Is it really possible to get completely fluent students? Absolutely, yes! Brendan has.

This weekend we had an amazing workshop in Prague.   We also did things a little differently with a training session in the morning and then one of the local teachers, Brendan kindly offered for us to join us in his afternoon classes so the teachers could try new things out and see how GE works in practice.

The first two classes were great, regular Genki English kids who did really well.    The third class was a group of 11 and 12 year old girls who, whilst a little quiet, were really good.

However it was the fourth class that the other teachers couldn’t believe.  

These were 13 to 15 year olds and they were fluent.   Not just average teenager fluent, they were articulate, competent adult fluent.

After the first line of introduction I asked them “Just a minute, why are you so good at English?”

Their answer, said with a smile, “I’m just so talented!” 🙂

I’m asked them what their biggest challenge with English was and one of them said

“I really need to improve my public speaking so I don’t say “um” or “ah” as much”

and one other said “When I do writing I want to make it more descriptive so that I’m not re-using the same lines over and over”

Blimey!  That’s the sort of thing were hear when we do trainings with professional company CEOs and coaches!

So refreshing

A big part of my job is opening teacher’s eyes.  So many teachers get stuck on the problems in our own heads,  we’re always battling demons of parents wanting one thing, kids wanting another, the “system”, family pressures and time.  And we very often look down and in on the negatives of our classes.     Of course my job is to show everyone,  hey look, let’s take away the stress, just do the plan and let’s show you what you can achieve.   With a bit of work you can get amazing results.

So how did these kids do it?

Are boys better than girls?  Well, yes!   Whenever I see teenagers who are as fluent as this, as well as having an awesome teacher of course,  there is just one word that comes to mind.

Counterstrike.

And their reply “Of course, yes!”

This naturally drew blanks from the teachers so I asked the kids, 13 years old remember, to explain what counterstrike is.    “Well it’s a PC game and you have two different teams, one of you are terrorists and the other team are counter terrorist police and you have to defuse the bomb they just planted.”

I don’t know whether the teachers’ jaws dropped from the quick explanation or the fact that the kids were effortlessly using words like “counter terrorist” and “defuse” 🙂

You see this is how kids get the practice outside of class.  Many teachers keep telling me “my kids don’t get chance to speak English outside class”   Wrong. It’s the 21st century.  Computer games don’t mean sat behind a computer all alone.  Computer games these days, and Counterstrike in particular, involve you in international teams of players and the only way to win the game is to communicate with them.  Fluently and quickly.  Otherwise you get shot!

Then one of the kids said “However these days I’m thinking Russian is better to speak because the Russian players seem to be better.”

So what about school and teaching?

We had been getting a bit down on the state of government school teaching in the workshop so I asked the kids first of all what they thought of their regular school English classes.   “It’s quite good actually, we get to talk lots, we quite like it.  The exams aren’t that good but hey”    Which was quite a pleasant surprise.

Then I asked them if they had any advice for the teachers to make school better,  keep in mind these are fluent A grade students,  and they all unanimously said

“More games!”

There you have it,  from the horse’s mouth!

And in their private classes?

Counterstrike explains the speaking of English outside of class, and their regular school seemed OK.  Then once a week they have English class with Brendan which is how we got to observe.   We sneakily asked them what they thought of Brendan’s classes and they were just brimming with gratitude and appreciation.  They really loved what he was doing.   I would have been so proud if they were my students!

Brendan is in the Teacher Training Academy so feel free to ask him questions over there and hopefully I’m going to try and get him on a live session soon to see just what he is doing with these kids!

You can do this!

I just want to finish today by telling you,  yes, you are doing this right.   And yes you can get fluent speakers.  Very articulate speakers.   Speakers where English enhances their whole lives.   Of course it takes more than just Genki English,  we’re only certified up to A1/A2 level after all,  but not that much more.  It’s the confidence,  it’s the learning about how kids these days really do live their lives and it’s getting out of our own way that will free everyone up to get these amazing, amazing results.

 

Good luck and be genki!

 

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

13 Responses to “Is it really possible to get completely fluent students? Absolutely, yes! Brendan has.”

  1. Fanitsa Kokkinomagoulos

    Wow! Counterstrike! Please let me know the names of some of these online games ( which are safe for kids ) I might like to suggest them to some of my recently graduated kids.

  2. Richard Graham

    You know it’s funny but it always comes up as Counterstrike, there must be others but that’s the one that all the most fluent kids seem to play. Although “safe for kids” probably isn’t quite the phrase to use for these games!

  3. Diana

    That is really great! i want to have really fluent students and if computer games help make that happen .. why not? Great job Brendan 🙂

  4. Julie

    WOW! This is very inspiring! Congratulations Brendan.

  5. Trevor Lawless

    Games are definitely the next step. 911 operator is one I’ve heard of people using. You have to respond to emergency calls, give the right advice, despatch help etc.. Probably not for kids either.

  6. Richard Graham

    Yeah, minecraft I haven’t really seen that much spontaneous conversation with, do they tend to naturally talk a lot in there?

  7. Trevor Lawless

    Haven’t used it myself, but my friend says it’s good for his son’s English.

  8. Leonardo Dias

    Definitely surprising. I did not expect Counter Strike. Here in my hometown, kids play a lot of GTA (Grand theft Auto). They have lots of conversation when they are playing that on line, plus, the game includes a lot of reading when it’s played off line. In that game, you have to get instructions about missions to be done, and, it has a narrative behind, so it feels like literature! The second best student in my school is addicted to it and has such a nice reading proficiency (what’s surprising for me)!

  9. Richard Graham

    @Julie: The more I think about it I definitely would keep the online games away from the younger kids – too hard to police who/what they are listening to!

Leave a Comment - I pick one at random each month to win a free prize. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *