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ESU recognises speaking skills


Matt Salusbury finds tigers and dinosaurs among this year’s winners
A YouTube channel and a book of printed activity games and worksheets were among the winners and runners up in last year’s English Language Awards for outstanding ELT resources. The awards, run by the English Speaking Union (ESU), were announced at an awards ceremony at the end of November. Scott Thornbury, coordinator of the masters in Tesol at the New School in New York, gave a keynote speech on the history of the teaching of speaking in English. He noted that until relatively recently, teachers ‘postponed’ letting students do any meaningful speaking in English until late in their learning journeys.

Naturally, the Gazette was in attendance too. There’s more detail on the winning resources, along with the other shortlisted English Language Awards entries, at www.elgazette.com/reviews/449-esu-english-language-awards-winners.html 

After ‘resting’ for a year, the ESU’s awards returned in 2016 with a new format, now with four categories. The awards have a focus on speaking skills and have gone biennial – awarded every two years – and the next one is in 2018. And the winners are…


Winner: Discover with Dex by Sandie Mourão and Claire Medwell, Macmillan Education. A coursebook series for young learners, introduced by enthusiastic dinosaur Dex. (Co-author Mourão was interviewed for the November 2016 Gazette young learners supplement.)
Runner up: Tiger Time by Carol Read and Mark Ormerod, Macmillan Education. This six-level primary school coursebook includes songs, chants and humorous stories.


Winner: Keynote by Paul Dummett, Lewis Lansford and Helen Stephenson, National Geographic Learning. Also an ELTon award-winner, this coursebook series was published in response to thousands of enquiries from English teachers about TED videos to use with classes.

Runner up: Shakespeare Speaks produced by Catherine Chapman, BBC Learning English website. A series of online video sessions, each based on an expression from Shakespeare that has entered the English language, from ‘spotless reputation’ to ‘as dead as a doornail’.


Winner: Say It: Pronunciation from Oxford OUP in partnership with Phona. Say It, an app for phones and tablets, aims to improve pronunciation in English using interactive phonetic spelling features, allowing the listener to hear the individual sounds for each word and record their speech to compare it against model pronunciation.
Runner up: Learning Circles by BBC Learning English. Online sessions with video, games and flashcards help users and their families learn everyday English for survival in the UK – from job interviews to calling an ambulance.


Winner: Language Learning with Digital Video by Ben Goldstein and Paul Driver, CUP. A guide for teachers with practical activities and technical tips on using video, YouTube clips, documentaries and learner-generated material in the classroom.
Runner up: Teaching Children How to Learn: Plan, Do, Review by Gail Ellis and Nayr Ibrahim; Delta Publishing. British Council experts on young learners show teachers how to create the conditions for children to reach their full potential as language learners.

Pic: Macmillan Education’s Sandie Mourão (centre) kisses Dex the Dinosaur after winning the award for Best Resource for Young Learners with Claire Medwell (right)

Copyright: Matt Salusbury