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.

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!

Books of ESL games
ESL Stories
Happy Clients

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

child bored learning English with textbook
24 October 2017

Do you want to use fun games and liven up your English classes, but you can't? You might be following a set curriculum, and only have 1 hour a week. There's no time for any games! You are not alone, many teachers are following a syllabus. A textbook or syllabus is a huge help to a teacher. Imagine if you had to think up every lesson from scratch? The textbook creators have spent months working on these books, ensuring progression is gradual, and all the basics are covered. So having a textbook is a time-saver for you. My ESL games are perfect for use alongside any syllabus or book. Look at the upcoming unit in your book and see what vocabulary and grammar is being presented, and what is revision. Those words and structures are going to be what you work on using games. Here's how I proceed in a typical lesson. I usually start the lesson teaching something new, when the children are fresh. I start by using some listening games to introduce new vocabulary, or new grammar. (I never introduce new vocab and grammar together, one or the other, so pupils are not overwhelmed.) Students hear the new language repeatedly during the listening game(s). During this time they are memorizing the meaning of the word and hearing the pronunciation. Then move on to speaking games where students have a chance to try these words out for themselves. These would be easy speaking drills that are disguised as games. Through repetition students remember.And NOW you open up your textbook and read the unit. You can also play reading games at this point, where kids race to find target words or grammar in the text from your book. And finally you do the written work that is required. There are writing games which are more effective than gap-fills and many textbook writing tasks. The result of teaching in this way is that pupils will actually have learned the stuff in the unit. Usually when kids sit there and follow a textbook for an hour, it goes in one ear and out the other. I've met so many children at the start of secondary school in France who can just about say "My name is Sylvie, I live in Saint Denis, I 'ave a dog" and that's about it. Then you find out they have been learning English for SEVEN years, several hours a week, and you wonder how it can be possible that they know so little. It's frankly an achievement to teach in such a way that the children are literally prevented from learning anything!!So please give my games a go. Email me for help anytime. If you have a big class you need to be careful about keeping noise and excitement to acceptable levels. There are calm games that are suitable as well as handy classroom management tips. Giving fun lessons is harder work for the teacher in that it requires more energy, BUT the results are so much better and the pupils so much more motivated, that the pleasure gained more than outweighs the extra effort required. You can check out my games books here: Preschool, Primary School, Teens and Adults, One to One for Children.And email me for help anytime!Kind regardsShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

snap chat pics of teens
10 October 2017

Teens can be hard work. They often seem listless and bored and as if learning English was worse than a bullet in the head. This can be de-motivating for ESL teachers. I don't think the answer is for the teacher to try to be as cool as the students. That would be a losing battle, since a teacher might look a little silly slouching around attempting a level of coolness that no longer comes naturally. However, it is a good idea to use tools that teens relate to. Here are three cool tools to obtain a glimmer of life from your fatigued teenage ESL students. Cool Tool Number 1Instead of using on a bunch of random people from a textbook to work on talking about yourself and descriptions, why not use Snap Chat? Teens love it. Have a Snap Chat competition where each teen submits a snap chat, presents it to the class with a paragraph about the message behind the picture. The class then vote on the top three pictures and the top three messages. This way you make the messages important, and those are where kids are working on their English. There are equivalent apps to Snapchat such as Masquerade, Snow, Face Swap Live and more, but just ask the teens in your class. Find out what apps your teens are using on their phones when they interact with each other and adapt this idea to that. Not everyone will have a phone, for sure, so put the students in pairs or threes to work on the idea.Cool Tool Number 2Kids communicate with each other in Teen Speak, or teen slang, and since so many kids are messaging each other these days, (even when they are sitting next to the person), this is an opportunity to work on writing skills in English class.  Look up teen speak or teen slang online and you'll find translations of what's in common use these days. IK is I know. Ur is your, and so on. Your teens may be using a mix of international teen speak and local ones. For example French teens use MDR (mort de rire) for LOL (laugh out loud). Give kids a selection of conversations and have them translate them into teen speak. That works on reading and understanding. Collect these for translation back into proper English in a different lesson to work on writing skills. The best source for these conversations is from your pupils, that way you are getting the real deal. There may be volunteers in class who are happy to share and translate from their phone. If not, have the teens write them. Type "teen speak" into your search tool and you'll find plenty of websites with examples.You might make a teen Facebook page (or alternative) for the class, English only, but teen-speak allowed, this might motivate some students. Post a picture on a hot topic for your teens. It might be an upcoming movie or a band you know they like. Once the conversation is going, consider staying out of it and let them interact with each other. They might not think it's cool if the teacher is chatting too. After all, anyone over 25 is already too old! To motivate kids to use the class FB page in the first place you might run a competition or survey there.  For example, using the Snapchat idea above, have class members publish their SnapChat pictures and vote on the ones they prefer. The pics with the most reactions are the winners. The competitive edge is only an option, try one and see if it works for your class.Watch out for online bullying, or a child being ignored by the others. Since you are the page administrator, you can delete anything you don't like. Cool Tool Number 3My book of games and activities for teens and adults!  

students in a classroom with few facilities, probably a village in Africa
28 September 2017

You might be wondering how on earth you will get on in your classroom, in the heart of a remote country, without a word of the native language to your name. Teachers regularly ask me this question. When is it appropriate to speak to our pupils in their common tongue? And what do we do if we don't speak the native language?The good news is that it's absolutely possible to teach English when you don't speak the native language, and you don't have an interpreter. It's actually better to use English all the time, or at least as much as possible. If I speak my pupils' native language, I will give the class in English, but sometimes, to save time, I will use the native language to explain the rules of a game, or a concept. This is purely to save time and for the sake of clarity. I will also tell a child off in the native language, 'Would you like me to call your father or do you prefer to behave nicely?' Many teachers, however, are in classrooms where they have no choice, they don't speak the native language.The good news is that it's perfectly possible to teach English when you don't speak the native language, and it's not as hard as you might think! When I was in Nepal I was forced to find a way to communicate with the kids since I spoke no Nepalese whatsoever. The answer is not to jabber away to a class of beginners who have no idea what you are saying. You will just alienate them. The secret is to think demonstration, rather than explanation. This goes for how to play a game or a rule of grammar. For a game, physically show the children what to do using simple commands and actions. This won't be enough with a complex game, but with my simple and fun language drill games you'll have no trouble explaining how to play.It's a great help if your students know basic commands, such as, pass, take, point, look, find, stand up, sit down, come to the front, touch, go to, freeze, write, draw, spell, etc. To teach a new word, first you need to explain (or demonstrate) the meaning of that word, and then drill it, with games so pupils remember it. To teach the word 'pass', take an object, place it in a pupil's hand. Take his or her arm and move the object over to the child next door, indicate by pointing that the child is to take the object. When they do, you repeat 'pass'. Repeat this action with several pupils, saying the target word over and over. In this scenario you need pupils to understand that the word is 'pass' and not 'take'. Ask a pupil to pass a book, 'Dan, pass the book to Flores. Flores, pass the book to Javier'.Once pupils understand the meaning of five or six new commands, drill them with a listening game, such as Jump the Line (from 176 English Language Games for Children). Simon Says is also a perfect game to drill commands. There's a complicated variant for older pupils so they don't get bored in my teen/adult games book. Enrich the game with words students already know, mixed in with the new words to keep their attention.If you have any questions, or would like to read more about teaching ESL to children, please visit my pages on teaching preschool, primary or teens and adults. There are fun, effective games for all ages, in download from this website, or in paperback. Here is my Amazon Author page: Amazon. You are welcome to contact me too, I love hearing from teachers.I hope to hear from you soon!Shelley Ann Vernon

children playing a game to learn English
23 August 2017

I received a question today about the difference between an exercise and a game. It seems to me that an exercise is just a drill, there is no game element. An exercise does not purport to be fun, whereas a game does. The element of fun might be to go against the clock or to compete with other participants, individually or in teams, but a game does not have to be competitive. For instance, take the game Hot Potato. In this game there is no competition. Students pass objects around the classroom, repeating a phrase or word each time they pass something. When the teacher says, "stop", all those students with an object perform a silly forfeit, such as a dance, pretending to be a chicken, hopping on the spot ten times, or whatever. Fun learning is more effective than dull learning, because students are more involved and motivated. Most of my games for children are disguised drills or exercises, but since they come in an attractive game package, children enjoy them and participate. As a consequence, pupils learn English more easily. See my book 176 English Language Games for Children for great tips and games. It's in instant PDF download on this website, and in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

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: