Friday, September 12, 2008

Teaching Latin players English

Tony Lastoria authors an excellent blog on the Indians minor league system at Cleveland Indians Minor League Insider. In his latest article he discusses how the Indians have an organized English program for their Latin players:

"I had a unique opportunity this past week to speak with a former English instructor at the Indians spring training complex in Winter Haven. The Indians are one of the few teams in baseball that have an organized English program. Almost all of the Latin players come to spring training with a basic or beginner level of English, some are even better, and the average player who attends classes is very good at communicating in English. Many of the Latin players attend one of the Indians baseball academies in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic where they also have to attend English classes before coming stateside to spring training.

English classes start in spring training for any player that needs to learn the language and the classes continue throughout the year for those that remain in extended spring training. Classes are held three to four times a week and for two hours in the evening. Players take the classes seriously and the instructors keep them interesting by making them fun since players are attending these classes after playing baseball all day. Instructors know that the players would get bored easily if they were just presented with grammar rules or they made them listen and repeat. The main goal is for the players to be able to communicate and understand the other players and coaches on the team who speak English. In addition, the players also have seminars in cultural issues and how the United States government works, etc since the Indians want to develop the players as more well rounded people than just baseball players."

Curious why only a "few" teams have such a program. I would think speaking English would be tremendous asset once the players reach the states, not just for baseball-related activities, but for daily life. I'll try to find out whether the Rays are one of the "few." Make sure to check out Tony's site, it is the best blog covering any team's minor league system I know of.

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