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.

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

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

bored, tired language students learning passively
9 July 2018

Have you tried being a language student lately? Share the stage!Many teachers give teacher-centered lessons or lectures. The teacher is animated, talking, explaining, and writing on the board. In the meantime, the students are sitting, listening passively. Sitting for long periods is tiring. And by the time students come to your English lesson, they might have been sitting for five hours already in other classes.Concentrating for long periods is also tiring. The students are soon bored, or at best, soporific. The teacher is having a whale of a time running the show at the front, while the class wilt like flowers in a barren desert under the baking sun. No wonder most pupils in France, after attending English lessons several times a week for six years, can only say, "My name is ...". Get students movingTeachers need to have students moving, working in groups or pairs or doing something hands on. Passive listening is the worst way to learn a foreign language. Gazing passively at a textbook while somebody reads out a paragraph is not an effective use of classroom time. It's certainly easy for the teacher, but not for the students. Do your students know what you are talking about?The other important thing for a teacher wanting to focus on the students, rather than the sound of his or her voice, or the textbook, is to ask questions all the time. Asking, "Do you understand?" or "Is that clear?"' is not the right question. Ask a question that requires students prove they understand. For example, "What question are you asking each other in this pairwork task?" "What are some potential answers to this question?" Or let's say there is a crossword to fill in. The columns and lines are numbered. Point to a number in a column and ask, "What is this number 5 for?" Students tell you, or a student points to the related clue. Inversely, point to a clue and ask, "Where do you fill in the answer to this clue?" Don't put your students downI've seen a lot of sarcastic teachers in France. Teachers who put their students down or humiliate them. Sarcasm is a cheap trick just because you are older or in a position of superiority. Even though it might be tempting, try always to set an example and be a mentor to your students, with courteous behaviour, however much they drive you mad. Use my resources and be a successful English teacherFor activities that involve your students, that make them think, that keep them moving, check out my TEFL / TESOL games and resources for all ages here. I'm here to help if you have any questions. just ask in the comments box below and I'll answer you. If you tell me about your students, their age, level and how many you have in your classes, I'll help you choose the best resources and send you some free samples;Kind regardsShelley Ann Vernon

bored student with books, falling asleep
3 July 2018

EFL Teachers often ask me how they can "fill up" a whole day of English. The idea of teaching students in a stimulating way for hours on end is daunting! Let's hear from this EFL teacher:"Your games book is wonderful but my assignment is unique: I am teaching an intense ESL program to two sisters from Italy. Help! I have a certificate in ESL but have not had this scenario. One girl is 12 and the other 14. We are doing 4 hrs. a day, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks. This will require a lot of material to fill that many hours. Your book offers me a lot of games and activities, but any other suggestions would be appreciated.  A full day of English?4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks...That's 40 hours of English lessons. Luckily I have just the thing! And not just to "fill" the hours, but to have the kids speak English and enjoy the learning process. But let's make these 40 hours seem less daunting.Break the day down into separate lessonsTake the first 4-hour slot and break it down into 4 separate lessons of 50 minutes, with a 10-minute break. That seems immediately much more manageable. Each session of 50 minutes should be completely different.  Don't waste time preparing lessons for students you don't know Don't plan the full course of English lessons since you do not know how the students will progress. This is particularly true if you do not know the students. Prepare the first lesson and see what the students' level is and how fast they go through your material. That will allow you to tailor the second lesson more accurately. After that you will have an overall plan for the two weeks, but tweak the content for each day as you go along. Take breaksTake 10-minute breaks every 50 minutes. When you break, have a real break! No English! Leave students alone and take a break too. Ten minutes on your own will be heaven, to have a drink and collect your thoughts for the next session.The first sessionIn the first hour I use intensive language games, presenting and drilling new language that you will use later in a skit. This requires full concentration and is intense for the students. Make sure students are on the move, not sitting passively. My language games books are perfect for varied, fun ideas. After 50 minutes, take a break! The second sessionContinue with a song.Print the lyrics and have students chop them up into sentences.  Each small group works on either a verse, or the whole song.Students listen to the song repeatedly and piece them together.Then do treasure hunting for grammar in the text. Discuss the meaning and put some actions to the song - your students decide what these should be.Put together a choreography. This might include some dance steps if your pupils enjoy that, and combine with meaningful actions, or role-playing any action in the song.Country music is useful or rap, since these songs often have rich texts that tell stories.If your students are beginners take slower songs, such as the House of the Rising Sun.Have students on percussion using saucepans as drums, bottles and shakers (containers with sand or stones). Everything happens in English, even with beginners, using demonstration, gestures and repeating key commands and words frequently.If anyone has musical talent consider writing a song together.Take a break. Students should have a drink and perhaps a piece of fruit or a healthy snack. Again, no laborious English during the break, it's a proper rest. Give them a break from you too! (And you from them.)The third sessionStart work on a skit. In the first session you will have started the groundwork. Now it's time to put this target language into a context.Present the whole skit to your students. Perhaps have them read it with you.Ask questions or translate anything they don't understand.Next, take a mini-dialogue from the skit and rehearse it five or six times. Never use the script for this. That's a recipe for disaster. Take just four lines and drill them from memory. Bear in mind you will have been drilling this language for 50 minutes in the first session. How far you go in the skit depends totally on the level of your students, so you will have to tailor the ideas here to your particular requirements.Once you have drilled 2-4 lines several times, ask students for ideas for actions or staging for that part of the skit. Take 2-4 different lines and drill those. Play listening games with the script. For example, have students cut up the script and place pieces around the room. Play Musical vocabulary with those chunks of text. Pin chunks of text onto a sheet, (using safety pins), or better still, write them onto an old sheet you don't need. Your students help you. Then play Twister with your sheet!All the while you are drilling the language, yet students are moving, active, relaxed. in this alert state they are so much more likely to learn than sitting looking at a book or copying lines. There simply is no comparison.The fourth sessionIn the final session I would do some calm writing activities, some word searches, quiz questions, crafts or playful worksheets. Create a giant quiz that you add to gradually over the lessons. Putting on a quiz as part of the show at the end of the course is a good way to show off everyone’s English. Alternate with a board game or big game activity that takes up an entire lesson. Making props for the skit or a programme to invite parents at the end of the course would be appropriate.On the other hand, it's good to change topics completely. If every session is about the same skit or topic, things can get stale. Oh yes, and of course the last session would be the time to tell a story. I could go on and on, but this blog post is now long enough!Further sessionsTowards the end of the day stick to relaxing activities such as cooking together, making something, playing language games outside such as Blindfold Directions, Stuck in the Mud...it all depends on the age and level of your pupils, but chose something they enjoy.Resources Plays and Skits for Children. One to one and small groups. See some plays in action here. See the language overview here. Plays and skits for teens and adults. I'm writing them now! Drop me a line if you are interested and I'll contact you when they are finished to send you a sample. The level is A2 for the European CEFR. Games, stories, songs - see my online shop for instant downloads and my Amazon Author page for paperbacks. Ask me questions in the comments box, I'll be glad to help. All the best Shelley Ann Vernon 

teddies waving hello and the word hello as concepts to teach preschoolers
29 June 2018

Hello Teachers, An English teacher in Tianjin, China asked me how to teach the following four words to preschoolers aged 3-5. HelloBye byeBallHand Whenever possible, demonstrate vocabulary words with gestures. Using gestures makes a word more real, especially to a preschool learner. Hello and Bye bye1. Demonstrate the concepts of hello and bye bye. Leave the room saying "Bye bye". Go out and close the door behind you, but jump back in immediately, before chaos breaks out, and say, "Hello". Do this three times.  Then come in and say, "Hello" and cup your hand to your ear, indicate to the class that they are to say, "Hello" to you. Continue going in and out and have the kids say "Bye bye" and "Hello" to you each time. 2. Make a pretend door in the classroom, perhaps with two chairs back to back and a space between them. Drape a sheet over a desk. Demonstrate. Go out through the pretend door and disappear behind the sheet saying, "Bye bye".  Now have four children come and do this, saying, "Bye bye" to the class. The class reply with "Bye bye".  You get the idea... Preschool children will enjoy doing this, even though it is such a simple activity. Enhance it by giving those going in and out a hat to wear. 3. Use a teddy bear. The teddy bear arrives from behind your back, or a box. Teddy says, "Hello". Everyone says "Hello". Then teddy waves goodbye, everyone says "Bye bye" and it disappears again, behind your back or into the box. 4. Use these words in every lesson and your preschool learners will soon become confident using them. Hand 1. Although "Hand" is the only body part on your list, I would teach it with "Foot".  Avoid left hand and right hand, since preschool children can't grasp that concept.  Instead, contrast with "Foot" and possibly "Head". Use mime and have everyone touch the colour red with their hand, and the colour blue with their foot. Touch your foot with your hand. Touch your head with your foot. Touch Phuong with your hand. Touch a chair with your foot. The teacher demonstrates and the kids copy. If touching anything with a foot is perceived as rude, replace with "Elbow".Ball1. Any teacher who finds managing preschool children a challenge should be wary of balls. They often excite children, especially boys!  Only let well-behaved children, who are sitting nicely touch the ball. Roll the ball across the floor, to a child. Tell the child to stop the ball with his/her hand or foot (or elbow). Preschoolers should enjoy that, but you can't do this activity if you have 25 kids in your classroom. The other 24 will be too bored waiting for a turn! 2. Place a teddy in one box and the ball in another.  Ask five children to come to you. Tell them to touch either the ball of the teddy. This will keep them from getting out of hand with a ball flying all over the classroom! 3. If your preschool class is a manageable size try asking pupils to roll a ball along the floor to the student opposite. Have pupils roll the ball to the red corner, or to the blue corner. Or place students in the four corners and have pupils roll a ball to the pupil you name. if anyone is naughty, look at them, point to the pretend door you set up earlier and say, "Bye bye". Then have them over to sit with you. Be kind but firm.  If you get my preschool games book you will have plenty of ideas as Jessica Duguet Souber-Broglio from France says: "I totally recommend this book and I have been so happy and stress-free since I bought it. It gave me a clear understanding of how to teach pre-school kids. I am a new ESL teacher who was "freaking out" before reading it. Now I am a happy teacher looking forward to my lessons with my pupils. I will keep this book forever with me and it is my number 1 resource. I am just a little bit sad that I didn’t discover it earlier, it would have made my first months so more enjoyable and relaxed. I like the structure and the extra advice inside, contrary to other books, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the activities as it presents them so clearly. It improved my planning time and the quality of my lessons. I am now a happy customer, I also bought other resources from the author and they are really great. I love the stories and the fact that they come with clear lesson plans and resources already made, just have to press print. I prefer to laminate mine. Thank you so much for creating such fantastic resources."  https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/preschool-kindergarten-esl-games Let me know how it goes in the comments box below! All the bestShelley Ann VernonPS. And by the way, the intro of the above book has plenty on managing the class. (If you have a Chinese assistant, get him or her on your side urgently!)  

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: