ESL Sports Vocabulary: Word List & Games

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.

Teaching vocabulary about a topic that English as a Second Language (ESL) students are interested in is a great way to make words and ideas stick. This lesson describes how teachers can creatively teach ESL learners sports-related vocabulary.

Sports, Sports, Sports!

The wide variety and popularity of sports make it a great topic for an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom. Chances are most of your students have a favorite sport or play one on a regular basis. Even students who don't like sports should have the English language skills to explain why they don't like them. The activities in this lesson can help your students learn useful sports-related English expressions while having fun.

Sports Word Lists

These sports-related word lists below are by no means comprehensive, but they can be used for the games that follow. You should also encourage your students to add terms that are not presented here.

Sports Word List 1 - Team Sports

  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Ice hockey
  • Baseball
  • Volleyball

Sports Word List 2 - Watersports

  • Swimming
  • Diving
  • Kayaking
  • Water skiing
  • Rowing

Sports Word List 3 - Solo Sports

  • Track and field
  • Bowling
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Skiing

Sports Word List 4 - Sports Equipment

  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Soccer ball
  • Baseball
  • Tennis racquet
  • Hockey stick
  • Baseball glove

Sports Word List 5 - Sports Actions

  • Kick
  • Swing
  • Pass
  • Throw
  • Hit
  • Catch
  • Shoot
  • Block
  • Stroke
  • Dive

Sports Charades

This game is particularly helpful for younger learners and is a great way to review sports vocabulary at the end of a lesson.

  • Write any of the words from the lists above onto small pieces of paper and place them into a bowl for teams to draw from.
  • Divide the class into teams. (If you have a large group of students, try to space groups out around the classroom and conduct a few games at the same time.)
  • Assign one impartial student to keep score for each group of competitors.
  • If your students are unfamiliar with charades, give them a quick lesson on the basic rules.
  • Let the fun begin!

Draw and Trade

This activity will encourage your students to visualize sports-related vocabulary.

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