ELTons Innovation Awards 2020 - Finalists

See all the finalists for the ELTons Innovations Awards 2020

Now in their eighteenth year, the ELTons celebrate the most original courses, publications, projects, apps and platforms, and more, which are finding new ways to help English language learners and teachers around the world achieve their goals. The awards also recognise the organisations, teams and individuals whose original approaches are helping to shape the future of English language teaching and learning.

In 2019, an impressive field of 150 entries came from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, spanning the different needs of English language learners at every age, in diverse contexts.

In a survey of ELTons winners and finalists of the past decade, 88% reported increased visibility for their work and brands through the awards and more than half used the awards to generate new business and to expand their networks. 

Read about all of the finalists in the five different categories for this year's awards below.

Excellence in Course Innovation

Evolve | Cambridge University Press (UK) 

Evolve is a six-level general English course for adults and young adults, taking students from beginner to advanced levels (CEFR A1 to C1).   

 What makes Evolve special?  

Near-peer models and content from real students. Achievable speaking role models can be a powerful motivator so real student videos in the Student Books provide input that gives students in class the confidence to speak and share ideas.  

Dedicated and immersive speaking lessons. Speaking ability is how students most commonly measure their own progress, but is also the area where they feel most insecure. ‘Time to Speak’ is a unique lesson in every unit dedicated to developing speaking skills and based around immersive tasks.  

Mobile-friendly activities for study at home or on the go. Covering all four skills, the activities are designed with smartphones in mind and include video and audio content, productive exercises, and dashboards for teachers to track their students’ progress.  


GLOBAL STAGE | Macmillan Education (UK) 

Global Stage is a 6-level language and literacy course for young learners that helps them grow into competent speakers and writers of English, and caring, responsible citizens.   

  • A unique Dual Approach with two student books: Language Book and Literacy Book brings together a rigorously benchmarked syllabus with a diverse literacy programme.    
  • Dedicated writing and speaking lessons enable children to confidently engage with all subject areas.  
  • Building on children’s natural inquisitiveness, the course provides structured opportunities to develop their Thinking Skills and understanding of the world.   
  • Drawing on the Assessment for Learning principles, children reflect on their own learning, developing Self-Direction as a core skill allowing them to excel at the next stages of their education, career and life.   
  • Tap & Teach lessons available via the Teacher App in Navio help to reduce lesson preparation time while game-based language and literacy activities on the Student App provide essential extra practice.   


Kids’ Web | Richmond (Brazil) 

Kids’ Web connects with students and the English-speaking world through technology. The series respects children’s development without interfering in their native-language literacy process and offers varied activities for each stage of their development. Attentive to users’ needs, Kids’ Web has numerous accessibility features, from accessible digital book and learning objects to Mia, a wheelchair-user character who is the starting point for project suggestions on how to work with inclusion and diversity. Students use traditional and technological resources, such as the Student’s Book with an integrated Workbook, interactive textual genres that can be handled (providing a unique sensory experience), different kinds of games and social and emotional animations. Teachers have at their disposal a puppet, posters, flashcards, a yearly planner and a Teacher’s Guide, containing extra activities and suggestions to deal with different learning paces. Parents and guardians are offered ideas on how to get involved in the learning process. 

Read about Kids' Web course at https://kidsweb.com.br/

Literary Horizons. Analysis and Essay Writing | Pearson ELT Canada (Canada) 

Literary Horizons is a teaching method that develops the comprehension and production skills of advanced (young) adult English language learners in Quebec and across Canada by making them interact with literature. Through a guided approach that includes vocabulary and grammar development, the book and companion website support college students as they learn how to uncover underlying meanings in their second language, and how to present their insights in speaking and writing. A fresh selection of classic and modern texts, including short fiction, drama, poetry, spoken word and graphic novels, draws in the students through contemporary themes, such as identity, gender equality, immigration, the environment, and human rights.

By engaging with the material, students not only become better readers, writers and speakers, but they also come to understand more about culture and society in the process. In this way, Literary Horizons supports them to become well-rounded English language users.


New Magic Minds! | Learning Factory (Brazil) 

New Magic Minds! is an innovative course that aims to transform the way English is taught in the classroom. The classes focus on the development of the learner’s cognitive, spatial and socioemotional skills, with emphasis on critical thinking and logic, alongside creative and artistic expression, stimulating and preparing children to be successful in our ever-changing society. “New Magic Minds! is a highly engaging series. Not only does it add fun to the classroom, but it also provides students with meaningful challenges that help them develop skills such as creativity, logical reasoning and critical thinking. Its relevant themes encourage students to use English naturally and make deeper connections with the world.” 


The Wheels series | Macmillan Education (UK / Spain) 

They think they’re playing. We know they’re learning…  

The  Wheels  series is an innovative course designed to give teachers all the tools they need to successfully manage groups of energetic pre-primary learners. The series comprises of three editions: Big WheelMimi’s Wheel and Ferris Wheel and five versions, catering for different classroom needs. With engaging stories and the optimum level of support, teaching becomes both effective and enjoyable.  

  • A unique Hop on & Hop off approach allows teachers to follow the unit sequence in the order they choose.  
  • Engaging animated stories and videos featuring the adorable Meerkat family help to prepare young learners for primary education and promote life skills and values such as ‘sharing’ or ‘helping others’.  
  • Tap & Teach lessons in the Teacher’s App powered by Navio allow teachers to deliver clearly sequenced lessons requiring minimum preparation.  
  • Learning routines, a bank of teaching ideas and activity suggestions support teachers.   
  • Games and rewards in the Student App motivate pupils to learn English inside and outside the classroom.  


Wide Angle | Oxford University Press – English Language Teaching in partnership with Blink (UK / USA) 

A real-world viewpoint  

Empower adult learners to join any conversation, and say the right thing at the right time with Wide Angle, a six-level American English course with an emphasis on teaching English for the real world.   

English for the real world: ‘English for Real’ lessons equip students with the tools to uncover and master the hidden rules of English, so when it comes to communicating in the real world, they know what to say and how to say it. Students can then go online to practice responding to real situations with interactive videos.   

Content from the real world: Inspire students with the vibrant unit opener images from Blink photography. The international, award-winning photographers bring stories from around the world to life on the page. The ‘behind the photo’ video with the photographer acts as a natural conversation model for students to follow.  


Local Innovation (in partnership with Cambridge Assessment English)

I am not naughty – I really really mean it! | Basirat Razaq-Shuaib with The Winford Centre for Children and Women (Nigeria) 

I am not naughty tells the story of Ayo, a misunderstood school-aged boy who is tagged as naughty but whose behaviour is as a result of his ADHD disability. From constantly spilling his food to not sharing toys or giving others a chance in class, Ayo’s behaviour continues to take a toll on his family and schoolmates. However, with the help of a diagnosis and support, Ayo’s behaviour improves and he develops positive relationships. The book depicts the struggles of children who have invisible disabilities. It teaches empathy, kindness and promotes disability inclusion. It also contains positive affirmations for children. 


Reading Genius - Bilingual Stories | Infant Jesus Matric Hr Sec School, Kalpakkam (India) 

Reading Genius – Bilingual stories is an initiative to develop a collection of bilingual books focused on improving the English proficiency of learners, whose native language is Tamil. Stories are handpicked from an open source platform, and compiled into bilingual books. Each story is a separate book, to provide better flexibility, easier distribution, motivate learners with smaller reading material, on top of videos, embedded for visual engagement, and an Indian context for better relatability. Focused on improving the comprehension of children, it allows them to understand the story easily with the supplementary local language text. Books are distributed through a specially designed web portal, from which they can be downloaded and used as print or eBooks. The stories are available for free under CC BY-SA 4.0 license. 


Sciencepedia | Shehani Gamage, M. Kodithuwakku, Dr. N. Wickramasinghe with National E-Learning Center (Sri Lanka) 

Sciencepedia is the first ever science comic book designed in Sri Lanka, as a result of collective efforts of a group of experienced academics. This not only helps children to develop their science knowledge but also helps to improve their English language, creativity and problem solving skills at the same time.  

As a result of some aspects of modern technology, children tend to distant themselves from books, and Sciencepedia attempts to attract them back into the habit of reading. Sophisticated yet simple use of visuals and text in Sciencepedia is generating a clear narrative for the information by giving the potential to go beyond the traditional teaching and learning, first time in the island nation’s education system. 

Starfish | Pearson Educación de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) 

Starfish is a robust 3-level pre-school English course that guides learning through inquiry and is based on UNESCO’s 5 Pillars of Education. Flexibility is built into Starfish, with different pathways according to timetable options and a choice of components that can be adapted and personalised to class needs. With STARFISH, students discover other cultures, explore children’s literature, develop sensitivity, initiative, imagination and creativity while at the same time developing social and emotional skills for life. 


The Garden Project – Brazilian Edition | Angelica Manca, Hoopla Education Pte. Ltd. With Macmillan Do Brasil Editora, Comercializadora, and Importadora E Distribudora (Singapore / Brazil) 

The Garden Project is the first pre-primary program to combine Project Based Learning (PBL) to the multidisciplinary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) framework, in an innovative and holistic English Language Learning program. This nature-inspired curriculum is based on the principles of sustainability and applies real-world ways for students to develop problem-solving and communication skills within a Brazilian context. Students are provided with rich opportunities to use English and extend their vocabulary while they explore nature within and outside of their classrooms, creating a sense of purpose and curiosity as they nurture and tend to their edible plants in their Garden in the Box. 


Innovation in Learner Resources

BE Mindful (Elementary and Junior High) | BE+Live by UNOi – Grupo Santillana Mexico (Mexico)

BE Mindful is an unprecedented new proposal that centers on the current emotional needs of students and makes the learning of English a process that is meaningful and transcendental.   

 Our BE Mindful program offers training for self-knowledge, decision-making (self-care and compassion) and resilience, as well as a series of practical strategies for developing prosocial abilities and acquiring knowledge that allows the student to understand, express, and regulate their emotions. We propose a methodology that works with the brain hemispheres through narrative, arts, and creativity. Additionally, we provide students with further practice in their language skills throughout the books to allow a more natural approach to language learning.   

 At BE+Live, we believe that changing education is the key to changing society for the better.  


Dear Doctor: English writing skills for clinical practice and the Occupational English Test | Dr Stephen J Nickless MRCGP (UK)

Dear Doctor is a course for doctors and other health professionals who need to write clearly and concisely in English. It is designed for self-study but can be adapted for classroom use. It provides full preparation for the letter writing component of the OET.  

The book contains 12 units which all follow a similar format:  

  • A set of case notes followed by a writing task.  
  • Exercises on selecting and organising content.  
  • Exercises on vocabulary and grammar points arising from the task.  
  • A "writing clinic" on technical aspects of writing like paragraphing and spelling.  
  • Study tips and exam tips.  
  • Answer key to all exercises  
  • A short glossary of abbreviations and acronyms found in medical case notes  
  • Example answers to the writing tasks written by British doctors.  

 The course is suitable for students with English language at or above IELTS 5.0 or CEFR B1.  

Pearson and BBC Live Classes | Pearson English (UK)

Pearson and BBC Live Classes is an online project for secondary teachers and students. It creates a unique live and interactive learning environment in English for learners in classes all over the world. 

The project combines an online classroom and authentic resources with a culturally enriching learning experience. This transforms English from a school subject to an essential tool used to communicate with students from other countries and cultures. The Live Classes community is hosted in a safe and moderated environment in a closed Facebook group. 

Students have the chance to discuss ideas, share perspectives and compare their experiences with their peers from around the globe. This is motivating for teenage learners, who stay enthusiastic and engaged long after the lesson has finished.

Each Live Class brings together approximately 10 groups of students who can attend different lessons which take place from September until May. The project is free of charge, available upon prior registration and the classes are delivered by our expert teacher trainers

Find out more at english.com/liveclasses

Readable | Playlingo with Ufi Charitable Trust (UK) 

Reading for pleasure and vocabulary building are key to learning English but adult learners find it tough to stay motivated when doing these independently. Readable is a new app designed to keep learners motivated with engaging stories told in the form of chat messages. It’s like reading someone else’s chat conversation in English but graded to your level with translation support as a ‘fall back’ so you never get stuck. Stories are bitesize, taking just minutes to read and crafted by bestselling authors and writers from popular TV shows. But Readable is more than just a good read. It’s serious learning with stories graded to use authentic, high frequency language based on corpus frequency / level data and a memorisation technology that enables learners to easily learn any words in a story that they don’t know. Readable aims to make reading English genuinely readable - both easy and fun to read.

REAL LIVES Series | ELI Publishing with Terre des Hommes Italia ONLUS, VIS - International Volunteer Service for Development, ActionAid International Italia Onlus, and GUS (Italy) 

Eli Real Lives Readers Series include titles for young and teenagers and aim to encourage students to learn about cultures in different countries through true stories, featuring real children dealing with their everyday lives. The stories tell through authentic pictures true life aspects: children who go to schools, meet friends, do sports, live with their family, with each child in a different country. Setting is showed on maps (in the YOUNG series) to help the reader become aware of the globe and of the existence of other countries. The Series encourages culture awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving creativity through cooperation in the classroom and adopting a new point of view when looking at things. The series aims at teaching concepts such as Global Citizenship, Inclusion and Diversity. For a selection of titles, ELI has collaborated with some NGO: ELI donates parts of the proceeds for development and aid projects.   

Access the REAL LIVES Series   

Digital Innovation

Busuu English Smart Review | Busuu (UK/Spain)

Busuu is delighted to unveil its brand new Smart Review – the most powerful review tool for language learning yet.  

Here’s how it works:  

  • Revise everything you've learned. Find all the vocabulary and grammar you’ve learned so far and put it to the test with adaptive quizzes.
  • Review rules as you go. Revise all of the rules you’ve been taught by simply tapping on each grammar topic.  
  • Focus on your weak points. Use the strength icons to focus on the areas you struggle with.  

Try it now! 

Journey 2 Basic Skills: pre-beginner | Klik2learn with City of Glasgow College (UK) 

Learn English Online For Complete Beginners

Journey 2 Basic Skills is a fully interactive English language online course for pre-beginners (CEFR level A0- A1 .) Klik2learn’s mission is to help close the attainment gap and meet the needs of 700 million people affected by illiteracy. Klik2learn has worked with City of Glasgow College to create content for complete beginners.

Universally Accessible on all devices

The learner is taken on a journey round the English speaking world, listening as they learn, to a variety of different ‘Englishes.’ Creative iconography, graphics and animation are used to meet the challenge of teaching pre-beginners who cannot read or understand English. The course covers:

  • English phonemes, letter formation, numeracy and all four language skills
  • Games with adaptive learning methodology revise important learning outcomes.
  • Frequent reward activities contribute to motivation, progress and completion
  • Basic digital skills necessary for everyday life
  • Universally accessible and designed for mobile phones - no need for books or classrooms

Get Journey 2 Basic Skills for your students. Learn more about Journey 2 Basic Skills at www.klik2learn.com

Learning Sugar | Beijing Educapple Technology Co., Ltd (China) 

Learning Sugar is a full path English enlightenment course specially developed for Chinese children aged 3-10.  

  1. A complete and progressive English enlightenment system for children, covering phonics, sight words, levelled reading, emergent writing, grammar.  
  2. The content is taught by AI foreign teachers, with games, animations and picture books as the main content. Through interaction, children can find fun and build confidence in learning.  
  3. Game animation interaction. Integrate all levels of learning content into mini-games and animations, so that children can learn English easily in the process of games and cultivate their interest in using English.  
  4. Intelligent speech recognition. Adopt cutting-edge artificial intelligence voice technology to maximize the accuracy of children's pronunciation. 

Download the AI English Teacher - Learning Sugar app on iOS or Android. Note: The app is currently only available for registration with mobile numbers from China

Macmillan Navio | Macmillan Education (UK / The Netherlands / India) 

Navio  is a next-generation digital platform that provides an enriched teaching and learning experience.   

  • Gamified language practice in immersive 3D worlds encourages students to repeat activities, creating opportunities for better language acquisition.   
  • Tap & Teach lessons with integrated audio, video and interactive activities help teachers deliver stimulating classes.   
  • Automatic grading provides learners with instant feedback, saves time marking homework and allows teachers to easily monitor students’ progress.  
  • Strong school-home link so learning continues outside of the classroom.  
  • Flashcards and Test Generator and many more resources are all available in one place, at the click of a button.   


WordUp app | Geeks Ltd (UK)

WordUp is an innovative AI-powered learning app that helps everybody, from beginner learners to native-speakers, improve their command of English vocabulary. 

So, how does it work?

  • Learn what matters: The app chooses the words that are most relevant by ranking all the words in the English language in order of how useful they are, so learners can make the most of their learning time.
  • Learn in context: These words are taught in context by providing user-tailored examples from engaging material such as movie clips and news articles to bring learners the most helpful, engaging and enjoyable examples for each word. 
  • Remember forever: WordUp uses “spaced repetition” to help learners remember the words over time. The scheduled, short and engaging periods of practice makes learning English vocabulary a daily habit and a sustained one. 
  • Personalised for you: Gaps in learner knowledge are first mapped out, and a personalised learning plan is created, tailored to the user’s needs and interests.
  • Designed for life: It is a teacher you have in your pocket and one who can teach you at any time when you are free for a few minutes. WordUp becomes part of the user’s life, supporting them every day as part of a journey that never ends. 

WordUp offers an efficient, effective and fun way to learn English vocabulary. Globally more than 2 million people, mostly from developing countries, installed it in the first six months after launch. 

The app can be downloaded free of charge, from App Store, Google Play or Microsoft. Mobile version only. 

Developed by Geeks Ltd 

WordUp: https://www.wordupapp.co/

Geeks: https://www.geeks.ltd.uk/

Innovation in Teacher Resources 

Critical Thinking in ELT | National Geographic Learning (UK)

Through real-life experience, Dummett and Hughes provide English language teachers with practical ways to incorporate critical thinking into every class. Dummett and Hughes define critical thinking for English language teaching and demonstrate how challenging learners at all levels to think both critically and creatively develops learner autonomy, increases learner motivation, and promotes authentic communication.  

“I strongly believe this book will be a welcome resource for both new and seasoned educators.” SHARON CAVUSGIL, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY  

“This book explores how broad ideas about critical thinking can be translated into particular classroom practices. The book brings together the authors’ views of critical thinking with their experiences working with teachers on these ideas. Paul Dummett and John Hughes have done a wonderful job of creating a text that bridges these important ideas with various ways of implementing them.” DONALD FREEMAN, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN 


Dyslexia Bytes | Martin Bloomfield (UK) 

Did you know that 15% of your students probably have dyslexia? And that raising your awareness can lead to an immediate improvement in student results, student wellbeing, and student satisfaction? Or that by following our advice you can reduce teacher preparation time, class conflict, and absences? We can provide you with all the help you need, from tips and techniques to a worldwide support network of teachers, parents and students who have all experienced the ups and downs of teaching and learning with dyslexia across the globe.  

 Most importantly from an English teaching perspective, we do this with a focus on the intercultural perspective: understanding that the needs of students from one culture may be very different from the needs of students from another, and that both teachers and students moving from one country to another will have to understand the specific challenges and intercultural complexities of their new environment.  


GSE Teacher Toolkit | Pearson English (UK)

The Global Scale of English Teacher Toolkit takes the guesswork out of student progress, with a free online database that brings together learning objectives, grammar and vocabulary in one place, all mapped to the GSE and CEFR.  

The toolkit makes it easy to search for appropriate content, adjust curricula and scaffold lessons, identifying any gaps and measuring learner progress accurately, and to deliver meaningful feedback. That way, educators and institutions can save time on admin and gain time for learner interaction.  

"Teachers are connected with the GSE Teacher Toolkit and .... Schools are provided with a reliable and convenient way to create effective, coherent plans of study between levels. Everyone wins!" Jerry Docarmo, President and CEO, Harvest English Institute 


Hacking Creativity - Techniques, Exercises and Activities for the Creative Language Classroom | PeacheyPublications Ltd (UK) 

This resource book for teachers will help them develop one of the most important aspects of life and language in the 21st century - Creativity.

Hacking Creativity contains a collection of exercises, activities and tools that will open students' senses, develop their awareness and get them talking and thinking more creatively.  

 The book includes example digital materials and resources that are media rich, dynamic and can be accessed through students’ mobile devices during the lesson or used in virtual classrooms for remote teaching.

  The exercises, activities and techniques in the book can be integrated into any language course or coursebook to help enhance the existing materials and help develop students’ creativity every lesson.

Hacking Creativity: https://payhip.com/b/HDeb 

PeacheyPublications: https://peacheypublications.com/

PEPELT - Picturebooks in European Primary English Language Teaching | Tatia Gruenbaum with PEPELT team (The Netherlands) 

PEPELT is a comprehensive point of reference for all things picturebook-related in Primary English Language Teaching.  


  • guides practitioners to critically explore, select and use picturebooks which mirror children’s reality, representing all backgrounds and identities  
  • supports and inspires professionals in the field of ELT to move beyond language into citizenship education 
  • broadens minds and encourages critical thinking 

PEPELT does this by:  

  • creating an engaged and sharing community of picturebook users in PELT 
  • promoting, supporting and diversifying the use of picturebooks in PELT  
  • publicising information about picturebooks for PELT

PEPELT Website: https://pepelt21.com/ 

PEPELT Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PEPELT21/  

PEPELT21 YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcPHEWqeX GUDVOLnB4JBooA 

The ELT Footprint Community | ELT Footprint Community (Spain) 

ELT Footprint is a growing global community which offers a space for people from across the English language teaching world to discuss initiatives, look for support and contribute ideas about how to reduce our environmental footprint across the ELT profession. ELT footprint is mainstreaming climate change awareness. As such it is gentle, smart, flexible but focused on something which matters to millions of young people. (Ellen Head, Japan) [It] is a 'place' where I can share my doubts, ideas, and dreams with other fellow teachers, who, just like me, are trying to make a difference in their classrooms. (Zenda Costa, Portugal) [It] reminds us we have a responsibility to highlight, where and when we can, the wonder of our world and the importance of taking care of it. (Montse Watkins, Spain/Egypt) This is an amazing group. I'm inspired. (Jackson Howard, Australia) 

Website: http://www.eltfootprint.org

The NO Project ELT Teaching Resources | The NO Project with The Rights Lab (Greece / UK)

The NO Project teaching resources are a series of freely downloadable lessons on human trafficking and modern slavery. The material is specifically devised for learners aged 16+, CEFR level B1+ and higher. Based on true narratives, the content is approached with sensitivity, dignity and respect. Hosted at thenoproject.org, the lessons are ideal for online teaching.

The current global pandemic makes these lessons profoundly urgent and relevant.

With excessive screen time, children and teenagers are being targeted by traffickers. See Eyes Wide Shut, a true story about grooming and exploitation. Adults, suddenly faced with unprecedented economic vulnerability, may also make decisions with traumatic consequences. See The Truth Behind Closed Doors. Finally, with restricted movement and little hope, ‘marriage’ may appear the only solution for millions of girls and young women. My Future is My Choice addresses the reality of forced marriage - in countries that may surprise you.




Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

See our publications, research and insight