Richard's 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.

The aim of Genki Learning is to have all subjects in all countries taught in a fun, engaging and effective way. There are already a few million kids benefiting from this, and even a whole country where the government has put it in all their schools. But there's still a long way to go!

While I'm on the road you'll hear about my travels & workshops, and when I'm doing studio work I'll keep you up to date with ideas, updates to the site and some of my favourite teaching resources. 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.

I'll update the diary as often as I can, so keep coming back. And of course whilst I'm away, the office staff are always ready to send off your CD orders just as soon as you send them in!

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December 31st 2007 - Review of 2007

January:

I began the year with a workshop in Germany, and lots of posts for naughty kids. Genki Korean launched.

February:

Started some of the sustainable development education ideas, had the Success Secrets book in English, plus lots of games, the most popular of which were the Disaster Game (later renamed to be "Chocolate Monster") and Number Golf.

March:

I was in Japan and we saw Genki English on the NHK news, Fairy Stories for adult students, and the real menu game.

April:

Started with the "Pera Pera Candy" to make you "fluent in an instant", more famous people cards, articles on your first lessons in Junior High, NHK Documentary online, Katakana, Hangul & Hiragana songs, a Four Tonne Truck brought our latest shipment of Kids English sets and we finished on Why Japanese Food is like the Atkinfs Diet.

May:

I was in Dubai and the Make a Difference video was popular as was the Pirates of the Caribbean game. I finished the month with the Kobe JET ( Japan Exchange & Teaching) Conference

June:

I then hopped on a plane down to sunny Okinawa for the Okinawa Bootcamp and CD7 arrived. Then up to Tokyo, the Where is Baby Monkey? Rooms game and to Okayama - teaching 2000 kids in a day. The UKfs MFL Scheme of Work and Can you kick? Game were popular and I finally got to see the Thailand Ministry of Education's version of the Genki Books & CDs.

July

In Thailand along with the the British Council I was doing workshops with over a million students poised to start using Genki English. The British Council also licensed Genki English for 15 other centres. The first version of the Lesson Plans Book appeared and I set up a subsidiary of Genki English in Hong Kong.

Then back down to Earth with a bump with Aichi - End of the free rides and Another pilot school before 2 fantastic days in Kyoto.

August

Was the usual Summer madness of running up and down the whole of Japan doing workshops for Boards of Education and schools including Tokushima, Shiga, Kagawa, Nagasaki, Okinawa, Nara and back in the media. The Team Taught Pizza sold out.


September:

The rest of the World was going crazy with back to the school times, and we had Lots of Free Games. Fukuoka city had a CD7 Launch party, and I had some great lessons in Nagasaki - Favourite 5th graders who helped me with the Do you like strange foods? and Countries Card Game. The YouTube Japanese videos have had a great year (over 300,000 views), and we had the Irregular Verbs video and Can I play? & Halloween Picture Books. I started writing a column for ALC's "Kodomo Eigo" magazine and the USA had Disney Genki English. Kids English was Now on DVD and I finished my Japan tour with Yokohama & danger

October:

A whole week's holiday - in Rome. Games In Video, Festival Videos, How to Speak & Learn Italian and the Getting Genki With It Podcast

November:

I was back in the UK with Which is the best DAW? and Bonfire Night. Some of you liked the Make money with Genki English and others the Drinks Picture Book & Bro Sis Picture Book. The Numbers 13 to 20 Song came out and there was some Lesson Inspiration. I also bought the Michel Thomas Mandarin programme. November was also the biggest ever month for international CD orders - Thank you!

December:
I was on the road in Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Liechtenstein (I got my passport stamped) and managed to make the Snakes & Ladders Worksheets and finally the 2008 Calendar.



Now that was a busy year, but I quite enjoyed it. For me the best were the teachers in Thailand, they really reminded me that behind all the hard work, education is so important for their students, from being able to work to bring in food for their families to offering an alternative future to girls who would end up in not so savoury jobs. Japan was still way behind the rest of the world, but many teachers were trying their best. Personally I find myself going into 2008 with just about everything happening virtually and online so the actual country I'm in doesn't really matter anymore, which is quite a strange, but liberating feeling. I'm off in to town to celebrate the New Year now, and I'll raise a glass to all of you who have been so kind as to read my blog and support Genki English this year. I'll be back soon working my hardest to make your teaching, and learning, as fun and exciting as it can be. Thank you again and have a very Genki 2008!



December 29th 2007 - 2008 Calendar

Along with the nice end of year messages (thank you very much!), this week I've also had requests for a 2008 version of the Genki English calendar. Apparently it's very useful to display in class and getting the kids to answer questions about what month it is, what day it is tomorrow, yesterday etc.

I've kept the main pictures the same this year so that they still match with the main Months of the Year flashcards , but along with of course the new dates (and the leap year), 2008 is also the Year of the Mouse, hence the character in the top left corner.

Have a very Happy New Year, and I'll see you after the festivities have died down with some really great new ideas for you.

Have a very, very Genki 2008 from all the Genki English team!



December 23rd 2007 - Christmas bits & bobs

Hello, first of all a quick reminder that the Christmas Special Offer finishes on Tuesday (Christmas Day), so get your orders in soon.

Tokugaz has just put up a message on the forum that might give you a couple of ideas if you still have last minute parties to plan!

Hi,
I was invited to a "kids who refuse to go to school" Christmas party (age 11-15) yesterday by my board of education. I was told the kids probably wouldn't speak that much or sing but my boss still wanted me to do a Christmas song with the kids...never one to be put off by teachers telling me kids can't do this or that I got the BOE's projector and planned to do the Genki Christmas song with them.

PARTY TIME!! I only had about 10-15 mins so I got the words for the song up on the screen and taught them the gestures, used the software for the song and what do you know, nearly everyone was singing,doing the gestures and smiling. After that we played the software game and even one boy who hadn't said a word all the way through the party got up tried the game and got it first go which put a big smile on his face!!

Thanks to Richard for the GE software! If you haven't given it a go in your school yet, what are you waiting for!




December 20th 2007 - No more Foxy & 53 Million Pounds

Lots of news today. First of all Foxy Phonics has now sold out. The team are working on a new version that should be out soon, so sign up for the newsletter (or the email version of the blog above) to find out the latest info.

The other news of the day is the announcement that the UK has decided to invest quite a sizeable chunk of money into primary school languages. The official press release is here: CASH BOOST FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING IN SCHOOLS. And the BBC have more about it here, Schools to get 340 for languages (which doesn't sound quite so impressive!)

A couple of interesting points are

The National Association of Head Teachers... general secretary Mick Brookes said ... it was essential that language lessons were made fun for children, so they looked forward to them, that they were relevant and that primaries and secondaries liaised on which languages were taught so that early learning could be built on.

Which sounds good. And also that the government would spend...

3 million for the first year of a three year development programme to create an innovative online language resource for secondary pupils (the Open School for languages);

Blimey, three million pounds for a website???


December 18th 2007 - 4 countries, 4 languages

As you move further into Europe you realise even more that the "experts" in Asia who claim that learning a foreign language destroys your native language really have no idea what they are talking about.

Today I passed through four different countries and spoke four different languages. The staff in the hotels speak even more, not by studying grammar but by simply talking and having a dictionary handy for any new words. Once you've learned a word in context, you know it and it stays.

It's true that some words you do occasionally mix up, for example yesterday I had no idea what the German word was for the sticker you use to get on the Swiss motorways, until I found out they also use the French word, but most of the time you just assess the situation, try one language then simply switch to another if that doesn't work out. Just like you know that "boku" or "watashi" are similar but different in Japanese, or that "dollar" or "buck" are similar but different in English, your brain knows that "Je voudrais" or "Ich mochte" are similar but different and you just choose the right one for the right situation.

The human brain is only capable of learning one language? Unfortunately some people hold back their countries with that thought. The rest of us are out there making friends and doing business with the rest of the world. Care to join us?


December 13th 2007 - School Trips

I spent my day off this week looking round the Louvre. Being mid week it was quite busy with school trips, especially around the Mona Lisa and the other more famous paintings, and some of the poor teachers were certainly struggling to keep all their kids in line.

If you are planning a school trip, one really useful idea is to think of as many "command type" phrases that you'll need and simply add them in to the warm up game in previous lessons. Things like "make 2 lines", "hold up your tickets", "hold up your lunch box", "move to the left", "move to the right" can be very useful.

We once took a school trip to the local Coca Cola factory. On the way back the kids were hogging pretty much the whole railway platform when a group of old ladies were trying to get past. The class teachers were having a hard time in Japanese trying to get the kids to move around and make room. After a while I simply shouted out "Good Morning" to the kids, who had been conditioned to pay attention when I say that, then "boys, stand up and move to the left, girls stand up and move to the right, 3, 2, 1 Go!". And they all moved almost all at the same time, perfectly on queue. The old ladies got through OK and all the while were saying things like "wow, those are nice children and they speak such good English". Hearing a comment like that from a total stranger is an amazing motivator for a 9 year old!


December 10th 2007 - Snakes & Ladders Worksheets

Make your own templateXmasWeatherClothesHow are you

The Snakes & Ladders game in the "How do you say ... in English?" theme has proved quite popular. So one of the worksheets for the new year is a set of Snakes & Ladders games for each of the Genki English themes. To get you started here are a couple of wintery ones to try including Christmas (both Christmas themes are included as one worksheet), Clothes, Weather, How are you? and Genki Phonics.

I'll probably make the Genki Phonics one as a free download in the New Year, but CD Owners Club members can download all of them by clicking on the pictures above.


December 5th 2007 - in Pisa

pisa
I had a day off today so did some Christmas shopping & popped over to see the leaning tower!


December 3rd 2007 - Thank you!

Just a quick word to say a very big thank you to everyone in Spain, France, Italy, China, Korea, the Czech Republic, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Thailand, Turkey and Poland who ordered the CD Sets last month. You've made November the biggest ever month for international orders, even bigger than the back to school rush in September!

As always I'm here to answer any questions you may have about using Genki English and I'd love to hear how they work in your schools or indeed any problems that need fixing. I guess the low dollar exchange rate helps a bit (the international sets are priced in dollars so work out quite cheap especially in Europe at the moment!) but I'm really glad that so many of you are using Genki English. Let's work together to give your students the best education ever!


December 2nd 2007 - Katakana Worksheets

I've been working away on some new Genki English worksheets, but the first ones to pop out are actually Katakana Worksheets for the Genki Japan site. Each one has plenty of space to practice each letter and a really clear diagram to explain the stroke order. Plus they look really good! If you are learning Japanese Katakana you'll probably find them useful.

All 72 pages are on the GenkiJapan.net site as a free accompaniment to the Genki Japan songs, which you can download right now for the bargain price of $4.99!




November 28th 2007 - Michel Thomas Chinese, Arabic & Russian

I was in Costco today and noticed that the new Michel Thomas courses are out for Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Russian. Very exciting! Now I haven't tried these courses yet, as they are brand new, but if they are even half has good as the original German, French, Italian and Spanish courses then they could well turn out to be the best CDs available for these languages. As regular readers will know, I love the original courses!

As Michel sadly passed away, these courses are each narrated by one of his students along with a native speaker and two beginner students. Here's what Amazon says about the courses, and from my own experience I can certainly say they are very true.

No books. No writing. No drills. And nothing to memorize-- ever! With his patented method, Michel Thomas has taught languages to top celebrities and--through his bestselling audio programs--more than a million everyday learners around the world. At the end of this ten-CD beginnerfs program, you will have acquired:

Don't try to memorize specific words or expressions. It is a basic principle of the Michel Thomas method that the responsibility for the student's learning lies with the teacher. With Michel Thomas as your teacher, your learning will be based on understanding--and what you understand, you do not forget!

I'm sure you can find a few similarities with Genki English there! : )

I did hear a rumour that there might be a Thai version coming out, in which case I would have bought it today, but I might have to try the new Mandarin one, it should be great. If you have reviewed the new ones yourself, please let me know how you got on.

If you haven't heard of Michel or his method yet, here's a YouTube clip (in 4 parts) from a BBC Documentary where he took a class of failing 16 year olds and taught them French in a very short time. It takes a bit of time to get going, but it's well worth watching.







November 27th 2007 - Lesson Inspiration

We're always told to base lessons on what the kids are interested in, but if you don't know the class it's pretty difficult to know what they'll want to do. Plus although there are loads of ideas out there, it can sometimes seem a little "samey" when you're just looking at lists and lists of words or questions.

So to bring back a little inspiration here's a Random Theme button! Simply give it a press and it will throw up lots of interesting random ideas, as well as introducing you to themes and ideas that you may have never considered doing before. If you don't like the choice, just hit the back button and try again.




PS There's also a new look to the site. It's purely cosmetic, but what do you think?



November 26th 2007 - What's Left?

It's newsletter day again today. This month's game is What's Left? which is great for the end of the lesson or to check how much English the kids have mastered. You can use it for any theme, but seeing as it's the December edition of the newsletter I went with What would you like for Christmas? as the example.

Other news is that the narrated versions of the Drinks and Brothers & Sisters picture books are now online, for your students to listen to at home. There's also a US version of the drinks book with an American ending.

Plus the newsletter has a few other things that regular readers of the blog will already be up to date on, including the Christmas CD Special Offer.

Speaking of which, did you know that you can also get this blog delivered via email every day? Just pop your email address in the box at the top of this message. It's great to send to your phone. (If it accepts emails of course!)

I also put up a message on the forum about some new worksheets projects I'm looking at, any feedback you could give would be most appreciated!

Enjoy!




November 23rd 2007 - New Word Searches



Roger has sent in two new Word Searches for you. One is "Breakfast" (to go with CD7's What would you like for breakfast? theme) and the other is "Rooms of the House" ( to go with CD7's Where is Baby Monkey? theme). You can find both of them along with Roger's very nice collection of crosswords, word searches and dominoes here. They also work great as a Junior High School exercise.



November 22nd - Christmas Presents for You

presents The Genki English CDs make great Christmas presents, but even with the Student Pack discount, 1,980 yen (around 12 Euros) could be a little expensive if you bought them for all your students.

So we're introducing a Christmas Special offer for CD Owners Club members. If you order a total of 100 Genki English CDs or more for your students, instead of 4,200 yen or even 1,980 yen, each CD will now only be 1,000 yen. That's around 7 Euros or $9 i.e. over 3,000 yen off!

Even if you can't afford to buy them all yourself then I'm sure parents would be rushing to help you fill up the order and get them at this price.

We're running the offer until Christmas Day, but of course you'll need to order earlier to get Christmas delivery. Postage and Packing is free in Japan, and we'll only charge $9.99 for orders outside Japan. Just like the normal CD Sets we can send them anywhere in the world. (But with such a large package you might want to double check your local customs office to make sure there will be no duty to pay.)

Full details are here along with printable order forms you can hand out to parents. (CD Owners Club access isn't included with these discount CDs)

And for regular Student Pack customers, it's a great chance to get stocked up on all the most popular discs!

Order Now in Japan or Anywhere in the World

Or email me if you have any questions. Merry Christmas!


November 21st 2007 - Numbers 13 to 20 Song

The numbers 1 to 12 are pretty much covered with How many?, How old are you? and What time is it? songs.

But a big request has been for a song to learn the numbers 13 to 20. So here it is! At the moment it's free for anyone to listen to online (the idea being your students can watch it online at home) and CD Owners Club members can download it to use in your classrooms. I'm amazed at all the kind words you've been giving me both offline and in forums, blogs and discussion boards. It's hearing how well the materials work in your classes that makes me want to make even more materials for you, hence putting this song in the CD Owners Club as a "thank you" present to you all.

Anyway, the song did seem a little short during the testing, so for future review lessons there is also a version that goes right up to 32. That's the one that is online. Give a try and see what you think!



November 20th 2007- Soldiers & Ninjas

Today's entry is a bit of feedback on the Soldiers and Ninjas game:

I used this game for my 6th grade students at one of the elementary schools that I teach at in Japan and they loved this game. I have one class that never participates and is always disruptive, but playing this game got them really involved and they ended up being my best class of the day! It can get a bit noisy, but it really works well to get the students more involved...despite the long wait time.- Becky

Thank you for the feedback Becky, it's always good to hear of games that work with 6th graders!

If you have any comments or feedback on any of the songs or games, let us know by filling in the feedback form at the bottom of each page, it really helps other teachers get an idea of how the ideas work in different situations!


November 17th 2007 - CD7 Progress Sheets

I've been getting quite a few request recently, which is always nice. And some of them are quite easy to do, which is even nicer!

One request was for Progress Sheets / Classroom Posters for the CD7 songs. Click on the pictures above to go to the lesson plan page (the printable sheet is part way down the right side of the page) or click here to see how to use them in school (and get some free samples). If you have any requests for other material, send them in and I'll try and add them to my to-do list!




November 16th 2007 - Games: how to ... video

Quite a few people have been having problems understanding how to use the online games. Kids love them but if you aren't used to learning through video games it can be a bit confusing, so I've made a video to let you see how they work. I used the GenkiJapan games as an example, but everything applies to the Genki English games, the Genki Korean ones and the games on the Genki English CDs.



I hope you like the video and it helps get your students (and maybe yourself) on the road to 21st century learning! : )



November 15th - Printable Lyrics Sheets

Merry Christmas Lyrics What would you like for Christmas lyrics?

Printable lyrics sheets for the GE songs have been a popular request. Unfortunately I hadn't been able to think how to do them - until now! I've just made up a couple of test sheets for the 2 Christmas songs, Merry Christmas and What would you like for Christmas?

What do you think? Any feedback on the design or contents would be much appreciated (either by email or on the forum). If enough of you are interested in having them for the other themes I'll see what I can do!


November 13th 2007 - Brothers Sisters Picture Book

This picture book has taken a whole year to get to you...



The basic language is Do you have any brothers & sisters? and it makes a great activity to go with CD7's song.

As you can maybe see from the pictures it also introduces (very) high numbers in a very fun way. Plus you can link it in to biology or science classes with the offspring of all the different animals. Whilst the specific numbers are chosen so as to use as much English as possible, the orders of magnitude are roughly correct for each species, which can evoke comments of "ehhh!" from the kids!

Anyway, the book is ready to use, but is still in test or Beta form, so CD Owners Club members can now download it and hopefully give some feedback at:

http://genkienglish.net/clipart/forum/viewtopic.php?t=298

If you're not a CD Owners Club member yet, have a look at the Download Pack and you too could be enjoying this book in your lessons tomorrow!



November 10th 2007 - Drinks Picture Book

I was looking through my picture book ideas notes and this one made me laugh.

You can probably guess the punchline yourself. CD owners club members can download the book and hopefully give your feedback on the Beta Testing forum and if it's well received, or needs changing, I'll work on the version for the main website.

Enjoy!


November 9th 2007 - Christmas Ideas

Easy Christmas SongI know it's really (too?) early but as soon as people start using the search box at the top of the page to look for "Christmas" it's time to write a blog post about it!

Regular viewers will know the two most popular Genki English themes are the Genki Christmas Song for teaching things like Santa, Christmas, Snowman, Reindeer, Present, Stocking etc. i.e. some really, really easy Christmas vocab. Plus there are the funky, cuddly new A4 picture cards and minicards we did last year.

Then for the second lesson there is the "What would you like for Christmas?" song, which has a very nice drawing activity which a lot of teachers love for calming the kids down.

There are also lots of Christmas themed classroom games on the site, most of which are linked up from the main Christmas page including Christmas Ho Ho Ho: , Christmas Snowballs. , Christmas Clothes Race, Poisoned Presents, Christmas Delivery Game, Naughty or Nice game, What colour is Christmas? Worksheets etc.

Plus what would Christmas be without a few picture books? I'm working on a couple of new ones, but for now we have "Where are the Christmas presents?" which nicely ties in with the prepositions lessons (and contains the famous "toilet" page!). Plus the Baby Monkey's Clothes book also has a nice winter vibe about it.

Finally if you fancy splashing out on the Kids English DVD set there's a very nice Christmas Eve song and video for teaching family members and the present tense. This one is a lot slower and it made all the parents cry when we filmed the video!

Anyway, enjoy your Christmas preparations.



November 8th 2007 - The simplest birthday game

This is such a simple game that I don't think I've mentioned it before on the blog. It works great as an ice breaker with adults classes or as an activity with kids who don't know each others birthdays, or the months of year, just yet.

All you do is run through the When is your birthday? song a couple of times ( it's the most popular song for adults!), then all you do is tell them to line up in order of their birthdays, January at one end of the room, December at the other.

Tell them they are only allowed to use English to ask each other and if you set a time limit it will really get their adrenaline going. Just tell them the last class you taught did it in three minutes and watch them go!

Nice for team building and a nice bit of real English.


November 7th 2007 - Make money with Genki English

Teachers and school owners are always looking for new income streams. If you have a website or a blog then you can actually make money from Genki English. And it's really easy to do.

All you have to do is to tell people about how much you love the Genki English songs (you know you do!) and put up a special link. Every time someone buys a download pack from your link I pay you $20.

It's all done through our affiliate programme at http://payloadz.com/affiliates/gen_1.asp?id=315137&merch_id=19983

The only other thing is that you need to be a member of the CD Owners Club to take advantage of the offer, I wouldn't want anyone recommending the pack who hadn't actually tried the songs!

It's a great way to make your website or blog pay for itself and if you do a good write up and PR it well it could bring you a very nice income, just look at all the Internet Millionaires out there who do it with affiliate programmes just like this one!

And of course if you need any help then let me know. Good luck.





Click here for my diary September - October 2007

Click here for my diary July, August 2007

Click here for my Diary April, May, June 2007

Click here for my Diary January - March 2007

Click here for my Diary August - December 2006

Click here for my Diary March - July 2006

Click here for my Diary January - March 2006

Click here for my Diary October 2005 - December 2005

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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