Languages and Winning the World Cup

Well, the World Cup is now over. France, the winners. England, an honourable fourth.

As the final whistle blew and the media took their places to interview the emotional and exhausted players, sitting in front of our TVs in the UK, most of us would expect the French (or Croatian, Swedish, Argentinian etc), players to immediately respond in English. Not always fluent or idiomatic but definitely understandable. How incredible is this?

How many of the England players would you expect to be able to conduct themselves as eloquently in a post-match interview in Spanish, French or German?

There may be many reasons for this. But the most important point is that languages are not just for linguists. They’re for footballers too. And everybody else! It’s about communication needs and the simple fact that we all have the potential to be multilingual.

Let’s add a further point that the France team includes those who play in all the major European leagues. It’s likely that some of them can speak French, English, Spanish (or Italian or German), as well as an extra mother tongue that they grew up with.

It might well be that as languages open up opportunities to travel and live abroad then this develops the mind, builds confidence and leads to greater levels of creativity and self-belief.

If you want England to win a future World Cup then get your children learning languages now*.

*Note: it may not be this simple!