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April 2017

Glory beckons ELT elite

ELTons pic courtesy Matt Salusbury

The British Council has released the list of finalists for its flagship awards, the ELTons. These prestigious awards, also known by the insiders as the ‘Oscars of ELT’, celebrate innovation in English language teaching.

The winners will be announced in London on 14 June from the heights of a brand new location for the ceremony: the Altitude 360, a venue in the 387 ft-high Millbank Tower. Lexicographer and etymologist Susie Dent, from Channel 4’s game show Countdown, will be this year’s celebrity host.

‘Becoming a finalist of the British Council ELTons Awards is no small feat’, explained British Council’s Director of English Language Anna Searle. She said: ‘A panel of experts began work in January to independently assess each of the products, publications, apps and projects against different criteria. This process picked 26 finalists out of a total of 115 international submissions. The awards recognise excellence in six areas: excellence in course innovation, innovation in learner resources, innovation in teacher resources, digital innovation and local innovation. The sixth category, the Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrates ELT professionals who have made a substantial contribution to the ELT sector throughout their career. In the past two years, Henry Widdowson and Catherine Walter received this award.

This year’s finalists (see list on the side) showcase the usual carousel of big names, plus some promising newcomers. The big five UK publishers dominate the excellence in course innovation shortlist, which is completed by Spanish-owned and British-based Richmond. As usual, finalists come from all over the world – this is particularly evident in the Innovation in Learner Resources shortlist, featuring participants from Germany and New ­Zealand. This year, we also see more UK language schools than usual: Embassy, Mackenzie and NILE have made it to the finals. We wish all finalists good luck and look forward to meeting them at the ceremony in June.

Breaking barriers

The Gazette spoke to two finalists for the ELTons about two projects that share best practice and connect learners and teachers all around the world: Oksana Afitska of the team behind the EAL Science Booklets, and Nick Bilbrough for the Hands Up Project.

EAL Science Booklets, produced through a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield City Council’s support team, respond to the increasing number of EAL students in state schools in England. The project aims to provide teachers with effective material to support students’ learning of both the language and science. Piloted in four primary schools, all materials are now released online and are being adapted and used in over twenty cities and regions in the UK, and also in Spain, Belgium, Malaysia and China. The team is fundraising to produce material targeted at secondary school students.

The Hands Up Project, meanwhile, ‘enlists simple technology’ to connect disadvantaged children in Palestine, Jordan and Pakistan to teachers and other students from around the world via video conferencing. Teachers working in those challenging contexts can also develop new skills by collaborating with the remote teacher. Hands Up is a charity and at present relies on donations. Both projects are thrilled by their nominations. ‘This should help enormously to promote out not-for-profit materials to help EAL learners nationwide and internationally’, said Oksana. Nick said he hopes the nomination will bring more recognition to the ‘wonderful creative things being done by children and teachers in these contexts, many of whom have been denied a voice.’

ELTons finalists:

Excellence in course Innovation
Cambridge English Empower – Cambridge University Press with Cambridge English Language Assessment
Dex – Macmillan Education
Focus Global, featuring the Word Store – Pearson English
Impact – National Geographic Learning
Navigate – Oxford University Press
Students for Peace – Richmond

Innovation in learner resources
Absolutely English! – Wiener Spielkartenfabrik Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne GmbH
Develop EAP: A Sustainable Academic English Skills Course – Averil Bolster & Peter Levrai
IELTS Speaking band score videos – Pete Jones with New Zealand Language Centres Limited
My English Voice – My English Voice
Shakespeare Speaks – BBC Learning English with The Open University
TrashedWorld – TrashedWorld with Blenheim Films

Innovation in teacher resources
ETpedia series – Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd
Learning Technologies in EAP: A Practical Online Course for Teachers – Technology-Enhanced Learning Team, English Language Teaching Centre, University of Sheffield
Power-Up: Flipping Your Classes – Norwich Institute of Language Education (NILE) and Teacher Training Videos
The Fluency MC Song and Video Activity Book – Jason R. Levine
Tigtag CLIL – Twig World
Videotelling – Jamie Keddie

Digital innovation
Embassy onTrack – Embassy English
Mackenzie Apptivities – Mackenzie School of English with Wildgoose Scotland
News Review – BBC Learning English
Practical Writing – ClarityEnglish
Tube Quizard – Olga Sergeeva and Kirill Sukhomlin
www.textinspector.com – Stephen Bax with Versantus IT Services and Web design

Local innovation
Digital Literacy for EFL Students – Pegasus ELS – Tetovo
EAL-Science Booklets© – University of Sheffield with Sheffield City Council
Hausa-to-English Talking Book 1- MAVIS COMPUTEL LIMITED
The Hands Up Project – The Hands Up Project with Tamer Institute for Community Education, Gaza
Working in Japan: Video Interviews with 14 Professionals – Cengage Learning (Japan)

Pic courtesy: Matt Salusbury

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