We are pleased to bring you a series of blog posts and an opportunity to learn from educator and linguistic scientist, Helen Doron. Helen has been teaching English to children for 30 years. She is the founder and CEO of the Helen Doron Educational Group and created a unique methodology for teaching English, maths, fitness, and infant development with original and revolutionary learning materials.
This blog is Part 2 of Helen’s response to the question: Many children learn English most of their lives but still can’t speak fluently. How can Helen Doron methodology help them?
A key ingredient: Repeated Background Hearing
In my last blog, three hallmarks of the Helen Doron methodology were discussed: small group learning, positive reinforcement, and learning made fun with song and games. Another essential piece of the methodology is repeated background hearing. Many years of teaching experience has shown that the use of repeated background hearing at home is an essential tool to help a child learn English. Vocabulary, grammar, songs are all taught through repeated background hearing. Helen Doron English materials are filled with songs, more than 450 songs in English alone! Most are original and created especially for our programmes. Repeated background hearing does not require comprehension. At the beginning, the child doesn’t understand what he or she is hearing but the songs are playing in the background, while the child is eating, playing, washing, or going to bed. This means that the brain is getting repeated stimulation; specific neural pathways for English are being created by processing the sound and the meaning of the language.
Until the age of 7, the brain’s neural pathways are being created. The brain still has a high level of plasticity; therefore languages can be learned like a mother-tongue. Between the ages of 8 to 10, brain plasticity decreases. However, the child still learns and retains language receive through repeated background hearing and classes better than from age 11 up. This is because there is still a window of opportunity for language at this age. This age group will speak and be fluent and understand however starting at this age, according to studies, grammar comprehension will not be totally mother-tongue. For ages 11 and up, the brain processes language differently but repeated background hearing combined with small group learning, positive reinforcement and learning made fun remain effective tools for learning English.
The Art and Science of Good Teaching
So this methodology of repeated background hearing means that the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, morphology and all the different aspects of language are naturally integrated. In addition to twice daily background home hearing, the child goes to a lesson with teachers who are specially trained to work with our original materials, sounds, songs, and stories and games; so the child simply learns English as a mother-tongue. It’s so simple.
There is a structure and a format to the process, even though the child experiences the class as imaginative and fun. The learning environment is universal and over 4,000 teachers worldwide use these techniques. The curriculum is not left up to the teacher. Of course, the teacher can be creative and add special touches, but the curriculum is based on years of pedagogic experience and success and is carefully planned. The teacher is given all the teaching tools; there are thousands of different games for each learning set. These games have been taught, tested and proven successful. These games are developed to bring out the meaning of the language and to bring out the child’s ability to speak, too. Our materials are reviewed and are updated continuously and teachers attend seminars to work on their teaching techniques. Although obviously, they grow through their teaching, once they have reached a certain plateau it is important for them to watch other teachers. It helps them to get feedback from the trainer and to come back, year after year as well as getting in-house support.
Foundation for Success
Our methodology and our materials can of course help all children, to speak fluently. And we are already seeing success in our classes. We are seeing children learning English, listening to them speak and it’s a joy. So the uniqueness of the Helen Doron programme is that the children will be speaking English before they read and write. Sometimes the very young children speak in English before they speak in their mother-tongue! That’s because the input they are getting is so systematic and so attuned to what they need that they are having these layers of language in English built up very methodically and they come out. As I’ve said in a prior blog, Input = Output.
When children learn with very organized systematic input in English, they can produce systematically organized, creative and natural speech in English. Their brains respond so well. We can help these children speak fluently and accurately and build a foundation and knowledge for a lifetime.
About Helen Doron
Helen began a small home business in 1985 and created a unique methodology with original and revolutionary learning materials. Her courses flourished and the business grew rapidly as Helen added teachers, teacher training courses and additional programmes based on her exclusive methodology of creativity and self-expression. New disciplines were added – maths, fitness, and infant development – and all were united under the brand name Helen Doron Educational Group.
Helen Doron Educational Group stands at the forefront of innovative educational systems providing exclusive learning programmes and quality educational materials for babies, children, adolescents and teens the world over. Helen Doron Educational Group has become one of the largest children’s educational franchisors worldwide, with close to 90 Master Franchisees and over 800 Learning Centres in 34 countries across 5 continents, and full kindergarten programmes in Turkey and South Korea.