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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What teachers are saying

My students enjoyed the experience so much that they have already asked to do more skits next year

First of all thank you for writing such inspiring books full of brilliant ideas, games and activities. I have been teaching for years, but I was stuck in a drill with my usual games and activities and I needed new ideas to boost my lessons.

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

13 September 2020

Here is a fun game to get your teen EFL students speaking in class and enjoying themselves. Freya Dougan-Whaite, teaching middle school in South Korea, reports back and tells us how she used the game, and the success she and her students all had. I just wanted to write and say thank you for your Detective and Thief Speaking Drill Game from your book, ESL Classroom Activities for Teens & Adults. My middle school students in South Korea absolutely love this game! Their English is quite low level, but this game gets them speaking and they all have a great time! I just have to drill the target questions and answers beforehand, and they do a great job. It's wonderful to see my students so engaged. To choose the thief, I have the students close their eyes, then I walk around the room and lightly touch a student's elbow. They find it so exciting and all desperately want to be the thief! While the 'detective' does the rounds, they all try to get involved by analyzing my footsteps, like real detectives! It's extremely fun as a teacher to watch this! Then, to add a twist to the game, I let one student be 'detective's assistant'. They are allowed to select the 'thief' while the other students' eyes are closed... they love to shuffle around and try to throw other students off track! I just wanted to share with you have much this game has added to my classroom. Today, our school opened its doors to parents and supervisors. I used this game for my lesson, and students were able to absolutely excel. This is just one game from my great book of activities for teens and adults. If you don’t have it yet, check out all the reviews on Amazon.com (and other Amazons, but the most are on the .com site). You can get it as an instant download from me directly, or as a paperback or Kindle from Amazon, see the bottom of this blog for links. Detective GameCategory Step 2 speaking drillGroup size Small group to a class of up to about 30Level Beginner to intermediateMaterials NonePreparation None How to playOne student is chosen to be the detective and one the thief. The detective has three chances to find the thief, which he or she does by asking a question to three students of his or her choosing. The question can take any question form you like, such as ‘What is your name?’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘What were you doing last night?’ Etc. The three students answer the questions accordingly, and if one of them is the thief he or she must give himself up for arrest after answering the questions. If the detective has not found the thief after asking three questions, he or she got away, so now choose a new thief and a new detective for the next round. The above set-up works well for a small group of students. If you have a larger group, then pick more thieves and detectives to ask and answer questions simultaneously so that more people are involved in speaking. A way to spice the game up is to allow the detective to ask as many students as many questions as possible in a given time frame. If you have some kind of timer that ticks audibly, this adds an element of excitement. Allow the detective one-minute only to find the thief and then play another round with a different detective. If you divide the whole class into two teams, you can record which team finds the most thieves during the course of the game. Variation Another way in which to use this same idea but within a different scenario is to reverse the procedure. Instead of the detective trying to find the thief, you could have a situation where the student asking the question does not want to find the culprit. For example, you could have a thief who robs your house if you speak to him or her. The questioner asks three students a question. If one of those three is the thief, the detective has his or her house robbed, so that team can lose a point. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope you have fun with the game. Here are links to ESL Activities for Teens and Adults: Instant Download, Paperback or Kindle.I'm here to help if you need me, just comment on this blog, or use the contact page on this site. Looking forward to hearing from you soon,All the best,Shelley Ann Vernon

esl students discussing ideas in conversation group
8 September 2020

Hello there teachers and welcome. ESL teacher Heike Knapp, living in Prague, wrote this article for me on getting ESL discussions to work. She is a great fan of my materials and uses games and fun activities in all her classes. I hope you enjoy these tips for good conversation lessons and try out the ideas. Discussions and conversations should play a mayor role in the ESL classroom, to help students gain confidence and fluency speaking English. The question is: How to get ESL students engaged in the conversation? Often topics do not appeal, and even if they do, students are often reluctant to participate. I decided to use the topic National Holidays in Europe to stimulate discussion in my ESL classroom. The situation was tricky because four of my ESL students had suddenly been integrated into the conversation class from a different school and I knew that these teenagers experienced a deep feeling of insecurity. Moreover, there was one girl with severe learning disorders who had become completely demoralised. When planning the lesson, I kept them in mind, with a view to helping them to strengthen their self-confidence, find the courage to open up to their new classmates and enhance their ability to discuss. Having decided on the National Day topic and the objectives of the lesson, to stimulate ESL students to discuss, I turned to this book: Fun ESL Activities for Teens and Adults - (also published as a paperback) which always has helped me to find good activities to get my ideas across to my students. After a short introduction to the topic, I said that I wanted the students to feel their national identity and play a game together by way of warm up. I chose a version of Simple Simon says from the source above: On my command the students, who were walking around in the classroom, joined their hands, legs, fingers, shoulders in groups of threes, fours or fives. To make it a little harder and amusing I also tried the variation of calling out sentences describing actions: e.g. Go to the wall, sit on the desks, etc. All the students joined in readily and had fun. They became relaxed and self-confident. At this point the atmosphere was already very friendly. Next I hinted at the fact that different countries had different national days and e.g. Germany had Reunification Day. The students agreed that the Germans coming from two different political systems were likely to think about and draw comparisons with each other. The next task involved using comparisons. I put one model sentence with a comparison on the board. I divided students into two groups, each with a group leader and referee. Then the students were ready for Shelley Ann Vernon's so-called 'Speed Drill'. The Referee said a sentence using the comparative to the first student (e.g. Cologne is bigger than Munich, but the biggest city is Berlin). When the first student had pronounced the sentence properly, the second could have a try, than the third until the last finished. The team scored a point when the last student had pronounced the sentence correctly.The next activity was meant to make the students discuss and talk more about themselves. The activity is called: 'Comparatives get in order'. For this activity it is recommended that the students stand up in a line. I explained that the aim of the game was to stand in order of certain features each student had. For example I asked them to discuss among themselves who lived nearest to school. In order to get the permission to swap places, they had to say a sentence like: I live farther from school than Eva. At this moment that student and Eva could swap places. The game ended when each student had said a sentence and the class had lined up in the right order from nearest to furthest from school. The students were very engaged and there was a certain tension created by the fact that everybody wanted to find out about the other, how far he lived from school, when he usually gets up, etc.  The next activity to provoke more discussion was: 'Getting to know you'. I told my ESL students that it was essential for different people in Europe to get to know each other and to eliminate their prejudices. For this I divided the class into two groups and asked them to discuss and put down facts they thought they knew about members of the other group. I gave them some time to think and discuss this in small groups. At this point the class atmosphere was already really relaxed and it was obvious that the students did not feel inhibited to talk about their suppositions and they were not shy to ask me for words. When they were ready the groups started to tell the other group the things they presumed to be true about other their colleagues: e.g. Jana does not like to study German. If the sentence was true and the person agreed, the group scored a point. The last game was 'Bucket Game'. The group was divided into four teams and got an envelope with a quiz about a European cities. They were asked to solve the quiz as quickly as they could, put it back into the envelope and than pass it to another group after putting the group name on the envelope. In the end I read out the solutions and the each group checked the results of a different team. Then each group gave feedback on what the other group: e.g. you knew 8 out of 10, that's great. And so on. In this lesson I tried to make the topic national holiday meaningful to my students. Playing games made them feel relaxed and comfortable. Even though the students did not know each other well, by playing games they opened up and at the end of the lesson they were ready and self-confident to discuss and even the shy and insecure ones began to use the language. Get all these activities, games and tips, and many more in this great book, tried and tested by 10,000s of teachers. Instant download version Fun ESL Activities for Teens and Adults and paperback.

3 August 2020

Green eggs and ham by Dr. Seuss, published in 1960, this book has sold over 8-million copies worldwide.Written for beginner native speakers, it’s ideal for ESL too, with common nouns and memorable rhyming text. « Do you like green eggs and ham ? « says Sam-I-am? « In a house or with a mouse? In a boat or with a goat? On a train or in a tree? » And so it goes on. Repetitive and therefore great for vocab and a fun story! Any of Dr. Seuss’s books are great, and he has a whole collection of early readers. Judging by his books, he must have been a fun man to know. The Bear’s Picnic by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The bear family search for the ideal spot for a picnic but each time it’s a disaster! I used to look at this book often as a child, maybe because it really reminded me of my dad! Since this early book, the Berenstain couple produced books in tune with modern times, i.e. with a useful moral, such as The Berenstain Bears and too much TV, or The Berenstain Bears and Too much junk food. Useful stuff these days for all those obese kids sucking popcorn in front of Netflix. Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo. These books are lovely but the vocabulary is quite advanced. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown comes into this category too – a super picture book with a tale of turning a grey city into a green garden, but with quite advanced vocabulary. So not for complete beginners, but OK for kids who have been learning English for a few years already. And here are my stories, made for ESL learners. Easy, repetitive, covering common vocab, and basic grammar. They are available in paperback, as downloads, and as videos, with audio by native speakers. Use them online or in the classroom. With groups or one on one. Teachers and kids around the world love them.Today my school is thriving, in direct thanks to you and your books/learning philosophy.Spencer Rhein, Turkey,For beginners, 10 fun, varied stories on different days of the year, but mostly useable any time. Matching songs, worksheets and videos available in the kit.About Me series: 5 stories - preparing for CERFA A1 level. Cute stories to teach the basics - talking about yourself, descriptions, places, school, and sports.Daily Routine series: 5 stories - Continue the basics with fun stories about the weather and planets, the house, daily routine, fruit and veg and body parts.Samples available, just leave a note below and I'll give you links.Coming soon...5 more! Just add your name to this blog (and email will be kept private), and I'll let you know when my new set is ready.All the bestShelley Ann VernonPS Enjoy Dr. Seuss!  

teaching tenses concept
22 June 2020

Teaching Present TensesFrom Andrew Rossiter, author of A Descriptive Grammar of English: Using the present tense in any language ought to be easy. After all, it’s the first tense we learn about, and it’s the tense we most often use because we use it to talk and write about things that are happening, things that we are doing, our habits, our likes and dislikes, and a whole lot more. But in English, there’s a problem. In Spanish you can say Bebemos zumo de naranja, in French you can say Nous buvons du jus d’orange, in German, you can say Wir trinken Orangensaft, and these expressions mean different things in different situations. But in English…… it’s not quite so simple. But it’s not too difficult either! In English we have something that lots of other languages do not have, and it’s called “aspect”, and verbs in English have two aspects. Most verbs (though not all of them) can be used in either of these aspects: there is the simple aspect, and there is the progressive aspect. So those Spanish, French and German examples given above can either be, in English, We drink orange juice, or else We are drinking orange juice. And it’s important to distinguish between them. What’s the difference? Present Tense It shouldn’t be too hard to remember. We use the present simple, as in I drink orange juice, to express permanent truths, repeated actions and sometimes instant actions: so if you said to someone I drink orange juice, you would be implying something like: I like orange juice, (so I’ll be happy to have a glass).I regularly drink orange juice (for example, I have some at breakfast every day).I’m the one who drinks orange juice. Present Continous or Present ProgressiveBy contrast, we use the present continuous, also called the present progressive, to express actions or conditions that are developing, ones that are in the process of taking place, or actions that are going to take place. So if you said I’m drinking orange juice, you would be implying something like: I’m drinking orange juice right now (because I’m driving home after the party).I’m drinking orange juice at this moment (but usually I prefer coffee).I’m drinking orange juice today, but I’m drinking beer tomorrow. In the last example, we are using the continuous aspect of the present tense as if it were a future tense. Sometimes we use the simple present tense to refer to future actions, but not nearly as often as we use the present continuous. Four sentencesHere are four sentences to remember, as they each use one verb in the present simple, and one verb in the present continuous, and therefore clearly illustrate the differences between them. My brother normally works in London, but right now he’s working in Paris.I often walk to work, but it’s raining and I’m not walking to work today.I go to New York every month, and I’m going there again tomorrow.I usually take sugar in my coffee, but I’m not taking it now as I want to lose a few kilos.Note how an adverb or adverb phrase of present time, such as right now, at this moment, today is often present in sentences where the verb needs to be in the present progressive. This is not essential, the adverb phrase of present time may just be implied, not stated. Tip from Shelley:Every student should personalize their four sentences to be things that are true for them. The sentences will be so easy to remember then. Are there exceptions? You bet !There are however a small number of English verbs that are rarely used in continuous or progressive forms. The most common of these are verbs that by their nature express something constant or permanent, verbs like know, like, understand, mean, own, etc. We can’t say I’m knowing him… or we could, but it would be pointless. I know implies a permanent condition – either you know or you don’t know, but you can’t really be knowing someone. Examples: I understand what you mean.I like strawberries, but I don’t like pineapples.He owns three Rolls-Royces and a Lamborghini. Using the progressive aspect of the verb in any of these examples would be wrong; these verbs by definition express a permanent and ongoing situation. Modal verbsFinally, we never use the progressive aspect with modal verbs! We say I can, I must, I would… but there is no such thing as a progressive aspect for modal verbs. Nobody ever heard “I am musting” ! Forget it! It doesn’t exist. Discover more about this, and clear explanations of all the main points of English grammar, illustrated with lots of clear examples, in the new Descriptive Grammar of English, also available in French as Nouvelle Grammaire descriptive de l’anglais contemporain. For more details and to buy as an ebook or paperback, visit Linguapress for A Descriptive Grammar of English by Andrew Rossiter. And here are some blogs from Shelley with lesson plans on teaching present tenses:https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/teaching-the-present-continuous-to-teenshttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/present-simple-passive-voicehttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/teaching-the-present-perfect-to-kids 

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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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