University of Pittsburgh
May 18, 2004

Pitt Linguistics Professor Teaches "Basketball English" on the Court in China, Preparing Players for Adidas Superstar Camp

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh Associate Professor Alan Juffs, chair of the Department of Linguistics and director of Pitt's English Language Institute (ELI), is in China teaching "basketball English" to top young athletes who will participate in the Adidas Superstar Camp, to be held in Atlanta in July.

Juffs, the lead instructor, is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, German, and French and has lived in China, Japan, and Canada. Along with Lawrence Norman from Adidas and several National Basketball Association players, Juffs will teach an interactive course, which is designed to help players learn a specifically tailored jargon known only to basketball players and its followers.

Taught on the court, the course consists of 45-minute daily sessions of basic English combined with useful basketball slang. Juffs explained that "the goal is not to teach English but to raise awareness" and to help bridge the cultural gap for internationals who may one day play in the United States. The course emphasizes cross-cultural communication as well as language skills.

In addition to the on-court training, each camper is given a CD and instructional information to help with future learning.

An avid Pitt basketball fan, Juffs said Pitt's ELI has taught English to a group of Saudi police, Japanese nurses, and internationals enrolled in pre-M.B.A. and Graduate School Public and International Affairs courses at Pitt.

Juffs' areas of specialization include linguistic theory, second language acquisition, syntax and semantics, and working memory and sentence processing. He holds the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of London, the Master of Arts degree from the University of Durham, and the Ph.D. degree from McGill University.