For professional football teams to come out on top in some of the most competitive leagues in the world they bring in incredible athletes from all corners of the globe. This makes the top football leagues a mixed pot of different cultures, ethnicities, and languages. But how do footballers learn languages so quickly?
Take the English Premier League as an example, for the 2022/23 season there are 65 different nations represented in the league.
Reference: 2022-2023 Premier League Nationalities
For teams to work well together, international players need to be integrated into the team and community that they are living in.
Learning the native language plays a huge role in this but here are some other factors that help football players communicate
These are the 5 quickest ways that footballers learn languages
Languages learned in school
Many professional players may already have a good understanding of languages through learning them in school, partially those coming from Europe countries.
As of 2020, there were 450 million people living in Europe with 370 million of those people being able to speak English.
In some European countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, the English language is taught compulsively in the school system from a young age.
Reference: TOP ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES IN EUROPE (2020)
In most English-speaking countries such as the UK, the most common languages taught in school are Spanish, French, and German.
This is the common language that footballers speak
When football players move to different countries they are immersed in native language speakers.
Whether it be going to the shop for some groceries or during football training and practices.
Immersive learning is a really quick way for football players to learn a language.
This is because they are streamlining only the essential words and phrases to help navigate through the day.
This builds a really strong language base for them to develop their language learning.
Other footballers at the club are another great way for football players to quickly learn the native language, especially if they are bilingual.
Some footballers will act as translators for their teammates if they are still learning the language.
This is really common when players give post-match interviews.
Paying for language tutors
It is becoming increasingly common for football players to pay for specialized language tutors to help them learn the language as quickly as possible.
In some instances, clubs may even integrate language classes for footballers to fit around their training schedule.
A high-profile example of this would be Gabriel Martinelli, who currently plays for Arsenal.
Martinelli came to the club predominately speaking Spanish and little English, but he was helped a lot by his Spanish-speaking teammates.
Arsenal was able to provide him with classes around training sessions to help him excel in his learning of the English language.
Reference: MARTINELLI ON LIVING A DREAM, HIS GOALS, AND LEARNING ENGLISH
Language apps are the most accessible way for not just footballers but everyday people to learn languages.
With the development of technology, it makes learning languages incredibly affordable and convenient
Duolingo is an app that has gained increased popularity over the year. As well as helping football players learn to speak the language it can also be used to improve reading and writing too!
Having spoken to football players who are learning a new language, they found that TV shows are very helpful when learning the language.
Kids’ education shows were a great way for footballers to learn the very basics of the language.
Even learning how the words are pronounced and the different sounds letters make on their own or when combined with different letters.
Kids’ TV shows do a really good job of this.
Final thoughts on footballers learning a language
Some methods of learning languages for footballers are more effective than others.
There are a variety of different ways that a footballer can quickly learn the native language.
Many footballers will have a basic understanding of a variety of languages through their respective school systems.
However, the best way a footballer would learn is through social settings and immersive learning.
This is because they learn the most relevant words and phrases for day-to-day tasks.
In these social settings, footballers will also help their teammates and act as translators when they are struggling to think of the right words.
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