By Cerys Wright, English & Exams, British Council

07 March 2024 - 14:34

A group of smiling people with author Michael Rosen at the British Council ELTons awards.
Author Michael Rosen (fifth from the left) with a group of ELTons 2022 winners. ©

David Poultney for British Council

How can an awards ceremony promote innovation in English language teaching? And why should you enter the British Council's ELTons Innovation Awards? Cerys Wright tells all and speaks to some former winners. 

The English language is constantly evolving. It adapts to our changing needs and differing demands as the world becomes increasingly connected. The growing use of technology has introduced innovations such as social media and meeting platforms, reducing the barriers that once prevented us from conversing with others globally. We are adapting the way that English is used in the workplace, we are changing words and creating new dialects. The world is more multicultural and multilingual than ever before, changing the English teaching landscape for everyone. The pandemic accelerated the development of education technology, making learning more accessible and convenient.

So, how do we ensure that English language teaching evolves with this ever-changing landscape? Innovation, creativity and resourcefulness. This is what the ELTons Innovation Awards aim to celebrate. They shine a spotlight on the minds behind the new and transformative products and services in the English language teaching industry, and they are the only awards to do so. The ELTons increase visibility, provide a sense of purpose, create connections with others in the industry globally, and provide opportunities to improve career prospects.

Enhanced recognition and credibility through increased visibility

‘For a small, little-known 'start-up' like our self-publishing venture, a high-profile, widely-recognized endorsement like this is extremely valuable’. – Mark Hancock, ELTons winner

English language teaching is a global industry with a diverse set of opportunities and challenges. The ELTons Awards are the only international awards to feature innovations that are meeting learner and teacher needs in new and exciting ways. The global reach of the British Council helps to further increase engagement with these products and resources from a wide network of stakeholders. 

The ELTons are for everyone; from large-scale organisations specialising in English language teaching resources, to the small start-ups breaking new ground. The ELTons celebrate the entrepreneurs and individuals who set out to make a difference and improve how English is taught. Acknowledging the work of a diverse range of organisations and individuals creates a more rounded industry and provides fresh insights from different contexts.

‘Winning an industry award like this does change the way people perceive you and your work, and we are always grateful for that recognition’. Gavin Dudney, ELTons winner

The ELTons go beyond increasing visibility; they create a sense of validation and credibility. Even years later, Gavin is still feeling the positive impact from winning in 2003, showcasing the lasting influence of the awards in shaping perceptions and sustaining professional growth.

Building confidence: Creating self-belief, encouragement and purpose 

Becoming an ELTons finalist is more than just a celebration of accomplishments; it serves as a catalyst, inspiring innovators to continue creating new products and resources. It adds a sense of purpose to their work, providing stakeholders across the industry with the ‘encouragement to continue and self-belief that [their] contribution was worthwhile’ (Claire Selby, ELTons winner). Acknowledging hard work and providing evidence to potential investors is essential to the continuation of transformative resources in the industry.

It’s important to remember that at the core of everything the ELTons celebrate are the students and teachers that benefit from the resources. 

‘The ELTons are an essential part of the ELT landscape and help shine a light on a vital part of what we do as a profession. It's through the materials we use we hopefully help and inspire students and also through the materials we use that we, as teachers, grow and develop. Good materials provide opportunities for both students and teachers to learn’. – Peter Levrai, ELTons winner

The ELTons are a driving force in creating an environment that mutually benefits both students and teachers, creating opportunities for ongoing improvement and enrichment in the field of English language education.

Elevating careers through networking and collaboration

‘After my first ELTons, it became easier to establish my credentials in the field. It was possible to approach publishers more directly and to collaborate with luminaries in ELT’. – Marcos Benevides, ELTons winner

The ELTons are not just accolades, they are a facilitator for industry-wide growth, connectivity, and professional advancement. They create connections and networking opportunities within the industry. The awards ceremony itself is a melting pot of creativity and innovation, bringing together professionals from every corner of the globe. It's a chance to share knowledge and learn from others. But the ceremony is just the tip of the iceberg. Being an ELTons finalist means putting a product onto the global stage, opening avenues for collaboration and significantly impacting careers.

Previous ELTons winners and finalists have established new connections since the awards. Some have established relationships with new investors, others have been offered new positions based on their hard work. Most notable has been the opportunity to attend events and conferences globally, allowing them to present their work and collaborate with an expanding number of individuals.

Why you should take part

The dynamic landscape of the English language teaching industry is constantly transforming, and the ELTons Innovation Awards stand as a symbol of recognition, validation, and connectivity within this evolving landscape. The sense of achievement and credibility given by the ELTons fosters a nurturing environment, inspiring educators and innovators to continue with their transformative work. 

The awards not only elevate individual careers but also serve as an occasion for networking and collaboration. It is an opportunity for knowledge exchange, bringing together professionals from diverse corners of the globe. The ELTons are not just awards. They are a channel for industry-wide growth, connectivity, and professional advancement, ensuring that the English language teaching community continues to evolve in tandem with the changing needs of our interconnected world. 

Ultimately, the heart of the ELTons celebration lies in the students and teachers who benefit from these innovative materials, as they become catalysts for learning and growth.

‘Winning the ELTons Innovation Award was a huge validation of our work. It gave us the recognition and credibility we needed to reach even more students and make an even bigger impact on the world’. – Emma Rogers, ELTons winner 

 Find out about the ELTons Innovation Awards.

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