In most of the world there is a sport which is called football, but in the Untied States we call it soccer because Americans like to be different I guess and, also, football is a completely sport in the United States.
Anyway, I’ll call it football and I’ll call it soccer in today’s issue. So let’s think about this.
In schools, in the traditional way of learning in schools, we have teachers and we have students, right?
So what do teachers do in a school, traditionally, normally?
Well, normally what teachers do is they lecture, first of all.
They lecture, meaning they stand in front of a classroom and they talk about information and sometimes they write notes and information on the board, on the whiteboard or on the blackboard. This is called lecturing.
Typically, teachers teach formulas, rules, things to be memorized; facts, right?
This is the normal way, the old way really, but it’s still the normal way of teaching.
That’s what teachers do. Number one, they stand in front of a classroom and they lecture.
They talk and they talk and they talk to the students and the students sit there and listen, listen, listen.
Number two, the teacher typically teaches formulas and facts, formulas and facts and they write these formulas and facts on the board for the students, of course, to memorize.
What’s another thing that teachers typically do, normally do?
Well, teachers normally give tests.
Every week or every two weeks, depends on the teacher, depends on the school, but there are usually a lot of quizzes and a lot of tests.
So the teacher lectures, speaks about, a lot of facts and formulas.
Then, later, the teacher tests the students to see if they have remembered these facts and these formulas and then, finally, at the end of the class or the end of the course the teacher gives grades.
The teacher grades each student.
If you did very well on the test you get an A and if you did less well you a B. If you did not do well at all you get a D or you get an F.
That’s just the sort of normal school way of teaching. That’s what teachers do.
In a normal school we also have students and what do students do? What’s their role? What’s their job in a school?
Well, number one, their job is to just sit there quietly and listen to the lecture, listen to the teacher speaking, typically sitting in chairs at little desks, not moving at all and they’re supposed to be very quiet and not energetic, just very, very passive.
What else are students supposed to do? Students are supposed to take notes.
So they have a notebook and they’ll have a pen and their job is to write down all of the formulas and facts that the teacher is teaching them, that the teacher is writing on the board of saying.
So student sit passively and then they take notes.
They take lots of notes, lots of notes, lots of notes and then, of course, they also go home later and they read the textbook, which is also full of formulas and facts.
The next job of the student in a normal school or a normal class is to memorize all of these formulas and all of these facts.
So the student sits passively, takes notes and then goes home and studies and tries to memorize, remember all of these formulas and facts.
Then, finally, of course, the student studies, studies, studies, reviews and memorizes, reviews and memorizes, to prepare for tests.
So the final thing the student does is that they take a test.
The student takes a test and, of course, their tests then determine their grades.
When they’re kids they go home and they show their grades to their parents and the parents are happy or the parents are unhappy, depending on the grade.
So that’s how it works in a school.
Now let’s think about sport, because sport is different, right?
Let’s think about football or soccer, any sport really, but we’ll use football or soccer as our comparison today.
So in sports we don’t have teachers and students. In sports we have what?
We have coaches and players, coaches and players, different words and, more importantly, different roles, different jobs.
They act very differently than do teachers and students, so let’s look at this.
What does a coach do? What’s the coach’s job? What actions do coaches take?
Well, first of all, coaches don’t really lecture much, right?
They don’t just stand in a classroom and talk to the players who are sitting at a desk.
They don’t do that very much. What do they do instead?
They’re out in the field. The coach’s, number one, the first thing they do is usually they demonstrate.
They show the players how to do something. They show them how to do a skill.
They show them how to do some strategy, some plan, but they’re demonstrating.
They’re demonstrating actions. It’s very different.
They’re not just speaking about or writing down facts and formulas.
No, they’re demonstrating actions. They’re demonstrating skills, is what they’re really doing.
They’re showing, demonstrating these skills. What’s the next thing a coach will do or a manager?
Well, the next thing a coach does is that they train the players. They train them and they push them.
What do they do? How do they do that? Well, they train these skills.
First they demonstrate them. They say this is what I want you to do. This is how I want you to do it.
Then they get the players doing that skill again and again and again and again.
They design different methods of practice, different methods of training.
That’s a very important job of the coach is to design practices, to design certain ways to teach skills to the players so that the players can actually do the skills.
Not that they can take a test and know about it and write it down, but they can actually perform it.
So coaches demonstrate and coaches train. They create innovative powerful ways of practicing skills.
What else do coaches do other than teaching skills? Well, they also give strategies, right? They give the players strategies.
They tell the players how to use their skills in an effective way and they actually practice that.
They train that. They practice that. What else do coaches do? Well, they motivate and they inspire.
This is very, very important.
Great coaches are also great motivators, because even if the players have good skills, if their motivation is low, if their energy is low, they will not perform well. All coaches know this.
That’s why coaches always, always, always work hard to motivate their players, to energize their players, to help their players become more inspired, more motivated, more excited about playing.
Most of all what a coach does is a coach leads.
The coach is a leader and, really, all of the skills we’ve just talked about that’s leadership, demonstrating what needs to be done, showing and creating plans and strategies, training team members so that they learn the skills and master the skills and actually can perform them and motivating and inspiring.
All of that is leadership. So coaches are leaders.
What about players? What’s the player’s job in football or in any sport? It’s not to memorize.
They don’t just take notes and memorize, no, no, no. What do they do? They practice. This is so important.
There’s such a big difference between the ways schools do things and the way sports do things.
In schools students just memorize and take notes, but in sport players practice.
They actually do the skill. They constantly practice and they also watch.
They watch the demonstrations. They watch the coach demonstrate.
They watch other better players demonstrate the skills and they try to copy how they’re doing it and, most of all, they’re constantly practicing, practicing and training, practicing and training.
Every day they are practicing the same skills. What’s then another job of the player?
Constant improvement, the player is constantly trying to improve those skills.
They don’t just practice them a few times and then go learn something else.
No, they’re constantly practicing the same skills and trying to improve them, improve them, improve them, improve them.
It never ends. Even the best player in the world is still trying to improve his or her fundamental skills. It never ends.
Another thing that a player focuses on, their ultimate job is to totally master those fundamental skills.
Not to memorize them, not to remember them and then take a test and then forget, which is what students often do, no.
A great player, a great soccer player, a great football player, they will master a skill totally and they will keep that mastery.
They don’t want to lose it.
They don’t want to forget it, so they keep focusing on improving, improving, improving until they become masters of the fundamental skills. Here’s another very important point. Players play with other people.
They play with other players. They play with their coaches. They play with others.
See, this does not happen very much in schools, right?
In schools everyone is at their own little desk and if you help someone else that’s called cheating, especially if it’s a test, but in a football game, a soccer game, if you help your other player on your team that’s called teamwork and that’s what you want.
If you’re in a practice and you help another player get better, well that makes you also a leader.
That makes you a great player on your team. So in sports it’s great to help other people on your team.
You want to help other people, but in a classroom it’s totally the opposite, right?
The schools discourage that. They don’t want you to help other students. It’s a competition between each member of the class.
Everyone is a little lonely individual. That’s not how the real world works, you play with others.
Most importantly, in school students memorize and study, but in sports players do. They do. They take action.
They’re doing the skills all the time. They’re not learning about them. They’re not writing down and memorizing facts about football.
No, they’re actually playing football, practicing the skills.
They’re doing football all the time. Can you see how important this is, this metaphor, the difference between the way sports are learned and practiced and played and the way academic school subjects are?
So you do not, do not, do not want to learn English in the way they taught you in school. You don’t want to be a student anymore.
You don’t want to be an English student. You want to be an English player.
That’s why I often describe myself as an English coach or an English manager or an English leader.
I think of myself as a leader or a coach, not as a teacher. I don’t want to teach you formulas and facts.
I’m certainly not going to give you a test and I’m not going to grade you.
My job is to demonstrate skills by giving you lots of English input and to train you and push you.
Train you so you can practice these things everywhere. My job also is to motivate you and inspire you.
That’s why I frequently talk about motivational topics, inspiring topics.
I am not a teacher. I am a leader and a coach. I’m an English leader. I’m an English coach and I want you to be an English player.
Be an English player, don’t be an English student anymore.
Not a passive English student, be an English player. Don’t study English, practice it. Don’t memorize, train.
Don’t study for a test and then forget it, master core fundamental skills and constantly, constantly, constantly improve and maybe most important of all, play with others.
So be an English player. Train and play instead of studying. Train and play instead of studying.
Doesn't it sound better to say oh, I’m going to play English today instead of I will study English today?
Awe, just saying that sounds boring, right? Today I must study English. It sounds so sad and boring, but if you say today I’m going to play English, just as you might play football or soccer, that sounds kind of fun.
The next thing I would like you to think about with this metaphor, don’t find an English teacher, find a great English coach.
Find a coach not a teacher.
Find someone who will train you and, very importantly, someone who will motivate you, someone who will inspire you, someone who will push you to play English more and more and to really master it and to perform well.
So don’t get an English teacher, get an English coach.
And, finally, most importantly maybe as I just mentioned, find other players. Play English with other people.
English is a way of communicating.
You need two people for that at least.
So play with others, conversation partners, other learners, friends, people on the Internet with Skype. It doesn’t matter.
They can be native speakers from the United States or they could be other people learning in different countries, just play with English.
Have fun with it. Enjoy it.
Play with it every day, listening, listening, listening and, also, just talking and playing and conversing with other people, communicating with other people. Find other English players. So play English and have fun.