It seems that every day this and last week I’ve been meeting with school chains asking about putting Genki English in their classes. Judging by how classes are taught here (holding up flashcards, getting bored, falling asleep!) and how different Genki English is, I think it could be really huge here.
Most of the places have been talking about using GE with kids classes, but some are also wanting GE in business & adults classes. So today I had a consult and then a mini-workshop for a group of teachers of adults.
When you look at many adult classes, in China or anywhere else in the world, the students might “know” a lot of English but just can’t use it when called upon. They get shy, frustrated, lose confidence and just can’t get the English out there. This is very much the same problem that the kids’ Genki English materials were designed to combat. If you think what the adults need, it’s confidence training, it’s real practice using the English (ideally with native speakers, but with classmates is fine for the moment) and an easy way to remember to words i.e. the adult course is almost identical to the kids lesson plan!
The only thing is to be a little careful so that the teachers, and students, don’ t think “I’m not doing kids stuff!” The trick is to let them think it’s high powered “business English”, but then slip in the songs and games when they start to find the English a bit tough. It is a lot easier to let something sink in when relaxed compared with being super stressed and pressured. Plus with the learn Japanese materials I think we’ve proved that adults like the songs just as much, if not more, than the kids!
For a first adult class…
In the presentation we started off with the Disco Warm Up to teach that making mistakes has to be compulsory in class, that only loud confident voices will be tolerated and questions should be answered, not just looked away from. And that smiles are cool, of course. The great thing about doing a business English course is that unlike other English courses where some people might say “well, err, yeah, but I don’t like that”, with business people they already know these things are non-negotiable in their daily lives but once they realise it also applies to English it’s like a lightbulb, or rather a “wow English works like this too?” switch goes off in their heads. Which is cool to see.
Then it was on to What’s your name? to show how the games and songs work. As with the kids, the aim of the game is just to practice speaking the English with other people, but with a little added “fun” pressure to get the adrenaline going. I purposely started off with easy themes as a few of the people there were office staff, not teachers, and this really is the sort of material they need. I did ask the teachers if they thought this was too easy for their students and they said “yes”, but when we did the Stopwatch Game, some of the office staff got lost as soon as we introduced “Nice to meet you!” But that’s no problem, we just move back a touch.
Once again it’s not if you “know it”, it’s if you can use it or not. There’s no point having the knowledge of Einstein if you can’t get your ideas out there. Hence why these days everything is focussed on communication. So to get them used to speaking out loud, and to get the English stuck in their heads, that meant it was time for the song. By this time they’d had enough of sitting down and just got so much into the singing! The improvement in their English was fantastic and it was so good to see everyone smiling and enjoying themselves so much. So then we did the game again and everyone could do it really well and really quickly.
Then we finished off with I like everything (a game which I found on a business training course myself) and Best of the Best to show how GE does indeed go up to higher English levels, but with the exact same ways of thinking and learning.
It was great to see the teachers enjoying themselves, it seemed like it was “wow, we’re allowed to teach like this?” and the office staff looked very happy that they had made the right choice in GE. It was certainly very different from any other adults class out there!
How to get to proficiency...
I’m also very happy that I’ll get to work with them to find out what needs changing for adults, as well as helping finding out what other topics adults in China are looking to learn. As with any age group communication from day 1 should be a given, then you just build up lesson by lesson by finding out what the students want to be able to say and then just use some fun activities to teach them how to say it. As most adults only use a very small amount of language on a daily basis, it’s very easy to build up to a level where you can do most of your daily communication in English and luckily a lot of this coincides with the GE curriculum. From then on it’s more specific uses and situations you need to look at, but of course you can still do it in a fun way!
So more meetings, but a great workshop, I think I’m going to have to do more of these.
Do you do Business English?
Let me know if you run a Business English course, I’d love to come and do a Business English Confidence Training Workshop for your staff. They’ll love you for it!
Do you have any tips on using GE for adult classes?