BERLITZ, Maximilian Delphinus

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BERLITZ, Maximilian Delphinus (later David BERLITZ) [1852–1921]. German-American language teacher and organizer of the Berlitz Method. Born in Württemberg, Germany, he emigrated to the US in the 1870s and opened a language school in Providence, Rhode Island (1878), the first of many in the US and elsewhere. Among the languages taught by conversational means was English as a foreign language. From the first lesson, only the target language was used in class, and no translation was allowed. The teachers were native speakers of the language, and the materials used were so systematized and the directions so precise that it was possible to employ quite young and relatively untried people as teachers. The Berlitz Method has often been referred to as the DIRECT METHOD, with the result that it has become associated with the method of the Reform Movement initiated by Wilhelm Viëtor and other scholars from the 1880s onwards. This, however, differed in using phonetic texts and phonetically trained teachers who were usually the same nationality as the learners, in using translation sparingly, and in having broader educational aims.