What Is Teaching Unplugged And How Do I Do It?
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There is more than one way to skin a cat.
While we’re not sure if this saying is actually true when it comes to cats, we do know that it’s true when it comes to teaching English as a Foreign Language. Over the years, we have developed a number of approaches and methods to teach English which are realized practically in a range of teaching techniques. Some of them are pretty straightforward – the Lexical Approach, for example – while others are a bit more off-the-wall, such as Suggestopedia.
One approach has been dubbed Teaching Unplugged.
If you have done a TEFL course and have got a bit of experience in the TEFL classroom, you’ve probably been teaching using the Communicative Language Teaching approach. If that’s the case, and you’ve been utilizing the Presentation, Practice, and Production lesson planning method, then you might be interested in changing things up a bit in your classroom and giving Teaching Unplugged a go.
Read more: PPP in the EFL Classroom
What is Teaching Unplugged?
Teaching Unplugged is a fairly new movement in the EFL field which supports teaching without materials. Paperless lessons, so to speak. If you can imagine a lesson without coursebooks or photocopies, then you’ve got the right idea.
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like Dogme, then you’re right. They are essentially two terms for the same approach, developed by our friend Scott Thornbury.
Basically, Teaching Unplugged means teaching without preparation in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of spending time preparing before your lesson, your students are the catalyst for your lessons. What happens within the lesson depends entirely on your students. Essentially, you need to think on your feet during the lesson. If like most teachers, you have focused a lot of your training on lesson preparation, this can be difficult to get your head around.
All you need to take with you into a Teaching Unplugged classroom is yourself, a whiteboard marker, and an open mind. You don’t even decide on the topic. Rather, you let your students decide where the lesson takes you. This is usually topic-based because students can come up with topics to discuss relatively easily. However, it’s also possible to let them decide on a language point they would like to work on.
How do I incorporate Teaching Unplugged into my lessons?
It’s all well and good saying you don’t need to prepare anything, but you do need to prepare something – yourself! Before each lesson, consider the class and their strengths and weaknesses. Think about their level and what language points may come up no matter what the topic. Also, take into account what has recently been done in your lessons and so what might work as revision.
Then, walk into the classroom and start talking. It can be on anything and if the students change the topic and talk about something completely unrelated, run with it. In these lessons, the topic does not matter. There does not need to be a link between all parts of your lesson, though invariably you will find there is.
So where does the teaching come in?
To incorporate language, you will need to be able to assess what they are saying and input better ways of saying it. In other words, as they speak you will need to process their language. At the same time, you need to draw attention to their mistakes and give them ideas on improvements. This is where your whiteboard comes in. Use your board to take notes on and write explanations for language items.
For example, if you ask your students what they ate for dinner the night before, one student might say:
I went to new restaurant. I never go there before. It was very expensive.
Just from that conversation alone, you can see that there are a few teachable moments here. You could choose to focus on using articles, or the present perfect, or even money idioms. You would introduce this target language and elicit or give the rules and example sentences and allow your students time to work on a practice activity. This could be coming up with sentences that fit into certain scenarios or even doing a speaking activity that would require them to use the target language.
Once that has been covered adequately – which may take the whole lesson if you want it to – you start a new conversation topic and do it all again.
Come up with activities
So you can see that these lessons are not just conversations. At the same time, just because you don’t have paper or technology doesn’t mean you have to talk the entire lesson. Come up with activities that can be done without resources in order to practice any language that comes up. Buzz group discussions, debates, and vocabulary games all work well with these lessons.
Read more: Our Favourite Vocabulary Games
If Teaching Unplugged sounds a bit more than you can handle, fear not: it is not as difficult as it may sound. If we break it down to its basics all Teaching Unplugged is telling us to do is go easy on the resources and focus more on the students. We are always striving to be more student-centered anyway, and Dogme is the perfect way to practice what we preach.
If you are not comfortable with doing an entire Dogme lesson, test the waters a bit first by allocating 20 minutes or so to doing a Dogme activity. Once you’ve seen how capable you are of doing that, you’ll graduate to entire lessons in no time. But even doing a few activities Dogme-style will help you make your classes be more learner-centered and less paper-driven.
Let’s face it, paperless lessons can be tricky to implement in the classroom until you (and your students) get the hang of it. It’s a really nice way to vary the pace and structure of your lessons and move away from the coursebook. But because these lessons will be tailored specifically to your class, you should find they work exceptionally well.
[Disclaimer: No cats were hurt in the writing of this blog post.]
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- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.