WP Meet A Sponsor Pearson

Peer Barber-Meyer


Company Profile

Pearson English

At Pearson, our purpose is simple: to add life to a lifetime of learning.

We are Pearson English, part of the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology.

For us, learning is not just what we do. It is who we are. 

As a Platinum Sponsor during our second online conference in 2021, Pearson offered a showcase in our virtual Exhibition Room. What was your experience with this online format? Which advantages did you find?

We found that the online delivery of the event was an excellent alternative in the circumstances. During our interactions, we saw reflection of a positive experience, especially regarding the possibilities to explore digital resources at a time when digital transformation is such an important topic.

We loved the improved accessibility to the conference and the wide diversity of topics explored. We also saw the wider reach this year as we connected with delegates from Brazil, Uruguay and Taiwan. This would probably not have been possible at an in-person event!

The high level of participation and engagement of the delegates from this global audience demonstrated to us that it is the people taking part who are at the heart of any IATEFL BESIG conference. It doesn’t matter whether it is an in person or online event. This year, all our expectations were exceeded. We can’t wait to be involved in the 36th conference in 2022 - in whatever form that may be.

The launch of your new Versant Professional English Test at our annual IATEFL BESIG conference in 2021 was a huge success. What can you tell us about the Versant Professional English Test?

We were excited too about the level of interest we experienced on the launch of this innovative mid-stakes professional assessment.

The Versant Professional English Test (VPET) from Pearson English is a computer-based 60-minute comprehensive proficiency test that measures an individual’s speaking, listening, reading and writing skills and ability to communicate in the workplace. The test can be used for evaluation and certification of a learner’s ability to use business English in context. With questions based on real-life workplace scenarios, you can be confident that learners will be ready for an international working environment.

The purely digital basis of this test raised some interesting discussions about artificial intelligence and automated scoring in the workshop. We demonstrated how the test delivers fast, accurate, reliable and unbiased results. providing learners with the confidence to take the next step in their professional journey.

How is the new test useful for business English teachers?

Recent feedback shows how useful teachers found the test. Administration is easy, providing a fast turnaround time and reliable, unbiased and accurate data with the added benefits of in-depth score reporting and certification. The reduced workload associated with assessing students with Versant Professional English Test (VPET) helps business teachers concentrate on what they do best – teach.

Here is what one university recently said about their experience of using the VPET tests:

“(The VPET test) is impressive due to the use of the latest didactic methodology and artificial intelligence. The acquired certificate appeals to the employment sector."

A second university uses a Versant test too as a baseline for DAAD certification:

“At UR, the VEPT [Versant English Placement Test] is accepted for demonstrating English proficiency as part of the application process for specific mobility programs. This [DAAD certificate] will be issued to applicants on the basis of the VEPT result by the International Office of the UR.”

Find out how you can use our tests at your institution - book an appointment with us directly:

https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/[email protected]/bookings/

How can assessment support the learning process?

As Jeremy Harmer puts it: “It [assessment] helps the students to understand what they can and can’t do, and by doing this, helps them to move forward and see clearly what they need to do next.”  Formative assessment informs both students and teachers of that learning process in relation to the goals that have been set, thus predicts the future, as in how much time it will take to reach the next step or level, and whether that matches expectations etc. At the same time, summative assessment with certification gives the learner confidence to reach their career or life goals. English is still growing in relevance as a key skill, and we are experiencing an increasing interest in assessment tools for learners, teachers, organisations, and governments. At the same time, we provide mature technology to ensure that these tools give reliable and valid results. Used correctly, these assessment tools can be hugely motivating as they make learning visible.

How do you see your role as a publisher? Which part of the learning process do you feel responsible for?

As an educational company, publishing content for learners and teachers, whether that is in digital format or print, is just one part of the learning ecosystem we offer. Other parts, as mentioned above, involve making progress visible through assessment. The Pearson Global Scale of English (GSE) underpins everything we develop and adds transparency to that progress. Naturally, this leads us to offering certification and qualifications as well, whether that is to prove an individual’s employability or enable student mobility. In that sense, as we feel responsible for the entire learning journey.

Apart from coursebooks, what resources do you offer for language teachers?

Sometimes, coursebooks are the most visible and tangible of our products but we offer fully supported digital teaching tools on our platforms as well, the majority of which are free of charge. In addition, we provide professional development, making sure teachers get the most out of these resources and we also share our knowledge of, and insights into, trends in teaching and learning. Naturally, our portfolio includes hands-on and unbureaucratic technical support for learners, teachers and administrators. We also offer five-star, personal service and are easily reachable - something teachers have always appreciated very much.

Questions by Silke Riegler

Editing by Mandy Welfare

7 April 2022