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17643Re: [dogme] Back in the classroom

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  • Dennis Newson
    Jan 15, 2014
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      How lovely to be writing to you here again.

      But I'm afraid my first response is disappointing - I cannot be critical. I can only agree with all you write.

      As you, Diarmuid, and all people on this list know, there are at least two broad categories of language learners (and note how politically correctly we both write of learning not teaching - even this stance seems to me to put us in a minority group):

      > ividuals who just "pick up" languages, because their parents and relatives speak different languages, because they live in mulit-lingual communities, because they are motivated by getting you take their taxi, buy their carpets, be intimate with them

      > hordes  upon hordes of children lucky enough to go to schools where somone - several people - have decided for them, without consulting them what and how and why they should be taught XYZ. (Note the switch to "teach".)

      Dogme sympathists, I guess, by implied definition,are seekers after truth - pushing to one side what others think, write say about why and how languages - and which ones - are to be mastered - they are learner friendly, humane, idealistic and want to get at  "THE truths" (note the plural) about how, variegated learners, for multifarious inner and outer  - motivational, political, social,hard-wired, chemically controlled, etc. "reasons" can be facilitated,  to drop into the jargon, scaffolded, zone-proximated, neurally-aware assisted, into the most effective way of said learner getting to where they need to be in terms of the target language of their choice.

      Caring teachers, to use the old-fashioned term, need to,  life-long, never lose their fascination at trying to glimpse the mysteries of the nature of language and use intuition, experience, reading, thought, reflection, perhaps even study (be especially discriminating about spending too much of your short life span on academic research into learning - though respect and revere academic resarch into language itself)- all of these to practrice and recommend effective language learning support. And part of being student-centred, of course, is that you play the game and help them to beatthe ystem and get the best marks possible. Bujt that is examination techinques - not language facilitation.

      And of course - the golden rule - if you want to use the word "teach" always remember you teach people, not subjects.

      Dennis hath written.


      Dennis Newson
      Formerly : University of Osnabrueck, GERMANY

      Committee member : IATEFL YLTSIG

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      Winner British Council ELT 05 Team Innovation Award

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      On 15 January 2014 08:31, <fogarty.diarmuid@...> wrote:

      I'm now back in the classroom, away from my manager's desk. As well as being a manager, I have timetabled myself for 10 hours of teaching a week. We are using a coursebook that features some great pictures from National Geographic, but which is short on texts and long on grammar.

      The first thing that has occurred to me as I try to balance my time, is that it is really, really difficult to teach from a coursebook: texts are too short, listenings are insubstantial, the grammar is not relevant, the lexical focus is random. Everything that I try to do with the book proves Sun Tzu's observation about no battle plan surviving first contact with the enemy (although that metaphor may not be the most appropriate).

      Could language learning be solely about using the language to converse and helping people over the sticky patches? Could it be no more than simply speaking and recasting with a refocused register or more ambitious lexis?

      Could it be anything else? I come back to the conclusion that the only viable approach -one that we have decided to label Dogme- is the one that our language teaching institutions have rendered challenging. Dogme appears to be common sense that is only rendered uncommon by the exclusively economic decision to group individuals together, label them with levels, and pretend that their individual learning needs can be catered for en masse.

      Just how naive am I? Critical responses welcomed like prodigal children.

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