During his time in Tokyo, Steve R. Watts taught children English without having any knowledge of the local language. He soon came to realise how surprisingly easy children found it to respond and communicate in English. All it took was to create the right context and involve body language, particularly facial expressions and gestures, because non-verbal communication is the most important in the world of a child. The body language he used in teaching English meant that his young pupils had no problem in understanding him. On the contrary: they mastered new English phrases and language structures with unbelievable ease. Just as easily, in fact, as they learned their own mother tongue.
It was when travelling around Asia that he took this fantastic basic idea forward, coming up with the foundations of the Wow! method, an entirely simple but ingenious concept: teach a foreign language in the same, natural way as the mother tongue. By imitating and repeating and through experience involving more than one sense and emotional memory.
A bilingual kindergarten in the heart of Europe (in Prague) was the ideal place to put this idea into practice as part of a project to teach English to pre-school children. The project responded to the need to include English language teaching at kindergartens for non-English speakers and we were entrusted by the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic with the task of creating an official method of teaching English at pre-school facilities. A team of experienced language experts continued to develop and improve the Wow! method under the guidance of Steve Watts and this resulted in the first materials for English language teachers based on the principles of modern psycholinguistics.
The need to create teaching material for children that drew on the Wow! method intensified and WattsEnglish Ltd. was founded in Great Britain with the aim of doing just that. The Wow! method concept captivated many learned people and they began working together. And so it was that the first WattsEnglish team, small at first, started working on creating teaching materials for children.
After a long process of creation and checking, three colours of Wow! materials were published for pre-school children of between 3 and 6 years of age. Wow!Yellow, Wow!Blue and Wow!Red satisfied the high demands of the WattsEnglish team and exceeded all expectations. The full range of these materials combines a well thought-out set of audio-visual teaching materials and pupil’s books, all featuring Steve’s actual face. Children are delighted with the materials and learn from them happily and naturally right away. What is more, teachers love the flash cards, the Maggie the magpie glove puppet, the inspiring lesson plans and the set of tried-and-trusted educational games (Gamebank).
Teaching materials progressively developed to take in other colours for younger school children. The Wow! method is effective when children are able to master a foreign language just as naturally as they do their own, from around 3 years of age to 11. All the colours/levels are therefore intended for pre-school children and the first five years of primary school. An entertaining education channel was launched on YouTube - Steve and Maggie Wow! English TV – which immediately won the hearts of millions of viewers all over the world and helped plenty of children spontaneously expand their English vocabulary.
With the rising popularity of the YouTube channel, the number of people interested in this unique and effective method and in Wow! materials increased sharply abroad. Awareness of Wow! materials gradually travelled through Central and Western Europe to all corners of the globe thanks to the reviews and shared experiences of enthusiastic teachers.
The WattsEnglish team continued to grow to be able to cover the continuing interest in Wow! materials and to maintain its individual and friendly approach to its clients.
More than 30,000 children from more than 26 countries of the world now learn English using Wow! materials and the Wow! method. Work has begun on the final level/colour in the 8-year series – Wow!Gold. Once it has been finished in 2020, the set of Wow! materials will be complete. The whole series will therefore take children through the colourful world of English from kindergarten to the end of primary 5, meaning from the age of 3 to 11.