Who are the Henry Brothers? Our biography – from poetry jam to kamishibai man.

“Anything given by the Henry Brothers tends to have a high level of interactivity. ..I think (they) are often hired for that entertainment level more than anything. They are a good pair to kick off or end a conference with, that’s for sure” – The Turkish TEFL Blog, 2010.

John Henry Moorcroft and Paul Henry Zarraga are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, currently working for Cambridge University Press 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.

In the words of David Dodgson from Ankara, Turkey: “Oh, and we also had the Henry Brothers doing a ‘stand-up’ (as in the comedy style rather than making everyone get up – althought they did that too :) ) plenary. ……. it was great for adding a lighter touch to an intense day of talks!”

More background…………

John had previously 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, giving workshops to English teachers. In 2001 he was joined in this by Paul, also an English teacher, also from Britain, and also working for Cambridge University Press in Istanbul. Having realised that they both had the same middle name, Henry, they came up with the name they use today.

Since then they’ve been doing conference plenaries as well as giving workshops on topics including non-verbal communication, critical thinking, poetry in the classroom, storytelling, using interactive whiteboards, writing skills, using graded readers, using dictionaries, and many more.

Some of the things we do are demonstrations of activities from Cambridge University Press 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.

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.

Today John is the sales manager in Turkey for Cambridge, helping to develop books suitable for the Turkish school system, and promote Cambridge English titles to schools here. He still finds time to train teachers in how to use these materials, appear at conferences as one of the Henry Brothers, and occasionally give CELTA input sessions.

Paul meanwhile is based in Antalya, wearing the many hats of rep, teacher, teacher trainer, writer, presenter of ‘Ingilizce’ (English) on Turkish television, and as one of the Henry Brothers is often seen in very strange hats indeed. He has written a series of reading books for children and is continually juggling his roles as conference presenter and educational consultant for Dünya Aktüel, exclusive distributors of Cambridge University Press in Turkey. And if you ask him nicely he’ll do some real juggling too!

As well as giving conference plenaries, workshops and demonstrations of activities from teaching materials they also visit schools in costumes of the characters in the Cambridge coursebooks for primary school……

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 they 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.

* 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.

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”.

In 2010 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.

We can be contacted by e-mail to istanbul@cambridge.org, @istanbuljm on twitter or Henry Brothers on Facebook. Also join Cambridge English on Facebook for news of our work and appearances around Turkey.

4 Responses to Who are the Henry Brothers? Our biography – from poetry jam to kamishibai man.

  1. Hello John and Paul,

    I was wondering if you actually did perform my poem, “Flirting Forever” yesterday, on the 26th…if you did and you can provide a copy, that would be great. Thanks again! Lauren

    • Either a copy or even a link to watch online…

    • Hi Lauren – did the talk, used ‘Flirting Forever,’ which went down ver well – lots of laughs as John and I performed it. Credited you and your blog. Someone was filming so will try and get hold of a copy. I can send you a copy of the talk – lots of poems and stories around the them of rhythm…which was what I liked about your poem – the rhythmic banter. There are some photos on my facebook page – henrybrothers – not great but you can see that we were wearing traditional Turkish costume. Thanks again for letting us use ‘Flirting…’ and take care, Paul

  2. Hi Paul,

    I apologize for the late response, but thank you so much for crediting me and I’m truly honored you wanted to use my poem. I’m glad it went well and I’d love a copy or a link when you have it…I will also check out your facebook page. I have a poetry fb page, too, in case you’re interested: LScott Poetry…

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