How to Massively Increase Your Students’ English – The Secret Warm Ups

Here are some of the tricks you can use to kick your students’ English levels through roof!

Gumby wrote in asking how I review all the previous lessons in the first 5 minutes of each lesson (as per the lesson plan.)  It’s actually quite straight forward and very powerful! Have a look at this video:

(The song is the Where is Baby Monkey? Rooms of the House song.)

And here you can see the example with kids from Kamila in Poland:

The great thing about this is that you can easily mix and match the different phrases as you teach new themes.  For example in the video we’d done “I like …” with animals and “I’d like some ….” with breakfast food.  So in the review you can ask the kids to translate sentences that mix and match them both e.g. say “I’d like some pancakes” or “I like pancakes” or “I like bears” or “I’d like some bears” (stupid sentence but it gets the kids excited and making sentences!)

Build & Build

As the kids remember all the grammar & phrases naturally from the melodies in the songs, you can keep building and building like this using previous themes in new and varied ways.

For example after this warm up, the lesson we did was Under, on, in prepositions.  So in the next warm up we can mix this with the rooms of the house to get things like “Where is the kitchen?”  “It’s next to the living room” etc.


Anything you want to say!

Now imagine that you can build up an almost infinite amount of English for the kids to speak.  This technique, and by carefully controlling the language used in the curriculum,  is how I manage to build up to the “be able to say anything you want to say” goal of Genki English.  You can can see it’s very powerful.  And lots of fun!

One other tip for reviewing, always remember it’s  “not what you’ve done but what the kids can do” that is important!

What do you think?

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!

35 Responses to “How to Massively Increase Your Students’ English – The Secret Warm Ups”

  1. Margit


    I’m totally surprised. I thought I knew most of the GE style tricks. But this is amazing. (And so simple~I’m kind of shocked how little creative I am)

    First of all I was surprised about the Japanese you are using, the translation techniques. It never came to my mind to do this. Only with the “How do you say…in English”
    all my reviews have been Q+A (me doing the Q or having the students do the Q), or gestures, but this translation thing is actually really interesting.

    Second surprise: How you use the Download pack. You should put these videos up on the download pack site, as when watching them I won’t want to use anything else anymore.
    To use the “words 2” section with the under on in topic~it’s just fabulous.

    Hey: more tricks we don’t know yet? I bet so. So it’s us asking questions to become better.
    gumby, thanks for being so resistent with your request!!!
    And Richard, thank you!

  2. Gumby

    Thanks Richard!
    I was so excited to finally see it! I have learned so much from all the videos. I agree with Margit, I can’t imagine teaching without the download pack. My schools all have the CDs but it is SO MUCH easier with the USB! Switching songs is super easy.

    Margit, I actually use Japanese a lot, to make sure they understand. I often find they think it means to something else. Yesterday I was practicing prepositions (inspired by the videos on the blog). When I introduced ‘on’ more than half assumed I was teaching 置くor ‘put’. I find this the norm. Just because they can respond to a GE question or picture, doesn’t mean they really understand what it means. So I tell them what it means and occasionally during the class I will ask for a translation.

    As for the warm-up I will be using more word pages and doing more review and trick questions. It is something that is lacking from my curriculum. Thanks Richard for posting the video!

  3. Margit


    NOt “resistent” but “persistent”UUUPS

  4. Margit

    …I do use Japanese as well, but it’s different to use it to reassure a meaning or like Richard did in the video to put it into the review. There comes the “speed factor”. So if I ask during class : What means “I want to eat”…they take more time thinking about it,
    But like in the video it’s just “pam pam pam”, and though my kids got fast with answering or asking they aren’t when translating.

  5. richard

    Glad you like the video!

    If you notice I try and mix and match the inputs I give the kids, so sometimes I’ll ask them to translate, sometimes I’ll ask a question in English, sometimes I’ll do a gesture, and sometimes I’ll point at a card. Just getting the kids used to different inputs to stimulate the English output. The rhythm combined with this “what will happen next” is a big part of it, yeah “pam pam pam”!!!

  6. Lines

    Oh my God! Thanks a lot because everyone speak in the students language. When in my English classes I use The spanish language I feel bad, but may be in the futur I’m going to feel better.
    Thank you Richard

  7. Shawn

    In public schools in Thailand they insist on the teacher only speaking one language in the classroom. They swear up and down that the direct method is the only method worth using. Despite my being fluent in Thai and getting great results using the same sorts of techniques that you use, the senior teachers and administrators in the public school systems are constantly giving me terrible teaching evaluations. How can I get past their intolerance? (other than opening my own learning center and making more money than they do… which I’ve already done)

    thanks and thanks for everything, your program is the best 200 bucks I’ve ever spent.

  8. richard

    Hi Shawn,

    You could start by telling them guy who wrote a big part of the first grade’s curriculum in Thailand (that’s me 🙂 ) says you can! All the people I’ve talked with in the Ministry of Education are also cool with speaking English and Thai in class, so it’s probably just the local teachers.

    As far as the evaluation goes, just sit down with them and find out exactly what *outcomes * they want. Then go and ace them!

    You are right at the end of the day though that private education will always beat public education whatever the country!


    I use your songs and lessons every day!!
    I live in Argentina
    My pupils have 4 and 5 years old
    they know and love baby monkey!!!

  10. Mark

    Hi Richard,
    I have two boys named Richie and Eddie.
    I am a teacher in a private eikaiwa and I also teach adult classes but many of my students (adults) are very, very limited in their English so I don’t know if I could get them to understand fully as my Japanese is also very limited.
    I also need some ideas for “returnee” kids between the ages of 6 to 10 yrs old.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks and kindest regards, Mark

  11. richard

    Hi Mark,

    No need to worry. If the adult students were higher level they wouldn’t need this level of lessons! So as long as you actually understand the target English in their language, that’s all you’ll need in the beginning. And to learn that, just ask them to teach it to you as you teach it to them, it’s a great (and free!) way to learn!

    For returnee kids I’m not an expert on that as it’s a very specific field with very unique problems. Does anyone on here have any experience to share?

  12. Adam

    I also have the same problem. I teach in Taiwan and I am fluent in Chinese, but my school doesn’t let me speak Taiwanese.
    Also, I teach kindergarten, but will be taking a pre-k class soon. I plan on teaching the same way-lots of review/get them speaking with partners and making gestures, just teaching fewer vocabulary items per class. Anybody have any other suggestions for this very young age group?

  13. Jennifer in Germany

    For this very young age group I really recommend using a puppet of some kind. It can be very simple. A sock with eyes. Give it a funny name and let it be naughty.
    For example my Pre-K loved it when my puppet put a plastic spider on the floor when I wasn’t looking. He sometimes brings a squeaky toy and makes so much noise that I have to tell him to “Be quiet, please!”. He asks for a ball to play with but doesn’t say “Thank you” or “Please” until I scold him repeatedely (“What do you say?!”) And on and on.

    And of course lots of songs with actions and stories with actions.
    You need to be a little gentler with these young ones than school kids and don’t play games where anyone loses.
    Hope this helps.

  14. Adam

    Thanks Jennifer. Naughty puppets sound like a great idea.

  15. Dan

    Hi Richard,
    thank you for your postings to my mail as i follow up to aquaint my self in the teaching tricks. here in thailand, is quite all learning process in both ways, the tearcher and the english students hence local language barriers.
    thk, Dan

  16. Foster

    Hi, Richard,

    By reviewing what we learned in the previous lesson, students will build up their knowledge and ability in the long run. This is truly following the rule of teaching. Got your point! Thank you. Foster

  17. Zenzile Msipha

    wow! the 5 minute to review the previous lessons does magic for my students in the learning support class. Particulary the idea of making students repeat the instructions while doing the action e.g stand up etc

  18. Martin Wenzel

    Yeah, I’m not fluent in Chinese, but I’m learning more and more and often I know how to say the grammar point or some vocabulary in Chinese, so when I ask them to translate I generally know whether they get what it is or not (but I try NOT to speak the Chinese myself, except to give them a laugh from time to time…) I find that sometimes my TA doesn’t seem to be offering up the best translation for some things (then again, maybe my Chinese isn’t good enough, haha).

  19. Mustafa

    Hi:wonderful,interesting techniques for effective teaching learning process with lot of fun and in formations.

  20. Mary Pagdati

    Richard, these videos are absolutely incredible – I love the spontaneous response you receive from the students. Teaching youngsters of foreign languages I find that if the lesson is slow, the kids tend to withdraw into their little shell because they feel all the attention is on them and they’re either too shy or afraid they might make a silly mistake. Genki English leaves no room for them to even focus on themselves – they’re so engaged in the lesson – having FUN!!

  21. Annalisa

    I just want to thank you for all your hard work. It’s the first time I’m teaching young students and your videos are helping a lot 🙂 simple and effective teaching tips 🙂

  22. Adam

    I’m really getting into the idea of mixing the lessons. We did ‘Can you do it?’ Then, we mixed it with ‘What are you doing?’ to get sentences like ‘Can you fish?’ Then, I put up random lessons and asked them to add them in. When I put up ‘Creepy Crawlies” one of my students asked ‘Can you eat a cockaroach?’

  23. Martin Wenzel

    I’ve been getting more and more comfortable challenging my students to combine English they have learned while listening and speaking. The series we use at the school I work at has a packet of questions we are supposed to drill the students to answer. Unfortunately, many students are ONLY able to answer any given question when the question is asked exactly the same way every time and they always give the same answer. I always make sure with my students to switch up the questions to practice more grammar and more topics. For instance, “Where do you come from?” is one of the questions. Like a robot, they can answer “I come from China.” This is good, they know the answer without having to think, but what if I change the question, “Where is HE from?” “Where am I from?” The kids paying attention THINK and adjust their answers!!! This is the point where teaching English is so amazing and I’m really proud.

    Now when I start new 4-5 year old classes, I challenge them far more than I originally did. First, I make them ask each other the questions and I change the questions so they can see that they can change the questions. A popular question is “Are you a boy?” Of course it isn’t an everyday question, but they are so fun to hear asking each other the question. “Are you a truck?” “Are you a cat?” “Are you a teacher?” and the other kid just incredulously answering “NO! DUH!!!” Their parents are so happy I feel because their kids have all this extra vocabulary that isn’t presented in the DDDragon material and flashcards (at least they haven’t learned that stuff yet)…I’ve found that the words you teach or kids find out OUTSIDE of the school required content sinks into their brains much deeper!

    Anyways, always have to hop on and check out these videos for a refresher on how to teach a Genki lesson and tips for reviewing WHATEVER!!!

  24. Thanh Hien

    i can adapt your ideas to my real class. Thanks a lot Genki for sending me emails. I highly appreciate your support and ready to help. what I can say is your website is the most interesting one i’ve ever tried.

  25. Milena

    Hi Richard,
    it is really amazing how your curriculum tops and tips have a great result on kids! My little students, thanks to your lessons (videos, books, songs)adore learning english and say it’s their favourite subject! I’m so happy about it and their parents too!
    Thanks for your great attention in teaching us how to make each lesson successful, gratifying and enjoyable!
    Your curriculum i.e.”stages of understanding” related to teaching has been a precious help for me. It has been of a great help to some shy kids – now they have overcomed it thanks to your warm ups before each lesson!!!

  26. Monika Kaul

    Hi Richard,
    Your techniques are amazing and I do use them in my phonics class. I especially use the 5 minute revision technique and it works very well.
    I also use 2 languages while teaching English. In India, kids know more than 2 languages before they even start learning English so it’s challenging to teach them. I do use English and translate in another language in the class.
    Thank you for your constant inputs as I have literally learnt being a good teacher from you!

  27. Laura

    Hi Richard,

    I had so much fun at your workshop this weekend in Thailand,and even though you have answered most of my queries, I still have a whole bunch to throw at you.
    I will do by email though.

    Just to thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, I might not be a better teacher than I was before meeting you, but for sure I am a Genki teacher, stuffed with energy and willing to do my best so my children are the best in town.


  28. Susan K

    Yes, thanks for reminding me of the importance of reviewing the last lesson, which helps students to recall previously ‘learnt’ words and phrases. As opposed to the rather boring method of underlining any words you don’t know and looking them up in the dictionary, they learn the words effortlessly.

    This method also reduces the need for vocab’ tests, by getting the students to use the English rather than always translating words, although translation is sometimes needed to check that they understand fully

  29. Chrysa

    Nice job! Keep us inspired!

  30. Anna

    This is amazing! Thank you a lot, Richard!

  31. Brenda

    Thanks Richard these tips are really helpful

  32. Tiziana

    Thank you Richard! You are an ispiration for me and I follow all your tips, because they work well!

  33. Thắm

    Thank you very much Richard! Your videos are really useful.

  34. Fiona

    Greetings !
    Hello Richard ,
    I sincerely wish to convey my enormous thanks for your inspirational influence in teaching . Your techniques and methodologies are amazing!
    According to Psychology , students learning a second language move through five predictable stages , your methods exactly create the same. Your repetition techniques / review in lessons, do create acquisition, assimilation and accommodation in the minds of students . Such learners certainly are the actively delighted students who progress into fruition.
    I see all the psychologically key elements in your style of teaching , praiseworthy ! Well done ! ( JUST LIKE MY WAY OF TEACHING )
    Hope to see more sensational creation in your style of delivering further elegance and motivation in your English language teaching.

    Absolutely fantastic !
    Great heights of success in your future endeavours!

    Fiona Rodrigo – Sri Lanka

  35. Malika

    Thanks Richard, your videos are always the best .

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