Lesson ideas: football and conditionals

Looking for a way to teach/review conditionals? A former colleague at LTC Eastbourne (cheers Angel) told me that football was his ‘go to’ topic for conditional structures…

Show the students a league table (or part of it):

football source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/football

Use actual upcoming fixtures, or make them up to suit the part of the table you’ve chosen:

Chelsea v Man City (Saturday)

Arsenal v Tottenham (Sunday)


Model some conditional sentences based on the information:


1st conditional: If Man City beat Chelsea on Saturday they’ll move up to 2nd place.


You could provide scenarios for students to write about, or sentences for them to complete:

If Arsenal beat Spurs… (highly likely)

This can be a great way to personalise a topic, IF students like football and understand league tables of course! You can give them freedom to write their own ideas based on the teams they support too:

If Arsenal beat Spurs, I’ll dance around the room

Plus, I feel this gives more realistic practice of conditionals/if-clauses/possibility etc. Think about using soundbites from programmes like BBC Football Focus, you’re likely to hear things like…

If Man City beat Chelsea on Saturday they’ll move up to 2nd, but Spurs would regain 2nd place with victory over Arsenal in the North London Derby on Sunday.

There’s an interesting mix of modals in the above. You could record your own texts like these if you’ve used imaginary fixtures – this would be a pretty fun planning task for a football-loving teacher!


Other conditionals…

You could use the 2nd conditional for some of football’s highly improbable results or moments:

If Lionel Messi signed for Bognor Regis Town

If Leicester won the Premier… (hang on a moment…)

If Ibrahimovic scored 20 goals in one game…

You could use ‘conditionals chains’ that I mentioned before for these types of sentences


For 3rd conditional… what about how things might have been? This is a painful one for an Arsenal fan…


If David Seaman had tipped Nayim’s shot over the bar, the game would have gone to penalties. Arsenal would have won on penalties for sure…

You could use the ‘last 10 games’ results feature on league tables too. This would work for mixed conditionals…

football2 source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/football

If Arsenal had won their last game they’d be above Man City.

Right, must dash. Arsenal kick off against Hull in a bit!

Feature image: soccer by Demograph™ from the Noun Project

Categories: General, grammar, Lesson Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Great idea, even if I am a Spurs fan! See you got the points against Hull. Might use this with my students next week, and also promote it on my blog to my followers, if that’s okay? Cheers.


  2. Thank you for the lesson idea. A colleague of mine (a Liverpool fan) and myself (Spurs!) have a football language podcast for learners that might be of interest to you/your students. Hope you don’t mind the plug 🙂 http://languagecaster.com/podcasts/


    • Ha! Not at all! I’m going to check it out, sounds great. Actually I’m glad you’ve linked it, this blog is like my ideas bank really. I can’t do much footy related stuff in class at the moment so it’s great that I’ve got a ‘go to’ idea for if/when I change teaching context. Much appreciated. Shame you’re Spurs though, tut. That’s the second teacher this week. I wonder if WordPress has a ‘block Spurs fan’ function 😉 p.s. Arsenal yesterday, my word…



  1. Learn English through football | ELT planning

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