Interview with Florence Granel, thrilled mother of 2 (and soon 3) Helen Doron English students
Accomplished businesswoman and super-Mom, Florence Granel, is a native French-speaker currently living in Winterthur, Switzerland. Ms. Granel has lived all over the world, is multilingual and multicultural and has two sons currently enrolled in Helen Doron English classes. Erwan is 5 and attending More Jump with Joey and Anthony is almost 3 and attending Fun with Flupe. Baby Sarah will be starting Baby’s Best Start soon.
There is a lot of competition in the Zurich, Switzerland region where the Granels live, including private tutors and other English classes for children. Florence related the process involved in their decision to choose Helen Doron English. “While attending evening classes to learn German, one of the other students in the class was a Helen Doron teacher from a nearby town. She told me a lot about it and I was intrigued and read about the methodology online. I read about how linguist Helen Doron based the methodology on the Suzuki method of teaching violin and I found that fascinating. I was amazed at how the school had expanded around the world in so many places, and I was very impressed that they had created something so different and successful. So, even though my son was only 3, I decided to look into it further.
Shortly after that, a new child started in my son’s daycare and he was from the UK. They became good friends but didn’t have a common language. Erwan came home and said, ‘Mum, I want to learn English so I can speak with my new friend. I need to speak English so I can play with him.’
I found out there was a Helen Doron Learning Centre in Winterthur and I thought ‘what incredible luck we have! I didn’t think twice about it. I signed him up right away. I went to the first few classes and was extremely impressed by the methodology; the fact that the children are actively moving throughout the class…it’s not a classical way of teaching—it is a very playful way to learn…to learn English this way is a gift!!!”
Florence enthusiastically related that her boys are both thriving in their respective Helen Doron English classes and how pleased she is with the methodology. “It has already been two and a half years since Erwan asked to learn English. When I had my 2nd son, Anthony saw how much his big brother was enjoying classes and having so much fun that he insisted that I sign him up too, even though he was only 2. They both love the music, the animation, the classes and the CDs they hear at home – for them it is all about playing and games. I have a one-year old daughter, Sarah, who will soon be a Helen Doron student. She comes with me to my youngest son’s class and sees they are having so much fun, they don’t realize they are learning another language.”
Florence continued to elaborate on her sons’ rapid, enthusiastic language development. “It isn’t about learning at all for the children, it is all about playing. They are learning a huge amount of vocabulary and what is really incredible, is that they are learning the grammar, without even realizing it. Yesterday, for example, Erwan searched the whole house looking for a toy he couldn’t find. When he finally found it, he came to his father and me and said in English (we only speak French at home), ‘I have found my toy!’ and I thought, ‘what perfect use of the past tense!’
He enjoys it so much that sometimes he speaks English to us, even though we have always spoken to him only in French. The proud mom went on to explain that both of her sons, as well as the other children in their small and intimate Helen Doron classes, are picking up English naturally and easily. “They speak with a perfect accent and perfect grammar naturally, with no effort behind it.”
She also commented on the impressive level of the teachers, “It is important to me that the teachers are highly trained and must continue learning and retraining for each course. We see the diplomas on the wall of the school for the various Helen Doron programmes, for each of the teachers. It is very conscientious the way the teachers are trained – not just in the methodology, but for each and every course, so they really know the specific material. We really get to know the teachers quite well and they explain just what they are doing.”
Often, parents of Helen Doron students report that their children do better in other school subjects, as well as in other languages, and Florence has found her son to be excelling in new areas, in addition to English. “Erwan is in kindergarten, and has been studying at Helen Doron for 2 years now. We live in a German-speaking country and his school is bilingual French and German. He has now asked to study Spanish, as well! Thanks to Helen Doron English’s methodology, he is developing a curiosity for and competence in other languages. The more languages he learns, the more neurons he will develop in his brain and he will be better at mathematics and other subjects later. The world will be open to him for whatever he wants to do.”
Many parents report that the decision to enroll their child in Helen Doron was influenced by the fact that it is an international company with 900 Learning Centres and over 30 years of experience. Florence agreed; “I looked at many other methods, including a home tutor and when I read everything I could find on Helen Doron online and from the leaflets at the school, I was very excited. It took some convincing my husband as he wasn’t sure, but he was very impressed when he saw Helen Doron is located all over the world with so many schools, and has been around for more than 30 years and how developed the method and the courses are”
Florence has several tips for parents who are considering sending their children to Helen Doron English classes. “First of all, read as much as you can online about the methodology established by Helen Doron, who is a linguist, and her development team. There is a lot of inspiring and interesting information available.
Then, attend a free demo class so you can see how it works: how the class is structured, how the children are having so much fun during the lessons. If people are skeptical or aren’t familiar with the method, this is a perfect way to see how it works, with their own eyes.
She also went into detail about some of the written materials used in class, “The exercise books are very high quality and there are excellent stories with morals which are age-appropriate for each level. The educational materials are highly developed for each age group and I like that the books include lessons on recycling and taking care of the environment, healthy eating and other important topics. The music is great and the CDs very well made.
I love Helen Doron and I can’t say enough good things about the teachers! They are so dedicated and my sons love to attend class. I want to thank Helen Doron Winterthur for giving us this opportunity!”