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Scott Thornbury: The learner-centred, conversation-driven Dogme approach

Updated: 2 days ago

Discover the Dogme Approach and Transform Your ELT Classroom with Authentic, Learner-Centred Communication

In the dynamic world of English Language Teaching (ELT), Scott Thornbury stands out as a provocative and influential voice, challenging traditional methodologies and advocating for a more learner-centred, conversation-driven approach.


Dogme is an ELT methodology which focuses on authentic communication and interaction

The Dogme Philosophy creating a conversation-driven approach

Thornbury's most significant contribution to the field is the Dogme approach, a radical departure from conventional teaching methods. Dogme, derived from the French term for a filmmaking style that avoids elaborate settings, emphasises stripping language instruction down to its essence – a teacher, students, and the language that emerges from their interactions.

The Dogme approach is rooted in the belief that language learning should be a dynamic, organic process, not a rigid, predetermined sequence of activities. By embracing the unpredictability of real conversations in a conversation-driven approach, learners are exposed to authentic language use and develop the ability to communicate effectively in real-world situations.

Thornbury argues that traditional methods often prioritise accuracy over fluency, leading to learners who can produce grammatically correct sentences but struggle with natural, spontaneous communication. Dogme, on the other hand, emphasises fluency and the development of communicative competence.

 

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As leaders in teacher training and professional development, we are dedicated to helping schools, teachers, and tutors like you develop the knowledge and skills needed to be your best.

Don't wait - contact us today at frank.doogan@traintheteacher.org or call +852 92791395 to learn how our specialised programmes can take your teaching career to new heights.

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Deeper Dive

The core principles of Dogme ELT are:

1. Conversation-driven: Lessons are driven by authentic conversations between learners, rather than predetermined materials or syllabi.

2. Materials-light: Minimal or no use of published textbooks or pre-planned activities, allowing for spontaneity and responsiveness to learners' needs.

3. Focus on emergent language: Instead of pre-teaching language items, the focus is on the language that naturally emerges from learners' interactions, which the teacher then addresses.

Dogme challenges the traditional view of the teacher as the sole authority and encourages a more collaborative, learner-centred dynamic where language is co-constructed through genuine communication.

Give it a Go

Implementing Dogme in your classroom can be both liberating and challenging. Here are some practical ideas to get started:

💡 Embrace spontaneity: Be prepared to abandon your lesson plan and follow the conversational threads that emerge from your learners' interactions.

💡 Use minimal materials: Rely on realia (authentic materials from the real world), learners' experiences, and the language they produce, rather than textbooks or pre-planned activities.

💡 Focus on emergent language: Pay close attention to the language that arises during conversations and use it as a basis for language analysis, feedback, and instruction.

💡 Foster learner autonomy: Encourage learners to take an active role in shaping the lesson's direction and content, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning.

 

Take your teaching to the next level with Train The Teacher Ltd (2008)

As leaders in teacher training and professional development, we are dedicated to helping schools, teachers, and tutors like you develop the knowledge and skills needed to be your best.

Don't wait - contact us today at frank.doogan@traintheteacher.org or call +852 92791395 to learn how our specialised programmes can take your teaching career to new heights.

Invest in your growth and the success of your students. Reach out to Train The Teacher now.

 

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