News from English UK Teachers’ Conference 2011 – Dogme ELT (do you do it already?)

English-UKIf you haven’t come across the term Dogme ELT, you may have heard of the dogme approach to film-making, started in 1995.

This approach to film-making is about doing without expensive effects or technology. Within English language Teaching (ELT), a dogme approach is also ‘resource light’ without much reliance on coursebooks, access to computer suites, and other published or teachnical teaching aids.

In his talk, Luke Meddings referred to ‘Generation H’ i.e. the generation of language students brought up on Headway books and the associated controlled progression through subject areas and vocab/grammar points, no matter who the learners are or what turns them on. In opposition to this he discussed how lessons can focus on the lives and language of the learners.

In practice this results in conversation-driven lessons where discussion about grammar, usage etc comes after a session of speaking and is more about nudging students in the right direction rather than a full-blown analytical event such as ‘Lets now look at the second conditional’. The grammar etc that is taught in a dogme environment needs to be linked to the prior conversation(s).

This approach, it is claimed, suits both synoptic learners (who rely on intuition or instinct) and ectenic learners (who rely on guidance, examples and conscious learning). Dogme ELT is about creating a flow in lessons and focussing on the language that emerges.

In some ways this suits home tuition rather well since most Homelingua General English students put speaking as their priority but are very happy to do remedial grammar as and when. It encourages teachers to work from the interests and life of the student and not to impose a syllabus on them. Of course if a student is on the ectenic side they may feel in need of greater guidance and the chance to understand the language more analytically. As a teacher it is important to consider the learning preferences of your students and with home tuition you have the chance to tailor it to the individual.

If you want to find out more about Dogme ELT, there is a Yahoo discussion group you can join: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dogme/

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