Fairy Tale Workshop in Slovakia – and… refusal to do the Superhero?


The fairy tale view from our workshop venue.

You know I normally travel to a workshop and it feels like I’m visiting you.

But today, as the venue is a hotel and I was staying here the night before,  for the first time ever it was like people were actually coming, from 5 different countries (Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic & Slovakia),    just to see me.

Which was a very strange feeling!

How did you do that!!! 

And the workshop itself was great, with lots of fans coming from all over asking great questions and then spending half the time going “Woh… I didn’t you could do that!”

One couple who have build their primary school business on Genki English and teach it all the time were like “Woh, you just destroyed everything we’ve been doing for the past years!  Now we can completely redo what we’re doing!”

But that’s why we do the workshops! 🙂

If I give everything out on the website then it is just too much, you have to struggle through on your own first, and then these workshops are designed to make your head explode with huge new ideas and hopefully let you see how much further you can take your teaching, up to a whole new level!

Of course if you’ve never heard of Genki English before, the workshop is going to totally freak you out….. which we saw today too! 🙂

In the morning…. 

Things started out great with ….

–  Task on the board before we start each session (saves you hours of teaching time each year!)

– The Agreement – so everyone knows the rules of the workshop – respect everyone, and always tell me when you don’t understand! 🙂

– Disco Warm Up – always go for the challenge!

– A quick tour around IndiaAfricaThailand.

– Efficiency, let’s learn the top 100 words first.  (I’ll blog the list soon! 🙂 )

– Vocal warm up  to protect your voice.

– What’s your name? song – strong eye contact and confident gestures from the start.


Then a refusal to do the Superhero!

super hero headSo then, to show how your mind controls your body,  but your body also controls your mind, we do  Superhero  with gestures and presentation skills.  (e.g. it’s impossible to feel genki if your body is all floppy like a teenager *and* it’s also *impossible* to feel sad when you have the posture of a superhero! )

So I choose a teacher to come to the front to do their superhero presentation so that I can then lead into how to do the international exchange projects. 

And today we had the super amazing Kamila with us too, which was extra special!

When I pick volunteers for this I want to show how I use teamwork in class to build a kids’ self esteem.

So I always choose a teacher who’s not making eye contact, because very often that means they’re not confident and it’s a fantastic opportunity to show the techniques in action.

For example last week in Italy, it went like this ….


 She was great wasn’t she! 🙂

She was great last week and her trainer was very happy to see her transformation!

But today…. the teacher who I chose downright *refused* to do a superhero gesture when doing her presentation!!!

She just wouldn’t do it!

As I say you expect this with shy kids, and then we can show how to help them.

And sometimes, with teenagers, you do get the odd kid who is too cocky and say they won’t do it, but you can usually win them over with a bit of humour and appealing to their leadership position/aspirations – and they really do become brilliant!

But the teacher today was saying “I’m not doing these gestures. I don’t need them.    I already have authority!”

So I was like “OK……   it’s just an example, just to show how do it for the other teachers, is that OK?”

To which she said “No, it’s not.  I have no need of doing this, I full have full authority when I speak!”


So, OK, fair enough, it’s always best to try and let out a bit of tension when things get like this, so I said “Cool, OK, no problem, so could you show us how you would do it?”


And oh my goodness!!

This lesson is all about body language, yeah?

So what did she do?

She bent her front leg, put her weight on her back leg and adopted *the* *most* aggressive stance you can imagine!

The whole class just recoiled in almost fear and you could instantly feel the barrier going up between her and the rest of the people in the room.

The aggression just went through the roof!


Now to give the teacher credit, she did apologize afterwards and said she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do.  (She won the ticket in a competition so had no idea what Genki English was like!)

And I have a feeling that she had no idea herself how aggressive she was being.

She’s probably always taught like that and that the bad atmosphere is normal.

Tape yourself!

So for all of us, me included,  please, please, please do have someone video your own lessons and watch them back later.

What is so obvious to other people we often just can’t see ourselves.

But when we look back on video, I think you too will say “Woohhhh… was I doing that in class?” – and be totally shocked!

Even now I do it, and just last week the girls were posting videos of the How old are you? song on Facebook,  I was still singing, but thinking about what to do next.

Ninja Tip: the How old are you?  song is a great saver if you need time to plan the next part of the lesson in your head!

And, eventhough I thought I was, I just wasn’t smiling at all!!! 🙂  I looked as miserable as anything on the video!!! 8)

So *I* have to make an extra effort to smile more!! 🙂

What extra efforts do you have to make?


Diamonds, not coal

Eventually we got down to the real reason she didn’t want to do it:  the teacher didn’t believe in putting pressure on kids to communicate.

So that was a great lead into the Diamonds not Coal section!

So anyway …… we finally got everything sorted out, but what a a rather heavy intro into lunch!  🙂

Ninja Tip:  If you don’t want to get volunteered in my workshops, make sure to make eye contact with me! 🙂


A much more fun afternoon!

Ninja Tip:  Put on the lights, it clears the air.   The brighter the room, the happier everyone becomes and you have much less tiredness and much more positivity! 

Now everyone was happy we had a ton of great questions and a lot of requests so we did …..

– What to do about plural “s” with Do you like? and the running karuta game

Fruit Market and the new software maths game

– Summer sports + clap, clap game  change just one word and you have the past tense! + Minicard games

I like everything game 

– Pronouns song – remember how we did grammar just using gestures!

– Smooth curriculum building with Eat Drink Dance, leading into What do you want to do? and changing just one word to get What do you want to be?

– Genki Korean to see what it is really like for the students!

– Better than the best of the best.  – always choose positive words at the end of the lesson- “I have to” goes to “I can!”

– And we finished off with the Indian students’ project, Do flowers fly

And a Slovak dinner of  Bryndzové halušky – which was actually rather nice!



Day 2 & Vol. 14 ????

Another fantastic day today, with tons and tons and tons of great questions – which is what I always love!

– Secret Warm Ups – review everything & forget nothing – the key is the super fast rhythm!

Lines Game for more warm up practice.

– And then after the Gingerbread Man we got into some of the new vol. 14 songs to show how you can use them for Christmas parties and plays! 🙂

Ninja Tip:  When your students pay to attend your Christmas or Halloween party always give them an “invite a friend + their parent” ticket as well.  You’ll have half the kids who are current students and the parents of the other half will be so amazed at what they can do that they’ll all sign up with you too!

Ninja Tip 2:   Some teachers then get so successful that they almost have to do a lottery with parents choosing to come to either the Halloween *or* Christmas *or* Summer parties, but there just isn’t room for everyone to join them all! 🙂 

Thanks for being so cool and helpful with all these new songs!


We did the new “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears” Song” – which was amazing, and we came up with some great gestures!

The “Musicians of Bremen”  went incredibly smoothly, very nice.

And the new “ What will you do? ” song also sounded really good, but yeah, it’s still missing a little something on that one! 🙂

We took videos of these so hopefully I’ll have them up on the site for you soon and it should give you a little insight into how we develop and test the new lessons!

Beyond exam results

– Then another massive, top secret, closed door, no videos allowed session on how to get more students than you ever imagined.  A  few little hints are here  but I hope you took note of the gold that was in all the amazing advice from the other teachers there!

Actually today was so cool because many of the teachers were in the “but it’s different in my town”  frame of mind,   and then of course when we did the telephone game I kept the best teacher till last,  it was like lightbulbs going off everywhere with almost every word she said!

Remember, it’s the emotion, and *you* have no competition! 🙂

There are lots of Androids, but only 1 iPhone.

And as this relaxed, calm, but amazing teacher said, very humbly,  the day before

I’m Ok with the business section if everyone else wants it, but I don’t particularly need it, I’m happy and have as many students as I want.

All of her telephone game was perfect, and the last line was just beautiful:

I can’t promise you fabulous exam results, all I can promise you is that your children will love English for life.

Very nice.

So for the rest of us,

what emotion makes you different from everyone else in your town?

Ninja Tip:  I’ve been keeping these secret because they really are so valuable and I want to keep them as something special for those of you who come to, or organise, a workshop.  I always want to give super value in these workshops, and I think these two minutes are the most valuable of all!

Ninja Tip 2 :  The next time you walk past a luxury watch shop, notice what time the hands are set at.  It’s nearly always 10:12,  which happens to make a perfect smiley face, to make you feel happy, smiley and want to buy it!  Emotion!


Then after another nice lunch ….

– Where is it?  and I am a robot song.  

– And finally Genki Phonics  – Check out all the videos step by step on the page, take it in baby steps and you will be fine.

Head Exploding!

That was a *lot*

So many great questions.

And totally head exploding stuff with everything we did.

You’ve done amazing jobs with how you are teaching so far,  I am *very* impressed with everyone who came today – superstars all round!

So far you’ve been building up to the sky,  and now we’ve broken through the clouds into the sunshine and the next stop is the stars!

And you always have a friend to help along, today we finished softly with the

– Good cat, Bad Cat

good cat

Definitely stay in touch with each other and organise your own workshops, dinners, skype & meet ups even without me!

You’ve totally redefined my whole map of Europe.

Thank you so much for coming, and an huge, huge thank you to Ann for putting all this in place.

I get so many people writing to me saying “Please do a workshop in my country”  but so few people follow up on it.

Ann took the reins and in just a few months produced the most international workshop we’ve ever had, in probably one of the most luxurious locations,  so thank you so much!

Thank you all again for a wonderful weekend, good luck, be a good cat and I’m sure I’ll see you all again very, very  soon!

Be genki,


P.S.  I’m taking a day off today, and I’ll back answering everyone’s emails on Tuesday! 🙂

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genki—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!

8 Responses to “Fairy Tale Workshop in Slovakia – and… refusal to do the Superhero?”

  1. Julia

    Hi Richard!

    I thank all the people who came to your workshop for the opportunity to read about it. Especially the teacher who refused to do the Superhero presentation. I appreciate her being frank and honest. I’m sure her mind has been changed after the workshop. Because you really rock the ELT world!

  2. Kamila

    Thank you, Richard 🙂

  3. Margit

    It must be completely overwhelming not to say shocking to attend your workshop not knowing anything about GE.
    Especially in a group where most other participants do know a bit.

  4. Shawn

    Hi Richard,

    I’ve been an ESL teacher in Japan for 6 years now, but I’m still learning new things at every opportunity 🙂
    I’ve been looking through your site and am very glad to say I’ve gotten some good tips from you, thank you!!


    Do you know where I can find information on what kids are actually learning in elementary school and junior high in Japan? (I’m trying to get a better understanding of what we need to work on)
    Thanks again 😀

  5. Richard

    Hi Shawn, check out the “MEXT” website in English, it gives you all the current info – and it’s generally not what the other teachers think, nor what is actually in the textbooks! 🙂

  6. Darina

    …Richard, thanks again and again and again… it´s been one of the best workshops I have ever taken part in… you are incredibly inspiring, open, and genuine person who makes others reach for the stars even though they may not be able to see them yet…

  7. Mirec

    Hi there Richard,

    you did the best English workshop I have ever been to. I have always been a fan of Genki English and I have learned a lot from you videos. Having the possibility to take part in one of your workshops will be one of the top moments of the year or possibly my life. You are a great teacher and I am sure that an exceptional person too.
    Thank you for coming in our little country and giving us the opportunity to experience you and what you and Genki English stand for: A genkier, brighter and safer future with no language barriers, at least not in English 🙂

  8. gumby

    Hi Shawn,
    This is a helpful website that links to the specific grammar points in the Japanese junior high textbooks. There are several publishers used in the schools, though they are required to teach the same materials. Just click on one of series to get an idea of what is covered. Now how they are taught makes a big difference on what students actually get out of the lessons.


    GE has the previous curriculum with ideas of how to use GE. You can google the MEXT website for the most updated version. The activities and order differ slightly but for the most part the content is the same.


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