So today was the big day to to see if this really does all work in Mafia schools! Β Well, we know it does as it worked last year, but I hadn’t seen it myself yet, and most importantly neither had any of today’s teachers – some of who were stillΒ skepticalΒ that it would work!

And they were terrified! I hadn’t told them who I would pick to do the lesson and they all had to prepare every lesson. Which was a lot of stress (for me too!) and they were complaining I was being too hard on them! πŸ™‚

So we got to the school, the solar power was on, the computer was set up, the kids came in and off we went!

I figured I’d start off with the Warm Up just in case the kids were a hard bunch – this is first grade high school after all!

But they were cool!

Even with no swahili from me they were doing the motions, being nice and loud and getting everything done. I asked them “What’s your name?” and they could answer (ish) so went into the What’s your name? song so that all the teachers (who outnumbered the students!) could get a chance to participate with the kids.

And then came a power cut! But as there were so many teachers who knew the song, we just did it acapella and it worked great.

OK, now the real test, to hand off to the Tanzania teachers to see how things would go…

I chose the lightest spoken of all the teachers to set up and facilitate the How are you? computer game. We’re doing the computer games first here, before the songs, to take the pressure off the teacher. Β And it worked great.

Then we have to check the meanings and add gestures. This is tough if you don’t speakΒ Swahili. But the local teacher who did it was amazing, even genkier than me!!!

Then another teacher to do the song, and they were fantastic.

Next the class game, and the teacher I picked couldn’t do it. But I told him he could grab another trainee to help, so he did and off he went, to pick loads of them!

And I was so impressed with the kids. In any other country having such downtime whilst the teacher was unsure would result in chaos. But not here! (Guesses in the comments as to why that is!) Plus the kids coming to the front to be the monsters were so confident. They stood there in front of all these guests, on the first day of school, and just did it really well.

Then it was the Superhero song. The Tanzanian teachers had been using a ton of Swahili (L+1 afterall) so I figured I need to show something to the US teachers on how to do it with very little Swahili. And again, it worked really well.

The kids did actually know some of the vocab, so afterwards I thought that maybe we’ve pitched this whole thing too low. But after all the cheers, smiles and looks of “wow” on the head master’s face (“this will help bring more students to school next week”, he said) they asked if the kids had learnt anything new today. And, to my astonishment, kids started putting their hands up and saying things such as “I’m great”, “I’m sad”, “Superhero”, “Swim” etc. I’ve never seen that before, usually it’s always a case of “errrr, don’t know”.

The best thing of all though were the girls. Β As I’m sure you know teaching girls is a really high priority. Β If you teach a boy he’ll usually go off to the big city to earn his fortune. Β But if you teach a girl she’ll teach a whole family. Β And today the girls were so into it. Β Even the ones right at the back. Β And they especially loved the computer games. Β That made me very happy.

And it’s great now the pressure has gone – I’ve seen myself it really works here!

But tomorrow, the doubts creep in?

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genkiβ€”fun, exciting, and full of life! Genki English has now been researched by Harvard University and licensed by the British Council around the world. The results have been magical! Now I'm here to help you teach amazing lessons, with all the materials prepared for you, and to double your teaching income so you can sustainably help many more students in the future!

10 Responses to “Africa Day 7: Demo lesson day!”

  1. Julia

    Hi Richard!
    I admire your work! You can break all the barriers between people, you can melt ice of misunderstanding, you can grow the flowers of joy and success!

  2. Margit


    how do your teachers teach the songs?

    As I am doing a similar thing now with Japanese teachers (having them watch my lessons at times and having them DO lessons or part of those at other times), right now the song seems to be the trickiest for the teachers.
    One thing is that I tell them to not spend more than 25 minutes on preparing the lesson. Otherwise it gets a too big thing with all the other stuff they are having to do.
    So, this time I guess is filled up with reading my lesson plan, understanding the activity and running through the software once.
    They don’T have the time to actually remember the song and the motions during this time. So they come into class and after introducing the words they press the song button and start of the kids not really knowing what to do (though they are amazingly good by just singing along with you!)
    conrete examples:
    The superhero song they do the gestures in between but forget the important superhero pose, so whenever the refrain comes up the tension goes down as the kids are just standing there singing unmotivated “I’m a superhero”
    Of course once they’ve “messed up” like this the teachers notice what’s missing and make up the second time they teach this topic, but usually during one year there aren’t so many “second times”. Any secret solution, without taking too much of their time?

  3. richard

    Easy solution, the software Mini Lessons!

  4. Margit

    Those teach the melody but not the gestures and movements of the song,
    The teaches yesterday actually used the mini lesson and it went so so with the first class but the second just got distracted by the clapping and cheering during the mini lessons .
    And it didn’t help for the movements of the song at all.

    I would really like to hear other teacher’s experience with this. Do you all use the mini lessons regularly? How is it going?

  5. Dan Burgess

    “And I was so impressed with the kids. In any other country having such downtime whilst the teacher was unsure would result in chaos. But not here! (Guesses in the comments as to why that is!)”

    Here’s my guess: They’re first-grade high-school students. A little older, so alot calmer than younger kids.
    Secondly, the African culture teaches respect for your elders. They probably had that drilled into them since they were really young in the family at home.
    How am I doing?
    Dan from Quebec.

  6. richard

    Good guess, but way off the mark! πŸ™‚

  7. Jennifer Richmond

    Richard, I am loving your blog, it is so inspiring a refreshing. You should be very proud, of your self and of all these teachers. What a wonderful thing to be doing.
    No doubt about it Genki English WORKS.
    Keep the posts coming,
    Best Wishes,

  8. Dan Burgess

    I give-up. Why are the kids so well-behaved? Do they all get an extra serving at mealtime if they behave? πŸ˜‰


  9. Martin

    Yeah, I know about that doubt. Seeing it in action is always inspiring.

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