Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Not quite Dogme

I am now a published ELT author and fairly flush with success. See: (www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/lesson-share-archive/esol/lesson-share-complaining-with-confidence/551924.article).  It’s satisfying to think that a few time zones away my lesson plan may this very minute be bringing a relieved smile to the face of a harassed teacher wondering what the heck she is going to do with the class of ten learners who have already started to file into her classroom.
Tonight’s lesson brought home again the old dogme adage that sometimes what motivates and interests learners may be so much closer to home than what lies awaiting them in their course books. My pre intermediate class arrived in class clutching their student books as if they were comforters. We proceeded to plough our way through a handsomely illustrated text about LA teenagers. At break time I asked them if they fancied breaking away from the book for the next half. Five heads nodded tentatively.
We spent the next half of the lesson discussing the issues that Shetland faces today. The learners were extremely vocal on diverse areas from wind energy through to school closures to corruption. At the end of the lesson they had to write their own political manifesto for Shetland in preparation for next lesson’s mock election. They all expressed an interest in using a future lesson to read up on candidates for the forthcoming local elections in May, so they can make well informed choices when the time comes…
My learners have paid for their Headway course books and seem to appreciate having them. It’s easy to see why: they are attractive and glossy and provide learners with a useful record of what has been learned. When learners only have one English lesson a week, it is easy to stick with the course book to create a sense of progress. However, tonight’s lesson has encouraged me to try to work in a few more “book free” sessions.

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