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Innovation Awards 2004

Introducing Elton and the Innovation Awards
Description of the awards
Award winners 2003
Awards 2004
Awards 2005
Management committee
Promotion and sponsorship
2004 Event photographs

Shortlist for 2004 Awards

On this page you can find out more information about the products that were nominated for an Elton at the 2004 Innovation Award ceremony which took place on 4 March. Accompanying the product details are quotes from the judges as to why these products stood out for shortlisting. There are also quotes from the creators and end users of these innovative products.

This year, for the first time, there was a British Council Innovation Award for two of the best projects funded under the British Council's English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme (ELTeCS). ELTeCS projects are run by teams of ELT professionals from different countries. Project teams work to share knowledge and provide practical solutions for ELT in their regions.

Macmillan Education, range of products - book, CD-ROM and online editions

Nominated person

Macmillan Education Dictionaries Team

Product summary

Winner of the Duke of Edinburgh ESU English Language Book Award 2002, the Macmillan English Dictionary is packed with innovative features to cater to the needs of English learners. Macmillan continues to make the dictionary accessible to as many people as possible, through a wide range of media - book, CD-ROM, network CD-ROM and online. The Macmillan Dictionaries website, webzine and e-lesson service provides regularly-updated supporting resources.

Judges quotes

"A really impressive piece of work"

"I also liked the ranking of words according to frequency so the learner has some simple information when they look up a word as to whether this is a really useful or plain odd one"

"I found the dictionary very user-friendly with very clear page layout, navigation, and use of language"

Macmillan Education, unique Online learning environment

Nominated person

Ian Johnstone

Product summary

The Macmillan English Campus is an online English language practice environment. It contains a database of over 1,000 interactive exercises and activities, tests, news articles and games as well as software tools which allow institutions to build their own online practice courses using the material in the database. Institutions can define their own syllabuses and structure courses so that the online practice blends successfully with classroom activity. All users also have access to a range of online reference materials. They can personalise their study areas by building lists of vocabulary and favourite exercises. The English Campus is offered as a customised service to large institutions.
Catherine Whitaker, editor, Macmillan (taken from EL Gazette, ‘Leaders in Innovation’ article)

Judges quotes

"The potential for an institution to benefit from this is high and I imagine it would be attractive to teachers, especially in terms of developing courses"

"really well integrated, flexible and easy to use"

"a genuinely innovative product"

back to the shortlist

Palgrave Macmillan , research product and book 'Design language Teaching Tasks'

Nominated person

Keith Johnson

Product summary

Most teachers have at some point been involved in designing tasks for classroom use, even if just to tweak existing tasks for use in a particular context. Some books deal with task design, but are not usually based on research into how specialists go about it.

The research project involved sixteen individuals designing a task, eight experts, and eight comparative novices. They thought aloud as they designed, and the processes of both experts and novices were analysed. The resulting book, Designing Language Teaching Tasks, published by Palgrave Macmillan, makes this research available to all who want to master task design skills. (taken from EL Gazette, ‘Leaders in Innovation’ article)

Judges quotes

"The book is well-researched and interesting both generally on how materials writers work and on the nature of tasks"

"A genuinely interesting work, covering areas I have not read about before

"Will stimulate a good amount of general reflection"

back to the shortlist


Oxford University Press, 'Natural Grammar'

Nominated person

Scott Thornbury

Product summary

Natural Grammar, written by Scott Thornbury, is the first complete grammar practice book based on the lexical approach and corpus research. The book is organised around 100 high-frequency words such as for, get, make and do, with clear presentation and practice of the grammatical structures associated with these words.

The book provides a new way into learning grammar, and a starting point for learners to build 1000s of phrases and language chunks. Each word is given a double-page spread that starts with a presentation of key grammar structures, common collocations and idiomatic phrases. This is followed by a full page of activities for learners to practise the language.

Judges quotes

"the word based approach allows learners and teachers to combine syntax, collocation and lexis in a way that traditional grammars don't"

"I tried it out with some advanced learners, who liked the new approach and felt it prompted them to look at grammar in a new way"

"it is a trendy approach but its also a good one from the learner's point of view"

back to the shortlist

speechinaction, CD-ROM

Nominated person

Richard Cauldwell

Product summary

This is an electronic publication available on CD-Rom and online. It features recordings of spontaneous speech for either self-access or classroom use. It aims to improve listening by making learners comfortable with the fastest stretches of speech. Extracts from the original recordings are used as models for pronunciation. Streaming Speech is suitable for non-native teacher trainees, people preparing to study at tertiary level in an English speaking country or studying for high level aural/oral exams. The Hong Kong Civil Service has been using the on-line version since July 2003. (taken from EL Gazette, ‘Leaders in Innovation’ article)

User quotes

"This program is superb for me. ... I realized instantly why
my flat and dull spoken English sounded so un-English...
Basically, this is the best English course I’ve ever had"
(ML, Civil Servant, Hong Kong)

"Unique approach to spoken English, I could understand the
rhythm and intonation of English more clearly"
(JW, Teacher, Korea)

"I am quite amazed with the voice recording system. It makes
very easy to compare my own voice with the recorded native
speakers’ models"
(SM, Lecturer, Japan)

Judges quotes

" innovative on many counts, friendly, accessible, effective and practical"

" a very stimulating and impressive entry"

" It drew me in to the exercises against the pressures of time and kept me there"

back to the shortlist


St.Mary's University College, research studies into language learning tasks

Nominated Person

Pauline Foster

Product summary

The research programme has investigated how classroom language tasks can be more effectively chosen and implemented within communicative language teaching. By investigating how different tasks and different implementation conditions can influence language performance, the research has aimed to support classrooms where tasks and activities are frequently used. The purpose, in other words, has been to enable teachers to make more effective decisions in their lesson planning. The research findings so far have indicated that both the design of the task material and the way the task is implemented have clear effects on the accuracy, complexity and fluency of the students’ language. (taken from EL Gazatte ‘Leaders in Innovation article)

Judges quotes

" I was very impressed with the consistency, depth and development of this research and with the intelligence of its author"

"serious consideration of how task based learning works is an important issue"


back to the shortlist


English [Out There!], interactive taught course product

Nominated person

Jason West

Product summary


English [Out There!] – EOT- enables new arrivals to London and the UK to quickly feel more confident communicating in English.

It improves speaking and listening skills fast, helps learners to understand British culture and, of course, is a lot of fun.

Each session involves clients learning some new language and then using it immediately with real people in real places (famous shops, museums, squares and parks), all with their teacher watching and helping.

EOT is highly flexible and can accept bookings of just one three-hour class or more and enables customers to start on any day of the week.

Nominee quotes

“The ‘Secret’ English [Out There!] Recipe: Take a large slice of common sense, consult the ‘rules’ and apply directly, work in some Communicative Method followed by an appropriate amount of Task whilst dusting with some carefully selected real people and places. Pour the entire mixture into a thoroughly thought out timeframe and season with some Psycholinguistics and a nip of NLP. Relax and enjoy”

“English [Out There!] is a specially designed short course (although some people like to stay quite a while!). It actually works in various ways and draws on a few different ideas and methodologies. We know we are just at the beginning, and are looking forward to understanding it better and improving it”

User quotes

“I think that the idea of going outside after learning grammar and vocabulary is perfect because we can use them after the lessons. It’s good to memorise them!” – Natsu, 22, Japan. Course length: 2 weeks

“I think that this school is innovative, because for learning English you just speak English with the people!” – Maria-Anna, 26, Italy. Course length: 1 week

“I like that the lesson is interactive” – Jana, 16, Germany. Course length: 12 hours

“The way we learn English in this school is unique and very exciting!” – Akane, Japan. Course length: 6 hours

“It is an original method to learn English, it is more interesting” – Marie-Carmen, 16, France. Course length: 2 weeks

“New experience, new form of studying” – Paulina, 27, Czech Rep. Course length: 3 weeks

“Something special, new, interesting” – Rachel, 33, Switzerland. Course length: 9 weeks

Judges quotes

"I like the idea of a course specifically designed to take advantage of being in the country of the language you are learning, and sending people out to speak to real native speakers"

"I thought that this was an interesting format - strongly practical"

"London was being cleverly exploited"


back to the shortlist

Crystal Reference, general-reference encyclopaedias

Nominated person

David Crystal

Product summary

Advanced or good intermediate learners have plenty of help when it comes to English-language dictionaries, but access to English-language encyclopedias is still a problem. This project makes available in a single online database the textual content of the general-reference encyclopedias edited by David Crystal. The www.findout.tv website will offer thematic as well as alphabetic searching, to aid student projects, and is updated daily for current affairs. An important point is that teachers can adapt the material for classroom use without further permission. The site also includes additional features, such as an 'on this day' listing, a dictionary of quotations, and a 6-language multilingual lexicon, and will in due course incorporate ELT exercises and an interactive dimension.

Nominee quotes

"Thousands of enlightenments... rolls up its sleeves and gets down to business..."
Time Magazine

"...the essential facts are instantly available... better written, more concise and intelligent"
The Daily Telegraph

"The entries are succinct, the range formidable and the illustrations on the technological heights"
The Independent

"Excellent cross referencing, making information easily accessible"
The Sunday Telegraph

"Editorial standards are impressive...the thumbnail defintions of complex ideas shine most brightly..."
Boyd Tomkin, Independent

Judges quotes

"Nice, rationally organised source of all sorts of information... copyright free so teachers can use it without fear of legal comeback"

"useful and easy to understand and a practical resource"

"accessible, straightforward, user-friendly, well-thought-through"


back to the shortlist

Language Centre, London Institute, online support for students of art and design

Nominated person

Helen Elder

Product summary

This is an online course for students wishing to enter Higher Education in the areas of art and design. It is delivered as a combination of face-to-face and online interactive lessons. Images of students’ work, video clips from lectures and texts reflecting course content, as well as tools for pronunciation and speaking practice, a discussion board, chat room and links to other sites, are features of the course. The students study both collaboratively and independently.

Sample a lesson

Student quotes

It’s great ! It’s just what we need and it’s all about art and design!"

"It means I don’t have to cross London to get to class!"

"I like studying with computers because I can do it when I have time"

"I can always go back and look at everything and do more practice"

The pronunciation practice is really good for me because I can listen to myself and the example, it really helps and I can do this at home

Teacher quotes

"It’s really good for encouraging independent learning"

"CMC has all sorts of advantages for language and writing practice and students enjoy the new dynamic"

"Some students are much more confident when they’re studying online"

Judges quotes

"lively and well-designed online student resources"

"clear to use, easy to navigate...innovative and imaginative"


back to the shortlist

York Associates in partnership with Konstanz University of Applied Sciences for medialisation, web-based multimedia materials design

Nominated person

Jeremy Comfort

Product summary

Business Presentations is the first of two online Business English courses to be developed by York Associates in collaboration with Konstanz University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Jeremy Comfort, the content author, has worked closely with Patrik Schulz, the multimedia developer, to produce an innovative support for business people who want to improve their presentation skills:

  • The CD ROM format provides teachers and learners with a rich resource to support classroom presentation practice.
  • Five units cover all the man stages in delivery of a successful presentation from preparation to close.
  • Each unit contains four modules: on communication, language, content, and cultural development
  • Each module offers multimedia learning tasks and makes use of samples from three newly filmed business presentations, audio clips and an interactive glossary.
  • Extensive reference banks on communication tips, language phrases and cultural background.
  • Each unit also transfers the learner to a set of assignments which form a natural bridge to classroom presentation practice and feedback.

These materials were developed in a project conducted by the Fachhochschule Konstanz University of Applied Science and financed by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science and Research, Stuttgart, Germany.

Nominee quotes

"Like every good cocktail, the success of blended learning depends not least on the quality of the ingredients: our aim was to create high-quality, multi-media content unusually rich in learning opportunities - as a compensation for the reduced presence of a teacher - and to embed our web-based materials in a broader learning environment also exceptionally rich in more informal learning opportunities."
Peter Franklin, FH Konstanz University of Applied Sciences.

"Ten years ago we produced a very innovative course - Effective Presentations (OUP1994). It has been a real pleasure to revisit this area and work with two like-minded and professional colleagues - Peter and Patrik. The result has beeen another, even more innovative product which breaks new ground both methodologically and in terms of online multimedia learning"

Judges quotes

"The online course is varied and interesting and the format provides opportunities for some original learning activities"

"practical and effective with a good degree of innovation"

"I found this impressive and systematic"

back to the shortlist


Leeds Metropolitan University, research into student perceptions of independent learning

Nominated person

Dawn Leggott

Product summary

A six-year longitudinal research study into student perceptions of independent learning in EFL and other languages and of the generic, employability skills developed through language study.

The findings have demonstrated that speakers of other languages offer employers many more skills than mere linguistic competence. Many EFL learners study English in order to enhance their employability. EFL courses could provide a bridge between education and work by equipping students, not only with language skills, but also a strong self-awareness of the employability skills which can be developed alongside or automatically as a consequence of language learning. The first five years of the study have resulted in almost one hundred recommendations, aimed at helping students to take maximum benefit from their independent language learning and make that vital link between English language study and employment. The sixth year of the study, which is currently in progress, focuses on the relevance of these employability skills in other cultures.

Quote from Leeds Metropolitan University

"Dawn's longitudinal research has been of crucial importance to curriculum development in the University. It has transformed the approach to independent learning in the department and has been transferred to other disciplines right across the University."
Elspeth Jones, International Dean, Leeds Metropolitan University
"The research results have convinced us of the need to enhance student awareness of the link between language learning and employability skills. Student feedback has been positive and many have expressed their increased confidence in promoting themselves in the global market place."
Ricarda Zoellner, Languages for International Communication Scheme Leader, Centre for Language Study, Leeds Metropolitan University

User quotes

"The Year Abroad is different to previous years. I have learnt new skills that couldn't be learnt at home"
(Student interviewee in the final year of the degree)

"The skills you learn while living abroad can be transferred to every walk of life, mainly responsibility, thinking for yourself, being reliant on yourself only, taking responsibility for your actions"
(Student interviewee during the Year Abroad)

"I realise now that the skills and languages I have learnt are very sought after in the workplace"
(Interviewee one year after graduation)

"Independent language learning is a wonderful initiative - the best way to make you responsible and learn more"
(Student interviewee in the first year of the degree)

Judges quotes

"The longitudinal approach is clearly innovative in this area"

back to the shortlist


British Council Enterprises winner, customer-friendly service for registering exam candidates

Nominated person

Shahnaz Farooq

Product summary

Shahnaz Farooq, Director Examinations British Council Islamabad wins this year's Enterprises Innovations Award for her customer-friendly 'drop-box' service for registering exam candidates. Even though British Council centres in Pakistan closed, the Pakistan exams' team was able to exceed candidate targets through their innovative partnership with Standard Chartered Bank. Shahnaz will be picking up her award in London on 4 March.

Quotes

"I was impressed by can-do attitude that was demonstrated by the Pakistan entry. They faced a dilemma: how to continue not just with business as usual, but with better business as usual. Curiosity, observation, experimentation and collaboration then played a part. Looking at the world around them for inspiration, they found and developed a parallel methodology and adapted it to their needs. Classic innovation"

"Shahnaz and her colleagues have demonstrated that it is not enough to have an idea. Innovation is more than that. It is the successful exploitation of new ideas that counts. This is the vital ingredient for the British Council to remain competitive, productive and relevant to our partners"

back to the shortlist

ELTeCS Innovation Award winner - Hungary, Regional ICT network and cascade training for promoting internet use in teaching English

Nominated person

Imre Szabo, Hungary

Product summary

Purpose: To share and extend teachers' experiences of using the internet in English language teaching; provide tools to help teachers exchange information and ideas; exploit the potential of a team of teachers from 3 countries, set up in the summer of 2002, following the British Council-organised Hornby Trust workshop in Hungary.

Results: A successful 5-day workshop in March 2003 for Hungarian, Romanian and Croatian trainers, to develop syllabus and training materials for July workshop. A successful 10-day 'ICT in ELT Workshop' for 24 primary school teachers from Hungary, Romania, and Croatia held in Tiszafured, Hungary in July 2003. A portfolio of materials and activities created. A small but effective network of trained teachers established.

back to the shortlist

ELTeCS Innovation Award winner - Russia, Materials development workshop for students of English for Special Purposes (ESP) in Eastern Europe

Nominated person

Project team leader: Lyudmila Kuznetsova, Russia

Team members: Barbora Budikova, Czech Republic; Halyna Kaluzhna, Ukraine; Laryssa Dovbenko, Lithuania; Maaya Yaroslavska, Lithuania; Tunde Bajzat, Hungary; Olga Lukina, Russia; Vitali Ashkinazi, Russia; Ieva Margyte, Lithuania; Irina Nuzha, Russia; Natalia Koliadina, Russia; Svitlana Markelova, Ukraine; Julie Malykh, Russia.

Purpose: To run a workshop of ELT professionals from 5 countries to develop materials and to work with the teachers in trialling these with their students. The materials to meet the demands of local curricula, and to be revised and disseminated among members of the ESP community following the trial stage.

Results: Successful workshop held and all the students said they had learned new skills and had been well supported. Special subjects covered were law, natural sciences and engineering, social research, political science and world affairs. 80% of students said they would like to do something similar again if they had the chance. They said they would like to work with peers from even more countries. Most teachers involved have re-established contact to run a similar project with new groups of students. Dissemination of results via existing ESP web journal, and dissemination of materials electronically.

back to the shortlist

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