EFL (English as a Foreign Language) Teacher
A decade ago, MIE Expert Dimitris Primalis learned a vital lesson about the power of student-centered learning. When a hearing-impaired student was lagging further and further behind her classmates, Primalis realized he had to step in.
“I knew that I had to boost her confidence by giving her extra practice in a very discreet way, but how could I model without doing it in class?” he wondered. Taking advantage of his school’s new 1:1 device program, he gave his student a full interactive version of the curriculum – including texts read by native speakers, listening exercises, and games.
“After a few weeks,” Primalis tells us, “the student was clearly more confident in class and she gradually engaged in class activities. It was a turning point in my teaching as I realized the potential of technology and what a valuable ally it could be in my efforts to facilitate learning and accommodate learners on a more personalized basis. It helped me shift from a teacher-centered lesson to a more student-centered one, and gave me the opportunity to explore the potential of technology so that I can support my learners on their journey to knowledge.”
These days, Primalis likes to use puzzle activities to promote communication and collaboration. One activity starts with OneNote, where Primalis creates two digital notebooks.
“In Group A’s notebook, I share an audio file, while in Group B’s a video file of the same video, but without sound,” he explains. “In a flipped classroom context, I ask students from each group to listen and watch the files at home and take notes. In class, they work in pairs or groups to reconstruct the story by sharing notes. The result is the first paragraph of a story that they share with the rest of the class, again using OneNote.”
The activity develops creative thinking skills and students benefit from being exposed to different writing styles. For homework, students finish the story – then technology facilitates team editing and a final draft, which is shared on the school’s blog.
Throughout his career, Primalis has shown that ownership, communication, collaboration, content creation, personalization, creativity, and critical thinking are essential ingredients to motivating and engaging learners.
“The ‘Trojan horse’ to infiltrate the castle of indifference and passive attitude towards learning is technology,” he says. “It can accommodate students with different learning styles and the vast majority of the learners feel familiar with it because it is an indispensable part of their daily life. Learning technology can be converted by an educator into a tool that promotes inclusion, lifelong learning, collaboration, empathy, and community bonding.”
About Dimitris Primalis
- Educational background: Dip. RSA, BA in Education. Leadership and Management (pending graduation).
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote, Sway
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Innovation needs patience, stamina, and flexibility.
- Website I check every day: BBC Learning English
- Favorite childhood memory:A walk with my father.
- Favorite book: Animal Farm by George Orwell