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Main Precepts of Dogme

Main Precepts of Dogme

17 July, 2016

The following are the Main Dogme Precepts:

  1. Conversation-driven teaching
    Conversation is seen as essential to language learning within the Dogme framework, because it is the “fundamental and universal form of language” and so is considered to be “language at work”. Because real life conversation is more interactional than it is transactional, Dogme places more importance on communication that promotes social interaction. Dogme also places more emphasis on a discourse-level (rather than sentence-level) methodology to language, as it is considered to better prepare learners for real-life communication, where the entire conversation is more relevant than the analysis of specific utterances. Dogme considers that the learning of a skill is co-created within the interaction between the learner and the teacher. In this sense, teaching is a conversation between the two parties.

As such, Dogme is seen to reflect Tharp’s view that “to most truly teach, one must converse; to truly converse is to teach”.

2. Materials light approach
The Dogme approach considers that student-produced material is preferable over published materials and textbooks, to the extent of inviting teachers to take a ‘vow of chastity’ and not use textbooks. Dogme teaching has therefore been criticized as not offering teachers the chance to use a complete range of materials and resources. However there is a debate to the extent that Dogme is actually anti-textbook or anti-technology. Meddings and Thornbury focus the critique of textbooks on their tendency to focus on grammar more than on communicative competency and also on the cultural biases often found in textbooks, especially those aimed at global markets. Indeed, Dogme can be perceived as a pedagogy that is able to address the lack of availability or affordability of materials in many parts of the world. Proponents of a Dogme approach argue that they are not so much anti-materials, as pro-learner, and thus align themselves with other forms of learner-centered instruction and critical pedagogy.

3. Emergent language
Dogme considers language learning to be a process where language emerges rather than one where it is obtained. Dogme shares this belief with other approaches to language education, such as task-based learning. Language is considered to emerge in two ways. Firstly classroom activities lead to collaborative communication amongst the students. Secondly, learners produce language that they were not necessarily taught. As such, the teacher’s role, in part, is to facilitate the emergence of language. However, Dogme does not see the teacher’s role as merely to create the right conditions for language to emerge. The teacher must also inspire learners to engage with this new language to ensure learning takes place. The teacher can do this in a variety of ways, including rewarding, repeating and reviewing it. As language emerges rather than is acquired, there is no need to follow a syllabus that is externally set. Indeed, the content of the syllabus is covered (or ‘uncovered’) throughout the learning process.