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Pearson ELT Teacher Award

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by Claudia Civinini

On Wednesday 5 October 2016, Unesco World Teacher’s Day, Pearson launched its first ELT Teacher Award to celebrate ‘dedicated and innovative teachers around the world’. Almost 1,400 nominations and 34,000 votes later, five first-prize winners and five people’s choice winners were chosen. The first prize winners will receive an all-expense-paid round trip to an Iatefl or Tesol conference. The jury was composed by academic and author David Nunan, Pearson’s Amar Kumar and our own Melanie Butler.

Asia & Oceania

Winners in this part of the world tackled student motivation and inclusion.

The first prize winner, Koki Shimazu from Japan, organises English language camps round the country to help those students that don’t have the means or don’t feel confident enough to go abroad. He invites students from prestigious universities such as MIT or UCL to coach and motivate his students. The result is more meaningful practice in a communicative setting – and some of his students feel now brave enough to travel abroad. People’s Choice Malaysian teacher Amreet Kaur Jageer Singh set up a flipped classroom to engage and motivate her diploma-level ESL grammar students.

Africa & Middle East

Both winners found innovative, tech-based approaches to improve the quality of teaching and learning in overcrowded classes. Morocco bagged the first prize with Imane Nejjar, a teacher who is using Kagan structures and an online Schoolology course to successfully reach every student in very large classes. Judges thought this innovative approach could be a scalable way to tackle the problem. Yassir El Hajel Sheikh from Sudan won the People’s Choice with his idea of providing further English language practice to his fifty-pupil class by using a Whatsapp group.

Europe & Central Asia

Agnieska Bilska, the first prize winner from Poland, is not just a teacher but also a technology advocate and activist. She uses technology to engage her students both inside and outside the classroom, and to provide personalised instruction in numerous classrooms. She campaigned for the use of mobile devices and free wifi in the classroom, and is involved in a huge number of school and community-based projects around inclusion and networking. Sylvie Dolanova, a Czech teacher who developed a storybased approach to primary Clil, won the People’s Choice. She developed a set of stories to teach a variety of topics. She said that, if teachers work with students in mother tongue first and then revise in L2, they ‘can expect miracles!’

South America

Ornella Valentinuz was awarded first prize. She established a cultural exchange programme to help her students – based in a remote part of Argentina – to get in touch with other cultures and practise English. She and her team, in collaboration with the association AFS Intercultural Programs, invited six students from different countries and organised an ‘Intercultural Day’. Ornella’s students ‘not only grew in the language but also in developing tolerance, respect for other cultures and collaborative work’. Kellen Geremias from Brazil organises interactive lessons with the help of websites such as getkahoot.com or storybird.com, sing technology and drawing on students’ own ‘tech gadgets’ such as mobile phones.

North and Central America

Here, the winners invested America in students’ creativity and empowerment. Gabriela Cambiasso, the first prize winner from the US, turned all her students into amateur journalists by setting up a class blog where they perform tasks related to a weekly topic. Rosa Higueros from Guatemala won the People’s choice. Her initiative to encourage fifth graders to develop student-led activities for their class had so much success that some of her students are now dreaming of becoming teachers.