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

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

photo of words for online vocabulary game
8 April 2020

Hello Teachers,Here is an easy vocabulary game to play in your online classrooms (or real classrooms). This is perfect for beginners, or for any level where you want to enforce, or revise vocabulary.  How to Play Students draw a grid with eight squares. From a list of vocabulary that you provide, students write 8 different vocabulary words into those squares. Now randomly call the vocabulary words from your list. As the words are mentioned, students cross off the relevant word on their grid. The first student to cross off all the words wins a prize.TopicsUse this for any topic, including business English. Topics might be common vocabulary words for beginners, to specific business English topics such as aviation, customer service, social media, marketing, medicine, and so on. Easy ideas for prizes- The student wins a point for his or her team.- The student wins something tangible for the next physical class. It should be inexpensive and ecological. It's just a symbolic, easy gift, like a tangerine when in season.- The student earns the chance to do an extra homework task that the teacher will mark. Don't laugh, motivated students will be pleased to have this.- The student receives a surprise online gift that changes each time, ideas: 1 sudoku to do in own time, a recipe to try at home, instructions for 1 origami, an invitation to find and show a photo to the class, a quiz question, etc.- Ask the class to submit five ideas each for simple prizes. Give examples as above. Students can find the prize too - to save the teacher time. Collect these in and use them in the game. GrammarTo use some grammar or sentences with this game, when the teacher calls the vocabulary words, he or she can place them in a sentence. Say you are working on the present tense, use the vocabulary word in a sentence in the present tense each time. This gives students the chance to hear the word in context, in the tense you are working on. Activities Book for Teens and AdultsLots of the games in my teen/adult activities book may be adapted for online use like this Bingo game. You can get it in paperback or instant PDF download from me, as you prefer.If you already have it - here's a list of games from the book that I think may be used in an online teaching situation. All the best,Shelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games

student in online lesson
3 April 2020

*Hello there and thanks for visiting this page on teaching English online via a platform, or Skype. These activities suit any creative online class, but also confinement, such as during the time of the Coronavirus. Firstly, if you already own my fun book of activities for teaching teens and adults in the classroom, here is a link to a list of games from that book that you may use online. If you don't have the book, there is a link to it lower down in the blog.  List of games from Teen/Adult Activities book for use online If you are teaching from home, teaching online via Skype, Zoom or any other online platform, try these ideas to liven up your classes. And, if you like this blog, and you have an idea, please, pretty please, do share it with us in the comments! How about a creative writing diary project? Students recount something nice or something funny every day, maybe with a picture. Students compare notes on what they did in the online class.Have a competition to see who can do the most original or nice thing in their day and get the others to vote on it. See who can do something that no one else has done! It might be making some biscuits...with a special flavour...it might be skateboarding in the basement... Students have to prove it - by showing a biscuit in the online class, or showing a photo...otherwise they could say anything. Get students away from technology for some of the time. It's well-known now that lack of exercise and too much screen time is a key cause of depression amongst the young. Let's get students to be creative away from their phones and social media. How about running an art project in English. For example, give students tips and know-how on how to take creative photos. Students learn about this, in English, and each one submits a photo or two to the pool, anonymously. All students vote on their favourites. At the end, the winners can be identified, if you like.​* It's important that students submit their photos anonymously to avoid the social media 'we like sheep' phenomena, where you like the pic taken by your mate even if it's a load of rubbish because if you don't he will never speak to you again!  * Creative pics don't have to be exotic. They can be taken with everyday objects. Who can take the most creative pic of a book? Taking real close-ups can be fun, because if you take a close up of part of an object, it can be hard to tell what it is. Have a competition like that, a guessing game, using pics taken by the students. Can you tell what this pic is? The first two pics are pretty easy to guess. The answers are at the bottom of the blog. How about giving students instructions in English to do some origami? Students can each make a different model and show it to the others in the next online class. They could have the task then of creating a story, collectively, that involves each of the items made. Or, each student makes up a story with his or her origami object as the hero/heroine. Ongoing projects that students share with the class could be to plant lettuce seeds in a pot at home. Even if there isn't much space at home, you can still grow lettuce by a window, in a salad bowl...It's also therapeutic to grow things. Some students may not be able to do this, in which case let them choose another project to create and share.How about a dressing up project? Each student creates an outfit, from their regular clothes, with some makeup and a prop or two. They attend class in their outfit (if you have visuals), or send in a picture. Everyone guesses who the others are. Students can then present their character and say a few lines about him or her, who they are, why they like them, what they have done that is significant...or not. It can be anything - give students free rein. If someone wants to disguise themselves as their cat, why not? They can still tell you why they chose their cat, and what they like about their cat. Personally, I would be useless at this disguise task, and I would not even enjoy doing it. Doing something like the Armenian artist Edgar Artis, would appeal more to me - like this 'dress' he made from used matches. So...it's really important to give your students a choice of activity.  Plays and skits. Read scripts in small groups or one on one. It might be too much of a drag with a large class unless you can do group work online. That said, some fun could be had with pronunciation practise, and putting expression into speech. This is brilliant for speaking fluency and confidence too. So, take a couple of lines from a play and have students put as much energy and expression into the lines as they can. Explore different ways that the lines can be said...with disdain, questioning, with joy, with laughter, hesitantly, with sadness. Try emphasizing different words in the sentence and see what that does to the meaning. Meaning is often transformed by a single comma. Let's eat Grandpa. Let's eat, Grandpa.  Check out my book of skits for teens here. Science experiments students can do at home. There are plenty of sites online for ideas, this one looks good. https://sciencebob.com/category/experiments/ Demonstrate in class and have students try the experiment at home for homework...share any photos, or film and results in the next class.Sketching. Give a list of vocabulary words for students to choose from and have them sketch one of them, then share results. If you do this for five minutes in each lesson, students will get better at sketching. Have the most talented sketcher show the others how to sketch a specific object. You can find lots of great 'how to draw' methods free online. In the same vein, try Bob McKim's 30 Circles Test (McKim was a Standford University Researcher.) Students draw 30 circles and then take five minutes to turn those circles into anything their imagination can think of. Do it with any shapes. Students compare items drawn and ideas. Make it a cooperative or team game, with students working together to come up with the most ideas. You can cover a lot of vocabulary like this, and if you want to get more English into it, have students do a flash-fiction activity, by making up a very short story with ten items drawn in their 30 circles. Again, the more you do it, the better you get.Of course you can do worksheets and readings, and these are super useful. But in this blog post, I tried to think of some more creative ideas, to get students involved in learning English in a more personal way. As you use more creative ideas, your students WILL become better at it. So do persevere, even if at first, everyone seems pretty shy. You will find lots of concrete ideas that you can adapt to online use in my book of activities for teens and adults. The activities are written up for a physical classroom, but there are plenty of teachers using it for online ideas. Use them for vocabulary, grammar, writing tasks, speaking drills, and speaking fluency. Answer to the close-ups: Tyre, Tangerine, Rose, Bread

2 April 2020

Are you teaching from home, using an online platform? Are you sending work to children to do at home? If so, try this story, with quiz and worksheets.From my series of fun stories for children, check out Groundhog Day. This story is fun for all kids. The quiz and worksheets are mostly for kids aged 6-12.Please feel free to use this on your online platform, or send it to your pupils to do from home. Enjoy this free gift. If you like it, there are plenty more!Groundhog Day Story Movie for Daily Routinehttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/shared-file/3828/download/PznGw4ZTGroundhog Day Story Quiz and Fun Worksheetshttps://www.teachingenglishgames.com/shared-file/3839/download/OqKOrKWb To get more like this order full set of worksheets here:https://www.teachingenglishgames.com/worksheets-and-quizzes-for-special-days-storiesIf you need help, just ask! Let me know how old your pupils are so I can help you better. Shelley: info@teachingenglishgames.com Vocabulary and Grammar in this storyVocabularyFamily members (revised from previous stories in series)BreakfastDaily Routine Verbs: wake up, get up, eat breakfast, wash your face, brush your teethTownShadowGroundhog (US) or marmot (UK)Concepts: Groundhog Day, Hibernation and the end of winterVerb Tense: Simple PastThe main verbs to be taught have flashcards. In addition, there are many verbs in the simple past: laughed, sang, came, shouted, threw, made, ate, washed, brushed, asked, went, looked, thought, saw, was, cried, ran.All the best,Shelley Ann VernonTeaching English Games 

professions construction workers
13 March 2020

*Professions: What do you do? I’m a mechanic. What does he/she do? She’s/He’s a vet. Start by teaching the professions vocab by asking the class what they do and choosing 8 professions for everyone to learn. The danger of learning more than 8 new words is that it's too many, so no one remembers any of them! Teach the 8 professions via a listening game where you repeat the words over and over. The best way, even for adults, is to do a mime or gesture for each profession. You say the profession, the class mime it. This makes the word and the meaning memorable. Then have some students stand up and mime the professions in small groups. You say FREEZE. The students freeze in the position they are in. Point at one of the students and ask "What is his (or her) profession?"  The class guess what profession is being mimed, which may or may not be easy depending on the position the other student is in. Once you have demonstrated this a couple of times make three teams. One team is the students who are acting, the other two teams watch and guess the professions. Rotate around so each team has a turn acting and freezing while the other two teams try to score the point guessing what the profession is first.If you find you have the same students jumping in and answering before anyone else has a chance then put all those quick students together in the same team.You might be thinking that this sounds a bit childish but the thing is that it really works for learning vocabulary and remembering it. It's so much more effective than just writing up the words on the board for students to copy down.Have students mime in groups or all together. This helps the shy ones feel less awkward. Next, write up the words on the board and have students copy them down since this is important and helps those students who need to see words written in order to memorize them. Then you can write up some anagrams of the words and let students call out what they are. "cotdor" - doctor. Then, it would be useful to work on the question "What do you do?" or "What do you do for a living?" since this is typically how we ask people their profession in spoken English. We don't say "What is your profession?" We might ask that in a formal interview, but not for everyday conversation. Passing game: For this, first drill the question with the whole class repeating it three times after you. Then take a piece of paper with the profession written on it, or use a picture. Show the card. "Doctor". Hand the card to a student and ask: "What do you do?" The person answers you with "I'm a doctor" and takes the card. Demonstrate this a couple of times. Now the student passes the card to the student next door asking "What do you do?" The other student takes the card and answers "I'm a doctor". Repeat with the next student along with the whole class watching. Now you are sure everyone knows what to do so that card goes on it's way around the class with everyone practising the question and answer. In the meantime you give the first student a different profession card to pass around, asking "What do you do?"' and answering "I'm a mechanic" (or whatever is on the card.) Once students are busy passing the cards and practising, clap to stop the activity - all those students with cards stand up and do a forfeit, like answering a general knowledge question, or, for kids, do a silly dance or something fun. After that you can have the class draw a grid with NAME and PROFESSION and students go around the class asking the others "What's your name?'" and "What do you do?" and filling in the chart. Then ask students to get into groups of similar professions, but don't tell them what they should be - leave it up to the students. Students group together in different parts of the room so you might have service jobs in one part of the room, people who work with their hands elsewhere, creative jobs, sales jobs and so on. Then compare notes and see why students thought their professions were related.  Next, play the Fill in Drill game. For this you can write out some simple English - aim it at the level of your class. The game is in my teen and adult ESL games book. This is great for using the professions, the question and answer and mixing in general English for fluency. An example of a text you could use would be this: "Hello there, I'm Paul. What's your name?" "Hello, I'm Jane. Nice to meet you." "What do you do for a living?" "I'm a surgeon" (insert one of the professions you have been using). "Wow, that's interesting. Do you like it?" "I like it apart from the fact that you have to cut people open." (put in something relevant to the profession) "Oh, I see. Mmmm, that could be difficult." "What do you do?" "I'm a _____________" That should be long enough since the students will be memorizing the whole dialogue during the game. Then you can ask them to write it all out from memory and swap papers and check each other's spelling._______________________ Now you have worked on this, it’s time to introduce the third person question form: What does he do? What does she do? Get the class to ask the question with you. Point to a pic of a man doing a job. (Use my professions flashcard set, which can be purchased here, or have students draw pics, or find some in magazines or your textbook.) Ask ‘What does he do?’ Choose one student to answer. Now switch to a female for, ‘What does she do?’ and have students answer. Jump back and forwards between men and women so students get used to switching from he to she. Say the question in different rhythms, pausing on a different word each time, and have students copy your rhythm. Speed it up, slow it down. That’s a good excuse to have students repeat the sentence several times but in a varied way. If you are musically inclined, sing up an arpeggio ‘What does he dooooooooo?’ Boys hold the base note on ‘What’. Boys or girls hold the other notes in the chord in turn. Then point at a picture and class answers ‘he’s a gardener’ or whatever the profession is. If you have kids, this will take some training. But once your kids know how to hold a chord as a class, you’ll be able to use this musical interlude for lots of sentences.  If your students are fun-loving, play the hand slap game from 176 ESL Games for Children. Kids love this. Some adult will, but not all. Students stand opposite each other. Each one places his or her right hand out in front. Student A’s hand is on top. (See the picture, here left, but with two people not four.) Student A asks, ‘What does she do?’ Student B replies with any profession that comes to mind, ‘She’s a doctor.’ And SLAP, student B tries to slap student A’s hand, before student A can move it out the way. Swap over.Your students don't have to be laughing in your lesson, (though they might) but the very fact that they are actively participating is going to mean they will be learning better.If your lesson is a long one, you can play full game description  From ESL Activities for Teens and Adults: Play the Grammar Auction game using all forms of the question and answer, some correct, some with errors. You could play Typhoon or Blow Your House Down using famous people your students are likely to know. This could be presidents, singers, actors, chefs, architects, politicians and people in the news, people on TV from soaps or shows and so on.  If you want to work on the past simple form and ask "What did she do?" then use famous people who are dead. Albert Einstein: What did he do? He was a scientist. Let me know how it goes and what ideas you try out from there.  Shelley 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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