Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Less Dennis, more dogme

Had lesson 2 today, and I think I'm going to retain my two learners a little longer than in

Learning English from Zero

As they were leaving Nina said:

"Very interesting. You have given me courage. I think perhaps it is possible after all to learn something new at the age of 60."


Just ran into a friend on Skype chat, let's call him or her Anon, who said he or she had visited this blog and had wanted to write as a comment - "Less Dennis and more dogme." :-) Friends.

I believe, though, that that remark is based on a misunderstanding of the dogme message:

From the dogme site at:


.....a belief that language learning is both socially motivated and socially constructed, and to this end we are seeking alternatives to models of instruction that are mediated primarily through materials and whose objective is the delivery of "grammar mcnuggets". We are looking for ways of exploiting the learning opportunities offered by the raw material of the classroom,

that is
the language that emerges from the needs, interests, concerns and desires of the people in the room.

Socially motivated= Anton and Nina want to go and mix with people in the Seychelles. Nina explained that recently when they were on holiday in a country where a lot of English was spoken they met some very nice people and she was very frustrated that she could not say a word to them or understand what they were saying to her.

Socially constructed = Language is a product of the urge to communicate with others and you have to conform to social norms otherwise you will not be understood.

needs, interests, concerns, desires = They want English for the Seychelles and that is what I'm trying to deliver - more precisely, trying to help them to be able to deliver it.

So, where am I going wrong Anon?

I followed my planned compromise and let them have the text of the dialogue from the beginning. They both demonstrated immediately what I already know - the text can tyrannize and embed wrong pronunciation.

Anton: headache toothache /hedeitchi: / /tu:theitchi:/ ( Excuse home-made phonetic representation).

They began to see my point. If they allow me to rehearse the pronunciation of words so that the pronunciation is secure enough to withstand the tyranny of the written word, such errors would be minimised.

Nina closely watches my mouth when I am demonstrating the pronunciation of words and moves her pronunciation quickly in the direction of mine.

Shortly, I'll publish (in the Blogger sense) the dialogues I create for them.

Someone suggested we sing together. Well, I've prepaared the way. We practised the words of "One, two, three, four, five." On Monday, we'll sing it.

No comments: