Reviewer: Kerstin Painter
Languagecaster.com – english through football is aimed at intermediate and advanced ESL/EFL students with an interest in football. The idea behind it is that if you listen, read, and write about something you enjoy -- in this case, football -- you can improve your English language skills. It is an attempt to bring technology into the classroom and provide independent learning opportunities. There are weekly podcasts with European and some world football news, listening comprehension exercises (complete with answer key and podcast transcripts), definitions of new vocabulary, and a weekly football cliché. There is also a section with ideas for teachers, Football Language Resources, which give background information, readings, grammatical structures to teach in context, quizzes, puzzles, and football history to help teachers adapt the exercises for classroom use. Languagecaster.com was founded in 2006 by two British ESL/EFL teachers who grew up avid football fans. Damian Fitzpatrick teaches English at King’s College in London and is working on his doctorate in education while Damon Brewster lives in Japan with his family and teaches EFL.
I recommend this site for various reasons. The first one is that it covers what it says it will: football. There are no distractions. The website is clean and simple and not full of advertisements. It seems that it was set up by the two founders, who are doing what they love, with the help and support of their friends and families. It is also free. I don’t find any links looking for money or donations that go to the Web site. It was showcased in The Language Teacher, the publication of the Japanese Association of Language Teachers, in their October 2007 issue.
The listening exercises are authentic material, at natural speed, which may make it difficult for low-level beginners. It can be adapted for their level, though. The natural narratives are easy to follow and the narratives follow the European football season and some international football news. It has all the excitement of football: the tension, drama, violence, sadness, and joy. Each week has a different theme although the format of the podcast remains the same: an introduction and review of the football week, a main feature, a new football phrase to learn, and predictions for upcoming matches. Students can bring all their own football knowledge to the table. Besides the listening exercises, there is a main article that appears: “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
Languagecaster.com has links to other sites, but not many. The majority of these links are football (sports) related sites: the BBC, ESPN, FIFA, etc., and newspapers that cover football news. For teachers, there are a few links not related to football, but not a lot.
The website is updated every day and you can have the podcasts and articles directly sent to you as they appear.
In summary, I really like this website for its simplicity and focused coverage of current football news. I think the exercises are well written and a student could really learn from this website while having a lot of fun.