Children in Spain play many of the same sports that children in the U.S. play. However, certain sports are more popular in Spain than they are in the U.S. If you're teaching children Spanish, help them stretch their vocabulary by asking them to play the sport using only the Spanish language.
Football, called soccer in America, is an extremely popular sport in Spain. Many children begin to play at an early age, and it is easily one of the most popular sports in the country. Children can play soccer or football together using only Spanish vocabulary to immerse themselves in the culture. You can also ask children to spend a couple of weeks browsing Spanish newspapers online, such as 20 Minutos, and document how soccer is covered there. Many children in Spain also play Futsal, which is a five-on-five competition with the same rules as soccer. It often takes place indoors.
Although football/soccer is the most popular sport in Spain, bullfighting has become synonymous with Spain. Featuring music and costumes, bullfighting is typically done in three parts beginning with picadors who emerge on horseback, followed by bandilleros (men who wave red flags in front of the bull to anger him) and finally the torero who agitates the bull until he finally slaughters it with a sword. While this sport is very controversial, it is still part of Spain's national identity. Ask your class to study the controversy surrounding these bullfights and take a position on them, writing a persuasive essay in English or Spanish about why this is or is not OK.
Although not invented in Spain, many Spaniards follow basketball very closely. Spain has their own version of the NBA, the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto, which is considered one of the best in the world. The country has 18 professional teams and a season consists of 34 games. Ask your students to spend some time following Spanish basketball via Spanish media outlets or have them write a biography on their favourite Spanish basketball player. Speak with their physical education teacher about allowing students to spend an hour playing basketball and speaking only Spanish during the game.
Although tennis is very popular in Spain, pádel was invented in the country, thus making it unique to Spain. This game is played with a normal tennis ball in a smaller, enclosed court with hard paddles that resemble ping-pong paddles. Scoring is kept the same way as tennis, although the game is played on a squash court. If you have access to a squash court, invite your students to a game of pádel by having them play two at a time. If you do not have access to proper pádel racket, your students can simply use regular tennis racquets.
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