The lesson started with the same error correction as in lesson 5 and everything went smoothly—student corrections and explanations, with a little teacher intervention as needed to clarify.
Then came the big question. Will we continue using a Dogme approach during the 2nd half of the semester?
I put 5 questions on the board to get students thinking about the approach:
- Describe your vision of a Dogme approach.
- What is your opinion of it?
- Say one thing you like about it.
- Say one thing you don’t like about it.
- Do you want to continue using this approach for the rest of the semester?
The questions were in English, but I let students know that they could respond in French or English. The important thing here was the information and if they felt too limited in English, French was ok.
After about 10 minutes, I asked students to discuss their answers in small groups then as a class, taking about 10 minutes total. I, however, would leave the room during this time so as to let them express themselves more freely about their feelings towards the approach.
Of course, I glued my ear to the classroom door. I couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying, but it sounded more like English than French! I left them be and headed toward the coffee machine.
10 minutes were up so I popped my head in. “5 more minutes, 5 more minutes!” they shouted. So I slipped back out to wait until a student opened the door to let me back in.
Here’s a condensed version of what they reported:
- Students bring their questions to the class and the professor helps them with them.
- It is easier to memorize the rules and explanations because they have to find them on their own and work out the explanation.
- They like choosing what they want to work on, because the class centers on their difficulties
- They enjoyed being able to vote on the format of the final exam
- Lots of opportunities to speak to each other.
- Speaking is easier because they feel comfortable with each other
- They would like to go faster through some of the grammar—it takes a long time to work out the rules on their own
- More interaction on a specific topic would be nice, maybe divide the time more evenly between working on language and working with language
- Needs more focus during the student-created explanations. It’s not always easy to understand the correction.
I’m glad they feel comfortable about speaking and I have noticed that overall the students are more forthcoming than in some of my other classes. I’m not sure if this is due to the students’ personalities or to the approach, because there are also a few shy students who voluntarily contribute rather little.
As I imagined, we have been spending too much time talking about the language and not enough actually conversing. I think we’ll start lessons with a more topic-based discussion rather than a grammar-based activity, which has been the case.
Their feedback shows that this approah works for this group of students, but the first few weeks haven’t been perfect.
Grammar focus has been a bit too dominant and I need to include little grammar bubbles, but as they come up and as needed. Or as that golden opportunity for a meaningful discussion of the language strikes. Or at students’ requests. However, the lessons need now to move towards a real exchange of ideas, with communication at the core.
Which is just what we’ll get a chance to do—they voted unanimously to continue Dogme for the next 6 weeks!