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Sharkball is a task that gets teens using modal verbs to describe the rules of a new, made up sport.



1: Show students pictures of popular sports and ask them to identify them. It may also be fun to introduce students to some unusual sports from around the world, such as extreme ironing or Finnish wife carrying.

2: Elicit rules from these sports. Students could brainstorm the rules in groups, with each group taking a different sport. You can give students some help by prompting them e.g. are their certain clothes you should wear, how do you win/score points, what shouldn’t you do?

3: Help students to produce the rules using suitable modal verbs.

4: Tell students that the ministry of sport in their country wants to devise a new sport. They have come up with the basic concept, but they want your help to devise the rules of the sport. Tell or give students the example brief below.

5: Put students into groups to devise the rules for the sport. It may be useful to give students a list of things to think about such as those below.

6: Give students time to write up their rules and time to design a poster for the sport. This could be a call for participants so students may find it motivating to offer a prize for the winning team.

7: Groups present their poster and rules to the other groups and the class decide together which group presented the best version of the game. At this point the teacher can provide delayed correction on the presentations.

S1: So this is our game sharkball. The game lasts ninety minutes. There are six people on each team. The teams have to wear different colours and all players must wear armour and a snorkel…


If your group lack creativity, you can provide a handout with the arena and cut up pictures of equipment from different sports such as different goals, balls, bats, clubs, etc.

Example Brief:

“Sharkball is a new sport. The sport will be played in an indoor oval-shaped arena. In the centre of the oval is a channel which is 10 metres wide that players can not jump over. In the water are some very hungry man-eating sharks. It will be possible to use any equipment from any other sport, but there should be at least one ball.”

Example Questions (or language):

  • How long does the game last? Are there any breaks?
  • How many players are on a team?
  • What should the players wear?
  • How do teams score points?
  • How is the winner decided?
  • What equipment is being used from other sports?
  • Are there any things that players are not allowed to do?
  • What happens if the ball goes into the water?

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