At Avatar Languages we are using many web 2.0 tools in online language lessons. This “teaching 2.0” approach leads to very different kinds of lessons from normal textbook based ones. When looking for some guidance on how to use the internet in place of a textbook, the Dogme ELT movement has been a real inspiration. But perhaps using 2.0 applications can take the Dogme ELT principles further than technology free teaching does.
Real-Life Activities Online – with a Social Element
The internet now has an enormous range of content (audio, video, images, text and applications) and is also becoming increasingly interactive and social. Under the general title of “web 2.0”, the new internet allows us to do more and more tasks online and engage with others in the process. A few examples…
- Shopping (for almost anything) and reviewing the products on the store’s website
- Planning (for travel, holidays and events) and sharing our plans and experiences
- Researching (for background information, daily news, opinions) and giving feedback comments
- Socializing and meeting others: chat-rooms, conferences (in virtual worlds), video-conferencing
- Creating and sharing content: uploading YouTube videos, slideshare presentations, podcasts, writing blogs and editing Wikipedia
With such a huge range of real-life, social activities that are now carried out online, there is an infinite quantity of language learning material available on the web. This material is up-to-date, interactive and very real. It is therefore especially relevant to language learners who do many of these tasks online in their own language and therefore would like to feel more confident doing them in another language.
Example Lessons with Web 2.0
Over the next few weeks this blog will look at some 2.0 tools and discuss how they can be used in language lessons. Some offer more social experiences, such as using Second Life for language learning and others draw on the practical uses of the internet such as using Google Maps Street View in a language lesson. Our students are also producing presentations that are hosted on Slideshare.net (a YouTube service for PowerPoint presentations) and have created podcasts which are hosted on Blip.tv. Others have written and edited Wikipedia articles, while some preparing talks for conferences in virtual worlds. All these examples demonstrate how the web 2.0 can offer a more relevant, real-life focused way to learn a language.
Dogme ELT: Inspiration for Web 2.0 Teaching
Using the internet in this way leads to a very different kind of learning from that offered in a textbook-based lesson. And so the ideas of the Dogme ELT movement (of educators who prefer not to use coursebooks) are particularly relevant to language teaching with Web 2.0 tools. Dogme ELT started in the mid 1990s and took its inspiration and its name from the Dogma 95 film movement. Dogme ELT promoted the use of real content in the language classroom in place of the artificially created materials from coursebooks. This real content serves to create real discussions within lessons and these discussions become the basis of language learning. Language then emerges from the communication in a more organic way than the structured and ordered approach of coursebooks.
Dogme ELT Principles
- Learning happens most directly through interactivity (eg between teachers and learners) and so knowledge is co-constructed in learning rather than transmitted by the teacher.
- Learning takes place through communication and conversation, through which language emerges. The learner’s voice (beliefs, knowledge, experiences) are valid content in lesson.
- Content should engage learners to enable learning – the learners themselves should supply this to ensure relevance. The teacher enables the emergence of language and guides the students toward it
* all emphasis my own
These principles fit well with the teaching opportunities of web 2.0. In fact web 2.0 applications strengthen some of the most important aspects of Dogme ELT approaches: learning is more interactive, knowledge is co-constructed between many more people and materials are re-edited by students to reflect their voice.
- Knowledge is co-constructed amongst a far wider pool of players when using the internet. Communication is not just between teachers and students, but also with other web surfers, who watch slideshare presentations, read lonelyplanet.com reviews and attend (virtual) conference presentations.
- The distinction between consuming content and producing content is now blurred. For example, in a paper-based lesson, a newspaper article remains unchanged by the class activities (at most a letter to the editor could result). In a web 2.0 lesson the texts can be from a Wikipedia article and are therefore editable by the student, or from a blog post, which can then be commented upon by the student.
So perhaps we are looking here at an opportunity for the Dogme ELT approach to evolve into a “Dogme 2.0”, where the “2.0” tag represents the ability for students to engage, interact and create online.