listening comprehension woes

The compulsory listening comprehension tests we have in our country are a daunting task for many of my students – not least because they are so completely different from real life situations. The tasks are stripped from almost any kind of helpful context, always ask only for specific details (instead of more general information), and…More

while doing something else …

Given the overwhelming evidence against the concept of multitasking I wonder why teacher training courses still seem to preach the dogma of while-viewing and while-listening activities. Why should we force students to multitask when studies suggest that multitasking is hindering learning and is detrimental to academic performance? Perhaps teachers are afraid they could come across as lazy…More

balanced teaching

This article by Michael Swan is from 2006, so it might be very old news for a lot of you. However, I discovered it just recently and was blown away by its simplicity and brilliance. Swan argues for an approach to teaching English that balances extensive, intensive and analyzed input and output. To me this…More

The filibuster activity

Last week Texas senator Wendy Davis stood up to prevent a bill that would severely prevent access to abortion – by delivering an 11-hour speech. One of the most important rules of such a so-called filibuster is that you have to stand upright without help and that you stay on topic the whole time. Wendy’s…More

Dogme and the Antifragile

The holidays left me with a bit of spare time to do some reading. One of the ebooks I managed to cram in between Christmas turkeys and New Year’s fireworks was Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In it the author divides all systems (institutions, societies, things, life, people …) into three categories: the fragile, the robust and…More

Working with emergent language – inspiration from a year of practice

The aspect that has changed my teaching the most profoundly since I first stumbled over Dogme ELT is the focus on emergent language. My exploring the approach over the last year has not made me a full Dogmetician (Is that the word?), but a strong focus on emergent language has since become one of the…More

More Wilderness – teaching introverted students

In an excellent and entertaining TED talk author Susan Cain gives insights into the world of introverted people. By using her own life as an example she talks about all the typical obstacles and hardships introverts have to overcome. Cain states that about 30%-50% of us count as introverts (other sources seem to confirm this…More

Dogme for Learners II – Things to Hold on to

One of the benefits of coursebooks is that they give students something to hold on to. Their linear structure might be flawed and will often obstruct meaningful conversation, but at least they give some sort of structure. And don’t be mistaken, students WANT structure, they NEED structure. As much as intelligent scaffolding is useful for…More

Dogme for Learners I – Revising Revision

Teaching Dogme is a new way of teaching but learning Dogme is also a new way of learning. A rant about class tests The German school system has always believed in class tests as the Golden Egg of learning. School law sets a fixed number of them for every subject taught at school. My English…More

They do care! – My thoughts on Dogme so far

During my last summer break preparing for the school year to come I got seriously infected by the idea of teaching Dogme ELT. Reading the magnificent blogs of Dale Coulter and Scott Thornbury was profundly inspiring. I had always felt sceptical about course books. In my experience they often are detrimental to communication and their…More