“Do you Have Any Brothers and Sisters?” Song By Genki English

One view I strongly share with Richard Graham of Genki English is the cringeworthyness of the question, “How many members are there in your family?” This is a question you’ll often hear in East Asian EFL classes. While grammatically correct, it makes families out to be like civic business associations, each with their own newsletter and monthly dues. Do you have any brothers or sisters? is a far more natural question, making the eponymous song on volume of 8 of Genki English a good one for young learners to get down pat.

genki brothers and sister 02

Now free demos of Genki English songs are surprisingly hard to come by, but you can hear the song in the background of this teacher training video:

And as you heard in the video, the lyrics are easy enough.

The storybook that comes with the software is also quite hilarious, and can be downloaded as a pdf file that can be made into a book:

But one of the things I like the most about this theme are the mini cards, which show different combinations of brothers or sisters.

genki brothers and sister 01
One simple game that works well with a small group of young learners is to lay all the cards face up on the floor and then have the children ask you the question, “Do you have any brothers or sisters? I then respond by saying one of the combinations of brothers or sisters on the ground such as, “I have one brother and two sisters.” The children then busy themselves trying to find the right one. After someone does, I turn the card over and we began again, continuing until all the cards have been turned over. (The question might seem a mouthful to get kids to say but if you teach them to sing song first the children they’ll have no problem.)

For all my fellow Genkists I’ve written each combination below:

  • I have 3 brothers and 4 sisters.
  • I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters.
  • I have 2 brothers and 4 sisters.
  • I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters.
  • I have 4 brothers and 4 sisters.
  • I have 1 brother and 4 sisters.
  • I have 4 brothers and 1 sister.
  • I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
  • I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters.
  • I have 1 brother and 3 sisters.
  • I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
  • I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters.
  • I have 1 brother and 2 sisters.
  • I have 3 brothers and 1 sister.
  • I have 1 brother and 1 sister.
  • I have 2 brothers and 1 sister.
  • I have 1 brother.
  • I have 1 sister.
  • I have no brothers or sisters.

This game is not a speaking activity per se, but it still proved very helpful to the ten five-year-olds I was teaching to both understand and eventually reproduce this sentence pattern while talking about their own families.

I deliberately set this game up to be more cooperative than competitive, with no obvious winner. But for older children who can better handle competitive games, I tape all the mini cards to the white board and divide the children into teams. To play, a member from each team stands facing away from the board and asks me the question from the song. After I answer, they turn around and search for the right one. A point is awarded to the team of the winner. Long time users of Genki English will of course recognize this as the Turn and Circle Game from Mido Farid’s Book of Games (book 2). Give either game a try, they’re a lot of fun.

The 26 Country Challenge

This past Friday I tried something new while teaching Unit 5 of Let’s Go 6, which introduces nationalities and languages. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing when I asked all the students to write the alphabet in their notebooks vertically. I then played the entire Countries of the World series from Kids TV 123 on the classroom screen and the children then had to try and write the name of one country for every letter of the alphabet:

Aruba, Belize, Cameroon, Djibouti etc.

They weren’t allowed to look at the world map at the back of the classroom and I told them spelling wasn’t important. So even the kids who think geography is about as interesting as counting toenail clippings on a Friday night at least took the challenge aspect of the activity seriously.

When at the end of the activity we made a master list on the board I realized it had worked out better than I thought. Almost everybody completed more than 90% of their list and some of the children recorded less commonly know countries such as Republic of Congo and St. Lucia. I was pretty proud of them.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing EFL Worksheets for Korean and Japanese Students

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is one of the first novels I can clearly remember ever reading. As it happens I was in Mr. Winkler’s fourth grade English class at Bearisto Elementary, a French immersion school in British Columbia, and we just thought it was hilarious; especially the way Mr. Winkler read the voice of Fudge, which was a bit like what you might get if you crossed the voices of Dale the chipmunk and SpongeBob Squarepants. It’s now among my top ten novels to teach my students here in South Korea.

Over the years I’ve been working on a worksheet booklet designed for teaching either Korean or Japanese students in an EFL classroom. It’s classroom tested and it works. You can now download it at my store, or try out the first chapter for free!

Just click on any of the images below.

        Fourth Grade Nothing (Korean)            Slide1

At just over 150 pages this hefty worksheet booklet has a bit of everything, but it’s still growing because every time I teach it I come up with more activities and add them into the booklet for you to re-download for free.

For each chapter there are my usual staples:

  • comprehension questions about the story with space for students to answer in full sentences;
  • a creative writing assignment where students can express their opinions about topics related to the text;
  • a vocabulary list with Korean or Japanese translations of key words to save on dictionary time and reduce confusion about meaning;
  • a word search puzzle for students to enjoy some quiet time to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary;
  • a sequencing worksheet where students can identify the different components of the story; and
  • a chapter project where students can take a step beyond what goes on in the chapter;
  • a chapter quiz so you can assess your students’ comprehension of the text and vocabulary.

But there are also quite a few extras that will add some spice to your lessons:

  • a comic strip project;
  • an illustrator worksheet;
  • a make your own word search puzzle worksheet;
  • a crossword puzzle;
  • a make your own crossword puzzle worksheet;
  • a summarizer worksheet;
  • a final test;
  • a prediction worksheet;
  • a book cover project; and
  • a book report assignment.

But I remember the best part of reading the book the first time around was talking about what it must have been like to be Peter and have a brother like Fudge. So I’ve included four discussion question cards for each chapter. You just have to divide the class up into groups and give each one a different card. The projects are pretty cool too as they try to make connections to the real world.

I really hope these worksheets enhance your teaching experience. You see, I hate how EFL teachers continually have to reinvent the wheel, always making slightly different versions of the same reading comprehension worksheets. What I’ve done is try to put together what most teachers will likely need for their lessons. It’ll save you loads of time – allowing you to work on even more imaginative activities – instead of being hunched over a keyboard for hours and hours.

Most importantly, I really believe it will help your students learn. Just give it a look.

Slide2  Slide3 Slide4Slide5Slide6    Slide1Slide8Slide7Slide9