Many of you read my previous posts about my Advanced Dogme classes:
On the last day of their course, we got talking about the differences between English classes in their country and the Dogme classes they had experienced in London. These were some of the things the students said.
‘In the lessons in my country, all the topics are from the book. This can be very boring.’
‘You can’t sleep in these classes. It is more dynamic!’
‘Learning and practising language are often separate in the book and in lessons in our country. Here, we learn new language and practise it all at the same time.’
‘In my country, it is often just about completing the exercises in the book. You can do that at home.’
‘Sometimes the teachers stick to the book and the topics are boring. And the same topic goes on and on for too long.’
‘We are advanced students. It’s good to have topics flow from one to another, like in real life conversations.’
‘It is really motivating for us to have videos like Lady Gaga. We would never do that in our country!’
‘Your class is really tiring! We have to speak a lot more than we do in other classes! And the topics keep changing so we have to pay attention!’
More about their coursebooks, here is what they said,
‘Some of the speaking tasks in the coursebooks are awkward, and we don’t know what to say about them.’
‘Many of the speaking tasks are split into different parts. (Students are referring to the different pre-task preparation activities e.g. prediction, listening, vocabulary/lexis pre-teaching, etc.) This is really constricting and annoying. It’s impossible to talk naturally.’
‘The teachers give us a very short period of time to do the task. It is difficult to talk about anything meaningful in that short period of time’
I proceeded to ask them if they knew the famous ‘If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would you invite and why’ task in their coursebooks ‘Cutting Edge’.
They said the teachers would usually give them 5 minutes for such a task. One student said,
‘It takes time to think about these task, and to discuss them with our partners. To do the task in this short time period is impossible, and the teachers don’t exploit the tasks fully.’
It certainly sounds like despite the attempt to include some TBL (Task Based Learning) into language learning, ultimately, teachers seem to give more importance to the preparation activities and the lexico-grammar exercises that come with the tasks. Language learning is clearly still seen as linear, and the true essence of TBLT (Task Based Language Teaching) not fully understood.
Of the topics and nature of these tasks some students said,
‘And these tasks are annoying. The topics are unreal and there is no relevance to real life.’
During this discussion, we started to talk about the way they believed language were learnt, and this resulted in a task whereby they had to come up with the top 10 tips they would give to others who have just started learning English. Here’s what they produced on their mini-white boards.
Thank you, guys! It’s been a great month! I will miss you dearly!
Best of luck for the future!