The Teach-Off – Student Questionnaire Findings

A Teach-Off-less classroom
Photo by Shelly Terrell

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The Teach-Off feels like something that happened a decade ago.

As intense as it was when it was taking place, the end of it has suddenly left a gap in my life.

But yet, it has far from ended. For now, the fun begins…

It has taken some time for me to compile these results (thank you for your patience) and in the spirit of full disclosure, here are the answers to the questionnaires that we carried out.

I have left out the description and the rationale behind the research methodology (which will be published in an article elsewhere), but suffice to say that this piece of research is purely qualitative and seeks to obtain as full a description of experiences and perceptions of their Dogme and coursebook-based lessons as possible.

I have also avoided drawing any conclusions as yet because I was hoping that you the reader might formulate your own conclusions as you read this. If so, please do contribute in the comments section.


The following student questionnaire was given out to students twice. Once at the end of 2 weeks of Dogme lessons, and again at the end of two weeks of the Coursebook-based lessons.

…………………………………………………………………..Yes                                       No

1

2

3

4

5

1. The course was well-organised.
2. The teacher was well-prepared.
3. The topics were interesting.
4. The language covered was useful and easy to    understand.
5. I felt motivated to learn and to speak English.
6. I learned a lot of new things on this course.
7. I am happy with the progress I made in this course.

There were 9 respondents to the 2 weeks of Dogme lessons, and 10 respondents to the 2 weeks of coursebook lessons. 2 out of the 10 were new students that were not present during the Dogme phase.

Although these numbers are not enough for the qualitative data to be in any way statistically reliable, here are the answers to the above questionnaire.

Remembering that (1) is the extreme end of ‘yes’ and (5) the extreme end of ‘no’:

Questions

Dogme

Coursebook

1. The course was well-organised. 6/9  answered (1)

3/9 answered (2)

4/10 answered (1)

5/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

2. The teacher was well-prepared. 9/9 answered (1) 8/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

3. The topics were interesting. 7/9 answered (1)

1/9 answered (2)

1/9 answered (3)

5/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

3/10 answered (3)

4. The language covered was useful and easy to understand. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

3/10 answered (1)

5/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

1/10 left it blank

5. I felt motivated to learn and to speak English. 6/9 answered (1)

3/9 answered (2)

6/10 answered (1)

2/10 answered (2)

2/10 answered (3)

6. I learned a lot of new things on this course. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

7/10 answered (1)

3/10 answered (2)

7. I am happy with the progress I made in this course. 7/9 answered (1)

2/9 answered (2)

6/10 answered (1)

3/10 answered (2)

1/10 answered (3)

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More importantly, the qualitative data from the comments that students wrote to the questions provided a more in depth description of how they perceived their experience with both Dogme and the coursebook.

What did you like best about this course?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I like discussions with my partner. I don’t like to speak English. But I had a good opportunity to speak and explain something.’

‘Probably I’m increased vocab and speaking, and all English skill.’

‘I always study like a game, specially vocabulary. It’s really interesting and makes me fun.’

‘I learned a useful words and grammars.’

‘I liked the dynamic of the course, the activities that were applicated in practice.’

‘The way to improve my listening the conten and vocabulary revise with white boards.’

‘My teacher teach us like a game. Teachs me many vocabulary that I need in out real life. My teacher give me confidence to speak English.’

‘To listen about Tesco many times (until we all understood).’

‘I learned a lot of many useful vocabularies.’

‘I could get various experiences. Speaking skill is increased.’

‘The kind of teach, the patience and security to teach from the teachers’

‘The book has good topics and difficult things.’

‘To learn things that I can use in my professional life, expressions, etc.’

‘I’ve learned that I don’t have interest things. For example: political things, etc…’

‘Ms Varinder is so nice. Speaking clearly, beautifully. And I met many friends from different countries, that was very good experience for me.’‘To use coursebook is more organised than not to use it. I can review using the course book.’

‘It teaches us more grammar.’

‘The teacher’s teaching style is really engaging for the whole group of people, it leads students to interact with each other and with the teacher herself.’

‘Varinder teach me what a fun, what a happy read a book in this class. It’s my best happy things.’

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How was it different from your previous learning experience?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘In Japan, we had never speaked in English. I don’t know the reason. At first, I was surprised. I didn’t know what happened every lessons. But it’s very good.’

‘Previous class was not interesting. Chia’s teaching is participate in class.’

‘When use the textbook, I take a time to solve the question. But you don’t use it, so always thinking about something in English.’

‘Previous course was strict. Only books.’‘A course without a script motivated me to study at home and learn more out of the school ambiance.’‘It’s more dynamic and our lesson make me more interested.’

‘In my previous learning experiences, I learnt something but I forgot them very soon.’

‘In Japan, never speak each other. Never make sentence. Never listen. Never had a teacher as friendly as you. Never as beautiful as you.’

‘The teaching was different, more bored. This was more fun and interactive.’

‘We’ve had two teachers. First I confused to learn to two ones. But they have a different talent. I’ve got a pleasing result.’

‘The school have a professional staff and this is enough for all the students improve the language. For me, the time spended here was perfect because, generally, I’ve spend just 3 hours/week in English classes in my country.’

‘Not so different, we have a book and we follow that.’

‘We followed a script on the book, but make different activities during the course.’

‘Everything! I usually study English with text book and remember vocabulary and do exam many times. I think it’s just for the score of exam.’

‘In my previous, in Japan, most important thing was grammar, but I thought hearing is the best way to learn English.’

‘To use course book is difficult for me. Many topics doesn’t familiar with me.’

‘It is better than my previous learning.’

‘Even though the class teamwork is extremely interactive, it is not competitive at all. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to get to know other nationalities people which have got lots of different accents.’

‘In Japan, there was not speaking, hearing, game… It’s a pain.’

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The following question might have not been understood by some of the students and judging by some of their answers, some might have interpreted the question to mean, ‘What did your teacher do to help you learn more?’

What do you think the teacher could do differently to help you learn more?  

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I think your teaching style is very nice. I had to speak somebody and listen to your speaking. I learned lots of things from you.’

‘Limited time. I learned a lot of vocabulary.’‘I think teacher was ready to answer any questions that I asked to her. So, she looked happy every day!’

‘More listening!’

‘I have no idea.’‘She teach how study more things.’

‘Maybe show more video for listening.’

‘I think, it’s good way. I can feel that they try to teach.’

‘In this case…nothing…she works very well.’

‘More dynamic. Maybe the book limit me to learn many thing and the class can’t be more dynamic.’

‘Use different resources, like video, audio, motivate us to watch/listen TV and radio programmes, etc.’

‘I think we can know more. If you use ‘for example’ when explain some vocabulary or sentence. It’s my opinion.’

‘I can’t understand this question, I’m sorry. How do I say that? Anyway, I’m satisfied with this class and my teacher.’

‘I think it was interesting. But it confused me.’

‘She is very good teacher. Very kind.’

‘She should check the homework.’

‘It is necessary to change teachers and method if we have to maintain the standard of teaching. I want to study more grammar.’

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It seems as if many of the response to the following question after the ‘coursebook phase’ of the course were directed either at both teachers, or focused on the communicative element of the teaching methodology, rather than the ‘coursebook’ element of the course.

Please write a few comments on how you feel about this style of lesson.

Dogme

Coursebook

‘I appreciate for your lesson. I understood how to learn Engish. I  must study to watch dramas, and speak more in English. Thanks very much. I’m looking forward to see you next week.’

‘I really like her teaching style, really!’‘Nothing special.’

‘The topic every day changed. Course was flexible. But sometimes I can’t learned deeply.’

‘Nowadays, I think that some methods of learn can be revised. This is the only way to make the students of the ‘new generation’ feel motivated to learn and study English at the class or at home.’

‘I think this is a good way to learn but when you are not in the same level as your colleagues, you learn the same things you’ve have been learned.’

‘I am very happy in this style.’

‘It’s interesting. It motivates me a lot. You are the first person that taught me how to study. The lesson about Tesco was interesting for me.’

‘I think is very interesting and not bored. More interactive with the student.’

‘I’m really lucky. I used to change teacher, when I thought that he wasn’t helpful. But two teachers very satisfied. Thank you.’

‘I really happy with I’ve found here. My expectative was less than the things I got. I believe that I’ll be back. Congratulations!!’

‘This style has been teaching for a long time and of course that is work. But nowadays we live in a very different world, maybe try a new style is good and we need to use the technology as an advantage. Many teachers don’t use the interactive board.’

‘I think that this style of lesson is interesting when is combinated with another kind of teaching, with interactive activities, speaking and writing activities in group or individual, etc.’

‘In IH, teachers teach me the way of English to use in our life. More comfortable and also for business. In my country, they teached me how to get a score in exam, it’s terrible. I impressed by you.’

‘I feel this style is exciting. If I tried other styled, I always thought with my mother tongue, but here I couldn’t. It’s the best way to understand English.’

‘Teaching style changed every 2 weeks. It confused me. But I think I could have a good opportunity to study English.’

‘It’s good style but the book can be more interesting with more interesting topic and subject.’

‘Although occasionally, it is difficult to follow what is happening in the lesson, it is without any doubts really engaging and put students in a comfortable atmosphere as soon as the start of the course. She encourages students to ‘dive in’ without being worried or afraid of making mistakes.’

‘With book. I love. For me it’s…easy study English if there is book. If there is book, one can maintain a continuation of teaching. One can maintain the quality and the standards. On the whole, I like the book, but I like the improvised class too. It’s very fun. I want to be give more handouts about grammar. Vocabulary I can study in Japan. I love it!’

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From the answers to those questions, it seems that although it is easy to compare the maverick Dogme lesson to the learners’ previous learning experiences and for them to comment on this methodology and style of learning, the same questions asked regarding a coursebook lesson might get less-focused answers since the use of course books might not necessarily be anything new for the students. Thus, many answers tended to be about the teaching style and the communicative approach to teaching.

In order to get students comparing the two methods in a more focused way, we gave out another questionnaire, encouraging a comparative analysis.

There were 7 respondents, all of whom were present for both the Dogme and the coursebook phases. If you find that the total for any of the questions do not add up to 7, it is due to some questions not being answered.

Here are the results.

.1. I was more motivated to learn in the lessons…
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(a) Using the coursebook  1/7

‘Because I think Dogme method make me more confidence that I can speak English good.’

(I suspect this student misunderstood the question)

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(b) Without the coursebook  3/7

‘Because the teacher could feel what was more important in that moment.’

‘For Japanese, we learn many grammar and writing. I think without the coursebook has a lot of chance to speak.’

‘I am more motivated without the book. Because teacher give interesting things.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

‘It depends of the theme that we talked about in the class: If I’m interested, I think it doesn’t matter.’

‘I think that people who want to go to university or work in the English speaking countries, they need to study English using coursebook and the grammar associated with each of the topics. I thought Dogme style teaching is good because it is more fluid and closes the gap.’

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.2. I had more chances to speak and practise my English…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook 6/7

‘Because in Dogme method, I should push myself to speak in English so I try to use everything that I learned before.’

‘Because I could talk about things that I find more interesting.’

‘Using the coursebook is focused on grammar and writing.’

‘Until now, all the time I have been bound to the coursebook when I studied, so I’m interested in not using one.’

‘Because I could ask when I want. I could speak when I want.’

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(c) It depends 1/7

‘It also depends of sometimes one method can instigate you more than the other.’

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.3. I listen to the other students in the class more when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook  4/7‘Because in Dogme, there is a challenge so all student try to speak.’

‘The teacher gave more opportunity because she didn’t have script.’

‘I think that course book makes the conversation difficult, because to follow a script.’

‘Because I could ask when I want. I could speak when I want.’

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(c) It depends 2/7‘For Japanese, Dogme is the best way to study English. But people who come from other country, they want to learn another things’ (respondent is Japanese)

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.4. I was more interested in the topics when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

I think that there are topics that I don’t want to learn but I need to learn them, so I should be forced to do it.’

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘Because I think the topics in Dogme method are more real. So I can use them in my life.’

‘Dogme use daily conversation.’

‘Chia could give us things that was interesting for us.’

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(c) It depends  2/7

‘Sometimes in Dogme, we learn just things that we are interestd and with course book we must learn things that sometimes are boring but it is necessary like in real life we must learn thing that we don’t want.’

‘It depends on the theme.’

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5. Conversations were more like real life conversations when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘A lot of chance to speak English.’

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(b) without the coursebook 6/7

‘The book has things like ??? that we don’t talk about every day.’

‘Using the course book you are not instigated to learn how to speak in real life, expressions, etc.’

‘The teacher is always thinking of the students. Once we have a course book, there is too much time to think alone.’

‘Everyone speaks about real things.’

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(c) It depends 0/7

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6. The lexis/vocabulary I learnt was more useful for me when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘Because the vocabulary is used with our daily life but the vocabulary on course it’s necessary as well.’

‘Using the coursebook isn’t familiar with me.’

‘When not using the coursebook, we study more vocabulary.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

‘Both methods helped me when it was necessary.’

‘For technical words, the coursebook is useful. For daily conversations and general vocabulary and phrases, Dogme is better.’

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7. The grammar I learnt was more useful for me when…

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(a) using the coursebook 3/7

‘Within grammar, especially the tenses are easier to study when using course book.’‘I don’t know why.’

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(b) without the coursebook 0/7.
(c) It depends 4/7

‘In using the coursebook I learn more grammar. But dogme method can help me to use the grammar in my speaking.’

‘Both but without book is more natural.’

‘It depends of the theme of the day.’

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8. Understanding the lexis and grammar was easier when…

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(a) using the coursebook 2/7

‘The text book explains grammars.’

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(b) without the coursebook 2/7

‘Without the coursebook, the teacher is not bound or restricted, so there is more time explanation I felt we were able to really explore the language more deeply.’

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(c) It depends 3/7

The theme and the role of the class can make this easier or not.’

‘Grammar – with book. Vocabulary – without book. There is a risk that when not using the book, the class will study only vocabulary. Therefore, be careful.’

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9. I remember the lexis and grammar more when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘The coursebook is organised to teach grammar.’

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(b) without the coursebook 1/7

‘In this case, remember the expressions was easier without the book.’

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(c) It depends 4/7

‘Both’

‘I believe it depends on my own effort.’

‘Grammar more – book; Lexis more – without book.’

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10. I had more chances to practise the lexis and grammar I learnt when…

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(a) using the coursebook 0/7

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(b) without the couresbook 4/7

‘We could speak more.’

‘I want to learn how to speak English.’

‘It was simply more enjoyable and I could really enjoy the lesson.’

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(c) It depends 2/7

‘The two methods have qualities.’

‘Grammar more – book; Lexis more – without book.’

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11. I preferred the structure of the lesson when…

(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘If Chia is teaching without the book, it’s good. Although she is young, she is talented and she is a genius. But normally, all the teachers teach with books, we can learn more things. For me, only Chia is able to teach without a book and not lose quality and standards of teaching. I don’t want other teachers and all the teachers to do it. They will lose direction easily.’

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(b) without the coursebook 4/7

‘It depends on students. I want to know speaking and lots of words from daily conversations.’

‘The coursebook makes difficult when the theme is not interesting.’

‘More natural and dynamic.’

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(c) It depends 1/7

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12. I felt the teacher focused more on me and the students when…

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(a) using the coursebook 1/7

‘Normally yes – using the coursebook. But Chia never gives us stress.’

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(b) without the coursebook 3/7

The teacher don’t need to follow script.’

‘Because of the use of a script, only.’

‘Because it was a lesson focused on conversation, there was more time for real communication.’

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(c) It depends 2/7

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13. Are some coursebooks better for you than others?

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(a) Yes 5/7

Because some coursebook use factual language, better construction, etc.’

‘People has a lot of reasons. If someone want to study grammar or writing, using coursebook is the best.’

‘I can understand some better than others in my life.’

(b) No 1/7

‘I don’t know  other coursebooks.’

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14. Would you prefer a course that...

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(a) uses the coursebook 0/7

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(b) doesn’t use the couresbook 2/7

‘I think Dogme is better to study speaking.’

‘I think the fact that I could study by having conversations with people and through getting to know each other is a wonderful thing.’

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(c) does both 4/7

‘Both completes our knowledge.’

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One student answered this question with :

‘I love use the coursebook with other teacher, doesn’t use the coursebook with Chia.’

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So, what do you make of these findings?

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Author: chiasuanchong

I am a freelance communications trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. With 13 years of experience training students from all over the world to communicate better in English (and in particular, Business English), I am also a professional blogger, materials writer and intercultural trainer.

17 thoughts on “The Teach-Off – Student Questionnaire Findings”

  1. This part is the most interesting to me (though the lessons were interesting to ‘watch’, the results, the students themselves are what it’s all about, in my opinion). I do, however, have some questions because I feel they are colouring my own ‘conclusions’. Here are some of my questions:
    1. What had these students signed up for (curriculum-wise)? I presume during an intake they are told they are going to have conversational English, general English, Business etc etc….
    2. I notice a huge difference in writing skills: (how) did either of you differentiate during the lessons or in any output/homework assignments?
    3. What information did you want to get out of your questionnaire? Purely the reaction to the speaking (dialogue) aspects? (as opposed to increased productive vocab, pronunciation, etc)

    1. Hi Louise,
      Thanks for your comments. You have asked some very relevant questions and the answers might very well ‘colour’ your response, so here we go:
      1. The students have signed up for a General English class for 3 hours every morning, 5 days a week. Coursebooks are provided as part of their course fees but the school does not oblige teachers to use them. If anything, IH London is very good for encouraging teachers to be creative, to explore, to carry out action research, and to try out new things that could help our students.

      2. I regret not saying this in the blogpost, but when instructing students to fill in the questionnaire, I gave them the option of writing in their own mother tongues if they felt it could help them express their thoughts and feelings better. There were three students who chose to write in Japanese, Spanish and Italian. I had them translated into English, and so their written level in English seems deceptively advanced.

      3. The purpose of this research is to get a all-round description of perceptions, and preferences towards using both Dogme and coursebooks. Here, we have the students’ opinions and views. In a later blogpost, Varinder and I would be giving our views on our Teach-Off Experience.
      I think it is hard to measure progress in communicative competence and language use without resorting to discrete item testing or more subjective assessments of the students’ language skills. Moreover, it has never been our intention to try and measure language progress.
      Having said that, it is often believed that motivation and confidence is the key to language learning success, and this is fuelled by the students’ perceptions of what is happening in the classroom and how it is helping them progress.

      Plus, some might claim that the responsibility of a school is to keep their clients happy, and this little experiment is a way towards finding out more about what our clients think.

      Thanks once again for your great questions. I look forward to reading your response to the questionnaire findings.

      C

  2. A huge undertaking of time and energy on your part and enormously interesting to read updates. As you freely admit, there are way too many variables for it to be scientific, but it’s a massive start and hopefully inspires more in the same vein. Must have been massively beneficial for your own reflection etc. 2 words – Well done! 🙂

    1. Hi Bren,
      Thanks for your comments. It is true that the multiple variables and small sample size might not make this suitable as a quantitative piece of research, but I believe that from a qualitative research perspective, it could be scientific too. An in-depth description of the learners’ experience and perceptions is very valuable to us.
      And yes, it was massively beneficial for my own reflection. I have learnt a lot from this and am grateful for it.
      C

  3. Wow, Chia, a massive undertaking and fascinating reading. (Not to mention some really cute comments – you definitely have an admirer (or maybe more!) in your class! “Never as beautiful as [Chia]”, “she is young, she is talented and she is a genius”…) 😉

    But seriously, some really interesting insights from your students here. I’m not particularly pro any one approach or method, but just do what feels right for whatever students I happen to have at a given moment – but something that really stood out to me reading these students’ thoughts was the recurring theme of “topic” and the need for students to be engaged in whatever the ‘context of the day’ is. Like these comments:

    ‘To use course book is difficult for me. Many topics doesn’t familiar with me.’

    ‘It’s good style but the book can be more interesting with more interesting topic and subject.’

    ‘It depends of the theme that we talked about in the class: If I’m interested, I think it doesn’t matter.’

    This is something I think many teachers overlook. Not necessarily out of ignorance/laziness/malice or whatever, but maybe just out of general feelings of overwork and lack of time to source any ideas or material other than what’s in the book. And it’s not that a particular book or material is inherently ‘bad’, but that some things just don’t interest some people, so they’ll simply switch off (I remember struggling through a month’s worth of twice-weekly French lessons all about modern art… ugggghhhh…). If the teacher doesn’t have to use the book, why not substitute those bits with something that grabs the students’ interest more? He/she can negotiate topics with students ahead of time, talk about what language work will be covered and reassure those who feel more comfortable following the book’s structure or grammar points, for example, that that won’t be lost, but that the context will be more enjoyable for all involved.

    It was interesting also to see some understandable fears students might have with Dogme:

    “For me, only Chia is able to teach without a book and not lose quality and standards of teaching. I don’t want other teachers and all the teachers to do it. They will lose direction easily.”

    …and I think this is also likely a fear teachers themselves have with moving away from their coursebook crutch. One of your students also demonstrated an interesting insight into the ‘dangers’ (so to speak) of trying to use only the people in the classroom as the learning resource, and again, I think this is something teachers themselves might be concerned about if embarking on a Dogme project such as this:

    “There is a risk that when not using the book, the class will study only vocabulary. Therefore, be careful.”

    (I love that little admonition at the end there!)

    My only query about your questionnaires is about the prompt: “I had more chances to speak and practise my English…” This seems to equate “speaking” with “practising my English”, or I think it might be construed as such by the students. How about written practice? Or less ‘visible’ practice, such as recognising the new vocabulary they’d learnt when they saw/heard it again, or just mentally processing the new language and feeling they understood it (better/worse than before)? Or practising receptive skills generally? I’d say these also count as ‘practice’, though they don’t perhaps seem as tangible as speaking/conversation. Did you talk to your students about these sorts of things too?

    Anyway, this all seems like just a really cool project to have undertaken. I’m looking forward to reading your and your colleague’s thoughts and feelings on it soon! 🙂

    Laura

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Laura,
      And massive thank yous for pulling out the key points for you with regards to context, topic and the possible pitfalls of Dogme. It is really interesting to see what conclusions people draw from the research findings.

      As for your very valid query, I’m afraid I must admit that I didn’t speak to students explicitly about the different kinds of practice, and that the question was indeed phrased in a way that equate ‘practise’ to ‘spoken productive practice’ involving meaning negotiation. Really important point you made about what constitutes ‘practice’ though. I will think about it seriously.

      C

  4. It is very interesting to note that the majority of participants preferred a course that would incorporate the use of the coursebook and also without one. For me, this would be the whole aim of a ‘balanced approach’ in the classroom.

    The feedback from the learners (and your colleagues) is what it is all about. I hope that you are able to consolidate this information in the future. Great blog post by the way, and I look forward to future updates soon.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Martin,
      Before the experiment started, Varinder and I kind of already suspected that the results would be one that shows a preference for a ‘balanced approach’ and we are both very happy with that.
      But now, the real question then is : How can we train teachers to use a balanced approach effectively? How can we train teachers to know which materials and which parts of the coursebook to use and to adapt to help learners, while taking into consideration their interests, their learning styles, their needs and wants, and also the SLA processes? How can we train teachers to use tasks in materials and books as a springboard for conversation and deal with emergent language effectively?

      These are important questions that I believe needs careful thought and exploration.

      C

  5. Thanks for the clarification regarding my previous questions. I have to admit to being slightly concerned about the questionnaire (sorry – the academic in me would have the ‘track changes’ and ‘add comment’ options in Word working overtime 😉 ) which seems very much aimed at speaking skills (dialogic) although the students had signed up for ‘general English’ which, in my opinion, involves many other skills. I’d be curious to know if they felt satisfied with their general progress or really did want more emphasis on speaking than on other skills (of course I do realise that speaking correctly involves knowledge of grammar structures, vocab, pronunciation etc). Also another concern (with regards to the ‘dogme’ lessons), certainly with adults/non-compulsory learners, would be the lack of ‘homework’ and by this I mean the possibility for revising class work outside of class (such as you do get with a handout, stencil, course book, or similar) – or were the students encouraged to take notes so they could review them later?
    Apart from that, I think the obvious conclusion is that a good (experienced?) teacher will know when it’s appropriate to use a course book and when it’s wise to throw it out the window and veer off to the left. I know this is what we train our teachers to do – a healthy dose of critical attitude is essential for all teachers!

    1. Hi Louise,
      Some good points that you have brought up here.
      The course is indeed very much aimed at speaking (as opposed to writing) skills, as Dogme is conversation driven. But through speaking and doing tasks e.g. discussions and presentations, emergent language such as lexis and grammar is focussed on.
      Students in my class are encouraged to keep a notebook and we also discuss the usefulness of a separate lexical notebook kept at home where language is transferred from their class notebook to the different categories of the one at home.
      Revision is done in class every morning and at the end of the week, a revision of the week’s language is ‘tested’ through games and activities.
      As for homework, students did have to prepare presentations, research information on the web, take photos of their favourite advertisements, etc. This is of course on top of the daily reminder that they should review the language they have covered in class to prepare for the revision the next day.

      Great conclusion, there, Louise! Thanks!

      C

  6. Facinating blog that keeps getting better, surveys look to me like the ss were happy with both methods, how much English did they learn during the classes? an entrance test/exit test would be a good measure. I’ve only been teaching English for 1.5 years and have been reprimanded for straying too far away from the course books several times. A good coursebook is a crutch for both ss and teachers imo, and it takes a special teacher to pull off an effective dogma lesson! and an even better one to turn it into a course.

    btw I’m a Native speaker teacher from Canada teaching in Poland, teaching general English and callan method at several schools in Wroclaw. I have learners who would enjoy dogma style from time to time, and I would likewise enjoy teaching it, thanks for the insight.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for your comments. I see that you are teaching the Callan Method! I used to work at the Callan School on Oxford Circus for nearly 2 years! Have you read my post of the Callan method?

      Students did indeed seem happy with both methods and thankfully, they were very complimentary. We are lucky to have such lovely students.

      In terms of how much English they learnt, I must say that I have issues with the reliability of discrete item tests as they do not test the students’ communicative competence, but only their latent knowledge of the language. We could give them essays to produce or spoken interviews as entrance and exit tests, but these too are subjective and the design of such testing is a whole minefield that we didn’t want to get into.
      I think the main purpose of the experiment was not to measure how much students learnt or improved, but to describe the two types of classes and to hear the students’ perceptions and evaluations of what went on.

      Thanks once again for your insightful comments, and hope to see you here again.

      C

  7. Congratulations, Chia! I’m very impressed with your experiment and the care you and Varinder gave to it. I don’t think any course book writer would suggest that the teacher should only follow the book, and many of us would also use student-centred techniques in class, such as those suggested in Dogme techniques. I don’t think teaching and learning has to be one way or another, but it does need to have the balanced approach which Martin refers to, a form of blended learning not necessarily with different media, but with different techniques.

    In the 80s we talked about process and product, with the emphasis on the value of process. For me, your experiment has been exemplary in the process of discovering the advantages and disadvantages of two apparently contradictory approaches, and if the product or outcome isn’t conclusive, then at the very least you’ve made me think a lot about my own work. Thanks.

    Simon

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments, Simon.
      I really appreciate this and I believe Varinder would agree with me in saying that we were never trying to ‘evangelise’ people into following a pure version of one or the other approach, but we were curious to discover what students’ perceptions of them. Like most qualitative research, we seek to describe, rather than to make conclusive statements about these ‘methods’, and knowing that it has provoked thought and discussion is all we could ever hope for.

      Thanks, once again for your encouragement. It really means a lot.

      xC

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