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Berlitz Languages, Inc.

Founder Maximilian D. Berlitz

The organization now known as Berlitz International, Inc. was founded in 1878 by Maximilian D. Berlitz in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

Descended from a long line of teachers and mathematicians, Maximilian Berlitz grew up in the Black Forest region of Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1872 and arrived ready to teach Greek, Latin, and six other European languages in the strict traditionalist grammar-translation style.

After building a successful career as a private teacher, Berlitz joined the Warner Polytechnic College as a professor of French and German language instruction. Before establishing his own school, Berlitz was briefly in charge of all language instruction at the college.

Needing an assistant to teach French to English students, Berlitz hired a young man who appeared to be the most promising candidate, mostly because of the impeccable French in his letter of application.

The applicant, Nicholas Joly, arrived in Providence to find his new employer ill and feverish from overwork, a condition that only worsened when Berlitz learned that Joly spoke absolutely no English! Desperate to keep the school running with Joly at the helm, Berlitz had to come up with a solution — fast!

The Berlitz Method® is born

Barely standing, but thankfully still quick on his feet, Berlitz instructed his new assistant to simply point at objects and act out verbs in class as best he could. He then took to his bed.

Six weeks later, Berlitz emerged anxiously prepared to face the wrath of his neglected students. Instead, he found them engaging in lively question-and-answer exchanges with their teacher, and in perfectly accented French! The seriousness of the formal classroom was gone, and most importantly, Joly’s students progressed further in six weeks than Berlitz’s former students ever had.

Berlitz quickly concluded that his emergency measure held the seed of an innovative teaching technique. By replacing rote learning with a discovery process that kept students active and interested, it solved many of the problems that had plagued language instruction and students in the past.

After experimenting with the new technique and finding it consistently effective, Berlitz developed a system of language teaching that, today, is still the basis for the world-famous Berlitz courses. This natural way of learning is known as the Berlitz Method.

While the unique system of instruction developed by Berlitz has been refined, enriched, and modernized throughout the years, the basic elements of his discovery remain at the very heart of all Berlitz language instruction.

The Tradition Continues

After Maximilian Berlitz died in 1921, his son-in-law and associate, Victor Harrison, assumed leadership of the organization. Harrison died in 1932 and control passed briefly to his son, Victor Harrison, Jr. Next to head the company was Jacques Strumpen-Darrie, a man who had built an outstanding career with Berlitz in Europe and the United States for more than 30 years. Jacques' son Robert succeeded his father as president in 1953.

In 1966, Berlitz became a subsidiary of Macmillan, Inc. Robert Strumpen-Darrie continued as president until his retirement in 1970, and Elio Boccitto led the company through most of the 1980s.

In November of 1988, Maxwell Communication Corporation took over Macmillan, and just a year later, Berlitz became a public company.

Berlitz was subsequently acquired by Fukutake Publishing Co., Ltd., now known as the Benesse Corporation. Benesse, a leading Japanese publisher of correspondence courses and other educational materials, is Berlitz's ideal partner, adding substantial expertise in education, database management, and correspondence marketing.

Benesse assumed ownership of Berlitz in 2001, and the company once again became privately held. Berlitz and Benesse together are uniquely positioned to provide for the language needs of the global marketplace.

Career Opportunities

2005 News

Berlitz Saves Oneidas' Language, One Long Word at a Time

New York Times - Berlitz helps to preserve obscure American Indian Language for a new generation.

Click Here to Read Article

Singapore Airlines teams with Berlitz to offer intensive language courses.

Click Here to Read Article


Maximilian Berlitz first innovated the Berlitz Method® teaching style in 1878, and the effective, conversational approach has remained at the heart of the company’s language instruction ever since.

Presenting practical vocabulary and grammar in the context of real-life situations, the Berlitz Method® focuses all speaking and learning on a target language. Instructors use a communicative approach based on listening and speaking, supplementing study with relevant reading and writing exercises, so students take on a new language the same way they did their first — with natural ease.


Berlitz Language Instruction
Expanding your customer base. Opening global markets. Improving international communications and operations. When your organization's strategy includes language skills for your team, Berlitz is your edge in business. In most programs, we can customize vocabulary and training to your industry.

Berlitz offers more ways to learn than any other language instruction provider. And with the proprietary Berlitz Method®, our native-fluent instructors can have students speaking a new language in their very first class. This conversational approach to training is complemented by a wide range of multimedia course materials.

Live instruction options include:
  • Total Immersion: Intensive training for urgent language needs.

  • Private Instruction: One-on-one coaching for rapid progress.

  • Charter Group Instruction: Powerful language training for your teams.

We also offer a wide range of online solutions for your training needs.

You'll acquire the skills you need to succeed when you train with Berlitz. Use our Training Center or your own location. Our progress reports make tracking your employees' development simple and your language training goals on target.

Berlitz Cultural Consulting
Berlitz Cultural Consulting is a training and consulting firm specializing in individual and organizational development for international companies. Specifically, we coach executives and teams to conduct business effectively while working with employees from other cultures.

Our programs:
  • Inspire executives to demonstrate greater cultural effectiveness and accountability while managing international employees and projects.

  • Exhibit cultural competence while maximizing employee contributions.

  • Build cohesive and productive face-to-face multicultural and virtual teams.

  • Gain a competitive edge by aligning cultural strengths with business strategy.

  • Develop critical formal and informal relationship-building skills for employees.

  • Support employee family adjustment.

  • Hone global leadership through our personalized executive coaching sessions.

  • Utilize proven assessment tools identifying employee work styles and their impact in various cultures.

  • Provide immediate, affordable training with our Online programs.

Our consultants are world-class authorities on cross-cultural issues. Berlitz Cultural Consulting: Solutions Beyond LanguageSM offers training at over 500 Training Centers or onsite at your corporate location. With locations in over 60 countries, Berlitz has the resources to provide solutions from a truly global perspective.