Itís All in How You Play the Game: Fun ESL Activities With a Sports Theme

Itís All in How You Play the Game: Fun ESL Activities With a Sports Theme

Though not every person can be classified as a jock, sports play a part in the life of every student.

If your school requires physical education classes, sports may be a part of your students’ daily life. If your adult students are beyond the age of that requirement, sports still factor into adult lives through hobbies, spectator occasions, children’s activities, or national pride at global competitions like the Olympics. No matter how sports fit into your students’ lives, you can include sports in their ESL classes with some fun, themed lessons.

Try These Fun ESL Activities With a Sports Theme!

  1. 1

    A Sport with Any Other Name…

    The word ‘sports’ is used to describe a seemingly limitless number of activities. How many sports can you and your students list? Brainstorm as a class to make as extensive a list as possible, and then ask your students how they would define the word sport. Are there certain activities that should be classified as sports that they would say should not be? Are there any activities not classified as sports that should be? Once your students have discussed this question on their own, have them read Is Cheerleading Really a Sport and offer their opinions in small group discussions. After the groups have had ample time, ask each group to write a position on the question of whether cheerleading is really a sport giving reasons to support their opinions.

  2. 2

    Support Your Team

    At some point, your students will probably end up showing support for a particular team. They may find themselves cheering for a high school team or a city’s professional players or even national competitors in the Olympics. With your class, brainstorm some expressions they might use to show their teams their support. You should be looking for phrases such as “Go team!” and “Defense!” You may want to have your students do some listening research by watching some popular sports films that show fans cheering for their team. Once your list is adequately large, have your students make crowd signs to support their team. If you have a school team for a seasonal sport, make signs that your students can use at the next game. If not, have your students choose a professional team to support and then display the signs around the classroom.

  3. 3

    What Can I Say?

    Even bystanders at sporting events feel some degree of victory or loss after the game is over. Sometimes the tension is high with a score in the final seconds of the game bringing home the win. Other times, it is clear from early in the game which team will be victorious. One example of such a game occurred in 1916 with the worst defeat in football history. Georgia Tech triumphed over Cumberland University with a score of 222 to 0. With such a clear victory/defeat, the crowd was surely filled with intense emotions. Divide your class into two “teams” to represent the students from each of these universities who attended that historical game. Assign each team a school, and then pair each student with someone supporting the opposing team. Have your students role play a conversation which may have happened after the game. Will your students offer condolences, congratulate the opposite team on a good game, or revel in their own victory? Ask volunteers to perform the role-play in front of the class. Then change up the conversation by pairing students with a person supporting their own team. What types of things would they say to a fellow winner or loser? After the role-plays, discuss with your students what it means to be a good sport and list some comments that would be appropriate after a game in which your team was victorious or suffered defeat.

  4. 4

    Play Your Part

    In sports like in life, each person must play a role in a larger organism. Sometimes that means playing a role in a family; sometimes that means playing a role in a business or large company. Set your students on a little research project on a sport of their choice from the list you brainstormed in the fist activity or from a list you provide. Your students should look up the different positions that an athlete might play on a team for that sport and summarize the responsibility and strategy he should follow when playing that position. To share this information with the class, have your students make a diagram which shows each of the different positions a player might hold and list bullet points of his responsibilities in that position. Ask each student to react to another’s informational diagram by saying which of the positions he would choose to play if it were up to him and why he would choose that position.

Whether a person likes it or not, sports are a part of life. Why not give your students some tools to handle sporty situations by discussing what a sport is and how to be a good sport?

You can close out your activities by giving your students a chance to be part of a team, at least on paper. So get ready, get set and get going on these sports related language activities. Go team!

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