Published 9th December 2015

dogme in the classroom

There are so many different ways of teaching English as a Foreign Language that it can be easy to get confused and not be sure which way is the right way. Well, as with many things in life, there is no one right way. There are numerous ways to accomplish the same goal and so it is up to you to pick one, stick with it and make it work for you. For the different methodologies and approaches you will find that you enjoy certain aspects but don’t appreciate other aspects; maybe some work for your TEFL classroom but others don’t. The key is to pick and choose what you like and create an EFL methodology which suits you.

So let us look at one approach to TEFL teaching which you may find useful: Dogme.

What is Dogme?

Dogme is a school of thought in TEFL teaching which advocates a materials-light approach. Basically, Dogme wants you to step away from the coursebook and the photocopier and focus instead on the learner. Your learners are the ones who dictate what will happen in the lesson. In this way your lessons become an organic construction; the teacher focuses on appropriate language which comes up during conversation and uses this as the basis for the lesson.

Basically, a lesson will consist of learners discussing a topic – whatever topic they want. The teacher listens to the discussion and picks up a language point which can be focussed on and developed further. Once that has been dealt with, the learners can be guided to another activity which practises this structure. Then the discussion will continue, perhaps on another topic or an extension of the first one, and the cycle starts again.


Why should I use Dogme?

Sometimes it’s a good idea to do something completely different. Using the coursebook each and every lesson can be repetitive and sometimes boring, so doing lessons which use no materials at all can be a welcome relief for you and your students. Furthermore, Dogme is a great way to give your EFL learners control over the lessons. They play a big part in constructing the lesson and it can be a very powerful thing to hand over control to your learners.

What’s more, by asking for input from your learners, you should be able to focus on particular language structures that are useful for them. In other words, you won’t be teaching them what they already know and you won’t be teaching them something which is completely beyond their level.

dogme in the classroom

What problems can I have with Dogme?

Carrying out a Dogme lesson is not easy and can be quite stressful for an inexperienced teacher. Being able to pick out appropriate language from a discussion is a skill and can be quite overwhelming for some teachers. Finding a balance between just having a chat and having an effective lesson is necessary too.

As you can see, for every approach or method in TEFL, there are positives and negatives. Dogme can be a useful tool in your repertoire of teaching methods.