Nicholas Joly

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Nicholas Joly (French pronunciation /nikɔla ʒɔli/) was a 19th Century New York-based teacher of French as a foreign language who played a significant role in the history of language teaching methodology.

Joly was a Frenchman who was hired by Maximilian Berlitz to teach his native language. The preferred method of instruction at that time was grammar-translation method, however Joly was reportedly unable to speak English competently, but nevertheless a talented teacher, and hence he employed through necessity and because he hadn't been told differently, what we would now recognise as the direct method and a communicative approach and total immersion.

Berlitz took Joly's ideas and made a lot of money from the method, which Berlitz humbly named after himself. But no-one ever talks much about the unsung hero Joly. What did he do with the rest of his life? Perhaps a family history researcher could help us out.