More Olympics Vocabulary: Atheletics

I covered some Olympic vocabulary in a previous post and I am continuing the series now with Athletics since that’s the big event at the moment in Beijing.

Athletics or Track and Field, as it is sometimes called has a lot of equipment and therefore its own special vocabulary. Since it’s easier to show you than tell, here is a list of events with pictures that should make it pretty clear, and some key terms:


The discus is thrown and the winner is the athlete who can throw it the furthest.


The javelin is hurled or thrown.

Shot Put

Likewise the Shot put is hurled or heaved.


The hammer, different from the tool we use to bang in nails, is thrown and the event is called the hammer throw.

High Jump

Athletes see how high they can jump.

Long Jump

Athletes see how far they can jump, not how long. We call it the long jump because the distance is (hopefully) long. There is also the triple jump where they jump 3 times before their final leap

Pole Vault

The pole is what we call the big long stick and the bar is the mark at the top that they must jump over or clear to win.

Relay Race

Two teams compete when each individual runner runs a part of the race. Each runner passes the baton or gives the stick to the next runner after completing his or her part.


Runners jump over barriers or hurdles as they run.

That’s hopefully a good basis for you to follow along with NBC or the BBC as you watch the Summer Games!

Olympics Vocabulary

Since the Summer Olympic Games have opened in Beijing, I wanted to share some Olympics vocab in English. It’s a fun topic and almost everyone watches or at least keeps track of what’s going on. So take a chance to practice your English with native speakers by talking about the Olympics or follow the news in English. Here are some descriptions of key terms by sport to help you out.

  • Archery is a sport played with a bow and arrow. The participants or archers try to hit the target by shooting the arrow with the bow. The highest score goes to those who hit the bulls eye in the center of the target.
  • Boxing involves two boxers who punch each other. A quick sharp punch is a jab and an uppercut is a punch on the chin that moves upward. If one boxer falls down or can’t continue to fight for a short time, it’s called a knockdown and if one boxer gets knocked out it means he has been knocked down and is not conscious or unable to move.
  • Gymnastics is divided into different events: The pommel horse looks a bit like a saddle and male gymnasts do different swings sitting on it. The vault is the event where gymnasts run and then jump over a platform with the help of a spring board. The balance beam is a long thin platform that gymnasts stand on and do flips, leaps and other moves. The uneven bars are two bars placed up high, one higher than the other. The high bar which is a male only event, is just one such bar. Still rings are similar but instead of a bar, the gymnast holds on to two rings suspended from a bar. Finally the floor exercises involve doing flips, jumps, twists and dance moves in a larger area.
  • Tennis is played on a court with a net that divides the court into two. Players swing rackets to hit the ball. If they hit with their arm in front of their body, it’s called a forehand shot. If they with their arm straight out, not crossing their body, it’s backhand. The whole match is made up of sets which are divided into games.

That’s a few of the sports and terms for now. I’ll post some more later on this week. As usual if you have questions or problems, feel free to add them in the comments.Also, here are some awesome worksheets and puzzles on the Olympics you can print out. It’s a great way to learn and test yourself on Olympics vocabulary.

If you’re more interested in Athletics, jump to Athletics vocabulary

Teacher Tools

I occasionally get asked by my fellow teachers how I organize my teaching materials and what kinds of tools I use. I’m not sure I am the perfect organizer but for what it’s worth, I’m putting down my method here.

First, I keep big folders of material sorted by kind of lesson. Every Xerox, every print-out, every article I clip from the newspaper is in a 3-hole punch binder and organized into the following categories:
Conversation Lesson
Vocab Lesson

You may have your own categories or organizational system.

I also have seperators in with the name of the lesson on it so I can easily find my lesson on stereotypes or the describing people vocab sheet. Putting things in binders is good for being organized but it’s also good as a way to store extra copies. If I make 8 copies of a worksheet and only 2 people show up, I put away those 6 extra copies to use next time. Saves time, paper, and ink.

I also have files saved on my computer, downloaded from the internet, or worksheets that I have typed up. Those are also organized into folders and for lessons that have a lot of files–like a lesson that has a teacher’s guide, a worksheet, a role play sheet and a vocab quiz, I make a seperate file. I also rename files to things I remember. And if I see something on the Net I like, I save it. Even if I don’t need it right away. I used to bookmark the page and try to remember to go back to it. That never happened. I prefer to have lessons I’ll never use to forgetting to save a really good lesson.

And any worksheet I really like, or book pages I use a lot, I tend to scan and save away so the book binding doesn’t get worn out from endless copying. For books, it’s time consuming but I like to pick and choose what I scan. For example most TOEFL books have questions and then a lot of explanation. I scan the pages, and then use a snapshot program to pick and choose what I want to give my student. I can cut a 13 page lesson down to 5 pages. Saves paper. And obviously I tell them the explanations.

I also really think it’s important to take time to rearrange worksheets you don’t like or to modify things. I teach adults and children and there are some conversation books I really like, but the lessons aren’t suitable for children so I retype them and save them. That way I always have the kids’ version ready.

One huge help is a desktop search program like Yahoo Desktop Search. It’s much better than the Windows search because it’s extremely fast and I can easily find all my lessons that have the word “Christmas” in them. And you can easily refine the program to search only your lesson plan folder.

The other big thing I personally recommend is saving CD files to your computer and using iTunes or another music program to organize them. Working off the computer instead of a CD player you have more control about starting at a particular place and you can name the files so you don’t have to keep checking the track list.

Those are my brillant tips. What do you use to stay organized? Any good programs or toys out there that a teacher, or a student, must have?

For Teachers: How to Make a Good Lesson Plan

I put up a new article on English Advantage for ESL teachers on
why and how to plan a lesson. As I say in the article, the most important reasons to have a plan are so that you have clear goals set out for your lesson. Otherwise you are just filling up time and/or entertaining students; both of these can be important too but without a goal, you aren’t really educating. Also students don’t respect teachers who try to improvise everything or aren’t prepared to answer their basic questions about a topic or lesson.

The article has more details on this, but a good lesson should have three elements. Students should be Engaged, or interested in the lesson. This may mean choosing a topic they like, relating it to their personal experience, or playing a game. Students should also Study, or learn something in the lesson. Pretty obvious, right? It might be vocabulary, sentence structures, grammar, or functional language like giving an opinion, but there needs to be a learning component to the lesson. Finally students should Activate what they are learning. They need to not only Study but also use the new language. This might take the form of an open discussion, a guided dialogue, a role play, a writing assignment but simply doing a grammar exercise isn’t enough. Students need to apply the grammar to realistic speech or writing.

I certainly would love to hear comments from teachers and students about your opinion, advice and experience on lesson planning or criticism of my article.

And check out the Lesson Plan page for a bunch of ESL lesson plans, which hopefully follow my own advice!