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The Beatles and Harry Potter Inspire English Language Learning

From Pearson English --

It's January - the perfect time to start a new challenge. And for nearly a third of people that challenge is to learn a new language. But what is the motivation? Whilst for some it is about gaining business advantage, for others it is being able to sing the words to their favourite song or understand their favourite film. Today Pearson, the world's leading learning company, has published research which shows that The Beatles and the Harry Potter film series have been voted as the most popular sources of culture that help people learn the English language, fighting off competition from the likes of Justin Timberlake, One Direction, Madonna and Adele, and TV series House of Cards[1] .

The research - commissioned by Pearson English, the English language learning division of Pearson - surveyed over 6,000 English language learners from 12 countries to understand more about why and how they choose to learn English as a second language. Whilst the key driver for many was to make travelling abroad easier (56%), over 50% are motivated to learn English to improve their career prospects, and with 82% of respondents stating that English should be the official language of business it is easy to see why. The results reflect a recent LinkedIn[2] survey in which 80% of global businesses agreed that individuals who are able to speak good English are more likely to succeed in their business.

There is a clear demand to master the English language for both personal and professional reasons; and to help individuals understand their proficiency, Pearson English has developed the Global Scale of English (GSE) - the world's first truly global standard for recognising and quantifying the level of an individual's English. The GSE will allow people across the world to clearly benchmark their English ability, whether they are learning the language to understand the lyrics to a Lady Gaga track or trying to secure their next big career move.

Perhaps not surprisingly the research showed that those surveyed believe that William Shakespeare (42%) has demonstrated the best mastery of the English language. Perhaps more surprising is their choice of celebrity English teacher - whilst you might think the majority might like to take lessons with royals, William and Kate, it is in fact the billionaire Microsoft boss, Bill Gates, who wins out with 19% of the vote, narrowly beating his fellow countryman Barack Obama (14%). And who is it that these learners are looking to for inspiration? Well it seems that Canadian songstress, Celine Dion, is the non-native English speaker who has gone on to achieve most success through learning English, according to 27% of respondents, just ahead of Colombian diva, Shakira (25%).

'Thank you' is the most useful English word cited by respondents, and showing that we are all romantics at heart 'love' is the favourite English word.

Visit  for more information on the Global Scale of English or

About the Global Scale of English: 

The Global Scale of English means English language proficiency no longer needs to be measured in vague terms like basic, intermediate or advanced. It enables English learners to accurately score and communicate their English language skills and progress on a granular, numeric scale from 10-90 providing a far more precise measurement of the learner's ability than any existing methods which tend to categorise in broad bands. It is rooted in real life so that learners can clearly see what they can achieve at every level, for example, if you score 29 on the scale, you are able to identify and order very common food and drink from a menu; at 62, you can write a structured review of a film, book or play; at 74 you can extract the main points from news items with opinions, arguments and discussion.

About Pearson: 

Pearson is the world's leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning.

Pearson English is a division of Pearson and more than 1.5 million teachers and 35 million students use our English language learning resources and tools each year. We offer dynamic and effective learning solutions to individuals, institutions and corporations in over 150 countries.

Our key businesses include: Wall Street English (centre based learning for consumers); Pearson English Business Solutions (online business English learning solutions formerly known as GlobalEnglish) and ELT (institutional English language publications including brands such as Longman). In 2013, Pearson announced a strategic investment in English language learning platform Voxy and acquired Grupo Multi, the leading adult English Language Training company in Brazil.

In 2014 Pearson English released the Global Scale of English, the world's first common, global benchmark of English language learning. It measures English language progress on a numeric scale in a way that is consistent, granular and actionable for governments, corporates, academics, institutions and learners. The Scale has been created as an Open Standard for English that meets a global need.


1. Best female artist to help you learn English - top four: Adele (23%), Madonna (22%), Katy Perry (13%) and Beyoncé (12%)

   Best male artist to help you learn English - top four: Justin Timberlake (28%), Bono (18%), Justin Bieber (15%) and David Guetta (11%)

   Best band to help you learn English - top four: The Beatles (48%), U2 (12%), One Direction (10%) and Nirvana (10%)

   Best movie to help you learn English - top four: Harry Potter (36%), The Lord of the Rings (20%), Star Wars (14%) and X Men (14%)

   Best TV programme to help you learn English - top four: House of Cards (24%), Breaking Bad (19%), Downton Abbey (16%) and Mad Men (14%)

2. LinkedIn research for Pearson English, May 2014


Harry Potter expansion for Warner Bros Studio Tour UK?

The Warner Bros Studio Tour in the UK has been putting out teasers on social media this week, hinting at a possible expansion for The Making of Harry Potter. The tour currently houses two soundstages and a backlot featuring sets for The Great Hall, Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore's Office, Diagon Alley and Privet Drive, as well as props and costumes.

Engorgio tweet from The Making of Harry Potter

Our best guess is it'll be the Hogwarts Express. Nothing as elaborate, of course, as the moving train at Universal Studios Resort in Orlando - that would've been spotted for sure by now. But perhaps there'll be a Platform 9 3/4 set with train cars that guests can board and walk through. Maybe there'll even be a food trolley cart - or the actual compartment used during filming, where the Harry, Ron and Hermione sat. Or nargles and dementors and Death Eaters, oh my.

An official announcement is expected on Monday, Jan. 26.




Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:12 )

Scholastic Releases Exclusive Images from Upcoming Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

From Scholastic --

Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, today released four exclusive new images from the eagerly anticipated fully illustrated edition of J.K. Rowling's bestselling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Bloomsbury UK also revealed the images simultaneously.

Illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Jim Kay, the images show four major characters from the Harry Potter books – Rubeus Hagrid, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley –and are available for download at (credit: Illustrations by Jim Kay © 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.).

Published globally on October 6, 2015, the deluxe hardcover edition, to be published globally on October 6, 2015, will be full color throughout and will include an elegant ribbon marker and illustrated endpapers. This will be the first time that a fully illustrated Harry Potter book has been published. Many of the original Harry Potter publishers around the globe will be joining the US and the UK in bringing this illustrated edition to life - and it is set to be the landmark publishing event of 2015.

"To be given the opportunity to design the characters, the clothing, the architecture and landscapes to possibly the most expansive fantasy world in children's literature, well let's just say I'm extremely excited about it," said Kay. "The story is everything, and so I want to bring what I can to really show the depth of Rowling's stories, to their best."

Over 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold worldwide and the series continues to appear on bestseller lists in the U.S. Scholastic plans to publish fully illustrated editions – one per year - of each of the seven Harry Potter books.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter animal actors return in February

From Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter --

This half-term, visitors to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will get the chance to meet the animal actors who starred in the most successful film series of all time. From Friday 13th to Wednesday 25th February, a selection of animals will team up with their trainers to showcase their acting skills and take part in live training demonstrations.

A menagerie of owls, cats and a toad will return to the incredible sets they ‘acted’ on during production; led by Head Animal Trainer Julie Tottman, who helped create the performances of more than 250 live creatures throughout all eight Harry Potter films.

Visitors to the Gryffindor common room set will find it occupied by a Red Persian cat that played Hermione Granger’s bandy-legged feline Crookshanks. He will be joined by a Maine Coon cat that portrayed Filch’s partner-in-crime Mrs Norris and the 14-year-old toad that played Neville Longbottom’s pet Trevor.

Outside Privet Drive, visitors will be able to pose for a picture with a Snowy Owl that played Harry Potter’s loyal companion and post-delivering bird Hedwig. Animal Trainers will hold flight demonstrations throughout the day on the Studio Tour’s backlot, showcasing the techniques they used during filming.

A parliament of performing owls will be stationed on the wizarding shopping street set, Diagon Alley, including the Great Grey Owl that played the Weasley family bird Errol and the tiny Little Owl that portrayed Ron’s companion Pigwidgeon.

Feathered and furry facts:

• Although owls are generally considered to be wise, they are, in fact, notoriously difficult to train and can take up to three months to learn what a raven can master in a week.

• The scene which required the largest number of birds to ‘act’ was the owlery scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Trainers took on the difficult task of teaching almost 80 owls to hoot, fly and sit still at the same time.

• Initial groundwork for animal training takes about three to five weeks; when a script first arrived, the Animal Department would begin fundamental training, develop questions and ideas about how the scenes would be shot and then work with the director to finalise training plans.

• Crackerjack, one of the cats that played Crookshanks, became very good friends with one of the rats that played Scabbers. In fact, he would often chase the rat around the sets even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

• Animals appeared in the Harry Potter film series in some unexpected places. Themed breakfast cereals, including Lunfrey’s Cheeri Owls and Honeydukes’ Pixie Puffs, were created especially for the films by graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.


Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D poster 

Review by Darrin

Flash Review: The more you're into Leonardo da Vinci, the more you'll enjoy this movie. It starts out slowly, but let it wash over you. There's some real insight into the artist to be gained here.

As the movie opens, Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D (from Submarine Deluxe and History Films) sets a deliberately measured pace. The almost lethargic pan and zoom motion, coupled with some exceptionally ultra-slow motion filming, feel almost physical in their effort to force viewers to shake off their text-messaging, Internet-surfing workaday pace and re-tune to a more contemplative tempo, appropriate for a late 15th- to early 16th-century lifestyle. This is not an action film - it's an exploration of one of the most unique and inventive minds in history. 

Co-writer/director Julian Jones uses da Vinci's original journal entries and drawings to provide deeper insight into the artist's life and talents. With Peter Capaldi's superb acting skills breathing life into da Vinci's written words, we're given compelling insight into da Vinci's thoughts and emotions, and the passions that drove his work.

Beautiful visuals - almost certainly enhanced by 3D viewing - supported by Capaldi's masterful portrayal and an outstanding score from Akido, transform this film into an 80-minute journey into history that's well worth taking.

My final take (Full Price vs Matinee vs Wait & Rent vs Skip It): Full Price. Slow down and enjoy something that will stimulate your mind more than your ear drums for a change. 

Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D is now open in theaters in Los Angeles and New York, with a wider release to follow. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 December 2014 17:59 )
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