Who are the Henry Brothers?

John Henry Moorcroft and Paul Henry Zarraga are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey,  and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities for the language classroom.

We can be contacted by @istanbuljm on twitter or Henry Brothers on Facebook.

We began giving workshops for teachers as the Henry Brothers in 2002 in an upstairs cafe above a bookshop on Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu, Istanbul. We called these events “The Speakeasy”, designed to be an informal setting for teachers to gather, chat and be entertained by poetry and drama activities led by John and Paul.

John had been writing and speaking co-ordinator of the English language prep program at Istanbul Technical University but for a number of years had been working in ELT publishing and had some experience in giving workshops and seminars to English teachers. After the Speakeasy evenings he was joined in this by Paul, also an English teacher, also from Britain, also working in Istanbul. Having realised that they both had the same middle name, Henry, we came up with the name we use today.

Our first workshops were Laughing Matters: Humour in the Language Classroom, based on the book of the same title by Peter Medgyes, and Cut It Out, which revolved around demonstrations of the craftwork activities from the coursebook, Primary Colours. We also began to visit schools in costumes of the characters in coursebooks for primary school. Here we are as King Cat and friends from Primary Colours.

And here’s Paul dressed as Max from Playway to English chatting to teachers on the stand at the Kultur Koleji ELT conference in 2003.

Our most performed workshops have been:
* Do They Really Speak Like That? – activities for raising students’ awareness of features of spoken English such as intonation, ellipsis, and discourse markers, including some routines that have become staples of our talks ever since; Three Stages of Marriage, How to Get Off a Dolmuş, and the Mbele Feasting Song.

* The Henry Brothers Poetry Jam – where you write and perform your own poetry to rubrics that we provide, and you get to fall in love with David Beckham, walk in the dark, dark wood and go on a bear hunt.
* Stand to Reason: critical thinking activities – this is a rich selection of games and puzzles including Grey Elephants from Denmark, the Safety at Work Awards, and The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.
* Bridging the Language Gap – a focus on communication as whole including body language, pronunciation, spelling and punctuation through activities such as the Henry Brothers Maori Haka, the Antalya policeman (who can give complex directions using only the word ‘yes’), Tongue Twisters, and the now-famous Pung Chu, (punctuation Kung Fu) routine.

Since 2005 we’ve been doing conference plenaries as well as giving workshops on topics such as using interactive whiteboards, writing skills, using graded readers, using dictionaries, and many more. This year we introduced;
* Kamishibai Man – storytelling activies for the language classroom. Kamishibai means ‘paper theatre’ in Japanese and is part of a long tradition of storytelling with pictures. We bring Kamishibai to the ELT conference arena along with a range of other storytelling activities.

Some of the things we do are demonstrations of activities from published ELT materials, some are our interpretations of poems and stories from other sources (such as Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, or John Foster’s poem Football Story), some are traditional ballads and folk tales, and some we wrote ourselves. It’s a rich mixture and it’s all performed in our unique high-energy style. We’re sure that in a Henry Brothers presentation you’ll find material to use in the classroom on Monday morning, and you’ll have a good time to boot.

Over the years our look has evolved; the Italian-looking Enrico Brothers…

….as we began doing workshops on body language and non-verbal communication, morphed into mime artist/clowns.

And here we are also as D’Artagnan Du Grammar and the Four Musketeers, in a sketch that we wrote and performed with the English teachers of Kultur Koleji to open a conference entitled “Grammar vs the Four Skills”.

We’re still visiting schools in costumes, most recently Maskman and Monty from the Kid’s Box series, and we’re still doing workshops and plenaries all around Turkey. In 2011 we added to our repertoire by working with professional magician Doruk Ülgen on a series of workshops drawing parallels between the professions of magician and teacher.

All in all the Henry Brothers performances are still the best part of our working lives and we’re really pleased that they remain popular with teachers all around Turkey.


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to canmoorcroft@gmail.com or paul.zarraga@gmail.com
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