Talking Dogme – an interview with Fiona Mauchline for #breltchat

An attempt at using Tagxedo... It should be in the shape of an apple... Need to practice more, eh?

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t taken part in it yet, a group of fantastic ELT teachers from different parts of the world got together to promote a chat on twitter – look for the #eltchat hashtag – to discuss ELT related issues, every Wednesday (at 12pm and 9pm GMT). I take part as often as I can – even though this semester my teaching schedule is getting in the way of my participating. It’s a fantastic initiative – English teachers from all over the world sharing practices, difficulties, activities, beliefs and ideas… You can learn more about #eltchat on their website. In it you can also find the transcripts of all chats and the summaries for each of them, written by different teachers each week. A really great resource and opportunity for Professional Development – as well as greater interaction with the PLN.

Well, many Brazilian teachers take part in #eltchat, but we felt we could do something along the same lines that would bring the benefits of #eltchat to Brazilian teachers – especially those who works on public schools, for they usually have less oportunities of PD. So a group of us decided to face the challenge (Valéria França/@vbenevolofranca, Bruno Andrade/@BrunoELT, Henrick Oprea/@hoprea , Raquel Oliveira / @Raquel_EFL and me / @CeciELT) and we started the #breltchat, which happens every other Wednesday, at 9:30pm – Brazil time), in Portuguese so that all Brazilian teachers can fully participate. Check out our blog here.

On our last #breltchat we discussed Dogme and how we could possibly apply dogme / unplugged lessons into our realities in Brazil. We were super lucky to have some fabulous special guests take part in that chat, people who really know Dogme – including one of the writers of “Teaching Unplugged” – the first book about Dogme, Luke Meddings / @lukemeddings. Our other special guests were Willy Cardoso / @willycard, Fiona Mauchline / @fionamau and Shelly Terrell / @shellterrell. The chat was really great, lots of ideas, myths being taken down, practical ideas… insightful tweets flying around. And as a follow up to that chat we did some interviews with the special guests and with Scott Thornbury (father of Dogme and co-author of Teaching Unplugged). I was fortunate enough to interview Fiona Mauchline who kindly took some time off her Sunday to talk to me about Dogme and how it applies to the Brazilian education system. Fiona’s sound came out a bit low (I blame it on Wetoku), but turn your computer’s volume up because it’s worth it!

Let me know your thoughts!!! I always love to hear them!

10 comments on “Talking Dogme – an interview with Fiona Mauchline for #breltchat

  1. seburnt says:

    Very cool! If only I spoke Portuguese or wrote a book about Dogme… ;) Honestly, I’ll try to make it to a #breltchat sometime!

    • Well, you’re always welcome Ty! And that last #breltchat was in English… we adjust to make our special guests welcome. Just let us know and we can think of something :-) We’d be honored to have you in it!

      • seburnt says:

        You’re sweet–changing a language just for lil ole me. =) I’d love to join sometime. Now… what to talk about that I could be enlightening…

  2. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Ceci and Fiona!

    What a great and enlightening interview! Fiona, thanks so much for all the information. I loved what you said: “Kids need somebody to listen to them.” How important that is – that should be on a sign or banner in every classroom. And we as educators need to constantly keep this in mind – no matter how much material or media we have for them, students need someone there to listen and help them externalise all the great capabilities they have in them. I really hope to meet you face-to-face some day Fiona!

    Thanks so much for this interview on the specific topic. I will also try, as Tyson mentioned, to take part in #BRELTChat – it is a great discussion and a great opportunity to learn more!


    • Hi Vicky!

      Sooo happy you enjoyed… Dogme and its applications are something that really interest me and it was wonderful having the chance to talk about it with Fiona :-) You’re welcome to take part in #eltchat anytime! We could have you over to talk about multiculturalism – whaddayathink?


      • Vicky Loras says:

        Oh yaaaaaayyyy whoop whoop!

        I would love to take part and talk about multiculturalism! Thank you so much, I am so excited : )

        Love ya sis!

    • macappella says:

      Hi there, Vicky!
      I remember from my school days (and I excelled in the ‘grotty teen’ department) that it was when teachers put down the maps, the charts, the tongs and test-tubes and the novels, sat down – not perched, but let the chair envelop them – and told us something REAL, shared something, that they came alive and we listened to them properly, like children at story-time. I still remember, more than 30 years later, that my ‘bland, lifeless’ English teacher liked Joni Mitchell, my Scripture teacher never cooked on a Sunday and my Maths teacher felt happiest when hill-walking. I do NOT remember what a logarithm is good for or which comes first, Leviticus or Deuteronomy (not sure how to spell them, either). Now more than ever, kids are drowning in information but many lack basic human contact – in a day, their ‘conversation’ is with screens rather than faces – which is why I think dialogue and listening to students is so important – listening and remembering what they say. It’s when, in a later class, you refer to something a kid told you a week or so before that they really tune in to you, I think, so paying attention is also key. Paying attention to the person not just to the language.

      I agree, it’d be great to meet, one day – here’s hoping!

  3. Shelly says:

    Great interview Fiona! Where do you work? Sounds dangerous with the parent knife fights ;-) I think it’s really interesting how you say that Dogme was perfect for teens in violent areas. I agree because of the dialogue you talk about but for many teachers they like taking more control when it comes to behavior. Personally, I think that’s a mistake. Thanks for bringing this up!

    • I totally agree with that Shell… dialogic lessons are perfect in therse cases – too. And not only for the reasons you mnetioned, but teens in that situation are probably between the ones who least can identify themselves (and be motivated) by regular coursebooks.

    • macappella says:

      Hi Shelly! (macappella’s my blog name – it’s me)
      Whatever teens you’re teaching, you have to lay down some pretty basic rules right from the start, based on respecting everyone in the room, so that they listen when others speak – not only when the teacher speaks – turn up on time, do their bit when the group’s relying on them to do so etc etc., you know, the ol’ ‘firm but friendly’ thing – but teens are looking for role models and adults who treat them fairly, not for a friend so on the whole the ‘let’s be pals’ approach doesn’t work whereas clear, fair rules that are stuck to do. From there on in, once you’ve got the rapport, dogme works really well with students, as does handing over the power (while watching intently from the wings) and letting them give powerpoint presentations on anything they want, letting them choose topics for debate/class and putting it to the vote, eltchat style and so on. In Seville (where I saw the two knife fights) in summer, I would sometimes take the kids up on the roof for a dogme class, as the change of environment, the getting out of the room with a board as focal point really helped, and the more sullen ones often lit up during those classes. Maybe we should extend Stevick’s phrase to ‘the people on the roof’ or ‘firework’s in the sky’ :)

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