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Name: Ben Green

Candidate Number: 008

Centre: CLIC International House, Seville
Centre Number: ES068

Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Part B:


Dogme with Lower-level

Principles and Definitions


Advantages and Disadvantages


Why Ive chosen Dogme for this group of learners

Objectives of this experiment

5- 6
How I Intend to implement Dogme
Post Lesson Evaluation
6- 7

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

Possible Adaptations and Future Use


Appendix A: Student Feedback on Method....9
Appendix B: Peer observer on Method.....10
Appendix C: Lesson Plan...11

Word count: 2,227

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

Even this room holds a thousand stories you could include.. Lars Von Trier
Dogme originated from Scott Thornbury's article A Dogma for EFL in 2000, which
argued that an over-reliance on published materials was stifling the very
communicative approach that they are designed to encourage. It got its inspiration
from the world of film, specifically a group of Danish film-makers lead by Lars Von
Trier who themselves were responding to the over reliance on technique and style in
the film industry in the mid-1990s.
In terms of its use inside the classroom it is a wholly student-centred approach.
Thornbury (2000: 2) believes that "The language focus should emerge from, and
not determine, the communicative needs of the learners."
Dogme ELT views language acquisition as an emergent and complex phenomenon,
socially motivated and dependent on the concerns, interests, desires and needs of
the user. Engaging learners in a L2 dialogue fosters L2 acquisition in the purest
Krashen sense of this notion (Krashen 1981). It happens in the background,
emerges slowly, without ostentatious teaching taking place. Therefore, any attempt
to control it from the outside (for instance by means of a prescribed textbook) is
futile. The antithesis of Dogme ELT is to allow imported grammar-driven materials to
rule teaching, and in effect, reduce learners to passive consumers of grammar
McNuggets as Thornbury calls them.
The abundance of teaching materials results in treating the language as something
coming from outside, rather than something coming from inside, i.e. a tool for selfexpression. By bringing the socio-cultural aspect of language back into the forefront
of teaching, Dogme ELT is a humanistic approach which captures language as a
means for self-expression, completely lowering the students affect filter and
creating the type of environment that is most conducive to language acquisition.
Language learners are, after all, individuals and their learning goals are defined by
what the learner wishes to express. This means that they have their own unique and
personal learning syllabuses. Therefore, Dogme ELT forbids any pre-selected
syllabus of grammar or lexical-notional items. Instead, language learning is to
happen through social interaction and dialogue.
Principles and Definitions of Dogme:

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

These are the principles of Dogme: (adapted from Thornburys vows of chastity

Teaching should focus on the learner's needs and objectives - not be driven
by external resources such as course books.
Resources ought to be provided by or generated by the students or whatever
happens to be in the classroom or to hand at the moment.
The lesson should be guided by the environment and surroundings, if you
want to do a lesson on trees then go outside.
The teacher acts as the facilitator and is on the same level as the students,
participating fully in the process.
Real language and communication should be used at all times. There should
be an actual need to communicate something of interest between all the
The teacher must sit down at all times that the students are seated, except
when monitoring group or pair work (and even then it may be best to pull up
a chair). In small classes, teaching should take place around a single table .
Grammar explanations arise naturally from the lesson and are not the reason
for it. They should not dominate the class or take up too much of the lesson
Levels of students are not graded: students should be free to join the class
that they feel most comfortable in, whether for social reasons, or for reasons
of mutual intelligibility, or both. As in other forms of human social interaction,
diversity should be accommodated, even welcomed, but not proscribed.
The criteria and administration of any testing procedures must be negotiated
with the learners.
Teachers themselves will be evaluated according to only one criterion: that
they are not boring.


Students should feel in control of their learning process and consequently be

more motivated. Their affective filter should be lowered and they will be more
open to learning as the topic has been chosen by them and they can see the
immediate benefit of using the language in a natural setting.

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

From the teacher's point of view there is the big advantage of little or no
lesson preparation. The teacher is not reliant on having the materials to hand
and is therefore able to adapt to whatever situation/environment they find
themselves in.
Teachers may feel liberated from the structure of a course book and
subsequently this could increase the motivation for the teacher.


Students may not understand the approach or may feel uncomfortable using
it. Especially if they are more accustomed to traditional teaching methods.
New teachers especially may be extremely uneasy about the prospect of
abandoning the security of a textbook.
Teachers may be constricted by their own schools syllabus and not have the
freedom to use this methodology.
It reduces the authority of the teacher which may make some teachers and
students uneasy. This is especially true in some cultures where the teacher is
held in great respect (i.e. The Far East)
Dogme may not be appropriate for all types of classes so although it is good
for teaching students communicative skills it is not appropriate for students
studying for a specific exam.
Dogme may work initially but self generated ideas may soon be exhausted
with students preferring to return to the structure of the course book and
more traditional methods of learning.

Why I have chosen to use Dogme with this group of learners:

The reason that I have chosen to experiment with the Dogme ELT approach has
been influenced by a few factors. Firstly, my current teaching context is very much
focussed on exam preparation which itself is very restrictive in terms of using
materials that are not obviously of benefit to the exam. Therefore I believe it will be
interesting to experiment with a methodology that is the complete opposite.
Secondly, whilst reading about Dogmes principles I started to reflect on the value
of my teaching practices and habits. I believe that any ELT development that
encourages me to re-evaluate my own teaching is an instrument for selfimprovement and increased motivation. When I first heard about Dogme a few
years ago I had rather negative reaction to it believing it to be nothing more than an
official name for winging it. I was also not a little apprehensive of teaching without
the safety net of course books or pre-prepared materials. This has given way to
questions about the amount of photocopies I bring to the classroom and how I let

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

them become a filter between me and my students. It made me realize that perhaps
I have become too dependent on teaching materials, stifling students real learning
opportunities, and it would be interesting to see if (and how) I could teach
effectively without using handouts or technology.
Thirdly, I agree with Krashens theory that having a low affective filter aids learning.
In my research, it seems that Dogme is one of the greatest advocates of lowering
the affective filter to enhance learners level of language acquisition.
The objectives for the experimental lesson.
The class I have chosen for the experimental lesson is a pre-intermediate
conversation group; it is an additional class which students take alongside their
main class. The lessons are therefore less restrictive and there is no set syllabus.
For this reason I believe it will be ideally suited to a Dogme- type lesson. The group
are extremely motivated and I believe they would be quite open to new ideas. It will
be interesting to see how they react to a lesson format different from what they
have been used to, and if Dogme ELT, proves workable in this teaching context.
The objectives of the experimental lesson are therefore, as follows:

To test face validity of Dogme ELT methodology:

To see to what extent the students are engaged in the lesson
To reflect if they enjoy Dogme-like teaching and learning.
To test if Dogme ELT is applicable to lower level students.
To see if I can effectively cope with emerging language and incorporating it
into on-the-spot created activities.

I intend to measure these objectives of the experiment by means of a simple

questionnaire that students will be asked to complete after the lesson. I will also ask
an experienced colleague to observe the lesson and feedback his remarks regarding
the objectives after the lesson.
I felt that creating a relaxed atmosphere and handing complete control of the lesson
to the students would be a good confidence boost for these pre-intermediate
students. While some students (e.g. Oscar) are always very quick to answer and
are very imaginative with their ideas, others (such as Maria Jose) seem reluctant to
expand much when speaking. It would be interesting to see how the students react
to the content of the class.
How I intend to implement Dogme

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

After researching Dogme I discovered that there are a variety of techniques that can
be used to teach a Dogme style class. I have chosen to use an idea that was
suggested in Thornburys (2009)Teaching Unplugged. It involves students using
objects that they have on them when they enter the classroom in a form of show
and tell. I believe this method would work well with this group of students as they
enjoying speaking about their personal lives and experiences, so this will give them
a good opportunity to do this and perhaps expand on these ideas more. It will also
enable them to work on their question forms, which is something they often have
problems with.
Post-lesson evaluation (500)

Strengths and weaknesses of the lesson:

Certain aspects of the lesson went well. The students seemed to enjoy having the
opportunity to speak about their items and the students were genuinely interested
in each others objects. Fortunately, the students objects were diverse and had
interesting enough stories themselves to maintain conversation and a wide variety
of language emerged naturally enough from them, which was rewarding. For
example one student produced a small box of sweets that were a present from her
boyfriend who she had met over the Internet. So the conversation moved to the
pros and cons of meeting people over the Internet and I was able to board a lot of
language to do with relationships. The pace of the class was swift and the feedback
from the students was generally positive with comments such as entertaining,
and I had a lot of opportunities to speak
My colleague wrote that the students seemed to be engaged at all points, and didnt
seem confused or bored at any stage.
As a teacher I realized that I was learning a lot about the students lives and
personalities and the students were more open to sharing more personal
information, whereas in the past discussions have tended to be focused on more
abstract debates or quite bland topics such as daily routines or favourite films.
I believe I could have done a lot more with the emergent language and although a
lot of vocabulary was boarded, it would have been interesting if I had gone more out
of my comfort zone and looked at some functional language. For example one
student produced some medication that she was taking which lead to some medical
lexical items. However, I could have developed this further by looking at language
for giving advice or possibly a role play for asking for a prescription in a pharmacy.
Towards the end of the class the students did appear to be running out of steam a
little which might not have been the case If I had run with one of the objects and
developed it further. This is something I will do the next time I do this kind of

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

Possible adaptations and future use:

In future students could prepare a bit more and bring in objects with an interesting
history for the next class. One of the students remarked that he would have liked to
have known beforehand and he would have brought in more interesting objects.
As students are actively encouraged to bring things into the classroom from
outside, these can be used to base a lesson around, it could become a regular part
of the routine which would be used to generate interest and language would
naturally evolve from these items. The class could be developed with the students
writing a history of an object or one of their classmates objects.
Furthermore I would think it would be interesting to try this kind of class with higher
level students to see how it differs. It could be adapted for young learners and
could evolve into a project with students making posters or scrapbooks with
interesting facts and pictures of their objects. One of the comments from one of the
students was that the lesson was good owing to the fact that it was a small group. I
do believe it would be more challenging with larger groups as I would have to act as
a facilitator while students carried out the show-and- tell activities in smaller
grouper; I would need to move between the groups making notes of emergent
language and possibly develop it at the end instead of reacting on the spot to the
new language.


Hedge, T. (2000) Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. OUP

Krashen, S.D. (1981) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.
English Language Teaching Series. London: Prentice-Hall International (UK)
PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme
with Lower-level learners

Meddings, L & Thornbury, S. (2009) Teaching Unplugged, DTDS

Meddings, L. & Thornbury, S. (2003) What Dogme Feels Like. Humanizing
Language Teaching, Year 5, Issue 6, November 03.
Richards, J. & Rodgers, T. (1986) Approaches and Methods in Language
Teaching, CUP.
Thornbury, S. (2000) A Dogma for EFL. IATEFL Issues 153, Feb/March 2000.
Thornbury S., Meddings L. (2003) Dogme still able to divide ELT. Guardian
Weekly, Thursday, April 17, 2003.

Appendix D Student Feedback Form

Student feedback form

Please answer the following questions:
PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme
with Lower-level learners

1) Did you enjoy the lesson? (Why/Why not?)

2) What did you learn from the lesson?
3) What activities were enjoyable in this lesson? (Why?)
4) What activities were less enjoyable in this lesson? (Why?)
5) What did you think of your teacher in todays class?

Peer Observation form

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

Please answer the following questions:

1) What was your overall opinion of the lesson?
2) How did the students respond to the lesson?
3) What aspects of the lesson were successful? (Why?)
4) What aspects of the lesson were less successful? (Why?)
5) What could be changed to improve the lesson?

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners


and Aims




PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

To create
interest and
to practice


Show students object (Owl Keyring)

Elicit questions from students
regarding the object
Tell story of object filling in any
gaps not covered by the
Board any necessary vocabulary
and correct question forms if

For students
to be able to
choose what
they want to
discuss and
language they
are interested


Ask students to choose an object

form their bags/pockets which
they think others may be
interested in.
Go around the class eliciting
questions with students taking it
in turns to show an object and
tell the story of their object.


Students may not

have objects to
Students might be
reluctant to
expand or may
not have many
questions to ask.

Board new vocabulary and any

relevant language that the
students need or display interest


of new


Monitor and error correct if

Drill new boarded language.
Expand on any lexis in terms of
related vocabulary collocations

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners

PDA Part B Experimental Practice: Dogme

with Lower-level learners