Live Lesson experience: the importance of flexibility

Live Lesson Zoom class screenshot of participants

Every class is unique. Students have different needs, motivation levels, abilities, and goals. To facilitate an inclusive, effective learning environment, teachers, therefore, need to be flexible and adapt to their teaching to each group and each individual.  

We’ve been exploring the topic of flexibility as part of Pearson’s live training for exam Teachers. Participants have attended demonstration classes for semi-intensive and extensive groups using Formula B2 First Coursebook. They have come away with a firm idea of how to adapt classes for their courses in the future. 

The Formula B2 First Coursebook is a versatile teaching resource. It gives educators the content and tools they need to deliver English language lessons to diverse groups of students, across a variety of course lengths. 

Let’s look at what they learned in the live training sessions.  

A look at live lesson aims 

Participants chose whether to attend a single demonstration class from a semi-intensive course (80 hours), or a class from an extensive course (100 hours).  

Lesson objectives 

Both lessons aimed to help learners to develop language skills and prepare for a Cambridge B2 exam task. How much can be achieved on a course differs according to the course length: You’ll notice that there are more learning objectives in the extensive lesson. 

Focusing on Use of English, the semi-intensive lesson had the following objectives: 

Be better able to… 

  • form adjectives using –ent/-ant, –able/ible, –y 
  • form verbs using over-, –under 
  • complete a Reading & Use of English Part 3 Word formation exam task 

The semi-intensive lesson focused on writing, with the following objectives: 

Be better able to… 

  • develop and organize ideas in a paragraph 
  • link ideas in a paragraph 
  • write a review of an event 
  • complete a Writing Part 2 task  

Overview of semi-intensive and extensive lessons 

Both lessons are based on pages from the Formula B2 First Coursebook and accompanying Exam File. The Exam Trainer is used in the extensive and assigned for homework in the semi-intensive class. 

Lead in 

Each lesson begins with a personalized opening activity to engage participants and introduce the topic.  

In the semi-intensive lesson, which is on the topic of emojis, participants look at a message in emojis and share what they think it means in the chat box. They then discuss questions about their use of emojis in breakout rooms.  

The extensive lesson focused on the topic of music and concerts. Participants complete the prompt “Without ___ life would be very dull” in the chat box with their own ideas. They then discuss what makes a good/bad concert or festival in breakout rooms.  

Listening and reading activities 

The next stage of the lesson provides input in the form of listening or reading. At this point, students not only focus on exam skills but also develop their language skills.  

In the semi-intensive lesson, participants listen to a talk about emojis. They must then look at suffixes used to form adjectives within that talk. Later, they practice forming and using adjectives with suffixes in a personalized way to help them remember it better.  

The content is extended in the Exam Boost page in the Exam File, which introduces prefixes –over and –under 

In the extensive lesson, participants read a review of an event and learn how to develop their ideas in a paragraph. Next, participants look at an exercise in the Exam Trainer. They identify how ideas have been developed with an example or reason.  

Participants are then given a topic sentence and work in groups in breakout rooms to develop these ideas and write a paragraph. Here, they have an opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other. 

Concluding the lesson 

The final stage of the lesson focuses on a Cambridge B2 First exam task.   

Participants complete a Part 3 Reading & Use of English task in the semi-intensive lesson. To do so, they use the strategies outlined in the Exam File and the language/skills work completed in the lesson. 

In the extensive lesson, participants plan and write a review of an event. After the lesson, students should feel more confident and able to do this effectively.  

Before completing the review, learners can complete one, or a whole page of activities, in the Exam Boost section of the Exam File. This further supports learners in writing a review. 

If necessary, teachers can ask learners to complete relevant tasks in the Exam Trainer and on the app. They can also complete any tasks in the Exam Boost they didn’t finish in class, as well as refer to the Writing File page on writing reviews.  

Lesson takeaways  

Engage learners 

Start with a quick task that involves guessing something, brainstorming ideas or sharing ideas via the chatbox. This quickly engages learners. Nominating students to explain the information they shared also gives students speaking practice and helps build rapport.   

Provide thinking time 

Ask students to share their responses via the private chatbox. This gives them time to think. You can also provide some personalized feedback and be sure that it’s the student’s own work. In this way, we can assess more learners, more accurately.  

Create a safe space for individual learners 

Ask students to tell you if they want to hear a recording a second time via the private chatbox. This tells you how confident the class feels as a whole. Have an extension task ready for fast finishers, in case you need to play the recording a second time.  

Use online tools for instant feedback 

Ask students to use thumbs up/down to give an opinion, say if something is true/false, or to select an option. This keeps students actively involved and allows us to assess all students before we nominate someone to explain their answers. 

Have students work collaboratively 

Using a document that all students can write on (e.g. a Google Doc) allows them to work collaboratively. We can see all of the work clearly and easily provide feedback. This works well with short writing tasks that focus on a sub-skill, e.g. developing ideas in a paragraph.  

Watch both lessons here:  

Resources used in the live lesson 

The lessons use the following Formula B2 First resources:  

Semi-Intensive live  lesson 

Extensive live lesson: 

  • B2 Coursebook (page 38), B2 Exam Trainer (page 54) and B2 Exam File (pages 22-23) – get your sample HERE 

Accessed through the Pearson English Portal, the teacher components used are:  

  • Semi-Intensive: B2 Teacher’s notes & the Coursebook Presentation Tool 
  • Extensive: B2 Teacher’s notes, the Coursebook Presentation Tool and the B2 Exam Trainer’s Teacher’s notes

What is Formula? 

Formula is a new, highly flexible skills-based course that focuses on Cambridge exam preparation for both teens and young adults. It supports courses of 30 to 100 teaching hours and covers three levels – B1 Preliminary, B2 First and C1 Advanced.  

By picking and choosing different teaching blocks, teachers can create their own course to meet their students’ needs, whether teaching face-to-face, blended, hybrid or fully online classes.  

You might also be interested to read another article in this series, Live Lesson experience: Test, Teach, Test with Formula

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