Posted tagged ‘phrasal verbs’

Still Thinking It Over: More ways to practice phrasal verbs

May 31, 2012

Hopefully, some of you were able to try out the Think It Over activity from last week.  When I worked with an advanced private student, we quickly got through Tasks 1 and 2, and then focused on finding one-word equivalents for phrasal verbs, which we did with an article he had read in preparation for our lesson. This made me think it would be useful to list some possible ways teachers can turn an authentic text into a phrasal verb activity.

  • Last week, a reader and fellow blogger, Bekah Palmer, suggested that we delete all prepositions from a text and ask students to decide if the verb was the first word of a phrasal verb, and if so, what the particle(s) would be.
  • Like  Bekah, I’ve turned existing sentences into controlled exercises. One way is to pull sentences with phrasal verbs from a text after reading it and remove all the particles. Students must fill in the blanks based on what they’re able to recall and their knowledge of particle meanings: “Britain officially slipped ________ recession.”  A second way is to pull sentences with phrasal verbs from a text before reading it and give a choice of particles. For example, “Britain officially slipped (back over/ across/ back into) recession.” (Taken from NPR article One After Another, European Leaders Get the Boot.)
  • You can underline a set of phrasal verbs within a text and have students match them to their one-word equivalents on the board. Advanced students should actually be able to provide many of these one-word equivalents. In my last  lesson with  my advanced private student, I decided to give an inline choice of particles and then ask for a one-word equivalent. For instance, “Authorities could require people [depositors] to take (in/ out/ over) a new form of currency…” (from NPR.org)  > He correctly chose “take out” and then reworded the phrasal verb as “withdraw.”
  • I’ve also given communicative practice with phrasal verbs seen in a text by incorporating them into discussion questions. For example, what are some common reasons to take out large amounts of cash from the bank? How often do you withdraw money?


Do you have any preferred way of practicing phrasal verbs with upper level students?

Think It Over: An activity to develop understanding of phrasal verbs

May 24, 2012

By the request of a student, I’ll be developing some materials to practice phrasal verbs. I’ve decided to focus on the particles and their common meanings. I think such exercises will aid in understanding the more idiomatic phrasal verbs that upper level students students either confuse or have yet to encounter. Do you agree? Please let me know if the Think It Over_handout works well with your students. In this activity, I chose to focus on six particles: up, off, back, down, over, and out. Next week, I’ll try to target other particles.

Note: My definitions are based on those in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online.

Phrasal Verbs: Round 3!

February 4, 2011

I decided to offer a complete set of activities on phrasal verbs this week. With the following activity, you now have the choice of focusing on intransitive, inseparable, and/or separable phrasal verbs. Of course, I do not recommend tackling all three activities in one week. 60 phrasal verbs would overwhelm most learners. I do think that advanced students who are already familiar with the structure and use of phrasal verbs could handle a robust review, though. If combined with other forms of practice (I’d suggest conversation and writing for self-expression), each of my activities would work well within a weekly lesson plan.

Phrasal Verb Dominoes 2: An activity for separable phrasal verbs.

See Separable phrasal verbs_handout.

Step 1 – Hand out Quiz 1. Have students complete the quiz solo. Then ask them to pair up to compare their answers. Finally, correct the quiz as a class. [Definitions based on the Longman Dictionary of American English.]

Step 2 – Copy enough sets of dominoes for students to play in groups of 4 (5 is also possible).  Cut horizontally to create 20 slips of paper. Hand each group a set. Shuffle the “dominoes” (slips of paper) and distribute evenly. Note: This game must be played around a flat surface (either a small table or a few desks pushed together to create a central area).

Step 3 – Playing the game: The student with the first birthday in a calendar year will start by placing any domino in the center of the table. Moving clockwise, each student will have a chance to make a match. Matches are made when a sentence opener (one right side of “domino”) can be placed alongside a particle (one left side of “domino”). Two dominoes can be placed to make a horizontal line or to create an L-shaped pattern. The player who makes a match must read the sentence aloud. If no match can be made, the next student takes his or her turn. If a match is made, the other players must confirm it’s correct by looking at Quiz 1 answers.

IMPORTANT: The first player to use all his or her dominoes wins, but the game must be played until all dominoes are used.

Step 4 – Suggestion: It’s ideal to play 2-3 rounds of dominoes so that students learn to make different matches and the model sentences are read aloud by the group more than once. After the game is over, have students take Quiz 2. Correct answers as a class.

Phrasal Verbs: Round 2!

February 2, 2011

I hope the previous posting with Phrasal Verb Dominoes leads to an enjoyable review of 20 intransitive phrasal verbs. I thought it would be a good idea to follow that activity with one for students to practice a set of transitive phrasal verbs. The activity in this posting features 20 inseparable phrasal verbs.

Activity: Sentence Match-Ups

View Inseparable phrasal verbs_handout

Step 1 – Hand out Quiz 1. Have students try the quiz solo, completing as many items as possible. Note that it is all right to leave unfamiliar items blank. Then ask them to pair up to compare their answers. Finally, correct the quiz as a class. [Definitions based on the Longman Dictionary of American English.]

Step 2 – Copy enough sets of sentence match-ups for students to play pairs (small groups of 3 are also possible). Cut out all sentence beginnings and all sentence endings to create 40 slips of paper. Note: This game must be played around a flat surface (either a small table or a few desks pushed together to create a central area).

Step 3 – Playing the game: Matches will be made in sets of ten (10 blue, 10 red). If playing in pairs, have Student A hold all the sentence beginnings in blue while Student B holds all the sentence endings in blue. Student A will show a sentence beginning, and Student B will create a match. Matches can be confirmed by looking at the answers to Quiz 1.  Students A and B will reverse roles for the next set of matches in red.

For small groups of 3: Have students assume the same roles as above but only one student (Student A) will hold the sentence beginnings while the other two (Students B and C) will match sentence endings. For the second set, allow Student A to switch roles with either Student B or C.

Step 4 – After the game is over, have students take Quiz 2. Correct answers as a class.

Phrasal Verb Dominoes: An activity for intransitive phrasal verbs

January 31, 2011

Here’s a fun way to study 20 phrasal verbs in a meaningful context. Multiple encounters with the 20 key verbs found throughout the entire activity will help students retain the meaning and use of each verb.

View Intransitive phrasal verbs_handout.

Step 1 – Hand out Quiz 1. Have students complete the quiz solo. Then ask them to pair up to compare their answers. Finally, correct the quiz as a class. [Definitions based on the Longman Dictionary of American English.]

Step 2 – Copy enough sets of dominoes for students to play in groups of 4 (5 is also possible).  Cut horizontally to create 20 slips of paper. Hand each group a set. Shuffle the “dominoes” (slips of paper) and distribute evenly. Note: This game must be played around a flat surface (either a small table or a few desks pushed together to create a central area). 

Step 3 – Playing the game: The student with the first birthday in a calendar year will start by placing any domino in the center of the table. Moving clockwise, each student will have a chance to make a match. Matches are made when a sentence opener (one right side of “domino”) can be placed alongside a particle (one left side of “domino”). Two dominoes can be placed to make a horizontal line or to create an L-shaped pattern. The player who makes a match must read the sentence aloud. If no match can be made, the next student takes his or her turn. If a match is made, the other players must confirm it’s correct by looking at Quiz 1 answers.

IMPORTANT: The first player to use all his or her dominoes wins, but the game must be played until all dominoes are used.

Step 4 – Suggestion: It’s ideal to play 2-3 rounds of dominoes so that students learn to make different matches and the model sentences are read aloud by the group more than once. After the game is over, have students take Quiz 2. Correct answers as a class.

Playful Props

January 7, 2011

Do you keep a bag of props in your classroom? I’ve known teachers who used various props in their grammar and vocabulary presentations, from hand puppets to bouncing balls.  Props can also come in handy for making stories. We all know about chain stories, but consider the variations listed below. All you need is a large container (opaque,  not transparent) that can hold 15-20 small items. Choose from utensils, grooming kits, children’s play sets, stationery, and more. Have a mix of common items and unusual ones.

Grab Bag Story.  Use this whole group activity as a warm-up or end-of-the-lesson filler. The container of props will be passed around the room. Each student will take a turn pulling out an item and stating a sentence based on the object they’re holding. Each sentence should build on to the previous ones, forming a logical (and likely amusing) story.

Grammar Connections. (No, this isn’t a reference to the textbook series.) The format is similar to Grab Bag Story, but student-generated sentences do not necessarily have to form a narrative. On one side of the board make a list of target words or phrases students must use. On the other side, you can record students’ sentences.

  • For a group of high beginners, you might list irregular verbs as base verbs. Have each student take an item from the container and select a target verb to create a sentence in the simple past tense. You can erase words from the list as they are used and write students’ sentences on the other side of the board. Suggestions for irregular verbs: (napkin – eat), (toy car – drive), (pen – write), (knife – cut), (magazine – read), (marker – draw), (eyeglasses – see), etc. 
  • This activity can also be modified to practice phrasal verbs (napkin – eat out, wipe off), (toy car – pick up), (pen – write down), (knife – cut out, cut up), (magazine – look through), (marker- play around, wash out), (eyeglasses – look over), etc. 
  • Other suitable grammar topics: adjective clauses (list relative pronouns on the board), adverb clauses (list subordinating conjunctions on the board), order of modifiers (list adjectives on the board).

Lucky Lot Story. In this variation place students in small groups. Have one member of each group grab a handful of items without looking in the container. The collection items will be placed in the middle of a group, and members must create a story based on those items. As in Grammar Connections, you should require the use of target grammar by listing prompts on the board.

Turning Informal Into Formal: A writing activity for phrasal verbs

October 23, 2009

The purpose of this exercise is to reinforce students’ understanding of the differences between formal and informal English, highlighting the role phrasal verbs can play in changing the register. Students will begin with informal speech and edit it for a more formal context, using one-word equivalents for the selected phrasal verbs.

 

Level: High intermediate to advanced

STEP 1 – Ask students to name people in positions of power who can effect change, for example, a president, mayor, or school director. List their ideas on the board.

STEP 2 – Ask the students to choose one person in power and list 2-3 actions they would like that person to take. Each item on the list must use at least one phrasal verb. Be sure students have access to a good phrasal verb reference chart that includes definitions, such as the one in the appendix of Book 4 of the Focus in Grammar series. Model:

I want our governor to:

  • come up with a way to help out state college students with tuition
  • put together a program to help students find work after college
  • make laws that will stop people from using up too much gas, water, and electricity

STEP 3 – Students will use their lists to compose a short letter. Model the business letter format on the board, indicating the correct positions of the addresses, the greeting, the closing, and the signature.  In the body of the letter, one-word equivalents must replace the phrasal verbs. (Additional revisions may be necessary to increase the formality, e.g., elimination of contractions and abbreviations, more appropriate greetings and closings, etc.) Model:

Dear Sir:

I would like to make three requests. First, I kindly ask you to find a way to assist students who attend state colleges. Tuition is difficult to pay, and students like me need more help to get a good education. Second, the state government needs to create a program to help students find work after college. You could create free job centers at libraries, for example. Finally, I am worried about the environment. I believe the state government can make new laws that will stop people from wasting gas, water, and electricity. Until there are such laws, people will continue to waste.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

 

VARIATION: Instead of a business letter, students can write a short article. Tell them to imagine they are writing for a local newspaper. The headline can be Time for Change or Changes We Need.

Putting Together a Narrative: An activity for phrasal verbs

October 21, 2009

This activity puts a spin on a familiar classroom game: chain stories. It’s best to do it in writing so that the final product(s) can be reviewed. One option is to work as a class, having each student make a one or two-line contribution with the teacher acting as the scribe at the board. A more interesting and perhaps more beneficial approach is to have several stories being formed at once on paper.  More stories mean more contexts in which to study the given phrasal verbs. I will use this second option to illustrate the activity.

 

Objective: To increase awareness of object placement with transitive phrasal verbs

Level: Intermediate to advanced

STEP 1 – Select 6-8 transitive phrasal verbs and list them on the board. Include both separable and inseparable phrasal verbs. Be sure students have access to a phrasal verb reference chart to confirm definitions and whether a given verb is separable or inseparable. You can cue them by listing the phrasal verbs with objects in correct positions. Model:

                Ask someone over

                Go along with something/ someone

                Hang something up

                Look forward to something

                Point something out

                Show something off

                Talk someone into something (or doing something)

                Think something over

                Wake someone up

 

STEP 2 – Next to the list of phrasal verbs, write 8-10 possible objects. You can ask students to volunteer ideas. Try to include some unusual choices to make the activity interesting. You should also include one or two pronouns and at least one very long object that will force students to make a decision regarding the best position of the object in a separable phrasal verb. Model:

                a really cool-looking sports car

                a late night party

                neighbors

                a problem

                big scary dogs

                it

                him

                them

                an idea which at any other time would sound crazy

                the question

 

STEP 3 – Ask students to work in pairs. Give each pair a blank sheet of paper. They must choose one phrasal verb and one object from the list to begin a short story. Once they write their first line, they pass their paper to the pair on the left. Students will continue the story they’ve just received by using a different phrasal verb and a different object from the lists. Sometimes an additional sentence will be necessary to transition from one idea to the next. This second sentence doesn’t have to contain a phrasal verb. End the activity when each story has five or six phrasal verbs. 

STEP 4 – Collect all the stories. Read each one aloud to the class. As you read each line aloud, allow for feedback and corrections.

Possible story:

Jim was taking a nap. His brother, Matt, woke him up.

Jim and Matt had plans. Their friend Pete had asked them over.

Jim and Matt were looking forward to a late night party at Pete’s house.

Pete wanted to show off a really cool-looking sports car which his parents bought for him.

When the brothers got to Pete’s house, Jim pointed out a problem – big scary dogs.

Pete spoke sweetly and talked them into leaving Pete’s front door.  Now they could go in and have fun!

Student Stumper 10: Figuring out phrasal verbs

October 19, 2009

QUESTION: How can we know if a phrasal verb is separable or inseparable?

ANSWER: There isn’t always an easy way to find this out, but a good appendix like those in the upper level books of the Focus on Grammar series will prove to be a useful reference for students. The authors of books 3, 4, and 5 included lists of intransitive and transitive phrasal verbs, noting in the latter which transitive phrasal verbs can or must be separated.

You can explain that three-word verbs are easier to work with than two-word verbs. Three-word verbs end with a preposition. The preposition must be followed by an object. One general rule is not to separate a three-word phrasal verb:

                Come up with something

                Follow through with something

                Get out of something

               Go along with something

               Keep up with someone

There are exceptions to the rule but not many. Consider three-word verbs that take two objects. The first object must separate the verb from the adverb particle:

                Give it up for John! = Let’s applaud John!

                Put it down to inexperience = The cause is/ was inexperience.

Of course, since prepositions are followed by objects, students could be taught to categorize phrasal verbs according to whether the verb is followed by an adverb, a preposition, or both. This practice makes the distinction among phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, and phrasal prepositional verbs. I’ve come to prefer simplifying my instruction and using the term particle to refer to the short words following the verb.  I think it’s less taxing to simply view the phrasal verb as a unit: a verb plus one or two particles. As each two- or three-word unit is studied, the student must learn three things about it: what it means, if it’s transitive or intransitive, and if it’s transitive whether it can be separated or not.

How do you teach phrasal verbs? What terms do you use with your students when talking about structure?

Channeling TV Guides Into the Classroom

October 1, 2009

The listings in a TV guide provide a wealth of material for the ESL classroom. The authentic source places common grammar structures and high frequency vocabulary in an entertaining context. Here are just a few ideas for putting this material to use to facilitate your instruction.

  • Adjective clauses.

Plot summaries of films and TV show premises often contain adjective clauses as well as reduced adjective clauses and appositives. You can present one listing at a time and challenge students to identify the adjective clause(s) used.

Example from The Week. September 25, 2009, p.34.

Movies on TV

Dances with Wolves

Seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, went to Kevin Costner’s epic Western about a cavalry officer who joins the Sioux. (1990)

 

  • Comparatives, superlatives, and equatives.

 

Films are usually listed with critics’ ratings. Presenting two or three movie listings would allow students to answer questions such as: Which has the higher/ highest rating? Which movie is rated as high as ____? Looking at film dates, students can answer: Which films are the most recent? Which film is the oldest? To test their comprehension of the plot summary, you can ask: Which movie is least/ most appropriate for children? Which movie seems the most interesting to you?

 

  • Idiomatic, general, and academic vocabulary.

 

A single TV listing can be turned into a vocabulary exercise with the help of a dictionary. Simply copy the listing and prepare questions that require students to find synonymous words/ phrases for the definitions you provide. [Find the word or phrase that means ___.]

 

Example from The Week. September 25, 2009, p.34.

 

Show of the Week

Brick City

…[T]his five-night documentary series follows young Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker from public meetings to schools to midnight basketball games as he struggles with the city’s high rates of gang-related crime and violence. It also introduces us to Newark’s police director and community leaders, including a former gang member who has turned her life around – but who in Episode 1 must turn herself in to authorities on a 4-year-old parole violation.

 

  1. Find two phrasal verbs. Which one means to change in an important way, especially for the better? [turn around] Which one means to give someone or something to the police? [turn in]
  2. Find the word that refers to the police. [authorities]
  3. Find the word that means fight (against). [struggle (with)]
  4. Find the word that means was before, but no longer is. [former]
  5. What is the adjective we use to describe something that is four years old? [four-year-old]
  6. What is the adjective we use to describe something that lasts for five nights? [five-night]

 

  • Conversation starters.  

The premise of a TV show itself can be a conversation theme. Students don’t necessarily have to have seen the show to form an opinion about it. For example, the merits and dangers of reality shows and TV competitions (e.g., Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, etc.) are an appropriate topic for upper level students. Also, footage from actual shows can stimulate great discussion. American TV episodes are available online. One source is TV Guide.com. Full episodes are downloadable for a small fee, but short clips (approx. 2 min.) are free. From sitcoms to dramas, the choices abound.  Prepare a few stimulating questions based on one clip, and you’ll have 15-20 minutes of discussion. Couple it with a focus on language used (grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation), and you’ll have a complete lesson.


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