Heung-min Son on how language skills open up a world of opportunity

Lauren Pitts

Can you name a Tottenham footballer? Can you name a South Korean footballer? Now, can you name a South Korean Tottenham footballer? That’s right, we’ve had a chat with Heung-min Son! We invited YouTube superstar Korean Billy to meet Son in Tottenham and find out all about his language learning journey for our YouTube channel, Learn English with Cambridge.

Heung-min Son’s football skills have earned him a position on one of England’s top teams and popularity around the world, but it’s his language skills that have enabled him to pursue a life and career in another country.

“Jokes without end”

Son has been playing for Tottenham Hotspur for almost four years and the Son we know from interviews is a confident public speaker. However, when he first arrived, his English language skills weren’t quite at this level. Having learnt English in school, he was able to communicate effectively straight away, but he attributes his deeper understanding of conversational English to practising speaking with friends. When you have friends like Dele Alli and Harry Kane, the “jokes without end” quickly make you feel comfortable in your new country!

“Of course you will make mistakes”

As long as you try, you’re doing fine! Becoming fluent in another language is a huge challenge and this is recognised by native speakers. Everyone makes mistakes, but working out how to correct them is actually a great way to learn. Son sees learning a language as a mark of respect for the country you’re visiting and, importantly, an investment in your future. While the football pitch is certainly where he belongs for the foreseeable future, when he no longer feels like doing all that running, his options will be wide open.

“After my career, when I finish football, I can do something with my language.”

English Grammar in Use prize draw

To help others with their own language learning journeys, we’re giving away five copies of English Grammar in Use 5th Edition, by Raymond Murphy. This book is the perfect self-study resource for intermediate learners of English, full of activities to help you get your head around grammar. You don’t have to answer some tricky grammar question to win, or do a speech, or do a dance. Simply leave a comment on the video and five winners will be selected at random. Good luck!

Watch the interview with Heung-min Son and enter the prize draw.

Terms and conditions can be found here.

One of the reasons chatting to native speakers and friends is such an effective way to boost your confidence is that it teaches you how language is really used in everyday life. For weekly, bite-sized lessons on real world English, subscribe to Learn English with Cambridge.

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