Better than the local Junior High School Teachers…

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Just got back from a massive 3 day, 3 city tour of Japan.  Totally shattered but fantastic teachers, some of the success stories were amazing!

I’ll write up more soon,  but a quick tip today from Ken in Tokyo

If you’re having problems explaining to parents just how good their kids will get in a way the parents understand,  emotionally resonate with and get impressed by …. he tells his parents:

I can promise you that if we work together and your children come to my classroom,  they’ll be speaking better English than the local Junior High School English teachers!

Now those of us in the know know that this is an unbelievably easy target to achieve, but to parents it sounds *very* impressive! 🙂

I’ve got a ton of tips, stories and more like this from teachers who’ve gone from zero to having waiting lists of students – as well as parents almost begging them to raise their prices! – so if you join a workshop, definitely join in the lunches and dinners too,  that’s where the real action is! 🙂

Thanks again to everyone and I’ll write up everything we did as soon as I work through my email inbox!

Be genki,

Richard

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...

18 Responses to “Better than the local Junior High School Teachers…”

  1. Ewa

    Hi there,
    Richard are you trying to say that local Junior High School English teachers in Japan speak English at an elementary level? I’m shocked.

  2. Martin

    I really hope you have a workshop in Shanghai and I can get to it! I feeling very apprehensive about my teaching right now. The confidence isn’t there. Hope to get that back soon!

  3. Richard

    Not even that! It’s just an embarrassingly low level for most of the JHS teachers. Many can’t even speak anything beyond basic greetings (and those are usually done badly!)

    We have horrendous problems with them trying to “correct” the English the kids learn with Genki English!

  4. gumby

    Ah Richard I really have to jump in here. It is hardly that bad where I am. I often speak only English with the JH teachers and the newer young teachers have an excellent command of English including very good pronunciation.

    Now there is a problem of having only ONE correct answer thus some of the language in GE is considered ‘wrong’ but I think you will see that in some extent with foreign language teachers all around the world.

  5. Richard

    Hi Gumby, that’s great to hear! It’s certainly very different from the examples I get to see!

  6. Margit

    I agree, that things are changing amazingly fast here.
    When my oldest was in JH 5 years ago it was terrible. With teachers who couldn’t speak, but now , as gumby, I go to JH and it is always fun to chat with all the JTEs, talking about everything and all, in English.
    And actually , if you compare to ES teachers~ all the JH teachers, even of different subjects are pretty fine with every day English.
    There are still these and those, but they won’t survive very long.

  7. Richard

    Very interesting! I wonder why things have improved so much over the last few years? I might have to re-start up my Junior High projects again! 🙂

  8. Margit

    Junior High projects(?!)
    What are these?

    Well, they definitely need a big brush up on how to teach and what to go for. The thing is they all know this themselves, and most of the JH teachers I know HATE to teach the things they are teaching; they are trying to get out of that mill, but it really takes time.

    Looking at the situation in town, here~ yeah! reaching ES is running towards a dead end right now. It just doesn’t work, the wind isn’t blowing right here~ but JH teachers are very open, even though they feel both feet bound as in what they can really do.
    So, the old ES is trying their luck with all kinds of stupid stuff, but JH is using GE CDs and lots of gestures to introduce the language.

    ES teachers are confused to see
    BE spelling via AE spelling but JH teachers welcome it as something the kids need to know as well, no matter what the tests are about.

    So, if you do have projects for JH, I think that would be much more up to date right now!

  9. gumby

    Hmmm, interesting observations. Some of the best JH teachers I have worked with are in their 40s. Teaching styles obviously vary and many are much more grammar oriented than others but as far as English skills, they can speak it quite well.

    The younger teachers have really impressed me with their skills. Better pronunciation and natural conversational English.

    I agree with Margit that the direction of the wind is important, but the seeds are most definitely planted in her town (my town and many others). Slowly teachers are seeing how GE works. for me it has worked the opposite. The JH has become interested in GE because they see it in ES. The JHS is much too entrance exam and textbook oriented to take the initiative to use GE. Gradually the government seems to be moving towards better English skills. There is a push for more of a CAN-DO type education. Somewhere down the line there will be a need for more skill based materials like GE, but that will be a bit farther down the road. The CAN-DO is still a new concept and the meeting I went to last year, the teachers CAN-DO statement in my group was the “students will be able to use the ‘to’ infinitive” 😉 Now I was in the group and disagreed and the speaker who did the presentation spent a whole 2 hours telling them how it should be different. The ideas are there, it just will take a bit longer for it take hold and grow.

    It is frustrating, probably extremely so for Richard right now but there is a lot of talk about better linking of the ES and JH and many from up above are hoping that the conversational based English in ES will influence how English is taught in JH. Extensive reading is slowly starting to emerge in the HS level and even JH with the graded readers for beginning students increasing at a rapid pace.

    I definitely see an attitude change in the ES teachers. They are no longer reluctant participants and are willing to take over the main teaching role. There is still a lot of confusion over what they are expected to teach, but I see them relaxing a bit more and releasing their strong hold on the teacher’s guide.

    There is also a bigger push on the university level to send students abroad. It is still on a small scale, but universities are making it easier for students to study abroad yet time it so they can still make the job hunting season.

    Ah went on for far to long. Guess I had a lot of energy pent up…
    I still get frustrated but I have more hope that in previous years. It helps of course to see the students shine with GE.
    I am fairly optimistic now and hope that I can plant more seeds until the new wave of changes comes in 2020.

  10. Richard

    The last time I seriously looked at JHS (Junior High School) in Japan was three years ago (recently I’ve been more focussed on overseas) so it certainly might be time to look again!

    JHS projects wise, the idea initially was to continue Genki English lessons to include all the JHS grammar points. The idea being that teachers of younger kids could say that once the kids had done GE then the kids would be ready for high school. And of course for the JHS teachers it would save a heck of a lot of time if there was GE software/song etc. for each grammar point they were doing. (Afterall, the software I originally wrote for my own JHS classes.)

    Now, the challenge always was that the JHS English topics that we hadn’t covered yet were often strange, non-native sounding phrases and grammar points. And I didn’t really want to make GE lessons with strange English.

    But …. if things are now changing so much it might indeed be time to revisit the JHS grammar points that we don’t have and make some GE lessons for them.

    It’s always good for me creativity wise to tackle new language patterns!

    So … what are we missing – which bits of the JHS curriculum don’t we have yet?

    You never know, if I get enough example sentences, a song might just pop out straight away!!

    As always, it’s *so* good to have all your support! 🙂

  11. gumby

    I think you are doing a marvelous job of keeping the language relevant. The dinosaur one for example to teach past tense. I know you have done some hip hop, and the students enjoy the game, but there is a lot of new language and can be fast for a lot of students.

    How about something that uses the grammar but includes the GE pattern of having 4 very familiar items 2 that are simliar and 2 that are probably new.

    For example
    Have you ever eaten (food words)?
    Have you ever seen (Halloween words)?

    Do you know how to (simple verbs)?

    Superlatives perhaps with WHO
    Who is the strongest/prettiest/cutest/smartest etc
    and can end with ME!

    Having more songs with WHO and WHEN

    just a few ideas. No real need to include all grammar points. Some are just better acquired through reading. (Any chance you would consider more picture books?)

  12. Richard

    Wow, some genius ideas there!! 🙂

    Very motivating suggestions!

    Any thoughts about the music styles that would be best for current JHS kids?

    Pic books definitely, although they are not really for reading as such!

  13. Richard

    Is “Do you know how to (simple verbs)?” really in there? It sounds a great phrase!

    What verbs do they use? (Would be best to use the ones the teachers is using anyway!)

  14. gumby

    this is taken from the Englipedia website
    It is probably not so important to choose verbs in the textbook. Better to chose those that are commonly used (or more familiar).

    NEW HORIZON: I know how to get tickets.

    NEW CROWN: Koji is learning how to cook.

    SUNSHINE: I don’t know how to play it.

    TOTAL ENGLISH: Do you know how to make a paper crane?

    COLUMBUS 21: I don’t know how to thank you.

  15. Margit

    gumby, brilliant ideas.

    as for music styles, it looks like hip hop and rap are not too in anymore, at least not in their pure form.

    Absolutely big hit with boys AND girls in that age and up is Vocaloid. Listening, singing, Karaoke, all Vocaloid.

    Excited to see what you come up with

  16. Susan K

    I know some JHS students who are just getting into chart music at that age, so they like whatever styles are ‘in’ at the moment, girls tend to like slow songs as well as the dance music, rock, pop.. (The kind of thing you see on MTV!) They enjoy similar music in their native language as well as music with English lyrics but they obviously find it hard to understand and sing along. Many students love singing (especially the girls, in my experience, not sure why) and love the GE songs, of course! 🙂

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