Stars and start-ups storm the ELTons

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The Hands Up team with Benjamin Zephaniah (left), and Francesca Woodward of Cambridge Assessment (right).

This year’s ELTon awards was hosted by the utterly irrepressible Benjamin Zephaniah, author, playwright, Rasta Dub poet and British National Treasure.

It was a night when the small players took on the ELT majors and won. Speaking for the team at Atama-ii, books publisher and author Marcos Venides thanked Pearson for turning down the second edition of the task-based course book for Widgets Inc, which garnered the prize for Excellence in Course Innovation.

Technopreneur Sarah Bromley received the Digital Innovation award for Go Correct, a messenger-based chat bot. Students using the app receive a daily conversation question on their phones, which are corrected by real teachers.

The team at Digital Learning Associates, led by Stephen Haggard and Adam Salkeld, bounded onto the stage to receive the award for Innovation in Learner Resources for Ready to Run, an authentic video series.

The only ELT major to receive an award this year, in Innovation in Teacher Resources, was Cambridge Assessment English for Teaching English Online. Designed to help trained EFL teachers learn to adapt their face-to-face skills to a digital classroom.

A standing ovation greeted the award for Local Innovation, which went to the Hands Up Project and UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) for the Hands Up Project Playwriting Competition for children in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The award was received by Hands Up founder and coordinator Nick Bilborough, who came up the idea for the competition when attending a teachers’ conference in Gaza.

Every ELTons award ceremony culminates in the awarding of the Outstanding Achievement Award. This year, Benjamin Zepaniah was joined on stage by another great British favourite, Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate.

This year’s winner was Professor David Crystal, patron of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, and the British Council, among others. The author of more than 100 books, Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor and frequent guest on Michael Rosen’s radio show, Professor Crystal was nominated for the award by his fans worldwide – from Ethiopia to New Zealand.

He is, as the British Council observed, “the UK’s national treasure of linguistics.”

Image courtesy of JAMES GIFFORD-MEAD