Lovely identical twins Laura and Sarah Stickler, 17 and their bubbly little sister, Julia, grew up immersed in the world of Helen Doron English, as their mother Sonja is a dedicated franchisee in their hometown of Vienna, Austria.
Laura recently returned from a year as an AFS exchange student in the United States and has begun her training as a Helen Doron teacher. Her twin sister Sarah is taking advantage of her own English skills to pursue a career in business, and Julia although she is only 10, feels so comfortable in English that she has progressed successfully through all of the programmes and is soon starting the Teen Talent class.
Proud mom and franchisee, Sonja, relates how she started her career with Helen Doron. “In 2003, when the twins were three years old, I started searching online for an English class for them, as I knew how important it is to learn additional languages from an early age. I found Helen Doron in Vienna, and I called the teacher and arranged to attend a demo lesson. By profession, I am a kindergarten teacher, although I also studied law, economics and business management. I was so convinced by seeing how the methodology works so quickly and so well, that I decided to take the Teacher Training course myself and become a Helen Doron teacher.”
She found that Helen Doron English already had such an excellent reputation in the area, that parents were calling her to enroll their children even before she had completed her training. The demand for quality English classes grew very quickly and Sonja soon found herself with 80 students and a need to hire teachers to help her. Thanks to Helen Doron’s success in other parts of Vienna, and her ability to hire native English-speaking teachers, they now have over 200 student with another 150 on the horizon.
Sonja does demo lessons in primary schools on Friday mornings, which has proven to be a great way to expose more students and their parents to the unique benefits of Helen Doron English. She recently gained approval from the Viennese school association assessment committee, approving Helen Doron English classes as part of the curriculum.
Sonja clearly passed on her enthusiasm for Helen Doron and the English language to all three of her daughters. Laura told us in very fluent English that it was such a great experience for her growing up in the Helen Doron family that she “decided to do the teacher training course and become a teacher, as it’s so important to be able to communicate well in English. Learning at a young age is so much easier, and I want to help others to have what I did as a young child…to give back what I got! Learning English with Helen Doron is like a game, you are having so much fun that you don’t even realize you’re learning.”
In fact, Laura found that her level of English surprised the Americans, as it was so much better than other exchange students on her programme, who couldn’t communicate as well. “In public school English classes in Austria, you don’t learn pronunciation, just grammar rules. You don’t learn how to use the language, so my background in Helen Doron really gave me an advantage that the other students didn’t have.”
Sonja echoed Laura’s statement that learning a second language at a young age is crucial. “We have many inquiries from children at the age of 10 who have not learned with us and would like to prepare for English in high school. It is much more difficult, as they were not exposed to background hearing from a young age, so their pronunciation and understanding is not the same as those who started with us earlier.”
Laura’s twin, Sarah, was disappointed to find that that the level of English in business school is not challenging enough for her, as her language skills are on a native level. She is currently helping her mom with bookkeeping for the HDE family business.
Julia easily passed a dual-language assessment test for high school and can’t wait to start with Teen Talent, so she can learn new songs and advanced writing skills, which she really enjoys.
Sonja encouraged not only her own daughters to participate in the business, but also stresses the possibility of growth within the company to all of her teachers, some of whom have taken the next step towards becoming franchisees. “There is lots of room for growth within Vienna, so I always recommend opening new centres to those who are ready for it.”
Sonja’s own business has grown to the point where they recently moved to much bigger, more spacious facilities. She is especially proud of the very large and comfortable waiting room for parents, which they specifically requested. In keeping with the multicultural atmosphere of Helen Doron, she also has hired a wide variety of native English-speaking teachers from the UK, US, South Africa and Africa—a truly international team!