Using the GSE to enhance employability

GSE Global Scale of English Pearson

Students often decide to learn English in order to work in a specific profession or to get a certain type of job. As teachers, we always want to help them reach their goals, but with Business English learners it can sometimes be hard to know what their specific language needs are.

Given this difficulty, wouldn’t you be happy to learn that there IS a system for matching Business English learners with their specific language and professional objectives? Pearson English has been working hard to find an answer to this need, and we’re confident our Global Scale of English system is the solution.

What is the Global Scale of English?

The Global Scale of English (GSE) is a revolutionary new resource that allows teachers to tailor their material to a student’s specific needs. The ultimate ambition of the GSE is to provide learners – whoever they are and wherever they are in the world – with the answers to these questions:

  • How good is my English?
  • How am I progressing?
  • What do I need to do next?

The GSE is the world’s first truly global English language standard. However, it is aligned to other familiar scales, such as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and to high-stakes tests such as IELTS and TOEFL, so that you can easily identify your next steps.

The GSE system is made up of four parts – the scale itself, the GSE Learning Objectives, course materials, and assessment. The GSE Learning Objectives are critical in that they provide context for teachers and learners – in other words, they describe exactly what it means to be at a level of proficiency in English in terms of what a learner can do.

Pearson English are delighted to be able to provide the GSE as an open access resource that is completely free for teachers and learners worldwide. It can help users to create their own courses and syllabuses, and plan their own personal path to English proficiency.

The GSE and the needs of Business English learners

Business English students may have already learnt a lot of grammar, acquired language qualifications, or studied abroad, and they are probably used to watching films and TV series in English. However, they still often need more specialised tuition in order to improve their chances of getting a job. Also, they often need to improve not only their English language skills, but also their business knowledge and critical thinking skills. In other words, they need to be able to communicate effectively in English whilst simultaneously developing their business skills through English.

In this context, teachers are coming under increasing pressure to engage students with relevant business topics, professional skills, videos, and other activities. Teaching Business English now requires the development of a variety of business skills, including hard and soft skills, in guiding learners towards their professional goals.  

The GSE Learning Objectives for Professional English are a great way to help teachers and students identify where these language and professional goals meet. In developing these objectives, Pearson English carried out research into the various linguistic competencies required for different workplaces. The objectives can be used as a guideline to help students achieve bite-sized, attainable goals which will keep them moving forward toward their longer term goal.

Linking job descriptions to language objectives

Teachers can link specific job descriptions to language objectives by searching the GSE Job Profiles database, which provides information for teachers of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) on the English language skills needed for specific jobs.

The GSE Jobs Profile database was created using job descriptions from the O*NET database compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (see Each task in a job description was mapped to a Global Scale of English Learning Objective for Professional Learners to identify the linguistic skills that someone would need to master in order to carry out that particular task in English. The GSE Job Profiles database can be found on as part of the GSE Teacher Toolkit.

The GSE Teacher Toolkit itself gives teachers fast access to GSE learning objectives, grammar and vocabulary to help you plan lessons that are at the right level for your students. It is extremely easy to use. Say, for example, you want to teach Speaking skills to advanced adult learners. You would simply enter these values into the database, which will quickly bring up a list of the skills that a learner will need to have at that level.

Creating the new GSE Learning Objectives involved thousands of teachers from over 50 countries and was a truly collaborative effort. These teachers rated the new learning objectives – placing them on the GSE and CEFR sliding scales to create a shared view of what it means to be at a level in English. As a result, teachers and learners worldwide now have a clear and precise definition of what learners can be expected to do at a particular level across each of the four skills. We’re confident that this global system will help Business English students and other learners to meet their specific language needs for many years to come!

Iwonna Dubicka of Pearson English will be delivering a presentation on the GSE and employability at the 2018 IATEFL Conference, to be held in Brighton (UK).

To find out more about the Global Scale of English, you can also visit Pearson’s GSE page. From there you can learn more about the GSE teacher toolkit and also access the Learning Objectives for Professional English.

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