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Friday, May 27, 2011

Dogme McNuggets?

McNuggets by Calgary Reviews  on Flickr

I have a new student. She's twenty-eight and is in the armed forces. I decided to try and take a dogme approach with her lessons, as she's having individual classes. During our first two lessons this has worked well because we've been doing quite a bit of talking about familiar topics such as family and our typical day, and lots of language has come up, but nothing unusual - in fact, the language that emerged was actually the typical grammar and vocabulary you would find in a coursebook lesson on those topics. This makes me feel that I haven't been doing dogme at all! Is it that after so many years of traditional course book lessons, I have it all so strongly etched into my brain that I automatically encourage certain language items to come up? If so, that can hardly be called dogme! But am I really directing the language so much? Or is it that when you talk about your daily life you automatically use certain Mcnuggets? Hmm, I'm getting a bit confused.

In any case, this student has a grammar and vocabulary exam next month, so our short term goal is actually to brush up on all those Mcnuggets. This is student-centred learning - the student's priority is to try to pass her exam, rather than be able to communicate in English. That will come later.  Sometimes, I think we forget about our students' priorities because we were trained in the Communicative era and have some kind of need to help our students communicate. However, as I mentioned in a recent post on jigsaw puzzles, this is not necessarily whar our students want or need.

So, assuming that I have to help my student remember (and in some cases learn) the grammar and vocabulary she needs to pass her exam, can I possibly take a dogme approach? If I do, we will certainly miss out some important Mcnuggets. Again, I'm slightly perplexed.

These are just some thoughts that have been running through my mind, anyway. Sorry for rambling. Take no notice!
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