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September 14, 2011

I work in Japan, at the British Council in Tokyo, where I’ve been for a couple of years. I teach a nice mix of YL (Junior high school) and adult classes.

Like many others, my teaching went through a complete overhaul when I did the Cambridge Delta. I began to focus much more on treatment of emerging (emergent) language in lessons.

Dogme, or Teaching Unplugged, was then a fairly obvious choice for my Experimental Practice, as one of the 3 key tenets of the approach is ‘a focus on emergent language’.

My EP amounted to a lot of reading and one lesson taught. It made a strong impression and on coming back to Japan I felt an unavoidable pull towards using a Dogme approach in my adult teaching.

There are many great accounts out there of teachers experiencing the ups and downs of teaching unplugged. I wasn’t sure initially what to write about, but this blog has evolved into a collection of lessons that I found successful.

I’ve felt recently that it might be more beneficial for my teaching to be more critical of my efforts in this blog, but I tend to do that a bit too much naturally anyway. Therefore I thought back to my initial experiments with the approach and the most problematic part was ‘a way jn’ – how do you actually go about walking into a class with nothing prepared for the first time and know how to handle it?

Consequently, this blog has now become oriented towards teachers less familiar with Dogme, perhaps wanting to try it out, giving successful examples of real lessons and hopefully providing some inspiration.

Beyond that, I hope people just looking for new ideas may also find it a useful resource. Please feel free to steal ideas , try things out for yourself and leave a comment or two!

Enjoy!

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From → Discussion

2 Comments
  1. Hi Oli,

    I really like your blog and enjoy reading about your personal reflections on the way your lessons have gone, good and bad points.
    I am hoping to do something myself this year, as you know, and its good to know that i am not alone. I’m hoping that my posts will be similar in appearance to your’s. I like the idea of putting up photos of the white board during and after the lesson. I have seen it in a few other blogs and it helps the reader to really get a feel of the language that emerged.
    Are you unplugging all your lessons or just a proportion of your timetable? I would be interested to know in detail a little bit more about your approach and so on. Likewise with my own teaching if you want to know more or perhaps swap ideas and lessons I think that would be a useful resource for both of us.

    Good luck with your teaching. I look forward to your next blogs.

    Adam Beale

    http://fiveagainstone.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks for your comments Adam!

      I got the idea of taking photos of the board from someone else, too. I’ll tell you what – it makes you pay more attention to your board work in the lesson, knowing it’s going on the blog later!!

      I’m not unplugging all of my teaching. In fact, I teach mostly kids right now, and I only have a couple of adult classes in the week. Of those, one of them are unplugged every week. This is basically because they asked for “conversation”, and so it’s a perfect vehicle for experimenting.

      The other class, to be honest, I don’t know them so well yet and it’s a big group, so I find it a bit daunting to go in with nothing prepared. So I’ve been compromising, and doing lessons such as the ‘time flies’ one on the blog. This is a response to unusable material in the coursebook, whilst feeling the need to still use the coursebook somehow (they bought it!!!).

      I feel that in time, when I’ve got a large enough pool of ‘language activities’ to be able to select something appropriate on the spot, in a range of situations, I’ll be able to unplug entire lessons with unfamiliar groups, but for the time being I feel that I need to go into a new class with something prepared. Having said that, what I take in is just a skeleton. It’ll be, for example:

      1. an idea where I want to steer the topic (if at all)
      2. a topic/text/task that will form the subject matter of the lesson
      3. a series of possible activities, all fairly meaty, from which I can choose depending on the mood of the class.

      And then the rest of the time is filled with lots of discussion and feedback on emergent language.

      Have you already started unplugging your lessons, or is it something you’re psyching yourself up for? Looking forward to your posts about it, and some sparkling board work!

      Your action points on the blog are great. I suspect very few 2nd year teachers ever bother doing this. One of the big themes of the next stages of training, whatever route you go down, is action research, so I think you’re putting yourself in a very strong position. I’ve found that just writing blog entries about my lessons has been such a useful process, even if no-one reads them!

      I also liked your thoughts about CELTA, very interesting. I guess it depends a lot on where you do it. Mine was at IH London and my tutors were so good that they gave me enough to think about for a long time. I was definitely ready for the DELTA after 2 years though, I think 2 years is the ideal time to wait.

      Best

      Oli

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