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“You are vital” Michael Rosen tells ELT sector

The British Council celebrated excellence in innovation in English language teaching and learning at the 20th iteration of the ELTons Awards, with host Michael Rosen paying tribute to both teachers and students.

Five winners were awarded, along with two commendations and Outstanding Achievement Award. Photo: The PIE

Professor and author, Penny Ur, was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award

British author, poet and broadcaster, Rosen, renowned for his work in children’s literature, addressed educators gathered in London, and those watching online during the hybrid event on 30 November.

“I believe in every educator in this room and outside these doors. I believe in everyone making the books, online lessons, video games, mobile apps, virtual immersive worlds, and more. Every single one of you is important. You are vital,” he said.

“Teachers touch the lives of people. Let’s remember that. As you help rebuild students’ confidence, as they find their feet again in what is really a very uncertain world, your role has never been more important.

“It takes courage to learn a new language, one that’s different from your mother tongue,” said Rosen, who is currently learning Yiddish – the language of his Jewish ancestors.

“It takes a special kind of courage to teach in another language,” Rosen added.

“The English language belongs to the people who speak it, who learnt it, who learn in it, who work using it, who travel with it. English belongs to the people who use it to find safe passage across borders or to make lifelong friends or partners. If you’ve told a pretty good joke in English and got a laugh or woke up having dreamt in English, it belongs to you.”

Stevie Spring, chairman at the British Council, reminisced on the “tremendous change” the sector has undergone since the first ELTons Awards in 2002.

We are teaching English at younger and younger ages and English is booming as the language used at universities all over the world. Universal design practices have revolutionised the way materials are crafted, and all of our teaching practices have become ever more inclusive,” said Spring.

During the ceremony, previous winners presented five award categories, two commendations and the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Winners in the five categories, determined by an independent judging panel, included Helbling Languages for the Innovation in Learner resources award, DELTA publishing for the Innovation in Teacher Resources award, University of Dayton Publishing for the Excellence in Course Innovation award, EF Education First for the Digital Innovation award and Learning Unlimited with Fotosynthesis for the Local Innovation award.

Two special commendations were also given to chosen finalists. Three organisations were commended for their efforts in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – May Moo and Me, Classroom Practice: English as a Lingua France and Dau Dau.

The commendation for Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action was awarded to Pearson English with BBC Studios for its ‘Speak out for Sustainability’ program and the University of Dayton Publishing for ‘Brain Juice’ along with National Geographic Learning, Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd with Empatico for its program ‘Lift’.

Finally, professor and author, Penny Ur, was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award. Ur thanked friends, teachers, critics, students, her grandchildren and colleagues who she has learnt from since she began teaching in the 1960s. She called it “serendipity” that she began teaching in era when the English language began evolving into the language of international communication, as it is known today.

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