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Module 5: Teaching Methods

Table of Content

1. Introduction
2. Context Matters: CAP
3. What is the student's ability? CEFR and the SKOLA Score
4. Teaching a Skills Lesson ESL vs systems lesson
5. Tips for teaching young learners (learn more)

       a. Connect with your students.
       b. Create a comfortable learning environment.
       c. Establish routines.
       d. Speak slowly and enunciate words.
       e. Use non-verbal communication.
       f. Make things visual.
       g. Check for understanding.
       h. Be adaptable.
       i.  Create engaging lessons.
       j. Introduce new vocabulary or lexis before use in lessons (for young or lower level students).
       k. Practise differentiated or adaptive teaching strategies.
6. Seating Plan
7. Lesson Planning
8. Error Correction
9. Teacher Talking Time
10. Reflective Practice
11. Teaching Theory
12. Formative assessment

13. Paperwork for teachers

1. Introduction

The SKOLA approach to teaching. It is essential that every teacher has the same approach. This framework allows for collaboration and raising of overall quality. Within this framework, the teacher should express their individual passion and talent. 

  • Safety is at the heart of everything we do. Keeping students and staff safe is above everything else. 

  • The behavioural management approach is key. It only works if the whole school is on the same page: consistency and predictability. 

As SKOLA focuses on developing students' communication skills, good lessons will likely focus on the CLT approach; use emergent language; contextualise the lessons in the theme of the week, link to the trips, and the Friday project. 

2. Context Matters: CAP

CAP = Context, Analysis, Practice 


Always set language in context. It helps motivate students to learn. It also supports memorisation. 

Read more here: Anderson Thinking CAP 2017.pdf. The graphs below are taken from this article.


3. What is the student's ability? CEFR and the SKOLA Score

SKOLA Points is an achievement scale from 1-100. The scale takes students from Beginner to Advanced levels of English. Each level has a low, middle and higher division. Our teachers monitor students in class. At the end of their course they evaluate the progress each student has made from their initial test.


SKOLA Points in relation to English levels:


In the bottom left on the graph you can see the letter CEFR. What is this and what does it mean? 


In the bottom left on the graph you can see CEFR. What is this and what does it mean? 
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is the international standard for describing language ability. 


4. Teaching Skills vs Systems: 

The document below covers the skills of writing, speaking, listening and reading:

Teaching a Skills Lesson ESL.

Remember: which skill AND more importantly - which sub-skill are you teaching? 

Receptive Skills = Reading and Listening 

Productive Skills = Speaking and Writing

The document below covers the systems of a language:

Teaching a systems lesson. 

Remember: Meaning, Use, Form, Pronunciation. 

5. Tips for teaching young learners (learn more)

Teaching young learners who have a limited English language understanding can feel like a daunting task.

Teaching students from an array of cultures, educational backgrounds, along with a language barrier, takes some getting used to. So here are some tips and teaching strategies for English language learners:

The Challenge:
The biggest challenges with young learners is making them feel safe in an unfamiliar environment and speaking in their L2 (English). 

  • The meet & greet at the start of each day is key. You should greet children as they walk-in

  • The children should spend the first 10 minutes of the day adjusting to the environment. You could play simple vocabulary games and allow them to greet each other. This makes them feel at ease. 

  • Brief them on the schedule of the day. It is useful to use visuals and keep the images consistent. For example, a picture of a knife, fork and plate to symbolise lunch-time. 

  • At the end of each day (end & send), you should review the lexis and vocabulary of the day through a quiz. You could also review the previous vocabulary/ lexis at the beginning of each morning (morning quiz). 

  • Remember to record their learning in their ‘learning journal’. 

  • The magic word is "why". For every plan, there is always the question of why: students should use language to express ideas. This makes it necessary for them to speak English, it motivates them. 

How much support do children need to experiment, observe and share? 
It depends. It's all about group work and meaningful collaboration
‘Classroom language’ is key: temples for asking questions, sharing opinions, turn-taking, agreeing and vocabulary to increase the work of others. 

‘Target language’ is also key: names of objects, lexical chunks related to the topic, action verbs to describe. Visuals are also key. Learning by doing is a must. 

We need it for the children to understand what they have learnt;  we can understand what they have understood. But this does not have to be boring. It can be made fun through quizzes. We could also use multiple-choice questions to summarise what has been covered. It could also be used to consolidate learning. 

The learning journal is key. At the end of each lesson, you could ask the children an open-question about a topic and see what they produce in their learning journal. 

1. Connect with your students.
Picture this: you’re a student sitting in a class with a stranger at the front of the classroom who speaks a foreign language you can hardly understand.
It can be intimidating when the teacher launches right into their lesson without a hook.
It’s important to remember that students (especially kids) don’t learn from people they aren’t comfortable with.
Introduce yourself. Ask questions or do a get to know you activity. Get to know your students before you get started.
Learn and address your students by name, greet each student and make a genuine effort to get to know them.
Building a rapport will go a long way in creating strong relationships with your students and will help them learn better.

2. Create a comfortable learning environment.
Students need to feel safe and secure to express themselves fully.
By creating a positive learning environment, not just physically but emotionally, students will be more willing to try new things. And, more importantly, practise their English language skills.

Correct errors with compassion. Students are bound to make mistakes – that’s how they learn!
Try positive reinforcement strategies. Reward good work and effort (with praise and SKOLA awards). Positive reinforcement is a great way to make students feel safe but build a rapport.

It’s also essential to give students time to finish their work and answer questions, so be patient!
Keep in mind that students will most likely need to translate questions (in their head), formulate an answer and then translate it back to English. That whole process can take a bit of time, so it’s important to give students a chance to think it through rather than demanding a quick answer. Using teaching strategies like Think-Pair-Share will give students time to process information, answer confidently and increase participation.

3. Establish routines.
ESL students thrive with routine and structure.
Writing a daily agenda, having circle time or a sit-down activity for students when they enter the classroom will help students become familiar with their lesson plans.
Just make sure to post clear objectives. Students need to understand the purpose or end goal of the activity or lesson to comprehend the lesson’s content.
Using examples is a great way to bridge the gap between communicating objectives and student comprehension


4. Speak clearly and enunciate words. 
Slow down! You’re going to want to reduce your talking speed so that everyone in the class has a chance to hear every word you say.

A lot of language learners will agree that fluent speakers speak too fast (especially if, like Connor, they come from Liverpool). It can be hard to understand the whole message when you don't catch all of it.

Try to be mindful of the speed of your voice. And try to speak as clearly as possible by enunciating your voice.

Speak louder than you usually would. It’s really important that your students can learn how to pronounce vocabulary and hear all the nuances of a word.

5. Use non-verbal communication.
Time to flex your acting chops! Get creative and use your body language to express an action during a lesson.

One trick to help students learn important grammatical rules like prepositions is to use your body as a prop when using the word. For example, you can demonstrate each preposition by acting it out. When I say “in” I act out the action of putting something in my mouth and repeat patterns. Repetition helps people remember!

Tip: the more outlandish the action, the easier it is for them to recall it later.
You may also play a game of charades with your students!

6. Make things visual.
Make learning English interesting and fun, so it’s stickier.

One way to do that is by engaging learners with visuals or props. Bring your lesson plan to life by drawing on the board or sharing pictures, videos and art.

Label everything! 

Using labels on everyday classroom resources (like chairs, doors, desks, computers, pencils, etc.) will help students absorb new English vocabulary.

Also, word walls are a great way to create print-rich environments.

7. Check for understanding.
Think your students are gonna stop you in the middle of a sentence and ask for clarification when they don’t understand? Think again!
Most language learners get shy about admitting to the whole class they didn’t understand something.
You’d be surprised how many students pretend they understand when they have no idea what you’re talking about.
That’s why you should remember to pause after you say something or give instructions to check for understanding.
Ask a few more questions or explain the context a little more before you move on to make sure they took it in.

8. Be adaptable.
Teaching can be unpredictable. That’s why you’ll want to learn multiple ESL teaching methods.
It’s essential to bear in mind that lesson activities can (and will) fall flat on many occasions.
That’s why you should learn to be flexible with your lessons and prepare multiple ways to teach a specific concept in advance. Preparation is key!
Side note: The phrase, “do you understand?” should never be uttered in an ESL classroom. Students are frequently eager to please their teacher and will almost always answer this question in the affirmative.

9.  Create engaging lessons.
Small practices that we, as fluent English speakers, can take for granted can make learning English a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
Make your lessons engaging and interactive for your students.
Do everything out loud (think alouds!) and make sure to demonstrate concepts in multiple ways to increase student understanding.
Using visuals, close activities and graphic organisers can all aid ESL students in their learning.
You could teach the same concept multiple times using different strategies such as singing, videos, actions, stories, etc.

10. Introduce new vocabulary or lexis before use in lessons (for young or lower level students).
For your weekly classroom routine, create a list of words or lexis that are related to the weekly themes.
At the beginning of each morning or week, go through each word or lexis, discussing the meaning and practising its use in sentences.
Post each word for the week at the front of the classroom, along with a visual conveying meaning.
It will act as a quick point of reference and make memorising words easier.
Learning vocabulary first, freed them up to focus on the overall learning objectives of the lesson.

11. Practise differentiated or adaptive teaching strategies.
There is differentiation and adaptive teaching. Try both. 

"What is the difference between differentiation and adaptive teaching?
Traditional differentiation usually refers to planning different activities for different groups or individual students, depending on their attainment levels. It also refers to the action you take to remove barriers to learning.
Adaptive teaching is where you focus on the class as a whole. Essentially, it’s the difference between delivering up to 30 lessons at once to suit each individual and teaching one lesson with scaffolding.
The idea with adaptive teaching is that teachers are able to have high expectations in their classroom, with less room for the students to ‘coast’ by tackling a ‘mild spicy’ task every lesson. It is a move away from the ‘bottom group’ always being seen as the ‘bottom group’ and being given ‘bottom group’ work.
Every student is pushed to challenge themselves. Where scaffolding is provided for students, the plan is that those students are working toward becoming fully independent learners.

How effective is adaptive teaching?
The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) found that ‘adaptive instruction’ is an approach that correlates strongly with student performance.
The Early Career Framework, which entitles new teachers to continued training following their Initial Teacher Training, references ​“adaptive teaching”, moving away from the term ​“differentiation” altogether, which is an important distinction."

See the full article here: differentiation vs adaptive teaching. 

  • Read more about adaptive teaching:

  • Read more about differentiation here:

6. Seating Plan

The three elements of a good seating plan: 

  1. First language (L1) speakers are separated

  2. Tables are arranged according to the teaching method

  3. Name tags on tables (before students enter the classroom)

Read more about the importance of seating plans here or see more here

7. Lesson Planning


Every lesson should have: 

  • Lesson objective (what I will learn)

By the end of this lesson, I will be able to understand and use a preposition. 

  • Success criteria (features and measurement of me achieving the lesson object):

  1. I can describe what a preposition is.

  2. I can identify a preposition in a sentence.

  3. I can sort prepositions into categories of time, place and cause.

  4. I can use a preposition in one of my own sentences

You should aim for SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).


Individual Lesson Plans vs Unit Lesson planning

5 stages of a perfect SKOLA Lesson: hook, pre-test, teach, check, transfer

This is based on the theory of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy (learn more here) and the theory of memory.


1). Hook - catch their curiosity, contextualise learning

First, the hook. This should catch the curiosity of students and set the context, so they want to learn more. It motivations them, activates their long-term memory and contextualises the lesson. Authentic text should be used. For example, a movie trailer, an interesting newspaper headline, a picture of you on holiday or music. The hook should be linked to the rest of the lesson.


2). Pre-test - understand what they need to learn

This is where you estimate the students' knowledge for the lesson topic. This information means you can adjust the lesson to your students needs.

The pre-test depends on the level of the students but you can elicit answers from students of all abilities. It is best practice to use think-pair-share and use open-questions when eliciting any question.


You should note down any emergent language on the white-board or smart-board, and explore this language if you see fit. Here are some examples of when and how to do so.


3). Teach (input)

Teachers have different teaching styles, with unique strengths and weaknesses but here are some elements that every teacher at Skola should use:

  • Provide models. This sets the expectation and allows students to reflect on the gap between their work and the expert model. The expert could be you. For example, you could provide a written revision that you wrote. Alternatively, you can also model the writing process during the class and then provide the finished model.

  • Equal opportunity for questioning (random questioning). This is also called hands down. You 'randomly' select students for questions. So every student has been asked at least one question by the end of the lesson. You can write students' names on matchsticks and pull them from a pot, then ask that person a question.

  • Visual, visual, visual. It's the reason we have screens and white boards in the classroom. Don't just say it - show it. For example, when explaining tenses - use a timeline.

  • Use Authentic text. Use real material, real images, the staff we see, hear and use everyday. For example, if you want to teach the students decoding listening skills then why not use one your favourite (child-friendly) songs and decode that?

  • Use think, pair, share. It takes a person at least 30 seconds to think of a response. Also, sociocultural theory suggests we learn best through working with others, such as our classmates. It also gives every student the opportunity to speak and it's more fun!

4). Check (or test stage)

This is where you check the students' understanding of your input. Here are some assignment ideas:

  • Observation: This is a simple way to check students' understanding during class activities. By observing students during your presentation or when working on an activity, you can see how well they understand the material and where they may need additional support.

  • Self-Assessment: An effective way to make students take ownership of their learning is by having them self assess the understanding of the material covered in class, that may come in form of short quizzes or reflection papers or a check-list.

  • Quizzes and tests can include multiple-choice, true/false, and open-ended questions.

5). Transfer (apply)

In this stage, students should apply their knowledge to a real-life situation. This could be on school trips or it may be through role-play, presentations or creating something. Don't be afraid to experiment and be creative. Being adventurous is one of our values.


Don't be afraid of not finishing the task within the lesson time. Interrupting the task because of break, lunch or another natural reason could benefit the students. The Zeigarnik effect suggests students can recall information better from an interrupted task compared to a completed task. But remember to allow students to apply their knowledge later, in or outside of the classroom.

8. Error Correction

1. Be Positive

Giving feedback is not only about pointing out mistakes but also about praising natural language. Because we are so focused on correcting our students we can forget to notice when they produce good language. If you only ever point out the negative, your students will soon become fearful every time you open your mouth because they’ll be convinced they’ve made a mistake.

2. Mix it up

Don’t always give feedback in the same way. This will quickly become predictable and it may hold your students back from participating if they can foresee corrections taking place. Instead, sometimes offer immediate feedback and sometimes use delayed correction. 

3. Don’t make it a big deal

Putting too much attention on an individual and their mistakes will do nothing except make that person not want to speak English ever again. Your students are going to make mistakes and if you can figure out a way to draw their attention to their mistakes without making anyone feel embarrassed, then you are winning.

4. Make it fun

Giving feedback is important – essential, even – but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. Use activities and games to involve your students in the feedback process, in this way making it interactive as well as making it interesting. Giving feedback in a fun way also reinforces the idea that making mistakes is ok and feedback is not something to be frightened of. This will also help the atmosphere in the classroom remain relaxed, so that your students feel comfortable participating in the lesson.

5. Include everyone

Make sure your feedback focuses on all your students and not only the loudest or most communicative ones. Make sure you are paying attention to all your students equally and that they all have equal opportunities to produce language.

Giving feedback is an important part of any EFL classroom. If it is done properly it can be a very effective tool to help your students’ on their learning journey.

Higher order questioning.pptx

Read more: British council blog on error correction

9. Teacher Talking Time

There is teacher talking time (TTT) that can benefit students in the form of teacher demonstrations, conveying meaning and telling anecdotes. Still, the thing with unhelpful teacher talk is that it can leak out in many small, often unnoticed, ways. When added up, these leaks can diminish the quality of the learning experience, giving students less breathing space to practise the language in the classroom. And it’s not only new teachers who have this tendency. All language teachers can get into the habit of talking too much in lessons, particularly in the following four ways.

1. Repeating instructions

There are naturally very good intentions behind repeating instructions but students can get used to teachers repeating themselves and may start switching off. For example:

'Read out the cards , don’t show each other and then, if they go together, sit down. So these cards belong together, so this person needs to find this person and they need to sit down together ... . I’d like you to read it to other people in the class. Remember: no showing,  and when you think you’ve found your new partner, sit down together, OK?'

A way to counter this is in the form of instruction-checking questions:

- 'Do you show your partner your card?' (No).
- 'What happens when you find your partner?' (Sit down together).

Here’s another example of unnecessary repetition:

'Stand up. If you could all stand up ... Yes, stand up'

Probably the more times the teacher says this, the less impact it has. Wouldn’t one ‘stand up everyone’ and some gestures carry more weight?

2. Saying much more than the students when receiving a contribution

Here is an example of teacher getting an answer to a question and then saying too much:

Student: (quietly) 'Ten years ago'

Teacher: 'Would you like to tell everyone the answer you were thinking of again because I don’t think they heard it when you spoke so quietly and I’m sure we’d all be interested in hearing it if you could, please?'

In the following example, the teacher is at the board and trying to clarify some language:

Student: 'I’ve lived here for ten years.'

Teacher: 'Well, that wasn’t really what I was hoping you’d say when I asked that question. I was actually looking for the name of the verb tense, not an example sentence. But what you gave me was fine. Only, does anyone, I wonder, have the answer I’m looking for?'

In this first case, the word ‘louder’ with a smile and a gesture will work well. In the second, you can probably think of a way to say less. A good rule of thumb might be to say half as much as the students, at a maximum.

3. Asking lengthy questions

This is an example from an open class discussion:

Teacher: 'If I were to ask you for your opinion on the topic of genetically modified food, what do you think you might say to me in reply to that?'

Again, this may be a well-intentioned way to appear tentative and thus polite. However, the possible benefit of this approach is outweighed by the confusion it may cause the student. A shorter, more direct version of this question probably comes to mind.

4. Echoing what students have just said in answer to a question

In this case, the teacher is getting contributions in open class after students have talked about favourite holiday activities in pairs:

Student: (giving their opinion) 'I like going to the beach, because it is fun.'

Teacher: 'OK, so you like going to the beach, because it is fun. Right, good.'

And here's another example of open-class feedback, but on this occasion, the answers to a reading task are being checked.

Student: 'The answer is 'False'.'

Teacher: 'False. That’s right. False. Good.'

In both these cases, there is little reason to echo the student's answer if everyone in the class has clearly heard it. If they haven’t heard it, try ‘louder’. If you are not sure if another student has heard the answer, you can say ‘Tim, did you hear that?’ All of these prompts will send the message that it is not just for the teacher to hear, but for everyone.

There are times when other types of repetition do make sense, such as when reformulating an answer. An example of this is if the student says ‘I like go to the beach because is fun’. Repeating a correct version of this could be a gentle form of correction. Reformulation is conversational without breaking the flow -- you can lean on certain parts of the sentence with your voice and use meaningful facial expressions to signal that you are making corrections in a subtle yet clear way.

Summing up

Each of these four examples of unnecessary TTT turn up even in the best of lessons from time to time. Occasionally we can feel ourselves justifying our need for TTT as we return (unconsciously perhaps) to the belief that ‘the teacher who talks a lot is teaching a lot’. But on reflection, we can see that much of it may be motivated by the reassuring sound of our own voice, or clinging to the spotlight of attention. We may even justify TTT as a way of exposing students to useful language, forgetting what a deluge of words it often sounds like to students.

The first step to reducing TTT is simply to be aware of it. But once you become more aware, don't be too self-critical. Simply noticing the tendency and stopping it in its tracks earlier and earlier without self-reproach is a sensible path to follow. The result will be a classroom with more silent space in which students’ voices can flourish.

10. Reflective Practice 

What is a reflective practitioner? A ‘reflective practitioner’ is someone who will look back at their practice including their planning, activities and the learning environment and consider what worked well and what did not. Practitioners reflect on everything they do in practice to be consistent and to help improve the learning environment (link).


…to have phronêsis (practical virtue), one must reflect on their actions and opinions (Kraut, 2012; Rowlands, 2012). Similarly, (Bolton, 2010) defines reflectivity as questioning the influences of your everyday actions, particularly your practical values and theories. Moreover, (Quinn and Vorster, 2016) stated that it is essential for an individual to understand their reality and to have self-awareness and the confidence to express their values, beliefs and opinions. 


 Consistent focus is key to reflective practice (Bugg and Dewey, 1934). Moon (2007) suggests no one can force you to reflect. Therefore, it is the teachers responsibility to create more consistently by allocating more time to reflect. 

However, a lack of motivation (Otienoh, 2009) often creates a lack of focus, as critical reflection is both complicated and challenging (Scharmer, 2018; Hassan, Robani and Bokhari, 2015).


Reciprocal Relationship:

Readiness to be open, self-aware and conscious of own practice
Recalling a critical incident accurately as part of own practice
Recognising personal views, biases, assumptions, understandings, (stand back, after and during) (on, in)
Reflecting from a child's / another person's perspective. What are their feelings? How do you know?
Reviewing together comparing own understandings
Relating to reading/research
Reappraising the relevance and implications for own practice
Responding with appropriate changes
Remembering the benefits so critical reflection is sustainable.....

This model can offer you a consistent focus to critically analyse your experiences, and help you understand some of your blind-spots, particularly the point of ‘reviewing together’ and ‘reflecting from another child’s / another persons’ perspective (Scharmer, 2018; Scharmer, 2009). Also, ‘readiness to be open’ to the feedback from other perspectives is a core part of critical reflection, as being able to view a situation from different lenses allows a greater understanding, or wisdom as Confucius would have said, of a given situation (Ndebele, 2014; Brookfield, 2017)



McLeod, N. and Giardiello, P. (Eds) (2019) Empowering Early Childhood Educators: International Pedagogies as Provocation. Abingdon: Routledge.

McLeod, N. (2015) Reflecting on reflection: improving teachers’ readiness to facilitate participatory learning with young children, Professional Development in Education, v. 41(2) p. 254-272. 

Kraut, R. (2012). Aristotle on Becoming Good: Habituation, Reflection, and Perception. In: Shields, C. (Ed). The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle. Oxford University Press. 

Moon, J. (2007). Critical Thinking: An Exploration of Theory and Practice. Routledge.

Moss, G. (2017). Assessment, accountability and the literacy curriculum: reimagining the future in the light of the past: Reimagining the future in the light of the past. Literacy discussion, 51 (2), pp.56–64.

Moss, P. (2010). We cannot continue as we are: The educator in an education for survival. Contemporary issues in early childhood. [Online]. Available at:

Moss, P. (2017). Power and resistance in early childhood education: From dominant discourse to democratic experimentalism. Journal of Pedagogy, 8 (1), pp.11–32.

Ndebele, C. (2014). Using evaluation as action research: Reflections on teaching practice using Brookfield’s Four Lenses Model. The Anthropologist, 17 (2), pp.533–541.

Otienoh, R. O. (2009). Reflective practice: the challenge of journal writing. Reflective Practice, 10 (4), pp.477–489.

11. Teaching Theory

Communicative Approach (link)

The communicative approach draws on a set of key principles/tenets. These include:

1. The purpose of learning a language is to communicate

2. The situation in which we communicate (where we are, the relationship between

speakers and the outcome that we intend) dictates our language choices.

3. Learners need the opportunity to improvise in these situations in order to notice gaps

in their own language use

4. Learners need multiple exposure to and interaction with these situations in order to

notice when and how language is used and refine their understanding of

grammar/patterns/lexis/functional language.

5. Learners process information on a deeper level when they engage in critical thinking

and work out language use for themselves and in collaboration with their peers

6. Learners need the opportunity to explore and consolidate language in use through

meaningful tasks with a clear communicative purpose and non-linguistic outcome.

7. Learning a language (like any other skill) is a process of trial and error so we give

learners tasks and provide them with feedback on the language they used

8. Listening, speaking, reading and writing skills are integrated to reflect real life


9. Motivation is key to learning so lessons are designed to tap into learner needs,

interests and learning preferences

10. Effective teaching is dialogic (interactive) rather than transmissive (lecture style)

and occurs in feedback stages in response to learner performance on tasks.

It might be interesting at this point to look back at your experiences learning a

language/languages and evaluate to what extent the lessons you had were communicative.

What principles set out above were evident in your lessons, which ones were missing and

what (if any) was the impact of this on your learning?


The communicative approach, is in fact, quite a broad church and within it there are many

methods, procedures, tasks and techniques you can use. Here we have contrasted the

approach with the traditional approach to teaching Latin in order to shed some light on how

language classrooms have changed and why the communicative approach developed.

However, we must be careful not to be dogmatic about our choice of approach. How we

choose to teach language will depend not only on what we know about effective language

learning, but also on the cultural context in which we teach and on the end goals of our

learners. You would not necessarily choose a communicative approach, for example, with a

group of Chinese 16 year old secondary school pupils who need to pass a grammar-based test

and expect teacher-led instruction. We should, therefore, choose our methodology

appropriately according to the learning context.

If, however, the end goal of our learners is to communicate, then as Thornbury says in his

blog an A-Z of ELT “there seems to be a good case for arguing that only life-like language use can tap into the cognitive and affective factors that both motivate and nurture language acquisition.”


Brown, H.D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching. Pearson Longman.

Thornbury, S. Retrieved 28/12/2018


Communicative Language Teaching: Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury | The New School


‘…the only thing about Dogme is that Dogme just gave a label to something that people did anyway but in a sense it validated it and that’s all…’ (Thornbury, 2012). In that case, do many teachers have these “Dogme moments” without labeling them as such and if so, is Harmer correct in saying that ‘…it’s not Dogme, it’s just teaching, what teachers do, what teachers have always done’ (2012)?


Dogme is a communicative approach to language teaching that was initiated by Scott Thornbury in his article, “A Dogma for EFL”. Dogme advocates a kind of teaching that doesn’t rely on published textbooks but relies on conversational communication that occurs in the classroom between teachers and students. The name of the approach comes from an analogy to the Danish Dogme 95 film movement which intended to “cleans cinema of an obsessive concern for technique and rehabilitate cinema which foregrounded the story and the inner life of characters.” According to Scott Thornbury,

teaching should be done using only the resources that the teachers and students bring to the classroom – i.e themselves and whatever happens to be in the classroom.

Key features of dogme

As an approach dogme has well grounded principles in language learning and learning theories as explained by Scott Thornbury.  He explains that dogme considers

  • learning as experiential and holistic,

  • and language learning as an emergent jointly-constructed and socially-constituted process motivated both by communal and communicative imperatives.

Key features of dogme include the following:

  • Dogme has its roots in communicative language teaching

  • Conversation is seen as central to language learning.

  • Dogme also places more emphasis on a discourse-level (rather than sentence-level) approach to language.

  • Dogme considers that the learning of a skill is co-constructed within the interaction between the learner and the teacher.

  • The Dogme approach considers that student-produced material is preferable to published materials and textbooks, to the extent of inviting teachers to take a ‘vow of chastity’ and not use textbooks

  • Like task-based approach, dogme considers language learning to be a process where language emerges rather than one where it is acquired.

  • Scaffolded learning where learning is assisted by the teacher through conversations makes it possible for effective learning to take place.

  • The teacher’s role is to optimise language learning affordances, the environment where learners can potentially learn and direct their attention to emergent language.

  • The learner's voice, beliefs and knowledge are accepted.


  • Dogme can be a real challenge for teachers in low resource contexts

  • Many teachers question the appropriateness of dogme in situations where students are preparing for examinations that have specific syllabi.

  • Dogme creates problems for non-native and novice teachers who find in textbooks a safe guide.

  • The initial call for a “vow of chastity” not to use textbooks is seen as unnecessarily purist and hinders the adoption of a weaker version of dogme.


  • Dogme is compatible with reflective teaching.

  • More freedom for teachers and students to conceptualise and implement more appropriate material.

  • Students are most engaged by content they have created themselves

  • Dogme has the merit of creating a low-affective filter environment in the classroom.

  • learners follow their own pace of learning assisted by the teacher through scaffolding.

  • Learning is humanised through a radical pedagogy of dialogue.

  • Learners are freed from the ideological load inherent in  textbooks generally published in the west and commercialised all over the world.

  • Dogme recognizes the legitimacy of learners' needs and expectations.

  • Dogme gives teachers and learners the possibility to free themselves from the models of teaching and learning imposed by textbook writers.

  • Conversations provide the opportunity for learners to analyse, internalise, and practice language.

  • Communication is central in the dogme approach.


Learn more about Dogme: Is Dogme the same as winging it?

12. Formative assessment (Assessment for Learning, AfL)

Assessment for learning (formative assessment) 

  • SKOLA understands the importance of formative assessment and its relationship to quality teaching and learning.

  • Formative assessment is (Broadfoot et al., 1999): 

Providing effective feedback to students

Actively involving students in their own learning

Adjusting teaching to take into account the assessment results 

Recognising the profound influence assessment has on students’ motivation and self-esteem, both of which are crucial influences on learning

Needing students to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve 

Here are some techniques for formative assessment (link). 

  • The shorter the assessment-interpretation-action, the greater the impact on student achievement (Wiliam, 2016) 

  • The short-cycle has the greatest impact. 

The five key strategies of formative assessment (SKOLA AfL)
(leahy, Lyon, Thompson & Wilian, 2005)

  1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning objectives and success criteria with students 

  2. Eliciting evidence of learning

  3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward 

  4. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another

  5. Activating learners as owners of their own learning

13. Paperwork for teachers

  • Class registers: These need to be checked at the beginning of every lesson, especially first thing in the morning. Put P for present and A for absent students; DO NOT leave a blank when a student is not in your classroom! Put A instead until he/she comes in; then change it to P. Please mark if students are late with L. The class register also has information which students are leaving on Friday. Update the register online. If the internet is down, complete the manual form. 

  • Individual lesson plan: for observed lessons (informal and formal). 

  • Trip reflection: you need to reflect on the excursion done and complete the trip reflection form, providing feedback on how the excursion went, the venue, the engagement of the students, etc. Fill in your reflections by the end of Tuesday and Thursday using this document: trip reflection form

  • End-of-course certificates: you need to fill in the certificates for students leaving on any Friday and submit them to DoS by the end of Wednesday.

  • Weekly planner: you need to complete a general overview of your lessons for the whole week, ensuring the individual lessons link with each other, to the theme of the week, the excursions as well as the afternoon clubs. Save your planners by the end of Friday here: weekly planners. The DoS will give you feedback on them when applicable.

  • Weekly progress and end-of-course assessment/test: you need to design, administer and mark a weekly written or oral progress test as well as a written end-of-course test (only for the students leaving on Friday). The results need to be recorded in the register and in the students' tutorial forms. You need to give feedback to the students based on their test performance as well. Save your tests by the end of Thursday here: weekly progress tests and here end-of-course tests DoS will give you feedback on them when applicable.

  • Weekly reflection: you need to reflect on your teaching over the week gone and complete the document, also using this reflection to plan the lesson for the coming week. Save your reflections by the end of Friday here: weekly reflections DoS will give you feedback on them when applicable.

  • End-of-course student reports: Reports for leaving students need to be saved here: End-of-course reports by the end of Thursday. DoS will give you feedback on them when applicable. Please see a document for the guidelines on writing reports here: guidelines on writing report comments

Have done First Aid training before already? You can skip module 6 and start your quiz now

Have never done First Aid training before? Please revise Module 6:

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