English as a Second Language – The DL Method
In the early 1990’s, when the expression ‘Free Trade’ was making headlines, a number of international companies operating in the province of Quebec (Canada) realized they had an urgent need of fluently bilingual personnel. Although management was often quite happy with the professional abilities of their staff, for many francophone employees, speaking English with suppliers and customers was, if not impossible, certainly arduous. Fortunately, at that same time Ms. Denise Larose (creator of the DL Method) wanted new challenges.
Having been a teacher in the public sector for a number of years, Ms. Larose connected with some people from the private sector who ‘complained’ that although many language schools operated in Quebec, few (if any) were responding to the new challenges of the business world.
So Larose, went to work. She met with many people working in international businesses (ex. Rolls-Royce Canada, GECAlstom, Gaz Métro, Hydro Québec etc.). She interviewed people in management as well as office staff, union representatives and shop workers. Larose studied company needs by talking with employees and management, all the while evaluating posting needs. She asked management: “What do you expect from your employees?” She then asked employees: “How often and in what type of situation, are you required to speak ESL?”
Answers would range from: “I need to negotiate contracts in English with our customers in China.” to “I need to be able to order office equipment from a supplier in Toronto.”
In essence, some employees needed key phrases which they often repeated (i.e. a limited need of English) whereas others needed to become ‘fluently bilingual’.
Having identified needs, Larose worked on developing a method using the best of many approaches (Communicative, Audio-Lingual, Direct etc.). Her method quickly excluded old and/or childish (familiar) concepts such as: ‘My tailor is rich.’ and ‘See Dick. See Jane. See Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane run.’
Management also expressed financial concerns. Everyone involved realized companies needed to invest in their staff, but management wanted to know: “How much will this cost?” So Larose identified levels of English (ex. Beginners, Intermediate I, II and III, Advanced). She developed a number of tools (Before registering in a class, each participant undergoes a one-hour evaluation.) used to determine a participant’s ability to speak (Oral Expression), to write (Written Expression), to listen to (Oral Comprehension) and to recognize English sounds (Aural Perception), vocabulary, grammar and structure.
The DL Method provides many advantages for all. Participants, employers and teachers can measure the progress. Each lesson is made up of four components. In class participation is compulsory as is homework. In a regular session, participants attend a two-hour class per week for a 12-week period. Much time is devoted to the participant’s ‘technical accent’. The participant is required to control ‘waltzing’ (which is speaking and/or writing while unduly switching from one verb tense to another in the same sentence) and needs to grasp concepts which are inherent to the ‘English Way of Thinking’. Participants (not to mention their colleagues and their superiors) see their progress and feel they are learning with a method that is structured, productive and interesting.
If you want to know more about the DL Method, ask someone who a few years ago couldn’t speak any English and is now explaining their product’s design to hispanophones in China. Ask around; these people are easy to find. We also invite you to contact us by phone; we will gladly be of service.
Jeems von Platen
Les Communicateurs CBJT