Sports and hobbies

This is a good topic for practising different ways of how to collect and store data. You can make mini questionnaires, make charts and set up work groups to focus on different hobbies. 

Jo Bertrand

This should also be an interesting and personalised topic to do with the children. Having a hobby is not necessarily part of the culture where you are teaching so introducing the idea may inspire new past times for your class members. If you are teaching somewhere where the children are expected to have many hobbies and have a timetable overload this topic may help them to focus on what they really enjoy and get them thinking about why they enjoy what they do.


  • To introduce sports vocabulary – badminton, tennis, football, hockey…
  • To introduce hobby related verbs – singing, collecting, playing, learning, making…
  • To introduce phrases ‘to spend time’, ‘three hours a week/two days a month’
  • To give passive knowledge of grammar words lots, some, a few, nobody…
  • To practise days of the week


  • Card for wall charts
  • A4 paper
  • Balls (football, golf ball, tennis ball…)
  • Sports material (nets, racquets, ballet shoes…)
  • Stamps (optional)
  • Postcards (optional)
  • Photos (optional)
  • Pre-prepared examples of all questionnaires and wall charts

Class sports

  • Together you can make a questionnaire. Make your own before the lesson so they can see a finished example.
  • Down the left side you can have symbolic pictures of each sport i.e. a tennis racquet for tennis, a shuttlecock for badminton etc.
  • Use your model questionnaire to show what they will have to do with their own. So ask the question ‘Do you like skating?’ to someone in the class. If they say no then move on to someone else until you find one person who does. Model (or re-model) the short answer ‘No, I don’t.’ or ‘Yes, I do.’.
  • Then once all the pictures on their questionnaires have been drawn (everyone can illustrate their own individual questionnaires but using all the same sports) they can mingle and ask as many people as possible the question ‘Do you like tennis?’ or ‘Do you like swimming?’ until the allocated time is up. Make this a fairly quick stage and monitor and check that they are using the English needed.
  • Make a large circle wall chart and divide it into equal segments (do this before the class). Each segment corresponds to a sport. You call out the sports and they call out the names of the people who like to play those sports. Try to keep this fairly organised by picking people to tell you whose name they have. Write as many names down as possible making sure you have enough names to warrant the following stage. Make sure everyone has their name written next to at least one sport so that they all feel included.
  • At the bottom of the chart you can write the results in four simple sentences.
    • Lots of people like football.
    • Some people like swimming.
    • A few people like skating.
    • Nobody likes golf.
  • You can draw the corresponding number of stick men next to the sentences to help them with the ideas of lots, some, a few etc.
  • Get the children to offer the sports that fit correctly into these sentences as this way you can quickly see if they understand the meaning.

My hobby
You can adapt the content here to the age and level of your children. It can remain picture and oral based, you can introduce key words or go onto to simple sentence writing. This may appear to be a less structured activity. It is an opportunity for the children to express themselves about something they enjoy doing. It is more of a preparation stage for the activities that follow.

  • Each child can draw a picture of their favourite hobby and write key words associated with it or a few sentences about when and where they do it and how often. Once you have explained what they have to do and shown them an example keep this quite open as to how they do it. This will obviously depend on their age and level though.
  • This then can be used as a support for when they tell their classmates in groups of four about their hobby.
  • Monitor while they’re doing this to see how much English they are actually using and to listen out for a few different hobbies to be told to the whole class.
  • Make sure you ask people who would be comfortable speaking to the whole class.

Class hobbies
The information learnt in the previous stage can be collated and used for another class chart. To make it easier and more practical to make the class chart you can distribute strips of card to each child. They can draw the lines to create columns, however the columns will need to correspond for when you stick the columns together onto a large piece of card. To do this give instructions to everyone at the same time. ‘Measure ten centimetres down and draw your line with a ruler. Measure another ten centimetres down and draw a line with your ruler…’etc.

  • So this time you could expand the data and make the chart even more personal.
  • Each child could have his own column.
  • They could bring in a passport photos of themselves to stick at the top.
  • The first row could be the name of their hobby.
  • The second row could say what days they do their hobby.
  • The third row could be a gap fill sentence such as ‘I spend three hours a week playing badminton.’
  • The final row could be a sentence starting ‘I like my hobby because…’.
  • Make sure you have your own strip pre-prepared to show them a model. Also have some extra columns cut for those who make major mistakes.

Collecting things

  • You could make this topic a long term project where in the class everyone decides on something to collect and then towards the end of the year they come together and bring in a few of their favourite items that they have collected.
  • It is up to you to inspire their collections but to also be attentive to the children’s own ideas of what to collect. They will probably have lots of ideas to share.
  • To initiate the discussion, bring in examples of anything you collect or have a few examples of, e.g. stamps, photos or postcards. Ask your colleagues to help you as they may have examples of objects they collect that they could lend you on a display only basis.
  • Ideas of things to collect:
    • Teddy bears
    • Dolls from around the world
    • Stamps
    • Barbie dolls
    • Picture cards

This could involve playing an instrument, on their own, in a band or orchestra or listening to a favourite type of music. Music is great in an English classroom for raising awareness about rhythm in language.

  • If you have a small class you can ask the children to bring into class a CD with their favourite music on. If your class is big then you bring together a selection of different types of music.
  • Play a very short extract of a piece of music and first concentrate on the rhythm.
  • Get everyone to close their eyes and tap their fingers on the table in time to the music.
  • Teach them adjectives such as ‘fast’, ‘slow’, ‘quiet’, ‘loud’.
  • When it is over ask them if they liked it.
  • Ask them to describe it. They can use the words you have given them.
  • Ask them to tell you what object or place it makes them think of. To make this easier to explain say; ‘When I close my eyes and listen to this music I can see..’
  • Then finally ask them what instruments they heard. Play it again to try and hear the individual instruments. (Not easy with all music!) This can lead onto asking who in the class plays that instrument. It’s probably not at all practical for your students to bring their instruments in to play, if you have access to some at the school though, why not? An idea for a project could be an English song about learning with you. They could write it, sing it and play their instruments.

Why not use this topic to introduce some original instruments to the children from around the world. You could start with bagpipes!

Playing a sport
Sports tend to involve rules which is a good thing for an English class! It is obviously highly impractical to actually play a sport inside your classroom so the next best thing and one which works their imaginations is for the children to create their own sport with their own rules.

  • Distribute a ball to each group of four. Make sure you have as many different sizes as possible, so a tennis ball, a football, a ping pong ball, a golf ball.If you have large classes you can give some groups other sports related realia such as racquets or nets.
  • The idea is that they must think of a new sport using their object but not in the same way that it is normally used. They must think of at least three rules and find a way to explain their sport and the rules to the class. They can draw on the board, they can mime and they can speak but only in English.
  • The important thing here is not necessarily for the sports to be completely understood but for the group to work together as a team and attempt communication by the means at their disposal.
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