By Tarun Patel
Teaching Unplugged by Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury
A Book Review by Hall Houston
About 8 years ago, I read an article titled “Teaching Unplugged” by Scott Thornbury in It’s for Teachers magazine. The article described a new approach to teaching languages that de-emphasized coursebooks and other teaching materials, and stressed real communication between students. This approach was loosely based on a Danish film movement called Dogme, after which the new approach was named. I found the article fascinating. It challenged me to rethink the role of the coursebook in the classroom.
In April 2009, Delta Publishing printed Teaching Unplugged, which is part of their new Delta Teacher Development Series. This book gives a reader-friendly introduction to Dogme ELT. Basically, there are three principles to Dogme ELT: teaching should be conversation-driven, materials-light, and focused on emergent language. This approach emphasizes students’ and their needs over technology and techniques.
The book contains 3 sections. Part A is a brief overview of the philosophy and core principles of Dogme ELT. It runs only 15 pages, but it gives a clear explanation of Dogme and includes some intriguing quotes such as “The only questions asked in a school should be by the pupils.” (A. S. Neill). Part B is the longest section of the book. It features almost 100 activities for implementing a Dogme approach in class. The activities are clearly stated and easy to follow. Most require no materials except for pen and paper. Part C provides additional support for certain contexts, such as teaching one to one, teaching exam classes, and teaching with a coursebook.
Overall, this is a useful resource for both new and experienced teachers. I’m looking forward to trying out some of these activities in my lessons this month.
To learn more about Dogme ELT, read some of the articles on Dogme at Scott Thornbury’s website:
Teaching Unplugged Website
Delta Publishing – Teaching Unplugged