Use the Soccer World Cup in Germany as an English Language Teaching Tool?
No, I’m not kidding. Using popular events like the soccer world cup in Germany to teach English is in fact, practical. The learners’ Affective Filter (Krashen and Terrell, 1983) is so low using events like these to teach English, “a cockroach could leap over it”.

Can you imagine the reactions of my learners when I announced, “For English class everybody has to watch the world cup matches”?

“That’s great!” “Teacher, you’re the best!” “Oh man, we’ve never had an English assignment like that before!”

Although not a huge soccer fan myself, I did think it would be interesting to see matches between teams you know never get to play each other during a regular season. Italy vs. Ghana? The USA vs. the Czech Republic? Holland vs. Ivory Coast? Awesome!

To work the games in to English language practice, learners must use their skills in a number of different ways by applying Task-Based Learning (J. Willis, 1998) in addition to some Content-Based Instruction (Richards and Rogers, 1993). Do Ghana and Italy do business together? If so, what kinds of products or services? Useful activities for learners include ones such as:

o Preparing and giving profiles of the competing countries including economics, geography, capitol cities, etc.

o Being able to locate the countries on a world map and give bordering countries and geographic features

o Talking about key players on each team or dialogues between players / coaches / fans

o Describing aspects of key players on each team – age, height, weight, hair, looks, marital status and other features like bald, braces, glasses, tattoos, etc.

o Soccer match elements like player positions, scoring, and even how to play the game

o Giving commentary on game plays and goals using active or passive voice

o Making predictions using future tenses “going to” or “will”

o Using discourse markers or modals to express uncertainty (perhaps, possibly, maybe, might, could, may, etc.)

The learners are free to work up whatever formats they wish as long as they stay active and involved in the process. Some games are recorded with highlights reviewed / discussed in class. A few games are watched during class hours via multi-media facilities available at the university.

Other activity possibilities are:

o Reports

o Developing vocabulary lists in context based on vocabulary elements (Thornbury, 2002)

o Discussion / descriptions of cities where games are played

o Local architecture

o Regional foods

o Holidays

o Clothing

o almost any cultural aspect learners may find new and interesting

At the end (gasp!) of it all, learners will have compiled an extensive “portfolio” of written and multi-media materials that have allowed them exhaustive practice in the four English language basic skills. Written practice can be either Process-based (White, 1987) or Product-based (Fowler, 1988) Learners have also had extensive listening comprehension practice in English. With different sports moderators and commentators from different countries speaking English with a variety of accents, elements of listening and their associated difficulties can be examined. (Brown and Yule, 1983)

So, these activities are turning the soccer world cup in Germany into a marvelous English language teaching tool. The process could be rolled over and used with other international sporting events as well, like the Olympics, Baseball World Series, American football Super Bowl or numerous other world regional events. Think about sports or other types of events where you live. How might you effectively exploit them to teach your English EFL or ESL learners?

English is now the universal language and is spoken by people all around the world. Being an English teacher in a different country is a rewarding experience. Each country has its own uniqueness as well as their own language. It is indeed interesting to note that 75 countries world wide opt for English as their first language. Countries like Japan, China and Russia choose to teach only their native language. Even in countries like France, Germany and Italy people speak only their native tongue and not English. Due to this they have lagged behind in the advancement in technology world. Since computers are in English these countries have a draw back (as they don’t know English) and unable to compete in the global arena.

Indians have moved up the ladder thanks to their expertise and fluency in English language and have taken the IT world by storm. All the software’s are in English and programmed by Indians and Americans only because of their proficiency in English. Realizing the need to learn English, many foreign countries are recruiting native English speakers to their country to teach English. Once you move to a foreign land opportunities widen and you may even move on to other spheres of life. Businesses attach importance to youngsters who have taught English in a foreign country. This is due to the fact that they are exposed to various cultures and learn to imbibe it into their lifestyle giving birth to creativity. Being an ESL teacher adds weight age to their resume.

As a young educated person becoming an ESL teacher is great because it helps to gain a new perspective on life, to quickly pay off your student loans, to travel to exotic locations, or to be immersed in an unfamiliar culture. The decision to teach ESL is to earn money, and explore the world. Later when they choose to teach at university this foreign teaching experience comes in handy. In countries like United States of America or United Kingdom, where there are students of all ethnicity and races it is indeed useful for an ESL teacher if he/she has foreign teaching experience. Understanding and bonding with students is most important for a teacher.

Being an ESL teacher in a foreign country is a valuable asset and gives a competitive edge to the individual. Since English is the official language for business communication, even countries who never recognized it before are recruiting teachers from abroad to teach English. They don’t wish to lag behind due to this handicap. If you become an ESL teacher in a foreign country for at least one year you will be awarded with a certificate that helps in you attaining future jobs. Or if you wish to study further and complete your doctorate, this teaching experience helps you in attaining experience and exposure to various cultures. Becoming an ESL teacher in a foreign country opens doors to opportunities wide for higher education and job opportunities that were unattainable before.

Besides free accommodation and boarding, you also can take your spouse along and lead a wonderful life that you have always longed for. Not to forget that the remuneration is very good. Both of you can teach, as many schools prefer to have couples so that accommodation can be shared.