Thursday 15 June 2017


The English language teaching sector received the red carpet treatment at its annual gala the ELTons Innovation Awards Ceremony.

Promoting sustainable development, peace and harnessing technology, from online language analysis to talking pens, were among the range of products and ideas that won awards.

Welcoming guests, lexographer and star of Channel 4’s Countdown Susie Dent said: “We care about language and we care about English, we’re passionate about English.”

“I’ve never stopped marvelling at its versatility, its beauty and its occasional annoyances,” she added.

The annual awards, run by the British Council in collaboration with Cambridge English Language Assessment, are the only international awards to recognise innovation in English Language Teaching (ELT) globally and are recognised as the most prestigious awards in the multi-billion pound global sector.

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 Professor Ronald Carter.

The awards, now in their fifteenth year, were streamed online on the British Council’s English Agenda site and for the first time were broadcast live on Facebook attracting an audience of 60,000 people.

More than 300 guests were present at the event which for the first time was held at Altitude 360 in Millbank Tower in London.

The 26 finalists, chosen from 115 applicants, were interviewed by teacher and writer Callie Massey and the manager of the British Council’s TeachEnglish website Paul Braddock at the start of the ceremony.

The judging process is carried out rigorously through three rounds on an individual scoring basis, meaning that even the judges, chosen for their expertise in the English language learning sector, learned the results during the ceremony. 

Applications for the ELTons are open from September until November, with finalists announced in March.

Anna Searle, Director English Language at British Council said: “What’s remarkable is the sheer range of innovations created for a diverse range of English language learners and teachers in different contexts around the world.

“The British Council ELTons Innovation Awards present authoritative, exceedingly useful and genuinely engaging innovation, addressing real and immediate needs for English language teachers and learners.

“We encourage all practitioners, professionals and would-be innovators to take inspiration and find new, practical tools and resources for the classroom from this year’s ELTons winners and finalists.”

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council thanked those in the sector “for the difference you make to the world.”

“It’s the impact that all of you have that is truly important,” he said.


Winners of the British Council ELTons Awards for Innovation in English language teaching 2017


The Award for Excellence in Course Innovation - Innovation in complete course packages in any, or a variety of media - books, websites, apps, audio, video, teachers’ books.

Winner: Students for Peace by Richmond

A four-level ELT series for lower secondary education. The series is based on the concept that educating for peace is educating people to be able to listen to others, to accept different points of view and to respect diversity. 


The Award for Local Innovation in partnership with Cambridge English Language Assessment - Learner or teacher solutions developed at a local, national or regional level to meet a specific local need and within a specific local context.

Winner: Hausa-to-English Talking Book 1 by Dr Bilkisu Yusuf Hassan, Prof. AH Amfani, Mallam Mohammed Awwal Umar, Lucy Bella Earl and Mavis Computel Limited

An interactive audiovisual book that works with the Mavis digital pen to provide English learning at an affordable cost. It can be anywhere and does not depend on the internet. A user turns on the Mavis Pen™ and taps on the pages (texts or images) of the specially printed digital paper books to receive English tuition via instruction in their native language.


The Award for Innovation in Learner Resources - Innovation in any product or service across any media intended for English language learners.

Winner: Develop EAP: A Sustainable Academic English Skills Course by Averil Bolster and Peter Levrai

A course designed for university students based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus on the SDGs encourages students to consider their role as responsible 21st global citizens.


The Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources - Innovation in a product or service aimed at developing and supporting English language teachers.

Winner: Tigtag CLIL by Keith Kelly, Keith Halstead, John Clegg, Alison McNulty, Aleksandra Zaparucha, Patricia Betts, Sabine Citron and Twig World

Tigtag CLIL provides 800 films with practical ideas and resources to inspire and engage the next generation of global scientists, from the Big Bang to chimpanzees and tools. It supports teachers of science and geography in English at primary level using the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach.


The Award for Digital Innovation - Innovation in a digital product or service that enhances learning through the innovative use of technology.

Winner: by Stephen Bax with Versantus IT Services and Web Design

An online tool for analysing texts. Users copy and paste any English text into the web page and Text Inspector gives an instant score for the text’s vocabulary on a wide range of metrics, benchmarked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).


The ELTRAs: English Language Teaching Research Awards - Recognition of the institutions and researchers making original contributions to advancing innovation through research. 

Queen’s University Belfast: Digital Data-Driven Learning and Teaching: Making best use of corpora for English Language Teaching - Dr Aisling O’Boyle, Lecturer in Education 

Northumbria University: English language education and migration: implications for secondary level students who have English as an additional Language - Dr Graham Hall, Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and TESOL 

University of Glasgow: Establishing and sustaining pre-sessional student partnerships across borders - Anna Rolinska, Lecturer at the English for Academic Study Unit


Master’s Dissertation with Best Potential for Impact in ELT Award

Jason Anderson – King’s College London under the supervision of Dr Martin Dewey, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics

A qualitative study into the role of initial teacher training courses in the professional development of experienced non-native speaker teachers of English.


The Lifetime Achievement Award - Now in its seventh year, this award recognises an English language teaching professional who has made a substantial contribution to the field of language learning and teaching throughout their career.

Winner: Professor Ronald Carter, accepted on his behalf by Professor Chris Kennedy.

Notes to Editor

Photos of winners, speakers and the ceremony are available to download, please credit David Lake Photography if used: 

About the ELTons

The ELTons (British Council Innovation Awards) are offered to outstanding new language learning products and services, and aspiring ELT authors, that use innovative ideas to help learners achieve their goals, or to innovative research which has clear practical benefits for English language teaching.

For more information contact Peter Hawkins on or +44 (0)207 3893061, +44 (0)7771 718135 or out-of-hours +44 (0)7469 375160

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.