Baseball: The New Hungarian Pastime

As an American living in Hungary, I have to get most of my sports news from the internet. I can watch sports on TV, but I don't know what the announcers are saying. Although it is fun to make up my own dialogues, it's not exactly factual.

I may be out in left field, but I've learned that America is swept up in the Major League Baseball playoffs. That means American teachers are starting their classes by saying, "Did anyone see the Phillies game last night?" If I said that, my students would act like I'm speaking a foreign language.

In their defense, I am speaking a foreign language. But it doesn't change the fact that they don't know anything about baseball.

This is a problem that needs a solution. One cannot properly learn American English if they don't know anything about baseball. So, I drew a picture of a baseball field on the board and asked what it was. A kite. A tooth. A bird. A baseball pitch - close, but still so far.

But, I now challenge you with this. Explain what an "inning" or an "out" is to someone who's never seen baseball. Now, add a very small vocabulary and comprehension of the English language. It's a difficult task, but yes, I stepped up to the plate.

I cut bases out of paper. Then I grabbed a water bottle that resembled a bat and crumpled up a sheet of paper for a ball. "Everyone stand up," I said, "and come over here to the dugout."

I'm pretty sure some of my students think I'm crazy, and others think I'm awesome. But they played baseball. They had no choice but to speak English, because the Hungarians don't seem to have a word for "Strike 3, You're Out!"

Three things are for sure. First, my students now know to be ready for anything in my class. Second, I hit a home run with this idea. Third, I no longer have to worry about students studying for other classes during my lesson. Instead, I have to be concerned they'll be bored if they don't hammer a ball and thunder around the classroom.

I'll have to call the bullpen for some more ideas.