Bilingual Homeschooling: World Cup Language Learning!

by Corey · 11 comments

Author’s Note: I’m excited to say that Sarah at Bringing Up Baby Bilingual chose this post as part of the July Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism!  I’m so very honored to be a part of this fabulous group of bilingual bloggers!  Please check out their entries – you will be inspired from head to toe by their amazing stories, tips and wisdom!  Sign up to join us next month!

And now get your children inspired with these World Cup language learning tips…

As I write this the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 is but a mere 1 day, 20 hours and 3 minutes away (according to FIFA.com, at least).

I’ll admit it, I’m not a consistent soccer (er, football) fan.  The United States is a latecomer in the whole field of soccer (pun intended) and although it was my preferred sport in school, as I was a fast runner back then, the opportunities to cheer for a “real” team in a packed stadium were few and far between (if at all).

My husband is also not the most consistent soccer fan, despite the fact that he is a born-and-raised German.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone as I’d not want to rat him out among his cool, soccer-loving, beer-drinking German buddies.  (The truth is, he’d prefer to watch a good game of tennis.)  However, when the World Cup starts to ramp up, we both turn into total and complete soccer fans.

Use the World Cup in Your Bilingual Homeschooling Lessons

With the combination of countries, flags, languages, and cultures there are more homeschooling opportunities than a parent can count!  You could easily find ways to incorporate in math and statistics.  No worries, you don’t have to be a bilingual homeschooler 100% of the time to have fun with the following activities and ideas.  Just adapt them into your language based on your child’s interests and you are off.

Using the World Cup to learn about geography:

  1. Start by going to the FIFA website and check out the Destination link: www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/index.html. Note that there are additional language options on the top right!
    • TIP: Look at each of the host cities.  Talk about the South African landscape: Is it different from yours?  The same?  What does it look like?  What is the weather like?
    • TIP: Look at photos of each of the stadiums where the games will be played. Talk about the architecture, where the stadium is located, how many people can fit in each.
  2. Go to the teams page (www.fifa.com/worldcup/teams/index.html) and get to know more about each of the teams playing in the World Cup.  Talk about the different countries represented (take the opportunity to talk about continents vs countries), look at and discuss the different flags and whatever else you find interesting.  Click on a few of the countries of interest and talk about them in more detail.
  3. Teach the names of the countries in your language. Make special effort to say the name of each country out loud in your language and ask your child to repeat after you.  Do this a few times.  Write down the names in your language as well.  Use each country in a sentence or find other ways to incorporate the names of the countries into the conversation to help your child learn them.
  4. If you have an atlas in your language, open it (or go to your favorite online atlas in your language) and locate the countries together with your child.  Some ideas of what you can do while looking at the atlas:
    • TIP: Find South Africa in the atlas and talk about how far each team had to travel to get there.
    • TIP: Talk a bit about things unique to each country in the FIFA list: language, terrain, foods, climate, products manufactured, etc.
    • TIP: Talk with your child about friends or people in the community that you know from each of the countries.
  5. Find a list of world flags online (this site shows the flag and also talks a bit about its meaning: www.worldflags101.com) or do this via the Destination link on the FIFA site (see above).  Locate the flag for each country in the World Cup.  See if you and your child can memorize which flag goes with which country.  Use this as an opportunity to talk about colors, shapes, what flags are and why we have them, etc.
  6. Look at when the matches will take place: www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/index.html (note: there is a PDF on the right side of the page if you want to print it out.)  Get out your calendar and write down when the matches you are interested in will take place.  Even if you won’t be watching each, you can keep track of the results.  Use this as a chance to talk about the days of the week, dates, months, how many matches each has to win to move on, etc. in your language!
  7. Visit some of your favorite online news sources in your language with your child. Talk about the top stories and read bits of the articles in your language.  It can be exciting for a child to see news about the World Cup in the minority language – it gives it a special aura of authenticity!
  8. Call/Skype with your family in your home country and give your child the chance to talk about all of the information he/she has learned!  It is a great way to get the conversation going.  You might even want to have some discussion question/topics ready to get the conversation started and to keep it going.

Use the World Cup to teach multicultural connections:

  1. South Africa has had its share of trials and tribulations which has lead to many different impressions and stereotypes.  Talk with your child about what he/she knows about South Africa.  If your child is too young to have any specific associations, then talk about some basic differences and similarities between South African language and culture and your child’s languages and cultures.
  2. Go to the Photos page on the FIFA site (www.fifa.com/worldcup/photo/index.html) and talk about the range of different people seen there.  Talk about what they look like, their expressions, what they are wearing, etc.  Talk about what characteristics are different, which are the same, where each may live and anything else that springs up in the conversation.
  3. Check out the South Africa from A-Z page (www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/southafricafromatoz/index.html) and talk about each of the topics in your language.  What do each of the words mean?  Why are they uniquely associated with South Africa?

Hands-On Resources:

With all of this information and resources, you will be able to spend the whole World Cup 2010 having fun while learning about the world –  and all done in your language.  What could be better? Let me know how it goes!

SIGN UP for our email list to get a FREE and easy step-by-step World Cup 2010 Geography Lesson that you can do at home with your kids in YOUR language! This will get them learning the names of countries, continents and more in YOUR language!

Do you have additional sites that you’d like to recommend?  Do you have some favorite World Cup 2010 sites which are specifically in your language?  Can you recommend some additional activities which focus on the World Cup 2010 theme?

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.


  • TIP: Find South Africa in the atlas and talk about how far each team had to travel to get there.
  • TIP: Talk a bit about things unique to each country in the FIFA list: language, terrain, foods, climate, products manufactured, etc.
  • TIP: Ask you child if he/she knows any other people from each of the countries.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole June 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Hi Corey, Love this post! We don’t follow international soccer much either but we do plan to watch the World Cup and we’ll definitely check out your suggestions for learning more about South Africa and the other countries participating. Thanks!

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2 Corey June 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Yes, being that it is in South Africa really adds a whole new element which I’m really excited about. Such a great excuse to learn even more about the country and people. Thank you for your post and comment here if you have some more suggestions and ideas. There have been some great ones on the Facebok page. So fun!

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3 Susan M June 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

These are great ideas and great links! Thanks for sharing them.

Susan

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4 Corey June 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Thank you for your comment, Susan! It is nice to know that people might be benefiting from them. My kids and I have been having a good time referring to them while the World Cup is on. So fun to learn the flags, in particular. 😉

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5 sefa June 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Thanks for a great article & great suggestions re: teaching opportunities. Being a non-native french speaker & a die-hard soccer fan, watching “le coupe du monde” with my toddler has forced me to learn all the football terminology in french, so that I can give her a blow-by-blow account of the matches.

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6 Corey June 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Sefa, that is fabulous! I love it when our children’s multilingualism improves our multilingualism! The absolute best of both worlds. I also love it when my kids teach me terms in German. I have to ask them a lot when it comes to Fussball and they so enjoy being the experts.

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7 Corey June 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm

By the way, I love your blog! Can I add it to this site’s links? Always fabulous to find blogs in another language that focus on raising bilingual children! Fabulous!

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8 sefa June 30, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the kind words about my blog. You may absolutely add it to this site’s links! It would have been so much easier to do the blog in English, but it forces me to maintain my written French and keep up with the evolution of the language – all very useful for “living” the language with my daughter versus “teaching” it.

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9 Zoe @ Playing by the book July 2, 2010 at 12:47 am

Hi Corey, Although I suspect “our” team (the Dutch) will go out today (against Brazil), this is a great resource. And one which could be easily adapted for eg the olympics. Our response to the world cup was to seek out picture books based in South Africa – http://www.playingbythebook.net/2010/06/10/catching-south-african-fever/
I didn’t find any books feature bi/multilingualism, although of course it is common in SA.

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10 Gustavo Zampella December 16, 2011 at 2:50 am

Thank you for some other wonderful article. The place else could anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal approach of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the look for such info.

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11 Andrew May 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

something cool about the south african anthem
it is the only anthem in the world which lyrics change throughout the song . it starts off in one language and continues on to about 4-5 different ones!

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