I’m really happy to kick off a new page on my blog called ‘The Edtech Experts’ Corner.’ Outstanding colleagues who have warmly embraced the use of technology in the EFL classroom will be answering 10 short Qs about educational technology. More specifically, they’ll be sharing practical teaching ideas, tried and tested tools as well as tips that can help us teachers stay informed in the fast changing world of learning technologies and teaching methodologies.
Today I’d like to present Dimitris Primalis, a colleague whom I respect and admire for his hard work and the innovative ways he uses new technologies in class.
So here are Dimitris’ answers to my 10 Questions:
1.Technology has changed my teaching practise… in the sense that it has opened a window on the real world in an artificial classroom.
2. I use technology because…it motivates learners and accommodates different learning styles. It also allows me access to a plethora of material I can use in class.
3. A tool I would definitely recommend is…Microsoft Office Mix. Why? Because it allows screen capture (record what I am doing on my computer screen into a video that I can then share with my students).
4. 2 ways I use it… in a flipped classroom context are: A) I give students personalized feedback on the projects they have handed in or texts they have written. I email them the video and then they can watch it at their own time, as many times as they wish. B) I can easily record short presentations using video, sound and the PowerPoint slides as a blackboard. Students can access it through the school’s Learning Management System again and again.
5. Has technology made your life easier as a teacher?
In the past I had to carry cassettes, video tapes and the necessary equipment (cassette player, VCRs and TV) to the classroom whenever I wanted to give an alternative to students who were fed up with books. Now I can access all my digital access material, teaching resources provided by publishers or authentic material at the click of a mouse. This allows me to be flexible in class and respond to students’ needs on the spot.
6. A great website for learning English is…the British Council website for young learners: learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org It is full of creative and motivating activities for young learners in a safe environment without ads.
Why? Because it helps students develop their creativity by creating a virtual puppet show. In the process of making it, they practice script writing skills, communication skills and collaboration as they often work in pairs or in groups. The fact that they use virtual puppets lowers inhibition – just like when wearing a mask- and even shy learners, who would not dare speak in front of the class, practice their speaking skills. Learners often improvise using language in a witty way. The end product is exported into a video and can be easily shared with the rest of the class.
8. How do your students usually react to learning English with technology?
They love it!!! Their generation is being brought up in a high tech environment and they feel confident to use it. If used wisely, technology can act as a gateway to learning because students feel familiar with it and they are far more likely to respond positively to homework that involves using technology – even to a limited extent – rather than to the traditional homework using pen and paper.
9. My tip for beginners with technology is…to take it easy and choose apps or tools that serve the educational needs they have set for their students. It is very easy for a teacher to get carried away and use technology only for the sake of using it.
10. Which website/blog/ FB page e.t.c do you follow for your further professional development?
I find most of the articles posted onEdutopia very interesting, I followSylvia Guinanon Facebook. She always writes or shares very practical articles. I also find Sophia Mavridi’sblog insightful. I need to add that very soon the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG is about to launch a brand new website. Being a member of the website editorial team, I can assure you that some very interesting posts, blogs and articles are coming soon.
Dimitris Primalis is an EFL teacher, author and Cambridge English Language Assessment oral examiner. He has been teaching for more than 20 years and applies his knowledge and experience to introducing innovation and change into the daily teaching practice. He believes that motivation, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication can be the driving forces in TEFL. His views and work are shared in his columns in the ELT News, the BELTA Bulletin and his blog, “A different side of EFL”. He has presented his work in many conferences in Greece and abroad. Dimitris was awarded the 2013 IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG scholarship and was selected as an Expert Innovative Educator by Microsoft (2014-15). He is working at Doukas, a private primary school in Athens, Greece.
Every year Earth Day is celebrated on 22nd April worldwide. Our planet is changing rapidly so it’s vital that we help raise students’ awareness of the damaging effects of modern lifestyles on the environment before it’s too late!
In today’s post, I’d like to share the way my students and I celebrated Earth Day this year. They’re low- level students preparing for the IELTS exam so this was a great opportunity for them to expand their vocabulary, think and learn about environmental issues hands- on. Technology made this much more fun and motivating since we decided to make a video using the ever amazing Animoto!
The students’ first task was to take two pictures of nature each, with their mobile phones. Our school ’s beautiful surroundings provided the perfect location for this!
Next, we set off to plan the video’s structure and write the script! I wrote the following words on the board to help them brainstorm relevant ideas and slogans.
We also googled some supplementary images and chose ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay as the soundtrack of our video!
Surprisingly, on that same day a couple of dolphins made their appearance in Thermaikos Gulf, in the city of Thessaloniki. This isn’t a common sight but luckily one of the students managed to catch it on video! Animoto not only allows users to combine text, images and music but also short videos so we have included part of it as well!
Our main aim was to show some of the beauties of mother Earth, to pinpoint the destructive impact of human activity and share some easy things we can do on an individual or group level to make a difference!
This is the final result 🙂 Click here to download the handout I prepared for my class with useful vocabulary and phrases.
National Geographic has published some lovely images that have been submitted by NG readers. Students can describe or write catchy captions for these stunning photos. You may also choose to show them only a small part of the picture first. Let them use their imagination and guess what it is! Have a look here!
Finally, this a great list of 12 interesting TED talks on climate change that you can watch with your students and reflect on!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Remember that our well- being depends on how we take care of our planet. Awareness is the first step to really making a change! So let’s start by informing our students and celebrating Earth Day, every day 🙂
As the magic of Christmas is spreading, I’d like to share some festive activities that we teachers can try in order to make the last lessons of the year more fun and memorable! Here’s my list of suggestions on how to celebrate this Christmas with technology:
1. Visit lyricstraining.comand get your students to practise their listening skills, while typing the lyrics of popular Christmas songs! There is a great variety of artists, songs and three levels of difficulty per song so that all language learners can manage! These are the links to two cool Christmas songs you can use:
2. ‘HOME ALONE’ is one of my favourite Christmas movies and that’s how I plan to use the following trailer with my younger students:
– In pairs, one student watches and narrates the video while the second has his back to the screen. They change roles every few minutes with your signal. Remember to write all the unknown vocabulary or action verbs your students will need on the board to ensure the success of this activity. Your students will have fun while learning new vocabulary in a contextualized way.
3. E-mail to Santa Claus: Why not write an e-mail to Santa Claus? Go to http://www.emailsanta.com/, fill in the letter and Santa will reply ‘faster than the reindeer can fly’ ;-).
4. Have a go at MailVU and let students record and e-mail short videos of themselves sending season’s greetings, making New Year’s resolutions or expressing their wishes. It’s is as easy as Click, Record, Send and you don’t even need an account for this! http://mailvu.com/
5. E-CARDS: Disney offers a fabulous, interactive card template that students can complete, share on social media sites or email to beloved family members or friends. Alternatively you can use one of the following websites:
I’m sure your students will enjoy this simple yet cool activity! Have a look at my elf self here 😉
6. VOKIis a tool I love using on such occasions. So user- friendly, fun and safe that you won’t regret trying it! Students create their speaking avatars which they can then send via e-mail or post to your classroom’s blog or website! This is my student’s’ Voki in the role of Santa Claus 😉
Making a video with their year’s highlights is a creative activity that your students will love! ANIMOTO, PICOVICO& CLIPGENERATOR are three awesome tools that excite both adults and children. Pick the one that suits you best!
8. Finally, find and download a lesson plan on how to use a top scene from ‘LOVE ACTUALLY’. Go to the ‘Flash Widget’ box on the right hand column of this page, click and download it for free.