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English Language Teaching Global Blog


Using the language of football to engage your students

Alan Redmond, co-author of English for Football, offers teaching tips on engaging your students by using the topic of football in your English lessons. Watch the video to see Alan and co-author Sean Warren discuss how football can motivate students in class.

I teach English to Premier League footballers and Academy players at Premier League clubs. For a football fan like me, it’s a great job and one that I’m constantly grateful for, but it’s a job that I’ve had to mould and shape from the start. I try to do two things: firstly, teach General English using football as a context and, secondly, teach the essential English vocabulary and terminology used in the world of football.

Football has a lexicon of its own. Expressions like ‘drop deep’, ‘man on’, ‘mark up’ or ‘hold the ball up’ are crucial for players to understand and there are a lot more of these expressions that coaches and team mates will use when speaking to a player.

I found teaching the language specific to football to be a little like teaching phrasal verbs to General English students: It often seems fine in class but the students have a high tendency to mix them up immediately after the class. To counter this, I divided the high frequency expressions into categories based on which player would say them and in what situation the player could expect to hear them. For example, ‘mark up’ is something that they will hear from a goalkeeper when defending corners and free-kicks.

Teaching English in a football context is useful for professional footballers but it can also engage students who aren’t professional footballers or even footballers at all. Try our Present Perfect explanation and exercises from English for Football and notice how easy it is to motivate your students afterwards.

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