. As they breathe out, they can imagine blowing the bubble (and the worry) away with a big sigh.
    5. Twinkle the fingers back down to the lap, and start again, either with the same worry or a new one

    Helping them find a safety anchor inside themselves

    By helping children focus on breathing, we can teach them that even if things feel wobbly around them, their breath is always there. The act of focusing on the breath also helps settle the fight or flight branch of their nervous system into a calmer, more balanced state.

    Breath Activity: Counting breaths

    1. Invite your child to sit with you.
    2. Invite them to place their hands on their tummy and breathe in slowly so they push into their hands, counting slowly up to four.
    3. As they breathe out, invite them to count up to six, as they slowly empty the belly and their hands lower back down.
    4. Continue until they feel calmer. You can do this every morning or evening to help sustain balance. With younger children, they might like a teddy on their tummy to push up and down!

    These two activities can be lovely daily practices to try and provide some safety and structure to your child or students’ mental health right now. They are also enjoyable activities to try for yourself – you may like to increase the in and out count of the breath a little bit for an adult breath.

  • A young man sat in a library, he has a pen in hand and is looking at the camera; a stack of books are next to him
    • Linguistics and culture

    What does it mean to be fluent in English?

    By Mike Mayor

    What do we mean by English fluency, and how can understanding competencies across the four skills provide a more realistic picture of communicative English ability?

    What is fluency?

    As someone who worked in dictionaries, the meaning of words has always interested me – and fluency is a particular case in point. Language learners often set themselves the goal of becoming fluent in a language. Job adverts often specify “fluent in English or Spanish” as a requirement. But what does being 'fluent' in a language actually mean? If we look in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, we see that fluent means “able to speak a language very well”. Fluent speech or writing is described as “smooth and confident, with no mistakes”. In general, fluency is most often associated with spoken language – but is that the goal of all language learners? And what does being able to speak fluently show about the other language skills?

    Describing English proficiency

    Before entering the world of dictionaries, I taught English as a foreign language in France. At that time, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) had not yet been published and learners were described in very general terms – beginner, intermediate, advanced – with no agreed standards on what learners at each level were expected to know. As well as establishing standards, the CEFR also shifted the focus of language assessment from knowledge of grammar and vocabulary to functional competence, i.e. what can a student actually do with the language they’re learning across the four skills:

    • listening
    • reading 
    • speaking
    • writing

    Interestingly, while calling out specific objectives for each skill, almost two-thirds of the information in the CEFR describes spoken language. This seems to imply that spoken fluency is indeed the most important goal for all language learners.

    Mapping out a personalized path to proficiency

    As a global publisher, Pearson English recognizes that all learners are different – in their backgrounds, learning environments and learning goals. This is why we have undertaken new research to extend the set of learning objectives contained in the CEFR to account for learners who need detailed information about their level in all four skills, not just in one (typically, that of speaking).

    No learner will be equally proficient in all four language skills – in the same way that no native speaker is equally proficient in all skills in their first language. Some of us are better at writing than speaking, and many are illiterate in their first language. A true measure of language proficiency needs to take into account all of the skills. Equally, not every learner of English will need to be 'fluent' in spoken communication.

    Many researchers need to read papers in English and attend conferences in English – but will only ever present and write in their first language. Is 'fluency' a good way to describe their goal? And if it isn’t, does that somehow diminish their language achievements? By acknowledging proficiency in individual skills – rather than catch-all terms such as 'fluent' – we gain a clearer understanding of goals and outcomes, and with this knowledge, we are in a better position to tailor learning to the individual.

    Interested in learning more about the English language? Check out our post How using jargon, idioms and colloquialism confuses English learners and our post on strange English phrases.

    If you're looking to improve your own fluency (in any language) make sure to check out our language learning app Mondy. 

Upcoming webinars

Sorry, there are no webinars to display.