The basics of a Dogme lesson

Essentially, a Dogme lesson needs very few materials, and instead uses the student as the 'material' for the class. The teacher draws out what the student already knows about the language, then builds on top of that foundation to expand their communicative skills.

Some students enter the classroom with an idea of what they'd like to focus on. Some students are more reticent and expect the teacher to set the theme for the lesson. Nevertheless, it is the job of the Dogme teacher to encourage the student to produce something—anything—that becomes the spring from which the lesson flows in a natural direction.

Example lesson

STAGE 1: A 'LEAD-IN' (that naturally comes up)

A student, László, arrives to class limping.

Teacher / other students: "What happened?"
László: "In football I fall."

The classroom's schemata has been activated by seeing László limping. This means students will more readily complete skills tasks and remember the language (vocabulary or grammar) that deals with the theme of sports injuries. An added benefit is that the teacher doesn't have to come up with a lead-in themselves.

The teacher writes In football I fall on the board.

In which direction could this lesson go? I find the TTT (test-teach-test) method works well with Dogme lessons.

STAGE 2: 1st TEST

Can anyone help László explain more clearly what happened to him?

A student: "He was playing football and then he fell."?
Teacher:
"This is good. Let's have a look at this in more detail..."

STAGE 3: TEACH

1. Grammar

  • Review the Past tense

  • Past progressive/Past simple: Short action interrupted by long action

  • While + v-ing, ...

CONTROLLED PRACTICE:

Teacher can quickly write on the board:


V1 | V2

fall | _____?

play | _____?

run | _____?

jog | _____?

bite | _____?


Also, what are the past progressive forms of the verbs above?

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Look at this sentence. Which is the long action, which is the short action?


While I was jogging, a dog bit me on my ankle.


Focus on the form. What do you notice?

FREER PRACTICE:

Write three sentences using the structure while + v-ing, ... Two must be true about you, one false. Tell your partner your 3 sentences; can they work out the false sentence?

STAGE 2: PRACTICE

2. Vocabulary

  • Phrasal verbs: fall over, knock sb over, trip sb up

  • Lexis for sports injuries: to sprain your ankle, twist your knee, twist your ankle, pull a ligament, hit your shin against sth, kick sb in the shin

CONTROLLED PRACTICE:

Teacher can quickly write on the board:


1 2 3

fall |sb |up

knock | — |over

trip |sb |over


Match column 1, 2 and 3 to make 3 phrasal verbs.

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Dictation: The teacher tells a short made up story about a football team that was plagued with injuries. Students write down what they hear and underline all the injuries they can identify.

FREER PRACTICE:

Students get into pairs. They act out the injury (or causing the injury) to another pair. The other pair should shout out the injury being acted out using the appropriate tense: "He's kicking him in the shin!"


The teacher elicits the solutions to the tasks above from students in the class. Finally, the teacher might ask:

Teacher to László: "So, what happened to you?"
"
While I was playing football, I twisted my ankle."
Teacher to class: "What happened to László?"
Class: "While he was playing football, he twisted his ankle."

The teacher can drill the sentences and model the correct pronunciation and intonation, highlighting issues students might have with it.

STAGE 3: 2nd TEST

It now becomes a skills lesson

Speaking/Listening:

  • Get into pairs. Talk about a time when you hurt yourself while playing sports or doing an outdoor activity. New pairs: Tell your new partner about your old partner's injury.

Writing/Reading:

  • Lazlo is a world-famous footballer. Put him in a chair at the front of the class and ask him detailed questions about his injury. Now, write an article based on his answers about Lazlo's injury for your newspaper.

  • Swap newspapers, and become readers of the online edition. Write a comment in the comment section.

STAGE 4: FEEDBACK

Clear and concise feedback would be happening throughout the lesson, especially at the Teach and 2nd Test stages of the lesson. However, during the lesson, the teacher would also be noting down language to focus on (not necessarily the target language) for lessons in the future.

A confidence booster at the end of the class has the teacher highlighting examples of excellent work (again, not necessarily the target language) by students.

Useful Resources
So that you can cut down on your own resources

Run out of ideas for controlled and freer practice stages of the lesson? Or maybe the production stage? Here are some very useful books to help you:

  • Teaching Unplugged (Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury)

  • 700 Classroom Activities (David Seymour and Maria Popova)

  • Lessons from the Learner (Sheelagh Dellar)

Teaching Unplugged.pdf
700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour & Maria Popova.pdf
Lessons from the Learner.pdf