Wednesday, June 02, 2010

world cup returneth

As a kind of welcome relief from day-to-day seriousness of language learning, vocabulary-building, reading skills, etc., it's good to once in a while embrace the pure enthusiasm of a world of soccer fans, caught up in the big tournament, due to start in South Africa in about ten days. It's an odd thing, but my computer doesn't let me copy & paste site where I go to "matches" and inspect the schedule. Here is a little background.

Because I teach ESL and speak to my students a lot, I can, if possible, know more about who is likely to win, because I can always ask the right questions (if I learn them), and, over the course of twenty or so years, I've gotten better at it. I am still quite a novice, by international standards of course, being an American and instinctively reaching out a hand whenever a ball comes my way. But, slowly, I've come to love the World Cup, and I've also come to notice its steadily growing popularity among Americans. Nowadays, you can find Americans talking about it, and trying to learn who is likely to win in any given group.

From the schedule, we can learn several interesting things: first, North Korea (group G) is probably the most surprising entry; Americans will have to learn the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia; matches are being played in towns such as Nelspruit, Polokwane and Manguang, places I should have heard of, but haven't; the USA is in group C so plays as its first opponents England, Slovenia, and Algeria; South Africa starts with the first game (match?) on the 11th but then matches move steadily, two at a time, down the groups so that as soon as A is done, B is playing (two); then C, then D etc. until it starts again at the top. This is how it's always been done, apparently; I'm just getting used to it.

Again, I have students who are excited about certain teams for whatever reason, and many, having adopted the USA as their residence, are pulling for us. The Saudi students like Algeria, which is the closest you can get to the Gulf, apparently; Korean and Japanese students are represented; I have a Chilean student; I have friends or relatives in or from many of the other countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Honduras, Italy, Germany, Ghana, England and Australia. I tend to like the African teams, though (even though Ghana beat us last year) and remember the first year Cameroon made it in there, and how excited that made the African students. It's exciting; I hope my kids can see some of it, though I never have time for even baseball, so I'm not sure how I'll pull that off. One person abroad said: try I can't imagine how; apparently its a site, these days, where you watch some things. Don't tell anyone I told you though. If I have time, I'll check it out myself.


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