Emina Atikovic, a university biologist and her husband Almir Atlic, a UX designer, are the proud parents of 5-year-old Mia.
Both parents are fluent English speakers and Emina told us her story in her own words: “We live in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and our native language is Bosnian. However, both my husband and I lived for many years in English-speaking countries. I lived in the USA and my husband is Bosnian-British, so we have tendency to speak English at home. Therefore, from an early age, Mia was exposed to English. Even though English was the second language in our household, we were still looking at something more professionally based for our daughter. We both lived in Western countries and we want to give our daughter the same opportunity one day. In order for her to become a successful young lady, first she needs to overcome the language barrier. If she becomes fluent in English, than wherever she goes she will not feel lost, and that’s a first step towards success.
In Tuzla we have many foreign language schools offering English. It’s a very competitive market which even includes private tutors. However, none of them accept toddlers and their classes are based on school-type learning (large groups of children sitting and listening to what the teacher is saying).
I heard about the Helen Doron School of English from my two best friends who live in Sarajevo and whose children are already attending Helen Doron classes there. Their experience was very positive and they advised me to look more into it. So I did! I went online and I researched a little bit about the linguist Helen Doron and her learning/teaching method. I was impressed with the fact that someone dared to look out of the box of standard teaching and created something different and successful. She actually found a fun way of teaching English to kids! From that point on it was a no-brainer! We decided to give it a go and we signed Mia up for a demo class. It is there that I discovered that Mia’s knowledge of English was pretty good for a 3-year-old and I was worried that she may quickly lose interest in learning something that she’s already familiar with. To my surprise, not only was she not bored, she fell in love with Flupe, Paul and Granny Fix instantly and she insisted on going back ‘to that fun toy place’ (as she called it at the time). That’s how we started having ‘Fun with Flupe’ and we become a part of Tuzla’s Helen Doron family!
I say ‘part of Helen Doron family’ because after 2 years of attending, that’s exactly how we feel. We love the fact that classes are small and intimate (8 kids maximum), they all sit on cushions in a circle, they jump, dance, sing, play games, draw and colour. In this process they don’t even realize that they are actively learning English, all they know is that at the door of their ‘classroom’ they will be greeted by their beloved teacher Azra, who has a big smile on her face and a warm welcoming word for each one of them. When they see her, they feel joy, because they know they’re off to have fun with their buddies Flupe, Paul and Granny Fix.
Another reason I’m happy with the Helen Doron school of English is their choice of teachers. All of the teachers are very highly trained, not just in the methodology, but they also have a special approach with different age groups of children. In Mia’s ‘More Fun with Flupe’ class, teacher Azra became their best friend. She really puts extra effort in getting to know every child, and she has a special approach with every one of them. I see this in her quarterly reports that she hands to me, where she describes Mia’s progress in class, along with that she writes a note about Mia’s personality and how she is dealing with it. Even without teacher’s reports I notice that Mia’s English is getting better and better, but the real proof came to me last summer. Right after Mia was finished with her 1st course (Fun with Flupe) we went on vacation to the Croatian island “Hvar”. This place is known to have a lot of foreign visitors.
While over there, our little social butterfly met some local kids and became friends with them. They were selling some souvenirs to the tourists trying to earn some extra ice-cream money. However, they weren’t so successful, since their English wasn’t all that good. Mia was thrilled to help them out and when she saw group of tourists approaching instantly said, ‘Hello, do you want to buy something? We have shells and lavender!’ Tourists loved Mia’s courage, so they bought lots of things. The other children were happy because they earned ice-cream money and I was astonished by the quality of Mia’s spoken English!
Now, almost one year later, Mia is in the ‘More Fun with Flupe’ class and her English and confidence in speaking is even better. We spent 10 days on vacation in Holland with our friends who live in London. From the moment Mia boarded the plane she started speaking in English, throughout our entire vacation she spoke English with everyone she met, and even at Rotterdam zoo she had a 15 minute conversation with one of their curators about animals and their habitats. Needless to say, I was one proud mama! However I know that all thanks goes to our teacher Azra, Tuzla’s Helen Doron Centre and that wonderful method of Helen Doron teaching! This 2nd year of having Fun with Flupe is slowly coming to an end and Mia (and I) can’t wait to start ‘Jump with Joey’ in September!”