Sports for Language Development
Most children are more interested in playing than doing something boring – like school work. This is especially true during the summer when children feel they are supposed to be free of books, reading, and language drills. Fortunately, playing and language development perfectly complement each other.
Types of Sports
Begin by going to a library or gathering books on a variety of sports that are reading level appropriate. Ask the child about his or her favorite sports, and be ready to share information about your favorite sports as well. Narrow the sports down until there are two or three selections that it will be possible to participate in at a later date. For example if the child loves hockey but there is not a rink nearby, find out what other sports he is interested in.
Once you have narrowed down the list to 2 or 3 sports begin looking for information about each individual sport, favorite teams in the sport, as well as favorite athletes. Most children enjoy talking and reading about topics they are already interested in and many new language learners find fact based topics easier to comprehend at first. Gather the books and read them together and use them to ask specific questions about the sport. Have the child teach you about the sport. This will help build their conversation skills and when they are having difficulty choosing the right words you can assist. It will also give you the opportunity to engage the child by asking specific questions such as:
- How long does the game last?
- How many people are on the team?
- What are the colors for your favorite team?
- What are the rules for this game?
- When is this game played?
- Where is this game played?
- Who is the best player on the team?
- Why does the player …?
Look for opportunities to ask the WH questions and to encourage the child to engage in descriptive language.
Time to Play!
Choose one of the sports to play with the child or to watch with the child. If there is a big game, take time to watch it with snacks and discuss the finer points of the game as it is being played. Some sports will be easier to play with individuals or small groups such as golf, swimming, bowling, basketball, and pool. If one of these was the child’s favorite try and find a way to allow the child to actively participate in their favorite sport. After the game discuss how the game went and the actions of the various players.
How will you incorporate the wonderful world of sports into your language lessons?