Innovation in Learner Resources 2020 finalists - tips and resources

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

The ELTons Award for Innovation in Learner Resources relates to helping learners to study on their own, enjoy learning and improve their speaking, writing, reading and listening skills. This prize celebrates materials that inform and entertain, inspire and motivate English language learners of all ages and help them release their potential.

This year’s finalists focus on developing life-skills like empathy, critical thinking and self-awareness. Some teach vocabulary through bite-sized English stories, others foster long-lasting international connections while learning vocabulary and grammar. This year, the ELTons also recognises a publication that helps doctors prepare for the Occupational English Test.

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


Develop your students’ empathy through creative tasks

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

Before acting or making a judgment about someone, we should understand what that person is going through. Try this idea with your students. Ask your learners to write a list of positive and negative personality traits. Then, tell them to describe how they would feel if people only see their bad characteristics instead of the good ones. Let students share their ideas freely! Hopefully, this will change your student’s perspective when judging others.

Develop your students’ empathy through creative tasks using these free BE Mindful sample pages and audios. Let them express themselves as they wish. No wrong answers!


Use breakout rooms for communicative activities and maintaining relationships in an online classroom.

Pearson and BBC Live Classes | Pearson English (UK)

Connecting your teenage students with others from around the world to learn English together can have a powerful effect on their motivation. They will view English as a tool for real life and not just a school subject. Using breakout rooms in online classrooms is a great tool to make the experience interactive and meaningful. 

Pearson and BBC Live Classes are built around this concept to help students make long-lasting international partnerships that continue after their Live Class. Teachers can register their groups for free at The project’s Facebook community adds to the experience, allowing students to maintain new friendships and speak English along the way. More project related information can be found at

Register for free Live Class from Pearson English


Word Guessing games are a great warmer for an online or socially distanced classroom

Readable | Readable with Ufi Charitable Trust (UK) 

First wash your hands. Then cut up slips of paper and write a word on each slip that you’d like learners to recycle. Give each student 4 slips face down. Divide the classroom down the middle into two teams, set a timer for 10 minutes.

Students take turns to explain one of their words to their team without using the word. They can give a definition, an example - anything as long as they don’t say the word. When someone guesses the word the next person in their team tries to explain their word. The winning team finishes all its words first or has guessed the most words when time’s up.

You can play this on Zoom by emailing words to learners in advance and have teams playing one after another.


Encourage students to think about their daily lives before, during and after the lockdown

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

Encourage speaking, writing, comparison, critical thinking and self- awareness. Give students a chance for online discussion and to speak/write about their lives. Encourage them to find out about the daily lives of children from all over the world as well as their traditions and culture, with a specific focus on the lockdown.


English for Specific Purposes: a blog to help professionals master the Occupational English Test (OET)

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

In the OET writing exam, exam takers are given a fairly long set of case notes, which they have to transform into a letter of just 180 to 200 words. One tip for making language more concise is to pay attention to the beginning of your sentences. Try to plan them so that your beginning will fit several pieces of information. This way, you do not have to write “and” or “but” and then a new clause.

Read the full tip with examples on the OET Exam Tips blog


Watch a video of the finalists' top tips below

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