Kobe - Tokyo 2005 Recontracting Conference Notes!

First of a all a very big thank you to the over 1,000 people that attended the 4 workshops in Kobe & Tokyo!! You were great!


So as promised, here is a rundown of what I did. I didn't do everything in all the workshops, but most of you saw most of it!

  • Tailor your presentation to your audience i.e. if you're teaching JETs try the warm up game I used!
  • My self intro and a bit about how I started Genki English ( and have a look at the tour diary ) and why I do what I do.
  • Then after everyone was nicely relaxed it was time to put smiles of people's faces with the "What's your name?" song. Seriously even the most "cool" JETs were smiling after that. In the real world it's great for kindergarten through to Junior High School First Grade. It also works great for any adult classes or presentations you have.
  • "First Name" in Japanese is "Shita no namae". Getting people to just say their first name gets over the "My name is fuakdfhafhjsdkfifhwoefko" "You what????" syndrome!
  • If you have less than 1000 kids I'd really recommend learning all their names. It's the one thing I didn't do that I wished I had!
  • Every class has a class photo with the names on the back, get a copy and ask a teacher to write the names in Romaji.
  • Or video every kid in the class, one at a time, saying their name along with one other bit of information ( club, likes, dislikes etc.) to make it easier. You have over a year left so 1,000 kids is quite doable! Just knowing a kids name can bring them around in class.



Then we did some warm up games

  • For elementary school, try "Mingle" to pick volunteers.
  • Remember the golden rule: losing doesn't mean losing, it just means "Try again"! Did you see how natural that became by the end of the presentation?
  • Then we did "Shiritori" ( JHS, SHS). Playing music in the background makes a HUGE difference to the atmosphere of the class.
  • It doesn't always work, but sometimes putting boys teams vs. girls teams can help build the atmosphere ( like we saw!).
  • Then some alphabet chases ( again JHS, SHS). This is also great when students have some time spare after doing an activity. Once they've gone through the alphabet once, get them to do it again for different words. After a while x,q and z become quite tricky!
  • And again, if you lose, just try again!




After this I went through a bit of lesson structure

  • Plan your lesson structure like a Hollywood movie. Start out with a "BANG" intro ( i.e. the warm up), then the main bit in the middle, then end on a massive high note.They do this in the movies to sell the DVD...
  • But remember that in one lesson a week you can't teach English - you're SELLING English!! Your job is to make the kids think doing English is as cool and fun as playing the playstation or watching MTV! So just like a movie, end you lessons on a high note so the students wants to go and do some more.
  • If you can, teach negative words first, then end the lesson on the positive words. e.g. the How are you? theme.
  • Adding a time limit to a game makes a huge difference. See the "I like everything" game.
  • It's not good to lie to your kids, but playing around with the times gives them a huge boost! Plus once they get the idea you'll have 7 year olds screaming out that they can do English in 2 seconds flat!
  • If not all the kids are smiling, tell them to smile! Even the coolest kid should smile. If not, use "don't smile", this will break anyone even high school kids!! ( But don't over do it!)




For High School and Junior High just introducing famous people can make a huge difference to the lesson. i.e. instead of teaching "Has she ever been to Kyoto". You say "Has Nakata ever been to the moon" and use a picture from google search to illustrate it. Just this one picture can transform a whole class!
For high school kids, especially the girls, never underestimate the power of "kawaii", it's not for nothing that Winnie the Pooh merchandise last year sold more than everything sold over the internet!

You can find the Famous People Cards on the Readers' Games page of the site.





Then finally it was the Genki Speech which is really best to be spoken, but basically...

  • With the exception of being a record producer or movie star, you have the best job in the World!
  • Your job is in three bits, 33% is to teach English, 33% is just to be the foreigner around town and get stared at, and 33% is to enjoy Japan and tell everyone back home what an amazing place it is! So enjoy it!
  • JETs are an amazing bunch of people, you're all young at heart, motivated, educated and have the most amazing skills and talents! Use the flexibility you have to use these talents for your students!
  • Whatever problems you may have, you just have to put them in perspective ( think of the mate back home!).
  • You heard my story and how I wasn't going to let the bad things define my time in Japan.
  • You are a role model for Japanese kids ( did you find out any more world famous Japanese people?)
  • They see you as someone with get-up-and-go because you got up and went all the way over to their school just to teach them!
  • I spend half the year in Japan, and as an ex-JET I really want to help you out! So if you need some help, invite me to your town or prefectural JET conference ( either the mid year, or for newbies in August)!
  • Whenever I travel around the country the difference between a town, village or city with no JET and one with a good JET is tremendous!!
  • You are making a a huge difference.
  • Whatever happens just go into the classroom, smile, have fun, leave your problems at the door and just give your everything for the kids - however old they are.
  • Enjoy your time and above all...


"Be Genki!"

Any comments or questions?
Please get in touch!



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