Language acquisition through physical and artistic expression
Michele Goldin had become increasingly interested in the results that could be achieved at the intersection of dance and language immersion in early childhood and decided to apply her multidisciplinary background. Here she talks to MumAbroad Life about how she set up Hello! English and how it has grown in the past 10 years.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was a dancer, first, for many years. I started teaching when I was quite young and started my own dance company when I was 16. When I was 19, I graduated from university and left that to pursue a life in Madrid. My mother is from Spain, but I was raised in the U.S. so the move to Spain felt very natural. In my first few years there I worked as an ESL and literacy teacher while also dancing, and I realized that there was a need for a more effective method of second language learning for young children. So, in 2008 I founded Hello! English, my own original methodology that brought language to life for children through dance, movement and physical activity. Hello! English has grown tremendously since then – we have over 600 students in Madrid and are expanding across Spain. Next year I will complete my doctorate in Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition from Rutgers University. It’s been quite a journey!
Tell us about the first class you gave for Hello! English back in 2008.
I began by hanging up flyers in my neighborhood and was able to start a class with 3 curious families. I wanted to create a space where children could engage with the second language through physical and artistic expression, and was guided by the principle that our bodies and minds are interdependent and that young children need to physically experience concepts to fully understand them. It was a lovely group of children aged 3 and 4 and it just took off from there through word of mouth. Once I set up a website, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. But I am still in touch with many of those first families who I cherished!
How have the classes changed since then?
Our team grew to include expert educators and artists whose input has significantly increased the quality and value of what we do. Through experience, the programs have become more refined, clarified and structured. We know what works best to engage the students in focused and active learning. The offerings have also grown to include a range of programs for ages 1 through 8 including an immersion preschool, specialized dance classes, extracurricular courses in primary schools, in-home classes, camps, workshops and more.
Nuria Moreno joined you in 2013. What is her role in the company?
Nuria is an incredible leader and it is impossible now to imagine Hello! English without her. She oversees every detail of our company, engages personally with all the children and families, nurtures our relationships with partner centers and schools, and works tirelessly to uphold our founding values in every program we create and offer. Hello! English has truly flourished under her leadership.
At the moment your classes are available in numerous different locations in Madrid. Are you planning on expanding to other parts of Spain?
We are growing across Spain with exciting franchise options! It’s the perfect opportunity for someone to be their own boss, to have flexibility to grow at their own pace, to be a part of their local community and make a difference in the lives of young children. Franchisees benefit from our many years of experience and get mentored by an amazing team of professionals. Our first classes outside Madrid will begin in Barcelona in fall 2019 and we are thrilled.
Who is a good match for your franchises?
We are looking for people with the desire to bring something new and add value to their communities. People with enthusiasm, creativity, independence, drive and passion. Our franchisees can have a background in education, arts and/or sports, but this isn’t absolutely necessary.
Do you have a vision where you will be in 5 years time?
We envision expanding around Spain, with the hope that children in lots of communities can have access to a nurturing space with high quality programming where their creative, language and physical abilities can grow.
Describe Hello! English in 3 words
Unique, creative, fun
For more information:
Nuria (Directora): 635 658 228