The English-Speaking Union is delighted to announce the shortlist for its inaugural International Oracy Teacher Award, which recognises excellence and outreach in oracy (speaking and listening) education around the world. We were overwhelmed with the level of response to this award, launched during the ESU’s centenary year. Through it, the ESU seeks to celebrate, encourage and develop the work of international teachers who are generating social impact through the advancement of English oracy skills in their students.
The shortlisted applicants are as follows:
Robbie McDonald – History and Debate Teacher, Scotland
Yoshihiro Kobayashi – English Teacher, Japan
Shilpa Solanki – founder and principal of The Harmony Tree Pre-School and Learning Centre, India
Yuliia Vereshchak – English Teacher, Ukraine
Maia Tkemaladze – English Teacher, Georgia
The judging panel, which included Professor Neil Mercer, Director of Oracy Cambridge, had a hugely enjoyable experience reading through each of the applications and, consequently, a very difficult decision to make. It was clear that each applicant offers vast amounts of both skill and passion to their work, whether that be in a secondary school in rural Georgia, a pre-school in one of the most populous cities in India, or anything in between.
‘There is a growing recognition internationally of the importance of oracy as a key part of the 21st century skills that young people need to enable them not only to operate successfully in a range of work environments, but also to communicate well in their personal lives and participate confidently and effectively in the public sphere,’ says Professor Mercer. ‘The success of oracy education depends on the efforts and expertise of dedicated, knowledgeable teachers; and the shortlisted candidates for the ESU International Oracy Teacher Award are excellent examples of such practitioners.’
Applicants gave evidence of several innovative ways in which they got students talking. These included: arranging teleconferences with international schools, introducing debate into the classroom, encouraging students to produce news reviews and promoting whole-class, student-led discussion.
All applicants also recognised the significance of speaking skills and how they can help those, particularly in disadvantaged communities, to succeed in other areas of their studies and to realise their full potential.
The winners will be announced on 30 January, when the panel will award up to £2,000 either to a single candidate, or split across multiple applicants. In addition, the nominating ESU(s) will receive a grant of up to £500, to be put towards their own charitable ESU activities.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of this year’s applicants. Your passion and enthusiasm for your work is inspiring, and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to recognise this.