How to teach Genki English to kids – in video

One of the things that came up in the Teacher Training Academy discussion yesterday was that it isn’t really the materials or lesson plans,  it’s all those tiny little tricks and techniques that make the difference between a truly awesome lesson,  and one where the kids just fall apart.

Sometimes all it takes in one word to make the world of difference.

So ….  here is a never before seen video of me teaching a (totally artificial) demo class but complete with real kids.

Obviously this a *very* artificial lesson with teachers and parents and cameras and mixed level kids. But it was part of a 2 day training program where I wanted to show my teachers the key techniques I use to introduce new material in a real class – just like yours:

Normally you’d start at lesson one of the curriculum and work from there, but here I wanted to show you a more advanced lesson, this time for the past tense.

– Started with Good Morning.

– Then into Genki shhhh, to make sure they are under control.

– I need this for the game later, so did Hip Hop Rock, Paper, Scissors.

– Notice that all the English comes from the computer
– Use the mini lesson to teach the song acapella, then the Song
– Plus teaching Rule 1: I can do it!

Then I asked them if they wanted easy or challenge for the next lesson – give them ownership of what we do.

So we started on the past tense “What did you do in the Summer?

– Ask the kids what they think my favorite sport is – don’t teach the list, we ask them to guess.
– Notice that they don’t yet know all the words in English.
– Pronunciation all comes from the computer.
– Every word ( I, like, went etc.) has a gesture, not just the sport.
– The gesture ideas come from the kids not the teacher.
– Introduce the question in the mini lesson – this also gives the teacher a quick rest.
– Then the song.

This is just the first 15 minutes of the lesson, and I think you’ll agree we did quite a lot.  If you’d like to see the rest, let’s see how your homework goes below and I’ll see about added some more.  🙂

There are a lot of techniques there so replay it again and I hope that gives you glimpse into how I teach English.

And remember there are two types of teachers who see this, those that look for the little ideas and think “I can use that!” And then there are those who say “but in my school …” “but with my kids …..” “but in my town….” “but that’s not a real class…..” “but he’s wearing a t-shirt” …….

Don’t make excuses. Make awesome lessons! 🙂

And I’m sure this will bring up tons of questions, so ask away in the comments!

And your homework for today is,

“What new teaching techniques did you pick up on in the video?”

Let me know in the comments and let’s see how we go!

Keep up the great work!

Be genki,

Richard

P.S.  And remember you don’t have to be this good.  I wrote all this stuff.  And I’m the teacher trainer.  So just pick up a few points, try them out,  watch again, pick up a few more and repeat.  Before long you’ll have awesome lessons too! 🙂

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And 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. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

8 Responses to “How to teach Genki English to kids – in video”

  1. Brad

    Great video, so many new techniques that can be used straight away.

    First technique, I like the competition to get a strong response.
    Teacher vs students, students vs parents, student group A vs student group B, etc.
    Second techique, asking students about sports first, getting some ideas from the kids.
    Then asking the students to guess what sports you like, etc.
    This idea brought out lots of vocab and could give you an idea of their level too.

    Just a couple of techniques I noticed quickly and will put into practice today!

  2. Lindsay

    Thanks Richard! Watching this was a great way to start my day. 🙂

    Some things I saw that I haven’t done/thought of before:

    There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for the students to be idle. There was always some kind of gesture or movement involved.

    When you used the software, you switched back and forth between being the leader (asking the questions), but you also mixed in with the students when answering the questions as well.

    You added a Genki catchphrase between each stage of the lesson.

    Sometimes you kept silent, did the gestures and got the kids to do the talking.

    You always had a smile on your face. I do smile in my classes, but I also get cross with students for a number of reasons. 🙁

    I also saw some not so great things that happen in my classes (none of which were related to Richard or the teaching):

    Teachers “partially” participating.

    You were constantly telling them to participate. That would frustrate the #$@% out of me.

    How much do you suggest requiring that teachers participate if they are there in the class? I can always count on certain teachers participating, but there are others who just sit there and do other work. (I think I recall something on the blog that you asked a teacher to leave one of your workshops because she wasn’t participating.)

    Parents hardly participating

    Their greeting was disappointing. Again, you were always telling them to join in. I think Genki English is probably overwhelming for some people, but trying to do the “Good Morning” Song with a purse hanging off your shoulder? Please! Get involved for crying out loud! I’ve often wondered how parents expect their kids to be invested in the learning process if they themselves aren’t.

    Not a whole lot of output during the song software (specifically Good Morning)

    This has happened frequently in my classes and is one of the reasons I started questioning whether or not I could teach Genki English. The kids are great repeating vocabulary, doing the back and forth Q & A. Cards are most effective with my classes.

    When I use the software…1 of two 2 things usually happens 1) The kids laugh loudly and uncontrollably at the screen (the GE Disco Warm Up Hamster gets them every time) or 2) The kids watch the screen as it if were a TV show. Either way, not a lot of output going on.

    I hope this doesn’t sound “blamey” – I know the changes needed to make my lessons better start with me 🙂

  3. Dacha

    Hi,
    just a few quick notes after the first half of the video:
    – it’s great to see how you actually use a mini lesson to teach! I’ve never quite managed to get it! The computer does the “talking”, but you’re present too, making gestures with the kids.
    – the “shhh” technique- completely forgot about that one! It happens every time: I learn Something, find it useful, but have a tendency to forget!
    – I definitely need a big screen! Or at least a projector: but I teach in two places that means buying two…
    Thank you for the video- now off to see the second part!

  4. Richard Graham

    Thank you everyone for the replies!

    @Brad: All good stuff!

    @Lindsay: Glad you picked up on the good things first! 🙂 I should really have titled this “how to teach a (very) mixed group” We literally have people from 5 years old to 60 and from totally fluent English to absolutely zero. So it’s all a case of priorities. My priority in this case were the two cheeky teenagers at the front, I had to get them on my side for when I needed to break it down more for the 5 and 6 year olds. (Notice how they were trying to get behind me to claim control!) The teachers I knew from the day before, and knew I could come back to them later. If I didn’t know them I would have been more strict. The parents, normally I would have explained things in their language – remember they know no English and were expecting a “regular” English class – and also normally I would have done the Disco Warm Up as a much easier (physically!) track than Good Morning to start with. They did participate though, and for the first few minutes that was fine whilst I was getting the teenagers/toddlers under control. And you know, this is just 10 minutes, so we can’t be too hard on them. 🙂 Although it does go to show that teaching the kids is the easy part, it’s the parents we have to teach first.

    For the output in the song, they were really LOUD, just the music was louder so the mics didn’t pick it up. If they had been quieter or hadn’t sung I would have stopped, told them “That wasn’t very good was it?” and then done it again.

    With the kids laughing at the videos. Great! That’s what we want. There is nothing more joyous than laughter. ( Even without a Chewbacca Mask 🙂 ) Then use a technique to stream that laughter into action. Again one simple one is to join in the laughing, stop the video, calm yourself down, calm the kids down (whilst still keeping on that edge) and then do the song again. In any case always insist on the output, AND keep the laughing energy. Again it’s an expectations issue, and if it’s not there take away the media privileges 🙂 You only need to do it once.

    @Dacha: Cool, yeah the computer makes all the difference. I’d always recommend a TV rather than a projector these days if you can! See you on Skype in ah….1 minute! 🙂

  5. Lindsay

    @Richard – before starting a demo lesson would you take the time to explain to the parents “this is what I do” or do you surprise them with it?

    Would you tell the kids your expectations at the beginning of the demo as well? (I’m thinking yes?)

    Expectations expectations. I DEFINITELY need to outline these more with my kids!

    Kind of a non related question – do you yourself require parents/guardian to be present at a demo lesson?

  6. Richard Graham

    @Lindsay: You are very observant that I didn’t do the expectations on video, the local teachers did that with the kids before I started. It really is the key. And you can of course put them in the contract too – for both the parents and the kids.

    The parents will probably know that it’s not going to be the usual English lesson so I wouldn’t usually explain before, although you could if you wished if you had the time before the class started, and I guess I could have done here. Sometimes I would say little bits to the parents in their native language in-between activities, including what you do and also praising their kids (parents love this!) but only if the kids were behaving well of course 🙂

    If you want high sign up rates I would always recommend to get the parents present – otherwise they have no idea what you just did!

    And if you want lots of word of mouth marketing then I would always get them participating just like the kids. There’s a world of difference between just watching and actually doing and they will be bursting to tell all their friends what they just experienced! 🙂

  7. Lindsay

    @Richard – thanks!

    I had a bit of a rough week last week at the demo lessons for the kindergartens I teach at – demo lessons not going according to plan, so I really need to re-evaulate how I do things.
    :-/

  8. Maria

    super fun not boring competition of student teachers and mothers from all really happy! It’s fantastic idea when you teach to a students they are feel exciting. Your fantastic when I saw your demo I really love it thank you.

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