Back to Dogme… the best option for adult learners in an Evening Class

This week so far has been dominated by exams, which unfortunately seems to be happening all too often these days. I know it’s that time of year but our university language centre is, as always strapped for cash, meaning that there
are only two of us, armed, albeit, with that powerful tool for exams management…Excel(?) and our own laptops and netbooks (as the Jurassic verrsions of computers in our office would take us ten times as long to do anything. So
you may think, well, they probably have a hundred candidates
or so… But you would be wrong. There are almost 2,000 at
thr last count and they have to do three parts to the exam, so the organisation has to cope with something like 6,000 exams and results etc. Pretty mind-boggling, in fact. I think it’ better if I don’t dwell on it too much.

This, of course, has nothing at all to do with Dogme, but it goes some way to explaining why I was exhausted when I staggered home in the pouring rain on Monday evening to… Yes, get ready for an evening of conversation classes.

A Student Centred Approach

So, that was the setting for the story, oh and I should add the students were not in much better shape. It was eight o’clock and the cameras were about to roll. They all came trouping in together and I put on my best teaching smile,
complimented people on various things and wondered hopefully if anyone had got around to a spot of homework. I then discovered that, they had done some homework, but in the usual anarchic fashion, so that the exercise, which had been to write true or false sentences about a recent trip they
had been on, had become all kinds of things. One person had written about an accident she’d been caught up in on the motorway, whilst another had written about whether he should put suncream on before going to the beach. They all, however, had one thing in common: they sparked off real communication between members of the group (including me) and we all started to wake up and take an interest in vocabuary (meaning
and pronunciation) as well as the topics we were discussing. I had also planned to read an article, but someone else in the class had been reading about marketing, and, as they were all interested in this, he had brought all this along and gave an impromptu presentation, whilst the others listened, wrote questions to ask him, and I had the chance to make notes for error analysis later on.

I’m still not sure if this is pure Dogme or not, but, in fact, I have come to the conclusion that, with these learners, at this time of day, it is one of the best ways to work, and is entirely student centred and often conversation based. Although it is eight in the evening and they have all done a full day’s work, they are motivated when we do activities that are meaningful and relevant to them. This would seem to be logical,and it brings me back again to the idea of Dogme and learner centred teaching.

Anyway, that was my Monday, and then today… Yes, you’ve guessed. Back to the exams organisation :-(.

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8 thoughts on “Back to Dogme… the best option for adult learners in an Evening Class

  1. Hi Sharon,
    Sure sounds like dogme to me. Only thing left is the reviewing/recycling emergent language bit, isn’t it? What’s more, this class of yours sounds like they would really benefit from it, too! 🙂 Looking forward to reading more unplugged adventures.
    Chiew

    1. Thanks for the comment Chiew, and to answer your question, the recycling and emergent language comes in the next lesson where we look at examples from this one and remember what we were talking about, followed by error analysis and extension. We only had an hour, and so we do things in stages. 🙂

  2. I like the whole approach you describe here. It is student-centred and conversation driven. It seems such a natural thing to do, let a student bring in an article that they all seem interested in, and use it to learn language with. Why I think Dogme is so popular amongst certain teachers is that it’s what we do kind of do anyway. There is now a name for it, with theoretical support, namely relevance. Good luck to your students, and you and your computers.

    1. Thank you David for your support and for your ever inspiring Language Garden a true example of the marriage between creativity, language and colour 🙂

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