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

child with sight word flashcard
19 April 2021

I'm having trouble teaching sight words to my first graders. If you could share some ideas on how to teach sight words in English, I would be grateful. Hello there,If you are having trouble teaching sight words, then you are probably trying to teach too many at one time. And probably, you aren't making the lesson fun, so your pupils are not engaged. Here are some guidelines to teach sight words, the high-frequency words a child sees all the time when learning to read: - Use big letter flashcards in lower case. Use different colours and props, like a fly swatter, to hit the card you say.- Teach letter sounds, not letter names. Teach the sound 'a' as in cat, not the letter name 'a' as in ape.- Show a couple of sounds and have kids say them. Ask kids to guess which sound you will show next.- Play musical flashcards with the sounds.- Make up a tune with the sight words in it and sing that, add some actions.- Make up an action for each sound - it might be to form the letter with your body or mime a word that goes with that sound.- Repeat, revise, play more games, and gradually feed in new sounds. Spend several lessons on the same five or six sounds or words. Repetition is the mother of skill.- Go through the words in the same order. Start to mix up the order as the pupils become familiar with the sounds.- Start blends like b+a=ba.- Play sorting games, posting all one sound through the slot of a tissue box.- Play snap with sounds. - Find the odd one out from a pile of sounds.- Play hide and seek and hunt out the sound the teacher calls.- For hundreds of games to practise sight words, check one of these books: Preschool games book or primary school games book.     These are some of the first sight words I would teach because they are so common: I, am, see, a, can, we, in, the, and, go, to, like, said, you, is, it, here, come, up, this, my, look, at, me, on.Of course, tracing around the words, drawing pictures of the items and labelling them, and worksheets where you circle the matching sound, and so on are all valuable activities.All the best,Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English Games

task-based learning group lesson
16 April 2021

Apparently, there is a raging debate between task-based learning and present, practise, produce. These are referred to as TBL and PPP. What is PPP?With PPP, the teacher presents some language. Students practise it with drills or exercises and then move on to general language production, where they may attempt to use the new structure.What is wrong with PPP?One of the problems associated with PPP is that students can't remember what they learned a couple of weeks later. To that, I say, of course they can't. They can't and won't remember anything if you don't revise it regularly. A second problem with PPP is that students may overuse the new structure and sound unnatural during the production stage of the lesson. To that, I say, so what? It's a lesson, they are practising, and showing they know how to use it. Sounding natural comes after a LOT of production. Take a jazz musician; she has to know her scales. If she doesn't...she won't be able to improvise in a given key. Are you going to tell a musician not to practise scales because they sound unnatural? Scales are drills; they aren't music, but practising them increases fluency and finger technique, so you sound more natural when you improvise. The third, terrible, problem with PPP, is that students may not produce the target language during the free practise stage because they use other language instead. There are ways fun ways around that. Get students to work with the new structure in inventive ways, like having to include it in a dialogue using different expressions (sad, laughing, angry), playing games with synonyms, including it in quiz questions or pairwork games.What is TBL?By contrast, in a task-based lesson, the teacher doesn't pre-determine what language will be studied. Students perform a task, and the lesson evolves around what crops up. That is a great way to teach, especially with intermediate students and up, but what do you do if you have a unit with some specific grammar to get through and your students don't use it! (But why would they, if you never presented it to them?) The so-called pre-task is where the teacher introduces the topic and helps students recall some language that may be useful for the task. I may be splitting hairs, but this sounds like the presentation phase of a PPP lesson. The TBL lesson continues with pairwork, group work, and feedback from the teacher - all of which happen in the production part of a PPP lesson too...for me the production part of a PPP lesson includes comaparing, debating, on-the-spot thinking, and creating. That said, academic nit-picking can be useful now and then, so teachers don't get stuck in their ways. So, rather than debate that one formula is better than another, I recommend teachers vary their approach and give different types of lessons. Keep your students surprised and stimulated. If you go through the same-old-same-old every single class, it'll become dull. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://viewbook.at/ESLOnlineGames" href="http://viewbook.at/ESLOnlineGames" style="text-decoration-line: underline; target=" _blank"="">Resources to help you be a great teacher with PPP and TBLhttp://getbook.at/TeenAdultGameshttp://viewbook.at/ESLOnlineGames These books of games are sure to help you give varied, fun lessons, with students participating fully. You'll find some great PPP games for beginners. After all, you can't expect students to debate in groups when they have no vocabulary or grammar. For beginners, it is helpful to present language in "neat little blocks." Get comfortable with those little blocks, and build. In the books for teens and adults, and the online games books, you'll find lots of task-based learning activities and games. For example, getting students to prepare for a quiz, make a board game, make a short film in groups, conduct research through interviews, write reviews for films, design a recipe, prepare a map, prepare for a meeting or prepare a biography for a famous person guessing game. Lots of games in the books can be prepared for as a task in or before class. 

25 March 2021

Hello there, thanks for visiting this blog on teaching phonemes to kindergarten children.If you are being asked to teach reading and writing to preschool kids then it's useful to start with sounds, or phonemes. Teaching phonemic script to preschoolers would be a bit of an overkill, but the sounds of phonemes, with words they occur in could help, especially for pupils who don't know our alphabet. Start by having children clap syllables of their own names in their native language. Children say their name and clap each syllable as they say it. Then teach a phoneme, such as 'f' for fish. Teach the sound ffffff and combine it with fish, finger, four and five. Play vocabulary games from my preschool games book with those four words so kids learn the vocabulary (understanding it through listening games, saying it through speaking games). Now have kids say f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fish and mime being a fish, f-f-f-f-f-f-ive and hold up five fingers, and so on.The teache says 'fish' broken down into three sounds - f - i - sha.  The kids say 'fish'. Then swap. If kids can break words down into sounds it'll help them learn to read, eventually!Chant a rhythm like 'fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea, great white wha-le, great white wha-le.Have kids make an 'f' with their body. One person can do this using both arms, or check the picture for an F made by two people Next show them how to write the 'f' sound. Have kids trace the letter f - You can find some fonts here: http://www.fontspace.com/category/kindergartenDownload to your computer and make worksheets with the letters using this font so kids can easily trace over them.For example:Or this one:Then in the next lesson teach a new letter, in the same way. This way you will gradually teach how to write most of the letters of the alphabet through sounds. I would do a little of this in every lesson, and then use stories and songs, and role-play for the rest of the lesson.Draw and decorate the letters of the alphabet (you are teaching the sounds, not the letters) as you learn them and put them up around the classroom. Then you can play games with kids running to the sound you say, or taking down the letters to make words with them. Just type 'F for fish colouring' and hey presto, you'll find free ones, like this one below:You might want to get a book to guide you in more detail, these look useful: https://www.amazon.com/Phonemic-Awareness-Young-Children-Curriculum/dp/1557663211/https://www.amazon.com/Phonemic-Awareness-Playing-Strengthen-Beginning/dp/1574712314/All the bestShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games - Preschool games book for the classroom   

16 March 2021

Present Tense To Be + Professions ‘I’m a…teacher’Use this lesson plan with individuals or groups, online or in class.Preparation: Choose six professions that appeal to your pupils. You might prefer to teach realistic, down-to-earth jobs our pupils may do one day, like a plumber, hairdresser, secretary, lawyer, real estate agent or nurse. Or you might be happy to let kids dream, choosing amazing or glamorous jobs, like astronaut, singer, actor, footballer, artist, or vet. As teacher, you decide, or ask your class to vote on six favourites.Pictures: Now you have your six professions, let’s learn them by heart in English. First you need a picture of each one. Your pupils can draw these and send them to you in advance of the lesson or you can easily find pics online that fit the bill.Introduce six new words with mimes Show a picture of one of the professions, say the word ‘plumber,’ ‘he’s a plumber’; ‘ plumber’ Ask kids for ideas for a mime that would fit the job of a plumber and get everyone to do that mime. Show the second profession and repeat the process. Show the plumber and elicit the mime, then move to the third profession, establish the mime for that. Do pic one, two and three with the three mimes. Now do picture four, establish the mime, and show jobs 1,2,3, and 4. Move on to jobs five and six in the same way. Build gradually, repeat and reinforce. There is no point showing all six pictures and assuming that kids will remember them all just like that. Using the mime to enhance the meaning helps kids recognize, understand, and integrate the new word. Now the new words have been introduced, step up the pace with a second listening game – Jump the Line. Show the pictures on screen left and right of a line. Call them randomly using the short phrase ‘he’s an actor’ she’s a vet, he’s a gardener, and so on. This way you are continuing to reinforce the new vocab while introducing the verb to be in the present tense. Kids put out an arm indicating which side of the line the picture is on. Jump about in the list, get faster and faster, go job A, job B, job A, job B, job A, job B, job C! You’ll catch loads of kids out all the while repeating the new vocabulary over and over.Play Picture Flashcards where you flash pictures fast in front of the camera, sometimes hiding part of the picture. Play around with the speed you flash the cards. You don’t want it to be too easy or there’s no game element. Pupils call out the professions. When students hesitate, show that profession more often, mixed in with the others, until you have drilled all six well.Play Blow your house down in teams. The question each time is; What is he? Or What is she? Show a picture of a profession. The team reply with ‘he’s a …..’ They have to get all six right in a row or their house is blown down and they go back to zero. This game works fine with individuals too.Every other game in this plan works for private ESL tutoring except for this one, which is for groups of six pupils and upwards: Play One Lemon but use professions instead. This game can take some practise the first time you use it. Do a demonstration with six students and then split the class into groups. Use breakout rooms if you are online. Each player has a profession. To allocate these, read each student’s name and say a profession. The student concerned repeats their profession back to you and makes a note of it. This way, you are sure everyone has got their profession and that they are participating. Start with:‘One plumber, half a plumber, calls three painters.’ Immediately, the painter student says: ‘Three painters, half a painter, calls five astronauts .’ And so on. A rule is that all the professions must be called before the plumber can be called again.Play Boggle: make a boggle with the professions inside and have pupils race in teams to find as many English words as they can. Every profession word found can earn double points. Boggles are usually 4 x 4 but bigger ones are easier. This boggle has these professions hidden in it, along with a multitude of other English words, plumber, painter, astronaut, nurse, vet, and artist. P L U MB E R AI N T SV O A T Play a chanting game with rhythms. This is for the whole class, on or off line. Since you are teaching ‘to be’ and professions, make a rhyme such as this: I’m a plumber, you’re a painter, he’s a singer, she’s a waiter.Have everyone say this and clap together on the pronoun. I’m a plumber, you’re a painter, he’s a singer, she’s a waiter. Do this a few times, it should be quite easy. Now try this rhythm where you clap on every third syllable. Display the sentence with the bold so kids can see where they are to clap. Expect to take a few attempts before they get this rhythm going.I’m a plum-ber you’re a – paint-er he’s – a singer – she’s a wait-erFinally, use this rhythm, where the “I’m a plumber you’re a” takes the same time as “paint-er”.I’m a plumber you’re a| paint -er | he’s a singer she’s a | wait -erThis exercize is fun to do, involves repetition and is a huge aid to fluency. Once you have worked through those rhythms it will be super easy for your class to say “I’m a painter” without hesitating. In addition they will have drilled “I’m a, you’re a, he’s a and she’s a.” Next I'd put kids in groups and have each group mime one of the professions while the other teams race to guess what job they are doing - calling out "you are painters!" If you are doing writing and spelling then play spell and act. You spell one of the professions and the class mime the job. You can make that a team game and give forfeits for the losing team if you like. Forfeits are silly things like singing a song, miming a cat, naming a picture flashcard, or drawing something. Finally play Mastermind with pupils in pairs. If you are online then put kids in breakout rooms with use of the annotation tools. If you don't want to give your group use of the annotation tools then you can't use this. If you are teaching online one on one then you can manage the tools, but I prefer to let my pupils use the tools because it involves them in the lesson more.How to playOne player is the code maker, the other the codebreaker. The code maker chooses a pattern of four words. Duplicates are allowed, so the player could even choose the same four words, but this tends to be easy to guess. Blanks are allowed in the classic mastermind game, but not in my spelling version. The code maker writes down the four words in a specific order.The codebreaker tries to guess the pattern, of both the word and the order, within thirteen turns. Each guess is made by writing the words on the decoding board. Once a row is done, the code maker provides feedback by copying and pasting coloured circles over the white ones. A red circle indicates a correct word in the right place, but it does not reveal which word or position is right. A yellow circle indicates a correct word in the wrong place.Once feedback is provided, another guess is made; guesses and feedback continue to alternate until the codebreaker guesses correctly or all rows are full. Use Mastermind for any grammar, so here you can use it for to be and jobs.You get a template with my book of ESL Online Games.

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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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