For my main assignment on the Trainer Development course, I have to design a 50-hour course and provide self-designed materials for one training session. I have decided that this session will focus on Dogme. So, I’m now re-reading Teaching Unplugged , Dogme articles.. I even dug up my PDA.

A great thing about doing courses like DELTA is that you do a lot of research and then create so many materials, templates, lesson plans that you can re-use in class, or in my case, in an imaginary training session!

Rereading my PDA Part 2 gave me so many ideas for my session, which I’m going to share with you. Whether you’re a teacher thinking about experimenting with Dogme, or a trainer interested in delivering a session on Dogme, this post might be useful.

So here’s how I planned and taught a Dogme class (or as Dogme as I could) for my DELTA Module 2 Experimental Practice. I will include some sections of my PDA Part 2 assignment, what I did (procedure), what I used (template) and..some evidence ( a picture of my whiteboard)! Students’ level was A2+/B1.

Useful notes from Teaching Unplugged

Dogme does not necessarily lack structure. Meddings and Thornbury (2017) propose a useful structure:

  1. Set it up: teachers or learners decide on a topic.
  2. Let it run: learners complete a task or engage in discussion about the selected topic.
  3. Round it off: groups report their opinions or survey results. The teacher provides feedback at that stage, although feedback can be ongoing.
  4. Follow up: consolidation of learning through classwork or homework.

Meddings and Thornbury (2017) highlight the following strategies for dealing with emergent language as the protein of Dogme:

Reward itPraise learners for their contributions
Retrieve itUse it-don’t ignore it
Repeat itDrill it
Recast itUpgrade it
Report itAsk learners to report findings
Recycle itEncourage learners to use it in context
Record itEnsure learners keep notes
Research itHelp learners notice patterns
Reference itLink it to your syllabus
Review itAsk learners what they have learned or understood at the end of class

My teaching objectives:

  1. To focus my teacher talk on the local and relevant needs of the people in the room (Thornbury, 2000).
  2. To create on-the-spot activities to practise emergent language.
  3. To link emergent language to course aims or previously taught language.

What I did

I told students I would talk about a topic for one minute. I encouraged them to ask questions, or ask for repetition or clarification if anything wasn’t clear. So, I talked about:

The advantages and disadvantages of living abroad.

After the input stage and the interaction that followed, I asked students to:

  • prepare their one-minute speech on a topic of their choice
  • deliver it in pairs, then in open class
  • reflect on all the speeches, choose their favourite and justify their choice.

I created this template to record language used (not just errors, but examples of correct language too)

Evidence

This is a picture of my whiteboard. Looking at it now, I cringe when I see some things like this ʌ without slashes (which looks like the circumflex in French!) but one of my personal aims is to be less hard on myself, so I’ll let this one slide…

After we heard everyone in open class, we focused on emergent language. I started with reward it and then drill it, focusing on some mispronunciations. Then students did talk about it and true for you in pairs, to practise some of the language that came up in their speeches. Then I asked them to google their mistakes in explore it, e.g why you can’t use very to modify ungradable adjectives, or find the past form of discover and how it’s pronounced. In the last column, I elicited some answers and made some corrections myself.

some notes from my post-lesson reflection

Overall, the lesson exceeded my expectations. Allowing learners to choose the topic resulted in maximum engagement and interaction.

I have achieved my teaching aims, as I used a variety of activities to deal with learner output.

One activity that students found useful, was research it; they were asked to look up and explain patterns, e.g. why very awful is inaccurate. Then, they added more ungradable adjectives to the list, such as amazing or fantastic. During the reflection stage, many students said this activity really helped them notice and learn from their errors.

Reference to syllabus items was achieved to an extent, e.g. by recycling the present perfect with have you ever questions to talk about experiences mentioned by students.

I focussed on individual needs by giving immediate feedback during pair work and delayed post-discussion correction. Moreover, I addressed individual errors, e.g. phonological, grammatical, lexical and fed in fillers, e.g. well , when students were using bueno.

I was concerned that immediate correction might have been more useful; however, learners stated that this delayed language focus did not block their fluency.

Students gave each other useful feedback on language, e.g. A.R corrected N.S when she said /spuːk/ for spoke. They also used emergent language in mini chats, like true for you or have you ever done that? My TTT was quite low, while STT was high.

 According to feedback, this class was more enjoyable and useful than coursebook-based classes. I was also surprised but pleased to witness that E.M, the weakest student, felt very comfortable to talk about her summer holidays and interacted well with her peers, even back-channelling , which she had never done before.

How would you do or have you done Dogme lessons? Any links, videos, or blogposts that you recommend reading? Apart from the ones in the references section? ⬇️

References

http://www.scottthornbury.com/articles.html

Meddings, L., & Thornbury, S. (2017). Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching. Ernst Klett Sprachen GmbH.

Thornbury, S. (2000). A Dogma for EFL. IATEFL issues, 153, 2.