The Berlitz Method is the first-known immersive teaching method and has shaken up traditional language learning styles since its inception.
How the Berlitz Method developed
Like many great discoveries, the Berlitz Method came about because of chance, specific circumstances, and a creative mind. While teaching in Providence, Maximilian Berlitz hired Joly, a young Frenchman as his assistant. However, upon Joly’s arrival in the U.S., Berlitz found out that his new assistant did not speak a single word of English.
During this time, Berlitz fell very ill and had no choice but to let Joly take over his teaching duties. Berlitz instructed Joly to use gestures to act out his meaning, encouraging him to use vocabulary in context so his French students could begin to understand the meaning.
After six weeks, Berlitz returned to the classroom expecting his students to be far behind in their language development. Instead, to his surprise, his students were more engaged than ever, communicating in an animated exchange of questions and answers – in perfect French!
Having been forced to learn from a French-only speaker accelerated their learning. As a result, a completely new and highly effective method of teaching was created.
It was at this point that Berlitz realized that the innovative technique used by Joly was more successful and stimulating. The process used the target language of native speakers.
The key elements of the method are:
- Immersive: The instructor teaches and addresses the student in his target language only. Language is presented in context of real-life situations with a focus on grammar and vocabulary.
- Goal orientated: Each lesson is task-based with specific learning goals. This allows the student to put his new language to use in actual situations right away.
- Present, practice and perform: To help the student absorbs his new language, every lesson follows this structure. New content is presented by the instructor, the student takes part in both guided practice and general practice, and are then encouraged to perform what the student has learnt.
How learning with Berlitz works
Here’s how it works:
There are different levels of learning Berlitz’s direct method, which includes certain initial assessments to see where the student fits in:
- The Functional level: limits communication in its simplest form both orally and by listening.
- Intermediate level: conversing in English and understanding familiar topics of discussion.
- Advanced Intermediate level: competent communication and comfort with speaking the English Language in a professional and personal setting.
- Advanced level: speak English proficiently
- Native Speaker: Speak English naturally or at a professional level
The underlying principle of using the target language will enable the student to use inductive or deductive reasoning for identifying grammatical rules without having to provide an explanation of the rules that are used. The Berlitz method combines both the direct and the audio-lingual approach combining listening and speaking and later reading and writing.
The academic and intellectual world may see this method as being quite unusual and nontraditional. However, the direct method is considered by many to be more adaptive and popular with students who wanted to learn a foreign language without having to be too concerned about grammatical translation.
The Berlitz Method – Effective Language Learning