Making Helen Doron English for Children a Household Name in Latin America
Ecuadorean Monica Carpio’s enthusiasm for Helen Doron English is contagious, so it is not at all surprising to learn that originally she was a journalist with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in public relations. When she truly believes in something, everyone around her is convinced! Multicultural Monica studied in Barcelona and then lived for several years in the United States, which explains her flawless American English.
Monica told us how she became a Helen Doron Master Franchisor, “I taught English for 4 years in 2 schools in Ecuador and I remember thinking that there must be a better way to teach English, so that the students learn to love the language. The schools treat English as a science, and the students have to memorize tenses with no real understanding. The system is the problem.”
“When my daughter was 2, I decided I wanted her to learn English before she starts school and there were no options that taught English in a natural way, where the kids really understand and are not just repeating what they hear. I started thinking about this and in parallel; I knew I wanted my own business. I started researching online to see if anything like this existed—an educational franchise that actually teaches young children English, and that’s how I found Helen Doron. I read about it and decided the methodology is exactly is what is missing in Ecuador. “
“When we opened our first Learning Centre in Ecuador in 2009, no one had ever heard of Helen Doron. So, my partner Veronica and I took a HUGE leap of faith. From all we read, we believed in the method and knew if it worked so well in Europe and other places, it could work in Latin America, but we had never actually seen the methodology in action. All of the other Master Franchisor candidates had seen classes and met with other Master Franchisors, or had started off as teachers or Learning Centre Franchisees. We only had contact with the Helen Doron English salesman on Skype calls. We were so certain it was the chance of a lifetime that I got on a plane and flew to Germany to sign the contract, attend the company’s business training and then attend the annual Master Franchise Conference. I was away from home an entire month!”
The Master Franchise team of Monica and her partner, Veronica Mata currently oversee a huge geographical area which is isolated from other Helen Doron franchises, making it uniquely challenging in many ways. For one, the closest Helen Doron Learning Centre is 3,117 kilometres away in Mexico. Secondly, their two newest learning centres are outside of the capitol city of Quito: Ibarra takes two hours to reach by car and Cuenca takes 45 minutes by plane, or nine hours by car .
“Looking back on it, it seems we were crazy! Now, 4 years later, everyone knows us and when they think of English for Children, they think of Helen Doron. Anyone in Quito who is looking for a place to send their child to learn English comes to us! This September, we are opening with 1,500 students, mostly the younger age groups, and many returning students. We plan on offering Teen English soon, as well. It is an enriching business and I learn something new every day.”
In addition to the success of their learning centres, Didi the Dragon for larger kindergarten groups is very popular. Didi is already offered in 20 public kindergartens with an average of 80 students in each. A recent law in Ecuador dictates that schools claiming to be bilingual, but not up to official standards, will be closed. They can only stay open if they include in their curriculum teachers certified to offer bilingual education, and Helen Doron certainly qualifies with flying colours.
Monica further elaborated, “Most of the area kindergartens are calling us, as the Didi the Dragon programme offers exactly what they need. Finding teachers here with a degree in bilingual education as the government requires, is very difficult. So, the timing for us was perfect. We offer a great product that works, and we plan expanding more in this niche.”
“I am totally in love with the methodology. Every time I go to the Master Franchise Conference, my energy is further renewed and I know I have done the right thing. I am still teaching classes, as I enjoy seeing how well the children learn while having so much fun. If I could leave the business part to my partner and just teach, I would! It is such a thrill to see my own children and all of the children in our classes speaking fluent English. That’s what keeps me going with all of the difficulties with the distance—the product is just the best! Competitors have opened and are trying to copy us, but the parents know there is no option and they tell others.”
Monica’s future goals include opening more learning centres and becoming the ONLY choice in English education Latin America, and she is well on her way to accomplishing just that!