Phone Dogme

Or Dogme on the phone.

My current EFL mission is teaching English on the phone but, and it’s a big one, I’m not quite sure how to approach this. Yes, I will try to tackle it from an Unplugged student-centred approach and it will definitely be materials-light and emergent-centred but what else I don’t know.
I will try and update this page as my first course progresses.
Negotiated Course structure:

Discuss presentations the student has/will see, topical news and practise meetings.


1)5 mins    Review
2)20 mins  Main activity
3)5 mins    Review, extension, HW ideas

Lesson 1

Level assessment=weak pre-int
Needs=basic grammar/vocab/pron
Student requests:
1)Corrections and language for his presentations
2)News podcast discussions
3)Meeting practise

Thoughts: Rusty student who needs more speaking opportunities

Lesson 2

1)Review of last lesson

2)I asked lots of questions about the presentation PPT (company recommendations) and pushed into perfect, continuous and future tenses.

3)I asked how recommendations will affect my student and the company

4)The discussion evolved to cover:

Hiring staff

Graduate recruitment

Building teams

Internal promotion

Education vs experience

Company/working culture

5)I wrapped up with a review and suggestions

Thoughts:The student doesn’t have time for HW so I need to stress more on the summary and revision or more on error correction and eliciting examples

Lesson 3


2)I asked questions about a new project (from PPT)

3)I supported explanations

4)We covered:

Present continuous

Time references


Meetings collocations


Verb/Noun formations

Word order

5)We finished with a discussion about next lesson

Thoughts: More reformulation for checking rather than correction

Lesson 4

1)Practised key points from last lesson in various short discussions

2)Discussed main weaknesses and why

3)I asked questions about work which required the correct points

4)Student chose to discuss France losing AAA rating and the effects on the country, his industry and company

5)Worked on If+Will and modals of possibility.

6)Reviewed and chose main points of importance

Thoughts:I will choose and mail a selection of MP3 news story before every lesson for the student to choose from

Lesson 5 (based on a listening about Steve Jobs:

1)Revised/recycled language

2)I asked questions eliciting the use of the key vocab.If it was not understood I created situations where it was needed and introduced it then checked it with content follow-up questions.

3)I asked LOTS of questions about Apple, their products, what/why my student likes them and the influence of Steve Jobs. i also asked about the future of the company

Some grammar/vocab from the lesson (besides from 7+ from the text)

Present perfect vs Past simple

Pronouns (who/which)




USP (unique selling proposition)/competitive advantage

To have a monopoly

To be compatible/incompatible

The marketing/pricing strategy

Business model


Sweat shops

Child labour

4)Reviewed/recycled with questions

Thoughts:Worked VERY well and introduced an out-of-class listening.Next lesson presentation work+short story?

Lesson 6 (Xmas/New Year chat + discussion based on MP3 of: )

1)Asked questions about the holiday requiring the use of the main grammar weak points from last lesson

2)I explained about my holiday using present prefect and past simple

3)We discussed the differences in time

4)Elicited a summary of the MP3 file

5)I asked questions based on the theme/listening  which required use of:

Present Perfect

Past Simple

Present continuous

Vocabulary from the listening

6)I different strategies for correction:

a)I repeated the wrong words with rising intonation

b)I used checking phrases

c)I gave a choice or incorrect and correct versions

d)I signalled an error was made and asked for repetition

e)I helped reformulate correct versions

f)I elicited explanations of errors to rework incorrect understanding

g)I referred back to a similar error that was corrected in a past lesson

7)I elicited the main points from the lesson and discussed the next class

Thoughts:I should cover more of the language from the listening by perhaps rephrasing extracts. I should also ‘I think’ opportunities and start disagreeing and having a more natural conversation.

Lesson 7 (revision/extension + discussion on

1)Reviewed main errors and discussed corrections from last lesson

2)Student summarised his understanding of the MP3 and gave his opinions

3)I introduced synonyms for ‘I think’

4)We discussed the reasons behind the popularity of online shopping and compared it to high street shopping.

5)We covered:

Basic comparatives/superlatives

Comparative/Constrasting structures/phrases

Giving reasons with ‘because, due to, on account of’

Lexis about doing business online

6)We also discussed teleworking and working from home

7)We reviewed pronunciation errors

Thoughts: A good lesson because I engaged in a real conversation instead of just asking questions. I disagreed, asked for explanations, posed statements, asked checking questions and sometimes just agreed.



9 thoughts on “Phone Dogme

  1. I’m doing quite a few dogeat phone lessons, so I’ll be more than interested in your idea machine churning out more dogmeat… 🙂

    At the moment, I do mainly conversations about whatever they’re doing during the day & weekends, which includes meetings, hobbies, sports, etc. I use Google Docs to act as a permanent board. I hone in on emergent language, naturally, and I also use phonetics on the ‘board’ to help pronunciation work.

    • I knew you’d be the expert here Chiew.I’ve taken many ideas from your blog, sorry.

      I have to send a ‘post-lesson FB’ form to my students and boss but am keeping notes a bit like your board.I’ve written something on ‘a 1 page continual syllabus’ idea for Dale where I have bubbles with topics/areas that come up and then ticket them off and add to them throughout the course. Has worked well for regularly testing and is great to show students what they’ve done and what still needs to work. Hopefully he’ll post it but his stuff is so good I prefer reading his.


  2. Hi Phil,

    When I finished my CELTA 10 years ago, I came away with a realisation that, although the theoretical framework to ‘teaching’ English was important, (the teaching and learning contexts, awareness and analysis of language etc) the thing that has endured to this day is watching the course tutors “do their thing”: how they handed out their photocopies by dividing the pile into 2 and getting the SS at the end of the horseshoes (or whatever) to pass them to the centre, how concept checking works in practice, how to use timelines to embed the concept of tenses…

    My plea to all dogme and teaching unplugged practitioners out there who have finely tuned and honed thier skills is this: show us neophytes how to “do the dog” using videos or podcasts. There seems to be a dearth of reflective journals and lesson descriptions in the blogosphere but very little material that we can sink our canines into and witness first hand. Seeing or hearing how one ‘really’ teases out emergent language would, I think, be invaluable…


    • Yes, I’ve got a lot too from observing ‘old hands’.They are so natural and don’t even think about doing stuff we lot mull over for hours.

      That’s been my argument for a while.I’ve only seen Jason Renshaw do Dogme online but Luke Meddings did a seminar in November which is supposed to be going online at some point.

      For me, it was IELTS speaking test training that really helped show me how to push students and demand more from them both cognitively and grammatically.

      I plan at some point, with a students permission, to post something but in the meantime here’s something from my oral tests today:

      1)S read 2 paragraphs of a text on kids using the internet to get good marks
      2)I asked for a summary
      3)I asked an opinion based on their summary
      4)I asked various questions to challenge them and create a real discussion

      Me:Explain the article, please
      S:It says students who use internet have higher marks than the ones who don’t
      Me:Why do you think that is?
      S:Er, they use internet for research.There is lots of information on the internet so they have an advantage
      Me:So, should every child have the internet at home then?
      S:No, it is a bad idea.
      Me:Can you explain?
      S:There is bad content on the internet like violent programmes and adult things. Children should not see them.
      Me:But you said that children with internet access get better marks.
      S:Yes but it needs to be controlled by parents
      Me:Oh, I see. Is that really possible though?
      S:Err, no. Parents can’t watch their kids online all day.
      Me:So, what’s the best solution then?
      S:Well, parents should educate their children about how to use the internet

      This is just 1 of the 30 conversations I had in the test. All were different but all started with the same text and the same gist question. Others were about:
      IT technology
      Giving free computers
      Computer education
      Internet crime
      Student’s using FB instead of studying
      Blended Learning

      Emergent language wise…There’s quite a lot here to focus on.I personally, don’t like focussing all on errors, instead I’d look at how the output could be improved.

      Hope this is useful. Great name by the way.

  3. Cheers, Phil.

    Hopefully word will get around and more vids and podcasts will be uploaded enabling language teachers at least to see how to challenge their ‘traditional’ book driven teaching…

  4. Hi Phil,
    An interesting set of questions. I would say don’t change much in terms of teaching style, juat in terms of feedback. Type your language feedback in a chat window if possible or send via email. As for activities, most dogme activitiea will work: speaking frameworks and just genuine ‘pedagogic conversation’ with language feedback during and after.
    Have fun!

    • Hi Eric,

      Cheers for the comment.I must apologise as I think your blog post about your classroom inspired my last one.It was such a good post that I got me thinking for ages and then I was in class and I thought “this room would be worth blogging about”.Please feel free to ‘borrow’ or ‘steal’ anything I write.

      Yes, I have to send lesson FB via a mail so I’ll see how that goes. The problem is that my student is a CEO so his secretary mails me.Thus, I doubt if he’ll read my mails, never mind study them. We’ll see.

      Speaking of that, they’ve emailed me some quite sensitive documents to look at.Maybe I should sign some confidentiality agreement?

      I’ll try to update this page as I go.

      Have a good weekend.


  5. I think this is really exciting, Phil. My school is getting increasingly into skype based lessons of this type after years of dog(me)-n-bone work. I would be fascinated to hear about some of the concrete tasks/exercises you used to work on the language areas that you list as having dealt with in the lessons: presumably you sourced these on the fly?

    As for Dogmelter’s request for videos, I’m having a very improbable idea which might become something, but less said about that now, the better (all depends on some internal stuff that’ll pan out over the next few weeks).

    Whatever, I think that by the end of next year, though, I should get some material up. Not that I’m an example of good practice, but some might find it interesting.

  6. Skype eh? Well, I tried online teaching for a bit too but Skype is quite bad so many companies use dial-in connections but you need the tech. At the moment this is just landline to landline as mobiles are not reliable enough.

    My student has been mailing me presentations he attends/gives and I ask lots of questions about them and when I spot a weakness I hone in on it and work on it but keeping it all on the topic.when it gets too lessony my students zones out. He’s also pretty important so not accustomed to being corrected.

    After each class I mail FB sheets that are building up nicely. Several grammar points, functional language and lots of vocab. Far more than a book would cover. One school say they do 2 pages in every 1 hour class, that’s not much really.

    Cheers Anthony and I look forward to more of your posts on your blog or here.

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