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Shape Up - Futty Danso of Timbers FC

Shape Up - Futty Danso of Timbers FC English, baby! Video Lesson

Date: May 10 2011

Themes: Sports

Grammar: Simple Past Tense


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The Portland Timbers are new to MLS this season, and one of their most popular players is Mamadou “Futty” Danso. Maybe fans like him because they can find the tall, fast Futty whether they’re watching the Timbers on TV or in person. He also does a lot of community outreach and was selected as the team’s Community Player of the Year last season when it was a minor league team.

In any case, soccer fans love this defender from the Gambia. Since he already scored a goal this season and was recently called up to play for the Gambian national team, he’s off to a good start. Like anyone, he can always improve, but he doesn’t need to shape up. If you tell someone to shape up, you’re asking them to get better at something or improve.

What the fans may not know about Futty is he speaks many different languages. We met with him after a training session so he could tell us about learning new languages and teach us what it means to say “shape up” on the pitch.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Jason:  Alright, welcome to English, baby! I am Jason here with Futty. So you grew up in the Gambia and there’s a lot of English spoken there, right?

Futty:  Yes. A lot of English spoken, but most of the people speak their native dialects. We have like 7 of them. I’m a born Mandingo and I learned Wolof and Sarahole before I learned English.

Jason:  How old were you when you learned English?

Futty:  I would say, about 14, 15, that’s when I started pretty much. I went to a French school before I went to an English school, so I kinda like…I’m a late learner.

Jason:  What do you think is the best way to learn a language? What’s a strategy you use?

Futty:  I would say either stay with them, or if you live with them. Or if you have a friend that speaks it, everyday you try to learn something new.

Jason:  I gather there’s a phrase that you use, “shape up” or “shape.” Can you tell us about that?

Futty:  That’s pretty much to tell all the players next to you not to forget about our shape. If a player’s on my right, I’ll be like, “Hey, shape, shape.” Like, they will know at least to look left and right, know where we are, be ready, back fall, you know, where everybody’s supposed to be, at least try to keep our shape, either offensive or defensive.

Jason:  Futty says that when a soccer player shouts, “Shape up!” It means you should get back to your position. In life, “shape up” means improve or get better at something. Let’s hear Futty’s definition again.

Futty:  If a player’s on my right, I’ll be like, “Hey, shape, shape.” Like, they will know at least to look left and right, know where we are, be ready, back fall, you know, where everybody’s supposed to be, try to keep our shape. Either offensive or defensive.

Jason:  Thanks so much! Can I get you to give me a high five and say “English, baby!” up here?

Futty:  English, baby!

Jason:  Alright! Thanks, Futty!


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English was the fourth language Futty learned. He started as a teenager. He says a good way to learn a language is to find someone who speaks it and learn something new from that person every day.

Futty says that in soccer, if you say “shape up” or “shape,” it means you want your teammates to get back into position. There’s so much running around in soccer, players can forget where they belong. Someone yelling “shape up” reminds them.

Outside of soccer, your boss might tell you to shape up if you’re behaving poorly at work. If you don’t act the way you are supposed to, you might get fired.

Can you think of any way you need to shape up?

For more with Futty, watch the second part of this interview or visit our blog.



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My English teacher taught me to use this site to study. I’m loving it! Congratulations!

10:09 AM May 29 2011 |

1 person likes this



Russian Federation

I suppouse that every person should shape up his/her skills, knowledge and so on.

As for me, I think that I need to shape up the knowledge of my English.

11:23 AM May 13 2011 |




So many things… I’m always losing myself, for example in the hours, then someone has to say: “shape up” “shape up” :))) I really must change this point on me… but I can’t!! ahahahah Well… I’m a girl :)))

09:42 PM May 11 2011 |


qq_babySuper Member!


my brother will think it’s cool i know this slangs now thx futty

01:00 AM May 11 2011 |




Thıs topic’s  vocabulary  is absolutly new for me. Thanks to service team.

10:14 PM May 10 2011 |


maria_bSuper Member!


I’m glad we can learn some football (soccer) English !

09:47 PM May 10 2011 |



Saudi Arabia

i think  the better way  to  devop ur english 

is to be  so inetrsting  on it


  i think im  inetsrting   to learn engish

and  i love 

and i can be  very  great  in english  if …......

even  i can  be  more than  native speaker

but i think  im not ready somtimes

so i think  of u are  ready that  will  help  u to learn  english   watver




02:58 PM May 10 2011 |



Saudi Arabia

 i think  the better way  to  devlop ur english 

is to be  so inetrsting in it

and ur will 


and  uf u are  READY

o meant the time 


02:48 PM May 10 2011 |



Saudi Arabia

hey guys, if you really wanna shape up your English we have to gather so " SHAPE SHAPE" hehe

01:32 PM May 10 2011 |




i really wanna shape up in learning english!i just can’t find a good way of using what i have learned..i wanna someone to speak up together

12:33 PM May 10 2011 |




Shape UP!!! Shape UP!!!

11:59 AM May 10 2011 |




to sofree:
is soccer player

08:44 AM May 10 2011 |




Maybe my English needs to be shaped up..

Didn't go through this lesson, not interested in this guy, but at least it's not only talking about basktetball players…

07:57 AM May 10 2011 |



Saudi Arabia

 i hope shape up  my English language and another my skills   shape shape 

03:37 AM May 10 2011 |


Viet Nam

i have stayed at home doing nothing for a while so i started getting used to playing and watching TV all day long, doing things with out any plans. but now since i am about to go back to school, i know i better get shaped up.


01:35 AM May 10 2011 |

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