I was an ardent Manchester United fan growing up, on the seemingly acceptable premise that my mom was born in Manchester. For over ten years I ignored the fact that I’d never actually been to the city and that during the 1994-5 season I’d supported Aston Villa for the equally valid reason that I’d completed them first in my sticker book.
But then, aged 16, I realized that United fans from London are among one of the most hated demographics in the country. The term “glory hunter” plagued my school days and I subsequently switched my allegiance to local minnows, Brentford FC, to escape the abuse. Nonetheless, I still harbor a hidden love for the reds and feel a certain pride when I see the city of my ancestors emblazoned across a car in my hutong or a counterfeit shirt on the back of a young Chinese fan.
If any of your teens are equally inspired by United (or indeed Manchester’s second club, the disgustingly cash-rich Manchester City) then I have the best summer camp for you. Ever. It looks so good that I wish I was ten years younger and that English was my second language, just so I could go.
Champions English is a two-week program that takes place in the “City of Champions” itself. Based on the idea that people learn languages faster when they’re doing something they enjoy, the program fuses (you guessed it) English and football.
If you can get your kids over to the rainy north of England they will take part in skill sessions and practice matches on the pitch each morning. By afternoon, they will study English, using the beautiful game as a basis for developing language skills. And if you’re worried that this means that your children will return with a bunch of useless football phrases such as “Are you blind ref?” and “My Grandma could have scored that one”, then fear not. Instead, the course’s teachers will use interviews with famous players, match reports, and discussions about tactics to cover all aspects of grammar and vocabulary.
Designed for boys and girls aged 13-17, the program provides 30 hours of classroom time learning English and 20 hours of football training with UEFA-qualified coaching staff (with “English Premier League Experience” according to the brochure). Best of all, the program of activities and excursions include a trip to the mighty “Theater of Dreams” (Old Trafford stadium), as well as the enemy’s soulless home turf over at Manchester City’s Etihad.
The experience will set you back EUR 2,500 (about RMB 20,600, excluding flights and visas), which includes accommodation, meals and activities for the two-week trip. There are also a number of other excursions included, and although I’ve never been to Manchester, I’ve heard it’s lovely.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons