It is a strange feeling being asked to do CD signings and presentations in bookstores. When I was back in England I’d see people presenting in Borders or HMV and think “That looks cool.”, now I’m here in Japan, of all places, doing the same thing myself! It doesn’t seem real somehow.

Oxford University Press were on before me today, which was good as it shows the contrast between the genki stuff and their more “bookish” things. Having said that I do really like their new potato pals series.

The gig today was in the store itself, which is always cool as I can be really loud to get more and more people to join, and the room itself was pretty packed. I also did things differently today by deliberately saying the first 30 minutes would be a “Mini kids Show” and the second hour would be for teachers. And it worked really well. In the kids show I could pretty much ignore the adults and not worry about them getting lost as they could see the how well the kids were doing.

It’s always good to get kids to do the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” song as they always go mad in between the verses ( hence the long delay before the next one comes in!). Adults never believe it till they see it and always look around saying “eh?? What’s all this empty time for?”. Then we moved onto “When, When, When?” and it was fantastic to see all the teachers with a “Woooo, this is too hard and too fast!” expressions, then the kids quite effortlessly singing their way through it! The kids were actually really good, so I asked the usual choice of “Easy” or “Challenge” for the next song, and they all wanted to go for the challenge. So we tried the “Under the Sea” song. Part way through they were flagging a bit ( they’d also sat through the OUP readings before me) so I did the Sticky Fingers game, which lasted about 3 minutes before they started getting restless again, so it was time to go back to the song. Then a big finish with “Thank you!” and they were great.

After a ten minutes break it was into the hour long teachers’ workshop. Things worked out really well as I’d already done warming up with the kids, and the Genki English rules ( “I can do it!” and “Losing just means try again!”), and more importantly the teachers couldn’t do their “This is too hard, kids can’t possibly do it!” excuse as the kids who were lingering at the back were keeping up no problem!

There were also lots of fans here today, which is always good to see, and most people had come to buy CD6, so that’s mainly what we did. Make a Face went over OKish, and I was a bit surprised as I thought they would have liked it more. The alternative “Draw a face” version went down a little better. Then everyone became really genki for “Do you have any pets?” which was good. Explaining about using the 2 rabbits mix so the teacher says “I have 2 rabbits” but the kids say “He/She has 2 rabbits” got a nice round of “ooo”s, as did using the two versions to solve the “I have a hamsters” problem. Everyone was a little tired by now, so we had a quick go of the Gokiburi game. Then after doing the “Drinks” Remix ( I still prefer the Heavy Metal version though!), we did the Phonics ABC song. They went mad!! In the conversation topics they were happy, but as usual with Japan, introduce some letters and they suddenly all jumped to cloud 9!! I have got to find a way to make sure they do the communication bits before the reading, not the other way round!

Then we finished off with “Where do you live?” which is a great ending. As the kids were all doing different things now, it was good to be able to do more talky bits with the teachers, like the Harry Potter effect and why “being shy” needs to be addressed ASAP ( as the actual definition of shy is “the degree to which we cannot communicate with other people”). And it was great to have time at the end to chat to everyone. The only funny thing about today was that in old days I used to look at bookstore gigs as a great budget booster where we’d sell lots more than usual. But these days even though everyone bought a load of stuff today, we still sold the same amount online without having to do all the hard work today. But I guess that’s a consequence of all the hard computer work I’ve put in over the past few months, and there’s no two ways about it, actually getting out there and using the stuff with real teachers and real kids is 1000% more fun!

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genkiβ€”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!