Maybe I should have put a question mark at the end of this post’s title. Does Dogme work at low levels?
I only heard about Dogme for the first time last summer during my Delta course. Since then I have noticed it everywhere in the teaching world. During the Delta I focused on The Silent Way for my Experimental Practice Assignment, but of course I got the basics of the Dogme Method (Attitude). Since then I have gleaned a bit more through speaking to colleagues and through the great ELT blogs I have discovered in the last months.
Still I feel I need to know more. Currently I tend to utilise an eclectic mix of methods. Although I have always felt free to mix it up with coursebooks (adapt/skip/jump around) I admit that I find them a comforting crutch to lean on.
So I want to do the Dogme thing. But enough about me, what about the learner?
I started a new 1.2.1 class this week with a Russian woman, she is older than me, with grown up children in their early 20’s. I understood that she was a beginner and so in the Dogme spirit I tried to anticipate what could come up in lesson 1:
-verb: to be
-contents of our handbags/the office where we met
When I met her I soon found that she is a false beginner. In fact, she is definitely a comfortable A1 and should be working on A2 stuff. I think it’s fair to say it’s a matter of confidence.
I mentioned her age because perhaps that is why she so easily took the lead from the beginning of the lesson. She knew what she wanted to talk about: who we were. Also she had a proposition for our course. She asked if we could go out and about and use the time to speak in English, learning vocabulary related to the environment around us as we go. She is a visual learner and appreciates the memory association the happens when you learn a word while standing in front of the actual item.
I was happy to follow her through the hour we had together, noting emerging language and working on it with her on a piece of A4 paper.
Now I look back and wonder if my Dogme prayer has been answered. What is more Dogme than leaving the clinical and unnatural classroom and learning naturally while roaming free?
But then the more sensible part of me asks the following questions:
-Won’t it just become several chatting sessions with a friend? Is it really still teaching and learning?
-What can I do to avoid that scenario? Walk around with a clip board and scribble stuff to work on in a 10 minute end of ‘lesson’ recap? Or what?
Also I need to do some Dogme reading.
-Unplugged by Thornbury comes to mind. Can you recommend anything?
Next week I’m meeting my new student in the local shopping centre… What fun!