Berlitz Develops AI-powered Language Learning Program

While professionals often use artificial intelligence (AI) in the language industry to produce translations from one language to another, it’s another thing completely to attempt using AI to actually learn or teach a language. But that’s what the Berlitz Corporation is trying to do, according to a recent report in Forbes. The Berlitz Corporation has launched an AI-driven language learning program, using technology from Hour One, an AI company that uses unique human likenesses to generate videos featuring highly life-like human subjects.

Berlitz has a long history in the language learning industry — the company was founded back in the 1870s by acclaimed linguist Maximilian Berlitz, who developed the Berlitz method of language learning. The development of the AI-driven language learning programs was inspired by the fact that high-quality and professionally developed online resources for language learning can be somewhat difficult to find, according to the Forbes article. Berlitz had attempted to develop video series featuring live instructors, but found the process to be extremely time-consuming, which is where Hour One’s AI videos comes into play.


Portait of Maximilian Berlitz, founder of The Berlitz Corporation.
Linguist Maximilian Berlitz founded the Berlitz Corporation in 1873, and developed the Berlitz Method, which heavily emphasizes use of the target language. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

“Berlitz has built our methodology and brand on delivering the best outcomes for students serious about fluency, which requires a very human centric experience,” the CEO of Berlitz told Forbes.

Because Berlitz aims to emphasize the human aspect of language, the company needed human faces for a project like this — Hour One works with human models to develop AI-generated likenesses of them. Hour One then animates these likenesses for other companies to use for videos; by partnering with Hour One, Berlitz was able to more efficiently produce language lessons and forgo the hours in the studio with an actor.

And while the humans in the video are completely AI-generated, Forbes stresses that the AI teachers’ likenesses are the only aspects of the videos that are AI-generated. That is, Berlitz developed all of the scripts, with real human linguists and educators writing up the scripts for each video.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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