Goalkeepers Sergio Romero and Lee Grant and defender Eric Bailly hung up their boots for the afternoon as they took on the role of Spanish teachers where they delivered a class with year nine language students at Manchester United Foundation partner school, MEA Central.
Native Spanish speaker Romero joined Bailly and Grant, who have learned Spanish to support their football careers, to take part in a dictation exercise and read aloud sentences in English to be translated into written Spanish. The students also delighted in a Q&A with players, many of whom impressively asked their questions in Spanish.
Lee Grant, who is enjoying learning a new language himself, said: “I’m studying Spanish currently as I know how helpful it can be to communicate in another language. It’s vitally important for these students to do the same for any future careers and opportunities.
“I love learning a new language and I’ve received a lot of help from my teammates. It’s certainly not easy and finding the time is one of the biggest challenges but it’s going to be useful for me going forward.”
Lee continued: “It’s been fantastic working with the students; there are some really well-educated students here who know their Spanish probably a little bit better than me and put me to shame, but it’s nice to spend some time with them.”
Modern languages teacher Sonia Taylor said: "MEA Central is truly grateful for the authentic language experience that many of our students enjoyed. For most of them it is the first time they have used Spanish outside the classroom.
“It was great to hear from the players the joy that they have experienced in learning languages and the opportunities that this has given them to communicate with each other. The students were inspired by the variety of contexts in which players have used their multilingualism."
Finishing the day signing items and taking selfies, Lee Grant concluded: “My advice would be to stick at it; there’s always going to be periods where you feel like you might not be getting anywhere and those are the periods where you are really building the foundations. So stick at it, keep going and you’ll get somewhere for sure.”
The Manchester United Foundation partner schools programme bases full-time coaches in in 22 high schools across Greater Manchester to help build relationships between the school and the local community.
The key objectives of the partnership with MEA Central is to provide curriculum-based sessions focusing on physical and educational development and after-school coaching sessions providing pathways into junior football clubs and coach education. The programme will also focus on team and individual football coaching, leadership and mentoring programmes designed to engage and inspire students.