If you’re looking for some of the best ESL sports activities and games, then you’re certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for the best sport ESL ideas, including worksheets and lesson plans.
ESL Sports Activities and Games
Let’s get into the best sport-themed ESL activities to try out in your classes today. They are ideal for any ESL sport lesson plan.
#1: ESL Sports Running Dictation Game
If you’re teaching more advanced learners, then consider using running dictation. It’s one of the best ESL activities because it gets students out of their seats and moving around the classroom while using a range of skills.
In this case, find (or write) a conversation between two people talking about sports that they like to watch or play. Then, students have to work together to record the dictation that’s posted around the classroom. Next, they put the conversation into the correct order.
Try it out with your students today! Find out how to do it here:
#2: Hot Potato Game
If you want to have some fun and excitement in your classes, then Hot Potato might be one of the best ways to do that! The way it works is that students pass around a potato (or another classroom object) around the class and the person holding it when the timer goes off or the music stops has to do a task of some kind.
In this case, the task would be related to sports. Here are some of the options, depending on the level of your English learners:
- Name the sport on a flashcard
- Spell a sport, after you say it or after looking at a flashcard
- Look at a flashcard and make a sentence using an adverb or frequency and the sport
Want to give it a try with your English classes? Find out all the details for your next ESL sports lesson
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 57 Pages - 10/26/2015 (Publication Date)
#3: Chain Spelling Vocabulary Review Game
If I’m teaching children or absolute beginners, I love to include some spelling practice in my classes. A fun way to do this is a game like this one.
All the students stand up and I say a target vocabulary word (or show a flashcard). Students have to take turns spelling it, letter by letter. If someone misses, they sit down and are out of the game. I set a time limit of 3 seconds (as counted down by my fingers) to keep the game moving along quickly. The winner is the last person left standing.
Want to give it a try in your classes? Find out all the details here:
#4: How to Teach ESL Kids New Words
#5: ESL Sport Guessing Game
This is a classic party game that involves trying to guess a secret word or person that you can’t see by asking questions. In this case, use sports! It’s fun, interactive and can be quite challenging. Of course, some people will guess their sports very quickly so be sure to have some extras for the early finishers.
Learn more about this sports guessing game here:
#6: Sports Board Games
In my real life, I love to play board games. That’s why I like to use them in my TEFL classes too. It’s super easy to make your own with just about any vocabulary set, grammar point or topic, including sports.
For some of the best ideas and examples of how to make your own ESL board games have a look here:
#7: ESL Sports Bingo
Who doesn’t love bingo, right? Except playing it the normal way where the teacher says a word and the students cross it off their paper doesn’t really have that much educational value to it beyond word recognition. Not to worry though, there is a way to play Bingo that’s heavy on the listening skills, and optionally, speaking too.
Curious to see how to do it? Check this out:
#8: Task-Based ESL Sport Activities
I love to include some task-based activities in most of my courses. They’re engaging, interactive and a nice change of pace from the usual communicative style of most current ESL textbooks.
In the case of sports, I generally do the following:
- Put students into groups of 3-4
- Have them choose a sport (this works particularly well if the Olympics are happening or are coming up)
- Do some research about the rules, popular athletes, equipment needed, etc.
- Make a poster or PowerPoint slide with a few details about it
- Do a short presentation to the class
- Answer some follow-up questions
#9: Just a Minute
Use this activity to get students to talk about whether or not they like playing and/or watching sports. Or, what their favourite team or sports player is.
#10: ESL Sports Survey
Just ask my students and they’ll tell you how much I love surveys. They’re interactive, cover a range of skills and are perfect for just about any topic, including sports, exercise or athletics. Sometimes you can find them in ESL textbooks of teacher resource books. However, if you can’t, it’s easy enough to make them in just a few minutes.
Find out all the details for this sport themed activity here:
#11: Telephone English Speaking Game
Do you remember playing this game when you were a kid? The way it works is that students have to pass a message down the line from person to person and then compare what they have at the end with the original one.
In this case, use lots of target sports or exercise vocabulary words in the original sentence. Learn how to do this activity:
#12: Sports ESL Charades
I love to play charades in my classes as a kind of vocabulary review. It’s perfect for this task and students usually really enjoy it. Find out how to adapt this popular game for the ESL classroom:
#13: Adverbs of Frequency and Sports
In many ESL textbooks, sports and words like sometimes, once in a while, never, etc. are combined in a single unit. Sports and these kinds of adverbs are a natural fit. For example, consider the following sentences:
- I play soccer once in a while.
- I’ve never tried curling.
- I like to do yoga a few times a week.
For more activity ideas, have a look at this article:
#14: ESL Vocabulary Activities
#15: Choose your Own Adventure ESL Sports Writing Activity
Group writing activities are few and far between but this is one of the best. In this case, require that students choose a sports-themed story and have a number of different outcomes based on what happened in the game.
It does require a bit of planning and work to set this up but the results make it worth it. Try it out with your classes today. You can find out everything you need to know about it here:
If I’m teaching kids, I’ll rarely go to class without a set of related flashcards! They’re super versatile and can be used for so many games and activities. Find out some of the best ideas:
#17: Dialogue Substitution
In many ESL books, new vocabulary is introduced through dialogue. But, maybe your students are kind of like mine and just blow through it quickly without really paying attention to what they’re reading. Of course, it’s not their fault, it’s mine! The problem is that I haven’t given my students a reason to pay close attention.
It’s for this reason that I’ll sometimes remove some of the key words. This turns it from a very simple reading activity into one that involves meaning as well. Here’s how to do it:
#18: Listening Lesson Plan
A nice way to teach just about anything, including sports is through a listening lesson. Check out this video to find out the simple steps to follow to plan your own:
#19: Picture Prompt
Unless teaching absolute beginners, it’s likely that most students already know some vocabulary related to sports or exercise. If this is the case, it’s helpful to help students activate this prior knowledge before jumping into the new stuff.
One of the best ways to do this is with this simple TEFL activity. Find a picture with lots of sports equipment or people playing a variety of sports. Then, have students tell you (or talk with a partner) about what they see.
Find out all the options for this versatile ESL warmer:
This is another party game that’s easy to adapt to English class. The way the actual game works is that you have to describe a secret word but not use a set of related words. I’ve changed it a little bit but the mechanics of the game are quite similar.
Learn how to do this sports game here:
#21: Conversation Lesson Plan for Sports
It’s easy to make your own lesson plan for just about anything, including sport. The best part is that you can tailor it to the exact needs of your students. Have a look here for all the details:
#22: Man/Woman on the Street Interview Activity
A fun way to make the usual (talking about sports) into something a bit more interesting is to do something like this interview-style activity. It’s interactive, engaging and students really enjoy it.
Sounds like exactly what you need for your classes to inject a little bit of enthusiasm? Have a look here:
#23: Dictogloss ESL Sports Activity
This is one of my go-to activities for a sports lesson plan for higher-level students. It’s heavy on the listening skills and is a challenging, engaging activity.
Find, or write a passage containing lots of the target vocabulary, in this case, vocab related to sports. Then, put students into pairs and read it out at a faster than normal pace for the level of the students. Students have to take notes and then work together with their partner to recreate what they just heard.
Repeat the process one more time and in the end, students compare what they have with the original. Try it out:
#24: Just One Question
This is a survey style activity that I like to do a couple of times a semester. It’s challenging but engaging and extremely interactive. Each pair has to come up with an interesting question related to sports and then ask a number of classmates about their opinions.
In the end, each group has to compile the results and report back to the class. Sounds fun? Try it out with your students:
#25: The Memory Circle
If you’re teaching ESL sports vocabulary to absolute beginners, then consider doing the memory circle. It’s challenging, fun and kids love it. Learn more about it:
#26: ESL Sports Vocabulary Auction
This ESL vocabulary activity does certainly require some prep time so I’ll usually only do it if I can recycle it for at least a couple of classes. But, it’s totally worth it because the students love it!
Make up a bunch of sentences that contain sport-related vocabulary. Then, cut up all the words. Put students into groups and they have to bid on words in an auction. Then, there’s some time for trading with other groups. The goal is to make as many grammatically correct sentences as possible. Take a look:
#27: Sports-Themed Activity—Discussion
Sports is one of those topics that most people enjoy talking about, whether they play sports themselves or have a favourite sports team that they follow. For my higher-level classes, I like to include some discussion time for students to talk about sports in small groups.
However, I’ve found that it often falls flat if I simply tell students to talk about playing sports for 5 minutes with a partner. It goes much more smoothly with a bit of direction. Here are some of my top tips for setting this up:
#28: Me Too!
Students have to make a true statement about themselves related to sports. For example:
- I think watching golf on TV is boring.
- I play soccer almost every day.
- My family likes going for walks.
If the statement is true for other students in the class, they can stand up and say, “Me too!”
#29: Flip Chart Sport Vocabulary Review Game
#30: Use Realia
For sports, why use flashcards or pictures to explain equipment if you can bring the real objects into the classroom? It can certainly make the lesson more fun and memorable. Find out more about this here:
Sports ESL Lesson Plans
There are lots of ESL sports lessons available online. Here are some of the top recommendations:
ESL Sports Worksheets
If you’re a teacher, then I know you want to save some time when planning your ESL sport lesson. The best way to do this is to use some sports worksheets that other teachers have made! Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to, right? Here are some of the best resources to check out:
ESL Sports Vocabulary
Here are some of the most common sports vocabulary words in English which you may want to teach your students:
- American rules football
- away team
- figure skating
- home team
- summer Olympics
- table tennis
- winter Olympics
Be sure to check out this sport vocabulary quiz:
Did you like these Sports Themed Activities?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 134 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities For Kids. The key to better English classes for children is a variety of interactive and engaging activities and games and this book will help you get there in style.
You can easily find the book in both digital and print formats. I recommend keeping a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide when planning your ESL lessons. Or, take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for some serious lesson planning on the go.
Either way, these ESL games and activities for kids is some ESL teaching awesome and you’re going to love it. Pick up the book for yourself on Amazon:
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching the sport unit. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What’s the purpose of teaching a sports unit in ESL?
To help students learn sports-related vocabulary and engage in conversations about their favorite sports and activities.
How can I introduce the sports unit?
You can start by asking students about their interests in sports and displaying pictures of different sports to pique their curiosity.
What key sports vocabulary should I teach?
Words like “football,” “basketball,” “soccer,” “tennis,” “swimming,” “running,” “score,” and “team.”
How can I make vocabulary learning fun?
Use flashcards, play vocabulary games, and have students act out sports activities.
What listening activities can I include?
Play sports commentary, interviews with athletes, or describe sports events and have students listen and answer questions.
How can I encourage speaking practice?
Organize group discussions about favorite sports, have students describe sports they’ve played, or simulate sports interviews.
What writing tasks can I assign?
Ask students to write about their favorite sport, a sports event they attended, or a sports-related story.
How can I incorporate grammar into the unit?
Teach present simple tense for discussing routines, future tense for talking about upcoming games, and adjectives to describe sports.
Can I include cultural aspects?
Yes, explore sports from various cultures, discuss famous athletes, or watch sports from different countries.
What assessment methods are suitable?
Assess through quizzes, oral presentations, written essays, and participation in sports-related activities.
How can I address students with different levels of English proficiency?
Differentiate activities based on language levels, provide extra support for beginners, and challenge advanced learners with complex tasks.
What resources can I use?
Textbooks, online articles, sports videos, and ESL sports-themed worksheets are great resources.
How can I make the unit inclusive?
Include a variety of sports to cater to different interests, and encourage students to share sports from their own cultures.
Any tips for keeping students engaged?
Incorporate multimedia, involve students in sports-related projects, and create a supportive and interactive classroom environment.
What’s the ultimate goal of the sports unit in ESL?
To enable students to communicate confidently in English about sports, improving their language skills and cultural awareness.
ESL Sports Related Games and Activities: Join the Convo
What’s your top pick for an ESL sport-themed game or activity? Is it one of the options from this list or do you have another one that you’d like to recommend? If you’re interested in teaching another topic, check out the list of school subjects. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API