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”Malade comme un perroquet”: Language coaching on the pitch


blog-img1Arsenal coaches use universal language of football to teach French, German and Spanish to children

Football is an international sport and a universal language.
“Patea!” [“Shoot!” (Spanish)]… “Elfmeter!” [“Penalty!” (German)]… “Quel but !” [“What a goal!” (French)]

Today, Arsenal football club’s Emirates stadium is abuzz with even more languages than usual.

But they won’t be yelled from the mouths of international footballers. Instead, from the mouths of 7 – 11-year-old pupils from six London primary schools, running around the pitch.


And as the children pass the ball, Arsenal’s multilingual coaches will be teaching them phrases in French, German and Spanish.

Looking on will be Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s manager. It’s all preparation ahead of 2012, by which time all primary schools in England will teach a foreign language.

It’s well known that the UK has a poor track record when it comes to language learning, and the government is keen to encourage children to learn languages as early in life as possible.

According to Wenger, it was learning languages that got him to his goal – in English football. “If you want to achieve your dreams, you can do it, and languages can certainly help you get there,” he says.

The team spirit of players from different countries and backgrounds is a daily routine at top clubs as well as smaller European teams. The knowledge of more than one language is a must for every footballer aiming for an international career, not to mention the need to interact and socialise in a new country, and to understand its culture. The players and teams that best cope with this have a greater chance of success on the pitch.

And because football stars are the idols of their fans, perhaps learning the languages of the pitch and the terraces could prove the best way to motivate our children to study languages…

“Sonar el silbato!” [“Blow the whistle!” (Spanish)]!

Source: The Guardian

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