Helen Doron English teacher Shira Waldman lives in the community village of Lavon, in the Galilee hills of Northern Israel. The energetic mother of four children ages 13, 11, 9 and 6 also finds time to foster homeless dogs, in addition to the family’s two dogs.
Both Shira and her husband, Eyal are from Canada, so they speak both English and Hebrew at home, and Shira knows French from her school days.
Shira became interested in the Helen Doron methodology over 5 years ago when her brother-in-law started working as an account manager for the head office. After doing some research into the company and the methodology, in addition to having earned a BA in Psychology and a B.Ed. in Elementary Education in Canada, she decided to train to become a Helen Doron English teacher and is currently teaching two Fun with Flupe classes: one is a group of 3-4 year olds and the other a group of 4-5 year olds.
Shira explained the many ways the Helen Doron approach differs from the traditional way of teaching she learned in university. “First of all, Helen Doron teachers use lots of props which helps children absorb new concepts, as they actually interact with the vocabulary. This is done both with flashcards and actual 3D objects.
For example, in one lesson they learn the word “trampoline”. First I introduce the word with a flashcard, and then I show them a real mini-trampoline and they all take turns jumping on it. This way they experience the vocabulary in such a fun and natural way that they really understand what they are learning. This sharply contrasts with most English programmes that use frontal teaching, drills and workbooks. The Helen Doron students are absorbing English the same way they are learning their mother tongue, through repeated hearing, which is a very unique technique, as they are exposed to the sound of the language which establishes the brain connections necessary to remember the new material, and it is effortless. With each new vocabulary word, they hear it, they do it, they touch it and they experience it, so it is reinforced in many ways.”
Both as a parent and as an educator, Shira highly recommends Helen Doron classes. “Most importantly for young children, the classes are fun. Kids love coming and don’t want to leave to go home at the end of the lesson. The classes are playful and child-focused, and the children don’t even notice they are learning, they just enjoy being there. Young children have very short attention spans, and Helen Doron programmes are specially designed to capture and hold their attention. There are always new ideas combined with reviewed concepts using active participatory games so there is natural compliance. It is very rewarding to both the students and the parents who are always surprised by how well and how quickly their children are picking up English.”
Her advice for potential Helen Doron teachers around the world? “This is a great opportunity! It is so much fun and I love the fact that I am not just teaching children English, I am enriching their lives in such a positive way. It is such a great feeling and I always come home with a smile on my face, and so do the kids. There is a lot of creativity involved in this career, you get the chance to make crafts projects, dance, and sing…it’s fun and theatrical. It’s very satisfying in many ways.”