‘The Poles are wonderful when united in adversity.’ remarked my Polish colleague Grzegorz Spiewak from Macmillan Polska, ‘But the minute everything goes well we start quarrelling and bickering terribly.’
I wouldn’t be surprised if Polish people were quite wonderfully united recently, with all the adversity they have been facing over the past couple of months. After all, on one Saturday afternoon in April they lost pretty much half of the government including their president in a tragic air crash. And the last two weeks before my visit had seen some terrible flooding throughout the country.
But there is also a great sense of hope and expectation here, and that’s all because the arrival of a great sporting event that, it is hoped, will unite the country as never before… no, I’m not talking about Poland’s prospects for this summer’s World Cup (I actually don’t think they qualified this time). I’m talking about the next European UEFA Championship football tournament in 2012, which will be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
It was hard not to notice this fact when travelling around the country. Everywhere there seemed to be some kind of poster or construction or project going up relating to it. In the main square in Poznan there was already a giant countdown clock with days, hours and seconds until kickoff. A huge stadium was in the process of being built in Warsaw, I saw the work from the train as we rolled past. Someone told me that the lights are on all night as workers move in and out around the clock. It was also wryly pointed out that all of Poland’s development programmes lead up to 2012 and don’t have much after that. I suppose similar charges could be laid against London too now with the 2012 Olympics (gosh what a summer this is going to be!).
So, what does this have to do with teaching English? During a brief conversation with some teachers here three things emerged: first, Polish teachers now have no shortage of good demo sentences to teach the future perfect (By 2012 we will have…). There’s also bound to be several controversial decisions made about building projects, and the constant worry will we be ready for the big event? which makes for good conversation even in classes that don’t like football (in fact, especially in anti-football classes). Finally, if you have some football lessons that you are preparing for this summer’s World Cup then they certainly won’t go to waste.
For those actually looking for football resources, I came across the following neat page of links. http://www.teacherplanet.com/resource/worldcup.php To know more about Euro 2012 in Poland see here http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro2012/index.html, or better yet the country page here http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro2012/hostcountries/index.html.
Photo credit: Olaf Nordwich. Creative Commons Licence