Writing your own English language materials with the GSE

Billie Jago
Billie Jago
A child sat with a teacher with a tablet with the blue gse ambassador logo next to them

Being an English language teacher means you’re also probably (definitely) a materials writer. You likely tailor or create language materials for your students that are suited to their needs and interests, either as supplements to your course materials or for communicative lessons. Alternatively, you might be a teacher who creates paid, published materials available for students worldwide to enjoy.

With this in mind, think of the materials you’ve developed and ask yourself the following:

  • How do you level your grammar or vocabulary for the content you write?
  • How do you find topic-related vocabulary to extend your students’ knowledge of language?
  • How do you contextualize new grammar or vocabulary?

You can use many different resources, from online dictionaries to course workbooks to a Google search. Still, the Global Scale of English is a reference that provides everything you need to write great learning materials, all in one place. It can help save you valuable time as a teacher and materials writer.

For me, the GSE was a game changer as an English teacher, and it continues to be as I write materials. The GSE is not just a tool; it’s a companion in the complex journey of material development, offering clarity and direction at every step. It can guide you in creating effective, engaging learning resources.

How to use the GSE toolkit to create your own materials

1. Establishing clear Learning Objectives

The GSE helps you start with a clear roadmap. It provides detailed descriptors for language proficiency at every level, ensuring your materials align with specific learning objectives. For instance, if you’re creating a beginner-level reading comprehension activity, the GSE descriptors will guide you on the appropriate complexity of vocabulary and sentence structures.

Take a look at the Learning Objectives tab in the GSE Toolkit to learn more.

2. Designing level-appropriate content

Once objectives are set, the GSE assists in tailoring the content difficulty to the targeted proficiency level. Its numerical scale, ranging from 10 to 90, allows you to pinpoint the exact level of language skills required and design your materials accordingly. This precision ensures that learners are neither overwhelmed nor under-challenged.

You can set the level you are looking for by sliding the bar along the scale, so it corresponds to the appropriate CEFR level or GSE range.

3. Incorporating skills

The GSE’s comprehensive framework covers all key language skills. This holistic approach aids in creating balanced materials that don’t disproportionately focus on just one aspect of language learning, like grammar or vocabulary, but integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a cohesive manner. This is particularly useful if you’re creating materials for an assessment that tests multiple skills in one activity.  

4. Aligning with international standards

Adhering to the GSE means your materials will be globally relevant and standardized. This is particularly important if you’re a materials writer who is developing content for an international audience or for students preparing for globally recognized exams.

5. Adding additional topic-based language

I’ve personally found the GSE particularly useful when extended language needs to be drawn out from a particular topic. As a teacher, this might be when you feel your coursebook isn’t challenging enough for your class, and as a published writer, it might be to create a coherent vocabulary set for a unit in a coursebook, for example.

You can select a topic and see all relevant language by:

  • selecting the vocabulary tab
  • selecting ‘choose topic’
  • selecting a sub-topic if you need more focused language

By using the GSE, you ensure that your materials are:

  • Precisely leveled: catering to the exact learning stage of the students you’re aiming your content towards
  • Comprehensively structured: effectively covering the language skills you need to cover in your materials
  • Globally applicable: meeting international teaching standards, if your content is for a global audience

The Global Scale of English is an indispensable tool for any ELT materials writer or teacher. It offers a structured, detailed framework that not only simplifies the material development process but also enhances the quality and effectiveness of your content. By aligning your content with the GSE, you can confidently create materials precisely tailored to the learners’ needs, ensuring a more engaging and productive learning experience.

Check out the GSE toolkit to see how it can help your teaching and lesson planning.

About the author

Billie Jago is an ELT writer and teacher trainer specializing in digital learning materials and assessment resources. She has written for various Pearson titles including Gold Experience, Roadmap, Formula, Rise & Shine and for the PTE-Academic exam.

Alongside materials writing, she delivers international teacher training sessions and workshops and is the founder of the ELTcpd professional development podcast. She has worked as a teacher in various countries, including Spain, China, Italy, Turkey and the UK. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

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