DVBE & The Paradigm

DVBE has been freely available for more than a year and still no schools, teachers, or learners are using this innovative BE program on a regular basis. It has had a fair exposure to the marketplace, with at least 20,000 downloads of the modules. There can be only two reasons for DVBE's lack of implementation in the classroom: (1) it is a terrible BE program or (2) it is too innovative for these times. Which is the case?

When BE teachers have offered their opinion about DVBE (without ever putting it into a classroom), the responses have been quite varied:

  • DVBE is business training, not business English training.
  • DVBE business topics are too advanced for most BE learners.
  • DVBE is typical of language training several decades ago.
  • DVBE's secondary focus on “numbers English” is not important for good business communications.
  • “Numbers English” is sufficiently taught at the beginner and pre-intermediate levels of regular ELT; hence BE learners do not need any extra practice with this part of the English language.
  • Business calculations are something done in the head but not in verbal communications. Hence there is no need to develop language skills for numbers English.
  • DVBE is not specialized enough in any business topic and fulfills no special need of BE training.
  • DVBE is too different from what the other publishers are providing.

The DVBE publisher believes these are not very constructive criticisms and are mostly excuses not to experiment with a new approach. The few times the DVBE approach has been put into a classroom, most learners had a positive experience. So why is there still resistance from the BE profession?

When DVBE is analyzed from the GBE/SBE/PBE paradigm, the reason for DVBE's “failure” becomes more apparent than the teachers simply not “liking it” or “being too lazy to put in the extra effort DVBE requires.” Below is the paradigm showing the position of where the popular trends of BE training are occurring.

In other words, as BE learners move from GBE (or ELT), they want to get closer to the English used in their occupations. So two natural progressions are (1) to move up to SBE at the typical 40/40/20 rating where they can comfortably comprehend a business lesson in English on their particular business field, and (2) to move up and to the right at 20/40/40 where learners are “performing” in their relevant business fields.

DVBE, at about 20/20/60 fits below those popular SBE/PBE positions, but to the right of GBE. DVBE is not in the current skills development path of most BE learners.

This lack of popular position does not mean that DVBE has no merit in BE training. With the paradigm showing DVBE outside the usual path of BE training, DVBE can be regarded as something different from what the BE publishers are offering or the material that SBE/PBE teachers are developing as custom lessons. With DVBE in such a different position, the BE profession should be regarding it as an innovation in BE training.

It seems plausible that learners can change their path, moving from GBE to the right and towards DVBE, thus developing their FI in the English language. With these skills better entrenched, then they move into more popular positions of SBE and PBE with more confidence and competence.

But there are a few barriers for the BE profession to move in this direction.

First, DVBE requires a lot more teaching skills than the GBE coursebooks. When so many BE teachers already feel they are not being paid sufficiently, why would they take on this extra challenge?

Second, many learners may regard the DVBE path as an unnecessary step that consumes their limited time resources. They will continue to demand lessons based on their specific job needs. These customers will force the teachers and schools to provide the usual (and mediocre) special needs lessons that are the norm of the profession.

Third, as alluded to earlier, a significant minority of learners will not like the DVBE approach, thus making BE teachers wary of presenting it—even though it provides a very effective learning experience for other BE learners who see the value in being “performers.” To face this minority, DVBE will require very competent BE teachers to make DVBE work in the classroom.

And fourth, the average ELT teacher venturing into BE will find too much business with DVBE. Such a teacher will opt for simpler material to put into the classroom.


The BE profession has had a good look at DVBE for several years and soundly rejected it. But with this paper, the profession probably better understands why it has rejected this innovation in BE training: DVBE occupies a unique and untried position in the GBE/SBE/PBE paradigm.

DVBE has given the BE profession an important choice to make. The profession can continue to believe that it is providing excellent service to its clients and BE teachers need not change much what they are currently doing. It only needs some marketing gimmicks to find the raise in pay it thinks it deserves. If the profession doesn't find any successful marketing gimmicks soon, it should not be surprised to see itself in the same position a decade from now as it is today.

Or the profession can fully understand the opportunity DVBE may be providing for the profession to move BE training in a new direction by providing more effective learning experiences for the learners. With this enhanced sense of learning, learners will recognize the extra skills to present DVBE effectively and be willing to pay more for such a teacher.

By being in a different GBE/SBE/PBE position than most of the profession, DVBE is worthy of classroom trials and research. Given that much BE training is still done in the realm of GBE, it is not a big obstacle for ambitious GBE teachers to start the experiment.

So, BE Instructors, the choice is now yours. You can be safe and continue with the traditional methods—and stay exactly where you are today. Or you can look innovation in the eye, give DVBE a serious try, and quite possibly move into a more exciting direction.

Remember, it will be the learners who eventually decide the merit of DVBE, but not until you make this first step.

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