4 World Cup Writing Activities

As World Cup 2014 is about to start, we, teachers, can create interesting and motivating activities to make this popular event a part of our courses.  Like many people in Russia (and Europe), I enjoy watching soccer games, and in today’s blog, I will share a few World Cup–related activities that you can incorporate in your writing classes.

A Creative Writing Activity

Divide students into small teams and ask each team to write a story by using a set of soccer vocabulary.  Each group, however, will have to create a story of a different type.  For example:

  • A funny story
  • A story with a happy end
  • A sad story
  • A scary story

Here are some examples of the soccer vocabulary that the students can use:

  • Referee
  • Goal
  • Pitch
  • Prize
  • Player
  • Whistle
  • Boot
  • Yellow card
  • Goalkeeper
  • Red card
  • Shirt
  • Trophy

After the teams are done with their stories, ask the students to read their stories to the rest of the class.  Draw students’ attention to the genres and the purposes of the stories that made them different from each other.

A Paraphrasing Writing Activity

You can use the same soccer vocabulary for a fun paraphrasing activity.  Divide students into small teams and give each team a set of words.  Ask the teams to write a definition or a paraphrase for each of the terms from the set. (You can also tell students that they can create funny paraphrases).  Then each team will read their definitions or paraphrases to the other teams, and the other teams will guess the term.

A Summarizing Writing Activity

Assign one student to role-play a famous soccer player, and ask this student to come up in front of the class.  The other students will ask the “soccer star” questions about his or her career, views on team work, competition, training, and so on.  After the interview is over, ask the students to write a short paragraph summarizing the information that they obtained from the soccer star. Encourage the students to use reporting verbs and signal phrases as they compose their paragraph.

Examples of signal phrases and reporting verbs:

According to A, __________.
In his opinion, ___________.
In his words, ____________.
In A’s (his) view, _____________.
Assume
Admit
Argue
Believe
Point out
Say
Specify
Suggest
Think

You can also ask students to share their paragraphs with each other and see what similarities and differences they have.

An Opinion Writing Activity

Sport is the topic that allows a writing teacher to create various prompts for an opinion paper.  You can prepare students for this writing activity by discussing World Cup 2014 or soccer in general, and move them to more broad-spectrum issues related to sports. For example, you can ask students to express their opinions on the following prompt: “Do you think that sports unite people or make them more distant?  Why?” Or “What makes people become so competitive when it comes to cheering for different teams?”

You can create prompts on such topics as teamwork, competition, endurance, persistence, health, training, and so on.

Another idea for an opinion paper would be to ask students to express their thoughts on famous athletes’ quotes about sports.  Here are some examples:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games, missed the game winning shot 26 times. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing. – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Everything is practice. – Pele

An athlete gains so much knowledge by just participating in a sport. Focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and, of course, the thrill of finally achieving your goals. These are all lessons in life. – Kristi Yamaguchi

Or quotes about soccer:

In his life, a man can change wives, political parties or religions but he cannot change his favorite soccer team. – Eduardo Hughes Galeano

Some people tell me that we professional players are soccer slaves. Well, if this is slavery, give me a life sentence.– Sir Robert “Bobby” Charlton

International football is the continuation of war by other means. Eric Arthur Blair

The first 90 minutes are the most important.– Sir Robert William “Bobby” Robson

Whoever invented soccer should be worshipped as god.– Hugo Sánchez Márquez

In Europe, it’s different – you eat soccer, you breathe soccer, you drink soccer.
Everything is about soccer.
– Thomas Dooley

Enjoy teaching and enjoy the World Cup 2014!

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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2 Responses to 4 World Cup Writing Activities

  1. That is a great activity! What I like about it is the way that makes students use their four main skills. Another point is the subject itself is attractive. It makes students work collaboratively and enthusiastically. Thank you for your ideas!

  2. Taewoong Kim says:

    Thanks for your brilliant idea, Elena! Inspired by your suggestion, I have made a writing prompt for my composition class, i.e., “Are you enjoying World Cup 2014? Which team are you rooting for? Some people say that World Cup can more effectively unite people than any other sports events. Do you agree or disagree?”

    Thanks! 🙂

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