Maximilian Berlitz

Maximilian Berlitz

Original Name David Berlitzheimer
Mühringen, Landkreis Freudenstadt, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Death 6 Apr 1921 (aged 68)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Plot Dahlia Plot, Section 207/210
Memorial ID 2974 · View Source
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Educator. He was the founder of the Berlitz Language Schools. Born David Berlitzheimer in the village of Mühringen at the edge of the Black Forest in southwest Germany. his father was a village cantor and Jewish religious teacher. In 1872, he came to Rhode Island where he worked for a while as a private language teacher in Westerly before accepting a permanent position as a teacher of French and German at the Warner Polytechnical College in Providence. Although the institute wasn't doing very well, in 1878 he purchased it from its owner, becoming not only the director, dean, and principal, but also the only teacher. Not long afterwards, he hired a young Frenchman, Nicholas Joly, to assist him. Joly arrived in Providence to find his new employer sick and feverish due to overwork. More over, Berlitz discovered, much to his dismay, that his new instructor spoke no English. Nevertheless, he directed Joly to take over the French classes - he was to teach them by pointing to objects, naming them and explaining verbs using only French. After his recuperation six weeks later, he was amazed to find that, contrary to his expectation, his pupils had made more progress in the same period of time than they had under traditional methods of language instruction. He 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 in the past. The success Berlitz achieved with his new method encouraged him to open up a second language school in Boston in 1880. Soon other schools followed in New York and Washington, D. C. Eventually he established schools all over America and even exported them abroad. Between 1880 and 1900 he not only taught but managed to set his ideas down in writing, developing them into a systematic method which he then presented in 1900 the World's Fair in Paris. After the turn of the century, he traveled extensively. He made headlines by teaching the Kaiser of Germany to speak English and by receiving medals of honor from the King of Spain, the government of France, and at many international expositions. However, he remained an active language instructor until his death in New York City.

Bio by: Eamonn

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 27 May 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2974
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maximilian Berlitz (14 Apr 1852–6 Apr 1921), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2974, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .