Introducing my new book!

I’ve been a very busy bee over the summer holidays and have written, created and published an entirely new ESL book for children aged 4 to 6 years old! How exciting!

To get your copy on Amazon click here.

About the book:

49 Colourful, attractive worksheets for Shelley Ann Vernon’s preschool stories 1-10. These worksheets are suitable for children aged 4 to 6. The worksheets are a mix of colouring, tracing over letters, copying words, counting, labyrinths, listening and following instructions. There are also two join the dots and a puzzle. There are: 5 worksheets to trace over the alphabet letters. 4 worksheets per story making a total of 40. 4 pages of verbs.

If you have any questions, please contact me – Shelley games (AT) teachingenglishgames.com (obviously you take out the brackets and the AT and replace those with the @ sign !). Find out more here.

First lesson of the year!

Here is an idea for the first lesson of the year, (for when you find your students again after the long summer holiday).

Do a big revision quiz in teams. Make three or four teams. Ask Team A a question (or have the best student in the class take that role). Allow five seconds for the reply to earn two points if the answer is correct. If there is no reply, on your signal the floor is open to teams B, C and D to jump in with the answer and earn one (not two) points. Then it’s Team B’s turn and so on.

For the questions use a mixture of:
– Naming vocabulary items – such as clothing the children are wearing, items in the classroom or in their pencil cases and use vocabulary flashcards.
– Questions like “What’s your name?” “Do you have a dog?”
– Actions like “touch a pen, show me a book, touch the wall, touch something blue”.
– For higher levels, tailor the questions accordingly.

Doing activities like that needs no prep (just taking in vocab pictures) and you can use it over and over for revision throughout the year.

How do I improve reading fluency?

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I received this question this morning from an experienced ESL teacher:  ‘I am preparing a lesson on accurately reading words, sentences and phrases out loud.  My pupils are 14 years old. What activities can you recommend for this Shelley?’

 

Luckily her question isn’t only about reading fluency, it is also about speaking fluency since she would like students to be able to read well out loud. I would recommend reading the passage many times until it becomes fluent.  After all practise makes perfect.  She could also try having the kids read it out in a high pitched voice,, boys and girls.  Then someone else reads it in a very low voice, someone else with sadness, another in a panic.  It’s a bit of fun and is an excuse to review the same passage over and over and have fun with it!

 

You can also have students repeat the passage (working in pairs) to different rhythms. That is quite challenging and takes some practise, it’s brilliant for fluency. Check the game CHANTS in the Teen/Adult games book for a full description of that idea.

She could also give the students the reading passage. Students are to read out their text with a rhythm in the background. Use a metronome or have the class or a partner clapping rhythmically as the beat. Students are free to fit the text into the beat as best they can. Some students who are musical will do this well naturally and for others it will be much harder. If you try this yourself first you will see that it is excellent for encouraging fluency, as often one is obliged to run many words together quickly to fit into a beat. 

Be sure to do a clear demonstration first using a slow beat and a faster  

The pace of the beat should not be too fast. One beat per second is quite slow, and you could use this for beginners. Here are some examples of how the first words of this game’s explanation can be read. The syllable in bold indicates where the beat falls, which is when the other students clap.

 

Give—stu—dents—short—di—a—logues

 

This is one syllable per beat. You don’t want this, as it is dreary and too slow.

 

Givestu-dents—shortdi-alogues

 

This is much better, and students have to say the word ‘dialogues’ quite quickly to fit it into the beat.

 

Give—stu—dents—short—di-a-logues ly—rics—from—songs

 

This is far more musical – the student has started on the upbeat with ‘give’.

 

Remember repetition is the mother of skill so you just need ways to make it fun.

 

If you are reading this blog and you’d like more ways to liven up your teaching then please visit Teaching English Games or check out my books on Amazon.

 

Thanks for reading!
All the best
Shelley Ann Vernon

Olympics themed summer course ideas

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Last week, a teacher emailed me to ask, ‘Can you help me prepare a vacation course on the Olympics?’ No problem!
 
When faced with preparing a five-day course it can be somewhat daunting thinking about “filling” the vast stretches of time between 9 am on the first day and 5pm on the last day.  It’s helpful therefore to think of it not as five days but many hour-long lessons.
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I would normally keep the morning for intense language learning and the afternoon for related activities such as crafts, cooking, dressing up, songs with choreography and more active outdoor games.  In this teacher’s case since they were focusing on The Olympics I suggested they could think about inventing an athletics track and running an Olympics competition. Obviously you don’t want the most sporty kid to win everything, so you can diversify your Olympics with gold medals for the best picture, the best actor, the best singer, the best hair, the best dancer- whatever, so every child has a medal at the end of the course.  You could also include making the medals in a craft hour when the kids are tired.  There is loads of scope for miming sports and guessing what they are, playing Simon Says + the sport, playing a sport like rounders but to have the right to bat the child has to name particular vocabulary or repeat a short dialogue.
I suggested breaking the morning down into:
1. Drilling new vocabulary and grammar through games
2. Board games and quizzes
3. Working on words for a skit or a song
In the afternoon after lunch I would work on choreography for a song – why not choose a national anthem to tie in with the Olympics theme!? This can be dance moves or actions and/or acting out the story told in the song.  Let those who enjoy dancing do the dance moves but don’t force it on everyone.  Those self-conscious ones who are too shy can do actions they feel comfortable with instead.
Next I suggested working on putting a skit together using language taught during the morning. This builds gradually over the course so that by the end the skit may be performed, with props, by heart, to parents.  I have a couple of skits on sports in my plays and skits book that would be ideal, you can either download them on your Kindle or smart phone or order from Amazon in paperback – see more information here.
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Recommended resource for summer courses.  Kindle, paperback and PDF instant download formats.

 

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, I would play more language games, but boisterous ones where the children run to the end of the garden (or hall) to collect the correct flashcard, play egg and spoon race (to vocabulary you choose), play Twister (using body parts vocabulary) and so on.  The games always have a language purpose but they are less intense than the morning sessions as children will be tired and in need of some fun and play time.  After all the kids are on holiday and if they don’t enjoy the classes they might not show up the next day!
At the end of the course it’s a good idea to put on a show to parents so they can see what they have been paying for, and feel included in their child’s education. Don’t worry, a show may seem daunting but if you break it down it’s easy!
Here are some ideas for content: 
1. Two skits (like those from my plays and skits book).
2. Two songs that the children choose and they should at least be able to sing the chorus and act out the verse.
3. Show off all the vocabulary and language from the units you have covered through vocabulary games that you perform in front of parents.
4. Stage a quiz where one pupil asks the questions (that you have prepared on cards and the other kids are in teams.)  Make sure each team have a buzzer as you could stage it like a TV show.  All the questions come from the work you have been covering during the week – e.g. hold up a picture and they name the word, or you hold up a picture of a tennis racket and a question mark – that means they make a question such as “do you want to play tennis?”
The kids will be very motivated by the idea of showing off to their parents and being the center of attention in a TV show, plus children focus mainly on the short-term so it gives them a purpose for their lessons that is much closer to reality for them than some future point in their lives when it may be useful for them to speak English.

How can I involve parents at my school Open Day

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Question:  I have an open day coming up for parents at my language school to sell our summer vacation English camps.  We will be giving a demonstration class and I would like parents to be involved.  How can I include parents in a game?

 

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Answer:
You could play the egg and spoon game with the parents and kids together.  Mix up the parents and children though otherwise the parents will probably win!  The egg and spoon race is from the preschool games book and has teams running to the vocabulary you name, or answering a question in English before running with the egg and spoon.

 

If you want to show something more serious then play a quiz where participants answer all types of questions from vocabulary, to easy questions like: What’s your name? Where do you live?  What colour is this?  Do you like fish? This is basically a giant revision quiz of themes you have been teaching all year.  Parents can be on one team and kids on the other.  Make sure the children win, but it can be close!

 

Here is the egg and spoon race taken from my preschool games book:

You will need either potatoes or boiled eggs and spoons for each team/person.

Play the classic egg and spoon party game where children race from point A to point B balancing a boiled egg on a spoon. I suggest using potatoes instead of eggs and possibly serving spoons to make it easier. Show the children how to hold the whole handle of the spoon in the middle rather than holding it at the end, as it is a lot easier to balance the potato that way. There is no need to race; completion is the aim. The 5 year old children might enjoy it as a race. If you have too many children to send them all at once, send them in batches.

Step One: Listening

For listening and learning new vocabulary lay out pictures and tell each batch of children or each child if they are going individually, to go to a certain picture, or two or three pictures, before returning back over the start line. The aim is for the child to complete the course without dropping the potato, and also to go to the correct pictures.

 Step Two: Speaking

For speaking, the children must go to the picture at the end, jump on it three times without dropping the potato, while naming it (once on each jump) and return. Swap the pictures around or put out new ones between goes to make it more demanding.

Read more ESL articles and tips here.

“Your resources are already saving me heaps of time and lessening the anxiety from having such a hectic and mixed teaching schedule.  I’m teaching kindy (4 students) , elementary (15 students) and middle school (50 students).”  Anthony Bennett, S. Korea (3 to 5 and 4 to 12 English teaching games)

Teaching One to One

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Most teachers at some time in their career have to teach one to one classes. They find this situation a very different, challenging experience with unique possibilities and unique problems. With this in mind, a teacher wrote to me last week for some advice on teaching on a one to one basis, they had some unique challenges that included added pressure from the students parents and here is my response:

 

The Problem:

 

I am teaching a boy in South Korea but he’s just not interested.  He pays no attention to me, says he doesn’t like English and goes off to play with his toys. What can I do?

 

The solution:

 

This boy may be afraid of failure, or he may have been put off learning English from too much pressure from parents.  That said you still need to find a way to attract him and make him want to learn with you.

 

I would try this: scrap the idea of wanting him to be interested in learning English and instead spend the hour playing with him.  I have tried this with my nephew and once we played with all his cars in his bedroom we then made a Channel Tunnel crash.  We piled up the cars, made massive tail-backs, the helicopters and fire-engines were there and the scenario developed.

 

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Playing in English can help a reluctant child learn.

Now, you must be thinking – how does this help me teach him English?
While you are playing together you can just be naming things in English, like “here comes the ambulance.” or ask him, “where shall we put the ambulance?” and give the ambulance to place in the scene – without expecting him to say anything in English (that’s the key)!

 

Once you build up a rapport together you’ll be able to line up all the toys and then he has to name the toy in order to get it, and make up a scene with it. Make sure you talk to the parents first, explain what you want to do and why and see if they would agree to it.’
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Watch the video here for more ways to get started on teaching English using fun games and skits.

 

Try this!

 

Play games that HE likes, and find ways to bring English into them. He might like aiming at objects or throwing them in a bin, try doing  that game together whilst you speak English and he just takes the objects, or picks up the objects that you name.  Just don’t expect him to speak in English yet, and focus on building his trust.

 
Are you trying to convince your students parents? Here are some of the advantages of teaching one on one:

  • The student has the undivided attention of the teacher, meaning he has more opportunity to engage in real communication, have more feedback and you will have a better understanding of the learner’s needs.
  • The student has more control over the aims of the class, the pace and the materials.
  • The student has more opportunities to use the teacher as a resource – to ask questions, to see models of language, and to practise their newly developed language skills.
  • The student can develop a real and productive relationship with the teacher.

Download our fun games and skits for children here.