From 14 July -27 July 2013 I took part in a two-week course for teachers of English in vocational and secondary schools which was held in Exeter. This course was designed for European teachers of English at Secondary level by International Study Programmes.
The training was arranged in workshops which were conducted by expert teacher trainers with many years of experience in training European teachers of English. The group consisted of 15 teachers from different countries in Europe. We had three wonderful teachers who shared with us a lot of their experience and gave us the opportunity to gain a huge variety of new teaching ideas, helped us to improve our language skills, motivated us to research and learn about new strategies, techniques, approaches and methods.
What I liked about the training is that we, teachers, were active participants and we just changed roles with students. I will always remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Here is important to mention that the best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see. What I mean is that we were given the right to choose, explore and absorb the information we needed and later apply it creatively in our work. The last part of the process is up to us and what we see.
I’ve been recently thinking about the difference between school and life. They say that school teaches you lessons and then gives you a test. But life, oh that wonderful life, first gives you a test and you learn the lessons yourselves. Isn’t that awesome? So training at schools should be run from practice to theory. Here we really could apply the Dogme method which I became aware of thanks to my teachers in Exeter.
What is the Dogme method?
It is a communicative approach to language teaching that encourages teaching without published textbooks and focuses on conversational communication among learners and teachers. Sounds very simple, doesn’t it?
What are the key principles of Dogme?
1. Interactivity – direct interaction between teachers – students, students – students.
2. Engagement – students are engaged by the content they create themselves.
3. Scaffolded conversations – learning is based on conversations between teachers and students who co-construct the knowledge and skills.
4. Emergence – language and grammar emerge from the learning process.
5. Affordances – teacher’s role is to optimize language learning affordances through directing attention to emerged language.
You can also have a look at a presentation I’ve made about the course. Download