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Teaching Vocabulary: Picking a winning team

Teaching Vocabulary: Picking a winning team

This lesson focusses on the role of the football coach and how to discuss and pick a team from a squad of players. By the end of the lesson, learners will be ready to discuss which football players will be in their ‘starting eleven’ from a squad of 23 players. This final task is based on vocabulary and grammar that have been used in the activities prior to the task. Preparation involves a range of speaking, language and vocabulary building activities with a specific focus on adjectives and comparative forms. 

Lesson Plan


Many football fans enjoy playing fantasy football, which is a game that allows players to manage their own team of international superstars. The game is popular worldwide and this lesson uses the game as a starting point to introduce descriptive language (adjectives) and practise comparatives and superlatives. The lesson focusses on these areas of language, but there are plenty of opportunities to focus on speaking, too. 

Ask your students to think of some of the qualities of a good coach or trainer.


A2-B1 (strong elementary - intermediate)


Teenagers and adults


45 mins + 45 mins

This lesson is flexible and can be used over two different classes or one 90-minute class. You can also extend or shorten some of the steps depending on the level and needs of your students.



  • Worksheets
  • Cut up player profiles (worksheet three)
  • Learner notebooks

You can find all the materials in the download section on the right-hand side of this page.


1. Lead-in

Write ‘football coach’ on the board and ask students, in pairs, to brainstorm what a football coach does.

Ask students to write down the name of a famous football or sports coach. 

Ask them to add two qualities that a coach needs in his or her job.

Ask students to share a sentence or two. For example:

A football coach needs to be decisive because he needs to make important decisions quickly.

Students collect adjectives from the rest of the class and add to a spidergram in their notebooks.

2. Listening for gist

Write the following questions on the board:

What is special about today’s football match?

When and where is the match taking place? 

Answer: It's the first home match of the season.

Tell students that you are going to read a coach's pre-match presentation to the media. Student's need to answer the questions on the board.

Good afternoon everyone, as it’s the first game of the season there are quite a few surprises in today’s line up.

Let’s begin with today’s goalkeeper, we have chosen Mills to play in goal. He has shown he is fitter in training lately. Our defence will be Harris, Kane, Dublin and Smith. All four players have proved to be the strongest and most consistent.  In central midfield, MacDonald and Walters have been selected for being more accurate with their passing than the other players in the squad. On the wings, our fastest players, Barnes and Twaddle will supply crosses. Up front, Sterling and Albion will play as both have been sharper than any other player in training. 

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the game.

3. Listening for detail

Dictate the five questions (in bold) to your learners. Read out the presentation again. If students find this difficult, you can read it again and give them the multiple-choice options.
1. What is the team’s formation?
a. 3-5-2
b. 4-4-2 (correct)
c. 5-4-1
2. Why is Mills in goal?
a. Tallest
b. Youngest
c. Fittest (correct)
3. How many players are described as the most consistent?
a. 3
b. 2
c. 4 (correct)
4. Where are the fastest players?
a. In defence
b. In midfield
c. On the wings (correct)
5. Barnes and Twaddle are described as...?
a. Sharper (correct)
b. More accurate
c. More attacking

4. Guided Discovery

Hand out worksheet one and ask the students to look at the transcript of the presentation text.
Ask students to underline the comparative structures and circle the superlative structures in the text.
Comparatives Superlatives
fitter the strongest
more accurate the most consistent
Ask students to think about how and when the words 'than', 'the', 'more' and 'most' are used in comparative and superlative structures.

5. Controlled Practice 1

On the board write: GK, DF, MF, FW.

Ask students to say what they mean.

Answers: goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward.

Put students in pairs (A's and B's). 

Give all the A students worksheet 2A and the B students worksheet 2B.

Students ask each other for the missing information. Encourage students to begin questions with 'How + adjective ...?' For example:

A: How tall is Romelu Lukaku?

B: He's one hundred and eighty-eight centimetres.

Student's then complete the text with comparatives.

Ask students to discuss which player they should select for their team. They need to justify their decision. 

Students mingle to compare ideas with other students. A model dialogue:

A: You chose Ronaldo? Why? Lukaku is younger and taller.

B: Yes, but Ronaldo is more experienced, he's scored more goals and he's more valuable.

End of lesson one (45 mins).

6. Controlled Practice 2

Tell students that they are going to sign a forward for their favourite football team. 

Give out two profiles (Muller and Vieri). Check the meaning of strength, speed, accuracy and creativity

Ask students to write down these nouns and work out the adjectives and put them next to them (strong, speedy/fast, accurate and creative).

In pairs, students discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each player and decide which player they would sign and justify their opinions. 

Have a class vote to decide which player should be signed.

7. More Practice

Put the students into four and tell them they have to pick a 5-a-side team from a squad of twelve players. They need to choose the following:

  • 1 goalkeeper
  • 1 defender
  • 1 midfielder
  • 1 forward
  • 1 free choice

Each player has a value and each team can spend a maximum of £10 million.

Students discuss which players to pick and why. Encourage the use of comparative and superlative structures here. 

8. Present your team

Regroup the students so there is one member of each team in each new group. Students compare teams and decide which team they think is the best and why.

Write on the following adjectives on the board so students can use them: strong, fast, accurate, creative, valuable, good and bad.


Create your own fantasy football league. It might be fun to see which 5-a-side team performs best based on real-life matches. You could give players points for how they play:

  • three points for scoring a goal
  • three points for providing an assist
  • three points for a clean sheet (no goals conceded)
  • one point deducted for each goal conceded

Your class could follow the performances of the teams over a weekend, a month or a whole season in the Premier League or if you could base this lesson on players from the league in your country.

Alternatively, you could give your students a real-life task. They could enter a fantasy football team on the Fantasy Premier League website

We hope you enjoy the lesson!

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Describe different qualities of a football player.

Learn more about comparatives and superlatives.

Present and justify a team selection.