The ABC of ELT

My first Dogme moments

This was inspired by Mike Harrison asking about our first Dogme moments.

Let’s clear something up straight away before we get any further. I do not do Dogme lessons, I am not a fully subscribed Dogmatitian but I do view it positively and reading about Dogme has certainly influenced my teaching.

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Adapted from filipefrad picture on

Having said this, I have had Dogme moments.

I first heard about Dogme at the IH Ukraine workshop in Donetsk [November?] 2010 when Scott Thornbury was the keynote speaker.

I was hooked!

  • A challenging new way of teaching
  • Relevant for students
  • Using them to provide material and making sure they were active participants in the lessons
  • Truly focusing on skills not grammar McNuggets
  • Not needing to rely on the stack loads of materials that I found myself taking into every lesson.(perhaps the most convincing reason for a new teacher)

However, I was worried too.

I still didn’t really know what made a pre-int students not an intermediate students. I didn’t have a bag of instant tricks, basically, I felt like I was still just finding my feet and I wasn’t ready. [I’m sure all those critics who say that Dogme can’t be done by a NQT will love reading that last paragraph] On top of that the schools initiative didn’t allow the option to throw away all the coursebooks.

Despite this, over the next year a few experiences arose that allowed me to experience Dogme moments.

Unplugging part of a Kids lesson

The first was my kids classes where our warm up became the most exciting part of the lesson. A simple activity of pass the ball and ask questions turned into uncovering language gaps and practising those that came up. I noticed that my students fluency rose dramatically from so much practice.

Dogme experiment 1 a success.

A complete Dogme lesson

The next Dogme moment came when out of a group of 5 students…one turned up…over halfway through the one and a half hour lesson. My DoS told me to “Just speak and do some delyed error correction” but I decided to give Dogme a go (When life gives you Lemons and all that).

It wasn’t amazing. There were awkward pauses as I scrambled my brain to think what a 16 old girl would like to talk about. However, I got to save a lesson plan, go over some of the grammar areas I knew she had particular difficulty with and compare how relationships are different long distant to short distance.

By the end of the lesson we had practice some of these lexical items and she had come up with her “rules for long distance relationships.” (I hope you can see the difference between conversation with delayed error corrections and what happened in the lesson.)

I’ve had a few other random moments of Dogme during my teaching career but these are the two events I can remember the most. Hopefully, I’ll get to experiment more in the future and adopt a more integrated approach to teaching combining Dogme and more traditional methods.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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