Re: [dogme] Re: curious
- Hi Jenny
"It just sounds like common sense teaching to me". Well, that's as good a description of dogme as anything else. "So, what makes you new?" Nothing. "So, why bother?" Why not?
Nevertheless, this common sense teaching may not be so "common sense". If it was, why are your (and thousands of other teachers') working conditions the way they are? Why do so many teachers (ourselves included) speak in a "them and us" way? Why do so many teachers teach in a way that goes so against this common sensical approach? You may doubt that *any* 1-2-1 teacher simply sticks to the book. I *know* some who do.
This is sometimes taken by some as an implication that we are elitist and think ourselves better than our teaching colleagues. But *isn't* it better to communicate with students instead of forcing them through a coursebook. Isn't it better to get learners to talk as the key to helping them acquire the language. Isn't it better when the teacher helps students build on the language they already have rather than introducing them to language they have never heard of and do not appear to need?
Sure, the educational system in HK sounds pretty uninspiring and maybe there are restrictions that you simply won't be able to overcome. Good for you that you recognise the need to go au-si and you're making the effort to do what you can. Dogme forays can easily be disguised, even with classes of forty students. Just extend any opening chats you have. Set a few questions and ask them to chat in pairs. Get feedback from some members of the class. Get others to write a short paragraph about what they were told by their partner. Nothing original. Nothing revelatory. Just simple teaching using the students' lives as material. But you are probably already doing this and, if not, you undoubtedly have good reasons for not doing so. But, combined with exam training, I believe that this is the way to ensure that not only do your students pass those exams, but they become proficient learners of English as opposed to the fiercely resistant book-studiers that are then sent my way to the UK. That said, if the textbook rules the classroom, you can still minimise the role it plays. Breaking the habit of students doing exercises alone and getting them working in cooperative groups is a good way of doing this. Set the reading exercise on page 45, but with students working in groups and with clearly assigned tasks (to avoid the groups just sitting there silently, each working on their own task). It takes time for learners to get accustomed to it and it may seem for some weeks that nothing is really happening, but closer inspection will reveal that there is something going on. Being clear about the rationale for this is also important: the aim isn't to get people to finish reading exercises with as many questions correctly answered as possible (although this will be the long term aim). It's to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to talk about English and to make the coursebook work for the students rather than make them work for it.
So, if you came to the dogme list expecting radically new ideas, you may be disappointed! The ideas are usually fairly old hat and there's a lot of discussion about theories that may bore you to tears (or alternatively have you heading for the delete button). That said, there's something here that makes this discussion list one of the most successful I know. It's got a real sense of community and my teaching has certainly improved as a consequence of ideas generated by this list.
There are those who would accuse me of peddling trite aphorisms, but...people who want to learn a language would do well to study it less and learn it more, a concept expressed more neatly by Lao Tse with whom your superiors may well be familiar.
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- --- In email@example.com, "Diarmuid Fogarty" <fogarty.olmos@t...>
> Hi Jennygood a description of dogme as anything else. "So, what makes you
> "It just sounds like common sense teaching to me". Well, that's as
new?" Nothing. "So, why bother?" Why not?
Indeed, and I do. We Hong Kong NETs are all probably a bit jaded,
being told repeatedly that we will create change from within. Mmmmm.
Hard going. Parents here send their kids off to tutorial schools in
any free moment they have, and kids are terrified of failing the
exams. I've been in my school 5 years, and there's been some change
(I can see it especially with kids who I taught exclusively for 3
years - now in form 4 they can converse! - fearlessly). Things filter
thru - my new form 3 class had to design a behaviour contract with
their form teacher the other day and they included asking teachers to
let them do exercises when they tell the teachers they are tired -
because I do it(they are often forced to sit and be lectured thru a
microphone for a 90 minute double lesson - torture, especially on a
hot, humid Hong Kong day) (I refuse to use a microphone - eeeek!!!!!!
even if I have to shout over air conditioners and 8 lanes of
> Nevertheless, this common sense teaching may not be so "commonsense". If it was, why are your (and thousands of other teachers')
working conditions the way they are?
TRAINING! Most teachers in HK are not trained - they come out of one
end and reenter at the other end (parallels with digestive tracts...).
I'm teaching 'benchmarking' courses at one of the universities too -
all teachers of English without an English degree now have to pass a
benchmark exam. I also regularly lead workshops at PD days organised
by our NET association. I try to do my bit - but I have learned that
compromise is essential - hey, China has the world's oldest
everything, and change doesn't happen fast...
And then there are 'seen dictations' - but let me leave them for
PS I love group work, but 40 Cantonese-speaking adolescents in a tiny
classroom with all their books and bags on the floor (no lockers - no
space) can be a liitle hard to monitor - they drift in and out of
English depending on my proximity. And the volume? woooo.
PPS Hong Kong has a lot of language issues - using English as a medium
of instruction or not (everyone wants to, no-one does it properly,
only some schools are allowed to); the fact that Cantonese is a spoken
language, and that Chinese writing doesn't mesh with it, so the kids
have trouble with that; and now they're talking about Putonghua -
Mandarin - as the medium of instruction. I plan to be gone before
that happens!!!! :)