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!

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

child in beautiful princess dress looking overwhelmed
17 September 2018

*This blog looks specifically at preparing a show with preschool children, for an end of term or year.Have you ever put together an end of year performance with 4-5-year-olds? You might be worried that the kids will freeze and you'll end up doing all the lines! You want to show off, not be shown up!I have done end of term and end of year shows with preschool kids. The kids and parents were always delighted, but it does take careful preparation.  Check this "end of term show" blog for the preparation steps since these are applicable for children of all ages. My first show was nearly a disaster!The first time I did a show with 4 and 5-year-olds I discovered how overwhelming the whole thing was for them. The six-year-old who was playing the lead character arrived in a fabulous princess dress only to find that all the other kids were dressed nicely, but were not in fancy dress. She was traumatized and went home to change. But in the meantime, the show had to go on and my lead character had gone home to change! Luckily my teaching methods meant that all my kids knew all the lines so someone else stepped in and performed the lead beautifully. When the princess returned, dressed normally, she joined in with the rest of the show.The other thing that went wrong was that the kids did freeze up at first, and I had to coax them. Lessons learnedFrom the experience of the first show, I changed the way I did shows and have never had any problems since. I do recommend that you perform in an intimate space, with parents sitting closely, in an informal way. It's better to have parents sitting close to the children than to use an imposing stage.The clothing issue is easily solved. You need to talk about what everyone will wear the week before. Fancy dress is not necessary and can be an imposition on parents. A few choice props are enough to conjure up a scene or setting. (Sorry guys, the picture below might be a bit girly for you. I do realize there are male teachers out there! I just couldn't find anything more neutral in the time I had.)To prevent children from freezing up from shyness start the show with collective language games. Feature vocabulary the kids have learned during the term. Children could go up to the audience and point to different colours they are wearing, or show them a picture flashcard. This way the kids make direct contact with the audience and feel less intimidated. They realize that they don't bite! Then do a song with actions collectively. This warms the kids up and gets them used to performing in front of the audience. Next do some short role-plays, perhaps just a question and answer exchange, to show off some more language learned. And the finale is the skit. By now the kids are used to being in the limelight and are not tongue-tied when it comes to their lines. My plays and skits for children are perfect if you are looking for suitable scripts. I'm here to help if you need me. Use the comments box below to ask me any questions you like.Kind regardsShelley Ann Vernon 

6 September 2018

An ESL teacher asked me how to teach a dialogue to her primary school students. Since her students have very little vocabulary, and poor pronunciation, she does not know where to start. Teaching a language is like building. Imagine you are building a house. To build it you need bricks. With the bricks and cement, you construct the walls. A dialogue is like a house. It is made up of individual words (like the bricks). Those words make sentences (like the walls). The finished house is the dialogue. With this in mind start by teaching the vocabulary words in your dialogue. I use games for this, starting with listening games like Jump the Line, and moving to speaking games. You might think that you aren't getting anywhere, but these steps are necessary. Consider that you are building good foundations for your house! Next introduce short phrases or sentences from the dialogue and drill them. Always start with listening games to drill these so students hear them repeatedly before you expect them to say them. Release students to rehearse in pairs. Do some reading and writing tasks with the dialogues. If students are allowed to invent the last two lines of the dialogue, that could be interesting, but it would be too slow to implement with complete beginners unless you have very small groups. Reading puzzles are great, as is a game like Find a Friend where students each have a part of the dialogue. They have to find another student who has the previous sentence.Game to rehearse the dialogue as a class: Now you have worked with the dialogue a fair bit, try this. Put students into teams. Some students stand and mime the dialogue, silently. They act it as best they can, making gestures but never speaking. When the teacher claps students stop miming. The other teams have to say the next line to be delivered. This sort of activity can seem intimidating for students to start with, but they will soon get used to it. Give a good demonstration with one of the better students so the class understands the task. This activity is interesting because all students are engaged at once. Students have to mentally follow the dialogue, which helps fluency, even though they aren't actually speaking. If you try that, do let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear about it. If you can make the dialogue somewhat interesting or dramatic, so much the better.   Try using my plays and skits, or extracts from them.  The dialogues are repetitive and use limited vocabulary, making them ideal for beginners. If you don't have my games books, you'll find lots of games to help you teach vocabulary and sentences, so you can build towards dialogues. This primary school age games book is perfect, even if you have a large class. I hope this helps - let me know! Looking forward to hearing from you again soon. Kind regardsShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

20 August 2018

It's often the case that students lag behind the level they are supposed to have acquired. You may have a textbook that is too difficult for your students. When a textbook is too tough students can become demotivated and unhappy. Simplify Focus on the essential elements of a unit. Simplify and aim to teach the key vocabulary and grammar. Before opening the textbook prepare students with supplementary activities such as vocabulary games and grammar games. Present and drill the key grammar and vocabulary topics from the unit first. Break down the difficulty When students open the book ask them to search for five vocabulary words, or look for every occurrence of a grammatical structure. Consider putting weaker students in pairs for this. Or play in teams. As students find a word or phrase they might write it on the board and give their team a point.Use Jigsaw reading with parts, but not all of the text.Ask students to each write a question about the text. Tell students they have one more minute to read the text. Now all books are CLOSED. Students form teams and attempt to answer each other's questions from memory. Go through all the questions. The teacher may write these on the board and leave them visible. All those answered correctly are taken out of the game. Those unanswered remain on the board. Now give students one minute to look at the text again. Go through the questions left unanswered. See which team has the most points. It's much more interesting for students to write their own questions. And it's much more challenging to play a memory game than just read boring facts from a text. Be selectiveDon't feel you have to teach everything in the unit - usually these units are dense, and only the best students, who study on their own, will learn it all! If you have some motivated students who really want to get on, give them these tips for their private study, and be there to help them, guide them, even mark extra work if they want to do it. https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/how-can-you-improve-your-english-and-become-bilingual Games and activities My book of teen/adult games has plenty of ideas to help with difficult textbooks. If you have beginners, start by using all the games in steps one, two and three. Those are the drill-type games for beginners, and to drill new vocabulary or grammar for all levels. Steps 4,5 and 6 are fluency activities, many of those are for intermediates and up, but that said, if you look in the detailed index, each game has a level: B, I, A. (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced). So that will allow you to easily pick games from the other steps too. Email me again once you get into class if you have questions - I'm here to help - no probs! Kind regards Shelley Ann Vernon Teaching English Games  

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!

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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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