Top talent from across the English language teaching sector toasted their success last night at the ELTons Innovation Awards.
The ceremony gathered finalists from around the world and highlighted how innovation in the sector is increasingly digital-led, with winners ranging from an epic adventure game set on an uncharted planet to slow-motion videos guiding learners’ pronunciation.
The annual celebration of the very best innovation in English language teaching was hosted by lexicographer and star of Channel 4’s Countdown Susie Dent.
The ELTons Awards for innovation in English language teaching are the British Council’s international awards. Over the past sixteen years, they have celebrated the original courses, publications, projects, apps, and platforms finding new ways to meet the needs of English language learners and teachers around the world.
The ELTons are also an occasion to recognise those who have made a lasting impact on the English language teaching profession, through the Lifetime Achievement Award which this year was awarded to Tessa Woodward, founder of The Teacher Training Journal and of The Fair List, promoting gender balance among speakers at conference and events.
More than 300 guests attended the awards, now in their 16th year. The ceremony was held at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London and was also streamed online on the British Council’s English Agenda site.
The 28 finalists, chosen from 110 applicants, were shortlisted after a rigorous and independent judging process led by experts in the ELT sector.
Applications for the ELTons are open from September until November, with finalists announced in March.
Mark Robson, Director English & Exams at the British Council, said: “The ELTons celebrate the very best in English language teaching and with over 100 entries - spanning 33 countries and six continents - this year’s awards showcase how innovation in the sector is truly global.
“Every year we see the increasing convergence of digital technologies and media across the awards. This year’s finalists are no exception to this trend and reaffirm how advances in the sector are being driven by digital innovation, with gamification, social media apps, podcasts and mobile learning increasingly coming to the fore. While many entries have a blended approach combining traditional forms of teaching with digital media, over half are completely digital. This year’s submissions highlight personalisation as another emerging theme with platforms increasingly tailored to meet teachers’ and learners’ specific needs.”
Winners of the British Council ELTons Innovation Awards 2018
The Award for Digital Innovation
Use of digital technology or media – cutting edge technologies, or original use of existing technology – to benefit high-quality English language learning.
Winner: Learn Languages with Ruby Rei - Wibbu
A language-learning adventure game to be used in classrooms. Students join Ruby as she crash-lands on a forgotten planet at the edge of the universe. Embarking on an education epic to save her friends and return home, Ruby must negotiate, collaborate, empathise, and build relationships.
The Award for Local Innovation in partnership with Cambridge Assessment English
Resources or projects innovating to meet specific, local needs, within local, national or regional contexts around the world.
Winner: EAL Assessment Framework for Schools - The Bell Foundation, King’s College London, Cambridge University (Cambridge University Technical Services Limited)
Provides teachers with an academically robust, curriculum-based, easy-to-use framework for assessing pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL). It enables teachers within primary and secondary settings to effectively report English language proficiency of EAL learners to the Department for Education and gives practical strategies on how best to support and track progression.
The Award for Excellence in Course Innovation
Courses using a variety of content, formats or media, to help learners achieve stretching levels of English language proficiency.
Winner: Get Set, Go! Phonics, Oxford University Press
This course takes a new approach to developing pre-school children’s phonological awareness and phonics knowledge. Important phonics skills are systematically acquired using the ‘Oxford 5 Steps towards Successful Phonics Learning’, developed specifically for the series. Stories, chants, songs and games are used to build phonics skills, while nurturing learners’ confidence in skills essential for English language learning. The series also fully supports home learning.
The Award for Innovation in Learner Resources
Services, activities, materials or works using innovative means to improve English language learners’ proficiency in vocabulary, grammar, fluency, receptive and productive skills, or vital language skills for study, work and everyday communication.
Winner: Tim's Pronunciation Workshop, BBC Learning English
This series of 30 short, entertaining online videos helps English learners of all nationalities to improve their pronunciation by highlighting and raising awareness of features of connected speech. Each episode explores a specific feature of pronunciation, such as elision, assimilation, weak forms and more via a range of digital techniques including slow-motion, text-on-screen and native speaker vox-pops.
The Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources
Resources supporting English language teaching professionals, whether through teacher training, education, or Continuing Professional Development.
Winner: PronPack 1-4, Mark Hancock
This is a set of four teacher resource books with an accompanying website. Each book takes a different approach to teaching English pronunciation, from workouts to puzzles, pairwork and poems. The books are available as print books or e-books and contain printable worksheets plus teacher’s notes. The website contains downloadable audio files as well as image files of the worksheets, sound charts and slides for presenting the pronunciation points.
The Lifetime Achievement Award
This award honours members of the international English language teaching community who have made a significant contribution to English language teaching, with a lasting impact on fellow professionals around the world.
Nominations come from a panel of judges from across diverse areas of English language teaching, as well as from an open call to the global English language teaching community.
Winner: Tessa Woodward
Tessa is a remarkable influence on a generation of educators through her ground-breaking work and publications in teacher training. Tessa is renowned for keeping teaching professionals at the heart of English language education and for promoting equality, in her work as IATEFL Past President (2005-6) and advisory council member, as founder of the Teacher Training Journal (now in its 31st year) and as one of the founders of The Fair List, an organisation promoting gender balance in UK events.