Unai Emery speaking English: How has he improved?

When Unai Emery became Arsenal manager on the 23rd May 2018, apart from representing a new chapter in Arsenal’s history after 22 years of the same manager, much of the talk centred around his apparent lack of English skills. How would he communicate with his players? Would we see Unai Emery speaking English through an interpreter as the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino did when he arrived in 2014? The objective of this blog post is to look more closely at Emery’s English speaking skills between the first press conference on May 23rd 2018 and the one on the 2nd September 2018 and to see how he has improved so far.

Verbal communication is of the utmost importance as a football manager. Gary Neville is an example of an English manager who went to coach Valencia in Spain with a very rudimentary level of both the language and the culture and who suffered as a result. Even with an interpreter and translater often what he wanted to say was not communicated exactly in the way that he wanted it to be.

 “As soon as Neville moved to Valencia, he admitted that his biggest challenge would be communicating clearly with his players when he was unable to speak their language.”  (Andy West : BBC Football)

To the contrary, Arsenal’s previous manager Arsene Wenger is fluent in English, French and German with a good foundation in a few other languages. He was able to have journalists hanging on his every word, punctuating his paragraphs with humour even to the point that many of his sentences have become memorable sounbytes.

When Unai Emery was unveiled as the new Arsenal manager and gave his first press conference in English he surprised everyone. To be honest it was a conference that was littered with grammatical errors and mispronuncitions but the fact that he made an attempt spoke volumes. He made an instant positive impression on fans and members of the press.

As Phil Haigh from Metro said. It appears that his vocabulary is good, he just currently speaks quite slowly and clearly with a strong accent, but both factors are likely to improve quickly. Emery himself said “For me and for my staff also, it’s very important, the communication with all of the club,” and “My English is not very good”.

We thought it would be interesting to evaluate the progress of a period of a few months of Unai Emery. Firstly, because he has clearly spent a period of time whereby progress would be noticeable. Secondly, as improving his English speaking was something that both he and Arsenal FC stated was an objective and finally because with each pre match and post match interview/conference on available it makes an evaluation easier.

Unai Emery speaking English: 1st Press Conference : May 2018

[expand title= “1. Communication“]

  1. Speaks with little hesitation 1/5
  2. Accurately uses linking words to connect  ideas  2/5
  3. Develops  ideas and uses opinion words 2/5
  4. Relevant responses to the questions asked  4/5

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “2. Pronunciation“]

  1. A clear accent overall 1/5
  2. Pronounces individual words correctly  2/5
  3. Stresses the correct words and parts of words 2/5
  4. Voice goes up and down at the right times 2/5
Mispronounced Words

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “3. Vocabulary“]

  1. A good range of vocabulary 3/5
  2. Correct register e.g. formal words for more formal occasions  2/5
  3. Uses vocabulary collocations, e.g.: verb + noun 2/5
  4. Appropriate vocabulary to the topic 4/5

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “4. Grammar“]

  1. Uses a range of tenses when necessary. e.g. “past”, “present” and “future” 1/5
  2. Able to use more complicated grammatical structures such as “passive tenses”, “reported speech”, etc…  1/5
  3. Accurately uses grammar collocations and prepositions 2/5
Grammatical Mistakes

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “5. Comments“]

Unai talks slowly and confidently and this makes up for any shortcomings with pronunciation and grammar. Sometimes the conference appears scripted but no doubt this is because of the preparation that went into the preparation. There are some clear examples of Spanish influence on his speaking skills. Sounds to work on are the H sound. He should focus on making the sound less harsh. Furthermore, the listener has to focus hard due to some of the difficulties Unai has with pronouncing certain sounds in English. One of his strengths with is English is his vocabulary which is relevant and related to football.

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “6. Estimated Level“]

A2 level  (Elementary)

[/expand]

 Unai Emery speaking English : Cardiff  Press Conference : Sep 2018

[expand title= “1. Communication“]

  1. Speaks with little hesitation 2/5
  2. Accurately uses linking words to connect  ideas  2/5
  3. Develops ideas and uses opinion words 3/5
  4. Response is relevant to the question  4/5

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “2. Pronunciation“]

  1. A clear accent overall 2/5
  2. Pronounces individual words correctly  2/5
  3. Stresses the correct words and parts of words  2/5
  4. Voice goes up and down at the right times 2/5
Mispronounced Words

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “3. Vocabulary“]

  1. A good range of vocabulary 3/5
  2. Correct register e.g. formal words for more formal occasions  2/5
  3. Uses vocabulary collocations, e.g.: verb + noun 2/5
  4. Vocabulary used is appropriate to the topic or question 4/5

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “4. Grammar“]

  1. You use a range of tenses when necessary. e.g. “past”, “present” and “future” 2/5
  2. You are able to use more complicated grammatical structures such as “passive tenses”, “reported speech”, etc…  1/5
  3. You accurately use grammar collocations and prepositions 2/5
Grammatical Mistakes

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “5. Comments“]

Some of the same mistakes are still present, for example, using the prepositon ‘for’ instead of ‘to’ He continues to overuse the phrase ‘it’s for that’. He could use the expression “It’s for this reason” or ‘as a result’ or ‘because of this’. One thing that can be noticed is that his fluency is so much better. It’s is noticeable that he has received coaching on the difference between gerunds (ings) and infinitives (to). For example, he said to continuing playing. You can see that he recognises that there is a rule but that he is confusing them. He also has a tendency to leave of the plural at the end of words. For example ‘teammate’ ‘teamplayer’ instead of ‘team players’ or ‘team mates’. Once again it is clear that his vocabulary related to the topic of football is fairly good for example ‘long balls’ and ‘performance’ but that he needs to continue focusing on his pronunciation and to learn more ‘colloquial’ general expressions. There is also a lesser reliance on the intpreter to translate into Spanish.

[/expand]

 

[expand title= “6. Estimated Level“]

B1 level  (Lower Intermediate)

[/expand]

 

If you would like tips on how to improve your level, why not read one of our previous blogs Go from Intermediate to Advanced

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