Friday, January 15, 2010

Dogme EL-what-T?

Today I had no classes due to the entrance exam preparation, so I wasn't intending to post, but I was checking my blogs when I noticed a comment from Karenne (thank you!) on my post from yesterday in which I was talking about whether or not to go with a textbook. She said that she doesn't like textbooks and that she practices Dogme ELT. Now, I had never heard of Dogme ELT, so I did some research on the subject and thought that maybe I could post what I found so that others like me who don't know exactly what Dogme ELT is can learn for themselves.

What is Dogme ELT?

Simply put, it is the practice of teaching without depending on books, technology etc and only using what is at hand in the classroom. It is also a style of teaching that is learner-focused in that the lessons evolve from the students' contributions.

Is it for me?

I'm not sure. While the ideas of breaking free from such teaching tools
as computers and course books and focusing the lesson on the learner are quite appealing, I am not sure if this would be a method that would work for me because despite my qualms about textbooks, they do have their advantages, and when I don't use a textbook my style of teaching usually consists of various worksheets and handouts, so I am not sure if I would be ready to abandon them completely. However, I am sure that one could incorporate such a method into one's style to mix it up a little and give variety to the course and in this way, it may be an interesting addition to one's repertoire, especially in a speaking class. I would be very interested to hear teachers' experiences with using Dogme ELT and how it worked for them, especially those teachers teaching a homogeneous group of learners, as I get the feeling that Dogme ELT would be better suited to a more heterogeneous group, but I could be wrong.

Further Information

I found a video, a 'webinar' actually, offered by a site called English Central, discussing a book written by
Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings entitled "Teaching Unplugged" about Dogme ELT which also gives some example activities. Interestingly, I had to do some hunting to find the different parts of the webinar, but unfortunately, part 7 seems to have disappeared from the Internet, so if anyone knows where I could find it, let me know so I can post it here.

Thank You

I would also like to thank Karenne for becoming my first follower ever. I greatly appreciate it, and also thanks for the information on blog publishing!



  1. :-)Eisensei,
    Before I respond in full, I'll see if I can convince some of the longer-standing, more experienced dogmeists to chime in and answer some of your qu's (as I'm a bit of a rogue technogeek dogmeist) ;-))

    Lovely to see you followed up on the comment and researched so thoroughly - I hadn't seen these videos before!!

  2. Truly student-centered teaching does not make a dogma out of using or not using a textbook. You have to use what works best for the students with you as teacher in the particular classroom situation in which you find yourself.


  3. Ok, here's Dogme from a teaching some other language as a foreign language. I wrote an article here Stevens, Vance. 2006. Learner strategies at the interface: Computer-assisted language learning meets computer-mediated communication. In Handbook for Arabic Language Teaching Professionals in the 21st Century, Kassem Wahba, Zeinab Taha, and Liz England (Eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., a pre-publication version of which I put online here:

    At that URL, scroll to just above and below the section "A syllabus for language learning". I think that's Dogme.

    I'm sure someone will tell me if it's not :-)

  4. Allow me to chip in with this video interview I did with the "Father of Dogme ELT", Scott Thornbury.

    There is a link to his own website there, including copies of his original article on the topic.

    The teaching unplugged book is a great resource, and you could do worse than join the dogme yahoo group. It's settled down a bit at the moment, but there are a lot of smart and feisty people on there (including Karenne) who will put you straight ; P

    It can be interpreted in the way you have, but I would focus on the way that dogme-ists pick up and use language as it is generated by the learners. If we get too stuck with a textbook, we can miss these chances. "What did you do at the weekend? Broke your leg? Oh.... well, let's open up to page 37" That kind of thing. Like Karenne, I also use technology, but try to keep a little dogme. It's allowing for changes, student input, surprises and different directions. I don't think the hetro- or homo-geneity of the class necessarily matters, but it gets more difficult with lower level learners and larger classes, I think.

    BTW, can you enable name / URL as a way of commenting on the blog? It's much easier for potential commenters...

  5. I am happy you found the recordings of the webinar that we did.. and it is good to know that there was a problem with Part 7 (it was too long - I have just reposted to YouTube as Parts 7A & 7B; our channel is tenglishc). So you can watch everything now.
    Tania, our Sales and Marketing Director (and also a CELTA tutor) wrote a very good article called "In Defense of the Coursebook" on our blog as a kind of response to Dogme. Please read it and leave your comments!

  6. Howdy, Vance again. Thanks Eisensei for your comment on one of my blog posts. I've created a post on this topic in its own right here (with a link to yours in case you have trackbacks):

    And to Darren, regarding activating html here, to make a hyperlink, type without intervening spaces < a href = "the url you want to link to enclosed in double quotes " > the text you want hyperlinked < / a > I hope that doesn't parse into html, if it does it will look strange here and might not communicate. Won't know till we try it ... here goes ...

  7. Thanks Vance! For those of you too lazy to cut and paste Scott Thornbury Interview here

    ; P

  8. I have been visiting various blogs for my term papers writing research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

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