EU Multilingualism Commissioner was in London today (2 April) for the launch of an innovative project combining foreign-language learning and football training run by Arsenal football club.
This year’s edition of the English Premiership club’s ‘Double Club’ initiative, which the EU executive described as an “innovative project aimed at schoolchildren, combining language learning with football training,” sees youngsters from London and the surrounding area attend language courses of six to eight weeks, followed by football sessions.
Languages available under the scheme, which runs in local schools, include French, German and Spanish. The initiative also sees participants take part in football tournaments between pupils of the 80-plus schools involved.
Weekly after-school sessions comprise 45 minutes of football and 45 minutes of language teaching. Lessons are inspired by football and Arsenal-related themes, and are supported by contributions from the club’s French, Spanish and German-speaking players in their native languages.
At the end of each course, youngsters have the opportunity to tour Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium home, visit the club’s museum, and receive commemorative footballs, T-shirts and certificates.
Commissioner Orban, who was joined by Gunners manager Arsène Wenger, UK Schools Minister Jim Night and UK National Director for Languages Dr. Lid King, was due to present certificates and footballs to some of the 2,000-plus primary school pupils to have taken part in Double Club activities so far.
The commissioner was also due to visit local pilot schools to hear pupils sing football songs in French, German and Spanish, followed by a brief question-and-answer session in the languages covered by the initiative.
Orban expressed particular satisfaction that the scheme targets children who may not otherwise be exposed to learning foreign languages, a priority of the Commission’s new multilingualism policy launched last September (EURACTIV 15/09/08).
The success of Arsenal’s Double Club’ project has already seen several other Premiership clubs adopt similar schemes.