The British Council has revealed the winners of the ELTons 2015, the only international awards to recognise innovative achievement in English Language Teaching (ELT) globally.

Now in their thirteenth year, the annual awards, run by the British Council and sponsored by Cambridge English Language Assessment, are a celebration of innovation and excellence in ELT from around the world.

Writer and presenter, Angela Rippon OBE, welcomed the brightest and best in the ELT industry to BMA House in London to celebrate a diverse range of projects and products nominated for a prestigious ELTon award. Winners include; a volunteer led community learning project, an academic English dictionary, soft skills focused teacher support materials and classroom materials based on Shakespeare’s plays.

The awards are organised into seven categories: Excellence in Course Innovation, Innovation in Learner Resources, Innovation in Teacher Resources, Digital Innovation, and Local Innovation, The Macmillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing and the British Council Lifetime Achievement Award.

The winners are:

The British Council Lifetime Achievement Award

Henry Widdowson

This year’s British Council Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Henry Widdowson, is a leading authority in applied linguistics and in communicative language teaching, an approach which stresses the importance of interaction, authentic, natural language, a focus on the learning process, and on the student’s personal experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

Having held chairs at the University of London and the University of Essex, Henry Widdowson is now a professor at the University of Vienna. He inspires the greatest respect and affection from his colleagues and former students. His wider involvement in the ELT community, through teachers’ associations, conference presentations and his highly influential books, ensures his reputation as a mentor and friend to generations of language teachers around the world.

Excellence in Course Innovation

Oxford Discover

Lesley Koustaff, Susan Rivers, Kathleen Kampa, Charles Vilina and Kenna Bourke, Oxford University Press

Oxford Discover is a course that aims to tap into students’ natural curiosity. It enables them to ask their own questions, find their own answers, and explore the world around them. This approach to language learning and literacy, supported by a controlled grammar and skills syllabus, aims to help students achieve near-native fluency in English.

The judges described the winner as ‘Genuinely innovative in the way 21st century skills are built into the whole course.’

Innovation in Learner Resources

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English

Diana Lea, Victoria Bull, Suzanne Holloway and Robert Duncan, Oxford University Press, with Paragon Software GmbH (app)

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English helps students learn the language they need to write academic English, whether they are preparing for academic study on an EAP course or already at university or college. Informed by the 85-million-word Oxford Corpus of Academic English, the dictionary shows how general English words are used in different ways across academic subject areas.

The judges described the winner as ‘A very useful tool for EAP students and teachers, bringing valuable new resources together in one place.’

Innovation in Teacher Resources

Life Skills

Carol Higho, Dulcie Ball, Emma-Sue Prince, Rob Nicholas, Chris Rose, Jonathan Marks and various others, Macmillan Education

The Life Skills campaign was specifically conceived to respond to equip young people with the soft skills they need to succeed in education, in their career and in life. Featuring specially-commissioned lesson plans, worksheets, articles and videos, plus online and offline events, Life Skills is a teacher support and awareness campaign that gives teachers the inspiration and practical tools to get their students ready for success in the 21st century.

The judges described the winner as ‘Focused on genuinely useful skills for life and an excellent, novel, all-round package for both students and teachers.’

Digital Innovation

Little Bridge

Paul Rogers and Nigel Forward, Little Bridge

Little Bridge is a unique multi-platform resource for young, digital learners of English in over 140 countries worldwide. Combining effective user engagement and credible pedagogical content, its stimulating, structured interactive games and fun animations are set in an English-speaking, virtual 3D world.

The judges described the winner as ‘An attractive and comprehensive online world of English with lots of fun activities to sustain children’s engagement while learning.’

Local Innovation

Talk English

Michaela Salmon and Nuala Trace, Manchester Adult Education Service, Manchester City Council with The Department for Communities and Local Government (UK)

The Talk English project works with people with low levels of English to help them improve their language skills, access services and get more involved in the community. The project combines formal and informal opportunities for people to learn English. To date, more than 3,500 learners have benefited from the project in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire, which has been supported by over 650 volunteers.

The judges described the winner as ‘An interesting initiative to create an attractive, free website for migrants that is functional and effective.’

The Macmillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing

EAP Shakespeare

Dr Chris Lima

A set of classroom teaching materials based on Shakespeare’s plays which explore the texts from both literary and linguistic perspectives. The materials were designed with a hybrid approach to Shakespeare that should reflect the needs and interests of both literature and English language students.

The judges described the winner as ‘A detailed, thoughtful course making Shakespeare’s works fresh, appealing and relevant to high-level EL learners.’

Speaking from the ceremony, Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at the British Council, said: “Today’s ELTons recognise and celebrate not only economic success, but the kind of innovation and creative collaboration that are essential in any area of life today.

“The ELTons winners are about making the world a better place. It is more than helping more people to speak English. It is about social inclusion, justice, diversity and equality in all the materials produced for learners of English.

“The Awards are a recognition that we don’t want people to speak English simply for its own sake; but because it connects them, and enables them to share ideas. If you share a language, you share a community.” 

Anna Searle, Director English Language at the British Council, added: “We are delighted to be celebrating the winners of our ELTons Awards 2015 and to be supporting and showcasing innovation in the English language teaching sector. The diverse range of winning projects and products being recognised highlights the continued and exciting growth of the sector as a whole, as well as celebrating the important achievements and developments within English language teaching.

“Now an important fixture in the English language teaching calendar, the ELTons Awards Ceremony provides a unique opportunity for English Language Teaching authors, publishers, and practitioners from around the world to find out more about, and celebrate, the new ideas that will shape English language teaching in the years to come.

“The awards also support the significant growth in global demand for English language teaching, with teachers and learners adopting innovative approaches to language learning in order to respond to the changing needs of learners.

“We would like to thank all of the nominees for being part of this year’s ELTons, as well as our headline sponsor, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and the New Talent in Writing Award sponsor, Macmillan Education for their continued support.”

The British Council is the UK’s cultural relations organisation, and builds relationships for the UK through English, education and the arts. It teaches English in more than 80 countries through face-to-face contact and innovative methods including radio, the internet and mobile technology.

To find out more about the winners and to see footage and photos from the awards ceremony, visit


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