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British Council’s 2018 ELTon Awards winners announced

A self-published author, an assessment framework for pupils with English as an additional language and the founder of a campaign fighting for gender equality in ELT were among the recipients of the British Council’s ELTon Awards 2018.

Riverside views from the ELTons ceremony venue in London. Photo: The PIE News

This year’s entries highlighted how innovation in the ELT sector is increasingly digital

The winners were announced on June 18 at the ELTons awards ceremony at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London.

In line with its nickname of ‘Oscars of ELT,’ the ceremony featured red-carpet interviews, a celebrity host, a guestlist featuring the ‘who’s who’ of the ELT industry and more than 300 attendees.

“This year’s submissions highlight personalisation as another emerging theme”

Now in its 16th year, the ELTon awards saw 110 entries which spanned 33 countries. This year’s entries highlighted how innovation in the ELT sector is increasingly digital.

“While many entries have a blended approach combining traditional forms of teaching with digital media, over half are completely digital, Mark Robson, British Council director of English and Exams said in a statement.

“This year’s submissions highlight personalisation as another emerging theme with platforms increasingly tailored to meet teachers’ and learners’ specific needs.”

One of the judges told The PIE News that the submissions showed a diverse range of resources, from general to academic English and from young learners to adults.

“In each of the categories I judged I found a much wider range than I have had in previous years, and that made it challenging to judge. Many entries also had a strong digital component.”

The ceremony was opened by Robson with a tribute to Stephen Bax, recipient of the Digital Innovation 2017 award who passed away suddenly in 2017.

The tribute was followed by an address by Ciaran Devane, British Council chief executive, who praised the ELT sector’s “brilliance” in its innovation, its outreach and its contribution to the wider world.

Susie Dent, lexicographer, etymologist and host of Channel 4’s Countdown hosted the ceremony, delighting an audience of linguists with mentions of malaphors, portmanteaus and various quirks of our “majestic and troublesome language.”

Each award was presented by a well-known name in the industry, such as English UK’s Sarah Cooper, Hotcourses’ Simon Emmet and Nick Saville of Cambridge Assessment English.

“Many entries also had a strong digital component”

The award for excellence in digital innovation went to Learning Languages with Ruby Rei (Wibbu), a language adventure game for young learners.

A series supporting pre-school children phonics learning, Get Set, Go! Phonics (Oxford University Press China) bagged the excellence in course innovation award. One of the authors of the series told the audience that it was “a dream come true.”

The Local Innovation Award, in partnership with Cambridge Assessment English, was given to the EAL Assessment Framework for Schools, by The Bell Foundation in collaboration with King’s College and Cambridge University, which supports state-sector teachers working with pupils whose first language is not English.

BBC Learning English received the award for Excellence in Learner Resources with Tim’s Pronunciation Workshop, while the Innovation in Teacher Resources category, which received the greatest number of submissions, crowned a self-published teacher set, Pron Pack.

The author, Mark Hancock, dedicates his award to all “self-published and wannabe authors” adding that the industry needs them.

A thesis on how to use video in teacher observation and professional development was recognised for its potential for impact on the ELT profession, while researchers at UCLAN, Bath and Huddersfield university were among the grantees of the English Language Teaching Research Awards.

Finally, Helena Gomm of English Teaching Professional announced the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award –Tessa Woodward, a teacher, teacher trainer, author, and past IATEFL president, who Gomm described as not only having “her fingers in all the ELT pies, but achieved a great deal in all of them”.

Woodward is also the editor of The Teacher Training journal and is well-known in the industry for spearheading the movement for gender equality in ELT.

The ceremony ended with a dinner and drinks reception – and a great deal of glasses raised to all those, as Dent suggested, that increase appreciation of “our nonsensical language.”

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