A year ago I posted an article on this site that was critical of the entries for the Duke of Edinburgh’s “President’s Award” for innovation and good design in digital materials for English language learning.  I was a judge again this year, and I suppose the answer to my question above is “yes, they are somewhat better, but nowhere near good enough”.  The winner was Cambridge English Online’s Phonetics Focus app, which we felt was a great tool for teachers and learners to learn the Phonemic alphabet, with a clear and attractive user interface and visual design.  There were some other interesting entries, though we felt a couple were not quite finished enough for us to consider and we have contacted their developers to explain this. Otherwise, we were relieved to see some mobile apps, albeit of variable quality, though surprised to see CDROMS, even for entries that were web-based.

The ESU asked me to help judge its two other awards this year, as it thought it would be good to mix up its judges and judging panels, for instance, one of the Biography Award judges helped with the Book Award, and that worked rather well.  Thus I was able to see the range of very impressive entries for the Book Award and the New Writing Award, supported by Cambridge University Press.  One of the Book Award winners, Pearson’s Speakout was a new course  that incorporated authentic BBC materials,video podcasts and Youtube resources very well indeed, while Garnet Education’s delightful Sunshine course for very young learners was very low tech, featuring two puppets, demonstrated here by fellow judge Dede Wilson:


There were 99 entries for the new Cambridge  ESU New Writing Award, and 24 of them formed a very impressive long list for us to judge.  The winner was Özge Karaoglu Ergen from Turkey, who won for her entry called ‘Bubble and Pebble’, a series of digital interactive games  brought to life with voices recorded by her students, and images that the students have drawn and coloured. You can see more on her blog. Highly Commended was Yann Desdevises, an English teacher from France for   ‘Selling A Green House’, where he created a lesson for his 16-year old students to create a sound track for a promotional video on YouTube to sell an eco-friendly house.  You can see them both in the background of the picture of Dede above.  Seeing their work makes me very optimistic about the future for digital ELT resources.