Richard's Blog Diary!

Take any problem in the World and it's invariably caused ( or made worse) by a lack of education. Too many kids hate school because it's too boring. So the aim of Genki English is to have all subjects in all countries taught in a fun, engaging and effective way.

And this is how I'm trying to to do it ...

Whilst not as exciting as the first few years travelling up and down the country in the back of a van, I still get to now fly around a lot of places and meet a lot of interesting people. So if you want to find out what's it's like behind the scenes or how & why I do what I do or even if you're just nosey or a bit bored, have a read!

This is a bit of an experiment so please get in touch let me know what you think!

I'll update the diary as often as I can, so keep coming back!

December 17th 2005 - Bangkok - the Prime Minister

Oh my goodness I have never seen anything like this before! There were 2,000 teachers here alright, but it was also a full scale expo. Adding in members of the public, and students who were doing events, there were 10,000 people altogether! Things started out with a massive show by kids from all over the country, full of dancing and singing and plays in English. Then the Education Minister started a speech, and as he did, the kids started singing again, so he joined in! Wow, you'd never get that in Japan, the Education Minister actually joining in and singing in English!

Then afterwards I was told that my workshops would be in a different place, because ...... the Prime Minister wants to use my room!!! Eh?? Errr, well, err, yeah, OK. But then a very nice lady from the Ministry slapped a security badge on me and said "You're having lunch with him"!

So I had lunch with the Prime Minister! Talk about surreal to say the least. But it was really cool. There were also a group of students there and he did everything in English, talking about how education in Thailand can be improved, and it sounded like he was reading a Genki English blurb word-for-word, this could be really exciting.

This whole expo in fact was only put together in a matter of weeks, and they really have the intent to go ahead and implement all these changes, starting with confidence training for the teachers. In Japan it's like, "Well, we know things are bad, but we can't do anything", in Korea it's "Right, this is what we're going to do. Do it, do it, do it!" whereas here it's "yep, we're doing it!". In ten years Thailand could be a really strong world player if they keep this up!

So the rest of the day was spent sorting things out for tomorrow, chatting to people and even in Bangkok I can't walk around without bumping into people I know, which is pretty cool I guess. But lunch with the Prime Minister, I'd have never thought of that this morning when I woke up!

December 16th 2005 - Thailand - Preparing for tomorrow

Over the weekend I have 8 hours of workshops but I have no idea what level the teachers will be at, nor what types of things they are looking for. All I do know is that there are 2,000 of them altogether!! So I basically have to prepare everything.

People always ask me how I prepare for workshops ( or even normal lessons), and to be honest all I do is to pull up the site, pick the theme and choose one of the recommended games, just like I recommend everyone else to do. It's good for me to see the site from the reader's point of view though, and today I noticed there were lots of themes where some of this year's new games would fit perfectly. So I've updated the links to the recommend games for quite a few of them.

Thai teachers love to sing, so things like "What do you do?" and basically everything off CDs1 & 2 should be cool, then hopefully we can move on to some higher level stuff. One cool thing about Thailand is that unlike Japan or Korea I only have to spend a few minutes doing motivation stuff. Especially the rural teachers here are well motivated, because if their kids can get good at English, they get into high school and can get a job to support their families. So most of tomorrow will be activities, activities and more activities!

Right, now I'm off for a quick swim in the outside pool ( yeah!!!), and then to buckle down to learn some basic Thai!

Update: Well, as usual when I update the blog in the middle of the day, things didn't quite turn out as planned. Just as I stepped out the door I had a brilliant idea for the Vegetables Song so I popped back in my room, sat down and wrote and produced the whole track straight off! Wow! In Spain when I was doing CD5 it took my ages to come up with great productions, but here in Thailand it seems to happen so much easier. In fact I was so happy I had a go at the "What's your favourite flavour" song and finished that one as well!! Very nice! So instead of going to the pool I popped into town for some food and I think I know why I get so many songs done in Thailand ( CD4 was mostly written here), it's because there is music everywhere! All along the streets there are bands and musicians playing. Plus the Christmas decorations are amazing, I thought Japan and Disney Land were cool, but this is the biggest set of lights I've ever seen!

December 15th 2005 - Off to Bangkok

When I flew to Thailand in September my plane was delayed and my hotel got cancelled, so this time I'm flying a day early! It's also a bit strange coming here to do something official ( the Education Ministry are sponsoring everything this time, not just the prefectural boards of education) and having to bring a suit and all my workshop stuff.

The airlines are being well strict with baggage limits ( fuel prices I guess), so if you're flying home for Christmas be careful. I had 28kg of stuff which is usually OK ( they usually say 20kg for non-US flights and allow an extra 10kg for free), but they made me unpack 3 kg of stuff and carry it as hand luggage or pay an extra fee! A lot of that is the picture cards - now we've put all the extra ones in they are far too heavy! If I didn't need them in Germany I'd give them away to the Thai teachers as they love getting hold of colour picture cards as even black and white ones are hard to get hold of for most teachers.

Anyway off to get some food and to try and get some work done which after being used to a 100Mpbs fiber-optic connection in Japan, the net is a little slow to say the least!

December 14th 2005 - Packing up & backing up

I haven't posted too much in the last few days as I've been packing up all my stuff in Japan and getting ready for the next few months of workshops. With moving around all the time I never really buy anything for myself, but I still seem to accumulate a lot of things that all need packing up and storing for the Winter. Backing up all the data is a whole day's job in itself, but an essential thing to do!

December 10th 2005 - Online Picture Books

Picture Book to learn English3 years ago I was asked to write a series of 12 picture books for a publisher in Tokyo. Picture books are huge in Japan, but I hadn't the foggiest idea how to write one. Luckily for me though they put me through a year's crash course with some of the best editors and producers in Japan, which after a lot of "now then Richard, that's not very good is it?"s, I got to see all the tricks and methods that make a great picture book great.

Since then people have been asking me to write more books, and when you combine them with CDs I've been really impressed at how useful they can be for learning English. The kids want to listen to them again and again! But it's not really economically viable for me to produce printed books ( teachers are too small a market to cover the costs!), and I've always been really impressed, and hence highly recommend, the Apricot series of picture books. The author, Nakamoto Sensei, is as far as I'm concerned, a genius in that she writes some really cool stories with only the most minimal English. "Pal the Parrot" is a classic!

But there are still some language areas that don't have suitable books, and while I've been writing lots of ideas, I just haven't had a way to get them out there. However, in yesterday's demo class what they did was that instead of a normal book, they'd cut out the pages and stuck them on large pieces of card. This way the kids can see, even from the back. And that's where I realised for the first time that picture books don't actually have to be books! They can be printed sheets that you can laminate and hold up in front of the class!! That means anyone can print them out themselves, and as far as GE is concerned, I can simply upload the first few into the CD Owners Club to see how people like them! That means I can have a budget for them ( as hopefully a few people who were wondering whether to buy the CDs or not might see the picture books and decide to go for it), and I can put the non-printable version on the site so the kids can study at home!

So I spent the day producing the first one! It's not yet finished, and I haven't done the printable version nor put sound on yet, but have a look and see what you think!

Online Picture Book: "What's your favourite food?"

December 9th 2005 - Fukuoka - Freezing School + What colour is Xmas?

I must say that the demonstration schools these days are getting so much better. Even a few months ago they tended to leave me under impressed to say the least, but all the schools this week have been getting some great results with their kids. Today's school was a huge open day with all 18 classes doing English, with lots of parents and visitors. I was asked by the Board of Education to pop along to meet some people, so for the first time in ages I went to school in a shirt and tie, no need for the Genki English uniform today!

The classes themselves were really good. The first few grades had picture books and songs, the third grade teacher was an amazing musician who had actually written his own songs! I wonder if he'd like to share them with everyone on here?? The other grades had things like bugs and stuff which was good, then the 5th graders were doing interview games and could speak a fair bit. So overall it was very well done, the kids were very active participants, the language points were correct and relevant, and the kids were speaking a lot. . In fact the only real criticisms I have are that in the older grades, the school was starting to copy a few bad traits from Junior High School, e.g. kids writing katakana on their worksheets, and teachers translating what the ALT has to say. These do need to be fixed ASAP, but the people inspecting the lessons also picked up on them which was good. The 6th graders were interesting in that they were talking about their trip to Nagasaki. There was a huge jump in level here, and it seemed like it had been pinched straight out of a JHS textbook ( mistakes and all). But each class approached it differently, and in one class the kids were the usual 6th graders, but in the other two the ALT and Japanese teacher were working together really well and the kids were having a ball, laughing and joking in English, which by all counts is great!

Christmas ColoursThen after the demo lessons it was time for all the visiting teachers to get together in the gym and have a "lecture". And it was freezing!!!! It's a good job the kids don't learn writing in elementary school as they were all wearing coats and gloves in class. But at least they were moving, here the teachers had to sit still for 2 hours! And as usual in Japanese lectures half the people were asleep, and the other half looked bored to death. That's one thing I heard yesterday, that people are always entranced when I do workshops! That's because I'm always looking in people's eyes, and at the first sign of someone not understanding something or not being interested, I back off and re-approach it from another direction. You've got to peak people's interest, and then keep that interest alive if you really want them to learn something. The traditional Japanese way, however, is simply to go on with the script, even if it means nobody is paying attention. As someone who never has enough time in the day, I can't really see the point in that!! So anyway, after the first series of lectures the teachers were expected to try out some activities and the very nice lady in charge of this bit asked me to do a warm up to try and get them a little less frozen! So in 5 minutes I did the main bits of the GE workshop, and they were shocked to say the least! But they were happy, smiling, alert and most importantly saying "oh, now I see", which is the main thing!

I also picked up a few nice ideas in the workshop, one of which I thought would work great with one of the games on the site, so when I got back home I put up the "What colour is Christmas?" game! Enjoy!

December 8th 2005 - Thursday - Mail

Spent the day replying to my email and maintaining the site. Then in the evening I caught up with one of the ALTs in town. It's always good to hear how other people see the materials. Usually the ideas and things I put on the site and the idea is you twist and shape them to your own class, but sometimes there are a few little steps that if you don't do, it doesn't work. So it's good to see those and find out which bits I have to explain more. Similarly there are a few ideas and things I've put up in the past that I haven't used myself in a while, and it's good to hear how people are using them!

December 7th 2005 - Wednesday - Oita - Shy at first & "ALTs changed my life"

A train at a very silly hour ( any train time that begins with 6 something can't be normal), and finishing with a 30 minute taxi drive through the mountains ( don't even imagine how much it cost!) , I eventually arrived at today's school, right in the south of Oita prefecture.

The school here has been doing English pretty seriously for 3 years and the lady in charge is very much into things. She'd also seen a genki English workshop a few years ago so asked me to her new school for a show and workshop today. Things started out cool with lunch with the 5th grade kids, and they knew pretty much all the basic stuff and were quite genki! I did get a bit worried though that the teachers kept saying "our kids are shy". Because usually that means the teachers let the kids get away with using "shyness" as an excuse. By definition shyness is simply the degree to which you cannot communicate with other people, i.e. the less shy you are the broader the range of people you feel comfortable with. Being a 100 kg, glasses wearing kid when I was at school myself, I know that being shy helps no-one and in the English classroom, especially, it's something to be really worked on and never to be used as an excuse!

Anyway, I started the show, and after Akita the other week, instead of a big entry with all the groovy music I started off nice and slow and chatty, and then intended to build things up. Ah, that didn't work did it!! These kids were indeed "shy". Well not so much shy, they certainly could do all the basic English, but they just didn't have the confidence!! The first rule of Genki English and the main part of the show is getting the kids to think "Dekriru, dekiru, dekiru - I can do it!", and usually when I ask the kids if they can try 3 hours worth of lessons in one hour, there's an even mix between kids who say "oh no" and "yes!". But today everyone was a deadpan "oh no". Now I wish I'd started with the big music!!

Even rock, paper, scissors didn't get them going that much ( usually I have to call in crowd control for that song!). If this was a normal lesson I would have stopped things, forgot about teaching anything new and just worked through confidence building techniques because that's really what they need. But in a show format, that's not something I can easily do! So then I figured that they might just be bored with the basic level stuff and also the gym was pretty freezing, so getting them moving in a game might help things along! So I did "How old are you?", and the jumps got them a little genkier, then we did mingle to practise "How old are you?". The were smiling by this point, and had the English no problem, but they still didn't have the "Yes! I can do it!" fire in their eyes. So after racking my brain as to what to do to finish on a high note, I figured on the genkiest song "Where are you going?" and that just about managed to do the trick.

So that was really hard work!! But in the end they did end up realising how good they can be when they got over the shyness!

Then afterwards it was the teachers' workshop, and I could see where the kids get it from!!! Mind you I guess they were expecting a traditional Japanese workshop. I had been asked to do lots of songs and games, but doing those is meaningless without addressing the confidence issues underneath. So most of the 2 hours was spent going through the teachers questions, helping them out and basically letting them see that English isn't quantum mechanics or open heart surgery, it's simply a foreign language that millions of people speak everyday.

It's not like climbing Mt Fuji. Compared with the other subjects they have to teach ( e.g. moral education!) it's simply a little hill, and thanks to Japanese "gairaigo" ( foreign words), they've already climbed half of it! Just like swimming, you don't start off in the deep end, you start off in the shallow end, then you keep on adding in a a little bit more each week and before you know it you'll be swimming freely.

The teachers here have the tools and knowledge to do English lessons, and they just need the little push and confidence to take the kids to the next level, which judging by their faces and comments at the end, they are well on their way. The stated aim of teaching English at this school is actually to get the kids better at communicating in Japanese. The theory goes that the kids feel like English has different rules, so feel freer to express themselves, which then rubs off on their daily lives and Japanese communicating skills. In most cases it does actually work, and I think today's school can really pull it off, as the difference between the kids at the beginning and end of the show was pretty huge.

Then in evening it was out for dinner with some of the teachers, and it was great to hear what they got out of the workshop. They are all great teachers, and just like yesterday, very genki!! They've always worked closely with many ALTs and CIRs over the years ( both good and bad!), and it was really nice to hear one of the teachers saying that even just a couple of years ago she was terrified of anyone foreign. But after being ( forced to be! ) around ALTs, she got to know them and was so grateful that she could get over her fears and enjoy spending time with them. Now really wants to try her best to pass this on to the kids. Nice.

December 6th 2005 - Tuesday - Fukuoka - Big School Day

Today was a big school today. One of the schools that I did a workshop for in Summer was having their parents' day ( where parents come to watch lessons), and the theme was that all the teachers would be teaching English. Then afterwards I had a presentation for the parents, because their support is really important.

So after the greetings and formalities it was time to tour round the classes. I only get to see teachers doing their own lessons every once in a while, and it always surprises me at just how genki elementary school teachers are!! I thought I was genki in class, but these teachers get first prize! Usually when I do these types of visits I spent half my time thinking "oh dear" as the teachers very often teach stuff that's simply wrong English, or just let the kids rely on Japanese to get by in the activities. But today they had things well researched, the language was all well chosen and correct and the kids were actually using it in the games. Nice.

The first grades were doing "Rock, Paper, Scissors", and it was interesting to see that the teachers took the time to make sure the kids knew what the game was all about. This is something I often forget, and just assume that the kids all know it, so it was good to get the reminder. Other classes were doing Christmas themes, "Where are you from?", the 3rd years were doing the classic "fast food ordering" theme complete with the hats, packets and menus that McDonalds will give you if you ask. I was a bit surprised that the fourth graders were doing "fruit basket" as their game ( a game I've never used it in class as it's too easy for the kids to wait for the words in Japanese!), but at least they had the question in there and got all the kids to say "What's your favourite colour?" before each round. And it is the questions that are important. As the kids can already understand the colour names we need to teach things they don't actually know! One of the fourth grades also did the "Where are you going?" song and they had thought up the most genkiest, craziest dance I've ever seen. It was great to hear the board of education people praising the teacher's enthusiasm!

Over all it was really well done, and way above most of the demo lessons I've seen over the years. Some of the teachers taught with ALTs, and many of them taught on their own which was great to see the confidence they had. The only thing that did surprise me was they had a "goodbye song" that was set to the tune of "happy birthday". That seemed a bit strange as that song is a great song to use as is, but that was the only thing I picked up on. Good!

Afterwards the teachers had a report to the parents about how they were doing English. One nice thing in there was an survey from the kids. ....

Then it was my turn. When we were preparing this the teachers weren't sure how many parents would actually stick around for a "lecture" ( as it was billed in Japanese), so they put in lots of request for new themes for themselves to follow on from the workshop in Summer. But as it happened there were loads of parents there! That was great, and it meant I could start from the beginning with the "English is easy" stuff, and it was really great to see the parents with their looks of "oh no, English is far too difficult for my child", where as the teachers had the "ah, just wait a minute!" look on their faces! We also did a couple of new themes to illustrate the points, and although they are a little tricky for first timers, they did really well with "What sports do you play?", "I can do it?" and well as "How are you?" and the game.

So that was really nice for me to see how the school is really progressing, and to be a very small part of it. If I just go and do a kids show the teachers don't really follow up, then with a workshop the teachers start to re-think about why English is important, but usually they get too busy and never really get round to implementing things. But with a second workshop it's always a case of "right, we've tried all the other stuff and we want more!", then now with workshops for parents it should really help take things to a new level. The teachers and ALTs are trying 110% and have the full support of the head teacher and board of education, which is half the battle. The kids are certainly showing the results, the kids don't know me here, but when I walked in I was asking them questions and stuff and they were trying really hard and using the English they knew to get across what they wanted to say. So let's see what happens now!

December 5th 2005 - Monday - I like THE snowman

One thing that constantly crops up with Japanese teachers making their own lessons is the confusion over "I like apple/apples" etc. Last week this came up when a teacher was asking about a demo class. She came up with a great idea of using real Christmas ornaments of things like a bell, a snowman, a star etc. and then asking the kids which ornaments they like. The question would be "What ornaments do you like?". ( Personally I would have gone for "What's your favourite....?" or even "Which ornament do you like?" but "What ornaments do you like?" isn't wrong so that's OK.)

The problem came with the answers! The teacher picked up on "I like bell" as being wrong, and was thinking of saying "I like bells". But the second word was "snowman" and you can't say "I like snowmans", and introducing "snowmen" so early just confuses the kids. As luck would have it though there was only one of each item, so what I suggested was to say "I like the bell", "I like the snowman" etc. Really in that case the question should be "Which ornament do you like?" but in the game context they had, it worked, and it meant the lesson plans ( which had already been printed) didn't need to be changed too much.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation ( i..e being in class and not wanting to teach wrong English, but at the same time not wanting to embarrass the class teacher), then using "the" might be one way out!

December 4th 2005 - Sunday - CD5 Teaching Guide Videos

Spent the weekend editing up the Japanese versions of the CD5 Teaching Guide videos. It takes a long time! But if you speak Japanese, the first four are now online.

This week I'm busy with school visits, but I'll get the English ones done as soon as I can!

The English versions for the other CDs are on the Teaching Guide Video CDROM.

December 2nd 2005 - Friday - it is around the world

In workshops and things, one of the things I always mention is that Genki English is used in over 100 countries. That sounds rather good in the beginning, but it's not until days like today that it really sinks in. In between sorting out workshops in Thailand, and following up on ones in Korea, I've been organising CDs to Costa Rica, Italy and Germany, and talking with teachers in Taiwan and China. Just now I've had an email from a Russia company who is interested in the songs. It seriously is the world wide web, and for a for an English bloke sitting in a Japan coffee shop on a Friday night, it does make me feel like I've done a good week's work!! Have a nice weekend!

PS New games, kids' song and cards on the site!

December 1st 2005 - Thursday - CD1 is finally out and Genki German!

Yeah!!!! The new version of CD1 is finally out, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. It's been really frustrating over the last few months as I've been working on the new CD 1 materials, and testing and using them in schools and lessons, but I haven't been able to talk about it on the site, and I kept having to tell people they can't buy it till December!

It really has been worth all the hard work though, CD1 has always been the best CD because it has the famous songs that are all quite easy, and now with the remixes, e.g. the easier to teach version of the weather song etc., and mainly the upgraded software ( especially the pronunciation guides ), it should help teachers who've been torn between doing these songs because they're easy but they are on their own, or doing the slightly higher level songs because they have the software to help them. So I'm really happy that it is now exactly what I saw it being when I first started the project 5 years ago!

And hopefully everyone who already has the CD will be happy with the upgrade plan!

So it's back to finding out what other problems teachers have and trying to help with those. Today's meeting was interesting in that I got good some good comments on problems with teaching vocab, and there have been plenty of emails following the newsletters.

And there's still more content to go up on the site, I've been working on the Kids' Song of the Month, which will hopefully be ready for tomorrow ( a day late, sorry about that !). But today I did get a head start on the new Genki German materials! Here's to the World Cup next year!

November 29th 2006 - Tuesday - A great deal on Kids English

One good thing about being away is that my phone doesn't work. I still spend a couple of hours each day doing email, but when I got off the plane last night within 10 minutes my phone was ringing!

As it happens though there's some really good news. Long term readers may remember the "Kids English" set of books, videos and CDs for younger kids. Well, we've just managed to work out a new system where we can offer Genki English readers the package directly, and at a very nice price. The number we have is limited, but if you are interested, have a look at the "Kids English" page.

Recently many schools have been looking at picture books in lessons ( I love the Apricot ones!), and the Kids English ones are great because they each have a video that teaches the target language, basically in the Genki English style, but with real actors. This could be really useful for elementary school teachers, as well as parents.

November 27th 2006 - Sunday - Genki Korean?

Today was also a really, really cool day. Out for a very nice Sunday lunch, with some very cool people. Then a great tour around all the local sites, including a massive big Buddha and a fizzy hot spring - I kid you not!

I was also chatting with one of the teachers there and making a website for learning Korea sounds very possible. To be honest I haven't had as much success with the Pimsleur series for learning Korean as I though I would. But it does seem simple enough, you just need the right way to go about it. So just like the "How to speak Japanese" site at, hopefully there'll be a "How to speak Korean" site soon, and I'll test it by using it on myself!

November 26th 2005 - Saturday - Korea - Big Workshop!

Today was the main reason for popping over to Korea, two Genki English workshops at the KOTESOL Symposium. Korea is much further along than Japan, but still runs into the same sorts of problems, i.e. how to get the kids having fun whilst still progressing with their lessons. Hence the workshops went down great. Everyone seemed terrified at first, but a quick run through one of the songs and everyone was acting just as crazy as your average 7 year old.

Content wise it was basic songs ( What's your name?, How old are you?, Where are you going?, I can do it!, Thank you ) with some basic games ( such as Mingle, Harry Potter, Leapfrog ) to illustrate the main points which are the Genki English rules, and the ways of motivating the kids, i.e. it was pretty much similar to the online workshop. It's amazing how many MAs and Phds there are in Korea, and most people seemed to have a very good knowledge of TESL, so it was cool to not have to explain why the songs work, but to just do them. Except for the Leapfrog game which tanked because I forgot to do the Rock, Paper, Scissors song first, sorry about that!! It would have been cool to talk about the online Phonics games, but the net was down in the room (actually in Japan I don't think I've ever had a room that was even supposed to be online!). Phonics seems to be huge over here though, probably to combat the "Konglish" syndrome, which is similar to what we have in Japan with the non-English alphabets interfering with pronunciation.

It was great to present to teachers who were so eager to help out and participate, and it will be really good if we could work out a full day workshop next year.

Then afterwards everyone was invited out to a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, which was lovely, and I got to chat to loads of people. Then out on the town for lots of great chats about new ideas, waiters who do the Tom Cruise cocktail juggling, and one of the best Saturday nights out I've had in ages!

Korea Rocks!

November 25th 2005 - Friday - Off to Korea!

It's travel time again! As usual I was in "computer-work-mode" before I set off and wasn't wanting to set off, but once I did it's all very exciting. It's my 3rd trip to Korea ( 2nd this year!), but I hadn't been to Seoul Station before ( great food and very friendly people), and now I'm updating the blog in the city of Cheonan, which seems very strange in that they have this super high tech station right in the middle of the paddy fields!

But the hotel is fantastic! Just headed off to the Hot Spring, and now I'm popping out for some more lovely Korean food!

November 24th 2005 - Thursday - Fukuoka - What to teach and how to teach it...

In between packing for Korea tomorrow, today was spent putting yet more video on the Japanese version of the site. Today's two are probably the most important as they are the two most popular problems that Japanese teachers have when teaching by themselves; what English to teach, and what to do about pronunciation. They are quite easy to solve, and the videos basically go through how I built up the Genki English lesson plans, and then showing how to use the GE software to get around the pronunciation problem by just pressing a button on a computer to play each word or phrase. Very simple, but I've done the workshop so many times it's now full of jokes to keep the teachers on track for the 5 minutes it takes to explain each one! Because that's the key really, just taking away their fear. For most of us it's pretty obvious how to learn and teach the basics, but it takes a certain leap of faith to have the courage to try it for the first time, so that's what I try and provide with this videos.

November 23rd 2005 - Wednesday - More video...

I need to get a Japanese calendar for my computer as I completely forgot today was a national holiday ( I use konfabulator at the moment). I had planned to book my December flights and upgrade my computer, but the travel agents were shut and the Tenjin computer stores were packed. So instead I edited up more video for the Japanese version of the site. It is quite fun really, and the teachers in some of the workshops are just so funny. So the new ones that are uploaded are Warming Up, Teaching Songs ( with How are you?), English is Easy and my self introduction. I also got the Japanese version of the "What do you want for Christmas?" song uploaded.

Then I realised I'm off to Korea in two days and I've got a done of stuff to do before then!

November 22nd 2005 - Tuesday - English Kids like Rain!

There's one problem with the Genki English way of learning. The idea is you just learn the things that are fun and things that you want to say, then try things out and if you make a mistake it's cool as people usually correct you. Today I was getting no end of comments about the Sweet Shop Video with people saying "Why do English kids like rain?", because although I speak Japanese with a thick Shikoku accent, apparently I pronounced the word "ame" ( sweets) the Tokyo way, which means I said "English kids like the rain". Hmmm. Oh well.

November 21st 2005 - Monday - Sweet Shops Videos!

Since I first started Genki English I've always seen it as being full of video clips. The web is such a great medium for short bits of video that make it easier to get the information across, and if you look at all the old media interviews, I was always saying things like "Genki English will become a web TV station!". I've tried things in the past, but even with broadband it always seems soooo much hassle. You have to click a link, wait for the player to load ( in a new window!), wait for it to buffer, stop-start-stop-start, then at the end of the day the video quality isn't that good! Last year I thought I had a right when I put up the broadband videos of my English workshop on the site, but I get messages all the time from people saying "Oh, it looks good, but I couldn't be bothered to wait for it to load!". The curse of giving away things for free I guess!

But things are changing. In Japan now, basically everyone has broadband, it's just a case of standard 10MbpS or the super new fiber optic 100MbpS. So what I want is video to be like a graphic on screen, where you just press the button and it starts playing straight away, with no techie hassles or delays. And I think I've found out how to do it!

I spent the day messing around with some new video technology and it really does seem to work! So I quickly redid the Workshop Video pages, and it's great that they load up straight away, and without opening a new window! Flushed with this success I tried some other ideas. Over the past few years I've been filming loads of little clips of allsorts, none of it's complete enough to go on a DVD, but it's great for the web! One of my favourites is in an English Sweet Shop. So I edited it up and put it on the kids site! For teachers, a small little screen is cool, but for kids it really does need to be big and bold, and I think it really works. The problem is that if it is a lower quality it loads really quickly, but I tried it on the site as a higher quality one and I'll see what the feedback is. ( Oh, I can hear the critics now "How dare you test things on your viewers!" - it's free for goodness sake, get over it!). If it works though, this could be really cool, because with video the genkiness certainly gets passed on!

Have a look and see for yourself!

November 20th 2005 - Sunday - What do you want for Christmas? Song

It's here!! The "What do you want for Christmas?" song is up on the site! I spent the morning doing the vocals, then the rest of the day mixing and writing up the lesson plan. As the poll on the site wasn't too biased one way or the other, I also did two versions "What do you want for Christmas?" and "What would you like for Christmas?". Even the demo version on the site turned out well, and you know I'd reckon it could become a real Christmas song!!

Well, enjoy!

November 19th 2005 - Saturday - Mince Pie Fudge

I spent all morning trying very hard to get the new Christmas song to work. But whatever I did it either sounded genki but not Christmassy, or Christmassy but not genki. And by the evening I was pretty fed up with not being able to do it!!! I was even thinking of giving it up as something I don't have the skills to produce ( like the "What's your favourite flavour?" song in Summer) But then I started thinking. I've producing Christmas songs for nearly 20 years! ( Which is very scary if you think about it!) I have to be able to do this!!!! So I sat down with a big bar of Mince Pie Fudge, deleted everything and started playing from scratch. And you know what? It worked. : )

So I had planned to go and watch Harry Potter tonight, but as I managed to get the song done, I was just as happy.

November 18th 2005 - Friday - What are you looking for?

Every week I get a report through of what people are searching for on the Genki English search box ( it's on the top right!). It's very useful in finding out what new things people want on the site, and which pages need to be made easier to find. One item this month was "Days of the Week". Regular readers will know this isn't one of my favourite themes ( it's something teachers want to teach rather than what kids want to learn), but people have been asking for it, so I put the Days of the Weeks picture cards on their own page. There were also quite a few more popular pages that should be easier to find, so have a try yourself, I even found a couple of pages I'd completely forgotten about ( e.g. this article about counting.)

November 17th 2005 - Thursday - 2005 - No longer homeless!

For the first time in ages I'm actually going to be in the same place for nearly a whole month ( well, except for next weekend when I'll be in Korea). So I've actually rented myself a posh new apartment! Wow, the first time I've had somewhere of my own to live in years!!! It's quite crazy really, having all this space and not having to live out of a back pack. And to celebrate I went out and bought a big keyboard, because now I have space to have one!

Work wise I finished off the demo songs for all the songs on CD2 and CD4, even for people who have the CDs, it'll be great to just head to the page and be able to recall how the song goes. Now I'm going to do some music, and the "What do you want for Christmas?" song is coming along nicely!

November 16th 2005 - Wednesday - 2005 - A new type of Japanese transport

Along with "Warm Biz" ( asking people to dress up warm to save fuel in winter) and "Cool Biz" ( which reportedly saved enough energy to power 240,000 homes for a month this Summer), the latest Japanese eco-buzz is pedal powered taxis! Priced at 300 yen they are less than half normal taxi. There are loads running up and down the river where my coffee shop is, however they all seem to be empty. But full marks for effort, and I'm sure the advertisers will be happy with the media coverage. For me though, it's easier to just walk!

Work wise today, I put up talking versions of the Classroom English pages ( tell your teachers!), and also started work on online demo versions for each of the songs. With Genki English now being number one on Yahoo for various terms, lots of people from abroad are asking about the songs. So instead of recommend a visit to a workshop ( my usual strategy in Japan), I've been wanting to put up demo files on the site. But by putting up mp3s people would just use them without buying the CDs, plus mp3s are a bit faffy. Then I realised there is actually a "flash" window on each song page for the picture cards, so I flipped that over with a quick switch and you can now check out demo versions of all the songs on CD vol. 5!! They look pretty cool!

November 15th 2005 - Tuesday - 2005 - On TV about Kimonos, Parents' English

Over the weekend I was on TV in Akita for doing Genki English, then today I was on TV in Ehime talking about, of all things, kimono!

The thing is I'm not actually in Ehime, I'm back in Fukuoka. Which is quite strange as I was here a few weeks ago and it really seemed Christmassy, with all the lights and stuff. Then last week in Akita it was like the middle of winter being so cold! ( Even though everyone was laughing at me for wearing my big coat saying "It's not February, you know!" ) . Now back in Fukuoka it's actually quite warm, with just a light sweater, which is like travelling back in time.

I am supposed to be recording the other Adults' Songs this week, but my voice still isn't back to normal., so I'm taking the chance to work on the site. The first thing to be jazzed up is the Parents' English page. I did it before as a cool quiz type thing which I thought was great to learn from. But the reaction at workshops has been lukewarm to say the least.! So I jazzed it up and made all the phrases available at once. Have a look!

November 14th 2005 - Monday - What would you like for Christmas?

I'm wanting to put a new theme on the site of "What would you like for Christmas?". It'll be free to download from the CD Owners Club, but I can't decide between "What would you like ..." and "What do you want ....". Any preferences??? There'll also be 8 toys or presents the kids can say they'd like, so if you have any requests to go in there, then please let me know ASAP, and they'll hopefully appear in the song later in the week!

November 13th 2005 Sunday - Akita - Farewells

These last few days I've been made so, so welcome by the great group of teachers who organised all the events. Some people ( including myself!), may complain about the Japanese education system, but when you have dedicated people who put their minds to it, it is amazing what can be achieved. And this group of teachers also happens to be the best of friends, which has made things even better. So for Sunday lunch we were treated to a gorgeous Philippine meal and then everyone piled in their cars to see me off at the airport. Wow, that was so nice.

I'm lucky enough to meet a lot of people in my travels, but the people of Odate are some of the best. Thank you!

November 12th 2005 Saturday - Akita - the big event

Today was the main event, the workshop for the city's teachers. After all a one off show is great for the kids ( they're not likely to forget it in a hurry), but the teachers have to follow up to make it truly worthwhile. However before that there was yet another kids show today! This time we had 200 kids from the city's Saturday morning English club. My brief was to do a show that was a bit higher level as the kids had already studied English. But as I found out when chatting with the kids who turned up early, the difference between the kids who'd seen my normal show in school and the ones who hadn't was pretty big. Even if the kids have done some English before, it's the "I can do it" and "losing just means try again" points that mean they can move to the next level, without them they do the normal Japanese thing of saying "ehhhh??????" and get fed up when they lose games!

But luckily a big chunk of the kids had seen the show before so one very quick run through the Rock, Paper, Scissors song and they were all up to speed! Again as my voice was dodgy, I just used the CDs a capella mini-lessons which gave me a break from singing for a minute or two. Then next up it was straight into How old are you? ( which they nailed, including all the jumps!) so that we could do the mingle game, which led very nicely into What are you doing? and the Harry Potter game. They were flagging a bit by this time, but did well, especially considering they did it in 5 minutes compared with the recommended 20. Plus of course the Harry Potter game got them all crazy again. So then in the final 10 minutes I was quite happy to finish with something nice and simple like the "Thank you" song, but when I asked them if they wanted the last song to be easy or challenging ( always best to ask the kids), most of them wanted to take on a challenge!! OK, if they want to do it, let's give them what they want! So in 10 minutes we did What's the weather like? along with the Weather Clap, Clap game ( so I could check if they really had got the phrases or not) and they did it! So after 60 minutes I was well exhausted, and so were most of the kids! But then when I finished things up and left the stage they were shouting at the top of their voices for an encore!! That's only the second time the kids have beaten me in the energy stakes. So we finished off with another round of Rock, Paper, Scissors and they were shouting out at the top of their voices. So that was a brilliant way to end this week's kids tour!!

So a quick lunch and I got ready for the afternoon workshop. Being the first time in a prefecture it was very difficult to get teachers to attend today ( this always happens!), and a few people said they would only attend for an hour ( or not at all because they didn't believe a foreigner could speak Japanese) . But there were over 50 people there, which for a non-compulsory Saturday afternoon workshop is pretty amazing. Just at the last minute I also got the word that NHK would be filming, and the guy looked like he had been forced to be here and wanted to get out as fast as possible. It seems the terms "seminar", which in Japanese roughly translates as "death by boredom" and "English", which roughly translates as "the most scariest thing ever" had made everyone very uncomfortable to be there. Which is just the type of audience I like!!! Because within minutes I managed to get them up and active and falling over themselves laughing. It took 20 minutes to get them over their fear of English and from then on it was answering their questions and solving the problems. It is always nice to see teachers looking totally stressed out, but then seeing the delight in their eyes as they see how straightforward things can be. Even the NHK reporter was killing himself with laughing! He kept looking at his watch, then packing his stuff up, then on his way out starting laughing and started his camera up again! The usual topics came up of pronunciation, what to teach, how not to be shy, how a non-English speaking Japanese teacher can do it on their own, as well as questions from parents ( always nice to see them at workshops) on how to teach at home. 3 hours was just the right length, and they really got into the activities like How are you?, Mingle, the Card Game but they were so interested in the talky bits and on how to use the software that we spent a lot of time on that. So even though my voice was completely worn out by the end, after another impassioned speech about why all this is important, it was really worthwhile.

Lately I've also been re-thinking about whether to continue doing the kids shows, as they take a lot of time and also run the risk of people just seeing them and thinking that's what Genki English is, instead of realising it's actually about helping teachers. But today there was a really big difference between teachers who'd not see the show who were in the "oh no, my students couldn't do that" and the ones who had and were "oh yes, my kids did that no problem, what else do you have?", so it was really good to see the show having so much value in that regard.

So after a pretty full week it was out for lots of yakiniku, at beer at last ( the rule is never to drink the day before a kids' show!), and karaoke, eventhough my voice was so dead I couldn't sing!

November 11th 2005 - Akita - 3 Days, 9 Schools, 1400 kids & Shoe Size

Wow, that's the end of the 3 days of schools here! And today's were all brilliant. It's so much of a difference when everything is set up right and the teachers help out without having to be asked. I could go on to do a dozen more schools if they were all that good!

The first school today was cool with a standard show, the second was interesting in that we had 1st years and 5th years together. Usually that could be a problem but the 5th grade teacher is very, very genki and the kids were brilliant. And the last school was a gym full of 1st and 2nd graders, so I just did a lesson type thing with How are you? which, with the teachers' help, just hung on to the right side of organised chaos! It's amazing how well the 1st graders can pronounce things though.

My throat was still a bit dodgy, but I just LOVE my mini lessons! They were designed for teacher who can't speak English, but I tell you they are fantastic for people like myself today when I simply just couldn't talk! I also had a cunning way of getting the kids to let me drink water during the show. It's usually not allowed for teachers to drink during lessons in Japan, and the kids let you know if you do. So today when my voice was really bad, I just pretended that I couldn't speak. They were then shouting out "Mizu!", which was a great way to introduce the word "water" and get them to shout it out whenever I pretended I'd lost my voice.

Lunchtime was also cool because I got asked a new question!!! Usually I get the same questions over and over again, but today a kid asked me what my shoe size was. I think they might be studying it, maybe. But anyway, asking the kids what their shoe sizes were, I realised it would be a fantastic way to learn the numbers 20-30!! Nice. The kids can understand the question anyway, so I think that may be a new theme in the future. And why stop at 30, going up to 31 is great as the kids all know the number ( because of the ice cream shop!), and it's easy to flip over into dates for birthdays! It also makes a change from being asked how old I am, to which the answer is always "ten", to which they reply "ehhhhh? Jyusai???" and I say "no, tensai!". Try it with your kids, it's guaranteed a laugh! ( And apologies to those of you outside Japan!!) : )

The Board of Education also not only gave me my travel expenses today, they also paid me for doing the shows and tomorrow's workshop. That's very, very nice of them. I almost feel a bit sorry for writing those bad words about the first school yesterday, but it's better to be honest!

Right, tonight's a night in before tomorrow's big event. And I just checked my email and got some photos from my brother, and he's just got an exhibition of his Photographs in the Starbucks Coffee Shop in York. Very nice!

November 10th 2005 - Akita - Bad, Good, Good, Newspaper and hospital

I need to write a book, and it will be really simple. "If you want your kids to have a good education, you have to have a good head teacher at their school." I've visited however many hundreds of schools now and you can tell straight away what the kids will be like from the head teacher's first greeting. Yesterday they were cool and the kids were brilliant. This morning however.... well I didn't get a greeting at first, which is OK as head teachers are busy people. But we walked into the gym and they had a tiny CD player set up instead of the big speaker system. Even having explicit written instructions from the BOE, they still hadn't prepared stuff! So I tried to wire something up with the big speakers, but they had it all messed up and it looked like they had already broken the system. It is annoying to see schools in Japan with equipment and teachers who never take the time to learn how use it. Whereas at the same time I get emails from all over the World from schools that are desperate for things like chalk or black & white photocopies of picture cards. Then the deputy head teacher said that the 3rd years won't be attending, basically because the teacher didn't want to bother! Again, I come up here for free, the BOE pays a lot of money for my travel expenses, parents are crying out for English education and some teachers just can't be bothered.

But, for the kids you've just got to put all that to one side and give it your 100%!!! Which I did. But.... this was only the second time I've had a school where the kids didn't cheer when I asked them to! Then the sound system wasn't working at all, so I had to give up on the mic and just use my normal voice. Which is usually OK, but the teachers here just had no discipline and the kids were all over the place. Normally in that situation I'd stop, scrap the show and spend 30 minutes doing TPR type stuff to get them under control. Really that should be the teachers' job, but I asked 3 times for the first grade teacher to help with some kids who were in danger of hurting themselves and they just sat there! So there was no way to do the What's your name? song and I just went with the How are you? song, which doesn't require organised chaos! But after an hour with no mic my voice was just about dead!

Given the rule, I had an idea what the head teacher may be like, and yes it was proved again today. He seemed a decent enough bloke, but a head teacher needs to have a spark to put the fire in kids' eyes!

And I was feeling very drained! All day yesterday everyone was saying "aren't you tired?" and with good shows I never am, you finish on a really great high note, and things are brilliant. But it's shows like this that zap all your energy! And my lack of comments to the BOE people afterwards I guess added weight to the glowing reports I gave the schools yesterday!

But thank goodness the other two schools were like yesterday, absolutely brilliant!! The sound systems were all set up, the teachers were on top form and it showed in the kids who were just amazing.. They got the confidence bits down straight away and we had a right laugh going through all the jokes and stuff. Even the 6th graders were well into things, which is pretty cool! So luckily I ended up finishing the day really genkily! Then a quick chat to the Head of the Board of Education who seemed really cool, and took the time to check out this afternoon's show ( and join in the Rock, Paper, Scissors song when the cameras weren't on him!) : )

But...... after doing 3 shows, mainly due to the one without a microphone, my voice has really disappeared, I can hardly talk. So they took me to the doctors. Luckily though he said it's just a cold, so hopefully things should be cool for tomorrow with 3 more schools, then a show and the main deal, the teacher workshop on Saturday, where NHK might be coming to film!

Oh, and yesterday's shows got a pretty good write up in the papers!

November 9th 2005 - Akita - Cold, but great schools!

Usually I have a big stigma about going to schools when it's so cold, and I've think I've figured out why. Today was actually really nice, waking up in a warm hotel with breakfast, but I guess my mind keeps thinking back to the days of the GenkiMobile ( the 1975 VW Campervan used in the year 2000 Genki Tour) when it was a case of wake up cold, get dressed cold then go to a very cold school! So I was in a very good mood this morning, even though I got up really early to send off this month's English newsletter ( very nice game, can't wait to try it out!).

Today's three schools were also very, very good. Eventhough the first graders weren't allowed to join the second school's show ( because not all the teachers believe in having their students exposed to foreign languages!), all the other kids were really, really good. And I really felt sorry for the kids who couldn't join. The new CD1 software ( we're looking at a Dec 1st release date) also worked really well, but the kids were laughing to much at the Left & Right song they nearly forgot to sing! But a quick "ah, the kids in Kyushu were much better" and they were all shouting out "try again!". We even did encores after all the shows and in the last school they were shouting for an encore of the encore! The press were also in attendance so it will be cool to she what they write tomorrow.

Afterwards we were chatting about the shows and saying it would be cool if the kids had something to take home so they could check out the website and practise at home. At the same time we also had to stop the kids asking for autographs as the time between each school was really short. So we hit on the idea of giving the kids signed cards with the URL on! Which is a brilliant idea, and I wished I'd have thought about it earlier. So what I'll do is I'll put the Rock, Paper, Scissors and What's your name? animations on the kids page for a few days after each show so the kids can practise at home.

Then in the evening it was out with a very interesting bunch of people who are doing financial awareness projects for schools. Very interesting!

November 8th 2005 - Akita - The complete set!

That's it, I'm now in Akita which means I've now set foot in every single prefecture in Japan! Yeah!! Mind you I didn't nearly make it as they kept the plane circling for ages, because of .... snow!! Which is quite funny as this morning I was in a t-shirt in Kyushu!

Over the next 4 days I've got shows at 9 schools, plus an extra show for kids of the schools I couldn't fit in and then a 3 hour workshop with teachers from all the schools on Saturday ( and then a big part to celebrate!). So even though it's my first time here, they've done a great job of making a very full schedule. So let's see how Akita stacks up against the rest of Japan, and how a Genki English show will work in the snow!

November 5th 2005 - Language teaching in the UK

I noticed on one of the mailing lists today that the UK Department of Education have just put their "Key Stage 2 Framework for languages" online. It should give you some ideas for planning your own lessons/curriculum.

November 2nd 2005 - Snowed Under

Blimey, I'm a bit snowed under at the moment, so apologies for not keeping up to the blog. I've been working on a new CD project ( and I might as well let the secret out, it's the remix of CD vol. 1, to update the software to be as good as the other CDs!). The thing is it's taking ages, and next week I'm off on tour again for a week in Akita. Which should be cool, or rather cold so far up north!

The feedback forms on the site are proving great with some brilliant ideas sent in, but.... there are so many good ones I'm going to have to figure out a system to manage them all. But keep them coming and I will get everything sorted out when I get back next week, as well as send off all the thank you notes. The newsletters are going to be buzzing with ideas from now on.

The new Disney English textbooks are also now out in Japan, which could prove interesting, and apparently the 100 yen store "Daiso" now has a set of 300 yen fairy tale story books with CDs in English as well as Japanese. So the next time a class teacher asks for a play, those could be just the thing!

Oh and GE was in the papers the other day about the Okayama shows last week - nice.

Right, more coffee and back to work!

October 20th - Okayama - Back to being Genki and English is easy!

Today was really cool, it was the first time this year that instead of a "demo lesson" I actually did a full on Genki English show!! The whole idea of these shows was, if you only have one time in a school ( which I used to have when I used to volunteer at schools that didn't have JETs), then how can you get the most out of the hour? And what I came up with was getting them confident and teaching them some basic phrases they can use straight away, that the Japanese teachers can then review and build on.

And today for the first time I also did the show with the CD software and a projector, and it worked great. It's so nice being able to go at things 100% at the kids pace, rather than having to hold back so the teachers can follow! And it worked great, they plowed through the Warm Up, got all the confidence points straight away, did Rock, Paper, Scissors, then were shouting out to try again when I "failed" them on the Left & Right song. In Rock, Paper, Scissors we do the "Losing just means try again" point, then in "left and right" I tell them they weren't as good as the last school and they go crazy wanting to prove they can do it even better! And the improvement is really unbelievable. Then "What's your name?" to finish.

The PTA and also reporters where there ( and my Mum who came to watch!), and the best thing was seeing the kids who before the show looked in shock when my Mum spoke to them, but then afterwards were running up to her to say "Nice to meet you!" and having the older kids doing janken in English amongst themselves. That's a nice days work.

But then to make sure things continue the teachers have to follow up. Several of the teachers attended my workshops in Summer, and today was to get the skeptics on board! But they were great, I got them teaching themselves in groups, and the best things was I didn't need to do the "English is easy" speech, they came out with it themselves. "There is some tough English, but what we have to teach here is quite doable". Nice. Start off in the shallow end and gradually work your way out to sea. So a great day, and then they took us out for dinner to a fantastic restaurant with all you can eat freshly baked bread!

October 18th, 19th - Just computer work!

As the title says!

October 16th,17th 2005 - Ehime is just fantastic!

You know when the weather's right Japan can be a fabulous place with so many world class things to do. A friend of mine is getting married soon so my Mum has popped over to Japan for the ceremony. This weekend we took her round some of the sites in Ehime, which are just great. From left to right we have the Horse Festival in Kikuma town, the Danjiri Festival in Saijo ( where massive "portable" temples battle in the river to stop the god returning to it's temple), and the amazing Shimanami Kaido bridge as seen from the top of "Old Turtle Mountain" on Oshima island. Even things like the Asakura Towel Museum, which sounds the most boring thing on the planet, is actually really, really good and certainly worth a visit! When the weather's right, Shikoku is the place to be!

October 14th 2005 - Osaka - new animals cards

It's that tricky time of year when it's warm, but I can't quite get away with wearing shorts all the time. So it looks like it's a suit for this particular trip, which is just one day as I'm heading back home to Ehime tomorrow, for the first time since April! ( April? March? I can't remember!)

I also had a request for A4 versions of the extra animals on the card game, so here they are The card game has proved really popular, but it throws some teachers when they don't know the names of all the animals, which is a little strange really as you don't actually need the animal names to play the game, it's just supposed to be for doing numbers. Anyway, enjoy the new pictures!

October 13th 2005 - New A4 "How are you?" Cards & School Plays

Had a good day today, got lots of computer work done, and had time to answer lots of really good emails. A couple of things that came through were about doing plays in schools and a request for A4 versions of the How are you? Game cards e.g. Wet, Thirsty etc. You know it would never have dawned on me to make A4 ones, so it was good to get the feedback. They are now up on the site on the How are you? Game page. They're also in the B&W Minicards book, by the way!

Right, I'm off to make dinner for my girlfriend because tomorrow I'm on the road again!

October 12th 2005 - ipods and stuff

Apple must have a heck of a lot of people listening to podcasts on their site. The GE High School / Adults Podcast ( it seems more teachers are using it for high school rather than adult classes so that's what I'm calling it until I think of a funky name), keeps getting more and more hits, but still hovers around the 50s in the iTunes chart. Today I actually heard of a blogger who uses the podcast to learn Japanese, which is quite funny really!

The number two podcast site might be interesting to some of your adult students, it's a list of all the commonly used English phrases. Not overly genki, but very simple and free, I've been waiting for a site like that for ages:

I also got a request the other day for readers to be able to put their ideas and comments on each of the themes or games. So there's now a comment form on each page, where you can send them in. I haven't introduced a chart though ( which a few people have asked for), as what happens is the games/themes at the top keep getting voted for, and the ones at the bottom never get picked up on. There might be a way round that though, I'll have a think.

Right, back to work on the current set of video games, and the announcement about the new video ipod should be out in a bit!

Click here for my Diary April 2005 - October 2005

Click here for my Diary July 2004 - Apr 2005

Click here for my Diary Jan - June 2004

Click here for my Diary June - December 2003

Click here for Richard's Diary Jan-May 2003

Click here for Richard's Diary 2002!

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