Soccer is the lingua franca of ESL. Need a topic for conversation, a warm-up, or an ice breaker? Talk soccer. Students come up with interesting observations. For example, soccer is the world’s sport, but Americans call the baseball championship the World Series when only one team, the Toronto Blue Jays are not from the United States.
Why do people from the United States call themselves American but do not refer to people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, and the other countries of Central and South America as American? We, the people of the United States are North American as are Canadians and Mexicans, and they are Central American and South American.
Teach American culture and the first question you need to ask is “What is American?” Once you get past the North, Central, and South American conversation, pick many things thought to be American (of the United States) and some research teaches you differently.
Donuts? From Holland. Bagels? Not American, French, or of Jewish culture. They originated in Poland. Jazz? Africa. Hamburgers? Yes. It may have been a flattened meatball sandwich, but I’m keeping this one for the U.S. although meatballs probably originated somewhere else. Hot dogs? German.
Baseball? It’s a variation of the British game of rounders. The Abner Doubleday story is just marketing legend. Football? Rugby from England is the father of football. Hockey? Not even close. Basketball? Yes. From my home state of MA., Springfield, MA. to be exact.
Soccer, food, American? ESL teaches you many interesting things.