At the Helen Doron Israel Annual Conference 2012 in Tel Aviv, our new Marketing Manager, Kippy Flur, learned that there are no less than three “2nd generation” Helen Doron English teachers currently working in Israel. These three teachers got their start with Helen Doron as students; now, as adults, they have come back to teach. Helen Doron personally introduced Kippy to one of them, Sireen Younis, a strikingly confident and poised young woman of 21. Here is Kippy’s interview with Sireen:
My first impression, when I began conversing with Sireen, was that she must have spent several years abroad in an English-speaking country as a child. Her English was a pleasure to hear—her vocabulary was impressive and her accent and intonations music to the ear. When, during one of the conference breaks, we sat and chatted, I learned that this was not true. Her near-perfect English was the result of a “romance” of many years with Helen Doron English.
When did you first learn about Helen Doron English?
I first became acquainted with Helen Doron English when I was in the 3rd grade. My aunt was a Helen Doron English teacher and I remember attending a demonstration lesson. It was not until I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade that I attended my first Helen Doron class, Botty the Robot.
How many Helen Doron courses did you attend in total?
I went on to the Paul Ward and the Treasure course as well as Botty the Robot Teaches you English. I remember that during this year my cousin, who was also in the course, had an idea about writing to Paul Ward to check if he was real. We wrote an email and surprisingly we had an answer from him! That was an amazing experience. We actually felt that these characters in the books were real. At the next class we told our teacher about the message. She was also surprised and happy. She told us: “I’m very proud of you.” However, when I attended my first TTC, I told the teacher trainer about it and unfortunately I discovered that my cousin and I were answered from the Helen Doron head office. For a minute I felt disappointed but when I thought about it deeply, I realized how clever this was. Turning the book’s fantasy world into a real world for a child is something incredible. It is a gift from Helen Doron I will never forget.
Looking back on your days as a Helen Doron student, how do you feel this experience influenced you?
Well, obviously the Helen Doron English programmes first and foremost taught me English. But no less important, I believe that they gave me the confidence to tackle other subjects taught in school as well as self-confidence in my abilities to succeed at whatever I tried. Last but not least it enriched my childhood with great unforgettable memories.
How has your unique experience as both Helen Doron student and teacher influenced your teaching skills?
I have been teaching for one year so far and I can already see that having been both student and teacher has given me an added dimension. I have a much better understanding of what my students feel. For instance I can see how making mistakes, which at Helen Doron is viewed as a natural part of learning, helps children build their self-confidence—just as it did with me.
I also believe that due to my student experience, I have a special understanding of how the materials we teach are absorbed. I find this especially true about the importance of listening to the CDs at home.
As this is a major issue at Helen Doron, can you elaborate on your thoughts about listening to CDs at home?
As a child, I was a big fan of Helen Doron English much like kids today are crazy about Harry Potter. I even had a box in my closet in which I collected mementos and newspaper clippings about Helen Doron. So I always listened to the CDs at home with enthusiasm, usually more than twice a day. Now that I teach others, I see the difference consistent listening at home has on each child’s personal progress.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I would like to add that looking back on my school years, I understand that my exposure to the Helen Doron programme materials has played a significant role in the person I’ve become. I found the Helen Doron stories and songs conveyed morals and lessons for life that I still try to emulate. I’m sure this influenced the development of my character and personality.
Some of you may ask me, how exactly did the Helen Doron methodology contribute to your personality? I simply tell them that from a young age I had a fear of English in school and my parents noticed that. The two years I attended the Helen Doron courses changed my whole world and attitude toward the English language. It was like rebuilding the English language for me though the unique strategies of listening to CDs, reading and writing. Integrating all of this with a great methodology and educational approach had an incredible impact on my personality.
The drama sessions that we did in the Botty the Robot kit influenced me a lot. Choosing to act the character Cornelia along a year gave me the power to stand up in front of a big crowd with confidence. Helen Doron courses also played a significant role in determining my future career. Today I’m studying the English Language at Levinsky College of Education. I can’t ignore the influence the Helen Doron methodology had on this choice.
One more thing I’d like to mention is that a child can discover his/her hidden abilities and work on making them stand out. For instance when I played the Cornelia role, I discovered that I could act well, so my parents sent me to learn acting. I studied in a theatrical institute for three years and loved every minute of it.
Lastly, I am grateful to my parents for the opportunity to have been a member of the Helen Doron family from such a young age. I also would like to thank my Helen Doron teacher, Sahar Jammal, who represented the Helen Doron methodology in such a great way.