Pathways, Second Edition: Our Approach to Content

Executive Editor Sean Bermingham uses an example from Pathways, Second Edition to demonstrate how we create materials for learners of English from authentic sources, such as National Geographic.



At National Geographic Learning, we produce dozens of series for English learners. But if I had to pick one example that really shows our approach to content, it would be from our series called Pathways.

The unit is called Life in a Day. Now, a lot of course books cover daily life. It's something students can easily relate to and a good way to start the first lesson. But often it's done in a way that's not very interesting. I get up, I have breakfast, I go to school, and so on.

So we wanted to take a different approach. Rather than stories about made up people, we worked with National Geographic to find real people. Explorers in different fields. A filmmaker, a researcher, a scientist. And we asked them to describe their daily life and then adapted the language so that it was accessible.

And then we thought, well let's go beyond that. Let’s look at everyday life on a global scale. What do people do around the world on a single day? There are differences across cultures of course, but often it's the similarities that are more interesting, and that can help learners relate to other parts of the world.

The unit video, for example, is about a school in Philadelphia that uses video to connect with students in other countries. Kazakhstan. France. Nigeria. That way they can see the world from different perspectives.

[audio from video clip:]

“My name is Orazalina Anel. My name is Smagulova Anel.”

“Today we want to show you how we shop.”

“As you can see down in North Philly, it's Fall. The leaves are red, brown, green.”

“We love winter and also love to play snowballs.”


They find that there are so many similarities. They're more connected and more alike than they are separate. It's an exchange of possibilities.

[audio from video clip:]

“Is there graffiti in Kazakhstan?”

“What are your activities in Africa?”

“Do you like living in Nigeria?”

“Are your foods spicy or sweet?”

“Are there rich people there?”

The video is called the global conversation, and that's also a good description of our own learning materials. Our goal is to help learners develop the confidence to express themselves in English so they can share their ideas and experiences about things that matter to them. Things that affect their lives. Then, using English, they can really be part of this global conversation.

[audio from video clip:]

“Hi, I am Monesjia. This is my partner Lulu. Today we're going to take Kazakhstan on our journey. Let's get started.”

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