Learning in the MYP – EL DEPORTE Y LA VIDA


MYP Phase 1 students in Spanish (Grade 6) have started a new Unit called ‘El Deporte y la Vida’ – Sports and life. The title itself gives you a good idea about what the main topic is for this unit.

I remember when I first went to England 20 years ago. I thought I would have no problem communicating with the locals. I couldn’t wait to interact and, in a way, to show off my B+ grade in English from school. The reality was quite different as I found things very….very difficult. It was then when I realized that learning a new language without the context was literally impossible.

Whether we like it or not, the Spanish Speaking World is highly influenced by Sports; and that has an impact on the Spanish language too.

A recent survey undertaken by The Instituto Cervantes Tokyo (1) showed that the top reason for learning Spanish amongst Japanese students was football. Students wanted not only to understand the language but also wanted to learn ‘to feel’ the sport. In other words; they wanted to know why Spanish Speakers are so passionate about a sport.

It is true that most of the best footballers in the world are Spanish Speakers or play in a Spanish Speaking country: Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, James Rodriguez, Neymar, Keylor Navas, Fernando Torres, Kun Aguero… and let’s not forget some of the legends of the game. Diego Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff (he spent most of his career as player and coach in Barcelona) …they all share the same language on the pitch – Spanish.

MYP Phase 1 students are learning about sports in Latin-America and its influence in those countries. From why South and Central American baseball players who play in the Japanese League, find it so hard to adapt to life in Japan, to the life (rise and fall) of Diego Maradona; looking at some incredible features of his life such as the creation of his own religion; the Maradonian Religion.

Students will continue learning about grammar, will acquire new vocabulary and will keep practicing their reading, speaking and listening skills…within a context.

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Just one more anecdote to prove my point. My good friend Shun Ishihara played football in Spain for a few years as he was attending University. He learnt Spanish in Madrid and he admitted that going to football training sessions and matches really helped his learning process. Now he is back in Japan and when he plays football, he keeps talking to his team-mates in Spanish because Japanese words don’t describe the passion he wants others to get from his words. The only problem is…all of his team mates are Japanese.

So if you want to understand the passion for Sports in the Spanish Speaking World, come to one of our classes in the MYP.

Jorge Marenco
Spanish Teacher

(1) El Español en Japón: Evolución y perspectiva. Antonio Gil de Carrasco, Director Instituto Cervantes Tokio. 2013