Bucksmore Young Leaders has been nominated in the category for ‘Innovation in Learner Resources’. After a number of months of anticipation since submitting an application in November 2014, the British Council released the shortlisted nominees on March 18th including Bucksmore Young Leaders. It is joined in ‘Innovation in Learner Resources’ nominations by Atama-ii Graded Reader Series, Cambridge Discovery Education Interactive Reader Apps, Easier English Wiki, Newsmart and Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English. Jess Waiton, Young Leaders Academic Manager, reacted with elation to the nomination commenting that “since its inception Young Leaders has flourished year on year and it is great to receive recognition for the time and effort invested through a nomination for such a prestigious award”.
The ELTons (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards), are the only international awards that recognise and celebrate innovation in English language teaching (ELT). They reward educational resources that help English language learners and teachers to achieve their goals. Applications were submitted online last November and they are judged by an independent panel of ELT experts, using the Delphi Technique. Currently sponsored by Cambridge English, the ELTons date from 2003.
Held at Corpus Christi College, Bucksmore Young Leaders is a six-week summer programme for ambitious 14-17 year-old international students who already have at least an intermediate level of English. The programme improves students’ public speaking, debating, negotiating and teamwork skills in a relatively short, 2-6 week period. Through many different types of input sessions (such as theory lessons, interactive lectures, real-life case studies and skills workshops), students explore a weekly theme, preparing and delivering a complex presentation at the week’s end. The course is written in-house and all lesson materials come with detailed teacher notes as well as comprehensive dossiers and hand-outs for students. Bucksmore are the only English language summer school to be nominated in any of the categories at the ELTon Awards.
The course demonstrates great innovation, particularly as its 2009 incarnation was the UK’s first general leadership and English language summer course for international teenagers. Over the past five years the course has grown and developed through the creative input and academic collaboration of Bucksmore’s Academic Manager Jess Waiton, the Summer Director of Studies Josh Kingdom and Managing Director Matt Tighe. Targeted at ambitious learners who already have a strong intermediate level, this course is unique in terms of content and delivery. Themes have been taken from that are usually dealt with at degree level and made them relevant for teenage English-language learners on a short summer programme. Each week, students digest the language and skills and put them into practice in their final presentations, proving the content to be immediately useful and functional.
The most innovative element is that course materials are revised yearly in response to student feedback and current events. The 2014 syllabus included a lesson on Nelson Mandela’s leadership in the face of poverty which provided authentic material on which students could learn about management theories and apply these throughout project work on their course. The different course components take ELT role-play to a new level. Students become United Nations delegates or technology moguls throughout the corresponding themed week, making English language systems and skills more memorable. The innovation and functionality of the course materials play a major part in both teachers getting the best out of their students and students becoming more confident and creative when using English. The course materials speak for themselves and provide invaluable life experience and learning innovation for all course attendees.
The winners are announced at the awards ceremony in central London on June 4th. Hopefully Bucksmore Young Leaders can feel the love that night and the ELTon nomination is not just like a candle in the wind.