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"Finger Roll" - JJ Barea of the Dallas Mavericks

"Finger Roll" - JJ Barea of the Dallas Mavericks English, baby! Video Lesson

Date: Sep 24 2010

Themes: Celebrity, Sports

Grammar: First Conditional


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

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2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

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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.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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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?

JJ:  A finger roll is when it goes off your finger tip, when you lay it up off your finger tip.

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!


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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?



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I've seen some of his moves on the court. He's a very talented player and a cute one too ;)

07:32 AM Oct 31 2010 |




Well, when my teammate pass the ball to me, I prefer to do a jump shot like McGrade rathan than penetrate,because penetration consumes more physical power. About dancing ,I ' mnot very interested in it

12:58 PM Oct 28 2010 |



Thanks much, it is very interesting game.


12:11 PM Oct 23 2010 |




Hummm Not doubt is when the ball falls straight or first,here in Brazil we say "xuuuuáaa" hehe…

I love to dance here in Brazil dancing is pretty good and everyone does :) My favorates styles are Forró,Brazilian Samba and Zouk (See my profile dance videos) ;)

12:22 AM Oct 15 2010 |


Puerto Rico

Hi,Great to see another puertorican like me in this website. But, let me tell you guys that Puerto Rico is not a bilingual country. The fact is that the educational public system teach the english from Kindergarden to High School as a second language, but on main street, spanish is the language.  The english is taught because of our political an economical relationship with the United States. And, we are proud of our spanish language and puertorican culture.  The problem that had Barea and many others in Puerto Rico is that the system provides good reading skills in english, but the speaking/listening skills are not well tought. Regardless of these facts, is good to know english as a second language because of its international importance. Good work guys!

01:41 AM Oct 12 2010 |




I like watching big guys dunking and I like lambada dance

12:26 PM Sep 30 2010 |



i love this game````Smile

08:51 AM Sep 30 2010 |




My favorite move when i play basketball is stealing the ball, i think that is the move that makes the opponent go nuts.

07:15 PM Sep 27 2010 |

rebel lee

rebel lee


I used to play basketball a lot when I was in high school, but I was not very good at it.
Now, I got a job, I spend all my time on my career, I haven’t played basketball for about two and a half years. And I know nothing about dance.

02:21 PM Sep 26 2010 |




cool interview, actually i like to play basketball only on playstation 3 :)


thanks JJ and Jason



03:18 PM Sep 25 2010 |

Fadi A. Saif


That's quite an interesting lesson. I tried to play some basketball, but I could not really control the ball.

I have better control over the ball with my feet.

11:45 AM Sep 25 2010 |



he is cat!

I like this lesson =)

I love dance classic ballet, but i dont have enough time to practice.This is my passion.The dance is the exercise that more give me pleasure.My dream is practice bale, and make me a true ballerina.The dance makes good for the body and the soul. 

02:47 AM Sep 25 2010 |




yeah , daddy yankee

12:34 AM Sep 25 2010 |



I'm not a good basketball player but dancing is something that I love. I was dancing folk dance and flamenco. In this year I would like start practising jazz or afro. Dancing is really relaxing for me, make me funny and it's a great to keep fit.

10:22 PM Sep 24 2010 |

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