No Man’s Land – Finding the Middle Ground in the Dogme Debate

16 02 2012

No Man’s Land – Slides from Montevideo 29/2/12

Macmillan Montevideo

On Wednesday 29/2/12 I had another go at No Man’s Land at the Macmillan Montevideo Conference 2011 held at the Anglo.  It was interesting to see how the talk changed as a result of  having a different dialogue with a different audience – Montevideo was much less impressed with Dogme than Buenos Aires was and quite a few members of the audience were brave enough to call themselves Textbook Traditionalists at the beginning of the talk, although we all ended up as Dog-maurauders at the end.  The talk was also shorter, so I focused more on the ten key principles and had also summarised 10 key Dogme-rauder principles which the audience were happy to accept and take away to consider.  Let us know how you get on!

Many thanks to Nicolas from Macmillan for organising the day, my impressive fellow speakers Aldo Rodriguez, Phil Hanham and Gustavo Gonzalez and, of course, the anglo for hosting the event – although it was the great audience that made the day such a success.

Pro-T Buenos Aires

Here are the slides from the talk at Pro-T 2012 on Thursday 16th February 2012.

No Man’s Land

Many thanks to everyone who came to the talk on Thursday and to @lcamio and the Pro-T team for inviting me and organising everything so smoothly.  I really enjoyed the talk and discovering much more about the principles of Dogme ELT through the process of researching, planning and writing the talk and sharing it with you on Thursday.  It was exciting (and empowering) to put the decision about whether or not to ‘convert’ myself into a Dogme-gician in your hands, and participating in that Dialogic Co-construction of knowledge to see what emerged was an enlightening process.  I hope the talk has helped some of you to look at your classrooms from a slightly different angle and gives you some ideas about how to ensure our students are at the centre of everything we do.

If you feel you are a Dogme-gician, it would be great to hear how you have managed to incorporate your Dogme teaching style into the confines of the educational context where you work.

Dogme-gician's believe in all the magic of Dogme.

If you’re a Dogme-rauder, it would be great to hear which principles of Dogme you have particularly pillaged and which ’emergent’ tasks and activities you have used successfully or are going to try out.

Dogme-rauders have a soft spot for the 10 key Dogme principles, but prefer to loot and pillage the best of all methods

And if you’re a Textbook Traditionalist, then it would be great to hear the reasons why.

Textbook traditionalists start their planning from the next page of the course book and feed their students grammar mcnuggets

The ones that came up during the talk were pressure from above (Principals getting in the way of principles?) and the necessity to prepare students for exams.

The first problem is going to take time and persistence in order to convince principals, parents and even ministries of education, that the syllabus can be covered and students can learn English and prepare themselves for exams without having to faithfully follow a course book step by step.

And exam classes can easily prepare through a less materials dominated approach.  Students choose the texts they want to work with (be they authentic, course book, test book or whatever).  Students can construct test activities for each other from these texts, empowering them to discover much more about the tests and the strategies needed to complete them successfully.   Students can decide which tasks to work on when, depending on mood, trending current affairs topics, previous classes, perceived weaknesses.   Students can design the course syllabus, selecting the test materials to use, the balance of test types to focus on, writing proposals at the beginning of the course, progress summaries during the course, reviews of the course as it progresses and reports on their progress towards the end of the course.  Obviously, the students will choose to use Practice Test materials during the course (I imagine), but this is all part of being a good Dogme-rauder – letting students choose, allowing the syllabus (as well as the langauge) emerge through a dialogue involving the whole class.

Al, Vicky and Susan enjoying the talk – laughing in the face of Dogme?

I seem to have burst into song – lyrics a-merging!

Looking forward to hearing where you stand and I was relieved to find out I can continue to be a Dogme-rauder at the end of the talk!

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14 responses

16 02 2012
maria emma

Very informative and thought-provoking slides. It would also be highly enriching for teachers if talks and presentations dealt with linguistic issues apart from methodological ones. It would help local and native teachers alike to become better models in the classroom.

17 02 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Maria Emma,
Glad you found the slides useful. It would have been good to have you in the audience today! You would have enjoyed Jeff Stranks talk too, he looked at listening as a linguistic challenge rather than a skills or methodological one.

Any suggestions for me of linguistic areas you’d like me to have a go at – I’m always open to suggestions for new workshops…

17 02 2012
Barbara Garcia

Are we all dogme-rauders do you think? 100% (as the survey suggests?) I was at your talk yesterday and I had the impression we were all SCARED to say we follow the texbook lol

Great talk! =)

17 02 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi barbara,
To be honest, I also thought some of the audience were scared to say that they were textbook traditionalists, although at least they realised that if they are, they shouldn’t be. Hopefully the talk gave them some scaffolding for weening them off the course book and onto Student-centred, Emergent-language-focused Context-driven Teaching. SECT Approach anyone?

17 02 2012
Maria

We came to the conclusion we are dogme-gicians with few students but not at school. There should be a poll option such as both or sometimes 🙂 useful talk especially to think about it and see where we stand.

17 02 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Maria,
Glad to hear you enjoyed the talk.
I didn’t allow more options, because one of the things I’ve been struggling with is whether or not to commit a hundred per cent to Dogme. Therefore, I was So I was hoping you’d be comfortable voting for one of the three clear-cut options, in order to help me be more unequivocal in my response.

17 02 2012
mcneilmahon

And if you want to be a Dogme-gician but you feel limited by your school, I’d love to hear more details and try my best to help you challenge the status quo put forward by the powers above.

18 02 2012
Maria

I guess that we are limited by exams rather then the school itself. Although I feel myself a dogme-gician, I have to read a bit more about it in order to say that I am one. Then, I’d feel more confident to share more details with you.

18 02 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Maria,
I’ve added a few comments and ideas about teaching exams as a Dogme-rauder, hope you find them helpful. Hoping others can suggest some more as well. Let us know how you’re reading goes – I’d suggest starting with the blogs I recommend on the slides.

18 02 2012
Maria

Sure! I will! Thanks a lot!

20 02 2012
maria sarah correa de lozano

I WILL THANKS A LOT IF YOU SEND ME INFORMATIONS LIKE THIS

21 02 2012
Marian Derfler

A very interesting talk, Neil! I know you cannot see me, but I am the one sitting next to Susan, and I certainly was not laughing in the the face of Dogme!!!
Thanks again
Marian Derfler

1 03 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Marian,
Sorry for taking so long to reply to you. great to hear you enjoyed the talk – many thanks for coming and taking part in the workshop!

6 10 2012
Conference presentations index « A Muse Amuses

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