Football / Soccer

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you, it is much more important than that."

Bill Shankly (1913 – 1981), Scottish football player and manager
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This free ESL lesson plan on football/soccer has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Is it “football” or “soccer”? If you’re British (and not from a private school, or “public school”, as they are confusingly referred to in the UK), it’s “football”. If you’re from another English-speaking country, it’s “soccer”. Other English-speaking countries have their own popular sports that are referred to as “football”; The US and Canada have American football; Australia has Aussie rules football; and the Irish have Gaelic football. “Soccer” is actually a British word originally. It’s an abbreviation of “association football”, the version of the sport that spread throughout the world. So, whether you call it “football” or “soccer” is up to you. In this ESL lesson plan on football/soccer, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how football became the world’s most popular sport, the best teams, and the best players.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Football Stadiums | The History of Football

The article looks at the origins of football, including the first football team (Sheffield FC), the establishment of the English Football Association, up to the establishment of the international game with FIFA. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “PELÉ | FIFA Classic Player” by FIFA which looks at the career of perhaps the most legendary football player of all time.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including why the students likes football so much, who their favourite team is, and the most memorable goal they saw.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with football/soccer such as derby, hooligan and dive. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about political ideologies. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether standing at football matches is safe, women’s football, and the issue of racism in football.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of football/soccer. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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