Learning French with Messi

Elena, Pablo and I were watching the women’s world cup semi-final France vs USA last Wednesday evening. As I was shouting “Allez les Bleues”, Elena was chanting “USA, USA!”. I guess she already likes to rebel against her father…

Soccer is probably the sport that helps you make friends in any part of the world. Whatever country you visit, you will be able to build relationships if you know how to kick a ball on a soccer field.

Soccer is also part of my ritual to immerse Elena and Pablo in French, and to make talking in French fun. We often spend 10 minutes in the evening, before bedtime, playing soccer together. Pablo wants to be Messi, Elena loves Spanish goalkeeper Casillas. As we kick the ball, I do the play-by-play in French (“I take the ball from Pablo”, “Pablo kicks the ball”, “Great save by Elena”).

I try to talk as much as possible in French as we play, which encourages also Elena and Pablo to participate and make their own comments. As a result, we only play soccer in French. It has become a habit.

When I come home and Pablo asks me: “Papa, on peut jouer au football?”, it is probably the best gift a passionate soccer dad can get from his 3-year old son.