Teaching english games
Learning is fun!

Are you new to ESL, switching age groups or looking to motivate your pupils? Make your ESL teaching easier and more fun here.

Hello. I'm Shelley Ann Vernon and I specialize in teaching English as a second or foreign language through English games, short stories, songs, plays and more. I have already helped over 15,000 teachers take the stress out of teaching and put the fun back in. Now I'd like to help you too. I am here for you. I offer you personal support to get the best out of my resources. Every email is answered. (I use cookies and 3rd party analytics to track the use of my website. I use this info to improve my services and I never use this data for marketing purposes. Check out my privacy policy here.)

Stories Games and Songs, the acknowledged and documented BEST resources to:

- develop children’s attention span and listening skills*

- stimulate children’s imagination and understanding of the world*  

- develop language ability and appreciation of literature

**(Dragan 2001, Rippel 2006)

Here’s how to motivate your pupils, help them learn effectively and ensure you and your pupils enjoy your lessons more.

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Books of ESL games
ESL Stories
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What teachers are saying

USA, All my best and with so much gratitude

Thank you, so very tremendously, for your stories, activities and ideas for keeping this very active age of 2-5 year olds engaged. I see the looks on the parents faces and the children are opening up more and more each class. You make me look Soo good!

Milan, Italy, Dec 2015

I’m very excited about using all the activities and transforming my lessons into less teacher-centered ones. Congratulations on the book! It is really well organized and easy to use.

Han sur Lesse, Belgium, Jan 2016

I keep being a bit afraid to 'abandon' my school book, but from time to time I use the games in your book for a change. My pupils really appreciate it and I see them change. When I use a game, they are happy and all participate.

Turkey, March 2016

I keep using the games from primary esl games book and so many things have changed for me for the better. My classes are more fun, I am gaining more confidence as a teacher. My pupils love the games and are learning very fast!!! It's all been really great!

Qatar, March 2016

The Adult games book has really reduced my preparation time. Activities such as 'Guess the Question' have really gone down well with my classes.

International School, Prague

You have no idea how much your resources have changed my work, professional business AND personal life! My job is a source of pleasure and I look forward to it every day. Once again, thank you for all your help and inspiration! You are a great contributor to our world!

France, Nov 2015

I love this book. It has saved me many times. I love getting the kids to work together, it's such an important skill to learn. It is just such refreshing relief for these French kids who have no idea about learning through games.

Dec 2015, China

After I bought your "games for kids" book and started using it my lesson planning became so much simpler and quicker. The lessons a lot more fun and rewarding for my students. I am totally happy with it.

Kiev, Ukraine, Nov 2015

The stories and songs are brilliant, my 4 1/2 year old student loves them and his mother is rapt with his improvement.

Chengdu, China (Wuhou District), Nov 2015

First of all... I love you!!!!! I teach English to 3-7 year olds in China. You speak my children's language! F-U-N !!!

Poland, May 2016

You make the best teaching materials on the planet.

New Zealand, May 2016

I am still enjoying my English teaching. After the 20 stories I am finding the children are able to respond and answer questions. Your course is fantastic. Last week I used the teddy story, it went so well. Thank you for making ESL such simple fun.

Great work, Love from Portugal, Luzia, May 2016

My little students love your stories and I love the fact that I can teach the language always doing what they like best - playing and listening to stories.

Teaching English Games Blog

Useful ESL tips to solve teaching problems

kindergarten kids on a bench
17 May 2019

*Here's a teacher stuck for ideas on giving a demonstration lesson at her kindergarten."Thank you for the wonderful book! (preschool games book) I use these games almost every day at the kindergarten where I work. I have been given a very unusual task... About 100 children with their parents are coming to our kindergarten to see if they want to study here next semester. I was asked to give them a half an hour class. 100 children or so! All of them are 2-3 years old and absolute beginners. We are likely to be outdoors and my coworker's first idea is just to sing and dance, but I'm afraid it'll be impossible to dance 30 minutes... Do you have any ideas? It would be very kind of you if you could help me because I'm stuck!" The kindergarten director is looking to convince parents to send their children to the kindergarten. Therefore I suggest getting the parents to join in, not the kids, who are bound to be excrutiatingly shy at first. 1. Get everyone's attention by banging a gong. Pause and wait for parents' attention. You cannot expect to have the attention of all the kids, so don't wait for it. As an introduction ask parents to join in with you while you show them games and activities that you use in class with the kids during their English classes. Explain to parents that as they get to know their teacher, the kids will join in gradually, but that today we can't really expect much participation from the children. ​- Start on time and be sure to have everything ready in advance and move swiftly from one demonstration to another. To keep the attention of 100 people you need to be quick. Rehearse your demo several times and know exactly what you are doing, without referring to any notes.- Should any child have a loud vocal meltdown during the half-hour ask parents to leave the room discreetly and return as soon as their child has calmed down. 2. Teach the parents how to say I'm fine thanks. Say Hello, How are you? and have them reply back to you all together with I'm fine thanks. Ask them in a normal voice, then in a whisper and have them whisper their reply. Use a very low voice, and then a very high voice, and they reply back in low and squeaky high voices. Roll a big, soft ball to a parent, saying Hello, how are you? And the parent rolls it back, answering "I'm fine thanks." If the parent hesitates or is shy, now is not the time to teach them. Move swiftly on to the next person. Three rolls of the ball are sufficient to demo this idea. You want to entertain the parents with variety. (5 minutes maximum) 3. Play games from the preschool games book, Whose Shadow Is It? This would be a great game to play with a big audience. Set up a sheet with a light behind it. Make shapes of animals with your hands while saying the words in English. Ask parents, What's this? And make a rabbit with your hands. (You can find all the shapes online.)That should intrigue most of the kids. Don't worry if some toddlers are off in their own world. (5 minutes) 4. If getting the light and sheet set up is too much work for you, try a game like Mystery Box game. Have all sorts of goodies inside a box with a hole in the top. Ask a parent and child to come out front and feel inside the box. Have the parent name the items he or she can feel. Put some things in there that are easy to identify so you have success. A banana is easy to identify since it has a unique shape. A tennis ball or pencil should be easy to guess. Then pull out the items and name them in English, and have parents repeat the words back to you. (5 minutes maximum) 5. Instead of Mystery Box above, intrigue the kids with the game What is Hiding in my Pocket? (See my preschool games book) Here you wear a big coat with lots of pockets and stuff coloured scarves or objects up your sleeves, in pockets and anywhere you can. You pull out the items, ask the parents what colour they are. Kindergarten kids find this most intriguing. (5 minutes maximum) 6. Get an umbrella and say, Oh no, it's raining. Start drumming your hands on your thighs to make a pitter-patter of rain. Drum faster saying Oh no, it's raining hard! Then slow the rain down until it's just spotting - tapping your thighs slowly, while you look hopefully up at the sky, and say Oh good, the sun is coming out. And finally, it stops raining. If you have an assistant have them mime with the umbrella, run for cover, and pretend to be in a rainstorm. Now you've done the demo, have all the parents join in with you, tapping their thighs and following your prompts or picture-prompts. It should make a wonderful sound. Start with a gentle pitter patter, quite slowly, gradually increase the speed and the intensity as the rain starts falling hard, create a tropical storm, then gradually come back down until the sun comes out. While you do that, you keep repeating "It's raining" "It's raining a lot! Oh my! It's really raining now. It's a tropical storm.....a storm. It's raining." Don't make it scary for the toddlers - keep smiling and having fun. The storm should not be a menacing one. (5 minutes)  6. You might now have some parents come out on the floor with you and give each one a homemade instrument. Tins of sand, jars of small stones, lentils or cornflakes all make different noises. Glass bottles that you hit with a spoon have different pitches. Have all parents chant something like "Fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea". This is a rhythmic chant and it sounds pretty good. Parents can make fish motions with hands while chanting. Suddenly a shark comes along! It's a friendly shark though, and you welcome it happily, be careful not to scare the kids! On "shark" the parents play their instruments in celebration. Then stop them and start up the "fish in the sea" chant again. Repeat this a few times. You might prefer a chant with "Bumblebee fly" and "Flowers!" in celebration. Either way, have posters or giant cardboard cutouts of the vocabulary so the meaning is clear. You could do "Curl up cat, curl up cat, curl up cat" making curling up gestures, and then exclaim "wake up" with big waking up gestures. This will be harder for parents to do since they will be holding on to their kids, but anyway it might inspire you to think of some relevant ideas to your kindergarten, culture, and country.7. You could finish by setting up a rhythm with the percussion instruments and parents clicking their fingers or clapping and count up to ten several times. 8. Finish up by telling parents how to sign up and answer any general questions that could apply to everybody. Kind regards Shelley Ann Vernon 

man on phone with surprised expression
10 May 2019

Some teachers are concerned that they will alienate their students if they only speak English during lessons. To prevent this a certain amount of tact is required. For example, here is a cute way of introducing 'English-only' in the classroom. Thanks to Esther Cannard for sharing this trick, which may help other non-native English teachers at the beginning of all English classes, and any teachers wanting to install an English-only teaching environment "I pretend to receive a phone call from my sister Betsy who lives in the United States. I excuse myself then go outside, but I keep the door open. At this point, you can say some things like "Hi Betsy, how are you? That's good. I am in a class right now. I will talk to you later. Love you, bye." Then when I come back into the classroom, I am only able to speak English until my sister calls me back at the end of the lesson. The first time I did this I acted surprised that I could not speak French anymore. I even started to speak English really fast as if to be out of control, but then I settle down and say to the class, "boy I really hope Betsy remembers to call me back."" It really works well even with the older children, they think it fun, and if I don't do the phone call, they will ask. The younger ones really believed it at the beginning and were wondering what would happen if my sister forgot to call me back at the end of the lesson or if the battery died. You could see the looks on the students' faces as if to say 'would I be speaking English all day long?' Feel free to share the post with your teaching friends and give us your ideas in the comments below. All the bestShelley Ann VernonFor fun preschool games, stories and songs please click on this link.

picture of movie theatre
2 May 2019

Here are ideas for using films in the classroom so students can see English applied in real-life situations. When playing a video, you do not want the students just sitting around like vegetables. You must integrate the students into the lesson. They always learn better when actively engaged in the process and not spoon-fed. Get the students to do the work. Pre-Class Task Ask students to each find a movie trailer and come up with three questions about the trailer.The first question must be a language question, such as what does the man say before he pulls out his weapon?The second question is an observational one, like what color is the dress, what kind of dessert did the couple share?The third question is about the film, who is the main star and costar, where does the film take place, or what is the name of the movie? In ClassMake teams. First, show the questions.Next show the trailer once or twice.Then total up points after checking answers for both teams.Move on to the next trailer. The trailer should be no more than a minute. Usually, trailers are three minutes long, show only the first minute and the questions have to be answered from the content in that first minute.If you use all three minutes of the trailer, have three students prepare nine questions for it.If you find a film that is a hit among the class, you might use bigger chunks of the film for a future lesson. Most of all, do not spend your precious time looking at movie trailers to try to satisfy your students. Let the students do the work, and you guide them. Check my games books for lots more ideas! Primary school and Teen / Adult activities.

to get ahead you have to get started mark twain
19 April 2019

*This blog post is for customers who have bought one of my four games books.I hope you've started using your games book but if not, here is some encouragement. 1. It's a manual, not a novel. Firstly, please don't try and read the whole book. You might end up feeling overwhelmed by all the options and do nothing. Have you ever browsed through a cookery book and then not actually made a single recipe? I know I have! 2. Start by reading the introduction to glean any tips relevant to you. It's especially important to read the classroom management tips with children. 3. Just pick a game and try it! Decide what vocabulary and/or phrases you are teaching in your next lesson. And pick a game, any game, and try it in the next lesson. The sooner you get started, the easier it will become. 4. Use the steps The games are divided into steps, listening, speaking, and reading and writing. (The preschool games doesn't have any reading and writing games.) You start by presenting new language using any listening game. Use one or two of those, depending on how fast your class learns. Then try step two...and so on! 5. Other quick start methods Look for the section that concerns your latest book purchase: PreschoolWith the preschool games book, it's really helpful if you have the stories. You can use the lesson plans that come with those, all made of games from the preschool games book. PrimaryWith the primary school games book "176 games" you get 16 elementary lesson plans made of games to get you started, so try those. Those lesson plans can be adapted to teach anything. Teen/AdultIf you can't get started try Battleships, Fill in Drill and Ten Important Sentences with Watermelon for starters.  One to oneIf you have Teach Your Child English start by watching the 3 demo lessons and copy those. When you watch them, read the comments in the book at the same time. You'll glean extra tips that way. And ask me any questions in the comments below - I'll reply to you!All the bestKind regardsShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

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shelley ann vernon photoSuccessful author and ESL teacher Shelley Ann Vernon has a passion for helping teachers make their job easier and more fun. Having been a dedicated teacher herself, Shelley knows exactly what it's like to spend hours preparing for a lesson, trying to make it fun and interesting for the students. She has shared her extensive experience as a fun, effective ESL teacher. She has two highly rated books on Amazon, plus other outstanding resources for teaching children. She always responds to fan mail and questions. Shelley speaks at conferences such as IATEFL Cardiff 2009, YALS Belgrade 2011, UCN, Hjorring, Denmark 2014 and Barcelona in 2015. See her upcoming events on author-central for the next opportunity to meet her.

Shelley Ann Vernon, BA, BAMus

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