Helen Doron teacher Sara Hocenski’s enthusiasm for her profession and in life in general is evident in everything she does. Brought up in a multilingual environment in Croatia, Sara tells us how her professional journey led her to Helen Doron. “I live in Osijek, the fourth largest town and the economic and cultural capital of the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, known for its great food and friendly people. I love it most in spring, when many of the city’s parks are covered with beautiful blossoms, but also in Christmas time when you can hear choirs singing carols in the streets. My father’s family originally moved to Osijek from Slovakia in the late 1800’s, but we have only ever spoken Croatian at home. My mother studied English and Russian at University, but most of my English came from watching cartoons in English on Cartoon Network with my younger sister, and from learning it in school since I was 10. In 2013. I earned my Master’s degree in English language and literature, and Croatian language and literature. I also learned German in school, but I was never really proficient in it, and I picked up some Spanish from watching Mexican soap operas with my grandma when I was younger. I also spent 2 years learning French, and I also lived and studied in Poland for a semester, where I was constantly exposed to the language and had to communicate in both English and Polish.
Following a course in University called ‘English for Young Learners’ on the topic of preschool English learning, most of my knowledge about Helen Doron came from my own research which sounded just right for what I wanted to do, so I applied for the job in June 2013.
I started teaching Helen Doron classes in September 2013, only a few weeks after passing my Teacher Training Course, and have just now finished my third year of teaching the method. I teach a wide variety of classes, from Baby’s Best Start (my youngest students were 7 months old), to a lot of Fun with Flupe and More Fun with Flupe preschoolers. I also had a lot of Jump with Joey classes for preschool and school children, but also older children in Botty, Paul Ward’s World, and Paul Ward and the Treasure. I am looking forward to teaching my first Teen Talent class this fall!”
Armed with an advanced degree in English, Sara had many options, but she was intrigued by the special methodology. “I love the fact that Helen Doron classes are so dynamic. I have been singing in a choir my whole life, and I love the fact that there are a lot of songs incorporated into our everyday activities, and that we use music to help children learn new vocabulary. The methodology is truly unique, since our approach to language teaching is practically the same as learning a mother tongue, and I believe that is why children gain so much knowledge in a short amount of time. Also, I love the relaxed atmosphere of sitting on cushions instead of by desks. I think the positive feeling children gain from just entering into our colourful classrooms helps facilitate their language learning.”
What would you tell parents who are thinking about sending their children to Helen Doron English? “I would tell them to definitely go for it! It is not just because teaching Helen Doron English is my job, but because I truly believe that it is a great way for children to learn English, and more than 100 of my students in only three years can vouch for that!”
Sara has some sound advice for anyone considering a career as a Helen Doron English teacher. “I think that this is a beautiful career if you enjoy working with children, and can imagine yourself teaching them English in a different, very innovative way. Our classes are so very modern, fun and dynamic, and teachers enjoy them almost as much as the children. It really is a beautiful thing when you get to prepare a prop and you see your students learning from it the way you imagined it.”
The passionate Croatian teacher concluded, “Helen Doron English enabled me to open my horizons about second language acquisition and helped me get interested in researching how children learn languages. I also love the fact that we are all so connected in the Helen Doron franchise. I love meeting with other Helen Doron teachers and exchanging ideas about our classes, or just having a laugh about the many funny things our students say to us on an everyday basis. I love being a Helen Doron teacher!”