by Chris Elvin


In this edition of the newsletter, I'd like to share a couple of activities that I made for my students to coincide with the 2002 FIFA World Cup which took place this summer in Korea and Japan.
First of all, I wish to apologize if you're reading this after the event and think that your students will no longer be interested. I actually did both activities prior to the World Cup, but I'd like to believe that they should still be valid and interesting, if somewhat less topical even after the final ball is kicked. The group collaboration activity uses the thirty-two World Cup countries because they just happen to be in the limelight, and the flag drawing activity should still be okay, if somewhat easier, now that students have had their country flag schema activated by repeated exposure on TV.
The reason I chose to incorporate the World Cup into my teaching was partly because it was real and timely, and my students were very interested in it, but also because it was a good opportunity to teach useful English in an interesting and enjoyable way. Not only could we study English, we could also learn a little about the world and appreciate the richness of its cultures.

Activity 1: Flags of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Countries
(See pages 13 and 14)

This is a class listening exercise. If possible, students should have colored pens or pencils handy. This activity is more interesting and useful for students if they can be active listeners with opportunities to talk with the teacher, and more fun if they are allowed to choose which flags they would like to draw.
First of all, I pre-teach the vocabulary by illustration and translation. Then, I usually describe one easy flag, and ask volunteers to describe a flag that they happen to know, guiding them with questions such as "Are the stripes horizontal or vertical?", What is the color of the stripe on the left?" etc. Sometimes it is possible to bring in local information to help them with their understanding. For example, many students pass by a German shoe store with a big German flag outside it on the way to school. I explain how to get to the store from the station (more useful English), and this helps those who use that route to visualize the flag and join in explaining it to their classmates. Some flags are also rich in cultural information. Why was the England flag not the Union Jack that my students were expecting? What does the Yin and Yang sign of the South Korean flag mean, and what do the four trigrams stand for?
My students also occasionally offer information of their own, albeit usually in Japanese. One told the class that the French flag is not one third each of blue, white and red, but it has been designed to look like that when it is blowing in the wind! I have not been able to verify this, but presumably, the wind would have to have a fixed velocity (one for the applied math lesson).
Nb. If you are unsure of the colors of the World Cup countries' flags and are unable to find a source elsewhere, please visit my website to download a print:

Activity 1 Extra

I have a pairwork flag drawing activity which is very similar to the class listening activity in this newsletter.
As a matter of fact, it turned out to be too difficult for my senior three students, and we had to abandon it, so I'd only recommend this if you were also teaching University students.
Download from:

Activity 2: The 2002 FIFA World Cup Countries
(See pages 15-17)

This is a collaborative gap-fill class activity. Students are given unique information about one country and are asked to find out about fifteen more by asking their classmates.
I pre-teach the pronunciation of the religions and then quickly go around class to help students who are unsure about how to pronounce the capital city or official language on their unique information card. Then I ask students not to show their cards to anyone so that they can focus on developing oral communication skills (sometimes I ask them to put their cards in their pen cases). I think the activity works well because students can choose the countries that they are interested in, and this ensures that all countries are given equal status and respect.
If I see students tiring, or collaborative scrums forming, I smile and move on to the next activity. In one class, some of my students told me that fifteen was too many and that they would have preferred to ask about ten people. I will bear this in mind the next time we come to do something similar.

Activity 2 Extra

I have also developed a class gap-fill activity in which students role-play a person from one of the 2002 World Cup countries. Using information on their ID cards, they introduce themselves to their classmates and talk about which country they are from, where they live and what their hobbies are (hobbies were assigned randomly to avoid stereotyping, and because I wanted to emphasize the similarities between people, rather than their differences).
Students are also encouraged to end their conversations with a simple comment about their partner's hobby.
This activity was a lot of fun in my classes. Please try it, if you have the time!

Chris Elvin has a Master's degree in TESOL from Temple University, Japan. He is the author of Now You're Talking, published by EFL Press, and the owner and webmaster of EFL Club, a children's language learning website. He is currently teaching at Caritas Gakuen in Kanagawa, and St. Dominic's Institute and Tokyo Women's Medical University in Tokyo. He can be contacted at celvin@kd6.so-net.ne.jp .

Return to http://www.eflclub.com/elvin.html .