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Dogme Training Session – After

March 31, 2012

Overall

The good news was that we had masses of interest in the session. Plenty of people who couldn’t make it emailed me to ask about running it another time, which hopefully I’ll get to do in April. Perhaps we’ll video it this time.

It all went pretty much as planned. The demo lesson took about 20 minutes and the subsequent discussion and Q&A lasted over 45 minutes. I made a simple Prezi to accompany the session, which you can find here.

Workshop

After the ‘theory bit’ I asked everyone to think about an interesting topic that came up recently in class and put together a logical sequence of tasks to develop that. This was really challenging and people had trouble coming up with ideas. It seems that the sequence of tasks in my demonstration may have been a little too effective. As one person said: ‘it can’t always end up as problem solving’. It’s true that a problem solving situation lends itself very well to a logical sequence of tasks, but what do you do when the stimulus for conversation comes from, say, a wedding at the weekend? It might have been better to do a demonstration based on a more mundane topic and show how it can work that way.

Response

Overall, the response was very positive and some people who appeared sceptical at the beginning certainly began to appreciate the possibilities by the end. Appealing points from the demonstration were the student centred nature of the lesson and the quantity of emergent language.

Emergent language

During the demo I wrote up a lot of language that I heard during the groupwork on the board, and there were a number of questions about the nature of this language in a real class, because obviously there was no correction of language going on this time. We talked about how in a real class the language coming from students would need scaffolding and correcting as it gets boarded after the task, and that this is one of the key elements of dealing with emergent language.

Concerns

There were two noticeable concerns that emerged from participants:

  1. I’d worry that students aren’t getting enough exposure to language in texts
  2. How can this work while we’re teaching a syllabus based on a coursebook?

 

These concerns are well known to teachers familiar with Dogme and I don’t want to get into that here, but it’s interesting to know where the difficulties lie in order to help us to present Dogme in the most accessible light possible.

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From → Discussion

4 Comments
  1. Great post Oli. It sounds like it went quite well.

    “I’d worry that students aren’t getting enough exposure to language in texts”

    That sounds like very old school with an emphasis on reading. I do find it amusing that for centuries we have been obsessed by learning from texts but before that everything was passed on by speech. Most of my 121s much prefer MP3s or videos and my classes too, it saves so much time and is more interesting.

    So, besides the usual “they can read at home and bring in texts” I think we could argue about how people like to learn and the actual purpose of reading nowadays. If we Dogme folk are trying to tap into learner lives then we have to provide input in a form that is their preference. It would be useful to ask students what they’d prefer as it’s probably not what we teachers think.

    • Hi Phil

      I think, in fairness, that the guy was using the term ‘text’ in the more general way, to mean listening, videos, articles – essentially making the point that working with emerging language alone is not enough, and students need both exposure to language from a variety of contextualised sources, and also practice at coping with authentic texts where complete comprehension is neither possible nor the objective.

      I’m sure all of us agree that this is important. In this situation, what seems to cause confusion is that people perhaps get the impression that Dogme is *only* about working with emerging language. So as a trainer, what I’ve taken from this experience is to explicitly make the point during/after a demonstration that the next step in a sequence of lessons might be to bring in a reading/video based on the conversation that has taken place.

      I think we have to be sure to make these things clear when talking about Dogme, because, as we all know, the wrong end of the stick is often got!

      Cheers

  2. Candy van Olst permalink

    Hi Oli
    Good stuff! Love that you think more “mundane” topics would be good. We spend so much of our day just talking about arbitrary things and teaching that sort of thing really makes me think about waht we actually do say and use in certain every day situations. My class and I spent an entire hour and half lesson – when a student arrived late – looking at apologising, excuses and responses. Role playing the situations afterwards can also be a gas!
    Candy

    • Hi

      That sounds like one of my classes 🙂
      I wonder, is it possible/sensible to do that in a training session – i.e. rely on an emerging topic?

      In principle, I’d love to. Just not sure if I have the guts! After all, it is a different dynamic to a normal class with Ss who are coming to class eager to talk.

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