“Soccer isn’t the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community’s fabric, a repository of traditions.”
The 2018 World Cup takes place in Russia from June 14th to July 15th. The World Cup is celebrated by learners around the world. Not only does the World Cup introduce students to different countries and cultures, but they can also learn math, geography, current events, economics, and world news. The big World Cup news today is that the US, Mexico, and Canada will host a joint World Cup in North America in 2026!
FIFA is the official site of the World Cup and presents information in different languages. Below, find a list of activities and resources related to the World Cup, which are sure to engage learners of all ages.
Study the Countries, Teams, and Players
Students can create interactive posters sharing statistics and facts about the different teams or players. Encourage students to pick a player or team from a country they’ve never visited. Each student should research a different team or player so that all can learn from each other’s posters. Genially and Thinglink are two free web tools to create interactive and hyperlinked digital posters.
Students can create infographics comparing facts and statistics about two teams or players. Venngage has several comparison and contrast infographic templates that are free for students to edit. You can also create infographics with these free web tools: Canva, Piktochart, Visme, and Infogr.am.
Plan a World Cup Trip
Students can work in small groups to plan a pretend class trip to the World Cup in Russia or to the 2022 event in Qatar. FIFA provides information about the countries where the event takes place here. Give each group a budget, the amount of days, and any other necessary criteria. The groups will need to study the currency exchange, landmarks, culture, weather, laws and customs to ensure the trip goes smoothly. They will need to look up ticket prices and come up with a schedule that includes the matches, tours, and leisure time. They will have to plan accommodations, flights, transportation, clothing, dining, sightseeing and leisure activities. Each group should present their plans to the class.
Follow the Matches
FIFA lists when each match takes place in multiple languages, networks, and areas here. Encourage students to practice English while watching the matches with the following activities:
1. Act as a reporter for the match
Students take down notes during the match and report the highlights in a news article or in a short video news segment. Try the free Touchcast video producer or Talking Tom and Ben News iOS and Android app to produce the video news segments.
Students can either choose the matches they want to see or you can assign pairs a specific match to cover. If two students cover the same match, then get them to compare their reporting of the events, jot down the differences, and have a conversation about the game.
2. Reenact a highlight
Show students one of the videos in this playlist of some of the matches reenacted using LEGO characters. Students then recreate one of their favorite World Cup moments by producing a similar video using LEGOs, playdough, or drawn characters. They could also show this highlight in a comic. Friendstrip and ComicsHead are free apps students can use to transform their own drawings into a comic strip.
3. Act as a commentator for one of the matches
Introduce students to football/soccer vocabulary, rules, and phrases. Use ESL Library’s Soccer/Football lesson to teach learners the vocabulary and interesting details. The How to Speak Football infographic includes a few terms. You will also want to introduce students to the idioms and expressions used by commentators to describe what is happening in the game. You can adapt this Football Commentator Bingo card.
Motivate students to practice the lingo they’ve learned by playing a commentator game! Play a current or previous video clip of any of the World Cup matches without sound. Provide students with background information about the teams, players, and match. Students watch the video clip at least 2 times without the sound and write down what they want to say as a commentator. They should use the vocabulary and idioms they were taught. Then call on two students at a time to stand in front of the video and pretend they are the commentators while you play it again without the sound.
FIFA’s Fan Zone has different options for users to create their own fantasy World Cup team or make their own World Cup predictions. Students can play the digital games listed below or you can always create your own prediction activity based on these examples.
- The Bracket Challenge: Compete with others and predict the group stage results and knockout matches. Earn points and win prizes.
- Match Predictor (web/iOS/Android): Predict the winners of each of the 64 matches. Compete with others.
- This low-intermediate World Cup lesson includes a listening and short reading about the World Cup as well as a few vocabulary review exercises. Students also read a fun story about Pickles the World Cup hero.
- This high-intermediate World Cup lesson includes a listening and short reading with basic history about the FIFA World Cup. Friendly and competitive vocabulary games are used to review new words. Students practice summarizing in an information gap pair activity.
- Check out this slide presentation with these ideas visualized.
- Don’t miss Larry Ferlazzo’s Top Sites For Learning About The 2018 World Cup In Russia.
- ESL Games World has a fun World Cup vocabulary online game.
- ESOL Courses has online games and video quizzes for English learners.
What other World Cup activities and resources do you use to teach English?
If you want to receive more of Shelly’s tips for online resources for teaching English, check out her other ESL Library posts!