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. (My website uses cookies and 3rd party analytics to track the use of my website. This way I know how many visits a particular page gets and so on. 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
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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

20 September 2019

Teachers often ask me for help with choosing a textbook. There are a lot out there, and often, they come with a workbook, a teacher's book, audio materials and supplements. The whole pack can be pretty expensive.  A textbook is like a road map. It tells you what to teach, in a logical order. It means you don't forget to teach something, like possessive pronouns, or something else you may overlook. There are so many aspects to a language, it's easy enough to forget to teach something!Also, some students, especially adults, like to have a book. It gives them something concrete to hold on to and serves as a record of what they are supposed to know. It gives them an idea of progress, even if it's just turning pages in the book! Oxford Press's Headway is a good staple and it's updated all the time, to stay current in terms of pictures and themes. They have an American version and a UK version.That said, to help your students learn, you really want them thinking for themselves, working in groups, playing a language game in teams, doing a class quizz or grammar auction, rather than sitting there in front of a book. Therefore, since you won't be relying on the textbook for how you conduct your lessons, the choice of book is less important. Why not go along to your local library and see if you can borrow a textbook. If you are using the textbook to plan your lessons and follow a logical path then it doesn't matter if the topics and pictures are out of date. But if you are planning on giving copies to your students, then you need to have the latest. A book that is two years out of date is archaic as far as the average teen is concerned! (Just tell them it's a history lesson.)Here are a few more tips before you choose your textbook: Do check that your students have not already worked through your chosen textbook before you buy it.Never buy a book for a student until you have had the first lesson. There's no way of knowing a student's level until then, and usually, students have a lower level than they are supposed to.A textbook with classic themes will never be out of date - though the pictures might be. For example, Big Ben and Westminster are historical London sights, they were and they always will be. That said, if you are bored out of your mind teaching classes on Big Ben yet again, your boredom might well be felt by the class, so maybe it's time to work on a different theme. Are you a teacher or someone who tells students what page to turn to?Personally, I don't rely on a textbook to run my lessons. My first job as a TEFL teacher was a nightmare, but I guess it was a golden learning opportunity for me. We didn't have a textbook. We were given a grammar book, with no pictures, no texts, simply the grammar that was to be taught that day. The teacher had to build a lesson out of that from scratch. As a new teacher, it was hard work. Back then, oh boy, I spent so much time preparing it made my hourly salary ridiculous. I'd have earned more stacking shelves at the supermarket. Since then I discovered teaching with games, student-centered activities and skits, and that first job would be a walk in the park today! So, once you have your textbook, please don't spend the lessons slavishly reading every bit of it and filling in all the blanks. A student can do that on their own. Instead, take the theme of the textbook unit and do interactive activities and games. I have plenty so feel free to drop me a line and tell me who you are teaching and what you need, and I'll recommend the best resource for you from my games books, stories or skits. Please feel free to comment on how you use textbooks below - lots of teachers read this blog and they would LOVE to hear from you. You have to put in your email, but it's safe, it's 100% private, it's just there in case I need to reply to you directly.   

learning difficulties in the classroom
6 September 2019

*Teachers often have to include children with learning difficulties in their classrooms. While I have no solution for this, I do have some tips that may help. Most important tipDo not discourage the child. Do not give them test results that they can compare with others. Do not, ever, imply that they cannot succeed. The child knows he is drowning and doesn't need it pointing out. If you are positive the child will also be hopeful and have more confidence that he or she will learn, despite his or her difficulties. Even if you teach the child nothing in your particular class, at least you will have given him or her emotional and moral support. This child may have the courage to continue trying. Set attainable goalsRegardless of what you are doing with the rest of the class, set separate goals for the child, such as learning two new words in a lesson...share these goals with parents. Make them attainable. The child will succeed with his or her specific goals and this is encouraging. If you work with the same text with the whole class, give them easier questions relating to that text. You cannot give kids with difficulty the same tasks as the rest of the class. How would you like to sit there in class totally lost and not able to do the assignment when everyone around you can do it? With encouragement and hope, this child may go on to succeed in an area of life, despite travelling a relatively short distance along the academic path. Those people who are happy are the successful ones. The first time I had a student with learning difficulties I didn't know it. The parents dropped her off and said nothing. I soon observed that she couldn't retain information. I just went on as if nothing had happened and I hadn't noticed. Then I started asking her questions right after we had just heard the answer, and she could answer me correctly, so I could then praise her. I was astonished when her parents told me, at the end of the second term, that she had improved in all her subjects at school since she had been coming to my classes. I think I was the only teacher who was able to say "well done" and "Yes! That's right!" It might not be as simple as that, but honestly giving them tasks they can do, and encouraging them is going to go a long way. Leaving them lost is only going to make them feel hopeless, and potentially give up, get depressed and have all sorts of additional problems. Discover the hidden talentsIf there is something that the child is good at, include that in the lesson. This is good for the child's self-esteem. At last! Something he is good at! For example, I knew a Downes Syndrome boy who was an absolutely brilliant dancer. So, in a game he could do a funky dance as a forfeit, while someone else might prefer to name 3 vocabulary flashcards. Appeal to different learning stylesMake sure you include lots of movement, and other stimuli, (not just pen, paper and books) such as mystery box, flowing scarf games, feeling, smelling, charades, word games, acting, dance and song. (See 176 English Language Games for Children.) If you can work out how the child in question learns best, that will help. Parents or the school might be able to help you with this. The child may respond best to visual stimuli, rather than kinaesthetic - knowing this can help you a lot. Find out more from the expertsYou may want to delve deeper and read about learning difficulties. You will find a plethora of books on ADHD, dyslexia, autism, etc. and it could be interesting bedtime reading! No kidding, if you have an understanding of what someone is going through it can make you naturally feel compassion for them, which will help you a lot when you are standing there feeling frustrated in class. You'll also learn tips on how to handle those difficulties. It's well worth asking for support from your school and other teachers. If there are experienced teachers you can observe, or who have relevant knowledge, this can be a huge help to you. English Teaching Resources I do know of teachers who are already using my games and resources for children with learning difficulties. And they have had success with them. I believe that children with learning difficulties often need to go at a slower pace, have lots of repetition, and be stimulated with visuals, audio, kinaesthetic methods - not just textbooks and worksheets, which, often for various reasons, they can't handle. So I would say that if you use my games book for primary school children, and just teach three to four new words at a time, with lots of different games and repetition...you should get somewhere. And I'd also use the plays and skits with them. If you are not teaching English as a second language, but English as a native language, then the games book will be great to drill spelling and grammar with them gently. 

19 August 2019

An English teacher opening a kindergarten asked me for any tips to make his place stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas... Kindergarten is a hands-on place, touching, feeling, building, playing, drawing, dancing and learning to communicate with others. Hopefully, it is a safe place where kids are nurtured and loved by caring teachers. But what makes it exceptional? Firstly, exceptional teachers. Secondly, exceptional inspiration. The kids, of course, are always exceptional!Exceptional MusicMost of the time kindergarten should be a place where children learn and play, using everything related to their age and development. The kindergarten song "Brother John are you sleeping" is catchy and easy to pick up.  But why not include music from amazing cultural heritage? Include exceptional music, exceptional art and poetry, not just mega-banalities suitable for toddlers. Offer music as part of each day. Have a reasonable sound system. If you are young, you may be used to listening to music through some minute speakers on your computer. You should try listening to music on a powerful sound system, where you can hear all the instruments individually, not just some kind of chewing gum for the ears - usually with no instruments involved anyway LOL!  Literally you don't know what you are missing! Here are some examples of inspirational music for kindergarten kids: Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals and Debussy's Children's Corner. These works all have stories, and we all know kids love stories. Explain the stories behind the music and play extracts. Children act out the music as it plays, taking on the roles of the different animals and people depicted. Combine with pictures and videos of the animals in question. Then have children close their eyes, listen to the music and dream being the animal in question. If you think this classical music is only for stuffy intellectuals, think again! Check out some of the Disney movies - they usually have classics. Play the great classics from around the world, the greatest Chinese classics, the most famous American classics, and so on. By teaching children the gift of appreciating great music, that has stood the test of time, you are giving them an enriching gift for life. As well as listening to and dancing to music, let kids make music with hand made instruments like bottles and shakers. You will find some great ideas using homemade percussion instruments in this blog. Exceptional ArtDiscovering art and getting messy with crafts is part of life at kindergarten. In the art classes, the children can make props such as masks that they can use in the music and English classes. Show kids world-famous artists and have them do crafts to imitate these. For example, make a fabulous collage project based on a work by Klimt. Introduce Monet and have kids draw a house and garden, based on Monet's Givenchy paintings. Have kids draw or make a warrior like Emperor Qin's terracotta army. You are there to inspire the kids. So why not show them the best of what our planet has created so far?Poetry, language, metaphors, imaginationIf you also offer English that will surely make your kindergarten stand out. Look no further than this website if you want a curriculum for kindergarten kids to learn English. Even teachers with no experience teaching English can follow the lesson plans and steps.Read poems for children, have children do actions and make sounds at appropriate places. Teach kids the magic of beautiful words. If your kindergarten is in England check out the Puffin book of Children's poetry - it's fab! The sea is a hungry dog, giant and grey, he rolls on the beach all day! James Reeves... If you want to share any of your ideas on making an exceptional kindergarten, we'd absolutely love to hear from you. Just use the comments box below. Dont' worry, your email is totally private, it is not used for anything at all, it's only so I can reply to you if need be.   

businessman relaxing in a deckchair with a cocktail
20 July 2019

Tiffany is teaching English in China and she has this problem:I am teaching a one on one ESL two hour lesson for a 35-year-old Chinese man, and I am struggling to effectively improve his English. He has been studying English for 10 years and has lived in Australia for two, but he still struggles a lot with advancing his English. If you have any insight or advice I would be very grateful. Let's face it, most people who live for two years in a country where English is the native language, and who are motivated to learn, will be fluent by the end of their stay. I suspect that the problem lies with the student and not the English teacher. Some people put all the onus on the teacher who has to teach them, rather than them making the effort to learn.If you have a student like this, ask yourself these questions:We know your student is motivated, because he is taking private English lessons, but is he making any mental effort to learn?Is he doing homework?Is he learning vocabulary on his own?Is he memorising (UK spelling) grammatical structures on his own?Or does he just show up for class and think that he is going to improve because you are teaching him? He may think that it's your job to teach him, rather than his job to learn. He's done his bit by taking the lessons.Try these strategies to help your student make progress.Set homework each week. Give vocabulary lists to learn, by heart, from English to Chinese and from Chinese to English. If your student needs to learn how to write English then he should memorize the spelling too. At the start of each lesson give him a test on the vocab and keep a record of his scores, that way he can see his progress. If he hasn't learned the words...well...there you go! How does he expect to improve his English if he doesn't make the effort? I would also give him a grammar topic to study and master each week. And give him a test so he can measure his progress. Putting him on the spot like this in every lesson is reminding him each time that he is responsible for his own learning. You can facilitate it, but you can't learn for him. If your student says that he does not have any time to learn vocabulary outside of class time, tell him that his progress will be limited. Perhaps you can record the vocabulary and he can play the words while travelling to work. Everyone can always find ten minutes a day for something - it's a question of motivation, organisation and priorities. The good news is that once you have learned a language, you know it, the job is done! So it is worth making the effort initially required. Sure, you can get a bit rusty if you don't use the language for a while, but as soon as you start using it again, it all comes back very quickly. Give your student this method to learn vocabulary. This involves writing words and reviewing them daily. The physical act of writing vocabulary helps learning.https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/how-can-you-improve-your-english-and-become-bilingual Helpful Teaching ResourceIf you have my book of activities for teens and adults, take the step one and step two games to drill vocabulary and grammar. This content then goes on the list for homework. Split the lesson into drill activities for new words and grammar and fluency activities. Join in with your ideasYour comments are absolutely welcome in the box below. (Your email will not be published or used in any way, it's only if I need to write to you, and if you want to follow the post.)

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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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