Day trip to Okayama

I think this must be the longest day trip I’ve ever done! But it was cool to have no heavy bags to carry around. The ALT in the town rang me a few weeks ago asking for a show and seminar. Of course I said, “cool” but it seemed like an awfully short time to get all the paperwork done and to get the Headteachers permission. But she did it!

So I set off at 7 AM and took the Shinkansen and several other trains up to the mountains of Okayama, and it was great to be in the fresh air and countryside. I also then realised how come the head teacher had put everything through so quickly, he used to teach in Okayama City so had heard about my workshops for the Board of Education there last year!

Anyway the kids’ English and pronunciation was great, as would be expected from having a good ALT, but during the chats with the teachers beforehand they seemed very much in the “oh no, we can’t do it, we have to leave it to the ALT!” and so the kids’ confidence was nearly zero!! On the “Can you do it?” point for the first time in ages they all said “No!”. Oh dear! But it wasn’t a cheeky, “No, and we’re too cool for this”, it was a “No, we can’t do that, but I wish we could!”. So a lot of the show was taken over with getting the kids confident in the two rules of Genki English “Think you can do it and you can!” and “Losing just means try again!”. It was a very stark contrast to the other school I went to this week!

But the kids were eager to learn and in the seminar the teachers came out of themselves and once they realised they could be totally honest with me ( I have various techniques to make this work!), we went through how they can make a difference themselves. So although they still will rely on the ALT, they did have the beginnings of having confidence themselves, and that’s what it’s all about! Actually the first graders were really great, having lunch with them ( to figure out what new things I need to put in the curriculum) they were cool and they loved to play the Harry Potter game at lunchtime! So overall a very well worthwhile visit!

Then a 4 hour train journey back and as I was tired I thought I’d start the 4th Harry Potter book, so I had a good read, on my mobile phone of course!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. 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. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!