Two billion people were learning English in 2020 – a year that has been full of challenges both big and small. Yet despite disruption and difficult moments, there have been bright spots, things worth remembering, and even some celebrations.
To wrap up the year, we’d like to say thank you to all the students and educators around the world who have embraced change and put in so much effort to make education a priority. It’s been hard, but you did it.
Here are our top five things from 2020 we think are worth celebrating.
1. Unique achievements and awards
In 2020, we celebrated innovation in ELT with the British Council ELTons Awards. Not only did we have three nominations across different categories but our team was very proud to win the ELTon for Innovation in Learner Resources with the Pearson and BBC Live Classes project.
The other nominations included:
- The GSE Teacher Toolkit – nominated for Innovation in Teacher Resources.
- Pearson Mexico’s pre-primary course Starfish, which was nominated for Local Innovation.
The British Council ELTon Innovation Awards recognize the best in ELT products and courses. Nominees include organizations, teams and individuals who make efforts to transform English language teaching and learning. In 2020, there were 130 entries from over 40 countries.
Our winning entry, the Pearson and BBC Live Classes project, brings together secondary teachers and students from all over the world. In many ways, it was ahead of its time because it promoted live online teaching before it was forced into the mainstream. Each class combines a safe online space and authentic resources with a culturally enriching learning experience.
2. A move to teaching online
As schools around the world closed their doors and millions of teachers found themselves teaching online for the first time we looked for ways to help.
In October we introduced – Big Live Lessons. A webinar version of our award winning Pearson and BBC Live classes. These allow individual students to take part in a motivating experience from the safety of their homes.
Teachers register their students, who join classes of up to 450 other students from all over the world. They learn, interact and take part in a global community of language learners and can interact with the trainer and the other students via a chatbox and other online tools like polls, Mentimeter and padlet.
Harry Waters, one of the Live Classes trainers, says, “With so many lockdowns across the globe, this has been a great way for students to connect with others in a dynamic and multicultural class, from the comfort of their homes,” in his article reflecting on the classes.
We also introduced the ESAP framework – which stands for Engage, Study, Activate and Practice – to support educators with online lesson planning. This concept is based on the principles of face-to-face teaching, but takes into account the digital tools needed to run a remote class, as well as different forms of interaction available online.
You can see ESAP in action in these videos by Michael Brand:
3. Rewarding professional development online
Maybe more than maybe any other year, 2020 has focused on professional development in education. From learning new skills to managing new ways of teaching and learning, teachers everywhere have faced the challenge head on.
We may not have been able to attend IATEFL or any of our other favorite events, but we have been proud to support you on your journeys, through our successful webinar series Spring Days and Ready for What’s Next. Together, they reached over 70,000 teachers from more than seventy countries.
See our Spring Days webinar series in action:
4. Updated learning experiences
This year we have also updated and enhanced the portal and our offering of digital tools to help make remote teaching and learning easier. This included integrating Zoom into the Portal and expanding the number of courses with interactive eBooks.
Ujjwal Singh, Vice President of Digital Product Innovation, also introduced our new Test Generator, explaining how you can distribute a test to all you students online:
“If I want to test my students’ progress, I can launch a test within the Portal LMS and it will be visible to all my students,” he says. “The questions will be randomized, however, so no two students will take exactly the same test – minimizing the risk of cheating.”
The Test Generator can be used in a face-to-face class too – you can easily print out randomized tests for your students.
5. New ways of being inspired
2020 has also seen the growth of the Pearson English podcast, which was launched at the end of last year. Our panel chats English language experts, who discuss innovations and explore educational trends. It’s always fun, informative and has plenty of practical takeaways. There are now 12 episodes with a new one being released monthly.
The podcast is part of our all new Pearson English Experiences, a project that takes a fresh look at learning. It incorporates trending topics such as Mediation, STEAM, Mindfulness, Career Skills, and Assessment for learning.
Our Back to School professional development space also aims to support teachers as they step back into uncertain teaching environments. It offers platforms, tools and resources for online, hybrid, face-to-face, and blended teaching.
A new future
As we step into a new year, we’re also stepping into a new world – a little wiser and more considerate. We want to assure you we’ll stay with you, supporting you with materials, resources and expertise.
Thank you for trusting in us, and thank you for your hard work as you guide your students on their own learning journeys. Wishing you all the best, and a year full of health, gratitude, and happiness in 2021.