Berlitz was founded in 1878 by Maximillian Berlitz who was running a language center. He hired a new French instructor by the name of Nicholas Joly to teach, but when the Frenchman arrived Berlitz was horrified to find that Joly spoke no English. As Mr Berlitz was unavailable at the time, he asked Joly to lead classes to the best of his ability. Berlitz asked Joly to point at objects, repeating the French word for them, and act out verbs.
He returned to the classroom six weeks later, expecting his desperate students to be angry with him. Instead, he found his students engaging in an animated exchange of questions and answers – in elegant French. He was surprised to see the great progress that the students had made and realised the importance of this i.e. learning a target language through the target language.
The normal venerable atmosphere of a traditional classroom had disappeared. His students were also much further ahead in terms of what they had learned than Berlitz would have achieved in the same period of time. Berlitz came to a significant conclusion: the “emergency solution” had formed the basis for a completely new method of teaching. The strict learning method had to give way to an animated process of discovery. This discovery formed the basis of the Berlitz Method®.