immonkeyUyun wrote in to ask:

I taught my students using the free song you gave me.

Amazing, my students were really happy and were enjoying my class.

But the problem is they couldn’t remember all the words when I reviewed it in next meeting. They only remember the -how are you-, to say hungry, tired etc., they thought hard first. Thank you

Hi Uyun,

If they are remembering the “How are you?” that is a great first start, and because questions are more important than statements  then it is actually the most important part of the lesson from the communication side of things.    

So congratulations on getting that part done!

(Ninja Tip: Having kids being able to ask questions, as opposed to just single words,  is one of the things that makes Genki English different from other courses.)

Also from the vocab side of things the questions cover all those small, but important, little words that make up so much of English.

How many words to teach in one lesson?

Now some English courses only do 3 or 4 new vocab words each lesson. And some even split those over several weeks. So when we have 8 answers in each Genki English lesson, that is there to push the kids and give the brightest ones a challenge too.

Not all the kids will remember all the answers, the idea being that they’ll learn the ones they like e.g. especially in things like When is your birthday? very often they’ll only remember their own birth month, which is cool as that’s the most important to them.

And after all if they could remember them all then we wouldn’t need to do reviews at the beginning of each lesson!

So as long as they remember the question plus one or two answers then they will have learnt today’s grammar construction, be able to use the question and then you’ll add in the extra vocab items as you review throughout the year!

Does that make sense?

Be genki,


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I’m not going to tell you how warm it is outside where I am at the moment (hint: 24 degrees :) )

But if it’s a little chilly where you are, here are my top 3 lessons for wintery days:

1.  Winter Sports

No Winter Olympics this year, but ski season is in full flow.

The kids love these sports and the grammar point is “I like ….”

2. Baby Monkey’s Winter Clothes

Baby Monkey

You can’t beat a bit of opera singing to warm you up.

Grammar point is “put on …” / “take off” and check out the fabulous Freezing Monkeys game!

3. Let’s build a snowman

With “Let it go” still in the air I’m really glad I went for “build a snowman” instead of “make a snowman!”

A great way to teach some more body parts and a great “what’s missing?” game.

Or of course you could use complete reverse psycology and teach the Summer Sports & Summer Clothes songs! :)



Be genki and warm wherever you are!


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With the Japanese Yen being so weak at the moment we have the strange situation where it’s cheaper to buy our physical USB Japanese Superpack  for less money than the download Teacher’s Set - even though you get so much more in it!

( The Japanese Superpack is exactly the same as the download Teacher’s Set but is only available in Japan and comes on a physical USB stick with printed worksheets and extra teaching guide DVDs.)

From February we’re going to have to put up the price to make up the difference.

Probably by an extra 10,000 yen.

So if you want a bargain now you can either ask your school to buy it for you (the Japanese order page is here or they can phone us on the number on that page)  or order it yourself in Japan with Cash on Delivery.

It’s crazy having it cheaper than the download Teacher’s Set.

An extra 10,000 yen is quite a bit so if you have any Japanese friends who might be interested in the pack, please do let them know!

P.S.  For those of you in Europe, EU VAT rules changed on January 1st so do add in your VAT number when ordering the Europe Teacher’s Set  to claim the VAT back,  especially if you are in a high rate country such as Hungary!

P.P.S.  The Russian Ruble has also been crashing over the last few months,  if you are interested in buying the pack in Russia then send me an email and we might be able to work something out.

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By popular request here’s the regular version of the 2015 Calendars!


I also added a cover picture this time too.

And of course those of you lucky enough to get into the Homework Programme have those ones too:

Enjoy and if you have more requests for the New Year then please do let me know!

Be genki,



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wrtingLots of people have been asking me about Genki Writing.

For example Oronia wrote in to ask:

I have a class of ESL students. I would like to help them with Writing in English. They seem to go on google translate and then copy all the phrases they translate and then turn it in as ‘writing’.

Any suggestions? I really want to see these group of kids succeed this year.

It’s fantastic that you want your students to succeed this year! So …..

The Short Version :

1. Use the imagination worksheet for today’s lesson as a base.  (Because a blank sheet of paper is terrifying!)

2. The kids write down the picture they just drew.

That’s it, creative writing in 2 steps. :)

OK, that probably was a little too short.

If you want the more in depth answer …..

First of all … just what is writing?

So first of all we have to ask “Just what is ‘writing’?”

It’s not tracing – i.e. going over pre-written phrases – that’s tracing, as the name implies.


And it’s not copying – like with Oronia’s students with google!

Similarly it’s not dictation,  where the teacher says a sentence and the kids write it down.

Writing is very simply:

Taking an idea from your head and communicating it in the written form.

Ninja Tip:  Notice you need both parts,  the idea in your head that you want to communicate *and* the physical act of writing (or typing) it. Many English “writing” activities just concentrate on the latter, which doesn’t get us to our goals.

When to teach writing?  

Some “experts” suggest that “all four” English skills should be taught together from the beginning.

But, as we’ve all seen from government high school programmes around the world, in most cases this has proved disastrous with the side effect of destroying motivation, accents and oral communication skills.  (Unless of course your sole aim is passing written exams.)

I always want to focus on the learners, and the learning, side of things so I’m going to assume that confidence, great communication skills and, finally, exams are your priorities here.

Does that sound good?

If so, read on….

Preparation – Listening/Speaking/Reading

Before doing writing we have a few pre-requisites,  things we have to teach first.

So first we need the 30 to 100 hours of spoken lessons to get their grammar, English competency and “feel” for the language up to speed.

Ninja Tip:  The nearer to 100 spoken lessons you get before starting reading/writing the better your reading & writing results will be.

Once we have a good spoken base then we need to introduce reading with Genki Phonics.

(You could of course use any other  good phonics programme.  But as Genki Phonics is so tightly tied in with Genki English and is free to VIP members we’ll use it here.)

Ninja Tip:   You have two options with the reading,  either introduce the “5 Minute Phonics” (the first video on this page) at the end of each regular Genki English lesson.   (Remember you should be at least 30 lessons into the curriculum before starting the phonics.)  If you are new to phonics then this is definitely the easiest option to do.   Or if you have finished the whole Genki English curriculum and are confident in teaching the 5 Minute Phonics then you could move up to the full 35 – 45 minute phonics lesson.    Or you could always add a few of the 35 – 45 minute lesson plan ideas  into your 5 minute phonics if you are in between confidence wise!

Finally we get to the writing!

OK, so we have listening, speaking and reading up to speed.


Now it’s time for writing!! :)

Ninja Tip:  You know how we have to keep waiting for the new iPhone each year?  Well keeping writing for later in your course, especially when the older kids *want* to do it, makes them even more passionate about it when you finally start.   If you introduce it too early with some boring tracing, copying etc.  then the passion soon dies.  But let the demand build up and up and up and you’ll have some amazingly motivated budding writers!

As we said above, writing is just taking an idea out of your head and communicating it on paper. (or screen)

That sounds simple but is quite a big task.

The Blank Page Terror

And it’s made even worse, even for experienced writers, when we have to start with a totally blank piece of paper.

It is terrifying for anyone!

So what we need is a little something to kick-start the process, a little stepping stone to get started.

Ninja Tip:  And this doesn’t mean “fill in the gap” type exercises.  Again there is no creative thought there, you’d just be copying someone else’s words.

By far the best way we’ve found is to start off by drawing with the Imagination Worksheets.

As you can see from the videos, because of the way the sheets are structured the kids come up with all sorts of crazy ideas that are completely, totally, 100% different from each other and indeed from anything we could have thought up!

So we have the dual advantage of:

1.  Taking away the fear of the blank page and …..

2. Personalising it,  this is your own unique drawing, no one has anything else like it!

So the kids do their Imagination Worksheet first.

And then we get them to write about what they have drawn!

With just one word…..

Obviously we need infinite patience here again   but let’s remember

It all starts with one word.

This is the very first time they have ever written anything in English.

And certainly the first time something that they have thought up themselves.

So one word is fine.

And never underestimate the feeling of pride this brings.  It is *awesome*.

So we praise and get them to add another word.

And another.

And eventually a sentence.

Or two.

Or three.

And by then we’re well on the way to being a real writer.

Feedback, feedback, feedback

We still have the technical challenge of getting the correct words, sentences, grammar etc. but because we have prepared the ground with a great speaking and reading base they are already light years ahead of their school mates who haven’t been to your class.

And because the actual content is their own idea they become so much more passionate about it.

So you give feedback, correct mistakes and set more tasks for them.

Rinse and repeat.

This feedback and goal setting is the role of the great teacher.

Then we expand  the horizons.

So why not try an imagination worksheet with three boxes to start a story.

Or a complete comic book.

Adding in this drawing stage is so powerful for so many students and helps our sanity as teachers no end.

I’m sure you are going to be *very* impressed.

Are you ready?

So if your kids are ready, give it a try, let us know if you have any questions in the comments and do let us know how you get on!

Be genki,


P.S.   Ninja Tip:  One key to *great* writing is to simplify, simplify, simplify.   If the kids don’t know how to write something, get them to think of a simpler way to say it in their own language. Keep going round and round and eventually they will have it so simple that they can say and then write it in English.  ”If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” is the quote often misattributed to Mark Twain.   Now if only I’d made more time for this post. :)


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Just in case you missed them, here are the 2015 Homework Calendars!

P.S.  We also added in a “phonics” option this year so your kids can get points for phonics homework too! :)

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