A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN   1. Do we need materials? Why?The answer is “Why...
A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNmaterials we use but also how we use them. Accordi...
A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNand requires much more effort. Indeed, a good text...
A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN   3. Some misconceptions about textbook:      a. ...
A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNReferences:Albert Newton Raub (2009). School Manag...
A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN     6                                            ...
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Materials or not

  1. 1. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN 1. Do we need materials? Why?The answer is “Why not?” According to Brian Tomlinson (1998) materials refers to "anythingwhich is used by teachers and learners to facilitate the learning of a language" and "anythingwhich is deliberately used to increase the learners knowledge and or experience of thelanguage". “Materials could obviously be cassettes, videos, CD-Roms, dictionaries, grammarbooks, readers, workbooks or photocopied exercises…. newspapers, instructions given by ateacher….” (p.2). Materials are necessary and sufficient conditions for teaching and learning. Weneed materials to support our lessons and activate our learners. Teachers, especiallyinexperienced teachers need good textbooks as an orientation for their teaching. It’s a great helpif teachers know how to exploit textbook and related materials. However, some look the textbookas a burden. They try to finish what they have to, based on what the curriculum assign them todo. The curriculum designers usually look at the surface of the books and make curricula, theydon’t even meet the subjects once.One of the reasons for using wrong textbook and related materials is related to Vietnamesetesting system. In fact, most of colleges and universities in Vietnam haven’t establishedplacement testing system, except for international centers, but generally what is worth testing isnot tested and what tested is not worth evaluating and “testing things that are testable”. As thematter of facts, multiple choice testing is preferable nationwide. Students are unintentionally putinto the wrong place. Then, the chosen textbook is for all without noticing to their levels,characteristics (age, gender…), English background, interest and other things. As we know, thereare three basic kinds of learning mode which are visual (for those who learn through seeing),auditory (for those who learn through hearing) and kinesthetic (for those who learn from moving,doing and touching). For each type of learning, we have certain textbooks, related materials andmethods that fit. 2. The Significance of Selecting Good MaterialsI totally agree the idea that “teachers teach best when they are not tied down by publishedmaterials or elaborate syllabi” They have freedom in selecting and integrating materials fromdifferent sources in order to enrich their teaching. Teachers sometimes get stuck in theirtextbooks since there are some topics or parts in the textbook chosen which are not appropriate totheir subjects. No one but the teacher can determine which materials meet their students’ demandand suit their students. Teachers just feel free to do what really works in their classroom. Fromthe interaction in real classrooms, teachers can analyze and figure out their learners’ real needs,levels and interests. From that integrated materials are formed for that context. Actually, notmany schools give teachers such kind of freedom. The matter here is not only what textbooks or 1 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37
  2. 2. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNmaterials we use but also how we use them. According to Dianne F. Dow (2004) “The besttextbook is not the one you adopt but the one you adapt”. In many cases, teachers and studentsrely heavily on textbooks. This may cause boredom among students and the teachers themselves.Therefore, be careful in selecting materials on consideration of teaching and learning context canbring benefits for teaching and learning. It’s crucial to carefully select good textbooks. Becauseno textbook is perfect, there should have a combination of textbooks which can match learners’levels, their needs, their learning styles and the like.However, I partly agree with “teachers are free to develop interactions with the students”. Inother words, teachers cannot always feel free to do that. The idea is good sometimes in theclassrooms. Teachers should take advantage from what students talk in order to exploit the topicand expand the volume as well as the range of English. Yet, it can’t be possible for teachers toteach without any published materials since the remarkable teaching and learning style istextbook-based and teacher-centered. In addition, Southeast Asian learning style is a bit passive,obedient and respectful to teachers. They come to class with the hope of getting new knowledgefrom teachers. Another characteristic of Vietnamese students is that they can’t focus thoroughlyone topic, discussion usually changing from one to another without their notice. As the result,teachers usually lose their control if Dogme applied. However, this doesn’t mean that teachershave to be tied down by those kinds of textbooks.According to N.S PRABHU (1990), “there is no best method”, Dogme is also not an exception.In fact, Dogme is ideal and doable in the real classroom in Vietnamese context to some extent.For those teachers who have experienced in teaching can sometimes use this method as aninspiration to change the atmosphere. As the matter of fact, teachers sometimes get stuck in theirlessons just simply because the topic is too far away from their knowledge and the students’. Atthat point, teachers should throw out their textbooks and focus more on the learners and exploitthe situations in order to develop real conversations. That doesn’t mean that teacher throw outtheir textbooks all the time. On the contrary, textbooks are considered as an effective tool forteaching and learning. It is no doubt that textbooks are necessary. Textbooks give inexperiencedteachers ideas to teach. A good textbook plays a very important role in language teaching andlearning. Therefore, choosing a good textbook out of millions of textbook is not an easy work.We must pay attention on different factors such as teaching and learning styles and methods aswell, students’ levels and interests, characteristics and English background of learners, materialsand evaluation. Fortunately, Matthew Peacock provides us a good checklist in “Choosing theRight Book for Your Class”. The checklist gives the great assistance for teaching in choosing“the right book” for “the right students”. It’s no doubt that a good textbook play not lessimportant role on teaching and learning and choosing a good textbook is much more important 2 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37
  3. 3. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNand requires much more effort. Indeed, a good textbook provide teachers guidance andsupplement of ideas. According to Albert Newton Raub, a good textbook ensures these followingcharacteristics: Characteristics of a good textbook- It should be Logically Arranged: each fact or principle should be connected to the previous knowledge. Furthermore, textbooks should be from personal to general topics and what is in the textbooks should be closely connected. Some textbooks chosen in some schools are not really logical in the way units arranged. Some textbooks, each unit is separately divided into small fragmentary parts. Albert Newton Raub states that “A logically-arranged textbook induces logical modes of thought”.- A Textbook should be Clear: the language should be clear in order not to confuse the students.- A Textbook should be Interesting: A good textbook should be made interesting by its arrangement and the contents as well. The principles and facts should be illustrated by examples, pictures, mind maps and the like. These attract students’ attention, helping them remember longer and logically systematize their knowledge. In fact, the more attractive the comprehensible input exposes, the more the intake occurs.- A Textbook should be Brief: A good textbook should not too detail but “the best books always leave much for the teacher to add or for the learner to find out for himself”. Obviously, “no textbooks can cover all of the ground” (Albert Newton Raub) and there are no textbooks suitable for all skills. Therefore, in order to give comprehensible inputs, teachers must supplement and add to the instruction related to the topics.- The Style of a Textbook should be a Model: Kenji Kitao (1997) suggests that a good textbook should have “correct, natural, recent and standard English”. The language must be clear enough for comprehension.- The Textbook must be Adapted to the Capacity of the Student: the style, language as well as the matter presented must be adapted to the capacity of certain class, certain objects.- A Textbook should be Attractive in Appearance: the more attractive the inputs are, the better the information flows into students’ minds. A good textbook should be in “good paper, attractive illustrations, and good-sized, clear type”. 3 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37
  4. 4. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN 3. Some misconceptions about textbook: a. The textbook should be taught in its entirety without addition or deletion Some schools give very strict syllabi without addition or deletion any parts. Actually, a lot of teachers follow exactly what the course books and syllabi tell them to do. Only teachers in the classrooms know what need to teach, what need to delete and what need to add in order to suit their students’ needs and enhance their learning. It’s concerned to the matter of not adoption but adaptation. As a result, in order to make the lessons more interesting, teachers need great effort in selecting different visual and auditory materials. Internet and other textbooks play great help. Besides, creativity of teachers in building materials for gaming is another source to promote learning. b. The textbook is the whole course Nowadays, there are not less schools and centers choosing only one course book for the whole course (from four to six months). In fact, teachers need different materials which can encourage students’ attitudes towards learning. A good text book should be auditory, visual and attractive enough to get students attention. For example, teachers can combine different textbooks such as Talk Time for listening and speaking skills, Oxford Word Skills (2008) specialized in vocabulary, with plenty of interesting topics and attractive pictures, Top Notch, World Link… 4. Conclusion: It’s very important that schools’ policies should give teachers freedom in choosing materials to cope with a certain subject. Teachers shouldn’t look at materials as if it were a burden, but guidance. In addition, it depends on the situation; teachers can decide whether they should use materials or just simply “throw them away” for a while. 4 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37
  5. 5. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VNReferences:Albert Newton Raub (2009). School Management. School Aids (p.49-56)Dianne F. Dow (2004). Evaluating Classroom Teaching Materialshttp://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/ICCT/ResandLinks/evaluating.htmlEli Hinkel (2005) Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. In BrianTomlinson, Chapter 8: English as a Foreign Language: Matching Procedures to the Context ofLearning (137-153)http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Zhenhui-TeachingStyles.htmlKenji Kitao (1997). Selecting and Developing Teaching/ Learning Materials, IV (4)http://iteslj.org/Articles/Kitao-Materials.htmlMatthew Peacock. Choosing the Right Book for Your ClassSuzanne Irujo (2006). To Use a Textbook or Not to Use a Textbook: Is That the Question?http://www.coursecrafters.com/ELL-Outlook/2006/jul_aug/ELLOutlookITIArticle1.htmTomlinson, B. (Ed.). (1998). Materials development in language teaching. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. 5 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37
  6. 6. A view on Dogme Approach – Materials or not? 2010HCM Open University, VN 6 Le Thi Thanh Thao – TESOL4-37

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