For the fans out there this brand new vol. 13  just has to be lesson of the week doesn’t it!

The the best thing is you have two ways to teach it.

The Super Easy Way – it just uses “I like …” plus the sports names.

e.g. I like swimming.  I like sailing.  etc.

Really easy so far, yeah?

(Ninja Tip:  This can work great as a first lesson, but…. if you’re just starting out with Genki English – welcome aboard! – then this lesson is actually part way through the curriculum so I’d usually recommend starting with lesson one – The Disco Warm Up - first and you’ll work your way up to here during the year!) 


Want to teach grammar the easy way?

Then … for those classes with a little Genki English  experience, the really cool thing is,  you can just flip one word – just one word – and you have the past tense.

No messing around with complicated explanations,  you just flip the word “like” into “went” so you have.

I went swimming.  I went sailing etc.

This is so easy for the kids to get and has to be the simplest way to introduce the past tense.

(Ninja Tip:  For even better results, use a “thumbs up” gesture for “like” and thumbs point behind you over your shoulder for “went.”)

With the question “What did you do in the Summer?” I never actually pre-teach it.  Just let them sing the song and they’ll get the “What did you do in the Summer?” pronunciation by the third verse and then you  just check that they figured out the correct meaning at the end!

It works like a treat, is very impressive to parents and is great to lead into presentations, so do give it a try.

Check out the videos, lesson plan, games, handouts etc. here!

Be genki,


P. S. I also did this lesson (complete with the past tense version) in a kids’ exhibition lesson earlier on in the year.  Would you like me to upload the video?  Do let me know in the comments!

P.P.S.  Lots more games, printables and ideas coming up over the next few weeks so do keep your eye on your inbox.  And be sure to tell your colleagues about them too!

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By far the most popular post over the Summer was Hugo’s amazing Origami Games.

And all your amazing feedback has spurred him on to make another two for you!

This time for Doctor, Doctor and Weather

weatherorigami doctororigami

Check out the original post to see Hugo’s video on how to play it and if you’d like more, do write up your requests (and nice words!) in the comments today and I’m sure it might motivate Hugo to make a few more for you! :)


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genki english car

Violetta wrote in to ask:

Hi Mr. Richard ! I’d like to ask you a question.  How to advertise when starting your own school ?

Hi Violetta,

My aim  is always to do *zero* advertising.

( Traditional advertising doesn’t work,  is expensive and is very difficult to do well!)

Instead the goal is to put all your effort into doing such awesome, amazing lessons (with amazing happy endings) that all the parents will do your advertising for you by telling all their friends what a great teacher you are and to come join your school.

That’s how advertising works in the modern world.

By being awesome.

Which just by reading this blog proves you are of course! :)

Getting the first class.

But we all have to start somewhere.

So the very best way to start is to talk to friends, and friends of friends, tell them you are thinking of starting a new class and need to get together a group of 6 to 8 kids.  (Why 8  kids?) 

Then make the lessons totally amazing, by using Genki English of course :) ,  and you’ll naturally get more and more enquiries.

The usual goal is to get, on average,  100 to 120 students in the first year.

(Some teachers only manage 80,  some get 150, so do be flexible.)


It all starts with one.

Or if you’re really, really not sure, and if you really have to, you can just start with one new student if you must.

That’s what I did.   ( And you teach them like this)

Then they start telling their friends, who tell their friends and you end up with group classes.

Which is what you want.

To be honest I did actually advertise to get my very first student,  I put a card up in the local supermarket.

But that was many years ago,  so these days again I’d recommend asking friends instead!


Then in the big leagues….

Then once you get established,  if you have, for example,  just 4 kids wanting to join a class,  tell them that you can only open a class when there are 8 kids waiting.

What happens?

Just like the iPhone 7 that we can’t have yet, the parents want to join your class even more.

So *they* go out and get the other 4 kids for you!

It works like magic.  *IF*  you are firm and don’t cave.

Ken,  I’m looking at you here. :)


Then you can do this …

And you can of course go for more “bootstrapping” type advertising i.e. that doesn’t cost much.

Elena has put the Genki English logo on the side of her building.


Kamila has put the superhero on her car!

genki english car

( Ninja Tip:  Remember, everything is marketing.   So make sure everything is amazing,  handouts, lessons, results, smiles at the end. :)

Whilst all the Genki English graphics and logos are copyrighted, I usually give permission to really great teachers to use them in their advertising if you ask me.

And we’ve even had Genki English on the side of public busses in Hong Kong!

So start with Word of Mouth,  do amazing lessons,  become a Purple Cow and save all those pennies! :)

Be genki,


P.S.  For more tips on how to start your own school, look here.

P.P.S.   Thanks to everyone who applied for the homework programme, hopefully I got back to you all.   Applications are now closed, but keep an eye out in the New Year when I’ll open them up again.

P.P.P.S.  It’s coming up to Blog Competition time again.  Each month I pick a blog comment at random and you win a Genki English CD download of your choice!  Vol. 14 might be coming soon, so get commenting. :)

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mirrorJudging by my email inbox, especially from teachers in Europe & the Americas,  it seems that quite a few of you are getting quite nervous as your first lessons approach this week.

First of all, no worries, that’s quite normal.

Embrace the fear as they say.

So just relax, chill, prepare and you’ll be fine.

An extra guarantee?

And if you want to add an extra guarantee of a great first lesson, take an extra 15 minutes to do what I do …..

Before each new lesson I practice it the night before in front of the mirror!


Even now when I teach something new.

It’s amazing what you pick up when you say – out loud! – what you plan on saying in class,  your gestures and body language, how you plan to greet them, explain the activities, praise or discipline them.

There are so many things that you see and go “Wooo… that’s not too good!”

Ninja Tip:  Veteran teachers, give it a try too, you’ll be amazed at what you see!  And I can guarantee that every single one of you (us!) was planning on speaking far too fast. :)  

But picking these mistakes up now means you’ve got that out of the way and your teaching goes to the next level.

And your nerves go down a level!

Yes, it’s crazy.

Yes, you look stupid doing it.

But if it makes your first impression even better, why not!

Here’s a quick excerpt from the TEDx speakers guide,  it works just the same for teachers…

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! We can’t stress this enough. Rehearse until you’re
completely comfortable in front of other people: different groups of people, people you
love, people you fear, small groups, large groups, peers, people who aren’t experts in your
field. Listen to the criticisms and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. If someone says you sound
“over-rehearsed,” this actually means you sound stilted and unnatural. Keep rehearsing,
and focus on talking like you’re speaking to just one person in a spontaneous one-way


And what to teach?

I’ve written up a little about first lesson ideas before and my number one starting activity, whether it’s for 100s of kindergarten kids,  crazy uni kids or teenagers or even the TEDx conference, is always to do the …..

TPR style Warm Up.

Whatever the age or level this sets the tone that you are different,  it sets your expectations that they are required to talk and participate,  it lets you quickly judge their English level and their shyness (i.e communication skills) level.

Plus of course it’s lots of fun and by adding in more words & phrases you can go right up to their English level, however high, low (or non-existent!)

From then on it’s up to you and the aims of your course.

If you’re doing Genki English – and why would you not be :) – then just start working your way through the curriculum.

Ninja Tip: Practice at least the first 4 lessons just in case you have a really fast class.  You’ll need to do them anyway, so best to have them now just in case. :)

If you’re doing another course – booo! :) – then make sure you’ve practiced everything in the mirror beforehand. (Or see where you can add Genki English to it.)

And if, like Alice who just wrote in, you don’t know what level the students will be at,  just prepare (and practice) several lessons of different levels of English beforehand then pick the one that seems the most suitable after you’ve done the warm ups.

Again it’s a bit of extra work, but you’ll have to do it sometime anyway so it’s better to get it out of the way before the full craziness of term starts.

Ninja Tip 2:  Don’t be too worried about class sizes.  If you have good materials and have practiced, then as long as you have 2 or more students in class it’s just the same up to around 150 students.    If you have one-on-one lessons you need to move out of them as soon as possible, but here’s what you can do in the meantime.


Still terrified?

And if you’re still totally terrified, check out this post about Disneyland & Fake it till you make it!

We all started in the same place.

We all started not having ever taught a single lesson.

And although my lessons look super polished now, that’s 23 years of teaching, and loooooooots  of mistakes, to get there.

So don’t worry,  chill, relax, have fun and enjoy the great work you’re doing!

Be genki,


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When I first started in Japan I was an ALT on the JET programme.  (Still by far the best way to get to Japan even today.)

The reason I started Genki English was because even though I’d been teaching for a long while and there were lots of textbooks, courses etc. available, there was nothing really that I could use in my classes right now.

So in the spirit of “criticise by creating”  I started up this website.

I guess recently I’ve been more focussed on the development work ( here, here or here) and of using Genki English as a full course.

So today it’s time to get back to the roots and ask ….

If you’re an ALT,  what do you most need help with?

Is it

or something else entirely?

Do let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can come up with!

As I wrote in the getting the most out of JET piece ( and in my ALT workshops) being an ALT can be the best job in the world.

But it’s not “Every situation is different”  it is 100% “Every situation is what you make it!

We’re all here to help you have an amazing time in Japan – so let us know what help you need in the comments!

Be genki,


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Over on the VIP forum Gumby wrote in to ask for a few more games ideas for the “What’s your favourite…?” lesson.

Here you go!

Recommended Game9 in 10

1. Each group thinks of one original “What’s your favourite…?” question e.g. animal, fruit, food etc. let them come up with different stuff. (Also go round checking as they can often choose “who” words without knowing.)

2. They then nominate one group to play their game.

3. This groups stands.

4. The first group ask their question “What’s your favourite …..?”

5. The standing group has to answer 9 answers (in correct English!) in ten seconds!
If they do they get a point, if not the other team get a point!

6. Keep going till each group has asked their question.

7. Team with the most points is the winner.

You just make the groups smaller or larger depending on how many rounds you want to play (e.g. you could play 15 rounds with 30 kids in pairs!)

Recommend Game 2: Favourite Bombs

This one needs a bit of prep…..

1. Put up 16 “bomb” cards on the board.

2. Under each one, so the kids can’t see, put a flashcard of obvious possible answers to any of the “What’s your favourite …?” questions e.g. an apple, a dog, Star Wars, pokemon etc.

3. Two kids come to the front.

4. Start the stopwatch for 3 minutes.

5. In turns they have to ask and answer each other the questions from the song (any order is OK, duplicates are OK too.)

6. See how many they can ask/answer in the 3 minutes.

7. But ….. if any of them answer with any of the words under the bombs on the board, they blow up have to stop there!

8. See which team has the most questions/answers in the 3 minutes!

Plus don’t forget the picture books for this theme!


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