Category: English and Technology

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyLearning and Skills DevelopmentMultimediaTopics

Schools and the proper use of technology

M.Sc. Maria A. Mora

The issue of digital citizenship has become a relevant topic to discuss at school. Should it be a subject in our schools? Who is in charge of teaching all the elements involved in the responsibility of using technology, parents or teacher? Are we aware of the risks that technology involves for learners?

Problems such as cyber-bullying, time spent on social media, plagiarism, and inappropriate use of technology or disclosure of information are some of the issues teachers have to deal with in modern classrooms, and it seems as if they were always one step behind all this ordeal.

Schools trying to avoid further problems have found a solution on forbidding the use of tablets, cell phones and other kinds of technology in the classrooms, along with the use of social media, blogs and any other type of communication on the web.

On the other hand, there are schools which are promoting the use of technology, teaching their children and teenagers how to use technology responsibly, ethically, and safely. First of all, they include the instruction of digital citizenship as part of other subjects. In some cases, students have to sign an agreement where they will accept the responsible use of digital devices, networks, and software for educational purposes and activities. Learners have to agree on keeping personal information and others, private, showing respect on social media, giving credit to others for their work, and reporting immediately any improper use of technology. Such measures are ruled and regulated in schools by organizations like the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), and the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). They have found the need to make an alliance with schools and parent to inform and protect young ones from unawareness and inexperience of the effect and consequences when surfing the net.

In addition to these agreements, teachers can look for pages online to instruct their students on how to make healthy choices online, the same way they would for their health. One of the best places to start is Common Sense Media where they offer eBooks and printable digital citizenship curriculum for grades K-12. These resources provide a printable scope and sequence that allow teachers to prepare students for engaging in a digital space.

Furthermore, institutions must involve parents in this process of technological education to seek that before-mentioned wellness beyond the school premises. The search for such knowledge turns out to be quite a challenge for schools, parents, and instructors, since technology is always in motion, and one can never be well trained in the use of an application when another appears. Then, agreements, programs, and curriculums to instruct on digital citizenship have to go under revision to cover every angle once more.

Institutions need to implement efforts and commitments on behalf of every part involved once the technology is integrated into the learning process, incorporating classes on digital citizenship. The main principles to promote and develop a healthy digital culture in our classrooms are transparency and trust. Blocking pages and the internet itself is not the solution anymore, but empowering students with the right element, and trusting them to make the right decisions regardless of the supervision they may have.

English and TechnologyEnglish Language TrainingMultimediaTopicsWorld View

Digital Citizenship and ELT

M.A. Maria del Carmen Gonzalez

      When teaching another language all the input, exposure, and practice that the students may get becomes priceless to their learning concerning exposure. Technology provides English language teachers with an endless source of tools and applications which can make their classes much more interactive and be engaging for learners. Instructors have the opportunity to communicate with other teachers, creating networks to share not only knowledge but also advice and tips for their classes. Such groups have formed communities where they can find everything and anything to make classes more enjoyable to students. Learners get in touch with authentic material and practice in real contexts, putting the language into use right from level one.

     Thus, language instructors have a great responsibility once they open the gate of technology inside and outside their classrooms. Teachers have to train students on how to use technology effectively regarding ethics and responsibility. They cannot teach them how to use a particular tool, but on the contrary, a whole set of required skills to discriminate information, respect authorship, and develop competencies to use any tool, page or application as students, and later on, for their professional life as well. These measures will guaranty learners to move responsibly in the digital world, with or without a teacher by their side; in other words, they will unfold digital citizenship.

     Technology opens a broad range of possibilities for students, as they can surf the web for any material, information, application or tool, as well as be a part of learning clubs or communities to exchange ideas or simply have a pen pal. Once trained into the elements of digital citizenship: literacy, access, security, etiquette, health and wellness, commerce, communications, law, rights and responsibilities, students will be protected to use technology and digital information safely, responsibly, and ethically.

     Furthermore, technology provides the creative teacher with the occasion to create their material using faster and more efficient tools, save it for further use and even sell it to other teachers in pages set up for that purpose. Teachers can download a great variety of free material for their classes, saving time and effort; moreover, lesson plans and all kinds of games and worksheets, along with another large variety of online exercises and games.

    There is no question about technology being part of our lives; the dilemma resides on the knowledge we have of its significance and effects on our existence. As teachers, we must become digital citizens, teaching by example, guiding and instructing our students on how to surf correctly on the web.

Business and ManagementCulture & DestinationsEnglish and TechnologyMust ReadWorld View

The workplace setting in the 21st Century

By Academic Committee

Changes in the workplace are necessary to match the 21st-century skills demands. Global citizens today agree that as time goes by the place of work changes, but the competencies that go along with it should too. We cannot deny that the skills required in the 21st-century gear towards factors such as competitiveness, innovation, and creativity.

Workers nowadays need an advanced mentality, open mind and disposition to unlearn and relearn putting into practice soft skills such as time management, leadership, resilience, and self-direction, among others.

Workplaces are changing. Many workers are still illiterate when it comes to succeeding in the involving work environment, taking into account that company’s know-how goes hand in hand with technology.  The power of technology will promote modern devices and a more efficient communication network as the workplace setting improves. If a company wants to keep its quality and be competitive in its market, then workers will need to keep up with the latest technology trends and adapt rapidly to the changes that occur on a daily basis.

Companies have also seen the necessity to make adjustments in their infrastructure to promote spaces where workers can interact in different ways. Moreover, design places where creativity and innovation flourish. The need for spaces that nurture teamwork and discussion contribute to the development of creative solutions and distinct concepts gathering different opinions and points of view. Thus, generating change too.

As times change, society and minds also change. Back in the days having domain and knowledge in the core subjects at school were enough to be considered a successful person and prepared for the real world. Currently, this era takes much more skills than just being able to read, write and solve mathematical equations.

To gain success, we must now have a range of knowledge in diverse areas of expertise such as science, technology, and culture, as well as being creative, innovative, flexible, and possess the ability to work in teams, solve problems, think critically, and communicate effectively.

Assumptions regarding success in the workplace have also changed. It is not just about inventing a product that allures people because it is not costly and it works. Now it has to be original, significant and prepossessing. Moreover, many jobs are being delegated to other countries because they can save money by having other people do the same job for less pay. Technology in itself poses dichotomy as it advances, the workplace changes in a way where humans compete against it for the same job. However, if the personnel can adapt, learn and innovate it will outsmart computers and avoid a worker’s replacement since jobs now demand specialization.

Employees need to keep pace with competencies so that managers and directors can see that they possess the skills from the 21st century. They have to prove and make visible, making the right decisions, using the right information and tools, that they can do the job right, come up with the best solutions and produce the most incredible and rewarding product or service. Many professionals have already embarked in these skills adopting technology and software as essential to getting the job done making them a limited, yet valuable source due to the attitude rather than their expertise on the subject.


Classroom and MethodologiesClassroom TalesEnglish and TechnologyEnglish Language TrainingLearning and Skills Development

Facing the 21st Century Education

by Erick Mariano Izaguirre

“Why do I need to study this? What for do I need to know this? How is this going to help me in the future?” Do these questions sound familiar to you? If you are a teacher, you must have heard these questions dozens of times. Decontextualized new content usually leads students to this uncomfortable query.

Director and writer Spencer Cathcart, known for The Lie We Live (2015) claims: “We discover the world through a textbook. For years we sit and regurgitate what we’re told. Tested and graded like subjects in a lab. Raised not to make a difference in this world, raised to be no different. Smart enough to do our job but not to question why we do it.” His words seem to make much more sense now that the concept of “21st-century skills” is catching on.

Nowadays an increasing number of business people, politicians, and educators are sold to the idea that the new generations of students need the provision of “21st-century skills” to be able to succeed in our fast-evolving reality. Today we are experiencing such an incredible amount of changes that what students learn at schools is obsolete in a couple of years.  The reason why teaching students competencies instead of content has become much more urgent now than any time before.

An article published by The Glossary of Education Reform in the year 2014 suggests that “21st-century skills can be applied in all academic subject areas, and in all educational, career, and civic settings throughout a student’s life.” It is of high relevance to highlight that some of the most common characteristics considered as 21st-century skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving, have been neglected for many years in our educational systems. Some claim this has been the result of deficient assessment tools since we have been immersed in evaluation methods that force students to learn the necessary content to pass an exam, thus leaving aside the sole purpose of education, learning for life.

In addition to critical thinking and problem solving, there is an extensive list of characteristics that companies around the world and the planet itself demand from every single citizen. Civic, ethical, and social justice literacy as well as, global awareness, multicultural literacy, humanitarianism, ecosystems understanding, and environmental and conservation literacy are just some of the skills we have not been able to master yet due to their lack of economic productivity. It is well-known that education systems will respond to the needs of those who fund them, especially now that education is a private and very lucrative business. However, understanding the extent of the situation is just the beginning. Now the big challenge is to come up with a way to tackle the problem we face in our educational systems.

Those who concern the most about this education crisis seem to be, as mentioned before, governments and large enterprises. But why has this become an issue in these times specifically? If education has always responded to the economic needs and productivity, and students have been trained to do their future jobs well, then we should wonder: Are they simply being taught how to earn a living, or how to live as well? It is evident that the economic needs grew much faster than our awareness on topics such as social justice, global issues, and humanitarianism.

Finland, for example, pursuits to become the first country in the world to get rid of all school subjects. The Finnish education system is considered one of the best in the world. It is common to always appear in the top ten rating. According to an article published by Bright side in November 2016, “Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format.” The purpose of this is to empower students in making decisions about what phenomenon they want to learn more in detail about depending on their future professional interests. The suggested changes also contemplate the end of the old-fashioned way of teaching in which students just sit behind school desks waiting to be asked a question by the teacher and answering based on the content of a particular textbook or material.  All this will surely provide society with a new generation of professionals who do not only know how to do the jobs they are hired for, but also can be active participants and decision makers in a world of ever accelerated transformations.

Once we become aware of the whole picture of how the economic, political, and educational system is intertwined and understand that the 21st century and the planet need more active participants rather than just followers, we will also be able to change the way we teach and learn. The actions we take after this will hopefully contribute to not having more students wondering what for they have to learn something.


Abbot, S., editor. “21st Century Skills Definition.” The Glossary of Education Reform, 25 Aug. 2016,

The Lie We Live:  Information Clearing House – ICH.”  The Lie We Live:  Information Clearing House – ICH, Information Clearing House, 3 Mar. 2016,

Classroom and MethodologiesClassroom TalesEnglish and TechnologyLearning and Skills DevelopmentMust Read

E-Papers: Teachers’ Treasure Trove

By James Cordonero

 When it comes to using realia in an English class, there is no other resource more updated, readily available, and abundant than online news. Nevertheless, teaching a news-based lesson is not just a matter of attaching a link to Edmodo and sending an article for students to read or merely asking them to google it and parrot it in the next class session.

To begin with, well thought-out news lessons should have a clear goal and be structured in such a way that they allow for the implementation and development of several stages such as warm up, pre-reading activities, reading the article per se,  listening to the article whenever a recording is available, vocabulary building and post-reading exercises as well as homework. It is worth mentioning that when using news lessons, instructors ought to implement a segregated-skill approach to developing a particular language skill (speaking, writing, reading, listening), yet all of the four skills should be practiced whenever possible.

Additionally, EFL instructors should also consider the following criteria (Andrew) when selecting a particular article:

  • Appropriateness:To what extent is the topic appropriate? Is it suitable for the class level and age group? Could it be upsetting to some of the students?
  • Interest:Will the students be interested in this topic?
  • Length:Is it too long? Articles that are particularly long should be avoided. Reading news articles is demanding and if they are too long, students might feel discouraged. It will also take time away from students’ talking time.
  • Language and structure:Is there a semantic field (e.g., education, environment, etc) instructors can use to enlarge learners’ lexicon? Are there any target structures related to the contents being covered in the class?
  • Generative Potential:In what other ways can the article be exploited? That is, are there any other activities to follow the article? Articles that lend themselves to discussions, debates, or role-plays are desirable.  Students should able to further practice the language after the reading and/or listening.

Teachers should not only bear in mind such prerequisites but also try, depending on the subject or type of class being taught, to focus on one of the language skills. For instance, one alternative way to using online news stories for developing writing skills is to pair up students, show them a headline and ask them to write as many questions as they can, just as if they were journalists tasked with writing the article corresponding to the headline. Then, they are to answer their own questions and organize their responses into a short article layout provided by the teacher. Afterwards, learners can compare their written versions with the original article.

In addition to being representative examples of clear and concise writing, newspaper articles showcase different types of writing models: informative, persuasive, expository, etc. This plethora of writing samples is certainly a teachers’ treasure to which they can resort to enrich their lessons and bring a large dose of reality into their classrooms.

Regardless of the skill instructors choose to emphasize, an effective news lesson should surpass the boundaries of the article and provide students with the chance to use the new vocabulary and/or knowledge meaningfully and in a variety of real-life contexts.



Andrew, J. (2008). ‘How to Effectively Use News Articles in the EFL Classroom’, The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 12. Web

Classroom and MethodologiesClassroom TalesEnglish and TechnologyEnglish FactoidsEnglish Language Training

Fostering Creativity in the EFL Classroom

Albert Einstein said that creativity is intelligence having fun, thus the essential meaning of creativity entails the concept of producing something new, innovative, unique, and original, as much as it is related to flexibility, adaptability, and versatility. Creativity has been defined as an ability to generate new things (Gomez, 2016), and bringing imagination and ideas to reality, through perceptions, connections and skills (Naiman, 2016). Mr. Martinez del Rio, the editor from “Tiempo de Estrategia”, states that “to be creative, you have to be wild, complex, let out your intuition, forget logic and think that there is not only one answer to every problem but many” (Gomez, 2016).

However, what is the role of creativity in the EFL classroom? Well, the development of the 21st century has brought us, teachers, new concepts, ideas, resources, tools, and sets to promote the learning process, all of which are intended to significantly improve the learning experience. Such development brings along new demands and expectations for students as well which include the acquisition, generation, cultivation, and refinement, in some cases, of specific skills that will positively prepare them for a prosperous and competitive future. Among a few of these skills, we can mention communication, teamwork and collaboration, creativity, investigation, creative and critical thinking, digital citizenship, and technology knowledge.

As educators, it is our responsibility to promote these skills among our students as we teach English, and it is not that challenging since learning another language requires practicing and exercising communicative and social skills. Combining teamwork, analysis and critical thinking, creativity and innovation, sharing ideas and solving problems could only result in the best opportunity for our language learners to succeed at both, language and professional development.

Once the relevance of creativity is realized, there are some stereotypes to work on. Many think that creativity is just an ability a few gifted people have, that is only required for the arts or it is a trait of your personality. Catherine Courage states that “creativity is a birthright, available to all, but used by few” (TEDxtalks, 2012). Moreover, creativity is only a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened. By setting the right environment and starting training from the classrooms, we can direct our students to endless ways to comply a task or design a project.

“A student who can read an expository text and turn it into an engaging, listener-friendly podcast can surely identify the author’s ideas, key details, and supporting information. And in putting the information together in her own way, in creating something unique and sharing it with the world, she has learned something new, grown as a person, and possibly inspired others. In which case, your English class has all the bases covered…” Amanda Ronan, 2015


Amanda Ronan. “5 Ways to Keep Creativity Alive in English Class.” Edudemic. Edudemic, 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Gómez, Katyana. “Esta Habilidad Te Ayudará a Ser Más Productivo (Parte 1).” Dinero En Excelsior, 01 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

@mikepa75. “A Student’s Path to Succeed in the 21st Century – Inspire EduTech -Educational Technology. Blended Learning. Education Development Rural Schools.” Inspire EduTech Educational Technology Blended Learning Education Development Rural Schools. Inspire Edu Tech, 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Naiman, Linda. “What Is Creativity? | Creativity at Work.” Creativity at Work. Linda Naiman Blog, 27 May 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

TEDxTalks. “Igniting Creativity to Transform Corporate Culture: Catherine Courage at TEDxKyoto 2012.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyEnglish Language TrainingLearning and Skills DevelopmentTopics

Reaping the value of GSE and the GSE Teacher Toolkit

May 25, 2016

Updated 7 July, 2016

My goal as a classroom teacher is to do the best I can to make sure my content is meeting the needs of my learners. After fifteen years of teaching English, I know one thing to be very true: Every single group of learners I work with is different and will require different things from me. One semester I could have a group of students who have strong communicative fluency but are weak in complex critical thinking and contextual analysis of lectures and reading passages. The next semester I may have students who can easily ace a grammar, listening and reading test but struggle to speak in full sentences or respond outside of scripted conversation. This is the frustration and joy of teaching English: The classroom is a dynamic living space that supports the development of unique individuals with unique needs. But how do you know what’s truly working for your learners?

While observation is a valuable resource for assessing student skills, it is really tests, quizzes and tasks that provide enough evidence to understand a learner’s current abilities, strengths and weaknesses. So in any classroom, whether I’m following along with a textbook or creating a custom course, at some point, I need to stop and assess what is working for my learners so I can respond to their needs. Having a solid understanding of the level of ability of learners to perform with specific skills can help me target my teaching to utilize learner strengths to help build skills where learners are weak. This is where tools like the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the Global Scale of English (GSE) become extremely useful.

How the granularity of the GSE is a valuable resource

Both the CEFR and GSE are tools that help communicate a learner’s ability to perform. For teachers and administrators, these tools are useful because of the external validation of performance indicators. I myself have spent countless hours creating lesson plans and objectives and wondering “Is this challenging enough?” or “Is this going to be too difficult?” Often, the arbitrator is running the lesson in class and observing the results: successful learning or Hindenburg-level disaster. I found the CEFR useful as a way to quickly gauge whether or not an activity was addressing specific skills that other learners at the same level could perform. The Global Scale of English goes further by drilling down more explicitly into the skills. Where the CEFR is more of a general collection, the GSE provides more granular insight into the explicit skills and functions learners can build to become more proficient in their skills. It’s like the difference between driving from X to Y with or without turn-by-turn directions.

The Global Scale of English starts with the CEFR and builds out 1,000+ descriptors of performance across all four skills. This provides better distribution of the language skills and supports the usefulness of the CEFR to describe learning performance. A word of caution: The descriptors are not designed to be prescriptive about the learning journey! Like the CEFR, the GSE is not an all-or-nothing collection of descriptors indicating that “in order to learn D, you must first learn A, B and C—AND in that order.” Anyone who knows anything about language education can easily see the problems inherent in that kind of thinking. That’s because each learner has unique needs and learning does not occur in a straight line.

So, it is its granular nature that makes the GSE such a valuable resource. As an educator, I feel quite confident in my teacher’s intuition and my ability to use reflective practice to observe what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom. I can be creative and know when to use practice activities and assessments that come with my courses. I also know when I need to add activities and create content that will engage my learners and perhaps add a challenge that is meaningful, but that my course book does not contain. In the past, I would build that content based on my knowledge as a teacher and my knowledge of my students and use the course materials and future assessments as a general guide for their level. When planning I might also consult with other teachers and colleagues in the field as a way of brainstorming ideas and validating whether the content I’m creating is at the right level for my learners. But sometimes, I wonder if I’m making the best decisions. Are my lessons and content truly built for the skills and needs of my students? Enter the GSE Teacher Toolkit: an interactive resource with all the GSE descriptors.

Remember how we have 1,000+ descriptors for the GSE? Well, the GSE toolkit allows a teacher to drill down into all the descriptors quickly and easily to look for specific skills and to determine the level of challenge those skills will present learners. For me, there are three distinct ways to use the toolkit that will benefit English teachers:

The toolkit helps teachers access the GSE as a tool to validate institutional student learning objectives (SLOs)

As a model of descriptors of performance useful for creating rubrics and assessment tools

As an inspiration for interesting and unique content that will engage and excite learners

Of the three pieces, the last is the most useful starting point. Why? Let me give you an example.

The GSE Teacher Toolkit as an inspiration for content

For this example, I’m going to step into some very familiar shoes, those of a language teacher at a local college. My goal is to quickly improve my learners’ levels of ability in English to move students into an engineering class (a great example of teaching English for specific purposes). My coursebook has several strong reading passages and does a great job of building the reading skills with a focus on understanding words from context and using textual analysis to answer questions and describe the process of answering. I provide some authentic content and follow the same skill-building techniques that are outlined in my coursebook, as this is what my student are learning. The students work well, meet the expectations of the course and are working towards the learning objectives. Even with all this work and progress, at the start of the second semester I see many of the same faces in my classroom when I was expecting them to move to a higher course. I have to ask myself, What’s missing?

This is where the toolkit first became an eye-opening resource for me. When I searched the skills I was developing with my learners, all appropriate reading skills, all encapsulated in my SLOs (skimming, scanning, comprehension and basic inferencing), I found that I was teaching right at the level of ability of my B1 learners. The toolkit shows the skills at the B1 level and also at the B1+ level and the B2 level. As I started reading through descriptors of performance, I realized there were some higher-level skills that I had never explored in the classroom with my students, challenges my students were not being prepared for. Suddenly, by looking away from “where my students are now” to “where I’d like my students to be,” I was overwhelmed with ideas for content I could build to supplement my course book.

The GSE provided a new strategy for planning. My course book can cover the basic work and I’m free to generate interesting ideas for classroom activities that will really challenge my learners. Even though the group I’m working with is at a B1 level, I planned a B2-level activity around a GSE descriptor. At the B1 reading level, my students would read and process information from a problem-solution essay. My course book provides several good examples and structured activities to build the skill, reducing the work I have to do.  Now, for the challenge. I selected the following B2-level skill from the GSE toolkit:

Can critically evaluate the effectiveness of a simple problem-solution essay (GSE 61, B2 (59–66)).

This will allow the class to go beyond the surface application of the skill. For the activity, I selected a piece of authentic content, an op-ed piece from the newspaper, a great example of someone explaining a problem and presenting their argument for the best solution. The lesson plan practically wrote itself.

SLO: Students will be able to read and critically evaluate the effectiveness of a simple problem-solution essay from the opinion section of the newspaper.

SLO2: Students will describe which supporting details were most effective to support the author’s solution.


1) Read and review several shorter structured problem-solutions essays in the course book. Have students skim, scan and read to answer the specific question. Have students identify where the answer is indicated in the text and note why the answer is most appropriate.

2) Solo: Introduce seven selected vocabulary items from the op-ed piece and review.

3) Provide a gist question: Read the title. What solution do you think the author will provide to address the problem? Elicit predictions to check after the reading.

4) Have students skim. Check predictions.

5) Provide a set of comprehension questions. Have students scan and answer questions. Check answers in groups. In groups, have students discuss how they found the answer and why the text indicates this is correct. Check as a class.

6) B2 Skills: Evaluate the Effectiveness—Have students individually answer if they agree or disagree with the author’s solution. Students describe answers and why. Allow time for students to develop answers. In groups, have students share their ideas.

7) Building from the previous: In groups, have students discuss what aspects of the author’s solution were most effective. Have students list what additional details or examples could be provided to help others agree with the solution. Share ideas as a class.

8) In class [if time permits] or homework: Have students find an article, column piece or reading passage that provides an example of a problem solution that effectively swayed the student to agree with the solution for review in the next class.

The toolkit enables me as a teacher to be creative and provides additional validation that I’m working to challenge my learners appropriately. Steps 6 through 8 of my lesson will stretch my learners and, most importantly, help to provide skills that will hopefully see them transition out of my class and into general courses without the need to come back to me again. Being able to conveniently sort through and see descriptors specifically aligned to skills, area of study (professional, academic or general) and level of ability makes the tool particularly useful. No longer do I need to try to comb through and break down the very chunked description of performance in the CEFR to make it manageable and relevant for my learners. Additionally, I don’t have to search by reading through thousands of descriptors. In a few seconds, I can free my teacher planning brain to find new, fun and appropriate ways to challenge myself and learners to do new things together, proving that I am meeting my primary goal as a teacher, which is to support my students’ learning and support them towards success at their level and beyond.

With the new GSE toolkit, I feel as if I have just expanded my ability to discuss potential activities, assess skills and sense check the challenge of my activities with my peers across the world. The GSE certainly won’t replace my particular teacher “Spidey” sense or that of some of my best friends and colleagues in the field, but it certainly opens up a whole new world to what is possible in the classroom.


Davila, Sara. “Reaping the Value of GSE and the GSE Teacher Toolkit.”Pearson English. N.p., 25 May 2016. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyEnglish Language TrainingLearning and Skills DevelopmentMust Read

How to use the GSE to enhance and improve English assessments

July 6, 2016

The Global Scale of English has been a great support and a positive change for my practice. As I previously discussed, the GSE can be used in a variety of ways, but my three favourite uses are as a tool for validating my students’ learning objectives, as a tool to enhance and improve my assessments, and, finally, as a tool to create content. In this discussion, I’d like to look at how you can use the GSE and the Teacher Toolkit to create custom rubrics and also explore the potential of the GSE Assessment Framework for teachers. First up, a refresher on rubrics (please skip to the section titled “Using the Global Scale of English to create English learning rubrics” if you’re already familiar with the concept).

What’s a rubric?

If you aren’t familiar with it, a rubric is a tool that we can use to assess learning performance. A rubric can be used with any skill and with any kind of learning content. A rubric does this by providing descriptors of performance at different levels. Rubrics provide a clear roadmap for what performance is expected at a higher level of achievement. It’s the difference between saying “do better” and saying “Right now you are working at this level and if you concentrate on these skills you will see yourself working at the next level.” A rubric provides a clear indication of what needs to be improved in order for a learner to excel.

The great thing about rubrics comes from their clarity and consistency in assessing performance. A solid rubric helps me look at the specific performance of any given student and capture the information I need to know about the level at which that student currently is while providing feedback that is both summative and formative. The downside of rubrics is the challenge of creating a solid assessment rubric, one that provides a good formative roadmap, while also being reliable as a summative assessment. With practice, trial and error, anyone can create a good rubric. However, practical tools can help save a lot of time and frustration for administrators, teachers and learners.

Most of the rubrics used in the classroom look like this basic example of a rubric used to assess speaking performance:

Performance Being Assess Measurement Scale
Needs Development Consistently Used Proficiently Used Mastery
Speaking Short sentences with some mistakes. Longer, compound sentences with few mistakes. Long, compound sentences. Able to expand on ideas with few mistakes. Long, compound sentences, clearly organized. Able to expand on ideas and clarify concepts with few mistakes.

You will notice that there is no specific context for the speaking component in this rubric example. Depending on how a rubric will be used, you may want a very granular rubric tied directly to the context and content of learning, or you may want a rubric that can be used for a broader assessment. My example rubric could be used as part of an end-of-semester performance assessment, whereas a more granular rubric would be useful as an end-of-unit assessment or even a units-review assessment where I am looking at performance with specific content.

This rubric contains three specific parts: the scale, the performance to assess and the descriptors of performance. The scales for a rubric can vary across the globe; some teachers will use 1–5, some will use Poor to Excellent. When it comes to selecting the scale, use what will work best in your learning environment and help them communicate the rubric to others in the field, to your students and to your administrators. My personal preference is for a scale that indicates the current level of performance, without implied judgement. Once you have your scale in place, you want to figure out what you will be assessing. This will be largely driven by your course. What are you teaching? What performance do you need to assess? Performance of the skill is key.

For example, if you are teaching a grammar-focused class, you would not develop a rubric to assess the students’ grammar knowledge. It’s much easier to use a more traditional test to check for knowledge of rules. However, if you want to see how well a learner is correctly transferring the grammar they are learning into conversation, a rubric can provide direction. Such a rubric might look like this:

Performance Being Assess Measurement Scale
Needs Development Consistently Used Proficiently Used Mastery
Answer questions about the past and future Answers in simple sentences. Frequently mismatches verb tenses. Easily answers in simple sentences. Uses a few complex sentences. Mismatches verb tenses a little. Does not monitor or correct mistakes. Easily answers in simple and complex sentences. Makes few mistakes with verb tenses. Occasionally able to monitor and correct some mistakes. Easily answers in simple and complex sentences. Elaborates on answers without prompts. Consistent use of verb tenses with few noticeable mistakes. Demonstrates ability to monitor and correct when an error is made.

The final stage of your rubric construction will be the descriptors. The descriptors define what it is you will observe when students are performing. In a speaking assessment, you would be listening to students speaking in a conversation. In a writing assessment, you would look at the organization and cohesion of the students’ writing. The descriptors, then, describe the performance you would expect, aligned to your scale. The descriptors provide information that helps to clearly distinguish between each performance type. Using our writing example, you might have something like this:

Performance Being Assess Measurement Scale
Needs Development Consistently Used Proficiently Used Mastery
Personal paragraphs Presents personal information and details with little organization. Presents personal information with details. Selection of some details is clear. Presents personal information with supporting details. Details are clearly aligned to the information and arranged in logical order. Presents personal information with supporting details. Details are clearly aligned and organized. Specific examples clarify connections.

As you can see, a rubric builds from the bottom and works upwards. This way I can tell a student who Needs Development what they specifically need to work on in order to get to consistent, proficient and masterful use. This is something that can be planned for, and over the course of a semester, we can revisit this and see how their performance is improving and what next steps to take. A rubric helps to provide that kind of clarity. The greatest challenge in creating a rubric is usually in developing the descriptors of performance. What do I need to describe so I can both observe performance and define what the next level looks like?

Using the Global Scale of English to create English learning rubrics

A rubric is a pretty basic tool that a teacher uses to assess performance … but where does the GSE fit into all of this? For me, the most obvious place is in helping to define performance and create descriptors. As the GSE largely describes the use and application around the four English skills  without providing a specific context. This makes it a great place to start for understanding the performance I want to see in my classroom. Rather than the coursebook deciding, or my using my general sense of performance, the GSE gives me a clear indication of the difference in performance at different points along a learner’s learning journey aligned to a specific stops along the CEFR scale. Using the GSE, I could redraft my writing rubric so it would look like this:

Performance Being Assess Measurement Scale
Needs Development Consistently Used Proficiently Used Mastery
Personal paragraphs Can give personal details in a written form in a limited way.

(GSE 31/A2)

Can write a brief summary of their personal details.

(GSE 40/A2+)

Can write about personal interests in some detail.

(GSE 47/B1)

Can write about feelings and personal significance of experience in detail.

(GSE 67/B2+)

From the perspective of a teacher, this gives me a good starting point to add further details to my rubric that would allow me to further align with my curriculum and the learning outcomes defined by my institution. This might look something like this:

Performance Being Assess Measurement Scale
Needs Development Consistently Used Proficiently Used Mastery
Personal paragraphs Can give personal details in a written form in a limited way.



(GSE 31/A2)


Course Context: Past Experiences, Future Interests

Can write a brief summary of their personal details.




(GSE 40/A2+)


Course Context: Past Experiences, Future Interests

Can write about personal interests in some detail.




(GSE 47/B1)


Course Context: Past Experiences, Future Interests

Can write about feelings and personal significance of experience in detail.


(GSE 67/B2+)


Course Context: Past Experiences, Future Interests

Using the GSE, I can also see the progression of skill development and get a sense of how long it will take for learners to improve their performance[1]. Knowing that the difference between Needs Development and Consistent Use is a move from A2 to A2+, I might expect that a student starting at the bottom will get to Consistent Use by the end of a semester. If I have a learner starting at Consistent Use, my goal would be Proficient Use, and Mastery would be a stretch goal. A rubric using the GSE not only helps me get a solid description of the skill performance, but it can also improve my expectations of what learners will achieve based on the length of my course and the number of hours of input and study that will be accessed.

The GSE Assessment Framework

Of course, all of this is a lot of work, so imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the Global Scale of English team had developed a set of agnostic course rubrics that describe performance, contain descriptors, are aligned to the CEFR, cover all four skills and, most importantly, are available for teachers to download.


Download the full set of rubrics in the GSE Assessment Framework here:

The GSE Assessment Framework would not replace all of my classroom rubrics nor stop me from developing rubrics in the future, but it does provide a nice functional rubric that I can use to assess all manner of performance tasks in my classroom using a tool that is externally validated. That end-of-the-semester speaking test would be a perfect test case for the use of the GSE Assessment Speaking Framework rubric. A mid-term writing assignment could be assessed using an internal rubric with the GSE Assessment for Writing Framework for a secondary reference.

Additionally, the frameworks could be handed out to students at the beginning of the semester and used as a way to help students with personal goal setting. As many of my students have test scores that report aligned to the CEFR, it is a simple matter of having students use the GSE Assessment Framework to see how their current level is described and have them look towards the future to make a personal learning plan to continue to improve their English skills and concentrate on problem areas. The Global Scale of English Assessment Framework doesn’t replace all of my assessment tools, but it certainly becomes another time-saving feature to add to my assessment grab bag.

Having access to something as value packed as the Global Scale of English ecosystem, I realize that improving assessments is one of the first steps when it comes to the functional use of the GSE. With over 1,000 descriptors of performance and an assessment package to boot, I’m excited to think of what I can accomplish by utilising these tools and the impact this will have for me and my future students as we continue to work towards our shared goal of communicative fluency.


Davila, Sara. “How to Use the GSE to Enhance and Improve English Assessments.” Pearson English. N.p., 6 July 2016. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyLearning and Skills Development

Enhancing Language Learning Through the Use of Technology

by Charles Gil

Technology has become part of the learning process for all students around the world. The importance of such tool in the learning process is undeniable, and so is the right way to use it in order to produce great results.

In fact, technology has been used for different training purposes across many industries. Some governments, for instance, have used it to train the military with emulators, and simulators, big companies have used it to train new personnel with knowledge bases similar to Google but for internal use, and now schools are using it to enhance learning inside the classrooms. This has given rise to many discussions amongst learning specialists who argue that this new trend could impact the learning process negatively if it is not implemented correctly.

What is the right way to use it then?
Let’s take a brief look at what’s happening in chess, a sport that requires a great deal of training and has recently changed dramatically due to the right use of technology.

Chess masters nowadays could easily beat old masters who never had the chance to use modern technology in their trainings. Many writers and analysts from have reached this conclusion after comparing the accuracy and blunders of new masters versus previous ones from other decades, and the results are irrefutable: the majority of new masters are simply better players than their counterparts from the past.

This is what chess players are doing right according to many specialists:

  1. They constantly update information with the latest databases.
  2. They use a lot of relevant information; they can study any rival in depth.
  3. They integrate all parts of the game in one single platform such as Chessbase (most popular one in the world).
  4. They can easily measure their progress with artificial intelligence from chess engines such as Fritz, Rybka, etc.

Are we using technology in the same way as in the language learning field?
We are doing so to a certain extent, but not to the point in which we have reached optimal results. I am speaking of course about the Nicaraguan context, in which I have plenty of experience.

One of the biggest mistakes we are making is using the traditional five letter grading system that allows us to determine if a student can pass a level or not. A number or a letter does not say much when it comes to language abilities, and it says even less for training purposes.

In order to be successful we need to find a way to take full advantage of the technology to train our students considering their learning styles and language skills. No student is the same and without the use of technology, it takes a lot of time to create different lesson plans for each individual, but technology allows us to do so when it is used correctly.

What I propose is a different grading system that allows different teachers to focus more on certain aspects of the language. For instance, we could use a system that divides the skills into four parts: reading, speaking, writing, and accent (pronunciation). Until this moment, technology is not required to improve these skills, but this division of competencies could prepare us to be more effective when we start using it.

Once we start grading students differently, we can start using countless free and paid resources from the web and our own creation to assign more relevant content to students when they are working in a lab or the classroom.

Technology allows us to classify students by skills and learning styles easily with the use of databases, and the impact can be quite dramatic in the short and long term as well. Technology does not need any rest, and students now can see a lesson as many times as possible, and practice as well; all this while gradually making it more challenging for themselves. Teachers can see the results of their practices instantly and quickly change the type and intensity of the exercises.

Technology also allows us to measure results and compare them with previous ones instantly. This can be useful to adapt quickly and avoid repeating mistakes. Similar to cancer treatment, technology permits us to create cocktails of drugs (activities) which can combine visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary learning styles. All of this is possible if we attack learning systematically and scientifically.

In regards to the call center industry, we have the advantage of creating very similar conditions to the real floors of production from the actual companies. The use of computers in the labs can also enhance multitasking abilities for students who have to be able to take calls while operating a computer effectively. It is up to us as trainers to simulate the real call center environments as similarly as possible. Oftentimes call centers trainees cannot manage to do all their activities at the same time. Speaking to a customer in a second language is hard enough for some, and adapting can be quite costly for their performance and self-esteem.

In conclusion, we should be excited about the prospects of the use of technology in our field. We are about to become super teachers, but it is only through an extensive comprehension of the matter, and the proper training that we could reach this potential in the short term. We should be constantly monitoring the use of technology in other areas to adapt their best practices into our own. We should be constantly sharing our success stories within our own schools in order to accelerate our own understanding and effectiveness as teachers and trainers.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyLearning and Skills DevelopmentTopics

Edmodo – Breaking the Barriers of Space and Time

by Bosco Bonilla

Every teacher and school is always looking for an effective way to engage students, connect with them, coach them and finally help them become better learners. Edmodo is an open online platform for learning that allows interaction between teachers and students in a Facebook-like environment. The platform enables teachers to share content, assess students, upload assignments, and keep in touch with students, colleagues and parents. As an instructor working at Keiser Language Institute puts it:

When I discovered Edmodo I fell in love with it. I love the fact that it looks like Facebook and it is attractive to students because they can download the app and use it in their smart phones or tablets, so whenever there is no lab available they can interact inside or outside the classroom. It also means using less paper, thus   contributing to protect the environment (Martin Montalvan – EPD and EPC Teacher).

In the modern world people are always busy, hopping from one task to the next, rushing from home to work, then to the next meeting. Students, especially adults who have the desire and need to learn English face an important challenge as they have to juggle with family, work responsibilities and keeping up with an English course.

Edmodo offers a solution by empowering instructors to continue coaching their students beyond the boundaries of the brick and mortar and exposing them to real English after school hours. Authentic materials used in class, such as videos or articles can be made available for students to revise at home. Learners can post comments or questions about the material and expect clarifications and further insight from the teacher. Indeed, Mr. Montalvan states that Edmodo enables instructors to keep in touch with learners as instant notifications can be posted and students’ questions addressed.

Also, tutors can direct special attention and give additional assistance to weak students. Through Edmodo teachers can send messages, extra work or even full lessons to specific pupils. If a student needs more work on one skill or area, the teacher could prepare a personalized study plan for him or her through the platform. Another advantage is that teachers “can create connections with other teachers from different institutions, universities and countries and cultures”, which enriches the teaching experience (Montalvan).

It may sound like a lot of work for the teacher at this point, but in reality everything instructors need to craft their classes in Edmodo is one click away. The educational social network allows teachers to connect with any other website on the internet. By simply adding the URL or link teachers can make available videos, exercise, and explanations. In addition, all sorts of formats, such as PDF, Microsoft world documents, JPEG and MP4 files can be uploaded. Features like polls, quizzes, posts and assignments give teachers all the tools they need to assess, give instructions to and interact with students.

Nevertheless, as any successful class, a group on Edmodo requires careful planning. Teachers must search for the content that matches the objectives they are trying to reach and the level of their students, carefully design the activities they want students to complete and write very clear directions. There are tons of videos on  a topic on youtube and similar websites, but not all of them are suitable for a beginners class, for example.

With all these tools at hand experienced teachers can combine face-to-face interaction with technology that aids in breaking the barriers of time and space and give students of all ages the chance to learn English effectively and in the language of the 21st century.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish and TechnologyLearning and Skills Development

The Chat Club – An Educational Adventure through the Looking Glass

by Zee Valey-Omar

The conversation club was created primarily to address the needs of graduates of the English for Professional Development program at the Language Institute for further development and continued exposure to English.  It is unlike the traditional classroom in which the subject matter is aimed at teaching specific rules of grammar, structure or phrases and gently leading students to the mastery of fragments of the language under the watchful eye of a patient teacher. On the contrary, participation in the conversation club requires a high level of proficiency and uses only material to which native speakers are exposed and in which students express an interest.   Students are encouraged to think critically and express their opinions as clearly as they might in their mother tongue. Some of the subjects discussed are current events, philosophy, psychology, behavioral science, medicine, theology etc. This is a hybrid classroom in which problems are solved, ideologies are challenged, trends are analysed, opinions are expressed and experiences are shared. The participants are motivated solely by the desire to learn and develop their abilities proving perhaps the validity of the idea that in adults, the desire to learn is innate. This is learning for the sake of learning, the exquisite but illusive mythical creature that teachers dream about. While the course offers constant feedback and evaluation, students are not graded in the traditional sense. Here, the teacher plays the role of facilitator, giving guidance and advice.

While not purely Metacognative in methodological strategy, this course relies on some of the facets of Metacognative Strategies as expounded by O’Malley et al (1985). Students are encouraged to be active participants in the learning process from the conception stage by recommending material, thinking about the direction of their development by discussing the aims of exercises and being conscious of the skills they will develop in each activity. In keeping with the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson entitled: “Do schools kill creativity?” we steer away from the stigmatization of mistakes, trying instead to see them as opportunities to learn. The process of evaluation is constant, beginning with self evaluation, evaluation by piers and the facilitator. Creative thinking is encouraged above all.

One might argue that the open group structure of the class has elements of Socioeffective Strategies expounded by Brown (2007) as students constantly clarify and explain their ideas and similarly seek explanation and clarification from their peers.

This process of collaboration and constructive evaluation has had several consequences. Firstly, students have created their own English learning community which, free of the constraints of deadlines and exams allows for organic development. Secondly, conscious of the aims of the exercises, students are highly motivated to prepare and contribute. Thirdly the learning process provides students with an honest view of their abilities to comprehend authentic material, comment on it, problem solve, produce summaries and articulate their opinions. Finally and perhaps most crucially, students are able to set aside the anxiety of stagnating or regressing in their hard earned English proficiency.

In accordance with Malcolm Knowles (1984) the Conversation Club strives to create an atmosphere of cooperation. Some problem solving activities involve the fragmentation of a task into small parts which students later present as a group. In this type of exercise, students might be required to brainstorm ideas and then split of into groups to find solutions before they reunite to select the best solution. This is a skill which students value as is transferable to the workplace, where a high level of proficient participation is viewed favorably. Role play is another activity which fosters a further sense of camaraderie between students. An additional activity that the Conversation club engages in is an exercise entitled: In the news this week. During this segment, students review an important event in world news using a list of questions devised for the exercise. Here, news reports, online news papers, and blog posts are used. This kind of exercise assists in vocabulary development and comprehension. In keeping with the ideas of Malcolm Knowles (1984), there is a constant emphasis on goal driven exercises. Practicing complex sentence structures such as the third conditional for example might be the aim of watching a TED talk or a BBC video. This is simply not a course for a detestable, lazy teacher who arrives in class and vacantly asks learners what they would like to talk about. Students constantly provide the teacher with feedback on the lesson and future activities are adjusted according to what the students’ needs. The Conversation Club student needs to know what she/ he is learning and why. This type of student does independent research and eagerly searches the Edmodo group to see what the following week´s lesson entails or what she/ he missed the previous week.  A weekly poll is taken to determine future subject matter, what is of interest to students and to give the teacher time to gather material and create exercises around the material.

If I were to advise students on how to develop language proficiency outside of the classroom I would say that first of all, that one has to recognize the classroom for what it is. It is a simulated environment of learning in which all factors, the material, the exercises and the teacher conspire to nurture and support you. This, while comforting to a learner, might create a false sense of proficiency. I suggest that learning be seen as all inclusive, classrooms and grammar books are simply not enough. Students need to incorporate music, literature, culture, podcasts, TED talks, and cinema and in fact everything that interests them. I have often seen young students roll their eyes when jaded, uninspired teachers tell them to watch the news to improve their vocabulary. I firmly believe that the best material to use is what interests us.   A learning community is invaluable. No-one learns a language to live alone on an island, language is for communication. Students should find ways to communicate as frequently as possible both inside and outside the classroom without the fear of making mistakes. We need to stop demonizing mistakes and perhaps look at the way we correct students. One simply cannot correct an adult as if she/ he is a child. Students in turn should take cognisance of corrections, pay attention to patterns of mistakes and work independently to improve.  As teachers, we should foster the idea of learning as a process does not end at graduation.

I feel that students should be taught that learning a second language to be proficient is simply not enough. We need to be able to express ourselves as we would in our native tongue, to feel that our personality is revealed by the articulation of our thoughts and opinions. While this may not be possible for everyone due to varying abilities, it should be something we aim at. The half existence of second language speaker is simply not enough. Moreover I believe that a crippling tendency prevails in higher levels of learning where all the students and the teacher speak the same language- the tendency to translate and not explain. I see to some extent that this might be necessary in lower levels but I regard this as crippling because at higher levels because this is simply not transferable to real life situations with native speakers. Students should be aware of the habits they develop in learning English and constantly question whether the skill is transferable to a real life situation. Most crucially, students should know that languages are in constant development and they should maximize their exposure and be active participants in their development as English speakers.

Works Cited
Brown, D. H. (2007). Principles of Language Learning & Teaching. (5th Ed.). Pearson: Longman.

Knowles, M. and Associates (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

O’Malley, J. M., Chamot, A. U., Stewner-Manzanares, G., Kupper, L.J. & Russo, R.P. (1985). Learning strategies used by beginning and intermediate ESL students. Language Learning, 35(1): 21-46.

English and Technology

My New Best Friend

by Manuel Dos Santos

If you walk around the school or the college campus, you’ll see students glued to their smartphones. The smartphone has become an extension of their bodies, like an added limb.

Surveys from different sources conclude that over 90% of students bring their smartphone to class, and that the majority of them would enjoy using it as a learning tool.  In general, schools have a policy against the use of cell phones in class because they say it distracts students from learning and disrupts the class. So how can we use this ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to our benefit as teachers? How can we take advantage of this technology to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world?  The answer is to use the smart phone responsibly and for a specific purpose. Clear limits must be established to students beforehand.

The following are some suggestions on how to incorporate the use of smartphones in the English class.  Besides the authentic input that smartphones can provide, they also help to motivate the class, and students feel that they are responsible for the learning process.  The smartphone is definitely an added benefit, and can be used even at a very elementary level.

Almost every beginner’s course will include the following topics: talk about your family, friends, pets, your house, the weather, pastimes, vacations, and so forth. Let’s see how we can use the smartphone to complement some basic teaching goals.

Traditionally you would ask students to bring photographs of their relatives to class and to describe the people, give their names, their profession, their age. Instead, get students to show photos of their family on their smartphones and to talk about the people. You may start off with your own family using your phone, and elicit what you expect them to say. Example: This is my husband. His name is Antonio. But we call him Tony. And these are my children. Martha is thirteen and Gerardo is eleven. She has straight brown hair. He has black curly hair. Martha is a good student, but Gerry is lazy. His favorite sport is baseball, etc.
Get students to work in groups, and discuss their relatives showing photos on their smartphones. Go around the class and listen to their descriptions. You may ask for volunteers to show you photos and describe their family. Personalization encourages students to talk and makes the class much more interesting.

If you’re teaching possession, verb “to have” and possessive ‘s, ask students if they have pets and what. It’s advisable first to elicit: I have a dog and two cats. The dog’s name is Lobo and the cat’s name is Sugar. You can use the same procedure as with the family. Ask students to show you photos of their pets and to describe them.

Get students to show selfies of themselves with friends. Describe where they are (location) and what they are doing (Present Progressive).
This is a selfie of me and my friend Carol. We are in a restaurant. We’re celebrating her birthday.

In groups, get students to find out the weather conditions in different parts of the world. You’ll be combining weather vocabulary and expressions with the subject of geography: It’s snowing in Beijing, China. It’s winter, and Beijing is in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s sunny and hot in Buenos Aires, because Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s summer there. Get students to compare and contrast the different weather reports.

The principal use of the smartphone is to get students to look up or gather information related to the subject matter being discussed in class – real world challenges. However, there are many other possibilities to use the device as a useful tool for the learning of English. For example:

· Recording:  When reading or role-playing a Conversation from the book, get students to record it and have them check for errors in pronunciation, and other mistakes.

· Dictionary: Get students to look up the meaning of a word in a dictionary application.

· Translator:  Ask students to translate sentences. Sometimes the online translator is inaccurate, so the activity is a good opportunity for error correction.

English: What are you doing next Saturday night? 
Spanish: ¿Qué estás haciendo próximo sábado por la noche?

· Text Messages: Introduce some common acronyms in English at the beginning of the lesson – TKS = thanks, TC = take care, 2day = today, GL = good luck, etc. Have students share phone numbers. Divide the class into groups and get them to send each other messages. To simplify, you may want to write the content of the message on a card for each group. Example: Group A, invite Group B for a party on Friday night. Give time and location. Tell them to bring . . .

As they say, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Teachers have to find ways to co-exist with the smartphone in class, because smartphones and other ICTs are here to stay.

Copyright: Manuel dos Santos                 June, 2015

Classroom and MethodologiesClassroom TalesEnglish and Technology

Pearson English Interactive

by Alfieri Avilan
Academic Consultant Central America & the 

The new learning era has turned into a great dilemma that has taken a whole decade to begin to understand, its depth has not been measured yet, it seems as if we are struggling to cope with all the changes and challenges that such wave has brought within.

Educators, researchers, linguistics, scientists, technicians, all have come together to propose plausible solutions to these new challenges, yet the main matter, learners´ necessities, still evades many.

In Pearson for more than one hundred and fifty years, we have preserved three values that drive our behavior, thoughts and actions. One of these values, the imagination of harnessing new technologies in what we do, not with the sole purpose of producing great educational goods, but thinking of and for the future as well as placing the learner in the center of the teaching-learning process has made us understand and measure this new learning era.

It is because in Pearson we understand the new challenges that one of our great online solutions meets in great deal the needs of a new set of learners. The sort, who lacks time to attend regular lessons, is friendly to technology, seeks motivating content and finds it hard to pursue and stay on goal. Pearson English Interactive matches not only these needs; it also faces one of the most important aspects on the inclusion of technology in the classroom, what it represents for teachers and students.

For teachers it means having a remote assistant who can support with extra content, immediate grading, close measurement of students’ progress, also with extra hours, a hundred per level, helps you stay in communication with your groups, and other useful help.

Marking becomes easier; paperwork drops dramatically; personalization of instruction gets as real as it can be.

For students, PEI represents the way they learn, a digital environment where they spend most of their productive time. One may fall for the quick thought that everything digital is good for our learners, it cannot be a more incorrect concept; the key to this successful educational online solution, PEI, resides in its interactivity; it enables the learners to have a large amount of participation. This would resemble a live classroom, except for the fact that a good amount of students does not get that much interaction in real lessons.

Seemingly, Pearson English Interactive being an online solution overlooks the practice of four skills, nothing further form the truth. It allows learners to work and master all four skills and pronunciation, covering the standards for real communication.

It sees English as what it is nowadays, lingua franca, exposing learners to real forms in which people talk around the globe, a critical concept in learning a foreign language, this provides with the authenticity that is necessary in the classroom regardless of the setting, so that the learners understand how the real language is used in the real world.

One other factor that makes PEI so effective is its flexibility, learners can access their courses anytime anywhere, and this allows them to schedule their own pace. Teachers and learners are never apart; they are in contact through an effective, flexible, user friendly, motivating learning management system.

Enabling teachers and learners alike to join the new era of education has become one of the pillars for creating Pearson English Interactive. Blended learning is the future, the way to support, improve and enhance classroom activity, a way to ensure that learners reach their ultimate outcome, communication in the 21st century.