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

31 December 2018

Any teachers taking culturally diverse classes will tell you to be careful. Refugees may be feeling vulnerable, shy and fragile. A simple question such as "Where are you from?" may result in floods of tears. There may also be tensions between students with cultural differences and backgrounds. There may be enemies from two sides of a war present. Using non-competitive games can help relax the atmosphere and create a friendly classroom. Unit 1 from any workbook typically includes "Talking about yourself" but this can be dangerous territory. Stick to structured questions and answers rather than general chat. Allow students to communicate inside safe boundaries. The game Good Evening Beach Ball is a good example. When students catch the ball they answer the question or read the phrase to which their thumbs are pointing. Then they throw the ball to someone else. There is no pressure, and throwing a ball brings back the innocent fun of childhood play.Why not teach students about the new host country? This will help them integrate. Everything is of interest, from geography, (cities, states, rivers, etc.) to key historical figures, but also famous musicians, fashion designers, architects, artists, culinary specialties and so on. Talking about neutral facts will help avoid conflict. Religion, politics, and probably relationships are off the agenda! Have students research and make up questions for the next class. Collect all the questions and make your own Trivial Pursuit game, just for your specific classroom. Play in teams, not as individuals, this avoids one poor student being last! For higher level students you might consider teaching through a novel, but perhaps choose something light-hearted. Reading poetry is an uplifting way to study language and I recommend the Puffin books of children's poetry - for the adults! Children's poetry is easier to understand (less cryptic) and often light-hearted and amusing. For plenty of ideas do get my book of activities for teens and adults. I also have plenty of resources for teaching children. Feel free to drop me a line and ask for some free samples. For a more detailed look at teaching refugees English please see this article: How ESL Games Help With Difficulties in the Classroom

story time with toddlers and preschool children
17 December 2018

A distraught teacher rang me for help. She had to teach mixed age classes with two-year-olds mixed with their older siblings and other older children, aged four, five and six. She could not separate the toddlers from the older children. It was important that lessons be a success or she would be fired from the language school. Ambitious parents were clamouring for results in the background. I replied that teaching toddlers with seven-year-olds was a recipe for disaster and no one’s needs would be met. If you teach at the toddler level, the older children will soon be bored and start messing around. Sure enough, that’s what happened! By the end of the first lesson the older brothers were disrupting the class, the siblings were pushing each other, two silent children were playing together, not saying anything, and the younger one was in tears. The teacher was nearly in tears too! My proposition :  1. Explain to the school and parents that you will teach the older children actively. The toddlers will absorb what they can from being in the presence of English.2. You might take ten minutes with the toddlers while the others do an activity, such as a worksheet with vocabulary and colouring. But if you try to teach toddlers and 6-year-olds at the same time, you’ll soon get nowhere.3. Start with everyone together, to say hello, say a hello song, mime actions to a song, and listen to a story. Any group activity that involves everyone is good in circle time. The teacher in question had a brainwave and got all pupils to shake hands and say « I love my friend ». This broke the ice. Note that toddlers may or may not go along with that, and you won’t be able to force them.4. Teach the 4,5 and 6-year-olds together and leave the toddlers in the room, playing in a corner with their toys or whatever, it doesn't matter as long as they are not disrupting the lesson with the older ones.5. Use games and stories to engage pupils (see link below in the resources section).6. Be firm. Kids should know that you expect them to behave nicely. Threaten to speak to their parents if necessary using questions like « Would you like me to speak to your parents or do you prefer to behave nicely? » If you are not firm, then all the kids will take over and soon they will just ignore your threats and run around. You will be powerless.  Positive Results In the next lesson the teacher used my lesson plan and story for animals and numbers (Anna at the Zoo) and focused mainly on teaching the older ones, and things went much better.« Things went better today for the groups I managed with ring games and table activities to handle the groups. Even the little boy who is normally naughty loved the story with Anna and the animals and loved pointing to the animals in the story. I had lots of activities arranged so this lesson went well. At certain moments, when kids got excited, I quickly put stepping stone numbers on the floor started jumping on them and the children followed. We also used your table activity with the ice-cream cones and this did wonders to calm the atmosphere, and I even managed to teach « I like ice cream. »Other observations and teaching tips The teacher made this observation:« One thing struck me about my last two lessons was that the children kept picking up puppets. I was getting annoyed because it disrupted the lesson, but in the end,  I gave them the puppets while we played hangman and I allowed them to cuddle the puppets when they were pretending to sleep. I feel I should use these puppets, but how? »Be a flexible teacher. Don’t stick to a rigid lesson plan but go with the interest and the flow. If you find interest somewhere, develop it. When teaching, I often had a game take an unexpected twist because of an idea from a pupil. I always let those ideas run because if your pupils are interested, they will be paying attention and joining in. So, take those puppets and incorporate them into the lessons. The puppets only speak English. You could start by having the kids each choose a favourite puppet, name it, then introduce their puppet to the others. Then do a skit with the puppets as the actors. Always be in observation mode, even when you are actively teaching. Seeing how engaged pupils are, and whether they are integrating what you are teaching, is an on-going, permanent state of affairs, and you adjust your lesson plan as you go along. Resources Story set including Anna at the Zoo and other preschool hitshttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/esl-short-storiesCheck out this page for toddlers:https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/The-perfect-English-lesson-for-toddlers-and-why-it-failedPlease ask me questions! Give me your feedback. I'd love to hear from you. Use the comments box below! Speak soon, Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English Games

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. 

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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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