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Delta – Experimental Practice

Back in December 2010, after 9 months of hard work, I completed the Cambridge Delta. I thought I would post one of the first pieces of work I completed during the course here.

For part of the Professional Development Assignment, we had to choose a method/approach we hadn’t really explored before and conduct some research into it both in and out of the classroom. I chose Dogme.

(This is rather long, so feel free to skip over the boring bits!! I’ve included the contents page to make the skipping over easier!)

NB. This work is not to be republished anywhere without my consent.

Professional Development Assignment

Experimental Practice – Dogme

Jemma Gardner



Why choose Dogme? ……………………………………………………………………………..Page 2


Where does Dogme come from? ……………………………………………………………..Page 2

What does a Dogme lesson look like? ……………………………………………………….Page 3

Dogme’s relevance ………………………………………………………………………………….Page 4

The Lesson Plan:

Current Class…………………………………………………………………………………………..Page 4

Class Profile…………………………………………………………………………………………….Page 5

Retrospective lesson aims ………………………………………………………………………..Page 6

Anticipated Problems and Solutions …………………………………………………………..Page 7

Retrospective Lesson Procedure………………………………………………………………..Page 8

Objectives ………………………………………………………………………………………………Page 10

Methods of evaluation……………………………………………………………………………..Page 10


Evaluation………………………………………………………………………………………………Page 12

Action Plan……………………………………………………………………………………………..Page 13

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………….Page 14


Appendix One (Observer One Task)…………………………………………………………. Page 15

Appendix Two (Observer Two questions)……………………………………………………Page 16

Appendix Three (Student Feedback form) ………………………………………………….Page 17

Appendix Four (Self-evaluative notes)………………………………………………………..Page 18

Word count – 2494


Why choose Dogme?

I have certainly been guilty of overusing course books, relying heavily upon material, not knowing what to teach, and finding myself attached to piles of paper the photocopier has spewed out. Having looked for a cure for this ‘materials-heavy’ teaching, I became interested in an approach coined “Dogme”. Dogme promotes using your students as the main resource for classroom content, changing your role from “teacher” to “peer” and advocates using less spoon-fed methods and spoon-fed materials. I believe this approach will allow me to become more attuned to my students and their needs, goals and interests.


Where does Dogme come from?

Roughly ten years ago, in response to the “culture of mass-produced, shrink-wrapped lessons” (Meddings, 2003) Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings set about releasing teachers from the shackles of their course books to help them become more learner-focussed and less worried about finishing their current chapter before the end of term.

Taking its name from the cinematic movement attributed to Danish film maker Lars von Trier et al – ‘Dogme 95’, whereby films are made using only what is available on location – no artificial lighting, no sets, just actors, scripts and a hand-held camera (Weiss, 2002), Dogme ELT aims to lighten the load of materials-heavy, reality-light lessons by bringing the students back to the centre of what occurs in the classroom where “they [the students] and the teacher are fully present and not playing roles” (Meddings, 2000), to increase student engagement and autonomy and not to teach “grammar McNuggets” (Meddings, 2003).

Over the ten years since its first mention, there has been a continuing “debate as to what Dogme is and what it isn’t” (Thornbury, S. In Marxist ELF, 2010) In Teaching Unplugged, the only book written on Dogme so far, Thornbury and Meddings lay down the key principles of the Dogme approach, these include –

  • A focus on interactivity
  • Using content relevant to the learners and driven by their interests
  • Not one of importing knowledge but scaffolding (supporting, shaping) communication
  • Language emerges, rather than being acquired, and is an organic process
  • Teachers should promote an atmosphere conducive to learning
  • Teachers and students are peers, and everyone’s opinions and beliefs should be respected

(Meddings & Thornbury, 2009)

Dogme has close connections with the educational theories of John Dewey and Paulo Friere. Dewey wrote that education should develop “flexible coordination” (Dewey, 1944) meaning that the learner acquires transferable skills that they can put to use out of the classroom. This relates to Dogme because learners are required to use their current language knowledge to communicate naturally, as they would outside of the classroom, rather than completing unauthentic, controlled practice activities. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere, the role of the teacher as ‘lecturer’ or ‘authority’ is questioned:

“If it is true that thought only has meaning when generated by action upon the world, the subordination of students to teacher becomes impossible. “ (Friere, 2006, pp.77)

Therefore, learning should be facilitated by the teacher in a natural environment harbouring natural relationships and language should be used actively, as it is outside the classroom.

So Dogme principles are not entirely new to educational philosophy, as Thornbury himself states – “There is nothing very original in Dogme” (Thornbury, 2005).  Nevertheless, the Dogme movement has sparked a multitude of debates. Such blogs as Yahoo Groups’ ‘Dogme ELT’ highlight the differences of opinion, some surprisingly strong, with over 15,000 posts over the last 10 years (about 14 per day!). The arguments therein include worries about breaking with the currently accepted norm of using course books to shape the curriculum and how to assess students when there is no set syllabus. Other problems include not fulfilling student expectations and appearing ill-prepared if no material is provided in the form of books and hand-outs. Others worry that the pressure on the teacher is too high, as they have to be able to deal with whatever happens with no lesson plan. (Dogme ELT)

What does a Dogme lesson look like?

In The Guardian, Luke Meddings describes the different depths to which a Dogme lesson can go and how Dogme can be just part of a lesson (‘Talk Dogme’) by talking to the learners in a natural way about the subject in the course book, or conversely can be ‘total-emersion’ (Full Dogme) wherein nothing is planned and everything depends on the emerging language through natural conversation with the students. (Meddings, 2003) However, although no planning may take place, the teacher may have a language focus or an aim for the lesson in mind and will provide a materials light route towards that point, allowing interaction and work on emerging language. The teacher’s job is to exploit the vast resources already in the classroom – the students.  (Meddings & Thornbury, 2009) To do this the teacher calls upon their toolbox of interaction patterns and activities, just as they would in a planned lesson, although in Dogme decisions are made spontaneously in response to how the lesson is taking shape. As the organic nature of Dogme suggests, each lesson and class should be made to suit each different teaching context or group of learners. After all, Dogme isn’t about prescribing, it’s about exploring.

Dogme’s relevance

I have concerns about how widely a Dogme approach could be adopted. For example in exam preparation classes using a tailored course book will provide the exact language the students need to pass. I would worry also about Dogme in beginner classes when the students don’t know enough language for it to be exploited in the lesson. However, using Dogme with Business English classes with business experience and precise needs seems more appropriate than predetermining a grammar based syllabus as they can focus on their work-life and build upon their current knowledge. There are also some cultures that would be more appropriate for Dogme lessons. In my experience, Italian and Spanish students, for example, are much more open to free conversation and communicative activities, and I can imagine Dogme working well with them. In contrast, Chinese or Korean students, who have a more traditional view of education, often struggle with free-speaking activities and see the teacher as an authority in the classroom, meaning they might struggle with the concept of Dogme.

The Lesson Plan:

Current class

I have chosen my weekly B2 General English evening group for this experiment. The students are all fluent German speakers living in Hamburg, Germany. Four are German L1 and one is Czech L1. Language learning in Germany leans towards prescriptive grammar syllabuses and lots of teacher-fronted classroom time. Dogme is the antithesis of this idea in some respects as it actively encourages exploration and releases the participants from prescription and proscription, making this context suitable for the experiment.

Having taught some of these students for over a year, I know that they prefer communicative lessons and to deal with grammar as it comes up. I believe that they will find the Dogme approach appealing as they like to interact with each other and normally our weekly lessons are dynamic, communicative and full of interesting tangents, whilst based upon structured activities. I would like to experiment with removing the planned element to see how the class react and how Dogme works to develop their language.

Class profile

This B2 level class meets once a week in the evening for a general English lesson. I am the only teacher that they meet. The class is talkative and motivated, albeit by different things (work, general interest in languages etc…). There is no strict structure to the course, which continues ad infinitum and students join and leave as their respective contracts end. Therefore, I know some of the students well and others are very new to me. We tend to have lessons which involve lots of speaking, at the students’ request, with a vocabulary or grammar focus. They like to be presented with new vocabulary and tend to be good at recording it. As this class has no fixed syllabus, I often ask the students what they would like to do in the coming weeks and plan accordingly.

The lesson takes place at 17.40 on a Thursday and the students are often tired from their week of work, meaning that activities which are active tend to work best in keeping their attention and keeping them awake! They are all mostly intrinsically motivated and have all reached this level of English through different means, some from travel others from prolonged periods of study.

They get on well as a group and they all show great respect for each other and are good at working together in groups, pairs or on their own.

Group needs.

This group have all expressed a desire to improve their general English with a focus on speaking. However there are some exceptions to this. Martin ‘loves grammar’, whilst Stefanie is moderately opposed to it. The others seem to appreciate a fair balance of grammar, free speaking activities, lexical development and skills based work. As a group, they are very capable of expressing themselves in a range of situations. In general, their vocabulary knowledge is good for their level, but improving this would enable them to progress to a higher level. This is why we often focus on vocabulary in class through reviews and weekly games.

Timetable fit.

Over the last month, they have been looking at vocabulary for houses and homes, describing where they live and more abstract discussion about what “home” is. The main focus of these lessons was vocabulary building and discussion.

This lesson, being a Dogme lesson, will not really fit in with the previous lessons as such. In terms of  skills, however, the chance for the students to be completely free to shape the lesson will mean that their existing knowledge of English will be put to the test and they will have the opportunity to use their resources as learners.

The following week’s lesson will probably focus on some of the language that emerges during the experiment, maybe looking at a grammar point in more detail. This will depend upon what happens during the experiment.

Retrospective Lesson Aims

Note: These aims have been written retrospectively as a full Dogme lesson does not allow for pre-determined aims.

Main aim –

By the end of the lesson, students will have learnt new collocations related to money (e.g. to earn a good salary / to send/pay/issue an invoice / to donate money to charity) and will have had the opportunity to use this lexis in a speaking activity.

Sub-aim –

The students will have practiced their interactive speaking skills, both in pairs and as a whole group.


Anticipated Problems and Solutions

  1. Problem 1:

The demands of a Dogme lesson on the learners are not solely linguistic; the students must be able to follow the ebb and flow of the lesson and be able to take charge of recording any language themselves, due to the lack of hand-outs. This could be a problem for my students, as they may become too focused on the discussion and not enough on recording any language focus work.

Solution 1:

I will ensure that I put to good use the toolbox of interaction patterns and activity ideas that will give the class a structure as we move along, and ensure that I board anything I feel to be relevant, setting a good example to them.

  1. Problem 2:

This class are accustomed to being given material to work with and following my lead. This could cause a problem when confronted with a Dogme lesson, as they may not recognise the ability they have to shape the lesson content.

Solution 2:

I have informed the class that they will be taking part in a lesson that is an experiment and have explained the basic idea of Dogme to them. This should help them to relax and let the lesson happen, rather than worry about the fact it is different to usual. I will also remind them that they are not the test subject and that I am just interested to see how the Dogme approach works in action.

  1. Problem 3:

The class are often tired from their working day and sometimes imagination can be a problem. This lesson will demand a high level of concentration, as neither they nor I know the path it will take.

Solution 3:

I will offer enough changes to the pace of the lesson to keep the students alert and their attention on what is taking place in the room.

Retrospective lesson procedure

Students present – 5. Lesson length – 60 minutes. Time – 17.40. Date – Thursday 22nd April 2010

The 60 minute Experimental Practice was part of a 90 minute session, so the lesson continued further after this procedure finishes.

Timing Stages Interaction Outcome








T initiates conversation as the students arrive “How was your week?” Florian tells a story about his weekend’s Geo-caching activities and what they found. T asks “What’s the best thing you’ve ever found?” and Florian tells the class about finding money once.T asks other students about their “best finds”. Martin tells a story about finding 100€ ten years before in a Portemonnaie. T elicits English word for “Portemonnaie” > “wallet”. Stefanie asks what the difference between a purse and a wallet is. T asks class and elicits answer, and boards the words with illustrations. Martin continues to tell story about giving the 100€ to charity. Other students tell short stories about their “best finds”; all the stories are money related. T tells own story about finding 20€ and spending it on lunch! T decides to continue the theme of money.

T asks students to brainstorm words related to money, starting a mind map on the board by eliciting the first word from the students.

To earn a (good) salary

T sits with each pair helps with collocations as students work on their own mind-maps. E.g. Donate money to charity.


T invites students to the board to record their money related vocabulary in a mind map with help from the other students for spelling and collocations. T sits with the other students and elicits further collocations e.g. Amount of money for the student at the board to add. There is some discussion between the students about the correct spelling of some words (e.g. Receipt), and T confirms or corrects once the students have some to a decision. T checks understanding of some words (e.g. Invoice, bill, receipt – Does it come before or after you have paid the money?)


T asks students to work in pairs to write 5 questions for the other pair using some of the vocabulary on the board. T monitors and again sits with each pair as they work whilst helping with question forms (e.g. choice of Past Simple vs. Present Perfect – “What’s the most you spent on a present for a partner?” > “What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a present for a partner?” and other difficulties with lexis and grammar.

T notices “Do you pay your invoices in time?” and asks the class what might be better, leading to a discussion about in time and on time. T boards the two phrases and elicits the difference through situations. (On time = punctual, in time = with enough time to do something). Students give other examples (e.g. I should get to class on time)


Students swap partners and ask and answer questions. T sits with each partner and listens whilst noting down interesting language points for later feedback and any amusing or thought provoking answers for possible whole class feedback at a later stage. T sometimes takes part in the conversations, asking questions or laughing along with the students.

As the students come to an end of their questions, T sits back at the front of the room and asks what they have learnt about each other. Students explain some of the answers they received. T encourages follow up questions and further discussion ensues related to cultural differences in attitude to money.

At this point the official experiment concludes, however the lesson ran for another 30 minutes and included error correction feedback on the board and an idiom of the week – “To go with the flow!” before students completed a feedback form on the lesson.

Whole groupWhole group


T – Pairs

Whole group

T – Pairs

Whole Group


Whole group

Students relaxed into the lesson.Students had the chance to engage with the topic and useful vocabulary began to emerge.

Activated students’ knowledge of the vocabulary area and could learn from each other.

Teacher assumed role of peer and helped to build collocations, rather than single words.

Students could work together to record the language, increasing engagement.

Students put the language to use which aids retention.

Students’ attention was drawn to a common misunderstanding.

Further recycling of the language by putting it to interactive use promotes retention.

Students could share their findings and learn about each other



(The letters here match the Methods of Evaluation and Evaluation in the next sections.)

a)      To see if a ‘Full Dogme’ approach is a viable means for teaching English with a general English group at B2 level.

b)     To see whether using a Dogme approach to exploit emerging language offers an alternative to prescribing grammar or lexical areas whilst still fulfilling these students’ educational needs and wishes.

c)      To see if I am able to relinquish my usual roles in the classroom, namely “teacher-as-resource” and “teacher-as-lecturer”, by reacting naturally to the students and becoming more “teacher-as-peer” throughout.

d)     To see if the students enjoy the lesson and recognize the benefit of a more learner-centred approach, also to see if they feel that they have learnt something and found the lesson useful.

e)     To see if I am capable of giving a well-paced lesson without a pre-determined plan of interaction patterns and activities.

Methods of evaluation

The methods I have chosen are –  

  1. A colleague and my Local Tutor (Observer One and Two) will observe the lesson. They will be given observation tasks which will involve detailing my stages and interaction patterns (App. 1), looking more closely at the students’ reactions and also my behaviour and roles during the lesson (App. 2).
  2. My two observers and I will have a post-lesson discussion to critically analyze the experiment in terms of my objectives, providing immediate feedback and reflection, enabling me to better assess the outcomes.
  3. The students will be given a feedback form (App. 3) asking for their thoughts, reactions and opinions.
  4. I will make reflective notes after the lesson using the same student feedback questions (App. 3).

In more detail, this is how I will assess my objectives:

a)       I will ask the students how they feel about the lesson in general (Ap3 Q1); whether they enjoyed it and felt that they learnt something from it (Ap3 Q2). I will also ask them if they feel that a full Dogme approach is a good way to learn (Ap3 Q8) and what they think of the style of the lesson (Ap3 Q6&7). I will also use my own self-reflection on how the class went to determine the outcome of this objective (Ap4).

b)     Observer Two will be given the task of assessing how I exploit the learners’ emerging language (Ap2 Q3). I will also ask the students how much they feel they contributed to the lesson (Ap3 Q4) and whether they would like more of this style of lesson in the future (Ap3 Q9). I will also use my own reflections on the lesson to determine the success of this objective (App. 4).

c)       Observer Two will be asked to focus on my roles during the lesson (Ap2 Q2) and the questions which I ask during the lesson (Ap2 Q1). He will also be looking at my responses to the students and how I deal with their contributions (Ap2 Q3) helping me critically evaluate how my behaviour affects the students.

d)     I will ask students to rate how much they think they learnt in this lesson and how that compares with previous lessons (Ap3 Q2&3), I will ask them to rate how useful the lesson was (Ap3 Q5), how much they feel the contributed (Ap3 Q4) and whether they feel the learner centred approach is a good way to learn (App. 3 Q7&8) and whether they enjoyed the lesson (Ap3 Q1&9).

e)     Observer One will be asked to write down all my stages and interaction patterns as they happen in the lesson for me to analyse changes of pace and focus (App. 1).


Evaluation of the Objectives.

a)      I feel that this approach worked well in this context.  The students enjoyed the lesson and commented that they liked the amount of speaking (App. 3 Q1&7) and learning vocabulary simultaneously (App. 3 Q2). My own reflections (App. 4) are that the approach would certainly be viable in this context, the students were engaged, contributed well and the topic was useful.

b)      Two students commented that they wanted more “grammar” (App. 3 Q 7) and therefore this specific lesson did not completely fulfill their expectations or wishes. However, Observer Two’s feedback during our post-lesson discussion was that I had exploited the learners’ language to provide a lesson topic and throughout I was using their contributions to develop conversation and language focus. We briefly focused on verb forms (-ing/to+infinitive) and this will be the subject of next week’s lesson, meaning their language was exploited not only during this lesson but to decide on future topics for study. I therefore feel this approach allows teachers to fill the gaps in students’ knowledge which I believe is more useful than spoon-feeding pre-selected grammar.

c)       I can see that the roles I assumed were varied (Ap2), although many of them fit conventional teaching roles, such as ‘task-organiser’. I believe that there was a balance with roles such as ‘comedienne’ and ‘interested listener’. I also believe that assuming conventional roles gave me enough meta-level control in order to facilitate activities that offered practice of the emerging language.  My questions were mainly Display Questions (App. 2), and this is something that I would have liked to move away from. I therefore feel that I was able to relinquish my usual roles to some extent, but still need to work on my questioning behaviour.

d)      The students’ feedback showed they enjoyed the lesson (Ap3 Q1) and want to have similar lessons in the future (Ap3 Q9). They rated the lesson’s usefulness 4.5/5 (Ap3 Q5) and responded positively to the approach (Ap3 Q7&8) with remarks about it being interesting and filling gaps in knowledge, showing that they recognize the benefit of Dogme. They rated the amount that they learnt highly, mostly 5/5 (Ap3 Q2). They found the amount they learnt similar to usual (Ap3 Q3) which means that Dogme can be compared to more traditional learning approaches.

e)      I feel that I used a good range of interaction patterns from open pair-work and whole class discussion to teacher-fronted time (see Ap.1). This was something I was worried about and am proud of successfully realizing. However, this dynamic class always work at a fast pace and time for digesting information is often missing, which is an area for improvement.

My data collection methods were appropriate and useful. The students’ feedback form could have been written to allow for less biased answers in some areas, and because the students were aware that the lesson was being observed they wanted to give me positive feedback. I think videoing the lesson would have allowed me to view it more objectively. However, having two observers with different tasks offered some objectivity.

Action Plan

My attitude to teaching has been changed through this experiment, and I am eager to test out more hypotheses on classes of different levels, contexts and group sizes.

I will –

  • ask to be given an A1 group and will try out Dogme with them
  • use a Dogme approach with my weekly one-to-one B1 Business English student who has specific needs in English
  • experiment with a weekly in-company group who are particularly rigid in their approach to learning English
  • log all of my findings in my Teaching Log
  • talk to our training department about offering a teacher training session on incorporating Dogme principles into our “Grammar McNugget-ed” intensive courses.
  • develop my knowledge of educational theories that support Dogme by reading texts by Paulo Friere and John Dewey
  • continue to follow the Dogme ELT Yahoo Group page, which is full of advice, opinion and critique of Dogme in different contexts around the world


Dewey, John. 1944 Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. The Free Press.

ELT Dogme  Yahoo! Groups – ELT Dogme (17/04/10)

Freire, P. 2006, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (30th Anniversary Edition) Continuum, New York.

Meddings, L. 2000 Re: [dogme] Jungle path (17/04/10)

Meddings, L. 2003 Dogme still able to divide ELT.  (17/04/10)

Meddings, L. & Thornbury, S. 2009 Teaching Unplugged Delta Publishing

Thornbury, S. 2005. Dogme: Dancing in the dark?  (17/04/10)

Thornbury, S. In Marxist ELF, 2010. Romantic Comedy with a Sinister Twist. A Marxist Critique of Dogme ELT. (17/04/10)

Weiss, M. 2002 Dogma 95 (18/04/10)

Appendix One

Observer One – stages, timing and classroom interaction table. The completed version of this can be seen on Pages 8 and 9.

Timing Stage Interaction Notes

Appendix Two

Observer Two tasks.

  1. What type of questions do I ask? Are these suitable for

a) the Dogme approach

b) the stage of the lesson/intended learning outcome?

  1. What roles do I assume during the lesson? Is this balanced and in keeping with the Dogme approach?
  2. How do I respond to the students contributions? How and to what extent do I exploit the language that emerges?

Below is the document I received from Observer Two, my Local Tutor in response to my observation tasks.

Time questions Roles adopted Responses
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever found?”What do we call the thing we keep money in? (in the middle of Martin’s story)

“I’m happy to earn money”


Interested listenerteacher


Wow, OK.Laughter
This story of Martin’s prompts a story of yours.
“What about you, Simone, what’s the best thing you’ve ever found?”What about you?” questioner
Teacher You go to the board and ask students to brainstorm words related to money.
“What word goes with salary, Martin?” Task-organiser You have used the general topic of money in the stories to focus on a lexical area.
Teacher you elicit lexis by writing up short chunks (in base form)
“Pocket money is different.  (do) You know, Florian?” (he answers) teacher You say “yeah, that’s right”
“Does one of you two want to go to the board and start writing them down?” teacher/task organiser
What’s an invoice? Teacher
Does it come before the money changes hands or after? teacher You correct the students’ concept
So what comes after you’ve paid?Do you want to swap? Teachertask-organiser
What was the other verb we said, because you can donate money or we can…? OK, uhhuh
What’s the opposite? teacher
What would be the noun from inflate?Difficult, that thing, isn’t it? teachersympathiser
What’s a cashier? teacher
“I would like you to write some questions down to ask the other pair”
Could you answer that question? (no) Right! moderator You essentially discourage a students’ question here.  Does it matter than they can’t answer it?  Isn’t it normal not to have answers to questions we ask?
Yeah, so what answer are you looking for?  How can we ask that question, you said it a while ago? task-organiser
“Don’t we all?” ironic sympathiser
Do you pay invoices in time?In time, any ideas? teacher You move to the board and have a teaching moment.  Your examples are skeletal.  Your gloss of the two may actually support the students’ initial idea.
A hospice, it’s like… What do you mean?” Teacher turns querier You have asked students to ask their questions to other people.
When somebody dies, do you know?
How much is his biggest spend?What did you learn about Stephanie, you can embarrass her now…

Horse riding?

What about over here, Simone?What do the rest of you think about that? teachermoderator
Martin, what about you and Simone? task-organiser
Have you noticed the difference in attitudes between here and Czech Republic?
Can you explain to the others what we normally do with these sentences? class initiator OK let’s look at a few of those sentences- (you then write up some sentences on the board)
OK? Got some ideas?First one? Any ideas?

What about this bit?

What about if it’s at the moment, yeah?

What about the next one?

You have asked…? (for)

What’s this word? (you want ever)

You point up verb forms with them next week.
What’s one word you’ve learnt today?You then do idiom of the week and hand out the FB forms

Appendix Three

Student feedback form with student answers in italics

Name –

  1. How do you feel about the lesson in general? (E.g. how did you feel during the lesson, was there anything that you liked or didn’t like about it?)

“The lesson was ok…well prepared….Jemma did a good job. We had lots of possibility to talk and practice our skills.”

                “Interesting contents and funny”

                “I liked everything…..the most important thing for me is to speak a lot and this was the case”

                “Very good, shared time for conversation and grammar”

                “Good team work within the group, lots of fun”

On a scale of 1 – 5 (1=a little, 5=lots)

  1. How much do you think you learnt in this lesson?

1               2               3              4              5

Four students chose 5/5, one chose 4/5


“Learnt a lot of new words”

“New words related to money, spoke a lot and got lots of practice”

“Holes of words appear and can be filled; grammar can be cleared at the same time”

  1. How is that different to other lessons we have had together?

1               2               3              4              5

Three students chose 1/5; two students chose 3/5


It wasn’t different to other lessons”

                “There were some differences, but Jemma always teaches us a lot”

                “Similar to last lesson”


  1. How much do you feel you contributed (gave) to the lesson?

1               2               3              4              5

Three students chose 5/5, two chose 4/5


“I talked enough, maybe a lot.”

“I contributed well because I felt comfortable with the people in the room.”

“I had fun communicating”

  1. How useful was this lesson for you?

1               2               3              4              5

Four students chose 5/5, one chose 4/5


“Interesting content, useful content”

                “Lots of speaking is very useful for me”

                “Practical things for daily use, improvement of grammar”

                “Useful business expressions”


  1. During the lesson, I felt………….

“Relaxed and happy”


“Before the lesson I was excited, during it I was relaxed and interested”


  1. How do you feel about this style of lesson?

“I’m very happy with it.”

“It makes fun, but I prefer a small grammar part in each lesson.”

“Very good”

“It’s ok; we could do more grammar though”

“I liked it”

  1. How do you feel about using the people in the class as the main source of language?

Do you think this a good way to learn?

“Definitely, yes.”

“Yes, because we can talk a lot.”

“It’s a good way to learn – lots of speaking”

“It’s a good way because it isn’t boring and we can all be a part of the lesson.”

“Yes, great idea. The people in the class have the chance to speak a lot.”


  1. Would you like more of this style of lesson in the future? Why? Why not?

“Yes, I liked it.”

“Yes, I’d like more of this style.”

“Yes, I liked it.”

“Yes, Learning in a relaxed atmosphere in a good team, learning things by practicing is very effective to me.”

  1. Any other comments?

What about a small homework part?”

“Jemma is always committed and the lessons are interesting and useful and funny”


Thanks for being my guinea pigs!

Appendix Four

Self-evaluative notes.

Positive lesson, well-paced, relevant and interesting.

Lots of useful vocabulary emerged and they had a chance to use it in an interactive way.

Conversation followed the one theme throughout and the students weren’t really pushed by me but more guided.

They all contributed well and helped to shape the lesson.

The subject which we followed (money) is a useful topic and the students seemed to think this too.

I felt relaxed during the lesson, except at the beginning when I was trying to select what route to take from the students’ discussion. I also felt useful!

It worked well with this group; they got on well together and with me and were all really positively engaged.

It felt like a good way to teach them and was relevant to their learning context; they all contributed and were engaged.

I would like to do more of this in the future with them, they seemed to enjoy it.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2011 5:38 pm

    An incredibly detailed account Jemma. It puts mine to shame. Really good to see the entire breakdown of your lesson, even the exact utterances of the students and how these then changed the direction of the lesson. I love how you have talked about the role the teacher played in the lesson. You have really made me think again about how I should go about delivering my own project. Looking back at my recent posts, I see that there is just not enough detail and perhaps I need to re think how I write about my lessons. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing it. I hope there are more to come like this.

    • October 9, 2011 6:01 pm

      Thanks Adam!
      This piece took many hours of work when I wrote it last year, and was part of my Diploma studies, so I devoted a hell of a lot of time to it. Unfortunately, I just don’t (seem to) have that time any more. I also had help in the form of Anthony (who wrote down my teacher roles) and another colleague (who jotted down the basic structure of the lesson as it went along). Without this help, and the amount of time I had available to spend writing all this up, it would not be so detailed.

      I asked Anthony to look at my teacher roles because was something that I felt was central to the Dogme way of teaching, and that I had never really considered properly in terms of myself in the classroom. I found this bit of research incredibly useful, and to this day I still think about it and ask my trainees to consider it in their planning, teaching and observing.

      I wish I could say there would be more like this. Maybe I do need to start doing a bit more action research in my lessons / training sessions. Since my Delta, I haven’t really done much as I was training to be a Celta tutor and that kind of took over. Hmmm….
      This blogging stuff really gets you thinking, doesn’t it? I’m so glad I started all this!

      • October 9, 2011 8:45 pm

        Also, Adam, I meant to congratulate you on actually reading through most of this page! It’s not the shortest bit of work…!

  2. October 29, 2011 8:26 am

    Hi Jemma. That was really a pleasure to read. One thing that stood out to me was the feedback you received from students; is it resembles a lot of feedback I’ve seen from my Dogme classes: not boring, we are part of the lesson, we talk lots, it’s a good way to learn. I especially liked “we talked enough, maybe even a lot”.

    I’m still struggling to grasp the following concept of Dogme and understand how it works in my classroom:

    Not one of importing knowledge but scaffolding (supporting, shaping) communication

    – Scaffolding confuses me. Although I think I do it, I never feel sure that it is what I’m doing. Maybe this is a fault of the definition of scaffolding or maybe it is my understanding. I might blog about this soon, for some clarity.

    – Importing language in what way? Through materials or through the teacher? Also, what role does the teacher play? I tend to take the role of the one who asks questions and leads learners towards the answers, or at least I see things this way from my lesson reflections.

    You know every time I read a new account about Dogme like this it helps crystalize everything in my mine, leading me down new avenues of thought.


    • October 29, 2011 12:58 pm

      Hi Dale, Thanks for reading this. Returning to this piece of work after 18 months has been good for me. It reminded me of all the thinking that went into writing it and all of the following changes I made to my teaching style back then.

      Scaffolding is a concept I too have battled with. The way I see it is that different people need different support structures at different times in their lives, and that transcends to the classroom too – there are times when our role may be “questioner” to enable conversation to keep flowing, “model” when we share a story/some information before we open up the floor to the students, “language expert” when we focus on form. These are just a few of the ways we scaffold, I would say, as they are all ways of supporting communication. Scaffolding in terms of the shape of a lesson in the way we build activities upon one another to increase the challenge/hand over control is something that a Dogmetist has to either decide upon before when thinking of interaction patterns or has to be able to do “on the spot”. I guess this is just moving from controlled to freer practice if we are talking about language input? What do you think?

      Importing language. Tricky. What I tend to do is jump on something a student has said and board it and go from there. One idea I’ve used (might be from Teaching Unplugged, not sure) is to have bits of paper on the table with e.g. “grammar”, “vocabulary” and “pronunciation” written on them, then tell the students to pick one and that’s the focus for the next 30 mins. They can stop the lesson at any time to ask a question on that area from something that has been said by anyone in the room. This gives them control and has ended up with some really useful language focus stages in my experience. What do you do to import language? Would love to have more ideas! I really wish we could all watch each other teach, you know! It would be so useful! Maybe one day… Have a good Saturday Dale, Jem.

  3. Emi Slater permalink
    January 12, 2012 7:10 pm

    Hi Jemma

    Just discovered your blog – fascinating stuff.

  4. Deirdre permalink
    April 18, 2012 8:46 am

    Hi Jemma
    As a current Delta student who is now planning my EP on Dogme, this was an enormous help – thank you! You threw some excellent light on how to assess its effectiveness and analyse and reflect on the lesson after it has taken place. This has been a problem for me so far. You also helped me to see how I can assess how this method can benefit students as opposed to the more usual course book paradigm.
    Many thanks

  5. Adam permalink
    November 20, 2012 11:54 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I am in the last couple of weeks of my DELTA and have decided to go the DOGME way myself for my experimental. I had the good fortune to actually have a 2-hour long pretty much one-on-one with Luke Meddings on Dogme just last week, and I have to admit even after that it is still a bit confusing in that alot of teachers have taken it their own way. One thing he continues to mention is that it is materials “light”, not materials “free”. Materials can be brought into the classroom, but should of course be authentic. Earlier this year, Luke did a plenary at the British Council called “Found Objects” – I encourage you to google it and have a watch. He brings alot of good ideas to mind, as well as in “Teaching Unplugged”. The biggest hinderance I see with the experimental lesson is we are very limited in what we can do because, at least for my part, I don’t know the students – I am teaching them only to fulfill the requirements of the DELTA program. Should be interesting. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  6. April 2, 2013 9:07 pm

    Wow, this is good stuff. I haven’t had time to read it all but as one who is thinking of taking the DELTA in future and one who is also interested in various methods of teaching like Dogme, I’ll definitely be going through this post.

    I’m an IELTS teacher and I’m just wondering how you think Dogme teaching can serve IELTS teachers and students (if at all)? Thanks.


  1. Useful links for Delta | Sandy Millin
  2. Doing the Cambridge Delta: A Guide | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

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