Case Study #7 : Berlitz Jr.

Westport, Connecticut

Established in 1987 by Berlitz International to provide foreign-language instruction and curriculum to schools, Berlitz Jr. now operates in over 13 states throughout the United States. Berlitz Jr. programs can be found in both public and private schools offering instruction to children in languages as varied as Japanese, Spanish, and Greek. Most Berlitz Jr. teachers are nativespeakers of the language they teach.

Typically, a school will contract with Berlitz Jr. to provide instruction to several classrooms for two or three class periods a week. Through the contract arrangement, schools specify--and pay for--only the amount and type of instruction they need. For small schools or those with a small number of students desiring instruction in a particular language, this is an advantage of the contracting arrangement. Should the school wish to switch to another language at any time, it can easily do so without encountering the problems of teacher layoffs or recruitment.

The cost of a Berlitz program varies depending on such variables as frequency of service, length of program, language chosen, and number of different age levels served. The location of the client school may also be a factor. Most Berlitz Jr. programs run between $2,000 and $25,000. For example, a program offering instruction six periods a day, three times a week for 36 weeks (i.e., a nine-month school year) would run approximately $25,000.15

Teachers have many different reasons for wanting to work for Berlitz rather than working as employees of a school or district. Some are working toward teacher credentials in their home states, and Berlitz gives them practical classroom experience and coaching; others appreciate the scheduling flexibility Berlitz offers its employees; some enjoy the variety of jobs--with different schools in a neighborhood, different age groups, or different education settings. Still others turn to Berlitz for the pleasure of teaching the language itself and sharing a country's heritage and culture with students.

Beatrice Mora-Diaz is one such teacher. A native of Columbia, she began teaching for Berlitz in 1992 in order to more fully share her culture with Americans. "I always think Americans have a false image of what people from Latin America are like," says Mora-Diaz who teaches both children and adults."(16) We have a lot of interesting things Americans can get from us. I try to go further than just the language and encourage students to learn about our culture."

With three young children at home, Mora-Diaz schedules her work hours in a way that lets her spend the most time with her family. "I try to accommodate early morning or very late after dinner, or Saturday mornings because I have to take my children to their activities," she says. In any given week, Mora-Diaz may be teaching between eight and 30 hours for Berlitz. She also teaches at a college two nights a week on her own time.

When her children are older, Mora-Diaz plans to teach full-time. As a private-practice educator, she is able to teach in a variety of settings, something she says is helping her decide what kind of teaching career to eventually pursue. But for now, Mora-Diaz finds that private practice enables her to balance work and family life, and gives her the satisfaction of sharing her culture with others.

Moreover, schools usually pay only for contact hours between the contractor and the student(s). Companies such as Learning Styles and Ready Go, for example (see Case Study #6), base their fee schedule on an hourly basis. Under such a scenario, schools do not pay for "downtime" such as prep-periods, lunch and coffee breaks, and vacation periods, but only for the time the instructor(s) spends with students. In other words, schools pay only for the services they actually receive, and they know in advance exactly what those services will cost.