Remote Learning Strategies with Side by Side eTexts

By Bill Bliss and Steven J. Molinsky

We are inspired by how quickly and creatively English language instructors have implemented remote learning over the past several weeks in response to the challenge of moving their classes online. Many are using the eText versions of Side by Side Plus and Side by Side Extra for this purpose, citing the programmatic and predictable nature of the courses and their “Zoom-friendly” communicative methodology.

To support instructors, we have created a new quick-start guide to Remote Learning Strategies with the Side by Side eText. It offers tips for using the eText along with Zoom and other platforms to create a dynamic and interactive remote learning experience. The guide also explains how teachers can use the eText to create classes, modify course content, communicate with students, and document their program participation and progress.

Side by Side eText

Synchronous, Asynchronous, and Independent Learning

Synchronous instruction is easy, interactive, and fun using a conferencing platform such as Zoom or Google Meet. Instructors can use screensharing to display the lesson page on students’ devices. Breakout rooms enable the highly interactive pair practice that is the hallmark of the Side by Side guided conversation methodology.

Asynchronous learning is an important component of the remote learning experience as students preview on their own activities and content to prepare for a synchronous class, and then do follow-up activities to reinforce and expand upon the online lesson.

Independent learning is promoted through easy-to-access embedded audio, course features such as the Side by Side Gazette, and the unique FunZone digital amusement park that offers informal, self-directed, and flexible learning through motivating instant-feedback activities, games, and videos.

Zooming with the Side by Side eTexts

screensharing

Screensharing allows instructors to display the digital student book page for all students, with instant access to the audio program for each page. The eText’s enlargement tool makes it possible to focus on a particular activity, such as a dialog, illustration, or exercise. This is especially helpful to students who access online sessions on a smartphone or small tablet device.

gallery view

Gallery View builds community in the online classroom as students participate together in listening and speaking practice, present dialogs and role plays, and engage in discussions.

breakout rooms

Breakout Room mode in the Zoom platform is the ideal environment for pair practice that is at the core of the Side by Side guided conversation methodology. The instructor can pre-assign particular students to work together in pairs, or the platform can assign pairs automatically.

The eText can do that? I didn’t know!

Many teachers using the eText are unaware that their Instructor Version enables them to create classes and post assignments and notes to students directly to their students’ eTexts, without the need for an LMS such as Canvas or Blackboard. Onboarding students is an easy registration process at the Pearson English Portal, and creating courses and class rosters happens through the eText platform and a simple email invitation to students to join a class.

The platform’s Notes feature allows students to type and save written work in their eTexts, send it to the instructor as an email or text message, and even save all the coursework as a digital portfolio. (As a low-tech solution, reproducible Remote Learner Participation forms for each unit are also available. Students can indicate the amount of time spent on each unit’s activity, take a photo of the completed form, and send it to the instructor in an email or text message.)

Teaching Strategies

The quick-start guide offers step-by-step suggestions for using each type of Side by Side activity in a blend of remote learning modes of instruction: synchronous, asynchronous, and independent. The guide also provides simple instructions for onboarding students, creating courses, and using the eText platform to document learner participation.

We hope that this resource is helpful as you continue to adapt your instruction to meet your students’ language learning needs at this challenging time.

To download the quick-start guide, click here.

For information about Side by Side Plus and Side by Side Extra, click here.

To download information about career/academic and civics content and CCRS/ELPS standards in Side by Side Plus, click here.

To locate your dedicated Pearson ELT Specialist, click here.

Teaching Remotely with Low-Tech Students

Susan Gaer

By Susan Gaer

COVID-19 has changed the teaching landscape. Suddenly teachers are forced to teach online without much time for preparation and with students who may not be digitally literate. What is a teacher to do?

In this blog post, I will discuss ways of utilizing your textbook effectively to help your students online no matter what their technical capabilities are. We will be focusing on ways to work with students with low or no tech. 

Connecting with students in the low-tech world

Most of the students in today’s world have a smartphone. Whether or not they know how to use it effectively is a different matter, but most of them have a phone. 

 With the lowest tech student, you may have to use text messaging. There are three messaging services that are easy to use. One of them is Remind , which is a closed protocol system.

Remind

With Remind, the teacher gets an account, creates a class, and sends the link to students. Students download the app and sign into the class. The beauty of Remind is that there is no need to give individual students your phone number. Remind creates a phone number for you. However, this will require that your students be able to download the app and create an account. Note: students can use only their text program to connect with you through Remind by using the unique phone number, but the program consistently asks them to download the app.

What’sApp is a program that many students use for texting their families in other countries. WhatApp allows you to set up a group, which your students can join without sharing phone numbers.  For instructions on how to do this, visit the app instructions page.  WhatsApp  allows you to send text, video, and audio messages to your students. The students will need to download the app, but many of them will already have it as it is a global text messaging app. The downside to WhatsApp is that you are posting to a whole group, so make sure your students understand this point.

The third choice is to set up a Facebook group. Facebook groups can be set up as private  to protect students’ privacy. Students do not need to be on your friend list to join your group.  For instructions on how to do this, visit this page. A Facebook group  allows you to post content, handouts, and communication with students. The only caution on using a Facebook group, is that you need to teach students how to post appropriately as the whole class will see the post.

Using the textbook in the low-tech class: beginning level

For students with no access to computers or the internet, you can use text messaging. Grab an image from your textbook. You can either use the eText feature on the Pearson  English Portal or more simply, take a picture of the page from the textbook. For example, from page 28 of Project Success, Intro level, I might text this picture to my students with these questions.

Project Success, Intro, page 28 image
  1. Is the store open from 9:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m. every day?
  2. When is the store closed?
  3. Is the store open at 8:00 a.m.?

Have students text the answers to you.  Make sure the task is simple with only 2-5 questions. 

Besides texting the answers, you can also have students use the audio feature available on the all three chat services to send you a voice message. The final wrap to this exercise would be for the students to take a walk to a store (if possible, of course) and have them take a picture of the store hours and text you the picture.

*Note: some phone services limit the size of a picture to be sent over text to 350 KB. If students are not receiving your images, just check the image size.

Using the textbook in the low-tech class: intermediate level 

Another activity you can do with texting is to text students a reading passage from the text. This reading comes from Project Success, Level 3, page 84. It is perfect for discussion with intermediate students about what is going on in their lives.

Project Success, L3, page 84 image

Send the model in a text message or if the students have the book at home, have them look at the reading. With students who have no access to technology, you can read the model into your text messenger for the students to listen. Ask them to send you 2-5 new words from the text in a message. Use those words in a text message with your students and encourage them to make their own sentences. Finally, ask them to write to you about how they are doing at home.

It may seem impossible, but you can do this for students who have little access to technology. The services all have voice, video, and texting capability. Facebook groups even enable you to have your students comment on each other’s work. Mostly, however, make sure not to overwhelm your students. Give them small chunks of instruction with lots of positive feedback. Your students need you right now. Finding out where they are at and keeping in touch with them is critical.

Teaching online with Future: tips and resources


Future, the most comprehensive adult English language program, incorporates digital tools and technologies that make online, blended, and distance learning easy.

With MyEnglishLab, digital books, and the ActiveTeach, you can easily build an online curriculum, for both synchronous and asynchronous delivery.

It all begins with the Pearson English Portal – a powerful platform that delivers Future digital resources to instructors and students, such as MyEnglishLab, new digital flip books, and the ActiveTeach. With these digital resources, you can transition your Future, course online and ensure your students have the resources they need to continue learning.

We have put together a roadmap that offers detailed suggestions on how to teach each lesson in Future in the online environment. 

You will find a few general suggestions below. To access and download the complete roadmap, click here.

General Tips for Teaching Online with Future

Online Class (Synchronous Learning)

1. Download the ActiveTeach into your computer or USB drive. Use the screensharing option using a conferencing platform such as Zoom or Google Meet to display the student book pages for all your students. The ActiveTeach offers tools to make the book pages come to life, such as zoom-in, highlight, post-it notes, as well as audio and video. Note: With Zoom, students won’t be able to hear the audio unless you check Share Computer Sound when you hit the share button.

2. Students can use their printed books or the digital flip books to follow along.

3. For extra practice, they can also use their printed workbooks. You can display pages from the workbooks during your synchronous class (workbook pages are available in the Teacher Resources in the Pearson English Portal).

4. For group discussions, use the breakout room option in Zoom to put students in groups. You can also create classes in Google Classroom where students collaborate on projects and engage in discussions.

5. For more engaging and collaborative practice, you can use additional resources available in Teacher’s Resources in the Pearson English Portal, such as Team Projects and Multilevel Communicative Activities. You can display the PDFs of these activities during your synchronous class in Zoom or Google Meet, or you can upload them into MyEnglishLab for students to access.

Independent Study (Asynchronous Learning)

1. Use MyEnglishLab to assign practice activities before and after your synchronous class. MyEnglishLab for Future includes activities for nearly every lesson in the student book, including writing and speaking.

2. Hide any course content in MyEnglishLab that you prefer students not access initially. The assessments are already hidden by default.

3. If you would like to remind students of pending assignments a day prior to your next class meeting, consider using the notes feature on the calendar.

4.  You can also upload your own materials in MyEnglishLab, such as notes and presentations under Your Settings à Manage Resources tab.

5.  You can use MyEnglishLab to send messages to students, as well as check task completion, overall and individual scores, and time on task, and grade student-generated content such as audio or writing.

6. Go to the gradebook and review the results to assess what skills individual students may need more instruction on. Use this information to target teaching areas.

7. Students can use their print workbooks to practice on their own. They can use their Pearson Practice English App to access the audio and video resources.

8. Consider having “office hours” on Google Classroom or WhatsApp chat. Make the times of the “office hours” clear so students know when they can come to you with questions and challenges

9. Assessing students: There is a number of assessments you can assign to students in MyEnglishLab. Note that they are not visible to students until assigned.

10. If you assign activities in MyEnglishLab, give students time to work through content. During this time period use the DATA tab to assess understanding, successes, and struggles. Use the DIAGNOSTIC tab to assess time on task, score by skill, time on each section, number of attempts, and individual and overall scores.

11. If you are using an LMS like Canvas or Blackboard, consider using the Discussion Board, BLOG or WIKI feature for collaborative work. On the Discussion Board, you can post any questions for the entire class to discuss. Students can also post orally. BLOGS are great to serve as a learning journal, and WIKIs make great vocabulary lists. Students can add examples to new words you post or add their own new lists.

For lesson-specific tips on teaching online with Future, click here.

Additional resources

Teaching online with Pearson digital tools

by Christina Cavage and Gosia Jaros-White

Need a PDF of this blog post? Download it here.

Need to move your face-to-face instruction online? Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get started. Think about LEARN: Language Teaching in an Engaging, Active, Resourceful eNvironment. This is what we aim to do in our face-to-face classes, so how can we replicate that in the digital world? In her webinar, Christina Cavage explores these tips and tricks to help you transition to the online environment. You can watch it here and download the webinar handout here.

Pearson English Portal: MyEnglishLab, eText, ActiveTeach

The Pearson English Portal is a powerful platform that delivers digital resources to instructors and students, such as MyEnglishLab, Pearson eTexts / digital flip books, and the ActiveTeach. With the Pearson digital resources, you can transition your course online and ensure your students have the resources they need to continue learning.

The following roadmap will help you utilize MyEnglishLab in conjunction with eTexts and ActiveTeach in your online course delivery, both synchronously and asynchronously. It illustrates:

  1. How to front load your class lessons with MyEnglish lab;
  2. How to use data from MyEnglishLab to drive synchronous instruction;
  3. How to reinforce and instruct using the eText / digital flip books and ActiveTeach;
  4. How to formally assess and support learning gaps with additional MyEnglishLab content.

If you have not accessed the Pearson English Portal or used MyEnglishLab before, you will find links to information and resources at the end of this post (Tips for Success).

Roadmap for using Pearson resources in live and asynchronous classes
Figure 1: MyEnglishLab Gradebook
eText + screensharing
Figure 2a: Teaching using the eText with screensharing
ActiveTeach + screensharing
Figure 2b: Teaching using the ActiveTeach and screensharing
Collaborative task for breakout rooms
Figure 3: Collaborative task in the eText for breakout rooms
Manage resources: add resources in MyEnglishLab
Figure 4: Manage resources — add resources in MyEnglishLab

Tips for Success

  1. Be sure you and your students are registered for the Pearson English Portal at english.com/activate.
  2. Once registered, students should use their product access code to add to their dashboards. They can find the codes in their student books. You can also obtain these codes from your Pearson ELT sales specialist.
  3. Orient students to MyEnglishLab. Consider sharing this helpful setup video with your students: Registering your access code.
  4. Set up your course. Make sure you obtain your instructor access code from your Pearson ELT sales specialist. This video will walk you through the process of creating a new course.
  5. Share your Course ID with your students. Have them join your course. This video will show students how to join your course. Share the link with them.
  6. Reach out to students who are not completing assignments via messaging in MyEnglishLab or other electronic systems. Ensure they are able to access the course.
  7. Attend webinars and other trainings to explore all functionality. You can sign up for live webinars here.
  8. Explore available resources and videos here.
live webinars
Sign up for live training webinars

Sample Lesson Planner for course that traditionally meets 4-6 hours a week face-to-face:

  1. Assign MyLab work, including instructional videos (2-3 hours of work for students).

2. Meet synchronously 1-3 hours a week, review content delivered online, asynchronously. Review key concepts in e-book, utilize collaborative tasks, and engaging activities for students to connect and practice.

3. Reinforce with MyLab assignments and assessments, 1-3 hours of student work.

Additional resources to help you move online

We have lots of helpful resources to get you going:

A series of seven videos by Dr. Ken Beatty on making online teaching and learning work. Access them here.

A presentation by Christina Cavage exploring solutions and tips for successful online teaching. Access it here.

A presentation on how the Versant Placement Test can be used to assess students securely from home. Watch it here.

A demo on how to use MyEnglishLab for anytime, anywhere learning. Watch it here.

Teaching practical vocabulary in your grammar lessons

By Stacy Hagen

Recent shifts in adult education have placed a priority on workforce and academic readiness. English language programs need to not only help learners develop English language competencies but also develop the skills they will need as they further their goals of education and better employment.

In this new educational landscape, preparing our students for college and career readiness is critical.  One thing we can do is to focus on practical vocabulary and content in our exercises.  Let me show you several examples.

Beginning students need to learn the basics of filling out forms.  In this exercise from the new edition of the Fundamentals of English Grammar, the grammar point is simple present and present progressive, but the context is completing forms.  While students are practicing the verb forms, they are also learning the language necessary for filling out forms.

Email is the number one form of communication in the workplace, but many of our students don’t use it at all.  When they get to college or start a job, it’s likely they may not know how to compose a proper message.  Here’s an exercise to introduce students to email appropriateness while practicing the verb will.  Through reading, discussion, and writing, students learn that casual language, emojis, reduced speech, to name a few, are not appropriate for academic or workplace emails.

Beginning and intermediate students need practical life-skills vocabulary; this can be easily included in sentence-level practice.  In this exercise with another/the other, the context is appliances and tools. Students practice a new grammar point while also acquiring practical vocabulary.

A traditional way to teach students how to ask for the meaning of something is by giving them an unfamiliar word.   For example, if they are at an intermediate level, we might give them the word spectacular and have them ask, “What does spectacular mean?”  Now, at some point, students will probably encounter a word like spectacular, but we could also give them content that would help them navigate their more immediate world: texting.

Helping our students become college and career ready also involves teaching them useful learning skills and strategies. Tips for how to be a better learner can be embedded into grammar lessons as illustrated by this example:

The topic of this reading is based on an interesting insight from cognitive science that shows we remember information at the beginning and the end better than information in the middle. Students tend to study in long blocks, maybe an hour, or two.  But if they study for a shorter amount of time, 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, they create a new ending and beginning.  This will help them remember information better.  

The Fundamentals of English Grammar and Understanding and Using English Grammar now have a series of blog that include study tips to help student become more successful in the academic world. Whether students are preparing for college or seeking employment, we can help them by providing practical and relevant content from the start. As these examples illustrate, this practical and relevant content can be easily embedded into any grammar lesson.


Stacy Hagen has been involved in ESL for 40 years as a teacher, administrator, teacher-trainer, and materials writer.  She has taught intensive, immigrant, refugee, high school, and MATESL students. She is the co-author of the Azar-Hagen Grammar Series, including the most recent Fifth Edition of Fundamentals of English Grammar.

Learn more about the Azar-Hagen Grammar Series here.