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.

Receive free games and stories here!

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Books of ESL games
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Plays
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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

four cool teenagers
20 June 2019

Teenagers can sometimes be rather hard work, and not just at home! It's not easy being a teacher in front of a group of slouching, disinterested, de-motivated teens, who would rather be twiddling with their apps than learning English, which they see no point in doing anyway! But as a teen teacher, you have to find a way. Using short skits is definitely worth a try. If you have not thought about using skits in your teenage TESOL classroom, please read this blog. If it inspires you, there is a link to a free short skit for teens at the end. Why do skits work so well with teens?Plenty of others vouch for using drama to learn vocabulary, increase confidence, motivate students and, a key attribute, shift the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the student. (*Alan Maley and Alan Duff 1982.) Using short skits with teens really works because students start using language in context, in situations, with humour. The dry textbook grammar comes to life in the skit. There is nothing better to improve speaking skills. Students interact and bond, the vocabulary and phrases become real, interactive and visual. Students remember their lines for a long time, instead of witnessing English during class time, like a train that passes in the night. Student-centered classroomImportantly, the teacher becomes more of a facilitator than a drill-master. (That said, some drilling (via games) is excellent and truly productive, but one mustn't spend the whole of class time like that.) Give out skits to small groups and have students work on them independently of the teacher. In this way, you support their learning rather than spoon-feed them. Spoon-feeding doesn't work anyway. Students have to make a mental effort to learn, on their own. Just using and rehearsing the skits in small groups will help students become more confident in their abilities to learn and become autonomous. Since teens are always being told what to do by everyone, they will relish this opportunity to show you what they can do on their own. Now you can pat yourself on the back for having achieved a student-centered classroom, all the rage, and rightly so.Teen-centered skitsThat said, your skits will be a flop if they are not teen-centered. My own teen skits book covers topics such as careers, music, parties, tattoos, dating and social media, jealousy, studying, learning things, drugs and drink, (which are given the thumbs down by other teens in the skit), travel, TV series and others.Multi-level classes and mixed abilitiesMore advanced students have the opportunity to take leading roles and guide others. Shyer or weaker students participate in the group skit, with fewer lines. Just through participating these shy students will gain confidence over time. In general, students will learn from and support each other. Be more than an English language teacher, develop imaginations!Moving on to other aspects, what we need in the world are more teachers who teach students to think and develop their imaginations. The more you try to think of ideas, the more ideas you have. I suppose it is the brain creating new or bigger neural pathways, or "practise makes perfect". (UK spelling for practise by the way.) Using drama to teach English will help your students be more creative, develop their imaginations and think for themselves. You'll help them develop as people too, learning to cooperate in the group, make decisions, distribute roles, compromise, work out props or movements, communicate and bond as a group. Prepare teenagers for lifeTeachers are also supposed to prepare students for life, for the job market. Using skits and drama in your classroom will help your students with that far more than reading paragraphs out of a textbook. Through rehearsing skits and putting them together, students will improve in many areas, all of which make them more confident for job interviews. For example, increased confidence, greater ability at public speaking, increased self-esteem, team-work skills and the capacity to organize themselves and work independently of the teacher. Learning to become responsible for your own English language acquisition is the same as accepting that you are responsible for your own life. You make your choices, and you reap the consequences. The sooner teens learn that, the better for them. It helps them make better choices. "Wine women and song" (Whitesnake), yes, but not every day of the week! Or, "I'll pay more attention in class and make more effort with my homework." One step further - improvisation for higher levelsThere is, of course, the whole area of improvisation and thinking on your feet. That is to be encouraged in classes of teens where there is sufficient language ability. It's not such a good idea where students are struggling with the basics, though tell students that they are free to add or modify the script as they choose if they like. Improvisation can also be pretty terrifying, so take it step-by-step. There's a heck of a lot you can do just by working on a given script. Resources If you have got through this dearth of benefits to using skits to teach your teens, you'll be more than ready for these links. One to a free skit, and others to my books of skits. Both my skit books have intros with guidance on teaching the topics and vocab in the skits.  There are discussion ideas for each of the teen skits. In both books, every skit (bar one) may be used for one to one teaching as well as in groups. You've also got me to help you with anything, just ask in the comments box below. Your email is kept private, it's just so I can respond to you. Free skit for teensBook of skits for teensSpolin, Viola (1986). Theatre Games For the Classroom. Northwestern University Press, Evanston, IllinoisBook of Skits for Children Ref: * Maley, Alan, and Alan Duff. Drama techniques in Language Learning. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1982

kindergarten kids jumping to illustrate I can jump
18 June 2019

Thanks to Silvy Jocic for this idea that she used to teach can and can't to her kindergarten pupils. Since Silvy has a group of fast learners, she told them to make up a rhyme about what they can and can't do. Her pupils came up with something like this: I can jump and I can ski,I can climb a tree,But I can't swim and I can't drive.How about you? I like Silvy's idea because it allows kids to personalize their rhyme, but many kindergarten kids learning English are not advanced enough to make up their own rhyme, so here's one that would suit beginners:I can jump and I can clap,I can do a poo,But I can't drive and I can't fly,How about you? Kids mime as they say the rhyme. Sorry, they will fall about laughing with the doing a poo part. If you don't think that topic is appropriate in your kindergarten classroom, and I totally understand you, try this one: I can jump and I can clap,I can eat and drink,But I can't drive and I can't fly.What do you think? Or:I can jump and I can clap,I can sing too,But I can't drive and I can't fly.How about you? Or:I can hear and I can see,I can touch my nose,But I can't see you in the dark,Or when my eyes I close. Or, using you can instead of I can:You can hear and you can see,You can touch your toes,But you can't see me in the dark,And you can't touch my nose!(Kids try to touch their partner's nose) Expect your kindergarten kids to learn the rhyme over time, so include it in every lesson. Have kids doing the mimes initially, while you say the rhyme. Gradually coax them to join in. For more ideas on teaching can and can't, here is a lesson plan for primary school kids. Take ideas from here for your kindergarten kids too: https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/lesson-plan-can-and-sports-for-primary-school-classroom To get a ton of ideas for teaching kindergarten kids all in one handy book, check it out in paperback or instant PDF download. 

7 June 2019

An English teacher in France wrote to me with news of how she used my plays and skits book with her class of middle school kids (aged 11). She just chucked them at the kids and said "Get on with it". And yet, it worked amazingly. This works with larger groups and classes too. Here's the teacher's lesson plan... Hello! Thank you so much for your skits! They're just fantastic! I teach in middle school and due to a change in timetable for various activities, I had to find something to do for 3 hours with a class of first years I did not know at all. I selected 4 of the skits, and on Monday morning I met up with the class for 2 hours. My idea was to make them work cooperatively. So I split the class into teams of 5-6 and gave them 3 scripts per team. I asked them to read the texts, think of a title for each one and identify the type of text they were confronted with (i.e. short dialogues and plays or roleplays). I allowed 10 minutes for that. Then the whole class shared their ideas in French and quite logically they understood that I was expecting them to act the skits. We used five skits from your book and these were some of their titles: An impatient bus driver - A terrible restaurant - The bad magician - A greedy doctor. I gave them a sheet of paper so that they could think of a possible setting and accessories they could bring to the next class. I also asked them to imagine stage directions and facial expressions. French pupils have got a rather low level at English when they enter middle school - which is a shame I think because I'm sure if they were taught (in a fun way of course!) more foreign languages as kids, they would be more at ease with it. So, they did not understand the stage directions in your skits. But turning problems into opportunities is a great way to work, so they imagined their own. Then they decided on the roles and since we had 30 minutes left on that day, they started acting their skit. We met again on Tuesday. They came in with lots of accessories and props. In the meantime, I had mailed some colleagues to tell them they would be a quick performance. Since there is no appropriate room, assembly room, or stage, we ended up in the playground. With the twittering of the birds, strong wind and even a lawn mower, we put on our little show. The colleagues who came to watch, said it was just amazing to see the pleasure and enthusiasm the kids displayed while acting in English having had such a short time lapse to rehearse. I cannot thank you enough. I feel like having a little treasure in my teacher's bag. I love this approach for several reasons.It puts the responsibility on the kids for their own learning.It gives kids a great opportunity to use their imaginations and be creative.It bonds pupils beautifully as they work collectively in groupsIt gives scope for more advanced students to be challenged with bigger roles while letting more timid or lower levels participate fully in the activity.It allows kids to show off what they have learned through performance, and receive recognition for their efforts...and probably lots more if I keep thinking about it, but that's enough for today!I can't encourage you enough to try this method with your pupils. If you are teaching kids between 6 and 12, then try my plays and skits, or others you may find, and give your pupils the chance to learn English creatively and work on their confidence and fluency with speaking skills. All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English GamesPS I have also written a book of skits for teens. Both my books of skits are available from me in instant PDF format, and I think this is the best format for this resource, since it's easy for you to print off what you need. BUT, if you prefer, both books are also in paperback on Amazon, (on lots of Amazon sites) and in Kindle.

english students doing an interview in class
30 May 2019

As an English teacher one can be hard pushed to find activities that involve all learners in a multi-level classroom situation. One doesn't want the beginners to be overwhelmed, and at the same time, it's unforgivable to penalize advanced learners because there are others attending the class who do not have the same level of English. It's so unfair, they are giving up their precious time to attend the class, and they deserve to learn as much as anyone else. Buddy Grammar WorkStart by giving the beginners a written task to do in class. Take this time to teach the advanced students something relevant to them, excluding the beginners. This is their dedicated teacher time. Next, each beginner with an advanced student, who corrects their work and goes through any mistakes with the beginner. That helps both of them. Circulate and if you spot an error, tell the advanced student to find it. It's up to them to search, think and find the error for themselves, don't spoon-feed them. Creative Interviews for speaking fluencyYou could also have a beginner and advanced student work together to prepare an interview. The beginner asks the questions, the advanced students answers them. Questions can be closed and open ended. The open-ended questions will require the advanced student to expand on his or her ideas. The advanced student can help the beginner with the questions. It's fine if the beginner reads off the questions, but the advanced student should answer without written notes. The students should pick the topic themselves, something they find interesting. Each pair will prepare a different interview. Once they have had time to rehearse, ten minutes over a series of four lessons, so they can become fluent (and you do something else in the rest of the lesson), the pairs can perform their interviews to the class.You can ask the class to think of criteria for the interview.- the class has to learn three new things that are useful- the questions have to be grammatically correct - the advanced student is responsible for coaching the beginner.- there should be at 5-10 questions- one of these three words has to be included: yoghurt, encyclopedia, stapler. (This part adds a touch of fun.) More ideas to involve all class members:1. Have one of the students video the interviews and give students a copy of theirs. It's good to give this task to a shy student or a beginner - it's a way of getting them involved in the group.2. In small mixed ability groups, have the advanced listeners explain anything in the interview that the beginners did not understand. If the beginners did not understand anything, the advanced learner should paraphrase the content of the interview.3. Have students vote on the most interesting interview, the most fluent, the funniest, and the most surprising. This is a way to have everyone listen and pay attention since asking for feedback makes learners more involved than if they were just there to listen.4. Put students in groups and ask each group to think of one interesting question to ask the interviewee. This gets students thinking and being creative. It also gives the advanced student being interviewed an additional challenge. If any beginners complain that the class is too hard for them, give them these tips to study English on their own so they can advance as quickly as possible in their language learning. See my activities book for teens and adults for an abundance of ideas to help make your teaching easier and more fun.See also my skits and roleplays for teens - good for mixed abilities.

If you prefer paperbacks and Kindle books by Shelley Ann Vernon, you will find them here:

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

Books by Shelley Ann Vernon: