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Is dogme now mainstream?

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  • Robert M. Haines
    In the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2004) 24, 126-145. CUP, I discovered an article called Current Developments in Research of the Teaching of
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 2, 2004
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      In the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2004) 24, 126-145. CUP, I discovered an article called "Current Developments in Research of the Teaching of Grammar" by Hossein Nassaji and Sandra Fotos (who I'm sure are very nice people), which stated in its abstract:

      "With the rise of communicative methodology in the 1970s, the role of grammar instruction in second language learning was downplayed, and it was even suggested that teaching grammar was not only unhelpful but might actually be detrimental. However, recent research has demonstrated the need for formal instruction for learners to attain high levels of accuracy."

      What would collocates for 'grammar' in a corpus of ELT/Applied Linguistics literature be? "teaching", "instruction"? The assumption seems to be that grammar must be taught by way of formal instruction. But let's read on...

      "While not denying the role for explicit instruction, N. Ellis (2002) suggests that language learning is ultimately implicit in nature, 'the slow acquisition of form-function mappings and the regularities therein. This skill, like others, takes tens of thousands of hours of practice, practice that can not be substituted for by provision of a few declarative rules' (p.175)."

      Now we're getting somewhere, aren't we?

      "However, this does not mean that grammar instruction is not useful. Rather, what is suggested is that learners must also have opportunities to encounter, process, and use instructed forms in their various form-meaning relationships so that the forms can become part of their interlanguage behavior (see Larsen-Freeman, 2003)."

      Uh-huh... wait a minute! Ellis doesn't say anything about using *instructed forms*. To my eyes, it says language learners simply need to practice language in order to acquire it.

      "Reviewing recent studies on formal instruction, R. Ellis (2002a) suggests that when grammar instruction is extensive and is sustained over a long period of time (several days or weeks), such instruction contributes to the development of implicit knowledge as measured by performance on free production tasks."

      And what did those free production tasks entail, Mr. Ellis? Also, sustained periodontal deep-cleaning over a long period can make my teeth pearly white, but I'd rather go every six months. What did the students think/feel about the grammar instruction mentioned here?

      "Instruction also promotes accuracy in the use of difficult forms such as English articles [like the one you're reading now?]. He therefore notes (2001, 2002b, 2003) that current research strongly supports the need for provision of communicative opportunities containing instructed grammar forms, and he recommends a combination of form focused instruction and meaningful communication, suggesting possible intervention points for instruction in a task-based communicative curriculum."

      But why not talk with students, listen to them talk with each other and you, then talk about the language everyone is using when that becomes the topic of discussion? Isn't that much less intrusive than 'intervention points'?

      "Thus, current research indicates that learners need opportunities to both encounter and produce structures which have been introduced either explicitly through a grammar lesson, or implicitly, through frequent exposure (also see reviews in Gass, Mackey, & Pica, 1998: N. Ellis, R. Ellis, 2001, 2002a, 2000b, 2003; Lightbrown, 2000, 1995, 2002), a consideration raised several decades ago by Swain in her work on learner output (1985, 1995)."

      And Dennis thought *he* lived in the land of footnotes.

      So if students have opportunities to encounter and produce structures to which they have been introduced implicitly through frequent exposure, that's enough to lead to acquisition? Why the call for formal instruction then? Perhaps the next (and final, I promise) paragraph can enlighten us:

      "Pedagogically, focus on form can be achieved in many different ways. For example, Nassaji (1999, 2000) proposed that focus on form can be achieved through *process* or through *design*. focus on form through *process* occurs in the context of natural communication when both the teacher and the learner's primary focus is on meaning."

      Primary focus on meaning, like in real communication between people who want to communicate... Can you say, 'Dogme'?

      "Focus on form through *design* is deliberate and is achieved through designing tasks which have deliberate explicit focus. Focus on form can also be achieved *reactively* through providing reactional feedback on learners' errors [Scaffolding?] of *preemptively* through discussing grammatical forms irrespective of whether an error has occurred or not (Ellis et al., 2001a, 2001b; Long & Robsinson, 1998)."

      But why make a 'preemptive strike' on target language that hasn't emerged in the course of interaction between the folks in the room?

      This article gives me the impression that dogmetic pedagogy is acceptable to SLA researchers, despite the claim that formal grammar instruction is making a 'comeback'.

      NB: If anyone wants more info on the many citation in parentheses listed here, please mail me off-list.

      Rob







      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • djn@dennisnewson.de
      Rob, I thoroughly enjoyed your long summary on the (not) teaching and learning of grammar - as you can imagine. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, on the one
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 2, 2004
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        Rob,

        I thoroughly enjoyed your long summary on the (not) teaching and learning of grammar
        - as you can imagine.

        Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, on the one hand we have those who feel compelled
        to write in the academically, politically correct fashion - "As Haines (1990b, 1991,
        1992c, 1993 (forthcoming), 1994 (with Robinson), 1995 a, b, c, d has argued: " ....a little
        bit of what you fancy, does you good." Aren't those conventions alone suspect? Just
        who is trying to impress whom?

        On the other hand, to take just one illustrative group, there are children and young
        people around the world picking up languages to survive in new environments for whom
        "grammar" is only part of "school " English/German - whatever - not the real thing.

        I still submit that "grammar" is like cigarettes. There are so very many people around
        with an invested interest in their continuance that arguments against them bounce like
        stones off riot shields.

        I notice grammar supporters no longer like the word "correctness" - they talk about
        accuracy instead - a prompt for one of my favourite Oscar Wilde quotations:

        "Did you hear what I was playing, Laine? I don't play accurately, but I play with great
        feeling."

        Give me feelings expressed rather than mere accuracy any day.

        Dennis
      • profshaun36
        I enjoyed the summary too and it made me think about what I liked about reading the articles on the dogme site. No quotes of the hundreds of EL professors
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 3, 2004
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          I enjoyed the summary too and it made me think about what I liked
          about reading the articles on the dogme site.
          No quotes of the hundreds of EL professors
          Shaun
        • Adrian Tennant
          ... discovered an article called Current Developments in Research of the Teaching of Grammar by Hossein Nassaji and Sandra Fotos (who I m sure are ...
          Message 4 of 12 , Jul 5, 2004
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            Rob quotes:

            > In the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2004) 24, 126-145. CUP, I
            discovered an article called "Current Developments in Research of the
            Teaching of Grammar" by Hossein Nassaji and Sandra Fotos (who I'm sure are
            very nice people), which stated in its abstract:
            >
            > "With the rise of communicative methodology in the 1970s, the role of
            grammar instruction in second language learning was downplayed, and it was
            even suggested that teaching grammar was not only unhelpful but might
            actually be detrimental. However, recent research has demonstrated the need
            for formal instruction for learners to attain high levels of accuracy."


            But are accuracy & grammar the same thing?

            Dr Evil
          • djn@dennisnewson.de
            As Dr. E knows and is reminding us of, grammar means dinfferent things to different people. Dennis
            Message 5 of 12 , Jul 5, 2004
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              As Dr. E knows and is reminding us of, 'grammar' means dinfferent things to different
              people.

              Dennis
            • Luke Meddings
              No it don t. ... Luke Meddings London ... From: djn@dennisnewson.de [mailto:djn@dennisnewson.de] Sent: 05 July 2004 09:46 To: dogme@yahoogroups.com Subject:
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 5, 2004
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                No it don't.

                --------------------------------------------------------
                Luke Meddings
                London
                --------------------------------------------------------


                -----Original Message-----
                From: djn@... [mailto:djn@...]
                Sent: 05 July 2004 09:46
                To: dogme@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [dogme] Is dogme now mainstream?


                As Dr. E knows and is reminding us of, 'grammar' means dinfferent
                things to different
                people.

                Dennis




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              • djn@dennisnewson.de
                OH YES IT DOES! :-) .....grammar means different (not dinfrent) things to different people. Seriously, Luke. Why don t you agree? Dennis
                Message 7 of 12 , Jul 5, 2004
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                  OH YES IT DOES! :-) .....grammar means different (not dinfrent) things to different
                  people. Seriously, Luke. Why don't you agree?


                  Dennis
                • profshaun36
                  It s now time to relax and get ready for conferences and doing sorting out my life. It is the end of semestre/term. These last 6 months I have had 2 classes
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jul 6, 2004
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                    It's now time to relax and get ready for conferences and doing
                    sorting out my life. It is the end of semestre/term.

                    These last 6 months I have had 2 classes that I think I can say that
                    I tried to do the dogme. I'm hedging it here. That means no
                    coursebook involved. While in between the coursebook classes I had
                    lots of dogme moments.

                    Of the two dogme classes one was a success and the other not so.

                    In the one which was not as good as I hoped, I had explained to the
                    class how the course would go and how the students would bring in
                    their knowledge and experience into the classroom and we would
                    develop our classes from there. Everything was going fine when
                    suddenly one day at the start of a class I could clearly feel the
                    students sitting back and watching. They seemed to be waiting to be
                    given things to do and items to study. As I always keep a text or two
                    up my sleeve this is what we did and suddenly the class changed as
                    they kept expecting me to give them information to study. I reminded
                    them of what I had said at the start and off we went again but after
                    some time they then seemed to expect me to teach the way they had
                    already been used to.
                    At these times I went into class with nothing planned to see what
                    they would do. I would tell them that I had nothing for them and they
                    started too talk about things but no real coorperation was
                    forthcoming and classes seemed stale at times. I feel the expectation
                    was that I am the teacher and should teach and this still came to the
                    fore in our classes. The students never said this explicitly but it
                    was obvious by the way they acted at the start of the class.

                    The other class was completely different. I explained things the same
                    way as the first but I don't think I planned anything all semestre.
                    These learners started to come early and sit outside of the class
                    talking to each other in their L1 and then come into class and talk
                    about the same thing again. I would sit there and listen to them as
                    they help each other through correction and reacting to what is being
                    said. I participate as one of them. We talked about the films we had
                    seen so many times we even decided to see one film over a weekend so
                    we could all talk about it the following class (Elephant by Gis Van
                    Sant).
                    Sometimes they would ask me something about grammar or ask for a word
                    and the conversation would continue. If I saw a constant mistake that
                    seems to interfere with what was being said I would just usually
                    repeat it the way I see it should be said. (it is sometimes
                    impossible not to fall into a teaching role). The student would
                    usually say "öh what did I say?" and ask me to repeat it. Sometimes
                    they would realise their mistake and carry on or ask me to tell them
                    what I thought was not right. Other times the group would listen and
                    we would discuss this point and we'd expand on it further. Then
                    continue once again with the conversation. Most of the time when I
                    sorrected this way they would do nothing nd just go on talking far
                    too interested in what the subject was.

                    This group decided to give talks about their work or things they
                    liked, we learnt about London, sending legal documents over the
                    internet, optical illusions, Machado de Assis and Sesame Street.
                    During the time together we create a new city, brought objects of
                    personal value to discuss, exchanged ideas of the internet, talked
                    about their favourite sites, brought in music and video to discuss.
                    They asked me to bring in some texts about the country that had been
                    in the news and only once said "we're are tired let's do nothing", so
                    we watched a video".

                    With the first group I had to pull them through things some classes
                    were great and other times they just wanted to be spoon fed with
                    information. While I tried to allow them to take more control it was
                    at times hard.
                    The second group of course was great. I saw them develop their
                    interests and ideas together and along with it they improved their
                    spoken English without noticing much effort. There was far less
                    evidence of this with the first.
                    As I observed this second group became much more fluent than the
                    other, they needed very minimal input from me and most of the
                    mistakes they made seemed to filter out as they had opportunities to
                    practice them. The group grew closer and studied together supporting
                    each other during the class. There was no "love" involved but
                    certainly they were very motivated and enthusiastic towards each
                    other. They apologised if they had to miss a class. It was a joy to
                    be a passenger on this ride.
                    I'm trying to figure out why the first group wasn't as successful and
                    the other so dynamic. Maybe the students of the first are so used to
                    having things given to them and not being allowed to think that it is
                    difficult to think things will change in one semestre.
                    Shaun

                    PS If you got to this end of my message and you are going to the Braz-
                    Tesol in Belo Horizonte in a few weeks let me know off line and
                    perhaps we can meet up and chat.
                  • midill@aol.com
                    I did read all of your thoughts on your Dogme Semester and found them to be very interesting. If dogme works with a group, it is a great way to go. If it
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jul 6, 2004
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                      I did read all of your thoughts on your Dogme Semester and found them to be
                      very interesting. If dogme works with a group, it is a great way to go. If it
                      doesnt' work it is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Maybe.

                      Rosemary


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Adrian Tennant
                      From Shaun s posting A line with a real flavour
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jul 7, 2004
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                        From Shaun's posting

                        A line with a real flavour

                        > It was a joy to be a passenger on this ride.
                      • Sue Murray
                        Shaun s posting also reminded me of a point Dr E made the other ... And in some ways, Shaun had to be more dogmetic with the group who were less dynamic and
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jul 8, 2004
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                          Shaun's posting also reminded me of a point Dr E made the other
                          day:
                          >In fact I think Dogme is 'up' on reacting to students and not just
                          >following a preset plan (whether in a coursebook or just in the teachers
                          >mind).

                          And in some ways, Shaun had to be more 'dogmetic' with the group who were
                          less dynamic and generative??

                          Sue
                        • Melanie King
                          Dear Shaun, Thankyou so much for your end of year reflection. I really valued the honesty of your reflection. All of what you wrote resonated one way or
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jul 15, 2004
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                            Dear Shaun,

                            Thankyou so much for your end of year reflection. I really valued the
                            honesty of your reflection. All of what you wrote resonated one way or
                            another and I definitely have the T-shirt! You described quite a lot and at
                            our most worn out time of the year, and though I don't have the answers, I'm
                            happy to feed back on what I think you said, and maybe re-frame some of it
                            from my own perceptions and experience, because I think there are clues to
                            your own answers in what you are saying.

                            Your more "cooperative" group sounded just lovely. Even doing "nothing" was
                            creative for them! You described how improving their spoken language even
                            seemed to be a by-product of all their collaboration together. There are
                            enormous skills required in creating and sustaining that environment - I
                            would have loved to have been a fly on your wall or even "passenger on that
                            ride." So thankyou.

                            In comparing the groups' responses though, you used the words "success" and
                            "failure," and "cooperation" (lack of)
                            This makes me feel that the learning process in the difficult group was not
                            altogether a shared process, and yet what you describe of the other group
                            tells me clearly that your approaches/methods are indeed of a collaborative
                            style.

                            So why did it happen that way with them? If dogme is about a collaborative
                            process, and the learners help set the agenda, then perhaps to talk about
                            "success" and "failure" is to create an inappropriate dichotomy. Perhaps
                            then you didn't fail, but rather together you chose the experience you had !

                            (It may be valuable to reflect for yourself on at what point in the process
                            you perhaps felt something was not a "success?" What exactly happened around
                            that moment? And did what you did next in some way reflect your
                            judgement-feeling? That's worth reflecting on. I think.) There may be some
                            clues in what you say next.

                            I read how you inadvertantly set up conflicting messages: firstly by setting
                            out clearly your methodology and expectations; but then agreeing to teach
                            "from the front" and producing the texts; and then afterwards trying again
                            to get them to engage with a process you had set out, by putting the
                            responsibility squarely on them and providing them with nothing.
                            Though they did talk at this point , they just did not/could not/would not
                            see your
                            point and it all felt "stale." Moreover the to-ing and fro-ing somehow
                            seemed to reinforce their perception of things. What you describe here
                            sounds like a kind of passive resistance with a measure of resentment. This
                            felt very disappointing particularly as you had had lots of "dogme moments"
                            even with the course book classes.
                            You were somehow between two paradigms yourself, and if you can become more
                            aware of that for yourself it gets easier to make a choice!


                            Perhaps dogme moments with a difficult group is a clue. These could be used
                            as touchstones for development. If we can shift our thinking/inner
                            disposition away from the success/failure paradigm to a paradigm of
                            collaboration, then perhaps the dogme moments will prove to be more
                            significant in an unfolding process than even we may realise!!
                            By building some structured reflection (awareness awareness) into the
                            learning process, students are hopefully self-empowered and may
                            begin to awaken to the value and benefit of collaborative learning methods.
                            Maybe by inviting students to reflect on what was learned/ how it was
                            learned/
                            what was helpful/interesting, and not-so-helpful/-interesting gives them a
                            share of the power - ("power" as opposed to "control") and they can really
                            begin to recognise and own and take responsibility for their learning and
                            the dogme moments too! Especially if they can then say what it is they want
                            to do next.

                            Within an action / reflection framework we can also tell our ss.in so many
                            ways that there is something really special/important to do today (...and in
                            a minute someone here is going to give us a clue!!! - the maps and guides
                            idea you mention in a subsequent message) I think of it as our sealed
                            orders for the day/week which are just waiting to emerge! And it's important
                            to believe that for ourselves.

                            In my understanding and experience, this reflection business is quite key to
                            a deepening of awareness, and to an ongoing critical engagement as part of
                            the learning cycle. It could be said that in effect there are two educations
                            going on in tandem: the one that teaches us how to pass exams and make a
                            living and the one that teaches how to live. We will argue forever about the
                            value and benefit of each, but what we may agree more on is the fact that
                            each education depends upon the other.

                            You mention that the students never made their expectations (of you to "Be
                            The Teacher") explicit but it was obvious the way they acted. Could dogme
                            moments and structured reflection have been a way out of this ? And you are
                            so right about giving people Time - to see things in their own
                            time (awareness / awareness) and allow real growth to take place.

                            You mention at the end of your reflection, "Maybe the students ...
                            are so used to having things given to them and not being allowed to think
                            that it is difficult to think how things will change in a semestre." I
                            think that's really worth exploring too. There are so many questions around
                            how to engage students with very different cultural/educational backgrounds.
                            At the very least we have to allow for a sort of cultural blindness - even
                            in ourselves, when we invite individuals to process in a different way to
                            the one they've grown up with or got used to. It's taken me ages to find
                            ways of empowering a group of Asian women to express themselves in ways that
                            allow us all to get to grips with some language. And I'm left feeling I
                            still get it wrong on some days. It's been as much out of sensing what not
                            to do that I've
                            discovered what was possible.They didn't need their hands holding, but
                            rather they required a particular kind of space - more to be who they need
                            to be. And they don't need me to show them the way. Far from it , for they
                            are far more spacious than I. By which I mean that they have a kind of
                            spacious quality which we have all but lost in the "West."

                            What you wrote also promts me to think again about the need to recognise
                            that we are all in a mixed up time in which our understanding of authority
                            has/is shifting : from hierarchies to flatter models (like this network).
                            We are caught up in a great paradigm shift which touches on all our
                            institutions and relationships. The old landmarks are vanishing, and even if
                            we can grasp the emerging ones it's still a confusing time. I'm writing
                            broad brush and this merits a separate discussion. But the point is, for
                            many of us including our students, the old reference points are well
                            engrained in our patterns and the teacher remains a significant authority -
                            even when they dont like us sometimes! Power sharing is an "uneasy" thing.

                            Well now I'm rambling.... Back to what you
                            told us - about setting out clearly your expectations at the start. Would
                            you do that differently now?

                            Thankyou again for offering your reflection. I've tried to reflect back by
                            e-mail. I'm aware this is a delayed response -and I would always prefer to
                            chat at a conference, but I too am off - to the hills... to let life sort me
                            out ..!

                            Yours,
                            Mel
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