Wednesday, 15 August 2012

theories of language learning and teaching: dogme

It all started when Scott Thornbury teased out an analogy between the Dogme 95 film-makers collective and the current state of ELT. Dogme 95 (spearheaded by Lars von Trier) vowed to rescue cinema from its slavish allegiance to a Hollywood model of film-making, with its addiction to fantasy and special effects. ELT, Thornbury argued, had become similarly dependent on a constant fix of materials and technology, at the expense of the learning possibilities that could be harvested simply from what goes on "within and between" the people in the room (to borrow Stevick's phrase). ELT needed a similar kind of "rescue action".
It is not books that we oppose. It is the prevailing culture of mass-produced, shrink-wrapped lessons, delivered in an anodyne in-flight magazine style. Worse, in their syllabuses these in-flight courses peddle the idea that the learning of a language runs along a predetermined route with the regularity and efficiency of a Swiss train.
The order in which learners acquire language, and the elements of which that order is composed, are still hotly debated...
Dogme still able to divide ELT | Education | Guardian Weekly

From the man who started it all:
Website Homepage for Scott Thornbury

A load of links:
Dogme: Free ESL | Websites | Lesson Plans

A teacher at work:
... pick up the nearest course book on your desk. Next time you're in the library, compare it against Headway and against just about anything produced since. Whether they've added a handful of unrealistic case studies or dilemmas, got gap fills or pointless vocabulary exercises, been jam-packed with grammar explanations or don't have any, they're all playing off a similar structure.

helloSomewhere in the deep dungeons of most ELT publishing houses, someone whose name we don't know, but at a random guess he's not a socio-linguist, has done some kind of very-necessary-to-show-on-the-page-so-it-feels-and-looks-like-Headway-because-the-teachers-might-be-afraid-if-it's-different kind of breakdown which goes -- well, if I knew the plot points I'd tell you.

I mean do the publishers even care that the unit themes they've chosen have no direct relationship to the following one?
That they rarely have anything to do with our students' lives?
That the lexis presented on one page doesn't show up in the next unit or even the one after that? That there's no space on the page to write?

and her suggested links:
Dogme in ELT


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