ESL Sports Lesson Plan

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

This lesson provides sports related group and individual exercises for teachers to use with ESL (English as a Second Language) students of varying ages and abilities.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Talk about sports using appropriate vocabulary and phrases
  • Identify the similarities and differences among sports


30 to 60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.4

Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.6

Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

Key Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Sports/athletes/win/lose/draw
  • Game/match/goal/score/point
  • Kick/pass/throw/run/jump


  • Poster board
  • Art supplies


Sports Vocabulary Challenge

  • Divide the class into teams and tell each team to select a secretary to record answers.
  • As you read each of the following words aloud, the teams should write down which sport/s the word is most strongly associated with. (Possible answers are in parentheses)
  1. Kick (soccer, football)
  2. Pass (basketball, soccer, hockey, football)
  3. Swing (baseball, tennis)
  4. Hoop (basketball)
  5. Goalie (soccer, hockey)
  6. Court (basketball, tennis)
  7. Track (running, relays, etc.)
  8. Helmet (football, hockey, baseball)
  9. Three-pointer (basketball)
  10. Clubs (Golf)
  11. Racquet (tennis, badminton)
  12. Stroke (golf, swimming)
  • At the end of the game, collect the answers and grade them. If desired, you can reward a prize to the winning team.
  • You may also want to address any debatable or contentious answers and point out small but significant vocabulary differences. For example
    • Tennis players use a racquet whereas table tennis players use a paddle.
    • Basketball is played on a court whereas football is played on a field.
    • In basketball, a player scores a basket, whereas, in soccer, a player scores a goal.

Sports Breakdown

This group activity encourages both teamwork and the development of research skills.

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