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140 years of Berlitz

Writing company history – together.

2018 will be a banner year for Berlitz, as we celebrate our company’s 140th anniversary. We’d like to share some of the highlights our company has experienced since 1878. Join us on a quick journey through time as we explore the Berlitz story – and get ready for new stories from the Berlitz family in 2018.

How a man traveled to America to start a language school

Our founder, Maximilian D. Berlitz, was interested in foreign languages from an early age. When he emigrated from Germany to the United States at the age of 18, he not only spoke his native tongue, but also languages such as French, Latin, and Greek. He quickly made a name for himself as a language teacher and became a professor of French and German. As chance would have it, the traditional teaching method focusing on grammar and translation soon disappeared from his language classes, to be replaced by the dynamic and active Berlitz Method. 1878 saw the launch of the first Berlitz School of Languages in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Today there are 500 Berlitz Centers in 70 countries, and Berlitz is one of the leading global players in the fields of language learning, intercultural competence, and management and leadership skills.

Berlitz advertising icons of the past: The little professor

A little man wearing glasses, always smiling, sometimes with a pointer in his hand, sometimes with a pipe in his mouth. This was our "little professor." For some 25 years, he was the face of Berlitz and could be found on advertising posters and in school books and marketing brochures. Whether disguised as a bus driver in London or a waiter in France, his message was the same: A sense of humor makes learning a foreign language fun and gets everyone to the finish line faster. The little professor lives on in our memories.

A pioneer for equal opportunity - diversity at Berlitz

During the World Wars, it became clear that the dedication and leadership of women would shape the future of Berlitz. As male school directors were drafted into military service, their wives or secretaries suddenly found themselves running the schools. These were frightening times - teachers disappeared, classrooms were damaged, books were burned. Many schools were completely destroyed. In places where schools no longer existed, the female employees took the teaching materials to safety. And in some cities, the women kept the schools running successfully. Berlitz owes a lot to their courage. Today, as a signatory to the Charter of Diversity, Berlitz remains committed to an organizational culture which does not tolerate prejudice and is characterized by mutual respect and appreciation for each and every individual. At present in Germany, 75 percent of all employees and 75 percent of our managers are women.

The Sahel expedition and the launch of the Berlitz Foundation

From 1988 to 1992, a Berlitz team from Brussels joined forces with several non-profit organizations for a special mission. A convoy of Land Rovers started out on a journey through the African desert with the aim of helping people in the Sahel zone. In their luggage were essential medicines, non-perishable foodstuffs, and technical equipment for the digging of wells. It was a dangerous expedition for the team. But thanks to the local families and children, the crew gathered new strength every day. Since then, Berlitz has been committed to helping children in need. In 2006, we founded the Berlitz Educational Foundation in cooperation with Plan International, an organization aimed at advancing children's rights. The Berlitz Foundation allows us to make a small contribution toward offering children a brighter future by helping them along the path to education.

Find out more about the Berlitz Foundation >>

Berlitz German Coastguard - the first viral advertising video

This YouTube video has already had more than one million clicks and even made it onto the top-ten list of best advertising campaigns of 2006. A young member of the German coastguard gets a brief introduction to the technical controls and radar, and is then left to his own devices. Suddenly there's an emergency call. "Mayday, Mayday. We are sinking!" Surprised and nervous, the young man replies in broken English, "What are you ... thinking about?" This is followed by our slogan and logo: "Improve your English" and "Berlitz. Language for life." This video was never officially released as a commercial. But it was still a big hit for Berlitz and the Scandinavian advertising agency, raising the profile of the Berlitz brand and continuing to bring a smile to many faces today.

Berlitz today - competencies that take you to your destination

As one of the world's leading providers of language instruction and seminars, we offer you a broad selection of communication courses for the global business world. Flexible, tailored, and always featuring the highest Berlitz quality. Your personal success is what motivates us!

  • Language instruction, intercultural training, and management and leadership skills courses from a single source
  • More than 300,000 satisfied customers each year
  • Professional quality management certified under ISO standard 9001 (since 2006)
  • Some 500 sites in more than 70 countries
  • Germany-wide network of 56 Berlitz Centers and 40 Corporate Service Managers

More Berlitz stories to mark our 140th anniversary

When you've been around for 140 years, there are lots of stories to tell. To mark our anniversary in 2018, we'll have more Berlitz stories to share with you. Join us in our celebration!