The Berlitz history, A Global Education Company
Your success is our passion
Let’s dive deep into the long and interesting story of Berlitz! Have you ever wondered where an interesting name like Berlitz comes from and why it sounds a bit German? Or maybe you’re just curious to know how a school from the United States successfully grew into a global organization in professional development. The answers to all of this lie in our history. We’ve now been around for more than 145 years!
Our first milestone: The Berlitz Method is born
In the distant year 1878 the Grammar and Translation approach was the only way to study a language. Maximilian Berlitz used it in his classes as well. At one point Mr. Berlitz needed to stay home for a couple of months because of an illness. He quickly hired an assistant from France. Maximilian Berlitz barely noticed that the new teacher could only speak in French, no other languages, hence no translations. The French students were quite amazed by this instant immersion in the language, but the quickly adapted and had fun in their classes. Upon his return, Berlitz was astounded by the progress of the students. He immediately noticed that traditional approaches to formal instruction were much less effective than if you get students to actively speak a language from day one. From this point onward, he shifted the emphasis of courses toward teaching that allowed students to immerse themselves in new languages. And the Berlitz Method was born.
Out into the big, wide world – Berlitz goes global
It didn’t take long for Maximilian’s language school in Rhode Island to become much too small to answer the huge surge in demand. In response, without further ado more Berlitz schools were opened, this time on the West Coast of the United States. Then, in 1886, Maximilian moved Berlitz headquarters to New York. Further expansion followed, with new schools set up in Europe: Berlin (1888), Paris (1889), and London. By the late 19th century, Berlitz already ran nearly 100 language schools worldwide.
The challenges of the 20th century
Inevitably, the two World Wars of the 20th century also shaped the destiny of Berlitz. These were times of anguish, however, with several schools being destroyed and staff struggling to keep teaching materials safe. In a number of cities, the women running courses did manage to keep lessons going. Berlitz owes much to their daring, determination, and dedication.
In the early 60s as the spirit of self-confidence returned to Berlitz, the company expanded strongly in Europe. For more and more people, the 60s were a time of increasing international travel. As a result, a new generation of learners turned to Berlitz. It was at this time that Charles Berlitz, company vice-president and grandson of Maximilian Berlitz, developed the multilingual Berlitz travel guides which you may have noticed in a lot of movies.
Berlitz Total Immersion, our most sophisticated learning program, was launched in 1964. Tailored to the needs of individual learners, total immersion allows our students to completely engulf themselves in a foreign language.
In 1982 the Kids language programs were added to our portfolio.
Every decade brings about different developments and every decade involves new challenges. At Berlitz, we track trends to ensure we always keep our finger on the pulse – just as we did in the early 2000s when we introduced online courses. With more and more PCs being introduced to private households and offices, online courses were both innovative and convenient. From the very beginning, the content of online instruction has been identical to that of classroom lessons.
When Maximilian D. Berlitz introduced the revolutionary Berlitz Method® in the USA in 1878, he changed the way language was taught forever. Based on providing an immersive experience with native teachers and focusing on oral communication, the Berlitz Method® is capable of accelerating learning and building the key foundation for effective communication– learners’ self-confidence.
Berlitz today – languages, business seminars, intercultural training
We have continued to expand our offering over the decades, such that in addition to language instruction, we now also offer a wide selection of topics relevant to business and intercultural training. Our aim is to support people on their journeys in life, at work and at home, and we also experience a sense of satisfaction imparting knowledge of a practical nature. In doing so, we always keep your personal goals front of mind. We say this because if there’s one thing that really motivates us, it’s seeing you succeed – now and in the future!
- Founded in 1878,
- Over 6,000 employees
- More than 500 centers
- Global Footprint in over 70 countries
- More than 50 languages available
- More than 7,000,000 lessons taught/ year
Find out why Berlitz is much more than teaching languages!