English for Sports and Exercise
My own teaching methodology
Sport is everywhere around the world and everybody interacts with sport in some way. Whether it’s only in passing, walking past a football match for example, or being personally involved, as a coach or athlete. Sport and exercise provide hobbies and jobs to millions and can often be a common uniting factor between people from all countries. It’s for that reason that I would like to create an English course for people who want to learn English related to sport and exercise. This isn’t intended for those seeking English lessons to speak with their friends at the bar about the football game, instead it is intended for students and professionals working in the field of Sport and Exercise, such as athletes, coaches, sport scientists, back room staff and personal trainers. Sport creates many opportunities for athletes to come together and compete, giving them the chance to network and form connections all around the world. Thousands of people migrate and travel every year to new countries and still wish to be involved in the sport and/or exercise they did routinely back home. English can provide a common form of communication between all of these people. That’s why a English for Sport and Exercise course would be hugely beneficial.
As mentioned previously, this course is intended for students and professionals involved in sport and exercise. For example, a native Spanish footballer moving to England to join a football club for the season. It is common for Spanish footballers to move to England with little knowledge of the English language, they would therefore require general and specific English. During lunch or in their free time, they would need some general English to have a conversation with their peers and people they meet. On the training ground however, they would need specific sport and exercise terms associated with football so that they can communicate with their coaches; following instructions and speaking effectively with the back room staff, who are predominantly sport scientists. This course would be structured around the student’s own needs. There would always be an element of general English for the student to gain a rounded knowledge of English. The sport and exercise English they would learn will be determined by their sport and their requirements. A personal trainer at a gym would need different vocabulary to a badminton player, for example.
Before starting the course, the students would complete a questionnaire and a structured interview to determine their needs. These tools would provide the teacher with the essential information to structure a syllabus for the student and the target language required by the student. This means that the student learns what they need to learn and nothing they feel as unnecessary is taught to them. However, this could make it rather difficult to create a syllabus intended to be taught to more than one student in a class, as the syllabi would likely be highly specialised. The questionnaire and interview would also provide the teacher the opportunity to assess the level of English the student has before starting the course. This again is required when structuring a syllabus and lets the teacher know the level of grading needed during lessons. It would likely be hard work for the teacher to create so many individualised syllabi but by doing this, the students will feel involved in the structure of their own learning and will remain engaged during classes as the content would be designed with them in mind.
The course would be structured daily in to two parts. In the morning session, lasting ninety minutes, the student will be taught the new vocabulary and structures for the day. At the start of the course, the new vocabulary will largely be based upon their sport or exercise. This is so that the student can quickly learn basic English required to take part in training and competition. As the course progresses, the student would be taught more general English to use in situations outside of their sport. Each morning session would consist of four activities. These activities will vary in style and would focus on different aspects of English; vocabulary, pronunciation and structure. The activities could be discussion, could use text and comprehension or could use pictures for example. The variation would keep the student engaged and would hopefully keep them from being bored during the lesson.
In the afternoon they would be placed in to a practical setting based upon their sport. This would give the student the opportunity to use the new language skills they have learned in a realistic setting. Assessment of the students progression through the course will be done qualitatively through a verbal assessment. It would be at the teacher’s own discretion to move the student further through the course, when they feel the student fully understands the grading of English used during the assessment.
My method of teaching would largely be listening and speaking based, with some attention placed on reading and writing. There are several reasons for choosing a more conversational approach. Children learn their native language in a particular order. First they listen, then speak, followed by reading and writing. Since this is how people learn their native language, it would seem obvious to learn a second language this way too. Another reason for choosing a conversational approach is due to the surroundings the students will mostly be in on a daily basis. If they are athletes or coaches, they will likely spend the majority of their time in a training or competition scenario where instructions and feedback would be given verbally. They would require reading and writing less than listening and speaking so my method of teaching would reflect this. Reading and writing would still be included as I feel that all four macro skills of language are important when learning a new language.
This conversational approach to language teaching provides another benefit where students learn the language through function instead of form. The target language for each lesson is provided with an example of the language in context. The teacher would use a physical demonstration, pictures and videos to give the students a real life situation in which the target language is used. The teacher would also use the new language in different structures and use different phrases. This would explain the new vocabulary to them in a more memorable and tangible way. Grammar would be mentioned from time to time but will be learnt inductively on the most part. Children learn the grammar of the native tongue by learning what sounds right and what doesn’t. So I feel I should teach the same way, allowing my students to hear themselves talk and to listen to my examples to learn the correct structure and order of words.
From the first lesson, students will be spoken to in English only. The reason being that people often only learn due to necessity. It’s natural for people to look for the easy option when faced with difficulty. If a student is struggling to interpret an explanation, its easier for them to just be told the translation. But when they need to recall the information at a later time, they won’t have established a strong memory of it and won’t remember it themselves.
In summary, if I were to create my own English course it would be centred around sport and exercise with students and athletes in mind. It would give them an opportunity to learn vocabulary not often covered in general English courses that would be crucial to their communication during training and competition. But as a teacher for Oxbridge, I just want to make my classes enjoyable and interesting. I have always had a dislike towards learning new languages and I believe this is due to the teachers I had. None of them engaged me and made the process boring. I wanted to have a relevant conversation with someone, not learn grammar rules. So as a teacher of language I want to be the teacher I always wanted. My classes would be interesting and full of variety. I want my students to have fun in class but be productive too. I hope I can fulfil this ambition.