Excellence in course innovation 2020 finalists - tips and resources

Access top English language teaching tips and open-access resources from the ELTons Awards 2020 finalists for Excellence in Course Innovation.

The ELTons Award for Excellence in Course Innovation is awarded for complete multi-level English language courses for learners of any age.

This year’s ELTons finalists aim to help students to prepare for the “real world”. They create life-like experience to help students practice their English, in safe and supportive environments. So, students can build confidence for study, travel, life and work.

Finalists of the ELTons’ Excellence in Course Innovation Award 2020 share their tips and open-access resources for teachers and learners below.


Use stories to introduce values

The Wheels series | Macmillan Education (UK / Spain) 

Whether you’re teaching online or face to face, stories are an invaluable vehicle for working on values and developing essential social and emotional skills that will prepare our children for the wider world. Engage your students by asking them questions about how the story makes them feel or how they think the characters feel in a given situation. This will help them to recognise their own feelings and understand those of others.  

Explore the Story Time with Carol videos and teaching tips, made specially to support teachers and students during the lockdown.


Encourage learners’ autonomy

Kids’ Web | Richmond (Brazil)

Give students room to be more autonomous, to use their creativity and to explore teaching resources in a more relaxed way. 

Both with whole-class activities (now conducted online) or as self-instruction activities, Kids' Web open-access educational resources for teachers and students allow students to experiment and make steady progress and also to address inclusion-related themes or socio-emotional issues like empathy, cooperation, respect for others.

Use Kids’ Web’s free digital resources to introduce new topics and vocabulary or as self-access activities. Choose the book and click on the resource you want to work with.


Foster learners’ communication skills

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

Use blended learning practices to provide your students with instant feedback on straightforward comprehension and grammar practice. This way you can focus on the human aspect that is so central to language learning when working in the physical or virtual classroom. Guided discussions and collaborative writing activities empower students to apply their newly acquired language skills. They also foster community and critical thinking, essential to successfully communicating in any language.

Read and analyze a short story from Literary Horizons with your students as they learn how to present their insights in speaking and writing.


Provide resources for online lessons in advance

New Magic Minds! | Learning Factory (Brazil) 

Adapting to an online environment is not an easy task, especially during quarantine, when everybody is feeling a bit overwhelmed. But no worries, face-to-face activities can be successfully adapted for the socially-distanced classroom. If you are planning a craft activity, for instance, provide students and families with clear instructions on how to make the craft before the class. This way you’ll use class time to promote show-and-tell moments and maximize student talking time.  


Motivate your students using “near peers” as role models

Evolve | Cambridge University Press (UK) 

A “near peer” is someone who’s learning something that you're learning, but they're a few steps ahead. We can use our students as near peer models. For example, ask them to make a video of themselves responding to a prompt. Invite them to share their video with the rest of the class, or with another class at a lower level, so they become role models! 

Read about motivation and near peers in this free Cambridge University Press research paper.

Find out more about the Cambridge Papers in ELT series which connects linguistic and pedagogical research with everyday ELT practice.


Visualise thinking to foster deeper learning

GLOBAL STAGE | Macmillan Education (UK) 

Choose an image that students will find fun and interesting to interpret. Encourage students to engage with that image, by asking them questions like: What do you see? What do you think? What do you wonder? When you do a routine, focus more on students’ ideas than on their language. Using “Visible Thinking Routines” like this inspire students to think creatively. They make the thinking process more visible to themselves and to you!

Use the Macmillan 'Visible Thinking Routine' worksheet with your students, in person or in online classes.

Download free Global Stage sample lessons


Foster effective email communication with your students

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

Thousands of ELT teachers are now communicating with their students via email daily. Some of us may be a bit annoyed about the emails we get from our students – we may find them inappropriate or unclear because they violate pragmatic norms. Use your next online class to create a discussion and come up with guidelines. This way you can help students feel more comfortable when communicating with you online. Watch the full video with Anna Krulatz from OUP.

Equip students with pragmatic competence by using these free English for Real lessons to help students respond appropriately in everyday situations.


Watch a video of the finalists' top tips below

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