Leicester City References In English Lessons

As someone who teaches English as a foreign language in Japan I have to get my kicks how I can when it comes to amusing myself. In the past I’ve incorporated booksmusic, songs, toys, Star Wars, Kung-fu Panda and learning to read via penalty shoot outs into my lessons. Leicester City can also be added to that list albeit in slightly more subtle ways!

Up until a couple of years ago, practically none of my students had ever heard of Leicester or Resuta (レスター) as they call it. However, following the Richard III car-park discovery story, Princess Mako (a member of the Japanese Imperial family) studied museology at the University of Leicester in 2014 which resulted in some students actually being aware of my birthplace. In June 2015 Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki joined Leicester City and then amazingly, against all the odds, they have gone on to take the Premier League by storm this season which has brought the name to the attention of a few more than usual.

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Generally speaking though, very few students have ever heard of either the team or the city. The nearest we get to acknowledgement is when Leicester Square pops up on a London map in a textbook and then I can pounce and tell them about the team I’ve supported since the early 1980s. More often that not it’s met with a couldn’t care less look and I just correct them on the pronunciation which is almost always wrong when spoken by anyone outside of the British Isles!

I remember reading many, many years ago that Leicester City fan David Neilson (a.k.a. Roy Cropper from ‘Coronation Street‘) had dropped many Foxes references into the long-running British soap opera. One time he reminisced about an old teacher called Mr O’Neill, he also stated a serial number as ‘LCFC97′ in honour of our 1997 League Club success and he also said “Goodbye Mr Claridge” to a customer exiting his shop shortly after Steve Claridge had left Leicester City for Wolves.

On a far, far lesser scale I try and reference the club too whenever I can and over the years I have done some of the following:

* Famous City players (particularly the international ones) have been used on personal information flashcards * for introducing yourself at a party or whatever. As they’re all men though it somewhat lacks adequate female representation! Former player Muzzy Izzet often gets a look of disbelief that it could actually be a name. Likewise for Danny Drinkwater which students seem to think is a joke name!

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* Used real street names like Lineker Road, Filbert Street as well as fictional ones like Vardy Street, Mahrez Road, Fox Street and other such names on a map for teaching directions and prepositions of place.

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* Kids learn all manner of animal lexical nouns but sadly fox is rarely included other than for a word featuring the letter ‘X’. Not in some of my lessons though where my Filbert Fox cuddly toy (2008 version) has been used to introduce the word.

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* The “What’s he wearing?” language function can be used via some pictures from football magazines (including ‘The Fox – the Leicester City fanzine which I subscribe to) which is more useful than you’d perhaps think. Japanese use the word ユニフォーム (Yunifōmu a.k.a. uniform) instead of shirt, half sleeve instead of short sleeve, short pants instead of shorts and socks instead of stockings. Tracksuit is a word they don’t usually know so that can be included too.

* A team line-up photo is perfect for teaching appearance-based language such as “He is tall/well-built” or “He’s got short ginger hair” etc. The aforementioned personal info cards can also be used but the team photo is useful for a game of ‘Who am I describing?’ whereby a student chooses a player and describes him for the other students to guess.

* Comparatives and superlatives can also be done using the personal info cards (if they include categories like height, weight and age for example). As someone who often uses  Top Trump cards for such a function I’d love nothing more than a set of Leicester City ones.


* Used the old Clubcall premium telephone news service number (0898-12-11-85) with kids when teaching them the fascinating art of giving your number in British English.

* Worn my Leicester City tie.

* A Filbert Fox height measurement chart for the kids to see how tall they are.

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*We Are The Champions‘ by Queen was used as a listening exercise in the wake of Leicester winning League One in 2009. I refrained from doing it again in 2014 when we won the Championship title but am hoping to give the song a bit of airplay in lessons IF we can hold on to take the Premier League title!

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Of course, just about any interest or hobby can be shoehorned into English lessons (within reason) and the subtlety of the above ideas makes it (just about) justifiable. Using additional resources in the classroom is very much welcomed by the powers-that-be and they can break up the monotony of the book a bit.

* Disclaimer: The illustrations on these self-made cards were done for the ‘The Fox’ Leicester City fanzine by illustrator Simon Smith. I use them strictly for fun and definitely make no money from them!

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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