Published 7th April 2016

Dogme is undoubtedly a very controversial teaching method, but it has gained a lot of support in recent years. It has its fair share of critics and it still manages to strike fear in many TEFL teachers’ hearts, but it has become a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, Dogme is a way of making your classrooms more learner-centred while simultaneously relaxing our grip on the coursebook, with the result that the language covered in our lessons is more relevant and level-appropriate, the content is more meaningful and personal and so the lessons are more memorable and effective.

Still not convinced?

Well, the good thing about any TEFL method is that you can take it with a pinch of salt and adapt it any way you choose. We understand you may be hesitant to implement a lesson which is 100% Dogme, so here are 3 activities you can use to incorporate the method without going so far as to burn your coursebook.

 Sentence Prompts

Sentence prompts are a great activity to have up your sleeve. It can be used for as long as you want and it is very handy to have if your planned activity doesn’t take as long as you had planned, or just for something different on a Friday afternoon.

Divide the class into small groups. Make sure these groups are sitting in a circle (without books) so as to encourage conversation. Hand out several sentence prompts to each student in the group. These you will have prepared beforehand and basically, they can be the beginning of any sentence.

For example:      I think schools should…

                                My earliest memory is…

The more interesting the prompt, the better. Now, you leave the students to complete the prompts in whichever way they want. Maybe they will decide to take turns, one by one, or maybe they will nominate other people in the group to finish the sentence. It doesn’t matter how they do it. Encourage them to discuss the topics further if they want or ask more questions but if they are not interested, they can move on.

While this is happening, you are monitoring the conversations and noting any errors or good language. Once you feel they have spent enough time talking, use those points in delayed error correction.

Teacher Anecdote

This is useful at the beginning of a lesson or at the end. Start telling the class an anecdote but only tell them the first sentence.

 For example: Yesterday when I was driving home I had an accident.

Give the students time to think of questions they want to ask you about the story. It’s better if they do this in groups so they can talk about the structure of the questions. Monitor and prompt them to correct the sentences if necessary. Let the students ask you their questions, answering as little as possible so as to prompt more questions.

Once your story has been told in its entirety, give the students time to think of the first sentence of their own anecdote. Give each student a chance to say their sentence and be asked questions. The second time the students should not need much time to construct the questions because they would just have done so and should find it easier the subsequent times.

Question Time

Get the students to write down 5 questions on a piece of paper. These questions can be based on a topic (travel) or a language item (superlatives) or unrelated to anything. Try to avoid personal questions and instead aim for general opinion questions.

For example:      What do you think is the most expensive city in the world?

                                Do you prefer to travel with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife or your friends?

Depending on the size of the class, students can mingle and ask each other questions, they can discuss the questions in buzz groups or this can be done as an open class discussion. For each question, encourage a discussion to follow.

At the end of the activity, board and examine relevant language.

So there you go: 3 Dogme activities you can use any time and any place in your lessons. As you will have noticed, no materials are needed and the stimuli for the activities come from the student themselves. As the teacher, you are responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of the activity and the subsequent language focus.

Hopefully it doesn’t sound so daunting anymore! Give it a try and let us know how it goes!