Nedim Šahović works from his home office as a freelance developer for “applications, websites and stuff like that” mainly with international clients in English, while his wife Amela is a geneticist, working in the Sarajevo Blood Transfusion Institute. Both of their children, Nadja, 10 and Rijad, 9 attend English classes at Helen Doron.
The family speaks Bosnian at home, but the parents feel strongly that fluency in English is absolutely essential. “I remember when I was a kid and I was travelling with my family, you always asked the famous ‘Do you speak English?’ question before starting a conversation with anyone in non-English speaking countries. Nowadays it’s different. It’s implied that some basic understanding is there and that you can start speaking English right away. I don’t think knowing English is a skill, as some people still think of it. I feel it is more part of basic literacy. In today’s world it is unacceptable to not have good command of at least one global language. We travel a lot and I really don’t want my children to have an obstacle in learning about the world they meet because of something as banal as language.”
The couple are disappointed with the way English is taught in their children’s school. “In our country English is taught in schools from 1st or 2nd grade. The problem is the approach. You can’t learn language like you learn Math or Science. It’s as if you were to learn to play any sport or musical instrument by teaching kids only rules and theory. We don’t have kids practice football by learning what a ball is and how to calculate its volume. We give them the ball and teach them how to kick it and pass it. It’s the same way with language. We don’t get to speak our mother tongue by learning sentence structure or tenses. We learn by speaking and practicing. Most classes and regular schools follow the traditional approach, and we wanted our kids to have a shot at a different one— the one that will allow them to learn English as the language is supposed to be learned. “
Therefore, the decision to send their children to Helen Doron was an easy one, but it took some trial and error with other schools before they finally arrived at the right school with the appropriate methodology. “We are extremely pleased with Helen Doron classes.” Nedim enthuses. “Both our children have made a really great leap forward. The only regret we have is that we started a bit late. Before Helen Doron, Nadja and Rijad attended a different English class for couple of years, and we decided to switch, as there was no progress at all. They both have English classes in elementary school and have been attending different English courses and classes their entire childhood, but we felt they hadn’t made any progress at all. On the other hand, children of some of our friends attend Helen Doron and we noticed they were much more advanced in English than our kids. That’s when we’ve decided to enrol our children in Helen Doron. After less than a year, we can see them starting to use English, understanding more and more every week and really starting to make progress.”
The best thing about the way the children are learning, is that they look forward to and really enjoy their classes. “They have a lot of fun at Helen Doron. We’ve attended couple of classes with other parents and we’ve seen how that looks in practice. They don’t see it as a school, but more as a fun place to learn new things. Our children are starting to understand that learning English is important for them, so they can understand more when travelling, surfing the Internet or watching TV. They also have English classes in elementary school to compare the experience with, so they appreciate the fact that learning can be fun, as well. We always recommend Helen Doron to people and our children will definitely continue to attend classes there!”