From Dogs to Elves – My fave tweets from #ihdos 2012 Day Two

6 01 2012

The IH Directors of Studies Conference takes place every year in London and unfortunately I can’t be there this year, so I’m following it on Twitter and avidly waiting for the videos to be published on after the conference.

Day Two of the conference is External Speaker day, where guests are invited to come and talk to the IH DoSes about anything and everything.  The programme looked like this:

0900 – 1000 Jeremy Harmer
Teaching unplugged beats acquisition? What to teach who, with what, and why
1000 – 1100 Luke Meddings
1130 – 1230 Nicky Hockly
Digital Literacies
1400 – 1500 Robin Walker, OUP

Teaching pronunciation for English as a lingua franca

1500 – 1600 Chia Suan Chong, IH London
My ELF Conversion – An exploration into the Pragmatics of ELF
1630 – 1800 Panel discussion

moderated by Nick Kiley

19.00 Quiz night (dinner and drinks provided) – SPONSORED BY THE IH TRUST

And these were my favourite tweets from the day: with my reaction to them. Looking forward to your reactions to the tweets and my reactions! 

chiasuan Chia Suan Chong

@Harmerj clarifying for Dogmeticians that doing #dogme doesn’t mean being lazy,but on the contrary requires teachers2be v attentive. #ihdos Yes, it’s very hard work this dogme business, which makes me wonder how many of us are up to it?

@Harmerj asks: Are the three pillars of dogme structurally sound? #ihdos He thinks there might be a few cracks I’ve seen Jeremy’s talk before, in Buenos Aires, so apologies for the lack of tweets chosen on it. 

@Harmerj on what happens 2 sts who don’t function well on conversation& interaction&prefer2get their knowledge in other ways? #dogme #ihdos Yes, both learner styles and teacher styles mean any one approach, Dogme or not, is probably not enough.  What’s wrong with the context approach? 

@Harmerj says the magic moments where teachers work with what sts want to talk abt is simply good teaching, not #dogme #ihdos Gotta agree with this.  It’s called going off at a tangent and a good teacher knows when to do this and how to take advantage of it to provide learning opportunities.  Using a course book well can provide as many tangents if not many more than only student input…

@LukeMeddings on Grammarbks & gr exercises being like Coleman’s mustard. You slap on too much but never use all of it. #dogme #ihdos I’d never do that with my Coleman’s! Not after smuggled it out here in my suitcase.  Seems like the debate is swaying from good teachers to bad course book writers (or perhaps better said, editors and publishers)

@LukeMeddings : our sts r coming to us with their English and not for English. What sts want is 2 engage with it. #dogme #ihdos Nice emphasis, but we’re coming to you for answers, not with answers, so where are they? 

tgscott00 Tom Scott

#ihdos Materials-light now means bottom-up… ? LOL, I always wondered this too.  Language emerges at the beginning of a ninety minute lesson, so we jump on it and analyse it to bits and get students to use it everywhichway – the lack of materials can push us towards overanalysis perhaps?

chiasuan Chia Suan Chong

@LukeMeddings -the need to change how see teacher training&writing of lesson plans, which encourages people2teach the plan. #dogme #ihdos This is definitely an idea I’d like to develop were I ever to have the time. 

jemjemgardner Jemma Gardner

RT @phil3wade@chiasuan @LukeMeddings I do far more grammar and lexis in a dogme lesson – Same here – so much more to work with! #ihdos For me another concern.  Skills work and decent input seem to take a back seat…

aClilToClimb Chiew Pang

#ihdos #dogme is actually difficult to pull off bc you’d need a good knowledge of #grammar! Correction – knowledge of language.  Much more important to be able to feed in language that improves the clarity and concision of the student’s message

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

Ooo there’s a term ‘synoptic learners’ and ‘ectenic learners’ #ihdos  One to look up and then use on my DELTA course next week. 

chiasuan Chia Suan Chong

@LukeMeddings Ectenic learners prefer control of their learning. Synoptic learners go with the flow & isn’t systematic. #dogme #ihdos

@LukeMeddings quoting Kat from Madrid how added space&organic interaction can spur inquisitiveness & bring class together.#dogme #ihdos Any more on this anyone?

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

“Its about being independent, creative and asking questions, we need to be truly communicative” #ihdos Sounds more like doing Communicative Approach properly rather than Dogme

timjulian60 Tim Julian

@LukeMeddings says dogme has a social dimension for a questioning world #IHDOS Is he trying to say Dogme introduced Critical Thikn ing to ELT?  I hope not.  CT has much more of a future than Dogme, which let’s face it, is dead.  Long live the king!

aClilToClimb Chiew Pang

@antoniaclare @chiasuan cnt coursebook based classes B conversation-driven 2? #dogme #ihdos >Of kurs! But how many tchrs do that oftn enuf? This is where Dogme debate doesn’t help.  We need to train teachers to do more with the students and their coursebooks, not worry about trying to introduce radical and catchy new methodologies / techniques. 

tgscott00 Tom Scott

@Harmerj was about to reach for a copy of “teaching unplugged” then he came to his senses… #ihdos Bet this got a laugh or two.  Although was it clear from his talk whether or not Jeremy had read the book or not? 

chiasuan Chia Suan Chong

@TheConsultantsE Nicky speaking about how we can save the tree octopus! #ihdos Shame it didn’t exist in the end. 

@TheConsultantsE : sts need to be taught how to analyse the veracity of the information found on the web. #ihdos Critical Thinking rears its beautiful head once again. 

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

if you want to see the definitions of the literacies Nick is referring to go here #IHDOS Very useful link, thanks Nicky

louisealix68 Louise Alix Taylor

@antoniaclare: dogme debate btwn @lukemeddings & @jharmerat #ihdos conf in London | should be on telly ;)” I wish! It will be on very soon!

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

RT @LukeMeddings: any #dogme colleagues got thoughts/tips on teaching low-level, unmotivated older teens in Oman -unplugged? #ihdos #eltchat I thought the whole point of Dogme was it magically motivated everyone to come up with topics and texts for discussion, even low-level teens in Oman?

nickkiley Nick Kiley

#IHDOS Using literal videos and parodies, some great ideas… What’s a literal video and please share the ideas Nick. 

The #IHDOS conference is good for your elf (badum tish – I’m here all week…) LOL, miss you and your humour Nick – wish I was there all week too!

timjulian60 Tim Julian

360 million English speakers in the “inner circle” 150-330 million in “outer circle” #IHDOS Up to 1,500 million in “expanding circle” I’d like to hear more about these circles. Is inner NS, outer NNS and expanding those learning but not really speakers yet, perhaps? 

emilyvbell Emily Bell

#IHDOS Robin Walker suggests ‘native speakers’ need to learn how to be intelligible in international meetings. Perhaps teacher trainers like myself could set up shop in NS contexts teaching NS to grade their language like teachers do?  How to market this need and make my millions from it?

timjulian60 Tim Julian

Consonants critical to ELF, with the exception of TH #IHDOS Again, I’d like to hear more.  Maybe I need to read Jenny Jenkins? 

Consonants, consonant clusters, vowel length and sentence stress key to intelligibilty #IHDOS Exactly what we preach on our CELTA courses at IH Buenos Aires (and Delta as from Monday)

chiasuan Chia Suan Chong

Robin Walker :Assimilation, coalescence, schwa and weak forms in fact are damaging to intelligibility in ELF communication. #ihdos Shame, I’m a big fan of the schwa…

Robin Walker- a good analogy of using ballroom dancing and breakdancing to show the diff between NS-target English and ELF. #ihdos Very helpful analogy indeed, helps to convince not a lowering of standards…

timjulian60 Tim Julian

A lot of NNESTs avoid teaching pron as standards are intimidating #IHDOS And therefore we need to do something to change the standards – ELF does this nicely

emilyvbell Emily Bell
#IHDOS Ts can use Ls’ L1 to help teach pron by showing links rather than seeing L1 as an issue to battle with Indeedy

#IHDOS would you rather have a rally driver or instructor teaching you to drive? Pedagogy needs to be dominant factor Another excellent analogy for the NS / NNS misnomer.  I need more analogies in my conference talks…

Harmerj Jeremy Harmer

@emilyvbell @chiasuan yes I think NS are often less ‘charitable’ than NNS when dealing with NNS ‘politness’?#ihdos Same here Jeremy.  More opportunities for training for NS from us English teachers there then. 

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

@emilyvbell tweeting for @shaunwilden for the next hour while he runs around with the mic for panel debate #IHDOS Idea of Shaun running around with a mic like a roving reporter is my visual of the day

mcneilmahon Neil McMahon

RT @chiasuan@Harmerj on benefit s and inevitability of CLIL. #ihdos > Not in institute contexts where they already get it at school though Am only including my own tweets here to save me re-reacting to the great original tweets.  Hope you don’t mind. 

RT @Harmerj: cloning’= taking model speaker (e.g. Penelope Cruz in Spanish) + using as model 4 lang learning #ihdos > Bet her model was NS!

RT @Shaunwilden@harmerj – the need for organisation & planning for managing difficult classes #IHDOS > which goes beyond the classroom

RT @Shaunwilden@chiasuan – dogme doesn’t mean hippy rule free classrooms! #IHDOS > Not at all, they can be samey due to need 4 structure

Shaunwilden Shaunwilden

RT @mcneilmahon: So #ihdos panel say niche teaching, project work, pron, CLIL are the most important developments in EFL? >yes & no. Not all new developments but all relevant > Surprised Critical Thinking didn’t make an appearance here > agreed @mcneilmahon #IHDOS

Fighting almost breaking out between @harmerj & Robin Walker! #IHDOS – can NS examiners switch from accent to intelligibility? Can imagine these two rising to each other’s baits…

@TheConsultantsE – setting up a blog is an easy way of including digital literacy in ELT while also teaching skills & language #IHDOS Simple, but excellent point

@LukeMeddings – importance of critical literacy also includes digital literacy #IHDOS

Robin Walker – there is no ELF relevant coursebook yet. Need to train Ts pre-service to promote ELF so that ideas can change #IHDOS I’m open to offers if a publisher needs an author…

mcneilmahon Neil McMahon

RT @Shaunwilden: Experience of learning has been that coursebook can bring Ls together + dogme #IHDOS > Tasks are key to success, not texts

From tweets, sounds like @Harmerj / @LukeMeddings dogme debate at #ihdos was a draw, but @alastairjgrant outshone them both yesterday?

So that was Day Two of the IH Dos Conference 2012.  Lots of Dogme, lots of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), lots to think about and lots of great tweets from some great people.  Many thanks to all who’ve contributed and kept us up to date through #IHDOS.

Looking forward to your thoughts on the day’s events…




8 responses

6 01 2012

Hi Neil,

Great summary of what went on today, thanks for sharing. I was so happy to be able to be on Twitter for it, if not actually there in the flesh!

In response to your comment –

RT @phil3wade: @chiasuan @LukeMeddings I do far more grammar and lexis in a dogme lesson – Same here – so much more to work with! #ihdos For me another concern. Skills work and decent input seem to take a back seat…

I read Phil’s 1st comment to mean the he does more grammar & lexis work in a Dogme lesson than in a coursebook based lesson, not that he does more G&L in a Dogme lesson than skills work. So I was agreeing with the former point. Today in a lesson with C1s we covered lexis related to names following a comment at the beginning of the lesson about my name from a new student. Then, later in the lesson some common difficulties came up related to the use of adverbs/adjectives. So we had a little recap of their uses and then the student got to work on an activity which I set them to practice. In all, I spent a very short period of time at the board, the students worked hard and spoke lots, as well as having the chance to work with different people, practice writing and listening skills and got some useful language for their lexical notebooks. I think this is much more than they would have received from a coursebook in the same amount of time, and it was relevant and interesting for them because it was based upon what was happening in the classroom at that time.

I was also interested to read that you think Dogme could mean over-analysis of the language which comes up. In my classroom, that is certainly not the case. Yes, we focus on form, yes we play with the language in order for the students to practice it, but I don’t by any means over-analyse it at the expense of using classroom time for more useful things.

Have you used Dogme much? Or had the opportunity to observe it in practice? I’d be interested to know if the reservations you express are because you have experienced them first hand?

Have a great weekend, Neil!


6 01 2012

Hi Jem,
Many thanks for your comment and for addressing a couple of my reservations. To answer your last question first, I would say I haven’t used Dogme at all, since for me a Dogme lesson is one that holds to the ‘commandments’ that Scott borrowed from Dogme 95. As soon as we break the commandments, we’re not doing Dogme anymore, we seem to be doing ‘just good teaching’ to quote today’s debate.

I freely admit I am a big planner, in the sense that I feel very insecure about going into a class even after all these years (teaching or training) without a plan, even though I’m perfectly happy to go off on a tangent or completely abandon that plan once I’m in the classroom if the context allows / demands it.

When I’m teaching, that plan may well include a text, since I’m also a big fan of students getting as much input as possible, whether or not we then decide to analyse this input in a ‘bottom up’ kind of way at some point. That text may well have been chosen by one of the students or be an authentic text I’ve thought might interest them or it might (for a myriad of reasons, but the bottom line is that I’ve got to find it interesting at least) be from a / the course book.

Whether this means I’ve done Dogme or not I really don’t care. To be honest I find Dogme as a methodology irrelevant. If it’s a helpful ‘tool’ for teachers to refresh what they do, great, any such tools are useful. In fact, if anything, I’d like to Dogme-tise my training a bit more and probably will be over the next month as I embark on an intensive Delta course. But I wouldn’t claim it to be anything more than that – a refresher tool.

As for your other questions, it seems I misread Phil’s comment so thanks for steering me back on the right path there. And I wasn’t saying everyone who teaches ‘Dogme’ style over-analyses language, I was just throwing out the possibility that teachers who are more confident with language clarification than making up practice activities on the spot may over rely on the former to the detriment of the latter.

Have a great weekend yourself, Jem. Here’s looking forward to tomorrow’s tweets (and future DOS Conferences with a Live Online component for the likes of us!).

6 01 2012
Emily Bell

Thanks for a great summary, Neil. I think Robin Walker might have first dibs on making millions training NS to be intellgible in international meetings, though!

6 01 2012
Emily Bell

Oh and if you need a co-writer for that ELF coursebook, just tweet me 😉

7 01 2012
A rose by any other name…? « Unplugged Reflections

[…] Dogme has been getting a lot of coverage recently. Yesterday it featured highly at the IHDoS conference, which I and many others followed on Twitter thanks to those attendees such as @shaunwilden and @chiasuan who did a fabulous job of tweeting the event as it happened. (You can also read a great summary from @mcneilmahon of the day’s events here.) […]

7 01 2012

Agreed with Jemma – great summary; I wasn’t able to be present for the whole debate, unfortunately. Regards your comment:
Of course, you’re right. A good knowledge of language is necessary to teach it properly, regardless of the labels one uses to attach to one’s methods. I was giving a direct answer to the criticism that dogme doesn’t teach grammar. To be able to tune in & capture emergent language and relate it to the students’ needs require knowledge, and sufficient of it, not the other way around.
In fact, a lot of teachers are “afraid” of teaching unplugged because they are afraid of being in a situation of not being able to explain a certain form or even labelling it. I’m no expert – on the contrary – but I have no fear of saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll find out and we’ll talk about it on the next lesson.”
In any case, for me, there isn’t any ONE best method. There isn’t even any need for labels, as such. Good teaching is good teaching, period (and I’m not saying I’m a good teacher either, probably far from it!)
Cheers, Neil!

8 01 2012
Who needs Dogme? « A Muse Amuses

[…] weekend at the IHWO DoS Conference there has been a lot of debate about Dogme and as usual I’ve been on the outside looking in.  While I agree with a lot of the […]

12 01 2012
On Why The (Unplugged) Revolution Will Not Be Televised « Teacher Training Unplugged

[…] post was written in response to one by Neil McMahon, a DoS at an IH school. His initial position was critical, not of the ideas and principles […]

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