Dogme Team Teaching


dogme 3

In Teaching Unplugged (Delta 2009) Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury list the three main principles of a dogme approach to language teaching; namely that teaching should be materials light, conversation driven and focussed on emergent language.

These principles make perfect sense to me. They mirror they way I’ve tried to learn languages myself, and they’ve guided much of what I’ve done as a teacher since I first heard about the approach in the late 1990’s. In fact, if I think back to the first ‘teaching’ I ever did (in Japan in 1991 before I’d had any training as a teacher at all) this was pretty much the way of it too.

It was certainly materials light, since it was just me and a group of students in a room together, as well as conversation driven and focussed on emergent language  – we just started talking and I would try to help them say the things that they were saying more effectively, or accurately. At least this is what they asked me to do, but I’m not entirely sure that my own language awareness was good enough at that time to really help them very much!

Now, after teaching for 28 years, I know a lot more about English and I know what kind of problems learners can get into when they converse in English. More importantly, I’ve learnt that these problems are generally learning opportunities, and part of my job as a teacher is to make the most of them.

Dogme isn’t easy of course. To be an effective dogme teacher we need to do two things at once; we need to listen to what the students are saying but also listen to how they are saying it. We also need to be aware of the forms that we’re using in our own speech in order to help leaners to notice language. I’ve never been very good at multitasking though, and I find that the moment I start paying too much attention to form I stop focussing on content (and vice versa). There’s a danger that classes become all talk without any attention being paid to new language, or conversely all about focussing on language without really any genuine language use.

When we do dogme type sessions in our online link ups with young people in Palestine we have developed a way of overcoming this problem. We have two teachers!

In the picture below you can see Atiyyeh, a teacher in a village near Ramallah working with a small group of teenage boys in a classroom. Projected onto the white board is the face of Michael, one of our volunteers based in the UK. Michael is having a conversation with the learners through Zoom.


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They’re asking him questions and he’s asking them questions. They’re discussing football, why Britain is leaving the European Union, how Palestinians are viewed in the world, and a host of other topics. Atiyyeh is writing up language that emerges on the board. Occasionally he’ll stop to check whether they’ve understood something that Michael has said, and maybe translate into Arabic and/or elicit further examples of a language point. He’s also ready to help the leaners out with questions they want to ask, or things they want to say to Michael.  In many ways I think this is the perfect language learning environment. What do you think?

Dogme team teaching





22 thoughts on “Dogme Team Teaching

  1. Thank you, everyone for your lovely comments about the way we’re doing (I, Nick and Michael as well as other volunteers in the Hands up project which Nick has set up). As for beginners, I think it’s very necessary to have such way of scaffolding which includes asking and answering questions, then writing on the board the way language is spoken. By doing that, students can learn how to spell words correctly, learn language structures and then asking the group to write what is written on the board on their own notebooks so that it remains as memory and assistance for them and for other students who didn’t join the conversations. This helps them to learn the language consciously (especially when they look and write the questions and answers) and unconscionably (especially when they spend an hour talking; the language becomes spontaneous and unconscious). In addition to that, I record the meeting and give them as a gift for every student to put in his or he portfolio and they love it. The group of students can even reflect on what they see in the recording; and this is what we call conscious learning; they become aware of what they are doing (what kind of mistakes they make and how they can avoid making these them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We benefit greatly from the conversation ……….. it is beautiful and helps to develop self to become able to speak in English


  2. It’s interesting to see what Atiyyeh is doing whilst I’m seeing, listening and talking with the boys. Atiyyeh is so good at what he does, an invisible presence that orchestrates from the ‘other side’. I look forward to these meetings every week, the boys are simply wonderful… with SO much enthusiasm, energy, curiosity, generosity, and willingness to give it a go! I am asked questions about everything under the sun from politics in the UK and USA to football to what I think of ‘Islam’. It’s a wonderful riot of questions, enquiry, laughter and connection that battles with good humour and friendship through frozen screens and breakdown in audio… I would’t miss it for the world… Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We benefit greatly from the conversation ……….. it is beautiful and helps to develop self to become able to speak in English


  4. This project is wonderful and useful. It aims to teach the English language with the dialect. I have benefited greatly from it and enjoyed it. I wish you more progress and success.


  5. We benefit greatly from the conversation ……….. it is beautiful and helps to develop self to become able to speak in English..♡♡


  6. My opinion about the conversation is that it is a helpful and good way to strengthen our language , we benefited greatly from the conversation, and I would like to thank you teacher Attia because every thing we have come up for now is back to you,
    Thank you very much teacher Attia .


  7. Project conversation is a wonderful project because it develops our English language and it is necessary to learn this language because it is the language of the world and I wish you success in this project


    1. It’s wonderful program thatdevelps and improves our english language and gives it a chance to discover new meaning.
      I would like to thank everyone who works in this program 💓💓


  8. Our distinguished teacher Attia Hussein, we offer you all the appreciation and praise for the number of drops of rain, and the fragrance of the fragrance for all that it has offered for us, and for your precious efforts in order to advance our education⁦🇦🇶⁩😍😍😍


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