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. (My website uses cookies and 3rd party analytics to track the use of my website. This way I know how many visits a particular page gets and so on. 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
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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

7 June 2019

An English teacher in France wrote to me with news of how she used my plays and skits book with her class of middle school kids (aged 11). She just chucked them at the kids and said "Get on with it". And yet, it worked amazingly. This works with larger groups and classes too. Here's the teacher's lesson plan... Hello! Thank you so much for your skits! They're just fantastic! I teach in middle school and due to a change in timetable for various activities, I had to find something to do for 3 hours with a class of first years I did not know at all. I selected 4 of the skits, and on Monday morning I met up with the class for 2 hours. My idea was to make them work cooperatively. So I split the class into teams of 5-6 and gave them 3 scripts per team. I asked them to read the texts, think of a title for each one and identify the type of text they were confronted with (i.e. short dialogues and plays or roleplays). I allowed 10 minutes for that. Then the whole class shared their ideas in French and quite logically they understood that I was expecting them to act the skits. We used five skits from your book and these were some of their titles: An impatient bus driver - A terrible restaurant - The bad magician - A greedy doctor. I gave them a sheet of paper so that they could think of a possible setting and accessories they could bring to the next class. I also asked them to imagine stage directions and facial expressions. French pupils have got a rather low level at English when they enter middle school - which is a shame I think because I'm sure if they were taught (in a fun way of course!) more foreign languages as kids, they would be more at ease with it. So, they did not understand the stage directions in your skits. But turning problems into opportunities is a great way to work, so they imagined their own. Then they decided on the roles and since we had 30 minutes left on that day, they started acting their skit. We met again on Tuesday. They came in with lots of accessories and props. In the meantime, I had mailed some colleagues to tell them they would be a quick performance. Since there is no appropriate room, assembly room, or stage, we ended up in the playground. With the twittering of the birds, strong wind and even a lawn mower, we put on our little show. The colleagues who came to watch, said it was just amazing to see the pleasure and enthusiasm the kids displayed while acting in English having had such a short time lapse to rehearse. I cannot thank you enough. I feel like having a little treasure in my teacher's bag. I love this approach for several reasons.It puts the responsibility on the kids for their own learning.It gives kids a great opportunity to use their imaginations and be creative.It bonds pupils beautifully as they work collectively in groupsIt gives scope for more advanced students to be challenged with bigger roles while letting more timid or lower levels participate fully in the activity.It allows kids to show off what they have learned through performance, and receive recognition for their efforts...and probably lots more if I keep thinking about it, but that's enough for today!I can't encourage you enough to try this method with your pupils. If you are teaching kids between 6 and 12, then try my plays and skits, or others you may find, and give your pupils the chance to learn English creatively and work on their confidence and fluency with speaking skills. All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English GamesPS I have also written a book of skits for teens. Both my books of skits are available from me in instant PDF format, and I think this is the best format for this resource, since it's easy for you to print off what you need. BUT, if you prefer, both books are also in paperback on Amazon, (on lots of Amazon sites) and in Kindle.

english students doing an interview in class
30 May 2019

As an English teacher one can be hard pushed to find activities that involve all learners in a multi-level classroom situation. One doesn't want the beginners to be overwhelmed, and at the same time, it's unforgivable to penalize advanced learners because there are others attending the class who do not have the same level of English. It's so unfair, they are giving up their precious time to attend the class, and they deserve to learn as much as anyone else. Buddy Grammar WorkStart by giving the beginners a written task to do in class. Take this time to teach the advanced students something relevant to them, excluding the beginners. This is their dedicated teacher time. Next, each beginner with an advanced student, who corrects their work and goes through any mistakes with the beginner. That helps both of them. Circulate and if you spot an error, tell the advanced student to find it. It's up to them to search, think and find the error for themselves, don't spoon-feed them. Creative Interviews for speaking fluencyYou could also have a beginner and advanced student work together to prepare an interview. The beginner asks the questions, the advanced students answers them. Questions can be closed and open ended. The open-ended questions will require the advanced student to expand on his or her ideas. The advanced student can help the beginner with the questions. It's fine if the beginner reads off the questions, but the advanced student should answer without written notes. The students should pick the topic themselves, something they find interesting. Each pair will prepare a different interview. Once they have had time to rehearse, ten minutes over a series of four lessons, so they can become fluent (and you do something else in the rest of the lesson), the pairs can perform their interviews to the class.You can ask the class to think of criteria for the interview.- the class has to learn three new things that are useful- the questions have to be grammatically correct - the advanced student is responsible for coaching the beginner.- there should be at 5-10 questions- one of these three words has to be included: yoghurt, encyclopedia, stapler. (This part adds a touch of fun.) More ideas to involve all class members:1. Have one of the students video the interviews and give students a copy of theirs. It's good to give this task to a shy student or a beginner - it's a way of getting them involved in the group.2. In small mixed ability groups, have the advanced listeners explain anything in the interview that the beginners did not understand. If the beginners did not understand anything, the advanced learner should paraphrase the content of the interview.3. Have students vote on the most interesting interview, the most fluent, the funniest, and the most surprising. This is a way to have everyone listen and pay attention since asking for feedback makes learners more involved than if they were just there to listen.4. Put students in groups and ask each group to think of one interesting question to ask the interviewee. This gets students thinking and being creative. It also gives the advanced student being interviewed an additional challenge. If any beginners complain that the class is too hard for them, give them these tips to study English on their own so they can advance as quickly as possible in their language learning. See my activities book for teens and adults for an abundance of ideas to help make your teaching easier and more fun.See also my skits and roleplays for teens - good for mixed abilities.

children pointing at head and elbow teaching this that my and your with body parts
24 May 2019

INTRODUCE THE MEANING OF THIS AND THAT AND MY AND YOUR Play a pointing game with your class using pens pencils crayons. Any common item will do. Have students hold a crayon in their hand. Then tape a crayon to the wall or board. Now point to your crayon and say, “This is my crayon.” Point to yourself on “my” and to the crayon on “crayon.” Repeat with emphasis when you point! Walk over to one student and have him/her hold their crayon in front of their face then ask them to look at the crayon and say, “This is my crayon.” Now walk back to your crayon, standing next to it say, “This is my crayon” as you point to your crayon and body demonstrating ownership. Explain that “this” is for something nearby and “that” is for something further away. Now, point in each direction, saying, “THIS is MY crayon” or “THAT is YOUR crayon.” Repeat three times making sure you gesture with emphasis. REPETITION Have the entire class hold up a crayon while repeating “This is my crayon” three times. Then have the classroom point to the child you were with earlier and say with you “That is your crayon” three times. Make sure the students are pointing at the correct object. So, when they say, “This is my crayon” make sure they point to their own crayon. When they say, “That is your crayon” make sure they point at the child's pen you were with before. Point at your crayon on the board and ask, “Is this my crayon?” Students reply, “Yes, that is your crayon.” Ask a student, “Is this your crayon?” They answer, “Yes, this is my crayon.” TIPS It is crucial that all the nouns you use below are already known by the children. This that my and your are the new words and that’s enough to think about for now, not new vocabulary too, otherwise it will be too much for the children to absorb. Using real objects in space make this and that easier to understand and remember. LISTENING All the children have a variety of familiar objects on their desks. The teacher can say, “This is my eraser” and all students take their eraser and hold them up, showing ownership. Then say, “That is your eraser” specify someone else's eraser. Repeat, “This is my eraser” then repeat “That is your eraser” with everyone pointing at another's eraser. Make sure no one is gesturing with their eraser. Then say, “This is my leg.” The class copy, everyone says, “This is my leg” and lifts up a leg, pointing at it. Carry on using different nouns say, “This is my ruler.” “That is your desk,” and so on. If the students are doing well, you can make it more intriguing by saying, “This is my YELLOW backpack.” Only the students with a yellow backpack can show them. This will work well with coloured markers or clothing. Have students practise in pairs with items around them. Listen in checking for accuracy.CIRCLE GAMES Form small groups and place piles of possessions in the middle. A small group will avoid chaos. The children take out their possessions saying, “This is my pen. This is my lunchbox. This is my book.” As a result, you have started work on the play script from "CARS." (http://www.teachingenglishgames.com/eslplays.htm) Play a circle game where the children pass around an object as the music plays. When the music stops the student caught holding the object picks something out of the middle and says either, “This is my…” or, “That is your...” Make sure if they say “that” they are pointing not holding it. This is near that is far. HOT POTATO Have the students pass around an object belonging to one student such as a lunchbox. When you clap the person holding the lunchbox says to the lunchbox owner “THIS is yours.” If by chance the owner has the lunchbox when the music stops, he can say “THIS is MINE.” As the class becomes well-versed add in more and more items to have several circulating at once. Get loads of game ideas to teach grammar and vocabulary in my fab games book, ESL Games: 176 English Language Games for Children. It's in instant PDF download here, and in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

kindergarten kids on a bench
17 May 2019

*Here's a teacher stuck for ideas on giving a demonstration lesson at her kindergarten."Thank you for the wonderful book! (preschool games book) I use these games almost every day at the kindergarten where I work. I have been given a very unusual task... About 100 children with their parents are coming to our kindergarten to see if they want to study here next semester. I was asked to give them a half an hour class. 100 children or so! All of them are 2-3 years old and absolute beginners. We are likely to be outdoors and my coworker's first idea is just to sing and dance, but I'm afraid it'll be impossible to dance 30 minutes... Do you have any ideas? It would be very kind of you if you could help me because I'm stuck!" The kindergarten director is looking to convince parents to send their children to the kindergarten. Therefore I suggest getting the parents to join in, not the kids, who are bound to be excrutiatingly shy at first. 1. Get everyone's attention by banging a gong. Pause and wait for parents' attention. You cannot expect to have the attention of all the kids, so don't wait for it. As an introduction ask parents to join in with you while you show them games and activities that you use in class with the kids during their English classes. Explain to parents that as they get to know their teacher, the kids will join in gradually, but that today we can't really expect much participation from the children. ​- Start on time and be sure to have everything ready in advance and move swiftly from one demonstration to another. To keep the attention of 100 people you need to be quick. Rehearse your demo several times and know exactly what you are doing, without referring to any notes.- Should any child have a loud vocal meltdown during the half-hour ask parents to leave the room discreetly and return as soon as their child has calmed down. 2. Teach the parents how to say I'm fine thanks. Say Hello, How are you? and have them reply back to you all together with I'm fine thanks. Ask them in a normal voice, then in a whisper and have them whisper their reply. Use a very low voice, and then a very high voice, and they reply back in low and squeaky high voices. Roll a big, soft ball to a parent, saying Hello, how are you? And the parent rolls it back, answering "I'm fine thanks." If the parent hesitates or is shy, now is not the time to teach them. Move swiftly on to the next person. Three rolls of the ball are sufficient to demo this idea. You want to entertain the parents with variety. (5 minutes maximum) 3. Play games from the preschool games book, Whose Shadow Is It? This would be a great game to play with a big audience. Set up a sheet with a light behind it. Make shapes of animals with your hands while saying the words in English. Ask parents, What's this? And make a rabbit with your hands. (You can find all the shapes online.)That should intrigue most of the kids. Don't worry if some toddlers are off in their own world. (5 minutes) 4. If getting the light and sheet set up is too much work for you, try a game like Mystery Box game. Have all sorts of goodies inside a box with a hole in the top. Ask a parent and child to come out front and feel inside the box. Have the parent name the items he or she can feel. Put some things in there that are easy to identify so you have success. A banana is easy to identify since it has a unique shape. A tennis ball or pencil should be easy to guess. Then pull out the items and name them in English, and have parents repeat the words back to you. (5 minutes maximum) 5. Instead of Mystery Box above, intrigue the kids with the game What is Hiding in my Pocket? (See my preschool games book) Here you wear a big coat with lots of pockets and stuff coloured scarves or objects up your sleeves, in pockets and anywhere you can. You pull out the items, ask the parents what colour they are. Kindergarten kids find this most intriguing. (5 minutes maximum) 6. Get an umbrella and say, Oh no, it's raining. Start drumming your hands on your thighs to make a pitter-patter of rain. Drum faster saying Oh no, it's raining hard! Then slow the rain down until it's just spotting - tapping your thighs slowly, while you look hopefully up at the sky, and say Oh good, the sun is coming out. And finally, it stops raining. If you have an assistant have them mime with the umbrella, run for cover, and pretend to be in a rainstorm. Now you've done the demo, have all the parents join in with you, tapping their thighs and following your prompts or picture-prompts. It should make a wonderful sound. Start with a gentle pitter patter, quite slowly, gradually increase the speed and the intensity as the rain starts falling hard, create a tropical storm, then gradually come back down until the sun comes out. While you do that, you keep repeating "It's raining" "It's raining a lot! Oh my! It's really raining now. It's a tropical storm.....a storm. It's raining." Don't make it scary for the toddlers - keep smiling and having fun. The storm should not be a menacing one. (5 minutes)  6. You might now have some parents come out on the floor with you and give each one a homemade instrument. Tins of sand, jars of small stones, lentils or cornflakes all make different noises. Glass bottles that you hit with a spoon have different pitches. Have all parents chant something like "Fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea". This is a rhythmic chant and it sounds pretty good. Parents can make fish motions with hands while chanting. Suddenly a shark comes along! It's a friendly shark though, and you welcome it happily, be careful not to scare the kids! On "shark" the parents play their instruments in celebration. Then stop them and start up the "fish in the sea" chant again. Repeat this a few times. You might prefer a chant with "Bumblebee fly" and "Flowers!" in celebration. Either way, have posters or giant cardboard cutouts of the vocabulary so the meaning is clear. You could do "Curl up cat, curl up cat, curl up cat" making curling up gestures, and then exclaim "wake up" with big waking up gestures. This will be harder for parents to do since they will be holding on to their kids, but anyway it might inspire you to think of some relevant ideas to your kindergarten, culture, and country.7. You could finish by setting up a rhythm with the percussion instruments and parents clicking their fingers or clapping and count up to ten several times. 8. Finish up by telling parents how to sign up and answer any general questions that could apply to everybody. Kind regards Shelley Ann Vernon 

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: