By Simon Gill - Olomouc, Czech Republic
At the IATEFL Conference in Edinburgh in 1999, the opening plenary was given by Mike Wallace, who told the story of the origin of the Berlitz method. I may have got the details wrong but it went something like this. Charles Berlitz, who was trilingual, was on the verge of opening his school when he fell seriously ill and had to employ a stand-in teacher, who spoke only English. On his return from his illness he was amazed to discover that the substitute had achieved great success using an English-only method that was very different from the grammar-translation approach Berlitz himself had intended and, being a sharp businessman, took it over and took all the credit too. So essentially the Berlitz Method is, like so many other successful inventions, an accident.