The Essential Learning Group is an organization with an unusual mixture of staff engaged in a very special undertaking.  Every success depends on a spirit of broad collaboration and mutual understanding, and every professional here is both nourished and challenged by the broad, highly international dynamic that prevails at ELG.  The beauty and effectiveness of this culture is evident in the breadth of our capability.

No special education practitioner in Shanghai offers as many services as we do, and it is no coincidence that no other company in our field has as large or as diverse a staff.  We have assembled a staff comprised of people from across five continents, speaking many languages and carrying with them the differences in perspective and life experience that are such a crucial component of our success.

I have been exposed to a broader array of approaches to many areas of special education at The Essential Learning Group than I ever would have in the Netherlands.  A form of occupational therapy practiced mainly in the Philippines, for example, or a set of protocols from Canada may prove to be useful tools that I would have been unlikely to acquire in Europe.

As The Essential Learning Group offers many helpful points of contrast, it also places demands on our patience and communications skills that come out in small and unexpected ways.  For example, it is customary in the Netherlands to check in with colleagues before leaving the office for home, whereas in American companies it is perfectly natural to pick up one’s things and walk directly out the door. Without a special kind of care on all of our parts, small differences of this sort might accumulate and interfere with the work we do, and so we have all had to cultivate a flexible disposition towards our colleagues’ expectations and communication styles.

This cooperative and dynamic work environment has a way of thrusting us into unexpected moments of leadership. I had just such an opportunity in my first year in China. I was asked to give a professional development talk on social skills training.  It was an area in which I had practiced for a time in the Netherlands, but would not have considered an area in which I was enough of an authority to lecture my peers. Eventually, it occurred to me that I was almost certainly one of Shanghai’s leading authorities on social skills training practices, and that made it easier to stand at the podium and share my knowledge.

By no means is this unique to my experience.  It is the nature of what we are doing.  Many of our professionals find themselves called upon to offer their expertise to the broader community in seminars, in which we brief parents, educators and other interested parties on the nature of learning and developmental impediments as well as what is known about how best to intervene.  We encourage you to review our calendar and join us as often as you can.

Our specialists represent 14 different countries (Canada, US, Argentina, South Africa, Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Pakistan, and Israel) and provide services in 13 languages (English, Spanish, Afrikaans, Dutch, French, German, Danish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hebrew, Urdu, Filipino, and Hokkien).


Karlijn Jacobs-de Hoon

Karlijn Jacobs-de Hoon, M.Sc.

Global Outreach Director

Karlijn was an independent practitioner in the Netherlands before coming to Shanghai in 2010. Her extensive knowledge of children’s development makes her a valuable resource to parents in determining how best to address their children’s learning needs.