Sports and Games ESL Lesson Plan for Beginners (A1) – Modals – can/ can’t/ could/ couldn’t

teaching modals in english - esl lesson plans on modals for beginners - sports and games

A1 English lesson plan on Sports and Games – Modals

The following free esl lesson plan is suitable for English teachers who work with beginner students. The lesson corresponds to level A1. Below you will find the Answer Sheet available for download.
Target Grammar:Modals: can/ can’t/ could/ couldn’t
Target Vocabulary: Sports and Games


1. Match the words with their pictures.

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2. Listen to the text and fill in the table. What can/ can’t/ could/ couldn’t Sally do?

Please note, there are no audio files available for this fill in the blanks exercise. The teacher must read the text for their students. If you are interested in lesson plans that include audio files, please feel free to visit our shop.
My name is Sally, and I am 32 years old. I now work as a Portuguese teacher. When I was a child, I could not speak Portuguese but now I can. My hobbies are skiing, skating, and running. I can’t skate well but I’m really good at skiing. Two years ago I could not run very fast but I practiced hard and now I can.

Can Can’t Could Couldn’t
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________

3. Match the questions with the answers.

Can Sally speak Portuguese now? Yes, she is. She can ski very well.
Could Sally run fast two years ago? Yes, she can. She is a Portuguese teacher.
Is Sally good at skiing? No, it isn’t. She can’t skate well.
Could Sally speak Portuguese when she was a child? Yes, she can. She is very good at it.
Is skating Sally’s favorite sport? No, she could not run fast. Now she can.
Can Sally ski? No, she couldn’t speak Portuguese.

Grammar box

Positive Negative Interrogative (Question)
Robert can swim well.

Martina could play tennis when she was 10.

Robert cannot (can’t) swim well.

Martina could not (couldn’t) play tennis when she was 10.

Can Robert swim well?

Could Martina play tennis when she was 10?


1. We use can / can’t to talk about our abilities now.
I can play football. I can’t play the violin.
2. We use could / couldn’t to talk about abilities in the past.
When I was little, I couldn’t speak Italian but I can now.
3. We use can and could to make requests.Could is more polite.
Can you pass me the ball please?
Could you pass me the salt?


1. Answer the questions about yourself.

  1. Can you play basketball?
  2. Could you run fast when you were a child?
  3. Can you swim well?
  4. Can you play tennis?
  5. Could you play many games when you were a child?
  6. Can you ski or skate?

2. Make questions.

  1. Suzie can’t sing.
  2. Sally can’t skate.
  3. Sally can run fast.
  4. David can’t play tennis.
  5. Simon can play basketball.
  6. My sister can’t swim.

3. Use can/ could to make requests.

  • open the window
  • hold the door
  • ask the teacher
  • speak up


1. Make a list of 5 things you couldn’t do when you were little, and you can now.

2. Interview two classmates about 5 different sports/ activities. Use can/ could/ can’t/ couldn’t.

Download the Answer Sheet:
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