The Vital 3 Points

It was suggested to me by a friend that I include a feature for non football fan teachers who want an idea of what to talk about with students on a Monday morning in regard to the weekend’s football.

So, here it is.  3 big talking points from the world of football. Use them as a basis for further research or just simply recite the points at students as you see fit.

  • Liverpool beat Man City which means they could now win the league with 4 games to go. People generally want this to happen as it would be a fine reward for passionate local boy Steven Gerrard who has played for his beloved Liverpool all his life without ever winning a league trophy. (Say, “Well Johnny. What do you think about Liverpool beating City then? Think they can finally do it?”)


  • Jose Mourinho declined the opportunity to talk to the press after his Chelsea side’s 1-0 win against ten man Swansea. Idiot. (Say, “Mourinho’s getting a bit…well, boring don’t you think?”) 


  • Liverpool’s Luis Suarez dived a couple of times in the game against Man City. Having previously been banned for racist comments against rival players and biting a players arm, this diving suggests a return to form. Bigger idiot. (Say, “Can’t believe the ref didn’t give a second yellow card for that dive.”)

Impressing Footballers With Beautiful Tweets

Half the time, students simply don’t spend any real time on what they write. They write in order just to get the job done. Little time is spent thinking about why they are writing, who they are writing for and what effect they are trying to achieve. 

This lesson aims to change that. 

Starter: Examine a number of famous footballers tweets. Discuss what makes them effective, funny, interesting, profound, boring, drivel etc.

Main: Explain to students that they are going to attempt to get ‘retweeted’ by  a famous footballer. A list of footballer twitter handles can be found here: 

Ensure that you discuss with students (or even better, that students discuss with one another) what type of tweet is most likely to get re-tweeted by a famous footballer. That is, tweets that are personal but not abusive; funny but not suggestive of insanity; well worded and easy to read; relevant but also a little bit different. It’s not an easy task. By the way, they’re going to need their phones for this lesson. Some students may not have twitter; get them working with someone that does or set up a class twitter account on their behalf from which all tweets can be sent. 

Then, get students to craft their tweet. Stress the need for students to take their time over this; they only have 140 characters and one chance to get this done. They should be drafting and re-drafting and re-drafting again until the 140 characters they have in front of them are absolutely perfect. Words should be changed, different lines of rhetoric explored, and research on the footballer conducted. 

Plenary: Once students have constructed their tweets get them sent  (once you’ve checked them) and then students should feedback to the rest of the group about the tweet construction process. 

Obviously, this lesson can be used as a ‘hook’ for further lessons on considering GAP (Genre, Audience, Purpose) when writing. 

Like it? Try it? Let me know how it goes. 



Punctuation Pie: The Semi Colon (;)

If punctuation marks were footballers then the semi colon is Lionel Messi. For me, students that know how to use semi colons tend to be those students who write better than the rest. What does this mean? It means that even if your writing is crap, there’s always a chance you can fool me into thinking it isn’t. How? By using a semi colon. So listen up.

As with the colon, there are a number of ways the semi colon can be used:

  • In complicated lists
  • Joining closely related sentences
  • Used in place of a connective

Here’s how it works.

In Complicated Lists

Semi colons can be used to separate things in complicated lists. Firstly, let me show you a list:

Contenders for the worst footballing haircut of the year award are Marouane Fellaini, Manchester United, Bacary Sagna, Arsenal, Marouane Chamakh, Crystal Palace and Gervinho, Roma.

Bit of a mess don’t you agree? If you knew nothing about football then you wouldn’t know what names were the names of players and what names were the names of clubs. Semi colons can be used to smarten things up:

Contenders for the worst footballing haircut of the year award are Marouane Fellaini, Manchester United; Bacary Sagna, Arsenal; Marouane Chamakh, Crystal Palace and Gervinho, Roma.

Joining closely related sentences

This is the easiest and most effective way to use semi colons I think.

Here we have two sentences that make perfect sense on their own:

Vincent Tan is foolish. He gave the ‘Bluebirds’ a red kit.

This example is fine. However, if we have two sentences (as in the example) that make perfect sense on their own which are closely related, then we can join them with a semi colon like so:

Vincent Tan is foolish; he gave the ‘Bluebirds’ a red kit.

Here’s another example:

Jose Mourinho is infuriating. He whines constantly.

Jose Mourinho is infuriating; he whines constantly.

See how the version with the semi-colon just looks…posher? Note that unless the word that follows the semi colon is a name of a place or person then you get rid of the capital letter.

Used in place of a connective

Finally, we can also use semi colons in place of connective words such as ‘and’, ‘because’, ‘so’, ‘as’ etc.

For example:

Jose Mourinho is infuriating because he whines constantly.

Jose Mourinho is infuriating; he whines constantly.

Right, that’s me done on semi colons.

Hope it helps.



Teachers, I’ve recently tried to hone GCSE students’ persuasive writing skills by getting them to write a letter to dear Mr Gove. 

If you’ve got a group of unruly boys who think that learning to write persuasively is pointless then tell them they’re right. However,  if they’re going to get the coveted ‘C grade or above’ in GCSE English then they need to know to be able to write persuasively in order to one day earn lots and lots of money which can, in turn, then be used to persuade absolutely anybody absolutely anything. Just ask Emanuel Adebayor. 

Right, so I expect most of you will be familiar with the ‘A F O R E S T’ acronym which is useful to consider when writing persuasively. Students, in order to write persuasively, need to be able to use a mixture of Anecdote, Fact, Opinion, Rhetorical Questioning, Emotive Language, Statistics and Rule of Three. (Don’t believe me? Well, did you know that 98% of people who don’t believe me tend to fail at absolutely everything they attempt to complete in the endless void which they have so termed a life. Honestly. Honestly. Honestly. That’s what I think. Fact.) 

Now, here’s the exciting bit. Rather than the usual ‘persuade-a-councillor-not-to-knock-down-another-bloody-leisure-centre’ drivel that we tend to opt for, why not get your unruly boys and girls to write a letter to their favourite footballer asking them to come down to the school for a kick about? The first student to get a response wins a prize of your choosing. A response, by the way, doesn’t have to be in the positive. Even a polite note of decline from a players agent counts as a response. 

Even got a starter for this lesson: Who’s the kindest footballer on the planet? Discuss with a partner and prepare to feedback with an explanation for your answer. You might argue that this lacks any real development of any English skill. To which I’d reply in either one of two ways: 1) Speaking and Listening. Just because Gove doesn’t like it doesn’t mean its not still important. 2) Who cares? It’s fun. 

Do let me know if you try this. Always keen to hear how things go. 


SEATING PLANS – Home and Away

An old classic this, which I can take no credit for, but it is tenuously linked to the beautiful game somehow so I thought I’d whack it on. 

Teachers, draw up two seating plans for your classes: one plan based on name/gender/ability as per usual and another in which students are free to sit with whoever they so choose.

Your seating plan is the HOME seating plan and theirs is the AWAY seating plan. Reward your pupils for good behaviour/work with an AWAY day every now and again. 

Hope the Easter hols are treating you well. 



Punctuation Pie: The Colon

The Colon ( : )

The colon is a very popular piece of punctuation but often used incorrectly. A bit like Wayne Rooney I guess. Colons can be used in 3 different ways:

  • To introduce an idea
  • To introduce a list
  • To introduce quoted material

How about an explanation for each?

Colons to Introduce an Idea

Colons can be used to introduce an idea or thought.

Example 1: There’s only one thing you need to know about Arsene Wenger: He’s having a nightmare.

Example 2: Spurs are left with only one option: Keep winning games.


You must be aware that the clause (the phrase) before the colon must make sense on its own. If it doesn’t then you can’t use a colon.

People spend far more time than they should about whether to use a capital letter after a colon. I don’t think you know all the ins and outs; just ensure you stick to one rule consistently. I like to use capital letters after all my colons.

Colons to Introduce a List

The other main use of a colon is to introduce a list. Like before, the clause before the colon must make sense on its own.

Example 1:Some truly delightful human beings work at Chelsea Football Club: John Terry, Ashley Cole and Jose Mourinho.


See how ‘Some truly delightful human beings work at Chelsea Football Club’ makes sense on its own?


Example 2: Chelsea Football Club employ John Terry, Ashley Cole and Jose Mourinho.


A colon doesn’t work here because ‘Chelsea Football Club employ’ doesn’t make sense on its own.


Colons to Introduce Quoted Material

‘Quoted Material’ just means stuff that people say. Like when Joey Barton says, ‘Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided, I am persona non grata.’ (If you don’t know what that means then don’t worry; Joey probably doesn’t either.)

Lets look at an example:

Example 1: My favourite Jose Mourinho quotation is: “Omelettes, eggs. No eggs, no omelettes. And it depends on the quality of the eggs in the supermarket.”

Make sure that if you are using a colon to introduce speech, you begin the speech with a capital letter always.


Enjoy using Colons.


Starter: Word Squads

Get brains working by asking students to work out an 11 man football team where the names of each player must all begin with the same letter. Take my ‘S’ team for example:

Goalkeeper: Szczesny, Wojciech (ARSENAL)

Defender: Shaw, Luke (SOUTHAMPTON)

Defender:Smalling, Chris (MAN UTD)

Defender: Stones, John (EVERTON)

Defender: Sagna, Bacary (ARSENAL)

Mid:Schurrle, Andre (CHELSEA)

Mid:Snodgrass, Rob (NORWICH)

Mid:Sidwell, Steve (FULHAM)

Mid:Silva, David (MAN CITY)

Striker: Suarez, Luis (LIVERPOOL)

Striker: Sturridge, Daniel (LIVERPOOL)


Loads of variations you can use on this: A team full of players with animals in their names (LIONel Messi, Van WOLFSwinkel..) for example? You could test the spelling of words by making  pupils name a player whose name begins with each sequential letter. For example, ONOMATOPOEIA:







O ?


O ?





It’s difficult yes. But there’s a lot to be said for making things difficult. Read this if you don’t believe me:

P.S. Let me know if you get those O’s.