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Text: Maximilian D. Berlitz

№ 1I. Read the text.

When we choose an English course book, we are interested in its efficiency, layout, and often price. But it is quite unusual to find a student or a teacher interested in the actual authors of the book. We know titles but we don’t know names. However, the author’s personality can be very important for the quality of the book and even for the development of ideas. It’s time we did away with this unfair attitude and made you familiar with those who made the English Language Teaching profession glorious and prosperous.

You will have a chance to see their portraits and learn more about their fascinating lives full of travel, adventure and discovery, the words so rarely associated with the quiet English teaching profession. We hope that this section will help you to make your own opinion about modern ELT. Your awareness about ELT history will prevent you from being easily affected by tenacious ads of ‘the most efficient learning methods recently discovered’, these buzzwords popping out here and there.

We wish you a pleasant reading.


II. Answer the following questions:

1. What are we interested in, when we choose an English coursebook?

2. Do you think that the author’s personality is very important for the quality of the book?

3. What is ELT?

4. Have you already made your own opinion about modern ELT?


III. Render the text in English.

№ 2I. Read the text.

Once a decade we are told that a new method of learning a foreign language, this time the most efficient and easy to use, has been discovered. Most of these ‘new’ methods are yet quite old. For example, the Total Immersion method enabling students to learn the language in a quick and entertaining way with no translation and dull grammar explanations is not as ‘modern’ as we think. Last year it celebrated its 120th anniversary, while its inventor, Maximilian Berlitz will be 147 this year!

‘Berlitz’ now is a huge commercial enterprise, incorporating a language learning methodology, a trademark and a PLS having 350 affiliates throughout the world. What made famous this man with thick moustache and keen eyes? He made himself famous world-wide for his unique research of speech at the time when the mere term was not recognized yet. His books were written in a clear, straightforward manner, so any teacher or student could understand instructions at once. He knew and spoke six languages. He might serve an example for PLS owners and publishers, as in 1914 he had 200 schools in Europe and millions of copies of his books sold in all European countries, including Russia.

Who is he, this energetic educationalist and businessman?


II. Answer the following questions:

1. How does the Total Immersion method enable students to learn a foreign language?

2. What made Maximilian Berlitz world-wide famous?

3. How many languages did he know and speak?


IV. Render the text in English.

№ 3I. Read the text.

Maximilian Delphinus Berlitz (1852 - 1921) was born in southern Germany into a family of teachers and mathematicians. He emigrated to the United States in 1872 and arrived prepared to teach Greek, Latin, and six other European languages according to the strict traditionalist grammar-translation approach. Berlitz founded his first language school, now known as Berlitz International, Inc. in 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. His first employee, a Frenchman, introduced him to a monolingual approach of teaching French. Berlitz adopted and systemized the method and developed an extensive series of textbooks from 1882 onwards.

After building a successful career as a private teacher, Berlitz joined the Warner Polytechnic College as a professor of French and German language instruction. The college, however, was less imposing than its name, and Berlitz found himself at once owner, dean, principal, and only faculty member. Maximilian Berlitz’s innovative approach to teaching languages met with almost immediate success in Providence, and by 1880, he was encouraged to open a language centre in Boston. This was followed in quick succession by language centres in New York City and Washington, DC. Their success led him to open centres in other American cities and in Europe where the popularity of Berlitz’s teaching technique spread even more rapidly.

II. Answer the following questions:

1. Where and when was Maximilian Delphinus Berlitz born?

2. When did he immigrate to the USA?

3. Where did he found his first language school?

4. Did he teach languages according to the strict traditionalist grammar translation approach at first?


III. Render the text in English.

№ 4I. Read the text.

From the founding of the company in 1878, Berlitz was looking primarily at those who intended travelling and studying for personal enrichment. To meet their needs, Berlitz introduced some important changes in the classroom. He moved from conventional classes to private and small group instruction and instituted a research programme to develop new techniques of intensive instruction. After several years of research and testing. Berlitz created a stir in academic circles with the introduction of his Total Immersion programme.

The most important feature of the new method was to teach languages quickly to students with an urgent need (e.g. emigrants or immigrants). An obvious advantage of Total Immersion is its dynamic pace. Another advantage is the use of native speakers or highly qualified non-native professionals speaking an authentic language. The programme immerses the student in language instruction for more than eight hours a day, for two to six weeks. Language items are carefully selected according to their frequency in everyday use and presented in chunks, in the way they occur in real speech.

II. Answer the following questions:

1. What changes did Berlitz introduce in the classroom?

2. Why did he do so?

3. What was the most important feature of his new method? How was it called?

4. What advantages did that method have?

5. How long did the students study the language?

III. Render the text in English.

№ 5I. Read the text.

In the Preface for the 54th (!) European edition of his First Book for Teaching Modern Languages published at the same time in Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, New-York, London, and St-Petersburg and Moscow, Berlitz explains his view on a successful way to learn a language:

‘The Berlitz Method is an imitation of the natural process by which a child learns its mother tongue. In it, translation as a means of acquiring a foreign language, is entirely abandoned. From the very first lesson, the student hears only the language he is studying.’

What is fascinating for us, living about a century after the book was published, is the fact that the recommendations given to the teacher can be found in most modern course books. Let’s look at some of Berlitz’s Hints to the teachers’:

‘The examples in the books must be modified so as to suit circumstances and surroundings ...

All new words and expressions should be written on the blackboard, but only after they have been practised a little. The student must at first learn through the ear, in order to acquire a good pronunciation ...

The teacher must make a point of speaking naturally ...

If a student hesitates to answer, the teacher must help him immediately and, if necessary, write the expression on the blackboard ...

When correcting a mistake, the teacher should merely pronounce the correct expression without quoting the mistake ...’

II. Answer the following questions:

1. How did Berlitz explain his view on a successful way to learn a language?

2. How did Berlitz introduce new words and expressions?

3. How should the teacher correct a mistake according to Berlitz’s advice?

III. Render the text in English.

№ 6I. Read the text.

The book begins by an oral course (8 lessons) specifying class objects, appearances, parts of the body, prepositions and numbers up to 100. Each lesson has a text or a dialogue, and several exercises. At the end of the book a reader and grammar summary is included.

A bright methodologist and a successful businessman, Maximilian Berlitz was the founder of the ELT industry. All his schools used the same standards and materials. In the 1890s there were around fifty schools in America, Germany, Britain, France, Austria, and Holland. By the time Berlitz died, his organisation had expanded to include schools in the Middle East, Australia, and Latin America.

After his death his business was inherited by his son-in-law. In the 1950s the composition of students body changed. Berlitz schools were increasingly confronted with business people, professionals, and technicians headed for foreign posts and needing language skills for their new assignments. It was the post-war time when major corporation were seeking to enroll large numbers of personnel - and their families - and the first requirement for learning languages was speed.

The faster pace of learning required by students led Berlitz schools to develop a new application of its basic approach to instruction. Home study materials were introduced in 1970 to enable students to supplement their classroom lessons through vocabulary review and pronunciation. Today these materials include books, cassettes, videos and CD-ROMs. Now Berlitz schools have General English courses for all age groups, Business English and cross-cultural language training programmes. Berlitz’s curriculum and training department continues to develop new materials to keep pace with changing technology and student needs.

II. Answer the following questions:

1. Who was Berlitz’s business inherited by after his death?

2. How did the composition of students body change in the 1950s?

3. What led Berlitz schools to develop a new application of its basis approach to instruction?

4. Why were home study materials introduced in 1970?

III. Render the text in English.










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