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Olympic English Lessons in the Media

Friday, March 5th, 2010


If English, baby! were a country and English lessons made at the Olympics were medals, with 14 different English lessons from this year’s winter Olympics in Vancouver, we would be in 7th place in the medal count, right between Korea and China.

Among our gold medal victories, you could count the two lessons we created with gold medalist figure skaters Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue, who helped us teach “lift” and “head over heels.” The Willamette Week newspaper took note of these lessons. But China is completely head over heels for them. One of these got more than 60,000 views on 56.com in the first week, and the other was just posted on the learning homepage at china.org.cn!

Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue are Olympic legends. But we also had the pleasure of meeting some young athletes at their first games. Half pipe snowboarder Liu Jiayu taught our members what it means to ride “goofy” and along with her teammates Sun Zhifeng and Cai Xuetong, what it means to “drop in.” I’d say these count as gold medals as well if only because CCTV (Chinese state television) was there for the lessons as well and did a story about the athletes testing their English skills upon arriving in Canada.

Without a doubt, our funniest lesson of the Games was “cold as ice” which we filmed at the men’s luge competition. “Pass the torch” was also a standout because we got to interview someone who carried the Olympic torch. These must be worth silver.

So in the bronze category are all the lessons we created without the help of a competition or athlete, but on our own with the people we met in Vancouver. These Olympics were such an incredible party–the streets were always packed with people from all over the world. We met a lot of them in our lesson on “break the ice,” when we went shopping for ice skates in “cheapskate,” and when we raced them on the ice at Robson Square to illustrate what it means to “fly by.”

Our local NBC affiliate even did a story about our Olympic victories. It’s a great clip, and it was so cool to see our logo in the center of the NBC Olympic Zone!

Of course, there were times when we took some spills, had to smooth over problems, and got distracted with our heads in the clouds. But in the end, I succeeded in saving my friends, which was the goal all along! It’s cool that everyone from NBC to CCTV and EducationNews.org to our local paper took note!

And we can’t forget, that like any good Olympic team, we had a great sponsor. Thanks ETS! TOEFL – go anywhere from here.

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