“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan, basketball player
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This free ESL lesson plan on sport 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.

Originally a way to train soldiers for war, sport is now one of the most popular pastimes in all corners of Earth. Not only that, but it is also one of the greatest sources of entertainment, as millions and even billions tune in to watch various sporting events. For that reason, sport has also become a multi-billion-dollar industry. However, not everyone is in agreement over whether this injection of money has made sport better. On the one hand, the money has given professional athletes the time to improve their game and therefore improve the quality of the competitions, but on the other hand, those who say sport is important for the local community say that this community spirit has been lost as the fans who grew the sports in the first place are increasingly priced out of attending. In this ESL lesson plan on sport, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite sports, which sports they like to play and watch, and the effect of big money in sport.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, which takes place in April. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

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):

Sport England | Why we invest in mental health

The article explores the benefits practicing sport can have on mental health including improving our mood, reducing stress and increasing our self-esteem. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any other ways sport can help our mental health?

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. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “Top 10 Most Popular Sports In The World” by Nonstop Sports which counts down the surprising top 10 most popular sports in the world.


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 the students’ favourite sports teams, whether they are a sporty person and the most popular sports in their countries.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with sport such as underdog, doping and glory supporter. 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 sport. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as their sporting heroes, whether sports stars are paid too much money, and what the purpose of sport is.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of sport. 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.


Did you find this lesson plan useful?

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