An interview with Richard Graham
from "Genki English"
you looking for some fun English Activities?
would you like to learn English in a fun and exciting new way? How
would you feel about it being funny and amusing? Richard Graham, the
founder of GenkiEnglish.net has been working
to bring such solutions to students and educators around the word.
all started back in 2000 when Richard was teaching English in Japan. He
realized the traditional teaching methods were not interesting enough
for the students, and the speed of learning needed some serious
He found out what the students actually want and
need, and developed the activities that would be both fun and
motivating. All of this resulted in Genki English. Since "Genki" in
Japanese means "fun", "exciting" and "full of life" – no name could
have been more fitting.
Richard has provided training sponsored
by Ministries of Education, universities, boards of education and
schools throughout the world as well as appearing on TV and in numerous
press articles. His materials are now used in over 100 countries by
countless teachers & students both in the developed and
So I'm really happy to have him answering some questions and sharing
his vast experience with us.
mentioned that school lessons were a pretty boring experience.What has
inspired you to become a teacher after all?
much because of this! I wanted to learn things myself and the
teachers out there were just so boring and out of touch. So I
thought if I needed help learning then other people would too, so I
started my first "school".
As a teacher in Japan, what gave you the drive and confidence to
believe in yourself and your method, and start "Genki English"?
the instant results gave me the confidence in the method. And
wanting those results were the initial drive. Plus seeing how important
is opening kids' eyes to the world made it a very worthwhile thing to
3. You seem
to have excellent Japanese. Can you share some tips? What were your
successful actions in acquiring it?
I actually wrote a book about this, it's on the GenkiJapan.net website! : )
tips are basically the same as Genki English: find out what
want to say, find a fun way to learn it, think "I can" and if you fail,
try again. Languages are one of the easiest things to learn
(it's not Genetic Engineering), it just takes time so it's got to be
fun and you've got to be learning stuff that's useful.
4. What is
your vision regarding the future of teaching English?
In all aspects of education we're looking more at the actual "teaching"
and initial learning moving to computer based systems.
Kids learn a whole lot faster with computer games and animated songs.
the teacher's role moves more from the initial introduction of the
language to more of a coach, giving feedback, picking up errors,
praising and deciding what materials are best for the student to
tackle. Native speaking teachers also have good opportunities
Skype and the internet to reach many more students for one on one
6. Is there
an "age-limit" for Genki English, or is it suitable for students of all
great ice cream it seems to work everywhere! I designed it for primary,
but teachers have been using it from every age. My 2 year old
niece loves it and I used to try out all the new games on my old
grannies class (they were crazy!) Ages 12 to 15 are
as the most difficult, but judging by the feedback on YouTube, kids
that age are also into it, but on their own away from class.
7. After the
immense success Genki English has had, you've extended your activity
into other important fields. Genki
Math is one of them. This is a very interesting project.
Could you tell more about it?
really want to make all subjects Genki. Math &
both just languages, so most of the materials very easily translate. A
lot of English teachers say "English shouldn't be taught like math",
but really math shouldn't be "taught like math". So most of
Genki English classroom games can be adapted for teaching math and I've
written quite a few up at the GenkiMath site. I'm also
a few songs for the few things that teachers usually ask kids to
But the real challenge of math is nailing down exactly how to teach
what 1 + 1 actually means - that's tough!
8. Are there
any future fields you are planning to make "Genki"? Genki Physics,
Although my main studies are now in Education, my first degree was in
Science so the math is a stepping stone to that.
fact I nearly did my PhD in ways of teaching science in an easier way.
Luckily NASA, TED (a nonprofit organization devoted to "ideas worth
spreading") and others have been making fantastic resources so we'll
see how things go.
surprises await us in the future? Any future projects or videos you are
of things! I've always got loads of projects on the go and
just a case of which ideas bump into each other to come up with
something that goes "wow!" Most of the ideas & requests that
now are from teachers and it's great to help them save time that they
can spend helping the kids. So I guess more of that, funky
to save teachers time, just let me know what you want and there's
probably a great idea just bubbling away, waiting for an excuse to
finally, if you were not helping teachers world-wide with Genki
English, what would you be doing?
after a big beach holiday, either entrepreneurship education for
developing countries (so people don't have to migrate to big cities),
or maybe something like battery development, not very sexy but anything
to get clean air in the cities! And I'd probably spend my
time Rea or writing dance music!
sure was inspirational. Thanks a lot for the interview, Richard!
And I'll leave you with a
sample of Richard's fun English activities: a video where he
teaches the English