1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.
2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.
Basketball players are known for being tall. And while at 6 feet (or about 1.83 meters) José Juan Barea isn’t short, he can appear that way standing next to the other players on the court.
So it was by perfecting his skills that JJ became one of the best players ever to come from Puerto Rico. He is fast and good at getting around defenders to score, whether he’s playing with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA or leading the Puerto Rican national team in scoring as they competed for the world championship this year. Watch him explain the finger roll, one of his favorite moves under the basket, and find out what his best dance moves are as well.
3. Watch - Watch the video without reading the dialog.
English, baby! English Lesson Video
1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.
2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.
Jason: Welcome to English, baby! I’m Jason here with JJ Barea of the Dallas Mavericks. How are you?
JJ: Doing good, doing good.
Jason: You come from Puerto Rico, sort of a bilingual place. Did you grow up basically speaking two languages or did you learn English at some point?
JJ: Basically, speaking Spanish, but listening to English. TV was in English, books were in English, but I never talked it until I got to the States.
Jason: Did it come easily once you got here after listening to it all that time?
JJ: Well, I understood the language perfectly, but talking it didn’t come easy. I went to college in Boston. Talking it was kind of hard. My teammates were making fun of me. The accent was pretty tough and then eight years later, it’s pretty good now.
Jason: You have a lot of speed and a lot of moves. One of your favorite moves is the finger roll. I was wondering if you could tell all the students out there learning English what a finger roll is?
Jason: What are some of your other favorite moves around the hoop?
JJ: Anything reverse lay-up, anything so that the big guy won’t block the shot. Anything so I can figure it out.
Jason: There’s a lot of dancing in Puerto Rico. Are you a dancer?
JJ: Not really. I could do some things but I’m not a big fan. But if I have to I’ll get it done.
Jason: If you had to dance what kind of dance would you do?
JJ: Merengue, reggaeton… but merengue is the easiest.
Jason: JJ, can I get you to give me a high five and say “English, baby!”?
JJ: English, baby!
Growing up in Puerto Rico, JJ heard English often. By the time he came to the US for college, he could understand it well, but he had never spoken it before. He says his teammates thought his accent was funny and would joke about it.
In the video, JJ is practicing shooting alongside teammate Dirk Nowitzki. He’s a good shooter, but he loves to get near the basket so he can do moves like the finger roll. When you do a finger roll, you get under the basket and roll the ball of your hand into the hoop.
JJ doesn’t enjoy dancing as much as he likes scoring baskets, but when he has to dance, he likes merengue best. It’s a Latin American dance that comes easy to him.
What’s your favorite move on the basketball court? How about the dance floor?