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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Books of ESL games
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

stuffed animal toys
15 October 2018

Kids are usually fascinated by animals. Maybe it's because they look so cute...but it's no coincidence that lots of kids toys are stuffed animals.So many course books for young beginners learning English start with "Talking about myself" and the alphabet. "What's your name" is a mouthful for a 6-year-old beginner. The alphabet is abstract and unexciting. But you might find you get your pupils' attention with a safari park of stuffed toys! Through teaching animal vocabulary children can learn their first syllables in English. Develop with:What are their names?How old are they?What colour are they?How many are there?Are they big or small?What do they like to eat?Where do they live?With preschool childrenPlay listening games to introduce animal vocabulary. (See preschool games book for ideas, for sale here). Play miming games using sounds and actions. Play guessing games. Pay musical games where kids mime the animal you name when you stop the music. Hide animals about the classroom. Children search and touch the one you name. Sort animals into groups of colours, sizes, those that eat grass, those that eat other animals, those that live in the cold, those that live in the heat...those that are pets, those that are dangerous. Have an animal tea party. Or make a library scene.For older childrenTeach adjectives with animals and play Find the Pairs Memory Games in small groups with animals and adjectives. (It's a big brown bear. It's a long thin snake.) Do an animal quiz. Team one have 30 seconds to describe an animal to team two, (or mime it for beginners). Team two try to name the animal. If team two is successful, both teams get a point. There's a cute animal skit in my book of plays and skits for children. And see this blog for more ideas on animals and making a giant safari parkhttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/have-you-ever-spent-hours-looking-something-specific-use-lesson

possessive pronoun mine written with sweets
4 October 2018

A teacher asked me for ideas to teach students the possessive adjectives and pronouns. His students have problems understanding them and they mix them up all the time. What are they?Possessive Adjectives are my, your, his, her, its, our and their.Possessive Pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours and theirs. ExplanationA possessive adjective is not used alone. It’s my book.A possessive pronoun can be used alone. It’s mine. A possessive adjective describes the noun, so it comes with the noun, not alone.It’s my book. You can’t just say « It’s my » A possessive pronoun is used without the noun.Who does this watch belong to? It’s hers. It’s your problem, not mine.Your problem – your is a possessive adjective, it describes the problem and is used with the noun, problem. Not mine – mine is a possessive pronoun – used without a noun. Why is it confusing? Often confusion with this sort of grammar is down to the fact that students have never actually grasped either set of possessives. For example are they able to recite the list of possessive adjectives from memory? My, your, his, her, its, our, their. If they cannot do that there is little wonder they mix the two sets up. Drill game for possessive adjectives First do some drill games on the possessive adjectives until students know them backwards. You could play Simon Says telling students to touch things in a selection of pictures. You need a picture of yourself, a man, a woman, an animal and a group of people. Demonstrate this first using these commands:« Touch my hair. » Students touch your hair in the picture of you.« Touch your hair. » Students touch their own hair.« Touch her hair. » Students touch the woman’s hair in the picture.« Touch his hair. » Students touch the man’s hair in the picture.« Touch its tail. » Students touch the tail on the animal picture,« Touch their hair. » Students touch the hair of the people in the group.They need to touch the hair of more than one person at the same time. You might be able to do this with students in the class, but most people won't like others touching them, so it's safer to use pictures. Repeat this but vary the things students are to touch and use Simon says: « Simon says touch his shoe. Simon says touch her bag. Simon says touch their body. Touch your hair. » Any student who touches his or her hair at that point loses a life. Next put students into groups of four and have them play together with one of the students being Simon. If you don’t have enough pictures have each group quickly sketch a man, woman, baby, dog and group of two people using stick figures. Drill game for possessive pronouns Next drill the possessive pronouns. Write the list of possessive pronouns on the board. Students pass an object around in a circle. On passing the object the first student says « it’s mine ». The next student takes the object and passes it on, saying, « it’s yours ». The next student takes the object, passes it and says « it’s his ». Continue passing and working through the list on display. Students continue non-stop passing and working down the list of pronouns. As the game goes on, erase the first pronoun, "mine". Students must say that one from memory. Leave 'It's' on the board as a prompt. Next erase "yours", leaving "It's" as a prompt again. Continue until all the pronouns are erased and students know them from memory. Now play a game to mix the two together such as Joker from 176 English Language Games for Children. Instead of asking a question students take turns to create any sentence using the two types of pronoun. JokerDeal out half a pack of playing cards, including the jokers, to a small group of up to six students. The players must not look at their cards but place them face down on the table. Player 1 turns over a playing card from his or her pile and makes up a sentence using the two types of pronoun such as, « It’s my book, not yours ». If this sentence is correct, the card is taken out of the game. If it is incorrect, the card is placed in a pile in the middle of the group. Continue with player 2 creating a different sentence, such as « It’s your money, not mine ». When the joker turns up, the person who turned it over must collect all the discarded cards from the pile in the middle, unless he or she has just formed a sentence correctly, in which case the joker is taken out of the game. You may like to add in a couple of extra jokers from another pack for more action! You could play Typhoon along the same lines, or Grammar Drill. You could play Guess the Question using questions with the two pronouns, such as « Is she your girlfriend or mine? » « Are they our pens or hers? » (All those games are in this book 176 English Language Games for Children or paperback from Amazon.) Note: « Its » is rarely used as a possessive pronoun because « It’s its » sounds funny even though it’s correct grammatically. It’s more common to use « It’s the dog’s. » All the bestShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

english teacher showing phoneme position for 'th' sound
4 October 2018

Phonetics and phonology can be extremely useful when teaching pronunciation. If you feel overwhelmed at the sight of the phonetic chart, just imagine how your students feel. But don't panic, just take it one sound at a time. In fact you might not even need to teach all the sounds, only those which present the greatest challenge for your students. As ESL teacher Elena Baito told me: "I'm experimenting with recognizing sounds using songs. I present the new sound, such as the unvoiced interdental sound. Students have a look at the phonetic transcription of this sound in the sound chart and then try to practice the sound. Then they write the phonetic symbol in their copybook.Next we listen to a song with the lyrics shown on the board (I chose "Thunder" by Imagine Dragons). I explain to them that they have to find in the song all the words containing the interdental unvoiced sound. After that we write all the words in the copybook and repeat them. We also sing together. I love singing." If you want to use the song Thunder, you'll find it on YouTube...weird video...It's a great choice of song given the number of times the word thunder is repeated! TIP! Ask your students to find a song for you so you don't spend the evening watching inane videos online! After doing Elena's work above I suggest continuing with a dialogue. Students write a dialogue in pairs. This can be on any topic as long as the target sound is used in every sentence. Tell the class they will listen to everyone's dialogues and vote on them. This gives everyone a reason to listen to the dialogues. Students can vote on the funniest, the most innovative, the saddest, the most outrageous and even the most boring! Listen to the best ones again and have students raise an arm whenever the target sound is said. Use all the vocabulary drill games in my book ESL Activities for Teens and Adults to drill phonemes and pronunciation. Use the listening games with words that contain the target sound. Then use those same words in the speaking drill games. Work with one new sound at a time. That's enough for students to think about. However when you revise sounds, work with several at once. Put students in groups of four to play Happy Families with four phonemes. Student A copies a phoneme onto four cards and draws a father, mother, son and daughter. For the "th" phoneme, this could be the Thunder family. Students B, C and D do the same, each with a different phoneme. Students shuffle and deal out their pack of cards. Each student takes a turn asking any other student for a family member. E.g. Do you have Mr. Thunder? The first to have a complete family is the winner. BUT the aim of the game is to work on excellent pronunciation, not just win the cards! Tip: For cards use post it notes, cut up cereal packets, or cut scrap paper into rectangles.All the bestShelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

child in beautiful princess dress looking overwhelmed
17 September 2018

*This blog looks specifically at preparing a show with preschool children, for an end of term or year.Have you ever put together an end of year performance with 4-5-year-olds? You might be worried that the kids will freeze and you'll end up doing all the lines! You want to show off, not be shown up!I have done end of term and end of year shows with preschool kids. The kids and parents were always delighted, but it does take careful preparation.  Check this "end of term show" blog for the preparation steps since these are applicable for children of all ages. My first show was nearly a disaster!The first time I did a show with 4 and 5-year-olds I discovered how overwhelming the whole thing was for them. The six-year-old who was playing the lead character arrived in a fabulous princess dress only to find that all the other kids were dressed nicely, but were not in fancy dress. She was traumatized and went home to change. But in the meantime, the show had to go on and my lead character had gone home to change! Luckily my teaching methods meant that all my kids knew all the lines so someone else stepped in and performed the lead beautifully. When the princess returned, dressed normally, she joined in with the rest of the show.The other thing that went wrong was that the kids did freeze up at first, and I had to coax them. Lessons learnedFrom the experience of the first show, I changed the way I did shows and have never had any problems since. I do recommend that you perform in an intimate space, with parents sitting closely, in an informal way. It's better to have parents sitting close to the children than to use an imposing stage.The clothing issue is easily solved. You need to talk about what everyone will wear the week before. Fancy dress is not necessary and can be an imposition on parents. A few choice props are enough to conjure up a scene or setting. (Sorry guys, the picture below might be a bit girly for you. I do realize there are male teachers out there! I just couldn't find anything more neutral in the time I had.)To prevent children from freezing up from shyness start the show with collective language games. Feature vocabulary the kids have learned during the term. Children could go up to the audience and point to different colours they are wearing, or show them a picture flashcard. This way the kids make direct contact with the audience and feel less intimidated. They realize that they don't bite! Then do a song with actions collectively. This warms the kids up and gets them used to performing in front of the audience. Next do some short role-plays, perhaps just a question and answer exchange, to show off some more language learned. And the finale is the skit. By now the kids are used to being in the limelight and are not tongue-tied when it comes to their lines. My plays and skits for children are perfect if you are looking for suitable scripts. I'm here to help if you need me. Use the comments box below to ask me any questions you like.Kind regardsShelley Ann Vernon 

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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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