Posted tagged ‘phrasal verbs’

Learning Phrasal Verbs: What You Need to Go Over

January 21, 2015

I try never to ask more of others than I do of myself. Creating a 20-day phrasal verb challenge is putting my stamina as a content creator to the test. I’m inviting learners to follow a series of short lessons for twenty days. That means I have to come up with a daily lesson for twenty days straight. We’re at Day 14 now. I’ll be relieved when I get to the homestretch.

Learners are doing a great job keeping pace, and a good number are creating their own examples or using the phrasal verbs in their comments. I can’t stress enough the need for multiple encounters and practice with feedback. I’m also placing strong emphasis on review, and in each lesson we go over meanings and forms. I think some students make the mistake of just learning the meanings, but then they struggle to use phrasal verbs correctly because they didn’t study forms or common contexts.

To help with the first half of my list, I already offered my Brushing Up_handout. Now for those who wish to cover the second half of the list with their students, here’s a similar activity: Going Over Phrasal Verbs_handout.

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.


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