The Teach-Off – Introducing the Coursebook Round

It’s round two of the Dogme-versus-Coursebook Teach-Off, and today, my General English DOS, Varinder, starts teaching the same group I had for the last two weeks using the coursebook Global.

Varinder kindly volunteered to tell us a little bit about herself before embarking on posts about her coursebook-based lessons.

So, here’s introducing Varinder Unlu:


Thought I had better introduce myself to everyone.  I work at IH London and I am the one who very foolishly challenged Chia to a Dogme v coursebook teach-off.    Just a little background information about me:

I’ve been in the world of EFL for about 20 years and started teaching in Turkey.  After five years of teaching there, I returned to the UK and began working in a private language school in Greenwich where I spent twelve years, eight of which were as a DOS and Trinity teacher trainer.  I’d always had an interest in ESOL and wondered how it was different to EFL teaching and so in 2009 I thought I’d try my hand at ESOL and got a job at Greenwich Community College.  It was a really developmental time for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it every minute of it.   I learned that, yes, ESOL teaching is different in many ways but there are also many similarities to EFL.  Just as I was settling into the world of public sector teaching and environment, the private sector enticed me back with the role of DOS at IH – an opportunity that could not be overlooked and I’ve now been working here for just over eighteen months.  It’s an amazing place to work and I’m surrounded by so many talented and creative people with a real passion for teaching and developing. Oh, and I’m also an examiner for Cambridge ESOL, ESB and an inspector.

Dogme is something that raised my interest as an approach because I’ve never really followed one method or approach in my teaching.   I’m curious as to why some people feel so strongly about using it exclusively in their teaching.  So I hope some of the following questions will be answered for me:

Is it the best way to teach?

Does it work better than course books and materials for teachers? What about newly qualified teachers?

What do students think?  Do they/can they see the difference?

Are the learning outcomes increased by using this approach?

Is it good to use just one method/approach  in teaching?

Does it matter which approach you use?

Of course there are many more questions in my mind and there are many factors involved in why the results/answers will be what they are.  However, I am really excited and a little nervous to be teaching with Chia.


Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

8 thoughts on “The Teach-Off – Introducing the Coursebook Round”

  1. Good luck Varinder. You have a very tough act to follow but I think an ESOL background may come in handy to tap into the ‘student level’ which Chia worked with. But that would be very Dogme wouldn’t it?

    No cheating , we are watching very carefully.

    Can’t wait!

    1. Thank you Phil. Must say I am very nervous as Chia is a hard act to follow. I would never cheat. We’ve agreed that I will be using at least 50% of the course book and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

      1. Thanks for your vote of confidence, Phil. But Varinder is a very experienced teacher, as you can see from the post…so I’m sure she’ll be fine! I’m the one who should be scared…

  2. Good luck, Varinder! Both you and Chia are very brave to be taking this on.

    I don’t think one approach or method should be used exclusively although I do think Dogme can be ideal for some contexts, while in others I would probably be very happy to have a good coursebook. I also feel that certain approaches suit teachers’ preferred ways of being in a classroom or their personalities so it’s great that there are different approaches out there.

    This challenge is a perfect opportunity for us to hear about two approaches being used by experienced and committed teachers, and to learn more about each.

    Thank you and best wishes,

    1. Thank you Carol. I totally agree with what you say about using one method or approach exclusively in teaching. This is a very exciting challenge for me and Chia and I’m hoping that we see that both approaches are just as good as each other.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Carol!
        Despite the name of this challenge, we are all doing it in the name of continual professional development and learning more about our students and their expectations and learning processes. Sharing it with the rest of the world through blogs allow us to involve everyone online and get their feedback too! And yours in very much appreciated, Carol!

  3. Hi Varinder,
    I hope your first day went well. You have raised some good questions and I think many of us have our own (ingrained?) opinions and answers. I’m looking forward to hear hearing your reflections as you go through the next two weeks, and hearing about how you got on today. I think you’ve got the right attitude to trying something new – curiousness, openness and willingness to learn mixed with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism. As many others before me have commented on recent post, it’s great that you’re both doing this and even better that you’re shaing it with us.
    Good luck and have fun!

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