We quite often hear the phrase ‘there is only one language in football’ and this I do tend to agree with to a certain extent. On the field many terms, signals and body language are commonly used and read by team mates in order communications flow. However, off the pitch can be quite a different story; for that reason we need a common language. No matter in what part of the world you may travel; you will always find someone, somewhere who can speak English.
Despite being taught English throughout their school life, many of our young players understand English but cannot speak it; this is otherwise known as being passive in the English language. This is possibly due to the fact that the kids don’t always get the opportunity to actively practice their verbal skills, causing an anxiety, fear of making mistakes or even being laughed at.
After teaching English for over 20 years, it is already second nature for me to encourage youngsters to try; even a simple phrase is a step forward. Mistakes should not become an obstacle; when learning most things in life as lessons can be learnt from these mistakes. For this reason Sam’s Soccer Academy encourages its players to use English, however simple it might be, to communicate on and off the pitch with friends and coaches; and yes, it is okay to laugh together when mistakes are made as sometimes they can be quite funny. Humour is also a means to learn as it makes an experience more memorable.
Despite inviting our SSA boys to ask questions about their English lessons or homework, they are still a little shy and reluctant. Today we tried something different. All the players received a handout titled “How to Attack as a Team in Football,” none English speaking players were paired up with players who could speak English. English speaking players were encouraged to explain the directions of the handout, we call this ‘peer teaching.’ None English speaking players have been challenged to come back next week and explain the process in English. A reward will be given to the first player to make a serious attempt as well as the player who became the mentor.