Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How the Bejing China Olympics Impact My EFL Learners

Olympic Medals in Colombia

By the way, did you watch any of the Past month’s Bejing, China Olympic events? I did and so did the vast majority of my English as a Foreign Language learners. They paid special attention, as did most Colombians, to the silver medal in weightlifting won by Diego Fernando Salazar and the bronze medal in women’s wrestling won by Jackeline Renteria (pictured in red). Colombia’s only gold medal ever was won in Sydney in 2000 in women’s weightlifting by Maria Isabel Urrutia who is now a congresswoman and sports advocate. Doubtless your learners would talk enthusiastically about the medals and events in which your particular country fared well, or not, as the case may be.

Which Olympic events did you get to watch? Although I didn’t get to see much of the games and events, I did get opportunities to briefly check out men’s and women’s beach volleyball seeing both win the gold for the USA. I caught Baltimore's Michael Phelps swimming to three of his eight gold medals. (I grew up in Baltimore) The javelin throw, women’s high jump and pole vaulting also got brief coverage views from me. The events which most interested me I completely missed due to lack of local coverage here in Colombia or the time at which the events were aired locally. What about you? Did you get to see most of what you wanted to?

What are Your Favorite Olympic Events?

What are your and your learners’ favorite Olympic sporting events? Why not list and describe them, especially if they’re not too “mainstream events where you happen to live and teach? My EFL learners haven’t a clue about most winter and ice or snow-based events, since there’s virtually no snow in Colombia. The events gave ample opportunity to delve into lesser-know or less popular sporting events yet raising learner awareness of what’s practiced and popular – besides soccer – in other countries. Actually myself, I like baseball, basketball, gymnastics and ballroom dancing (but that’s not an Olympic event, yet). Are there any particular sports that you don’t like? Most of my EFL learners said Golf, but that’s hardly a surprise here. The sport is developing to a degree since there are several up and coming Colombian golfers on the international circuit.

Sorely Missed Olympic Events

Some sorely-missed Olympic events included men’s basketball - I didn’t get to see a single game! Fencing, wrestling, most of the prime track and field events – I didn’t see the men’s and women’s relay teams fiasco that made front page sports news even here. Archery, diving and the classic Olympic marathon also escaped me, unfortunately.

Why do you think that Olympics coverage doesn’t feature most flashbacks and interviews with previous record holders and former greats still living but retired or no longer competing? What ever happened to Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, among many others? Did they do that and I missed it because there was no coverage of that here?

Get Your EFL Learners Involved

Have your EFL or foreign language learners research facts, records and statistics. Allow them to report biographies and sporting event details or even demonstrations. Detail events and describe sporting events with which many of your earners may be unfamiliar. Have them explain why they think China won so many gold medals, little Jamaica won 11 medals but Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama only one medal each while other countries may not have won any at all. Have them talk about your country’s performance and how it might be improved or changed. You can and should use any sporting or cultural event to stimulate English language learning among your students, giving them spontaneous discourse outlets for extemporaneous speech. That’s one of the many ways the Bejing, China Olympics impacted my English as a foreign language learners during this semester.

How about yours?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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