Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Dogme ELT Play in 2 Acts

Could this be my first step into Dogme ELT? – ACT 1

General English - Thursday

So Thursday is now officially over. Today we looked at hopes and intentions. First, I gave them a review quiz, which took the students some time to finish on account of its length – the students had to put 20 sentences in order to make the dialogue that we did last week. Once finished though, I did something quite different - I told them to put their books away. I then had them choose a color marker, but I did not allow two students sitting together to have the same color. Once everyone had markers, I told them to find a partner with the same color. After everyone had done this, I wrote hopes and intentions on the board and introduced the topic. I then asked them to think of ways to talk about such things, ie the future. Immediately, many students started asking one another what they had to do, meaning that they did not exactly get it, or rather I did not explain it well enough, so I wrote an example on the board; I chose ‘will’ first because I thought that it would make things clear for them, but also I expected that they would write this one first, and I really wanted them to think of other expressions. I gave them between 5 and 10 minutes to think of different expressions, but really I should have only given them 5 (I think I will be a timer for next year because this will make keeping time much simpler) because the more time students have the more they will speak in Japanese although students were speaking Japanese from the beginning, something that we all have experienced and struggled with I’m sure.

Intermission 1

Actually, if there are any blogs or articles on getting students to use English more – I don’t expect students to speak 100% of the time in class, although there may be some teachers who can get their students to do this, and if there are, I would love to hear from them – I would greatly appreciate any links to such sites. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Intermission 2

Actually though, one more thing I have to mention, and I would love to hear from other teachers about this, but I am considering making it mandatory to bring supplies such as notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers and especially dictionaries and that if students fail to bring these things, I am thinking of docking points or some other kind of punishment. I know, I don’t like the punishment word either, but each semester I tell students in the beginning to bring these things, but still I see students come to class without such things, and some students even seem proud to have nothing, and it always makes me wonder, ‘What are you intending to do here if you don’t have the necessities?’ because even with Dogme ELT, such things are necessary, am I right? I suppose I could remind students each week, but I am not sure if that would really work. Of course, it’s not everyone, fortunately, but I can’t help feel that there are more students like this than there should be.

Could this be my first step into Dogme ELT? – ACT 2

While they were writing, I walked around observing what students wrote, helping them when necessary. For example, some students had written ‘I wish’, so I explained that we don’t use this for future hopes and intentions. After their time was up, I had students come up to the board and write down the different expressions. Some of them were the following:

I’m planning to…
I’m going to…
I’d like to…
I hope to…
I want to…
I desire to…
My dream is to…

I then gave them another 10 minutes, although I think they had more than that (again, I need to buy a timer) to write down their hopes, intentions, and dreams for the spring break, for next year and for five years later. Some students could not think of such things at first, but after some support they were able to. One student was struggling to come up with ideas, but I told the student that one’s hopes, dreams and intentions didn’t always have to be big, but even the little ones were important, and the student immediately started writing many things. Finally, I had each student come up to the front of class to present what they would like to do for each time period. Again some of the hopes and intentions were on a small scale, such as learning how to cook a certain dish, and others were on a much larger one, for example one student wanted to stop war. Once everyone had finished, I praised them for their ideas, and I repeated what I had told the student earlier about the importance of all dreams and hopes, big and small, because they were their dreams and hopes. I was then going to finish with a short dialogue that focused on hopes and intentions when one of my students asked me what my hopes and dreams were, a question that I greatly appreciated because it showed the student being active. Here is what I said more or less:

I would like to learn Italian. Honestly, I don’t know why, but I love the way it sounds. However, between Japanese and French and other things, I am not sure if I have the time, but it would be nice to know even a few words. My dream is to be a musician. Yes, I’ve said it. A long time ago I played for 200 people, some of whom cried when they heard my song (I am not joking), and ever since, I’ve wanted, and still do, to become a musician. However, my immediate goal is to read more and learn more about teaching so that I can become a better teacher.

By the time we finished, there was not enough time for the dialogue, so I talked about their test and then let them go.


One thing that I did not do was to note their mistakes. I think I did not do this because I wanted to focus on their ideas, and also it was the last class, but I think in the future, I would take in their posters, write out their sentences on a handout and the following week have them look at their sentences to see if they could find their mistakes, and then correct them together. Another thing I should have done was to ask them explicitly to try and use the new expressions because not many of them did so far as I could tell. Many used ‘want to’, ‘will’, ‘going to’ and ‘would like to’, but I think they already knew these, so unfortunately we missed a good opportunity to practice the new expressions. Of course, there were the time limits, too, which should have been enforced better. I probably should have been clearer about their posters telling them explicitly just to write the phrases because many just read their sentences straight from their posters. Another thing that perhaps could have been interesting was to have the students write an example for each expression as a way to practice the expressions before they presented. I’m also thinking that maybe I should have done the listening task first as it would have given them a better context for hopes and intentions. I’m sure there are many other things I could say, if I thought about it long enough, but I still have some work that I must finish for tomorrow, so I will have to stop here. I think in the end though, that this lesson went fairly well, and I think the students enjoyed it, which is important, but that there are some bugs to be worked out, but as with most new things, that is to be expected.



  1. I have established a blog to focus--in article form--on teaching EFL in Japan, including tertiary.

    Let's maintain mutual links.

    Charles Jannuzi

  2. I love the way you go into moment-to-moment detail in this description of your class. It made me think about so many things - the language - the context - the people.

    Thank for sharing.