French language proficiency remains a barrier to English speakers navigating Québec’s labour market. Our research has shown time and again that it is crucial for the economic vitality of language minority communities that the government take steps to ensure access to high-quality French language training for all. This is especially true for English-speaking communities, as we are seeing these communities trailing further behind their French counterparts in terms of income and employment.
It is vital for the future economic vitality of our province that we build a French language learning infrastructure that is accessible and adaptable to the wide diversity of language learners in our province. To begin the process of building better language learning services and tools, it’s important to study what works and see how we can build upon and expand these services.
We recently published a report which aims to contribute to the improvement of adult French-language training programs in Québec. The report “Learning French as an Adult: A Review of Current Best Practices in Adult French-language Training in Québec” provides an overview of best practices for adult French-language training based on interviews with twenty-four (24) educators, administrators, and researchers working to improve adult French-language training.
In this blog, we will highlight one of the case studies found in our report.
Case Study: DialogueFR
DialogueFR is a pilot project that was designed and launched in 2022 by the Association des Sociétés de développement commercial de Montréal (ASDCM) in partnership with the Québec government, the City of Montréal, the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, and multiple business associations, in order to encourage economic development. The service offers free French-language training and support to English-speaking and allophone business owners and employees working in Montreal’s hospitality sector.
Once a business is enrolled in the program, the employer can select times for French-language training courses to take place within the workplace. These courses allow participants to improve their oral comprehension skills and practice their French while they work. Participation is voluntary for both employees and employers, and courses range from 30 to 60 minutes, accommodating the business’ and employees’ work schedules and needs.
This program also includes a mobile application (DIALOGUEFR), developed by education experts, to help individuals learn industry-specific French.
The application contains up to 80 interactive modules along with 5 themes modelled after realistic situations in Québec businesses, such as reading menus and conversations between customers and employees. The application is free for all participants and is also available to the public for free.
Best Practices in Action:
DialogueFR employs multiple practices regarding language education, including:
Flexible learning environments: One of the primary reasons for this project’s success and engagement rate is the educational institution’s flexibility. The fact that the employers were able to select the time and learning material of courses helped engage businesses and allowed workers to learn the language as easily as possible.
Work-integrated learning: The work-integrated learning component of the program enhanced the program’s accessibility to learners and made learning the language as convenient as possible for workers, as they did not have to sacrifice personal or working time to learn French. It also ensured that they were learning material relevant to their field of employment.
One-on-one mentoring: The mentorship and individual attention provided by the program allow students to receive the feedback and attention they need when learning a language and help keep them engaged with the entire learning process.
Use of learning technology: Technological tools such as mobile apps, learning software, and games have expanded the ability of educators to deliver and test teaching material. The fact that participants can rely on an easily accessible learning application outside of learning hours provided more opportunities for practice and improving language comprehension.
This highly flexible and innovative project brings together educational institutions, workers, and employers. The multi-stakeholder interests and program design enhance the initiative’s effectiveness and set an excellent example for the possibilities of language-learning pilot programs directed at adults in the workforce.
If you’re curious about the other best practices for language learning in Québec and how they can be implemented, you can read more in our report here.