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

african kids at a school in uniform
31 July 2018

Are you going abroad to teach English? How exciting! The chance to discover a new culture and enrich your life with new experiences and challenges. You may be heading for a place where the classrooms have no doors, the windows have no glass panes and there is no heating or cooling. In winter it's freezing and in summer it's boiling hot. Students all possess a tatty book. There is a blackboard with some chalk. And that's it. You walk past the classrooms where students sit with no teacher, she didn't come in that day, and there is no replacement. When you arrive, the school invite you to observe their experienced teachers, since they are concerned that you don't know what you are doing - especially if you are a student or a volunteer. The teacher hurls a sentence at the students, who respond by loudly repeating what the teacher has just said. The teacher says it again, louder. The class yells back, louder. And so it goes on, building in volume and intensity. Well, that's one way of teaching English, after all, repetition IS the mother of skill! But you can do so much better, with a games book, some paper, pens and the chalk. Firstly, a quick but important point, when you arrive research customs and body language to avoid committing some major social blunders. It might be taboo to touch the top of a child's head. Thumbs up might be rude, who knows? Find out! Secondly, you might find the school discipline oppressive - don't knock it - it's a joy to teach an attentive class who have been taught to respect the teacher. Don't be too cool. Dress at the same level of smartness as the other teachers. If pupils stand up and greet you when you come in, continue that tradition. Insist on respect, even if you find it old-fashioned. You'll be able to teach instead of wasting time managing rowdy kids. There's no printer? No probs! That'll save wasting paper with hundreds of worksheets. Have the students draw flashcards for you. You'll need those for these flashcard games. Use the board for a master worksheet, students copy it into their own books. Use games like Fill in Drill - no resources required! You'll be a better teacher using language games than you would with a mountain of worksheets and a boring textbook. You just need good ideas. For example, when I was in Nepal I used forfeits like these in games:- Name a Hindu God starting with M.- Show us a typical Nepalese dance.- Name the biggest mountain in Nepal in English (Everest).- How high is your biggest mountain?- Clap this rhythm three times...-Name this in English...(point to a chair, an object in the classroom or picture). Using movement, rhythm, general knowledge, interesting facts, dance, music, mime, drawing, competitive games, non-competitive games, teamwork, groups, pair work...and more...you'll be doing a LOT better than the local screaming match between the students and the teacher - and I'm not kidding because I've witnessed it! If you want ready-made lessons, use these stories for primary school aged children, but you'll need to show the story pictures on your computer. Consider buying a solar panel to recharge because the electricity supply may be unreliable. Don't laugh! These days you can get ones that roll up and are super light. Don't panic, you really can teach with one games book full of ideas, a blackboard and some hand-drawn picture flashcards. If you've already got this book and you are stuck, email me for the free lesson plans and I'll help you get started. The more you teach like that, the better you get at it. Teaching songs and stories is a bonus, also plays and skits. In Nepal, the teachers were in awe of me after the first lesson when I used my Ready Steady Go skit. (You can get that skit free on this blog page.) Go for it, and enjoy being such an important part of the school. Train the other teachers while you are there!

28 July 2018

*Hello ESL English teachers, Happy summer holidays for many of you! Here's a skit from my new book of ESL skits for teens. This skit drills first and second conditionals. Use it with any group size from one to fifteen teens. If you have a student one on one, just alternate lines. Teens walking together, one kicks a tin, another turns in circles a couple of times. All obviously bored. Group 1 Teen: What do you want to do today?Teen: I don’t know, what do you want to do?Teen: If it was hot we could go swimming.Teen: But it’s not.Teen: This place is so boring!Teen: I’m so bored.Kicks the tin again. They go to a corner of the stage and hang out chatting, hands in pockets, looking bored. As they head across the stage a second group comes on talking… Group 2 Teen: So, what do you want to do?Teen: I don’t know, what do you want to do?Teen: If we had our bikes we could go cycling.Teen: But we don’t.Teen: There’s nothing to do!Teen: I’m so bored.Group 3 come on while group 2 go over to the side of the stage, where they mooch, hands in pockets, slumping against the wall. Group 3 Teen: So, what do you want to do?Teen: I don’t know, what do you want to do?Teen: If we had a ball we could play soccer.Teen: But we don’t.Teen: It’s so boring!Teen: I’m so bored.Starts walking around in circles. Groups 1 comes center stage: Group 1 Teen: So, what do you want to do?Teen: I don’t know, what do you want to do?Teen: If we had a ride we could go to the comic shop.Teen: But we don’t.Teens: It’s so boring. There’s nothing to do.Groups 2 and 3 join the rest in the center, saying: Group 2 Teen: I’m so bored.Teen: If I hadn’t lost my key we could watch TV at home.Teens: But you have. Group 3 Teen: So, what do you want to do?Teen: I don’t know, what do you want to do?An adult, who knows the kids, comes on and walks past the kids while they are talking.Teen: If we had money we could go to the movies.Teen: But we don’t.The adult walking past stops to talk to them.Adult: Hi ________. (name of teen) Hi ________. Hi kids.Teens: Hello Mr. / Mrs. _______. (name of the adult)Adult: If you want some money, you could earn it. Groups 1,2 and 3 Teens: How?Adult: If you babysit my kids I’ll give you some money.Teen: I’ll babysit for you!S/he goes off with the adult.Teen: If I wash my dad’s car, he’ll pay me.S/he runs off.Teen: If I weed my uncle’s garden, he’ll pay me.S/he runs offTeen: If I help my mom iron, she’ll pay me.Teen: If I paint my neighbour’s fence, he’ll pay me.Each teen says a line with a job, as above. The teen then runs to a corner of the stage and mimes doing the job. All teens are now scattered over the stage, each miming their task. After a moment they all meet again in the center of the stage. They show each other the money they have earned. Teen: Wow. Now we all have money.Teen: We could go to the movies!Teen: We could buy some comics!Teen: We could go to the pool!Teen: We could buy a football!Teen: I could repair my bike!Teen: We could get some pizzas.Teen: We could make a picnic and take it to the river.Teen: We could take our tents.Teen: And make a campfire!Teen: There’s so much to do!Teen: And so little time to do it!They high-five each other, join hands and take a bow. My book of skits for teens to teach English grammar is coming out soon. Are you interested? Let me know! Either comment in the box below (your email is confidential) or email me directly (info AT teachingenglishgames.com) All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon

row of toy cars
20 July 2018

Do you know a direct, simple and fun way to understand the possessive pronouns MINE and YOURS?The teacher asking me this question wants the kids to understand the basics thoroughly. Otherwise, they will still be making the same mistakes when they are thirty-eight! His class size varies from 6 to 18 kids and there is always a Chinese teaching assistant present. The specifics of the lesson are "Talk about my toys." The main phrases are "Which toy is yours?" with the reply, "This toy is/are mine." Coincidentally I have a skit for exactly that topic in my book of ESL plays and skits for children. But before doing the skit the kids have to master possessive pronouns. Will the kids be able to bring in a toy? (Take care with personal possessions. It is distressing if a favourite toy gets damaged or lost at school). In an ideal world, kids bring in one small toy. Have some spares for those who forget. Collect all the toys and put them out of sight in a box. Present the concept of possessive pronouns with clothes that you are wearing. Point to all sorts of things that you own, saying, "This is mine." (Your trousers, your pen, your bag...) Don't point to things the school own because that could be confusing. Demonstrate with the Chinese assistant. The assistant takes a doll and says, "This doll is mine".  You take a car and say "This car is mine". Now have a mock argument, with the assistant trying to take your car, saying it's hers, but you say, "No, it's mine". Keep passing the doll and the car about, arguing and repeating "This doll is yours. This car is mine." The assistant keeps taking your car. You keep taking it back. Then you take her doll, etc. You refuse to give it back and stomp off into a corner! Eventually, you two both get back your items and each of you says, "This is mine". Now reach for a pen, but the assistant says, "Wait! That pen is mine" and off you go again, but with different items. Now you've demonstrated the idea. Have the kids repeat together several times, "It's mine." Draw a toy out of the bag and ask "Whose toy is this? Ask a child specifically, "Is this your toy?" Ask around until you find the child it belongs to. Elicit "Yes, it's mine." Only then, give it to the child. Do this for all the toys in the bag. If you have 18 kids go as fast as you can or they will get bored. The assistant can ask and give toys too at the same time as you. Now everyone has their toy. Take a toy from a child and say, "This toy is mine." If you get no reaction, ask "Is this toy mine?" Someone should hopefully say "No". If no child reacts, the assistant can, and take it from you, saying No! It's hers/his". Elicit "No! It's mine." Try to get an argument going with the kids and the assistant, taking each other's toys. Then you can do a memory game where kids remember which toy belongs to who. Kids are in a circle with 6 toys in the middle. First, ask all students to touch a toy, for example, "Touch Su's toy, touch Li's toy". Drill those 6 toys. Then kids close their eyes and you take one away. Ask "Whose toy has gone?" Answer, "Mine". Next, each student chooses one toy and gives it to the person it belongs to saying, "This toy is yours". The teacher can kick this off choosing a toy and giving it to the assistant, saying, "This toy is yours". The assistant says, "No! This toy is yours" as she gives it to the correct child. In the next lesson repeat the whole thing but with photos. If kids each bring in a photo of a pet or, if they don't have a pet, a sister or family member. Then play the memory game with those. Let me know how it goes in the comments box. Ask me any questions, I'm here to help! All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English Games P.S. If you teach small groups then you'll like my plays and skits for children, containing the skit for mine and yours.

cartoon of five toddlers of multi ethnic origin
10 July 2018

A super-experienced English teacher wrote in with his problems teaching toddlers English. Problems teaching toddlers in China First of all I just want to thank you for all the teaching content over the years. I am a great fan. I have a problem and I really hope you can help. Two of my classes here are baby classes, having students from age 2 to 3. These children can barely speak in their native language, and even though I am starting to win their confidence, some still look very scared when they come to class and see this 55 year old grandpa foreign teacher. To make matters worse, the parents sit behind their children, and scrutinize everything I do! I have tried my kindergarten props such as animal puppets, plastic fruits, kindergarten phonics and English songs and as we have no set syllabus for this age level, I need to come up with fresh ideas every day. It is not really working, and I can see the look on their parents faces, they look bored, and dissatisfied, and the children don’t really learn anything. I am the kind of person that likes to do everything well, and if my class is not good, it affects my mood the whole day. So much so that I now dread these baby classes and considering to give up teaching. I have been looking at English for Toddlers on your site and consider buying it. But I am not sure it will help, as I said these children are not native speakers where you can tell a story and they can at least sit down and listen and understand. Do you have any suggestions or ideas that can help me out of this dilemma? Why are toddlers so difficult to teach? You are a teacher and you want to teach. But with toddlers you can't teach. You have to play. You want to perform and deliver results. But it doesn't work like that with toddlers. You can't pull on a flower to make it grow faster. Don't put yourself under so much pressure. The parents might be pushy and ambitious for their toddlers, but don't let that become your problem. If you put yourself under pressure the atmosphere will be tense. The kids will feel that. They won't understand why, but you'll make them feel nervous! The teacher should be relaxed and enjoy spending time with toddlers. If the teacher isn't having fun, the kids won't be either! Here are some ideas to try out with this toddler English class! It's quite normal for a stranger to seem scary to a toddler. Get down on the floor with the toddlers, smile, and don't try to touch them or get to close at first. Let them come to you when they are ready.Bring in something you really like, maybe you like kicking a ball around. If you do, be gentle. Remember toddlers are fragile. Get down on the floor and roll the ball. Make a goal for the world cup, play with the parents and see who can score a goal, chances are the kids will want to touch the ball. When they do you point and say "ball".The advantage of getting the parents involved is that they won't be able to sit there scrutinizing your every move. If they are playing then it MUST be something worth doing.The teacher chats away, using repetitive English, the same words over and over, and over, short phrases, the same ones, simple commands, touch, touch, touch, what is it? It's a ball! Over and over. The toddlers won't get bored of hearing the same words over and over. Get the parents saying ball too, that way they can continue English play with their kids at home. If this blog post gives you any hope then get the toddlers report for the full low-down on teaching toddlers English. Let me know how it goes in the comments box below, I'd love to hear from you. All the bestShelley 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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