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David Crystal honoured at BC ELTon Awards

A messenger-based chatbot and a playwriting project for Palestinian students were awarded prizes at this year’s British Council ELTons, while ELT heavyweight David Crystal was honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award.

Poets Benjamin Zephaniah (left) and Michael Rosen (right) handed the Outstanding Achievement Award to David Crystal (centre). Photo: James Gifford-Mead (

There were 150 entries from 45 countries as the awards marked its 17th year

Presented at an event in central London by poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah, the ELTons celebrate innovation in the ELT sector from across the world, with five winners selected from 26 finalists.

In total, this year’s awards saw 150 entries from 45 countries as it marked its 17th year.

“Many of the winners and finalists teach essential life skills”

“The ELTons show that English language teaching, learning and assessment is genuinely global and increasingly digital,” said Mark Robson, British Council director English and Examinations.

“Many of the winners and finalists teach essential life skills for international working and collaboration, through on-demand learning that fits into learners’ lives. We also see much-needed projects that help bridge educational inequality.”

Crystal was described as a “hero” by Countdown’s Susie Dent and “one of the shining voices in the world of linguistics” by Stephen Fry, before receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award from former children’s laureate Michael Rosen.

Crystal thanked his wife Hilary, son Ben, and the English language itself.

“I do want to thank the English language for giving me the opportunity to come and mess with it, play with it and exploit it, and explore it and do all the things that it’s enabled me to do in order to write these books and give these talks,” he told the 300-strong audience.

“Language has no personality. It’s the people who speak the languages who have the personality. Therefore my last and most heartfelt vote of thanks is to those people.

“If I have made an outstanding contribution to the English language it is because you have made an outstanding contribution to me to enable me to study the English language,” Crystal added

The list of winners include:

The Award for Digital Innovation: Go Correct, Big Languages (Free UA)

The Award for Local Innovation in partnership with Cambridge Assessment English Winner: Hands Up Project, The Hands Up Project with United Nations Relief and Works and Agency for Palestine in the Near East (UNRWA)

The Award for Excellence in Course Innovation Winner: Widgets Inc., Atama-ii Books

The Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources: Teaching English Online, Cambridge Assessment English

The Award for Innovation in Learner Resources: Ready to Run, Digital Learning Associates ltd

The Outstanding Achievement Award: Professor David Crystal OBE

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