blog round up

2019 is about to come to an end – and what a year it has been! It’s hard to believe how quickly it has flown by. We’ve been busy attending events and welcoming speakers and friends to debate and discuss key themes in education.

Ken Beatty IATEFL 2019 Pearson English
Ken Beatty at our Gallery Walk, IATEFL 2019

One of our biggest highlights has to be the IATEFL Gallery Walk. That’s where we examined the question, ‘Do we still need classrooms?’ and got the chance to interact with a number of influential educators such as Ken Beatty and Nik Peachey. 

Then at TESOL in Georgia, US, we enjoyed looking into the future of learning and meeting the needs of the 21st century workplace. We also attended InnovateELT, a conference in Barcelona where creative minds and forward-thinking educators come together each year. There have also been many excellent local events across Asia, the Middle East, HispanoAmerica and Europe.

It’s been a privilege to learn from and share insights with teachers from around the world, including our amazing Teacher Award winners, announced at our first ever Facebook Live Teacher Award ceremony. We were lucky enough to spend the week with them at IATEFL In Liverpool. 

So, to celebrate a great year we thought we’d share with you ten of our most popular blog posts from 2019. 

1. How to improve student engagement with Assessment for Learning (AfL)

By Amanda Davies

In this popular blog post, Amanda brought us some next-level AfL strategies, giving tips on how to encourage learners to take more responsibility for their own learning. 

Her advice includes sharing learning objectives, setting success criteria, providing formative feedback and making room for self- and peer reflection. 

Read more about AfL

2. Back to school: 5 tips to start the new school year successfully

By Anna Roslaniec

There’s never enough back to school advice. In this blog post, Anna shares her top tips for ESL teachers preparing for the new school year and bundles them together with free downloadable resources. She explains how to make a strong first impression and lay down some ground rules in a new class, build a classroom routine from day one and prepare activities that challenge students. 

She details why a classroom survival kit is important and how to put one together. And last but not least, she shows us how to start building rapport with students from the very first day. 

Read more about effective back-to-school tactics.  

3. Back to school: 5 ways to establish SMART goals

By Jennifer Manning

Another popular back to school article, Jennifer explains the concept of SMART goals and how to implement them in a classroom. Learning goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They provide motivation, focus and a sense of direction, which is why it’s a good idea to start setting them at the beginning of a new term.

In this blog post, you’ll find examples of how to apply the SMART way of thinking in ELT. And remember, these goals aren’t just for students: try setting them for yourself too!

Learn more about SMART goals

4. 5 ways to keep students’ attention in class

By Joanna Wiseman

We are not at all surprised that this was one of the most-read blog posts of 2019. Keeping students focused on a task is a challenge that all teachers face on a daily basis. 

In her article, Joanna gives us lots of useful tips on how to keep students engaged. Teachers should try planning a range of activities, varying the dynamics of the class, paying attention to the mood and using brain breaks to keep students from losing interest. Joanna also explains the benefits of peer teaching and gives examples of useful classroom management strategies. 

Read more about keeping students’ attention

5. Video storytelling: 4 lesson plan ideas from Jamie Keddie

By Jamie Keddie

Video is a great tool that all teachers should try to incorporate into their classes. However, to reap the benefits of audiovisual storytelling in language learning, it’s important to select the right videos and know how to use them. 

In this blog post, Jamie explains through the example of a specific video how the story can engage students and get them listening, thinking and speaking.

Read more about using video storytelling.  

6. Mindfulness in the classroom: autopilot & paying attention

By Amy Malloy

Have you ever noticed your students drifting into autopilot mode? It’s a state when we’re only partially aware of our surroundings, and it often happens in classrooms. In her blog post, Amy walks us through using mindfulness exercises to help students pay attention and move out of autopilot mode. 

Mindfulness is particularly important in school: it can help improve children’s attention span, which translates into other areas of their lives. It’s as easy as using screens and technology mindfully, practising mindful snacking and counting the breath as a daily exercise. 

Read more about switching off autopilot with mindfulness

7. Does mindfulness really work? And can it help your students?

By Amy Malloy

Another post about mindfulness by Amy Malloy, this article focuses on the basics of mindfulness: what it is, why it’s important and how it can help our students. 

Amy goes into detail about the many benefits of paying conscious attention to the present moment. She demonstrates how mindfulness can strengthen different – healthier – pathways in the brain and how this can help students. Towards the end of the post, you’ll find some expert tips on how to introduce mindfulness in your classroom and what you can expect from it.

Read more about mindfulness for students.

8. Reading strategies checklist for primary

By Iram Ahmed

Primary students may need help and guidance from their teachers when it comes to reading tasks. 

In this article, we explore the most effective reading strategies that can help students get the most out of reading tasks. Iram’s post comes with a downloadable Reading Strategies Checklist that teachers can display in their classrooms to take students through activities before, during and after reading. 

Download the Reading Strategies Checklist

9. 5 future skills our students will need

By Ken Beatty

Ken Beatty explains the importance of preparing our students for the future and equipping them with the skills that they’ll need. He covers visual literacy, collaborative learning, critical and creative thinking, as well as the digital environment, and learner autonomy. All his points include actionable tips on what teachers can do to facilitate this type of future-proof learning. 

You’ll also find out how StartUp, an innovative eight-level English course can help you teach for the future. 

Read more about future skills our students will need

10. English for employability: What will jobs be like in the future?

By Nicola Pope

This post is all about the jobs of the future and the importance of English for employability. Nicola shows that in the rapidly changing job market, proficiency in the English language is a very important factor for an increasing number of students around the world. She goes into how teachers can prepare their students for jobs that may not even exist today and shares some advice from Mike Mayor and Tim Goodier.

Read more about English for employability


Which of these posts did you find the most useful? What would you like to see on our blog in 2020?

Before you go, don’t miss the opportunity to enter the Pearson English Global Teacher Award 2020

Applications close on 10th January, at 23:59 GMT, so hurry and apply now!

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