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Cup fever feeds wider world of knowledge;Football;World Cup

Pupils' interest in 'the beautiful game' is being harnessed by teachers in many ways, Dorothy Lepkowska reports.

Schools are exploiting World Cup fever to foster an interest in languages and cultural awareness among pupils.

Children are learning about the nutritional value of seaweed soup, sauerkraut and pasta, alongside the basics of communicating in Japanese, German and Italian.

And football mania has even crept into maths lessons, with some teachers using England's chances of winning the coveted title as a way of explaining probability.

At King James's School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, Year 7 pupils have been learning Japanese, Danish, Portuguese, Italian and German - as well as Russian.

Children have also been studying the geography, history and music of the countries involved in the championship, with both boys and girls playing football together in games lessons.

Paul Keogh, head of languages at the school, said that cross-curricular lessons on the World Cup had been very well received.

"The children have been learning through football about being good sports and teamwork, and about cultural awareness and tolerance through gaining an understanding of other nations.

"It has really captured their imagination because they are able to relate what they have been learning to the players on the field."

At Highsted School for Girls in Sittingbourne, Kent, pupils are exploring whether England's players will react better to the cool weather of Lens in northern France, or the warmth of Marseilles.

They have also studied the life expectancy of the populations of participating countries and their economies.

Head of geography, Joe Howes, said: "This is an ideal opportunity. But it was quite worrying to find, initially, that many children did not know where to find on a map countries such as Tunisia and Colombia."

At Wembley High School in Brent, north London, teachers have organised a two-week event, in which children focus on one particular country taking part in the championship.

Each form was matched to one of the participating countries in a draw, and focused on it across all subjects. In the run-up to the finals pupils had contacted the embassies to gather information about their countries.

Danielle Astor, a language teacher at Wembley High, said: "The World Cup has provided the energy for all of this. The children are highly motivated and totally focused."

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