Teaching english games
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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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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

children playing sports football surf and tennis
25 October 2018

Here are ideas to teach CAN + sports to a class of 30 primary school children. All the games are taken from ESL Games: 176 English Language Games for Children. With 30 children it is important to be strict during game-playing to keep good control of the class. 1. Play some listening games first to introduce the sports vocabulary. Jump the LineDraw a line down the middle of the board. Draw sports of your choice, relevant to your pupils either side of the line. For example, draw a tennis racket and a baseball bat on the left and a swimming pool and a football on the right. Stick on paper pictures if you prefer. Name a sport and tell the children to stick out either their left arm or their right arm to indicate which side of the line the picture is. Say the words slowly once each and have the children stick out either a left arm or a right arm. This is a check to make sure everyone has understood the game. Now start saying the words quite quickly but not so fast the children get lost. Gradually accelerate. The fun is all in the pace of the game and keeping pupils on their toes. If you say each word slowly, then wait till every child is sticking out the correct arm, it will be totally boring. Those pupils who make some errors will still be hearing the words over and over again anyway. Make sure you call out words on the same side as well as alternating sides so the children never know which arm it will be. Then add in two more words and play with 6 words. Repeat words you see children don't know so well more often. The whole game from start to finish should take five to six minutes and should be played in silence. If you would like a complete lesson plan for sports, with flashcards and worksheets you can get one with this story set:A Story for sports with full lesson plan and flashcards, plus worksheets - in this teaching kit for primary school children, with 5 stories for About Me. Show me Spread flashcards of the sports around the room. – If you have eight pictures ask 8 children to come up, take a picture and stick it on the classroom wall so you have pictures all around. Call out the sports pictures while pupils swivel around and point to the right picture – again the fun is all in the pace of the game. This is another silent game. 2. Speaking GamesNow you could try duck duck goose. Set up a four-beat rhythm with two of the sports words, such as tennis, tennis, golf. Golf is two beats, tennis is one beat. Have 5 potatoes or pieces of screwed up paper which are passed around the class as the children chant the rhythm. The potatoes should be evenly spread about the room. Tell the children the route they must pass the potatoes. For example, up and down the rows or from side to side. After thirty seconds of chanting, say stop on "golf". All the children holding a potato stand up and do a forfeit. This can be anything, such as naming a random vocabulary flashcard, doing a dance or doing 10 star jumps. You could put the children in two teams and whenever a child doing a forfeit correctly names the vocabulary, give a point to their team. Then set up the rhythm again but this time with two different sports words, such as football, football, swimming. Once the rhythm is going, tell the children to pass the potatoes and once again stop unpredictably and repeat the forfeits for whoever is holding the potatoes. Repeat this game until you have practised all the vocabulary. To keep good discipline you can deduct a point from the team if a team member is misbehaving.3. Teach the sentence "I play tennis". The children will have a good grasp of the sports vocabulary by now so you can start to use some sentences such as, "Can you play tennis?" Or, "I play tennis." Relay Race is a simple game to practise saying short sentences. I suggest you make teams. It's easier to use the existing configuration of your class. So, if you have five rows of six children then have five teams of six. Each team will pass the relay from front to back or vice versa. I suggest that you pass down sentences such as "I can play tennis, I can play football, I can play golf." Give each team a different picture flashcard to pass down. The first person holds their flashcard of a sport. When you say, "go" pupils pass the card to the person behind them saying, "I can play tennis." This person takes the card and passes it to the one behind them saying, "I can play tennis." Pupils keep going until the picture card reaches the end. At that point, the child at the end can bring the card up to the front – walking only (and watch out for bags and things in the aisles that can be tripped over). A little movement is good in class, but not too much with thirty children. See Relay Race from ESL Games: 176 English Language Games for Children for more ideas on how to play. 4. Teach the question "Can you play?"Colour Wolf – listening to the question form "Can you play tennis?" Give out 29 pictures of sports – if you are teaching 8 new words then you would have between 3 and 4 copies of the same picture. If you do not have any flashcards then ask the children to do one picture of a sport of their choice. Make sure the children do not all draw the football! Now each child has a picture, ask the whole class to stand up. You ask, "Can you play tennis?" All the children holding a picture of tennis must sit down. To prevent cheating have the children showing their pictures. Continue asking your questions as you go through all the sports until you read the last sport – all those left standing are winners. Have the children swap pictures and play again or move on to something else. Ideally, pick out one of the winners to come up and ask the questions for round two. 5. Writing games HangmanNow you could show your children how the words are written by playing hangman for a few minutes. Hopefully, you will get through all 8 new words in about 5-8 minutes. You do not want to play for longer than that. Tell the children that they must write down the correct spelling of each word during the game in their vocabulary notebooks – or wherever. BoggleNow the children will have seen the words written and will have copied them down. So you could play Boggle. Here is an example of a grid with sports including tennis, football, swimming, golf, hockey, bowls and sailing. Note that to make a word you can only use a letter once, so to make running you would need three Ns in the grid – and there are only two.  For fun, you could give out bonus points for any other words that the children come up with in addition to the 8 sporting words. There are masses of them! Without really looking I can see the words: now, run, gun, man, ran, rat, mat, wet, met, yellow, hello and these less obvious words, slim, tan, mug, cello, bin, ban, coal, mole, whole, goal, toll, bowl, age, etc. etc. This is just an extra to see what the children come up with. Obviously, they have limited vocabulary and will not find all the words, and the purpose is not to spend time writing out a list of words either, but just to give the quicker children an extra challenge. 6. Consolidate and Revise BrainstormI suggest that you use sports vocabulary and do a few rounds with some other themes as revision. Other ideas for games would be True or False Questions, and a word flashcard race, Abracadanagram A, B and C and Anagrams. (All in 176 English Language Games for Children ( PAPERBACK or DOWNLOAD) Resources1. A Story for sports with full lesson plan and flashcards, plus worksheets - in this teaching kit for primary school children, with 5 stories for About Me.2. Games book for the classroom to drill and practise vocabulary and grammar. Paperback. PDF Download.

24 October 2018

Here is a lesson plan that I prepared to teach preschool children their first English words. The topics are greetings, animals and the phrase I'm Hungry. KEY VOCABULARYNouns: Lion, fox, cat, bird, snake, spider, ant.Phrases: I’m hungry. How are you? I'm fine thanks. WHAT YOU NEED:A rope, three identical plastic cups, cut-outs of the animals (two copies of each animal), 2 wooden spoons, a biscuit lid, drinking straws, 2 pairs of rolled up socks, eyepads or a mask to blindfold the children THE LESSON PLAN with games from this book of ESL games for preschool 1. SHOW ME (listening game to introduce the animal vocabulary)Lay out lion, fox and cat. Name the cards and ask the pupil to touch the card you name. Jump from one to the other, slowly at first, accelerating as the children become proficient. Try and catch them out and make them touch the wrong card. Try this, lion, fox, lion, fox, lion, fox, cat. The chances are some children will touch the lion instead of the cat. It's more fun if there is some challenge.2. JUMP THE LINE (listening)Make a line with a rope or some tape and place pictures either side of that line, to the left and to the right. Now call out the items.  Pupils must jump to the right or to the left depending on the location of the picture in relation to the line 3. FIND ME (listening)Spread out the lion, the fox and the cat flashcards around the room whilst pupils keep their eyes closed. Ask pupils to open their eyes and show you an item. ‘Find me the lion’. Count out loud to five.  Pupils keep the flashcards that they find. Swap over. They have to hide the items and the teacher has to find them while, if they know how to count already, the students count to five. Count up the flashcards at the end but don't make it a competition. If one pupil has more than the other, there is no need to draw attention to it or have a winner. 4. VOCABULARY AIM AND THROW (listening and speaking)Give each player a pair of rolled up socks. Lay out some vocabulary pictures, well spread out on the floor. Mark a starting line. Pupils take it in turns to aim at the pictures.  5. SPEAKING PRACTISESpend a few minutes concentrating on saying the words. The teacher says the word, shows the picture, and the pupils copy. 6. MIMING GAMES (speaking game)Now mime an animal and encourage pupils to tell you which animal it is. Then one pupil mimes an animal while the others guess what it is.  7. LISTENCall out the animal names. When the teacher says "I’m hungry!" the children quickly need to find shelter somewhere before the teacher catches and “eats” them. The shelter could be touching a tree, a wall or going to a corner of the room. Never catch a child, get close, but let them get away!  Now let students have a turn to call out the words, but only if they are doing well and can manage this step. Otherwise, leave it for a future lesson. 8. DIVING FOR TREASURE (listening game)Lay out all the pictures. The child dives and fetches the treasure which the teacher names. Each time the child has to come back with the right picture. Tell them that a big ship has sunk and they are going to save the animals from drowning. Expand the distance to make it more fun. They have to fetch the pictures whilst holding their breath. They must dive down to the bottom of the sea and pick up the animal they find there. Before starting to dive they take a big breath in and hold their breath until they come up with the animal. All they are doing really is picking up a picture from the floor, except that you have turned it into an imaginary rescue operation. No animals drown, resuscitate if you need to! Use stuffed animal toys if you have them instead of flashcards. 9. GETTING WARMER/HIDE AND SEEK (speaking)Hide an object. Pupils search for it.  The teacher guides pupils saying "getting warmer" as pupils come closer to the hiding place. Or "Getting colder" when pupils move further away. Since pupils don't know this vocabulary, warmer and colder, use gestures to help them understand.All games are from ESL games for preschool10. FISHING (speaking)This is a lovely quiet game since children cannot make any noise while they are sucking a straw. Each pupil has a drinking straw. Place the straw on a picture and suck - you lift the paper up like this. Use small paper flashcards, that are light, and easy to suck.  Pupils may not be able to do this at first. Show them how to place the straw flat on the paper.  Don't despair they soon figure out how to do it. If a child fails consistently, leave it for now and try again another day. Pupils choose an animal picture they want to suck up with the straw. Designate a finish line about two meters away. Pupils transport their animal over the finish line using only the straw, they are not allowed to touch the paper. 11. BISCUIT TINStudents are blindfolded, on their hands and knees, holding a spoon. They advance around the room banging the spoon on the floor. The teacher has placed a biscuit tin lid somewhere on the floor. The pupils must move around and try to hit this tin lid with their spoon. As soon as they do, take off the blindfold, the pupil turns over the tin lid and names the flashcard underneath. He or she then gets a biscuit as a reward!12. THREE CUPS (speaking) You need three identical plastic cups and small pictures. Roll up the pictures into a tube so that they fit inside a cup. Turn the cups upside down and switch them quickly around. The object is to guess which picture is under each cup. You can hide three pictures at a time. Change the pictures.  14. STEPPING STONESLay out the pictures on the floor and tell to which animal they have to walk to. It can be slippery so be careful.  TELL A STORYTell a short story. The story that goes with this lesson plan is called I'm Hungry. It's available with my first series of stories for preschool children.This is a complete teaching kit:- 10 stories- all the flashcards you need- lesson plans with games, taking you step by step through all the vocabulary and phrases in the storyAnd these optional extras:- workbook (optional extra)- songs that match the vocabulary of the stories - masks of the story characters to cut out, decorate and wear- basic movie versions of the stories with audio by native speakers Get the complete teaching kit here, add on the preschool games book at a discount on the order page  

22 October 2018

If you have a language school or you are a private tutor this blog post may help you find more students. It's relevant for all ages and all types of new teaching business. I've started several teaching businesses and I was always successful at finding new students. So many people want to learn English today, I'm sure you can be successful too, even if you have no money to start out with. Choose your business nameI suggest A1 English + your town.- Why A1? Because if you advertise in the local phone book or yellow pages, listings are in alphabetical order. A1 will be a the top.- Why your town? People in Barcelona want a teacher in Barcelona. People in Shanghai want a teacher in Shanghai. To be found online you need to be as precise as possible. I just searched for "English lessons" and found over 700 million results. Searching for "English in Barcelona" there were 27 million. And "English in Poblenou Barcelona, 100,000.  Make your business card or flyerStart by making a business card: A1 English Barcelona. Native speaker. Fun lessons. All Ages and Levels. FREE trial lesson, just call ......... or visit www.A1-English-Barcelona.com Give students a great reason to come to you- Offer a free trial lesson and put that on your business card - that way you get people in the door!- Have a nice space for lessons. It's fine if it's at your home. Make sure it's super clean of course!- Be local. If you are near your students, it's easy for them to get to you.- As soon as you can, offer small groups, that can be cheaper per pupil, but more money for you in total.- Propose an English outing that is free for all your pupils, anyone welcome, where you go and see a movie in English, or go to a restaurant together - like an Irish pub, and everyone has to speak English all evening. Students buy their own tickets or meals. Free local advertising- Using your business cards, advertise in all the local shops where you are allowed to display a free ad. There might be noticeboards at the local supermarket, or shelves for business cards in shops, libraries and learning centers, waiting rooms, anywhere people are allowed to post an ad or leave a card, leave yours.- Start with everything surrounding your house or the location you plan to use for lessons and work out from there. Leave cards in the halls of buildings around you. The more it's local, the easier it is for people to come to you. Would you rather have a teacher next door or the other side if town?- If you have a car, get stickers on it with your business name and phone number. Leave this step till later if you are on a tight budget. Target learning centers- Go to the local schools and ask to meet the head of department, offer your services for any pupils struggling, leave your contact details and business card.- Hand out your business cards outside schools when parents collect their kids. Introduce yourself, say that you help with homework and in particular with English, and offer your card.- Put notices in the university library and language department. Go back and re-post them every week - some people might take your notices down...at the beginning, you need to be on it!- Go into business buildings, leave your cards at reception, or on a noticeboard, or post them in the letter-boxes. Offer a free lesson to the boss, or the human resources manager. Do not shoot yourself in the foot- Do not register with a company that offers tuition - you won't be able to teach on the side during, or even after your contract, because they have non-competition clauses in their contracts. Those companies charge a fortune to customers, but you only get paid peanuts. It's best to find your own clients and go direct. You can undercut all those online companies easily and still earn more.- Don't be too cheap. Giving lessons for peanuts undermines the value of your lesson. Price yourself at market value, or slightly more. If you want to help people who struggle financially, put them on a waiting list until you have a small group. Each participant can then pay peanuts, but you still end up with a proper salary.- Even if you don't have many customers, don't take people who are the opposite side of town so it takes you half an hour to get to their house and half an hour to get back. That lesson will take you two hours, plus ten minutes to prepare, and you are only being paid for one.- Do not buy dozens of teaching resources. Why am I saying that? After all, I sell teaching resources for a living! Teachers often throw money at resources and don't use half of them. You only need a few GOOD resources to get started. For your trial lesson don't use a book. Use games and have your student participating the whole time - not sitting there reading out a paragraph in a book. They can do that at home without a teacher. Your shop front is your business card and a simple websiteYou only need a simple, one-page website to get started. Students need to know who you are, where you are, how much you charge and how to get their free trial lesson. Use Facebook, or a popular trusted social media site for your country. On this page tell customers:- how to contact you- how to get their free trial lesson- a location map showing where the lessons take place- the full address of your teaching location, to help searches online be specific- a nice picture of yourself, smiling, looking straight at the camera, where people can see your open, friendly face clearlyYou don't need a super-duper website to get started. A free one will do. It's just a contact page to get people to contact you for their free lesson. This is your shop front, it's who you are and what you offer. You'll be able to put testimonials on there from existing students in time. Yellow Pages and Google MapsGet your teaching business listed in the yellow pages and on Google maps and your local equivalents. You may have to pay for this, but it's worth it. If you have no money at all, skip this step and come back to it once you have the budget. The secret to your success is thisIf your lessons are effective and fun you will keep your students long term. In addition, they will recommend you to others. That's the key to success. Eventually you won't have to run around putting flyers out. You'll have your base of customers and a network of people who recommend you. Be sure to use my resources that will save you time preparing for lessons, and make sure your lessons are fun! Kind regardsShelley Ann Vernonwww.teachingenglishgames.com

stuffed animal toys
15 October 2018

Kids are usually fascinated by animals. Maybe it's because they look so cute...but it's no coincidence that lots of kids toys are stuffed animals.So many course books for young beginners learning English start with "Talking about myself" and the alphabet. "What's your name" is a mouthful for a 6-year-old beginner. The alphabet is abstract and unexciting. But you might find you get your pupils' attention with a safari park of stuffed toys! Through teaching animal vocabulary children can learn their first syllables in English. Develop with:What are their names?How old are they?What colour are they?How many are there?Are they big or small?What do they like to eat?Where do they live?With preschool childrenPlay listening games to introduce animal vocabulary. (See preschool games book for ideas, for sale here). Play miming games using sounds and actions. Play guessing games. Pay musical games where kids mime the animal you name when you stop the music. Hide animals about the classroom. Children search and touch the one you name. Sort animals into groups of colours, sizes, those that eat grass, those that eat other animals, those that live in the cold, those that live in the heat...those that are pets, those that are dangerous. Have an animal tea party. Or make a library scene.For older childrenTeach adjectives with animals and play Find the Pairs Memory Games in small groups with animals and adjectives. (It's a big brown bear. It's a long thin snake.) Do an animal quiz. Team one have 30 seconds to describe an animal to team two, (or mime it for beginners). Team two try to name the animal. If team two is successful, both teams get a point. There's a cute animal skit in my book of plays and skits for children. And see this blog for more ideas on animals and making a giant safari parkhttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/have-you-ever-spent-hours-looking-something-specific-use-lesson

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

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