The use of tense in sports commentaries

This activity looks at the use of tense in two descriptions of the same event: a football match. Students are asked to think about why different tenses used, and what kind of role they play in creating the meaning of the text.


Lesson Plan

This lesson might come after you have taught your students about the two tenses in English: past and present. You might want to revisit these notions before starting this lesson, by checking out some of the resources on Englicious (for example, here).

Begin by showing your students a short clip of a football match, here. Play them the first minute (without the sound on) and ask one student to provide a commentary, imagining that they are commenting 'live' on the match as it happens. 

Now ask students: what tense was the commentary in? Present or past? Did it remain in one tense throughout, or did it change?

Next, play your students the clip again, but this time with the volume turned up. You could also give them a transcript of the commentary, which can be found on the handout at the bottom of this screen. Ask the same questions about tense again. Their answers might include:

Next, ask students to image they are a journalist writing a report for the game. What tense will they need to write in? You could show them the first few paragraphs of a BBC article (here and on the handout), to help them get started.


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