What would it take to get you or your students to jump from an airplane? To put your life in the hands of a bungee cord? To risk concussion for the sake of a game?
Some sports and popular past times are questionable or even irresponsible in the minds of those who think the dangers outweigh the experience. Whether you would play without a helmet or not, your students will have a chance to express how they feel about these potentially dangerous but oh so popular sports during the following activities.
How to Talk about Extreme Sports in your ESL Classroom
Whether spectators want to believe it or not, and how could they not, boxing is dangerous to a person’s health. Being punched repeatedly can cause countless injuries, injuries to the head, body and internal organs. In fact, boxing is so dangerous that in 1983 the American Medical Association tried to have boxing banned because of the negative health effects for the men and woman who participated in the sport. Even with such strong medical opinion against the sport, boxing continues. In fact, boxing has recently seen an increase in popularity because it is a good activity for improving physical fitness. Some training centers limit participants to punching bags and pads, but others still give trainees some time in the ring to fight it out, which also means greater potential injuries.
With all that said, ask your students whether they think boxing is a good sport and useful for physical conditioning or whether they think it is too dangerous and should be banned. Divide your class into two groups based on their answer to the question, and then ask each group to list as many reasons in support of their opinion as possible. You can give students some time to do research and gather statistics about the injuries as well as the physical benefits that come from boxing. Once everyone has had enough time to complete his or her research, hold a debate in your classroom. Allowing each team free discussion throughout the debate, let each side argue their points and then refute the points of the other team. (For more information, see Essential Tips for Conducting a Class Debate.)
After the debate, ask each student to write an opinion either in support or against boxing. Your students should feel free to take middle ground on the debate, they should just make sure they explain their position and give evidence to support it.
Have you ever jumped from a plane? Have any of your students jumped from a plane? If anyone in your classroom has taken the plunge, ask him or her to share some details about the experience. The idea of jumping out of a plane and plummeting to the earth may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but there are many people who love the rush that throwing themselves into the atmosphere supplies. Supporters of the sport argue that skydiving can be done safely, though. Take some time with your class to brainstorm what safety precautions someone taking their first skydive should consider. You will want to encourage your students to think about the proper equipment, education and company with whom they might jump. Then divide your class into three groups and assign one area of preparation to each group. (If your class came up with precautions that do not fit into these three categories, define categories that they do fit into and assign each of them to an additional group of students.) Keeping in mind the specific precautions for each category, challenge its group to present the information to the class in the form of a skit. Each person in the group should have some type of speaking role in the skit. You can encourage your students to be creative and have fun while writing and performing their skits.
How much do your students know about the sport they probably refer to as American football? Many international students know very little about the rules and just view football as a rough and dangerous sport. Tell your students that you are going to ask them to write an opinion piece about whether or not they would be willing to play football but you want them to have more information on the sport before they decide. If you have the resources, invite a local football coach or player to come and explain the game to your students. You may need to have a diagram or at least a white board available as he explains the rules of the sport. Also, ask your guest speaker to talk about the safety equipment that football players wear. Helmets are probably the most obvious piece of safety equipment, but ask your guest to talk about the pads, mouth guards and other items football players use for protection. If you like, you may want to give your students some time to do additional research on football after the speaker is finished or show them portions of a football game.
Once they have learned enough to make an informed decision, ask your students to write a response to this question: Would you play? Their response should include three paragraphs. The first paragraph should describe what they learned about the sport. The second paragraph should weigh the good and bad about football, and the third paragraph should be their opinion and why they would or would not play. Once the responses are written, post them on a bulletin board in your classroom designed to look like a football field. For responses in which your students say they would play, post their pieces on the field. For students who said they would not play, post their responses outside the field as though they were sitting on bleachers. This display will provide a striking visual as to how your students feel about the game and where they stand on the safety of the sport.
No matter where you are on the globe, sports probably have some impact on your life.
Whether you are a player or just a spectator, you probably have access to football, soccer, rugby or some other sport on a regular basis. Some sports, though, are questionable when you weigh their benefits against their dangers. By encouraging your students to think about a controversial topic such as dangerous sports, you will give them realistic opportunities to practice their language skills, and they may learn a thing or two about the game in the process!