Dump your coursebook for football

Should the keeper have got sent off? Discuss (for 45 minutes…).

I've been collaborating recently with Noemi, who teaches a class of 15-16 year olds who, Noemi says, aren't interested in anything (especially English) except football.

As an experiment, we decided to dump the coursebook for a couple of days, and just do football instead. Noemi was a bit reluctant, rightly asking "What about the girls?" but this being Barcelona, everyone is interested in football (especially when Barça are playing like they are…).

There's a huge amount of material available and we've got lots of stuff from the football site on The Guardian as well as video from YouTube (above, one that kept them talking for 45 minutes).

The Guardian has a weekly column (appearing Thursdays) of crazy YouTube clips (which has allowed us to branch out into other sports too), and we've got a lot out of having half the class face away from the video, the other half providing their partners with a running commentary on what is happening.

One of the things that has worked best is the same paper's You are the Ref column which every Friday poses three bizarre situations the readers have to adjudicate. There's not too much text and it leads directly into much argument over what the right decision would be, not to mention actually understanding the situation. Paul Trevillion's wonderful illustrations look terrific on the interactive whiteboard and there's a huge archive of questions).

Official answers appear Monday (which the kids read for homework). "Class with them on Friday afternoons is something I actually look forward to now," says Noemi.

The Guardian also has a great Joy of Six column, with text and YouTube videos (not always about football) and a fun The Knowledge column, on which readers can read questions, ask more and help answer previous questions. We haven't had a question or an answer published yet, but not for lack of trying!

You've also got the Guardian's Football Weekly podcast, which we haven't actually tried with the kids. Listen to it, and I think you'll see why — and we haven't suggested they subscribe to it either. Like lots of authentic podcasts it's way too difficult for learners (the speed, the jokes, the regional accents…), however crazy they might be about the game.

Next up, however, we're going to try getting the kids to produce their own podcasts, either reporting on Barça games or on their own school matches.

Apart from what we're getting off the Guardian, the kids themselves are bringing YouTube videos to class and we've also picked up a number off Yahoo and Marca (the latter with commentaries mainly in Spanish, which we insist they give us a rough translation of).

At some point, I suppose we will (reluctantly) have to go back to the coursebook…

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One Comment

  1. You can still see the tackle here.

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