Helen Doron student Marko, age three, and his mom, Olgica, live in the small town of Velika Gorica near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Olgica is a pharmacist who describes her family as “small but loving. Marko and I live alone in a flat. My mother, father and sister live nearby and we see each other every day.”
Marko started learning English last year when he was two. His mother recalls, “I heard of the Helen Doron school and liked the idea of learning and playing at the same time.”
Looking back, she is very happy with her decision to enroll Marko. “I am very pleased with the classes. Marko was very shy at first and didn’t want to participate. But his teacher, Kristina, was very patient and caring. She always tries to get the maximum out of all the children and is great at keeping them interested. The classes are always fun and filled with new words, so it is quite easy to learn. After a short while, Marko started answering teacher Kristina’s questions and enjoying his time in the classroom. Now, he can’t wait for his turn to show what he can do or say. There are times when he is not in the mood for answering questions, but he is like a little sponge and he surprises me with the amount of things he picks up during the class. He likes new games, loves the fact he can splash water, or bounce the ball or get some small prize at the end of our time in English class.”
Marko’s mother is very pleased with her son’s progress. “He can switch from Croatian to English without trouble, and he can form simple sentences in English. I think this is a lot for a three year old!”
Olgica tells us that she learned English in high school but “that was a long time ago. I don’t have the opportunity to use English often, so I am using the opportunity to speak English with Marko at home to help him learn the language, which helps me practice.”
Why does this Croatian mom find learning English so important for such a young child? “In our world, without English there is no way to succeed. Each and every thing around us is English-related. Computers, smartphones, games, TV, commercials, all the simple things we are so used to rely on English. I want to give my child an opportunity to be the best. Learning English is one of the things he will need throughout his life.
Olgica sees many differences between the Helen Doron methodology and other English classes in Croatia. “There is no forcing children to learn or repeat. The groups are small and each child has an equal opportunity to participate. There are no chairs or strict curriculum one needs to follow. Yet, through playing and games children are free to learn at their own pace. They also have their parents nearby so that they feel safe and motivated. This way my son can learn without pressure, sitting on the floor, jumping through the classroom, singing and dancing. At the same time, he learns new vocabulary without difficulty.”
She enthusiastically concludes, “What makes Helen Doron English different and better? The main focus is on the child, teachers are friendly and caring, there is no stress and the progress is unbelievable. The smile on my child’s face when he gets a ‘well done’ or ‘nice job’ from teacher Kristina and the joy and the laughter that fills the classroom…it’s something very precious.”