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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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

boy playing development game at kindergarten
29 November 2019

Children aged 4-6 are: new to school, cannot analyze language yet, have limited motor skills, have limited reading and writing skills in L1, don't see any reason to learn English, and learn holistically. Brave New World It is quite a challenge for a small child to go out into the world alone aged 4-6!  Use plenty of classroom routines, like opening and closing rituals, circle time, storytime, friendly toys and puppets, familiar chants and songs, since these are reassuring, all-inclusive group activities. Group kids together at tables rather than using individual desks. Teaching language in chunks4-6-year olds cannot analyze language yet, so there is no point in attempting to explain grammar or parts of speech. Instead, teach vocabulary and chunks of language. Whole phrases like How are you? and the reply, I’m fine thanks, are perfect.  Rhymes, songs and chants are reassuring to kids because they can join in without feeling vulnerable, they can pick them up gradually through many repetitions, join in with meaningful actions, and create a bond with the group through this communal experience.Chants are fun and easy to make up. For a sure-fire success, invent chants with your pupils as characters. Here is Juan, he likes football, kick a ball, kick a ball, kick, kick, kick. Here is Mercedes, she likes music, sing-a-long, sing-a-long, sing, sing, sing. All kids join in with the actions for each person. Just see how chuffed they are when it is their turn!Songs are brilliant teaching tools. Kids can pick up chunks of language, participate through actions and play games to music. Old Macdonald Had a Farm has been a hit since it was composed, back in 1917. Wow, over 100 years later this folk song isn’t even out of date! I guess farms, cows, sheep, pigs, and horses are common around the world. It’s handy for long-vowel sounds, like moo and baa, and of course the ee-i-ee-i-o. It’s a classic and my own version of this song is musically pleasing, (because there are some pretty plinkety-plonk versions online) and I always laugh in the final chorus with all the animals joining in enthusiastically!   Listen to extract. While working on farms and this song, kids can do simple crafts and make farm animals typical for their country. Avoid getting bogged down in technical craftsTheir motor skills are limited so avoid scissors and keep any crafts simple, otherwise you will be flat out doing the crafts for 26 kids yourself, while everyone gets frustrated! Colouring, gluing, tracing around letters, help children develop eye/hand coordination and fine motor skills, and they can get on with these on their own, leaving you free to supervise. Go gently with reading and writing in EnglishTheir reading and writing skills are limited in their native language so rather than flogging them to read and write in English, it's better to focus on listening and speaking activities. However, if teaching reading and writing is an obligatory part of the curriculum, then make it fun. Use reading & word recognition games, where kids match written words to objects, play musical word flashcards, run and touch written words, find another pupil with the same word, draw words out of a box and sort them into piles, spot the difference between two similar words…act words. For writing, tracing over letters and words is an excellent way to gently introduce writing in English.Motivation to learn EnglishAt this age, children don’t understand that they are learning English to gain the capacity to communicate with a greater chunk of the world population, and perhaps even have better employment prospects. In fact, they will see little reason to communicate in English. Playing games in English is a way of making this new language have meaning. Since 4-6-year-olds absolutely love playing games, this is a dead-cert way to get them interested in using English in class. As well as learning English through games, kids will be learning to cooperate with each other, be part of a team, take turns and follow rules. I don’t recommend any form of competition at this age. It can be stressful and counter-productive. Children play for the sake of the game, not to win. Don't sit back and turn the pages of a textbookChildren learn holistically, through pictures, movement, sound, music, singing, touch, and textures, stories, imagination, pretend play, fun, exploration, and games. Sitting in front of a book isn’t going to cut it! Stories are always popular, and especially popular are stories about animals. Children should get involved in the story-telling by acting the animals, making animal noises at appropriate moments, using cuddly animal toys as story characters, which only speak English, and thus give the kids a real reason to speak English, so they can communicate with the toy. Any of my story teaching kits will give you all of the above. Just follow the lesson plans and you'll have all the ingredients to capture the attention of your class. Each kit has flashcards, games, stories, lesson plans, songs, and role-play ideas. Follow along and you'll be a great success! Plus, your kids will learn English, enjoy it and like you as a teacher. Please find links to a choice of kits here.

24 November 2019

This speaking game is called "Find the Pairs Memory Game". It's also known as Pelmanism, Match Match, Match Up, Memory, Shinkei-suijaku and Pexeso. Use this in small groups or for one to one, to teach your pupil vocabulary and sentences. It's a classic game and I used to love it as a kid with lovely animal pictures. I still love it today, so you could use it with adult learners too.MaterialsYou need lots of pictures for this game. If you have plenty of time, you can have fun drawing these with your child or cut pictures out of magazines. You can also buy sets in toy stores. I have hundreds of flashcards for sale, in A4 and including a small size, which is easy to print and just what you need for this game. Here are examples from my transport collection:Either way, you need two sets of identical pictures. Or if pictures are not identical then you still need PAIRS. So you need two lions, even if they are not the same, or two spoons, or two pictures of shirts, and so on.How to playSpread the cards out in a grid and take it in turns to turn over two cards, trying to remember where they are in the grid. (Some people play with the cards spread randomly, but that is harder.) The idea is to turn up a pair, and the player who does that keeps the pair and takes another turn. If you find you are much better at this game than your pupil, then make a rule where when you turn up a pair, you keep it, but do not get another turn. That makes it harder for you to win.Language ideas for this gameWhen turning over the cards, players name the vocabulary on the picture. That's the simplest method and is best for when you are drilling newly learned vocabulary. You might also do singular and plural, for example, one horse, two horses. However, a good way to use this game is to drill short phrases or sentences that contain specific grammar. In that case, you use vocabulary that you already know and combine that with a new phrase or grammatical structure.Don't make the sentences long or the game will be laborious.Insist on absolute accuracy. This is a drill-game, not a general conversation. Accuracy is most important so that the pupil learns the correct structure and becomes fluent using it.If it becomes too easy for your pupil, change to a different sentence mid-game.If you use my small-sized flashcards (or prepare your own) you need to print them on 220-gram card. Either that or stick them on card before cutting up the A4 sheet or you will be able to make out the pictures, even when face down. In the demo, starting at 1 minute 40 seconds in, on www.teachingenglishgames.com/how-to-teach-a-child-to-speak-english you will see Julie and I drilling word order for adjectives: "a big brown lion, two orange tigers". One could use those same animal pictures for any verb tense and a whole host of phrases or sentences. For example: "At the zoo, I saw (turn over the first picture) a tiger and (turn over the second picture)...a bear." "Tomorrow we will see a tiger and a bear". Or, for a more advanced student, "If I could see any animal in the world right now, then I'd like to see a...tiger and a...bear". Basically, it's up to you what language you use with this game. Your imagination is the limit! If you need help, please ask me in the comments below, and I'll be glad to come up with something for you.Use it for spellingOf course one can play this with words instead of pictures, and that is good for spelling. A nice idea is to combine the picture of a lion with the written word and that makes a pair. You have to write the words out on card the same size as the pictures or it'll be too easy!One to one games book for more games like thisSo do watch this game on the demo if you have not already seen it and think about getting the whole book of 140 games because you can see two whole hours of lessons demonstrated and really see how to teach English through games. Don't wait any longer - get going right away with the full resource. Your child is getting older by the week so get started now!! Enjoy the game! All the bestShelley Ann Vernon  

christmas carol singers in front of a house
20 November 2019

Around November time teachers often ask me for lesson ideas with a Christmas theme. From my resources, there is a Christmas story, Christmas songs and Christmas skits. Details below...Firstly, I do sell a Christmas story for young children, from age 3 up to about age 8. It comes with a lesson plan made of games and flashcards. It's in instant download (best value)...or in paperback on Amazon, but the flashcards and lesson plan are downloads.Secondly, I do have two Christmas songs on my album for Special Days. They include masks, such as Santa (Father Christmas), reindeer and other masks.ESL Song 1 Christmas Day   Listen to mp3Tells part of the story where Hetty wakes up excited and there are presents under the tree.ESL Song 2 Christmas Eve   Listen to mp3Christmas Eve is a time for love, a time to give and to give thanks. Christmas Plays or SkitsThirdly, three of the skits (at least) in my book of plays and skits, may be tweaked to reflect Christmas time. Here they are:Ready Steady Go skit. You can get this free right here. Scroll down a bit and look for the link where it says to download your free skit. Set the scene. Kids are getting in the car or bus to go Christmas carol singing, or to the Christmas service at church or to a Christmas party at friends. Kids can forget items related to Christmas. For example, those going to church could forget their hymn book, their bag, their money for the church donation. Those going to the party could forget their presents, the Christmas crackers, decorations for the tree, the Christmas pudding, their reindeer hat...and so on.If you have my skits book then there's the Story Time play where the mum keeps coming up because the kids will not go to sleep. It could be Christmas eve, they could all have their stockings on their beds, (and my "It's Christmas Eve" song could be playing. The kids try to sleep but they can't. They keep calling mum or dad back to be sure that Father Christmas is coming, and not being able to sleep because they are so excited.With the Let's Go For A Walk skit, start the play with the best student saying, "I want to open my presents but we can't open them yet" And the other kids say "me too". They sign heavily and complain of being bored then follow the play script until the end. At the end when they decide to go to the sweet shop they go there but it's closed. And so by now, it's time to open the presents. The kids say "Let's open our presents." "Yes let's" and they rush off stage to open their presents, then they run back on and say Happy Christmas to the audience. So you take the normal script and throw in a few Christmas elements like the stocking and having it on Christmas Eve and bingo, there's your Christmas play. 

18 November 2019

This useful easy game is great fun one to one. (If you are teaching groups not 1:1, click here for the group version.) In the photo above, Anna and I are holding a scarf - you may use a rope, a piece of string, an old rag or even an item of clothing (not your best jumper!) if you do not have a scarf. I start by prancing around the garden, pulling on the scarf quite hard and spinning Anna, so she has to run to keep up and hold on. (You can see this on the video link lower down.) She loves it and shrieks with delight. Meanwhile, I call out different animal names, which we have already practised with Jump the Line and other easy listening games. Anna has to hold on to the scarf and cannot let go until she hears the key phrase "I'm hungry!" Only when Anna hears this can she let go of the scarf and run to safety, touching the tree before I catch her.  Use any words or phrases for this game. Choose any sentence or word as your key phrase. This can be played indoors too but it's best with some space. When I call out "I'm hungry", I chase Anna and just fail to catch Anna, (when of course I could easily have caught her) - but I JUST miss - that makes it exciting for her and she screams in delight. Enjoy this game, but check out these tips first, to make sure everything goes smoothly: Start gently saying the words calmly. Once your pupil has the hang of the game you may start to speed up your movements and the words that you say.To keep the child on edge and in suspense and make the game more exciting, try to trick the pupil into letting go of the scarf by pretending you are going to catch him or her, but you say a normal work and not "I'm hungry".  Don't use that technique with 3-year-olds or shy kids, go gently. Adapt how you play to the age and the temperament of your child.In this step two listening game, the pupil needs to be able to recognize the words before you play. It's not a game you would use to introduce new words. It's excellent for revision and also as part of the learning process once you have played a couple of step one listening games.I strongly recommend that you never catch your pupil - at least not until he or she is at least eight years old. Younger children cannot handle losing and they usually see it as a terrible sign of failure. It can cause floods of tears and put them off English! Remember they are sensitive little beings who have not been on earth for long so be gentle. SiblingsIf you have siblings this can be played with two children holding the end of the scarf. Take care though if one child is particularly small and frail that the older one does not knock them over in the excitement of the game. If this could be a risk for you then let the children take it in turns holding the scarf. VideoOn this link you can watch the game in action, right at the start of the video:www.teachingenglishgames.com/how-to-teach-a-child-to-speak-english Help: If you like this game, here are more!Gain the knowledge to put your child on a bilingual journey with my *140* fun games for one to one.Included! 3 videos over 2 hours of demonstration lessons. In instant download from me on this link. Or in paperback from most Amazon websites and other online book retailers, or order it from your local bookstore. ISBN-13: 978-1479354795.I'm here to help if you need me. Just ask in the comments box below and I'll reply to you. I'll be delighted to help.Shelley Ann Vernon,Teaching English Games 

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

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