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.

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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

teens listening to music
3 December 2018

*You'd think that it would be easy to teach English to teens using songs since they love listening to music so much. But it isn't! Either they refuse to sing in class, and you can't blame themOr they don't like the song you choseOr the song is too vulgarOr the words are so mangled that not even native speakers can understand them! So how can ESL and TESOL teachers work with teens using songs? Firstly, have each student choose a song for homework. Give students your criteria: the song must be in English and contain no vulgar language. Students bring in the song lyrics (easily found online) and the music to class. If students choose their own music they will feel more involved in the lesson. Plus you'll save hours of your free time searching. Let them choose. At least that way you are sure they will like the music. In the lesson, students write their song title on the board. It's highly likely several students will have chosen the same song, but that's no issue. Now have the class vote on the best song, the second best and finally the third best. These are the three songs you will work on in detail. Delete all the other song titles.  First song activityIn groups of three or four students choose a song and translate it. Allow dictionaries.Put a strong student in each group rather than having all strong students working together.Put best friends or students who always chat together into different groups.Make sure that all three songs are being translated by at least one group. Second song activityDisplay the lyrics to the first song. One group presents this first song, describes what it is about and reads out a translation. Check all students in the class agree with the translation. Repeat this for the second and the third songs. If the songs are very long, just do the first couple of verses and chorus. Third song activityDisplay lyrics to song one. Play the song. Tell students to memorize as much as they can. Now remove the lyrics. Play the song while students write down as much as they can of the song, with the challenge of at least having the chorus written in full by the end of the song. Play the song again and let students have one more chance to write down as many words as they can. Let students get together in threes now and see how much more they can piece together. Finally, show the lyrics and let students see what they missed. Fourth song activityTake song two this time and give students a jigsaw puzzle to do with the lyrics. Play the song while students put the lines in order on their tables, in small groups. Tell students they will only hear the song once, so they should focus and work as fast as they can.Stop the activity before, while it is still interesting.It is not necessary for every group to finish.Only play the song once, unless you see that everyone is miles away from finishing the task after one playing.  Fifth song activityFor the third song have students listen to it and note down every verb they hear, regardless of the tense. Compare notes at the end.Sixth song activityNow the class has worked on the lyrics of all three songs, run a lyrics quiz. Put students in teams. All lyrics are hidden except for a student from each team, these three students are at the front with a copy of the lyrics of all three songs. Team A's representative reads out a line from one of the three songs. Team B and team C race to name the song. Now Team B's representative reads out a line, and Team A and C race to name the song. Finally, Team C's representative reads out a line, and Team A and B race to name the song.Continue with this for as long as it engages students, but stop before they have had enough.Count up the points. If there is a big divide in the scores, move a team member who knows everything to the position of representative. it's not fun being thrashed at a game! It's only interesting if the scores are close.  Other song activitiesStudents prepare for a general song quiz, writing questions for homework, or take ten minutes of class time to do this. Questions can be on topics the students choose, but give them ideas such as naming band members, singers' names, names of hits, year of hits, translating the line of a song, or name that tune. You might find interest in performing parts of songs if students sing in groups. Don't make this obligatory. Groups could prepare parts of different songs for a "name the song" contest. This could be integrated into the general song quiz mentioned just above. How do these song ideas work for you and your teens? I'd love to hear from you. Ask any questions in the comments box below, I'll be sure to reply to you. For lots of great ideas to teach English to teens and adults, and make it fun, check this ESL activities book, in paperback and in an instant PDF download from me. All the bestKind regards Shelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games  

30 November 2018

It's useful to teach modal verbs of obligation comparing must and have to. But personally I'd teach them one at a time, I prefer to drill something thoroughly (using games for primary school kids, or teens, to make it interesting) and avoid confusion for life! Then do a lesson comparing them. If you teach too much new grammar in one go, students get confused and don't remember any of it!To make this modal relevant to your primary school pupils or your teens, how about asking students to write a list of things they consider to be non-negotiable imperatives. Don't interfere with the content. Students may need some examples to focus, but it should be their list, not yours. These could be: - Four essentials for a good party. The music must be good. My friends must be there. Students discuss their top four in pairs. Then vote as a class on the short-list and come up with the four top essentials, in order of importance. Use positive obligation for this.- Students imagine they have two kids of their own. Vote on the top six cast-iron rules for these kids at home. If some children say they will never have kids, no probs, they can come up with a list of rules for how children in general. Use negative obligation for this. My children must not smoke in the house.- The one absolutely non-negotiable obligation of a friend. To be my true friend, you must never lie to me. The class votes the top three after discussion in pairs.I've already said this but be sure not to interfere with the content. It's their list, not yours. If it's their list and their priorities, they will be more interested in it than a list of obligations that resemble parental nagging. Having students come up with their own topics, whether at primary school or as teenagers is a good way to keep your lessons relevant to your students. Let me know how it goes in the comments below, and feel free to ask me any questions!See my speaking fluency role-plays and skits for teens, coming soon, suitable for A2-B1 CERFA and High Novice-Low Intermediate ACTFL levels. There's a skit dedicated to modals of obligation.  This is a free sample for the first and second conditionals. 

private English tutor and pupil
26 November 2018

The Challenge from a private English tutor:A teacher wrote to me with this problem and query: "I've just started a part-time job of teaching English as a private tutor for an 8-year-old child. I was told he was taught a lot of advanced grammar and vocabulary for his age but his mother wants to improve his speaking skill. She expects that after each lesson the child to be able to make a short presentation about a topic. For speaking on a topic I chose film. I went to a great deal of trouble preparing an outline for reviewing a film, along with useful words and phrases. I showed him a short film and but when it came to applying what we had been learning, he just made one or two short sentences about the film and then started scratching his head in silence. The next lessons were no better so I switched to teaching him phonology using a pronunciation coursebook. His mother complained that my teaching is ineffective, and he still couldn't speak English like she wants him to. She says that I'm good-for-nothing because I got an 8 in IELTS test (which is a perceived "big deal" here in my country) but I can't "put my knowledge into practice" and teach a child to speak English. I ordered your one-to-one games book and after flipping through it I think I have made several teaching mistakes by not using fun and movement-involved elements. But still, I'm not sure how to implement those games in the lessons so that I can teach him to speak as his mother expects, because most of them deal with very basic vocabulary like animals or colors, numbers etc and he has passed that level. Am I expecting too high? Should I use your plays and skits? Furthermore, how should I create lesson plans and how should I teach him so that he can speak as his mother wants? Or it's just that I shouldn't teach until I graduate? Shelley, any advice you have for me is deeply appreciated." BE CAREFUL OF STRESSHere are my one to one teaching ideas and possible solutions for these issues:Of course you can start teaching now, don't worry. His mum is very ambitious for him and you have to be careful not to put him off learning English by pushing him or seeming dissatisfied. His mum is putting you under pressure too. You can take it! But try and protect the boy by making lessons fun for him, and telling him that he is doing well when he thinks of things to say. Your lessons are very well prepared and very formal. But they might be a bit dry to warm up an 8-year-old. You might seem more relaxed, so you can chat together. If he trusts and likes you, he'll be more likely to tell you things, things he likes, things about himself.YOU ARE LEARNINGDon't despair, this demanding mum is an opportunity for you to develop your teaching skills - always look on the bright side! Tell her you are trying some new things and you'll be doing your best for her son and you'll keep trying until she is satisfied. (Of course if she turns out to be an ogre, you can eventually tell her that, but not yet:) TOPICS HAVE TO APPEAL 1. Firstly find out the things he loves. - Does he have any hobbies?- Does he collect anything? Stamps, video games...- Does he play an instrument? Listen to music?- Find out what he does in his free time, that is when his mum isn't cramming him full of English, ha ha!- Play with him. If he likes playing soldiers, look up a real battle from history, set up a battlefield with him, talk through the action together.Talk about this hobbies, even if it's video games, he might be able to talk about them...what happens, the different levels, what's the difference between level one and level two...and so on.2. Get him to tell you a film he likes. Ask him questions. Have you seen any good films lately? If the answer is no, try, Have you ever seen a good film? Yes, What was it about? ... Space. Oh yeah? Did the whole film happen in space, or were there any scenes on earth? Answer... And go from there. Don't prepare a list of questions. Be spontaneous, as in a real conversation and find things to ask related to his answers. BE LESS FORMAL 1. I like your film ideas. You are trying to make your student think for himself, but at age 8, he might not be good at that, especially if put on the spot by a teacher, or his mum. I'm sure he can talk about a film he likes with his friends. Get him to talk about the film to you in a way that an 8-year-old would, not an 18-year-old!2. As he relaxes and gets used to hanging out with you, in English, he might be ready to try this idea, which I've used and is sometimes hilarious. Which is his favourite bit in the film? Together, find a cool scene in the film, then try and act it out together. Learn the SHORT dialogue, both of you, rehearse it, put in actions and improvise some props from things in the classroom. A pen can easily be a laser gun, and a desk can easily be the dashboard of a spaceship, especially in the mind of an eight year old. TEACHING RESOURCESThis teacher has my one to one games book.  1. - Did you see the videos demo lessons that go with it? 2. - Your pupil sounds as though he has an intermediate level, but you can still use the 1-2-1 games - when you need to drill new vocabulary or a grammar point where your pupil frequently makes errors. The games in the 1-2-1 book are for beginners AND drilling new vocabulary for intermediate students.3. - You might try to perform my skits with him - at least that would be more fun, and your pupil will be able to show his mum what he can do. All skits are taught from memory, from scratch - I never give out the written script, that way you work on speaking fluency and confidence. The skits are easy, for beginners, but the scripts can easily be made more complicated. Your pupils might not be into acting much at first but that's OK. He will loosen up as he gets used to this way of learning. Later you'll be able to include things relating to his hobbies in the skits, and even choose music.4. Because your pupil is already at intermediate level, you could also use games like Boggle and some quiz games, from my teen games book.Feel free to ask me questions anytime! Use the comments box below.Kind regardsShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

large class of asian children learning English in preschool
25 November 2018

Question: I am using your materials and games and they are helping. I am teaching in China and my classes have more than 20 students in them. What are the best games for that large of a class? How could I modify some of the games so there is less waiting time and it can be more productive for my students? Answer: Fun Preschool ESL Games for Children contains games with variants and tips for large groups throughout. With games where pupils take turns, have five children take a turn together. That way with 20 kids, you only have four turns. It means you need five sets of whatever materials you need. For example: Gigantic Gloves GameCategory Step 1 listening or Step 3 speakingGroup 2 to 20Space Flexible, can be played on tablesPace Wake upMaterials Some large gloves, a hat, sunglasses, picture flashcards, and a large die (if you do not have an item use an alternative that is simple and quick to put on) How to playLay out a short line of flashcards of whatever vocabulary you are teaching, (not necessarily clothing). Place the clothes nearby. With 20 children, have five lines of flashcards and five lots of clothing, which do not need to consist of identical items. Sit children sit in five lines. Since it's not very interesting looking at the back of the child in front, use curved lines so all children can watch the action. The first child in each line gets up, puts on the hat, sunglasses and gloves, and tries to pick up one of the flashcards with the giant gloves on. If the child manages to pick it up, he or she names it and takes it back to his or her line. The next child in line puts on the hat, sunglasses and gloves and goes to pick up the next flashcard. Once you have played this a couple of times, here is a variation to add excitement and involve all children. Children sit in a circle and each one has a die. On ‘Go!’ two or more children get up, dress up and try to pick up the flashcard or object. In the meantime, all the other children furiously roll their dice until they get a six. When a child gets a six, that die is placed in the centre of the circle. Keep going till everyone has rolled a six and at that point, the game stops. Experiment before the game with flashcards or 3D items so you do not end up playing with something that the children cannot pick up with the gloves on. Help any children who do not succeed in picking up the flashcard or item, make it easier for them. Any kids who don't succeed will feel disappointed and will probably cry.  You don't want anyone feeling sad and disappointed in your English classes! Placing flashcards on books makes them easier to pick up. Group participationThroughout Fun Preschool ESL Games for Children you will find game variants and tips on how to deal with larger groups. That said the book is best for groups of up to 20 kids. The primary school games book can do for bigger classes. To keep control and excitement levels down, part of some vocabulary listening games is to participate in total silence, including not having your chair make any noise as you get up. The whole game is about being as quiet as possible, tip-toeing, the class listen and if they hear any noise, that person has to do a monkey dance (or something silly, but not humiliating). In other games one or two children may be in the center, performing an action or doing something specifically for the game. But while this is happening the others are also participating, but in a lesser way.  They may have to chant something at the start of each round or clap a rhythm. They may have to jump up on a certain word or trigger point. Some may have to switch places. With tricks like that you keep everyone participating, even though only a few kids are in the middle. So check out the complete game descriptions and variants, see the group size in the game description box - if it says "Any" or it's a group size that's OK for you, then somewhere in the description it will say how to deal with bigger groups. Classroom management with large groupsYou will inevitably have some kids who aren't really interested. If that is just two or three kids, while MOST are participating, that's good enough! As long as the others are not being disruptive, it's fine if they are off in their own world. No probs, they will still be hearing English around them. They may be having a pause in their concentration. Don't aim to have everyone 100% of the time, it's totally unrealistic; Remember when you were in lectures, you didn't listen and concentrate on absolutely everything all of the time. You'll find these blog posts helpful if you need classroom management tips:https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/disruptive-boy-in-classhttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/classroom-management-attention-grabbershttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/two-tips-managing-large-classes-preschool-childrenhttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/classroom-management-young-children Ask me any questions you may have in the comments box, I'd love to hear from you! All the bestShelley Ann VernonTeaching 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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