How Can Mediation Skills be Taught in the Classroom?

Mediation skills are a vital tool of communication both in your own language and also in the language you are learning. To communicate, we all have to take information, understand it, and then explain it to others. This sounds simple and easy, and you may ask, why do we need to teach this in our lessons? It takes a unique set of skills to be able to do this well and not to be either too dominant or unforthcoming when speaking with others, thus we need to focus on helping our students to develop this skill in class. Furthermore, it is a key assessment component in many exams, and the CEFR upon which many exams are based, breaks down the meaning of using mediation in groups and the English level to which they correspond:

Mediation scales

(Image taken from Completing the CEFR Descriptive Scheme: The CEFR Companion Volume, 2022)


What is mediation?

In simple terms, mediation means the ability to read or hear a message, understand it and then communicate it appropriately. This is more than just simple interaction, as mediation implies skills like leading a discussion, managing conflict within a group, proposing solutions, simplifying a message and so on. It requires the speaker to be aware of who they are speaking to and the context they are in to communicate successfully. The Council of Europe has broken down this concept into the image below:


(Image taken from The Council of Europe, 2020)

As you can see, these skills are not only useful for students to use at school but are the types of skills most in demand by universities and employers. They are often referred to as future skills or employability skills in teaching course books. These refer to skills that cannot be carried out successfully by technology and still rely on humans to act. It is therefore well worth working on these in class to prepare our students for the future.


Teaching mediation skills in class

Your World, the Pearson course book for teenagers, is a great example of a book that consistently incorporates teaching future skills in class, especially mediation skills. Let’s look at an example of how to teach a mediation skills lesson in class. The lesson example comes from Your World 2.

Activity 1 & 2:

Mediation activities


The aim of the activity is for the students to participate in a group discussion and make a decision.

The mediation skill in practice is to collaborate in a group, work towards a common goal and give the opportunity for everyone to contribute their opinion. If we refer back to the Council of Europe mediation levels above, this activity is aimed at students wishing to achieve a B1 level.



The activity begins with a warm-up for students to recall vocabulary regarding holidays and practice speaking interaction skills. The prepare stage helps students to understand and respond to the reading task about different styles of holidays. They are practicing their comprehension skills and learning new vocabulary. These four holiday suggestions will be used later in the mediation task.

Activity 3:

Mediation activity

The next stage is the scenario. It gives a realistic reason for students to talk together and presents some problems that they must consider when discussing. For example, it talks about what Sophie and Alex like and do not like which will also have to factor into what the students themselves like and dislike. This type of activity is by far the best kind of collaboration activity as it asks students to solve a problem together, as they would in real life. The question asks students to summarise in their own words what they have to do (which is another mediation activity: understand and summarise a text). An example answer could be: We need to agree on the best summer holiday activity for our group of friends.

Activity 4:

Mediation Activity 4 - Your World

The activity now clearly shows the students the aim of the activity. The aim is not a linguistic one – it is not ‘I will practice the present perfect’ (the course book has other grammar pages where this type of aim can be found) – but instead it is ‘ask others for their opinions, listen to their opinions and express your own opinions clearly, but respectfully.’ We obviously want students to practice their English language skills, but the focus in on how they interact in a group in order to achieve a desired outcome.

As the activity is clearly labelled as ‘mediation’ and the aims are written down in an easy-to-understand way for the students, they are very clear on how you will be assessing them as the criteria for success is clear for all. Furthermore, to help students achieve the task in English, there are some useful language expressions which students have already seen in an earlier unit in a different context, so it is an opportunity for students to practice and reinforce what they have seen before. As teachers, we can always extend the list of phrases if we feel our students need an extra challenge, and we can add in a pronunciation stage here to make sure that our students will be saying these phrases correctly.

Activity 5 and 6:

Mediation activities - Your World

Now students attempt the task. An example of a successful group task would look like this:

An example of a task that has areas to improve for next time would look like this:


Monitor students carefully as they do the task. Write down any errors they make, both mediation errors (e.g. if they laughed at a student’s idea and it was not very respectful) and also linguistic errors, such as pronunciation or grammar, but also make a note of things they did well. You will use these notes later.

Ask students to self-reflect in stage 6, which can help them to understand the feedback from you better. Students being able to recognize their own strengths and areas to improve on helps them to become more autonomous learners. Also, invite thew whole class to comment on what the group finally chose, as each group is likely to have chosen something different. Finally, you can put the positive feedback and areas to improve that you wrote down while students were completing the task on the board for whole class feedback. You can then let each group know what score they received for the task (this can be done privately or whole class depending on how you would like to give the feedback) and future recommendations.


These types of tasks may seem very familiar to you already – setting a context for speaking, then monitoring and giving feedback. However, most teachers are still focusing on language errors during these activities. When practicing future skills such as mediation, please bear in mind that you need to be helping the students to develop other skills, and looking at the CEFR descriptors will help you when designing activities, modifying activities in your course book and then assessing them correctly. This will help students at school, during exams where they have a collaboration section that is assessed, and also in the future at university or at work.

The challenge of developing mediation tasks for our students

For our second post on mediation we spoke to Ángel Briones, a teacher at EOI Embajadores in Madrid.  Over the past year Ángel has been writing materials to both teach and assess his students around mediation.  He is currently working for Pearson to design extension mediation activities to accompany our new general adult course book, Roadmap.  Here’s what he had to tell us about some of the things that need to be taken into account when writing mediation tasks.

Question: Angel, you have been involved in writing teaching and assessment activities around mediation for your students.  What are the biggest challenges in your view?

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A crash course on mediation

The buzz word around the Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas (EOIs) in Spain this year is mediation and the importance of teachers at these centres getting to grips with the concept cannot be stressed enough.  In a series of three blog posts we will be taking a look at some of the key issues surrounding this topic.

For our first article we reached out to Manuel del Rio and Francisco J. Pose, two of the teachers who provide teacher training at the EOI in Santiago de Compostela.  Among the courses the EOI will be offering as part of their summer training programme for teachers is one led by Manuel and Francisco on linguistic mediation.  We had a few questions on mediation and we figured getting in touch with them would be a good place to start to get some clear answers.   Here’s what they had to tell us:

Question: Let’s start with the elephant in the room: What is the big deal with mediation?  Is it really all that important in our daily lives?

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