Pearson Learning Pathways

Preparing students in 4a and 5a Primaria for International Certification with Pearson Test of English Young Learners during Curriculum Hours


Preparare gli alunni di classe quarta e quinta della Scuola primaria per il Pearson Test of English durante le ore curricolari si può! Ma che cos’è esattamente il PTE Young Learners, come funziona e quando possono farlo i bambini? Tutte le indicazioni utili nell'articolo.

di Donatella Fitzgerald

On 6th October 2018, over 200 teachers attended the Pearson Test of English Young Learners launch at the Hard Rock Café in Rome. Donatella Fitzgerald, ELT Sales Manager, and Brigette Hughes, Assessment Manager, presented ‘Pearson Learning Pathways’: a new exciting project for Italian State Schools where teachers in 4a and 5a Primaria can prepare students for the Pearson Test of English Young Learners during curriculum hours giving students the opportunity to leave Scuola primaria with a world-recognized English Language qualification – the first step on their lifelong learning journey.
One of the participants at the launch at the Hard Rock Café, Anne McGowan from Tor Vergata University in Rome, said ‘A good time was had all round! The atmosphere was really positive, very upbeat and productive.’

What is the Pearson Test of English Young Learners?

Pearson Test of English Young Learners (PTE Young Learners) is designed to be interesting and fun for children aged between 6 and 13 years old, and aims to make the first experience of learning English memorable and motivating. The tests focus on everyday English and are aligned to a level of the Common European Framework of Reference: Pre A1 Firstwords, A1 Springboard, A1+ Quickmarch and A2 Breakthrough.
On completion of the test students are awarded with a certificate by Edexcel, the largest regulated examining body for academic qualifications in the United Kingdom.

What skills are the children tested on?

Children are tested on all four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking skills to show how well they can use English in realistic contexts.

How long do the Firstwords and Springboard tests take?

The test is in two parts. Part One: Listening, Reading and Writing (60 minutes) and Part two: Speaking (20 minutes – approximately 4 minutes per student) where students are with the examiner and four other test takers.
Ask your local Pearson representative for the Firstwords and Springboard guides.

What is the structure of the tests?

Part One

Listening: two listening tasks which involve picture matching and multiple choice comprehension or answering questions about a conversation. These assess the students’ understanding of familiar functional language.
Reading and Writing: four tasks which include picture matching to vocabulary, multiple choice dialogue completion, gap fill exercises and the use of grammar and vocabulary in a familiar context.

Part Two

Speaking: a group of five test takers interact with the examiner. The first section of this test is a board game, where each student takes turns to ask and answer short questions about themselves on a familiar topic such as school and their family. In the second section the students speak for about a minute on a topic and also ask and answer questions. The speaking test assesses the students’ ability to structure responses to themes they know and also tests their range of vocabulary and awareness of pronunciation patterns and sounds.

Are the tests recognised by the Ministry of Education in Italy?

Pearson Edexcel Qualifications are recognised by the Ministry of Education in Italy. PTE Young Learners is provided by Edexcel Limited, the largest awarding body for academic and vocational qualifications in the UK, so you can be sure that you are showing your students’ progress in an objective, international environment.

Which test can I prepare my students for in Scuola primaria?

Students can begin preparing for Firstwords (pre A1) in 4a Elementare or 5a (if this is their first International Qualification) or Springboard (A1) in 5a.

Why should my students take the test? Will it help them with INVALSI?

Preparing students for the Pearson Test of English Young Learners can also be a way of preparing students for the INVALSI English Test. Some of the exam tasks and topics are similar and the focus on listening and reading skills can help with INVALSI practice. The test aims to give students a memorable first experience of learning English. The test focuses on real life everyday situations and helps them put into practice what they learn.
International qualifications are important Life Skills and provide students with better opportunities in Life’ Vanessa Hartson Walker from Kids Can, Pearson Test of English Centre, Rome.

Key Features of the Pearson Test of English Young Learners (PTEYL)

Realistic Contexts and Scenario-based Tests

Children are tested on their ability to use structures and functions in realistic contexts. PTE Young Learners uses real-life every day situation scenarios rather than grammatical exercises, which means students are measured on real practical English and the exam reflects real life situations, which students can relate to and this makes it easier for the students to perform well.

Familiar Content and Fun Characters

The tests are set in the context of the adventures and every day activities of the Brown Family. Children become familiar with the characters and events, which means that when they take the test they know the names of the characters and are familiar with their surroundings and so the test experience is comfortable and highly engaging, ensuring the students have the confidence to perform well.

Enjoyable activities

The format of the test is enjoyable. The spoken part consists of a board game played with a group of other test takers. Students have fun throwing the dice, moving a counter around the board and asking and answering questions.
You can download the Firstwords and Springboard boardgames at this link.

Integrated Skills

PTE Young Learners integrates the four skills, which is important as when communicating in English, students are often required to combine several language skills to perform a task.

How can I prepare my Students for Firstwords or Springboard?

Most of the vocabulary topics and grammar items in the Firstwords and Springboard tests are already being taught in your course book. Pearson also publishes the Pearson Test of English Young Learners – Top Tips and Practice for Firstwords and Springboard, which ensures the students are prepared for all exam tasks and grammar and vocabulary which they will find in the exam. Students have access to all of the audio through the Pearson MYAPP this means they can listen to the audio at home on a mobile phone or tablet. Pearson offers teacher training in Italy for teachers to support them preparing students in curriculum hours. Teachers can also download official past papers with audio, transcripts and answer keys for all levels free of charge on
Correlation charts for Top Secret, Our Discovery Island and Go On! are available from your local Pearson representative.

How does the Pearson English Pathways project work?

You can present the PTOF

Present the project to your school and to the parents in 4a and/or in 5a. Then you can begin preparing the students during curriculum hours. The guide to the Pearson Young Learners Tests Firstwords and Springboard will help you know what the syllabus for the exam is and the text book correlation charts will help guide you too. The students can be prepared by using the book Top Tips and Practice for Firstwords and Springboard. An Authorized Pearson English Test Centre will organize the exams for you.

What do the parents say?

Parents are generally very enthusiastic about the project. Suor Adancilla, the Head teacher at the Pearson Test of English Preparation Centre – Ist ‘SS Vergine’, via Cassia, Rome, says ‘parents are very happy to have their children prepared for English International Certification during curriculum hours so they have more time in the afternoon to dedicate to other activities.’

Test Results

All students receive a certificate with stars on it. The number of stars depends on how they have scored in the test as a whole. This is very motivating for students as they all receive recognition for their efforts.

When can my students take the test?

There are exam sittings in May, June and November. Many teachers in Scuola primaria are choosing mid-May after the INVALSI English Test.

Where can my students take the test?

Students can take the test in the familiar environment of their own school and authorized Pearson Test Centres will send examiners and invigilators to run the exam session. For further information please contact your local Pearson Educational Consultant.

How can I get more information?

Please go to the website or your local Pearson Educational Consultant or local Pearson Agent.
The final word goes to Maestra Isabella Alessandra Pannoncini, IC Bruno de Finetti, Roma who has joined the Pearson Learning Pathways project and is beginning to prepare her 5th year classes for the test.

Pearson Test of English... of Course!

'Sono un’insegnante di Scuola primaria e nel corso di questo anno scolastico ho scelto di preparare gli alunni delle classi quinte alla certificazione Firstwords e Springboard del PTE. Imparare l’inglese sin da piccoli è molto importante e sicuramente più facile che in età adulta, ma ritengo che la difficoltà sia farlo capire ai bambini. Proprio per questo dare ai bambini un obiettivo a breve termine, ovvero quello di ottenere una certificazione al termine di un test, cosituisce una motivazione concreta e fondamentale per ottenere risultati positivi. Inoltre, quello che i ragazzi riceveranno al termine del percorso e dell’esame è una vera e propria certificazione internazionale anziché un semplice attestato di partecipazione che li aiuterà a sviluppare le loro competenze trasversali.'

So… what are you waiting for? Find out more about the Pearson English Pathways project and give your students the opportunity to leave Scuola primaria with an International Qualification in English!


Donatella Fitzgerald is an author, teacher and teacher trainer. She is a founder of the Amazing Readers Extensive Reading Project (Pearson). Her special interest areas are Young Learners, Assessment, CLIL, Extensive Reading and Special Educational Needs. She is currently ELT Sales manager at Pearson and she works closely with teachers and students in Italy every day.