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Teacher's Corner: Phrasal Verbs
This month in the Teacher’s Corner, we will explore phrasal verbs in specific contexts. Each week, we will present a new activity for students to practice phrasal verbs through inductive learning. This week, try our Phrasal Verb Game in your classroom!

Phrasal verbs are perhaps the best-known example of the difference between formal and informal English. Phrasal verbs are never used in academic writing, yet phrasal verbs seem to be everywhere in spoken English. Without them, our students’ spoken English can appear too formal. Our students need phrasal verbs to make their spoken English more natural and conversational. Yet, for our students, the number of phrasal verbs and the rules around phrasal verbs can make learning them intimidating.

Do I pick up, pick on, pick at, or pick over? Do I pick it up or pick up it? Phrasal verbs can be overwhelming; however, they are governed by a few basic rules.

  1. Phrasal verbs are either transitive or intransitive.
    1. A transitive verb requires a direct object.
      • For example: He drove the car. He drove what? The car.
    2. An intransitive verb does not require a direct object.
      • For example: She ran this morning.
  2. Most transitive phrasal verbs can have the noun go after or between the verb and the particle. If a noun can go between the verb and the particle that phrasal verb is separable.
    • For example: He never turns off the lights or He never turns the lights off.

However, if the direct object is a pronoun, it must come between the verb and particle.

  • Incorrect: He never turns off them. Correct: He never turns them off.
  1. Some transitive phrasal verbs are inseparable and a noun cannot come between the verb and the participle.
    • Correct: We need to check out of the hotel. Incorrect: We need to check the hotel out of.
  2. Intransitive phrasal verbs never have an object. To include an object we have to use another preposition.
    • For example: I decided to sign up for the school play.

In this month’s Teacher’s Corner, we will check out the world of phrasal verbs by practicing them in specific contexts. Each week will provide students a chance to play with and practice phrasal verbs through inductive learning. In inductive learning, students are provided an example and from that example learn rules, definitions, or meanings. After students have practiced using the phrasal verbs and learned the rules through working with specific examples of phrasal verbs, they will begin to understand the rules of phrasal verbs. For this month’s Teacher’s Corner, it is recommended to let students practice first and then at the end of the month provide them with the rules listed above. You may be surprised at how much of the rules students pick up through inductive learning!

Each activity this month provides students a context to learn the meanings of specific phrasal verbs and opportunities to practice these phrasal verbs in the same context.

Week 1 – Phrasal Verb Quiz Game

Week 2 – Planning a Party

Week 3 – House Party

Week 4 – Vacation Travel

Week one kicks off the month with a quiz game on phrasal verbs. Week two encourages students to plan the perfect party with their classmates. In week three, students learn phrasal verbs while cleaning up after a party. Finally, this month’s Teacher’s Corner concludes with students taking some time off and planning a relaxing vacation.

For more on phrasal verbs check out: The Lighter Side Train of Thought

For more on recognizing noun position check out: Nouns on the Job Market: An Approach for Recognizing Noun Position

For more on inductive learning check out: Discovering Grammar with Consciousness-Raising Tasks

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Table of Contents

Week 1 - Phrasal Verb Quiz GameExpand

Level

Low-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, reading (primary focus); listening (secondary focus) 

Goals

Students will increase their understanding of phrasal verbs through phrasal verb activities.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device, computer and projector.
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner uses a popular quiz-game format to review phrasal verbs. In a Phrasal Verb Matching Game, there are five categories with each category having five questions or clues.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Download the Phrasal Verb Matching Game PowerPoint included with this week’s materials.
    • The phrasal verbs used in the PowerPoint are focused on commonly used verbs: take, come, look, get, and bring. However, the Phrasal Verb Match Up cards and the PowerPoint can be changed to reflect other phrasal verbs that you may have taught in class.
  3. Read through the PowerPoint Phrasal Verb Matching Game – Answer Key in Appendix 1 to review all the clues. In the PowerPoint, each clue has a definition for the phrasal verb and an example sentence. The students must correctly fill in the blank of the sentence. For example: To begin or start a new hobby. I have decided to _____ the guitar and maybe start a band!
  1. In the example above, the student needs to fill in the blank with take up. If they use the correct phrasal verbs, they earn the points for that clue.
  2. Print out the Phrasal Verb Match Up cards in Appendix 2. Make one copy for each team of students. Cut the Phrasal Verb Match Up cards so that each word is on its own slip of paper. Each team of students should receive a total of 25 slips of paper.

Note on the PowerPoint: the PowerPoint works by clicking on the points in each box on the first slide. Clicking on the points will take you to the slide with the question for those points. Each question slide has a purple arrow at the bottom left. Click this arrow to return to the first slide.

Procedures

Part 1: Phrasal Verb Jeopardy

  1. Begin the class activity by having the students form small groups. Each group should be between three to four students. These groups will work as a team to answer the clues and earn points.
  2. Decide which team will go first.
  3. The team to go first can choose the category at the top of the PowerPoint and then choose the points they would like to attempt.
  4. For every clue, all the teams may attempt to answer. The team which raises a hand first is given the chance to answer first. If they are correct, they earn the points. If they are incorrect, another team may try to answer the question.
  5. The team that successfully answers a clue is allowed to choose the next clue.
  6. The game ends when all the clues have been attempted. The team with the most points wins the game.
    • For added difficulty, teams can lose points. If a team answers a clue incorrectly, they lose that many points from their overall score.

Part 2: Phrasal Verb Match Up

  1. Provide the teams with the Phrasal Verb Match Up cards and instruct the teams to create phrasal verbs with the cards. Give the students 5-10 minutes to complete the activity depending on level.

Note: The words the students are working with are the same as those in the PowerPoint game played in Part 1.

  1. Once students have created phrasal verbs using the matching cards, have them write down the meaning of each phrasal verb or write down a verb with the same meaning.
    1. For example, with the phrasal verb take off students can write down the verb remove.
    2. The goal in this part of the activity is for the students to think critically about each of the phrasal verbs. Even though they are writing definitions, these definitions may be incorrect. At this stage of the lesson, that is acceptable. Other teams may rely on their memory of the material covered in the game in Part 1, and this is acceptable as well.
  2. Next, with each team having phrasal verbs and definitions have them write sentences using each of the phrasal verbs.
    1. Students may use the phrasal verbs incorrectly in their sentences during this part of the exercise. However, later in the exercise they will be able to correct their sentences. The goal at this step is for students to inductively learn the meanings of the phrasal verbs. In an inductive learning approach, students use examples to guess and come to learn the rules of grammar or word meanings.
  3. Once each team has completed their sentences, have them compare sentences with another team.
    1. During this stage of the activity, differences in meanings of the phrasal verbs will appear between teams. Let them work through these differences with each other to learn from each other and also engage in speaking practice.
  4. End this portion of the activity by having the class come back together, but with students still in their teams. Have teams share their phrasal verbs, definitions, and sentences with the whole class and discuss the teams’ answers as a group. Confirm which of the phrasal verbs they got correct and correct any phrasal verbs that were incorrect.
    1. This review portion of the activity can be completed with the game PowerPoint used earlier in the class.

Learn more about the phrasal verbs used in this activity and other phrasal verbs on the American English Facebook page!

Appendix 1: PowerPoint Jeopardy – Answer Key

Take

Come

Look

Get

Bring

To begin or start a new hobby.

I have decided to take up the guitar and maybe start a band!

 

To suggest or think of an idea or plan.

 

Let’s come up with a destination for our holiday.

To find information in a book, on a map, on a schedule, etc.

 

We need to look up the when the train arrives.

To enter a small closed vehicle.

 

Shelly got in her car and drove away.

To publish, or to emphasize.

 

I like this shirt because it brings out my eyes.

To remove something, usually clothing or accessories.

It was quite hot in the classroom so I took off my sweater.

To find by accident.

 

While cleaning, I came across a photo of me as a child.

To watch what is happening and be careful.

 

Look out! That dog is angry.

To enter a large closed vehicle.

 

Dan got on the train to go to the capital.

To take something with you.

 

Can you bring over some games to play at the party?

Write information on paper.

We have the test tomorrow so I took down plenty of notes in class.

To get or acquire.

 

We don’t know how she came by that much money.

To read something quickly and briefly.

 

We have a test today, so I need to look through my notes.

To communicate or make something understood.

 

Jill got her ideas across at the meeting.

To raise, to care for from childhood.

 

She was brought up by strict parents.

Take control.

The project was not working well, so I was asked to take over as leader.

To accompany.

 

Can you come along with us to the movies tonight?

To try and find something.

 

We need to look for a birthday present before the party.

To have enough to survive.

 

This month I am getting by because my brother gave me money.

To return something to someone.

 

Can you bring back the book you borrowed?

To have a similar character or personality to a family member.

I take after my mother, we both love football.

To become ill with a sickness.

 

She came down with the flu yesterday.

To think about what is going to happen in the future.

 

I have to look ahead to final exams and graduation.

To recover from something.

 

Anne failed the test, but quickly got over it and studied more.

To cause to happen.

 

The big storm brought about a lot of damage to the neighborhood.

Appendix 2: Phrasal Verb Match Up

take

look

off

out

take

get

down

through

take

get

down

for

take

get

over

ahead

take

get

over

in

come

get

over

on

come

bring

after

back

come

bring

up with

about

come

bring

across

across

come

bring

by

by

look

bring

along

out

look

up

up

up

look

look

 

Appendix 3: Phrasal Verb Match Up – Answer Key

take up

look for

take off

look ahead

take down

get in

take over

get on

take after

get across

come up with

get by

come across

get over

come by

bring out

come along

bring over

come down

bring up

look up

bring back

look out

bring about

look through

 

 

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Week 2 - Let's Have a PartyExpand

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); reading (secondary focus).

Goals

Students will practice phrasal verbs related to life experiences and planning a party.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, printer and copier.
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner provides students opportunity to practice using phrasal verbs related to life experiences and planning a party.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. This phrasal verb activity begins with a warm up activity to provide students with more structured practice using phrasal verbs. However, more advanced classes can skip Part 1 depending on class time.
  3. Print copies of the Find Someone Who cards in Appendix 1. Each student will need a card.
  4. Print copies of the Party Planning sheet in Appendix 2. During that part of the activity, students will be in groups of three to four students. Each group of students will need one Party Planning sheet.
  5. Have a copy of the Party Planning Answer Key in Appendix 3 to check answers with the students.
  6. Appendix 4 contains additional materials on phrasal verbs that can be printed out and shared with the class.

Procedures

Part 1 – Warm Up: Find Someone Who…

1.     Provide each student one of the Find Someone Who cards in Appendix 1.

2.     Have the students read through the ten items on the card and answer any vocabulary questions they may have.

3.     Next, instruct the students to form questions they can ask their classmates on a sheet of paper.

a.     For example: Find someone who always wakes up on time can be changed to the question: Do you always wake up on time?

i.     Note: More advanced classes can skip this step of the activity, so that students have to think up the questions while doing the activity for added challenge.

4.     When students have finished creating questions for each of the find someone who statements, have the students stand up and move around the classroom. Students should ask their classmates the questions they have written. Once a student finds someone who answers the question positively, that student should write that person’s name in the blank.

5.     The warm up continues until the students have filled in as many blanks as they can.

a.     Note: Depending on your class, not all the blanks may be filled in as students may not match the statements.

6.     End the activity by having the students return to their seats and share with the class what they discovered about their classmates.

Part 2 – Planning a Party

  1. Begin this part of the activity by asking students to form small groups of three to four students per group.
  2. Have the groups decide which student will be the organizer for the group. The organizer will have the Party Planning sheet in Appendix 2.
  3. Next, have the group work together to put the phrasal verbs at the bottom of the Party Planning sheet into the correct blanks in the questions. Each phrasal verb will be used once.
  4. Once the groups have placed the phrasal verbs in the questions, review them as a class. Students should correct any mistakes and ask any questions they have.
  5. After the phrasal verbs have been reviewed, have the groups start a discussion around the questions and organize a party. The student with the Party Planning sheet should ask the questions and the rest of the students should respond. The organizer should write down the group’s answers on the Party Planning sheet underneath each question.
  6. Once all of the groups have organized a party, have each group present their party ideas to the class.
    1. If your class has studied Reported Speech, the groups can present their party ideas using reported speech. For example: I said we should stay up late, but the group said we should have the party early.

Optional Activity:

If time permits have the students act out a party in class. Students should stand up and walk around the class like they would at an actual party. The questions they created in the Find Someone Who warm up are great questions to ‘break the ice’ or get to know someone new!

Appendix 1: Find Someone Who

1  ________ always wakes up on time.

2  ________ always picks up after himself/herself.

3  ________ has taken up a new hobby this year.

4  ________ usually puts everything off until the last minute.

5  ________ puts off doing his/her homework.

6  ________ was brought up in the countryside.

7  ________ likes to stay up late.

8  ________ likes to dress up in nice clothes.

9  ________ is too busy to hang out with friends.

10  _______ likes making up stories.

1  ________ never wakes up on time.

2  ________ always picks up after himself/herself.

3  ________ has taken up a new hobby this year.

4  ________ usually puts everything off until the last minute.

5  ________ puts off doing his/her homework.

6  ________ was brought up in the countryside.

7  ________ likes to stay up late.

8  ________ likes to dress up in nice clothes.

9  ________ is too busy to hang out with friends.

10  _______ likes making up stories

Appendix 2: Party Planning

Directions: Organize a party with your friends. Begin by using the phrasal verbs at the bottom to fill in the blanks. Then organize your party by answering the questions as a group.

1.  Who can ________________ music for the party?

2.  Should we _______________ or wear casual clothes?

3. At whose house should we have the party? Who can _______________ early and help prepare?

4.  Who can help _______________ decorations?

5.  Should we end the party early or _______________ late?

6.  Who can help _______________ when the party is over?

7.  Should we play games at the party or just _______________ and relax? If we play games, what games should we play?

8. Should we _______________ before or after the party? If so, where should we go? What should we do?

go out                      clean up                 put up                     hang out

 

dress up                 stay up                    bring over             come over

Appendix 3: Party Planning Answer Key

1.  Who can bring over music for the party?

2.  Should we dress up or wear casual clothes?

3. At whose house should we have the party? Who can come over early and help prepare?

3.  Who can help put up decorations?

4.  Should we end the party early or stay up late?

5.  Who can help clean up when the party is over?

6.  Should we play games at the party or just hang out and relax? If we play games, what games should we play?

7. Should we go out before or after the party? If so, where should we go? What should we do?

 

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Week 3 - House PartyExpand

Level

Low-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); writing (secondary focus)

Goals

Students will practice using phrasal verbs through a dialogue practice and a speaking activity.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, computer with speakers, printer  
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner is divided into three parts: a listening dialogue, a review activity, and a speaking activity. The listening dialogue will provide students vocabulary and sentence structure that they can use in the speaking activity. Before using the activity in class:

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print out the Listening Activity worksheet in Appendix 1. Make enough copies so that each student in class has a worksheet.
  3. Print out (or have a digital copy of) the House Party worksheet answer key in Appendix 1 to check answers with the students.
  4. Download the House Party Listening audio file included with this week’s materials. Listen to the audio before class.
    • If you do not have a computer to play the audio, you can read the dialogue to students. The listening transcript is in Appendix 4.
  5. Print out the House Party worksheet in Appendix 3. Make enough copies so that each student in class has a worksheet.

Procedures

Part 1 – Listening Activity

1.     Give each student a copy of the Listening Activity worksheet in Appendix 1.

2.     Next, read the directions with the students. The students will listen to the audio and fill in the blanks with the words they hear.

3.     Play the audio and have students fill in the blanks on the worksheet.

  • For lower-level classes you may want to play the audio twice.

4.     Review the answers as a group. Have the students check their answers, or they can change papers with a partner and check their partner’s answers.

5.     Play the audio again so students can follow along with the corrected answers on their worksheets.

Part 2 – Phrasal Verbs Charades

1.     Review the phrasal verbs used in the listening activity by playing charades.

  • Note: Charades is a guessing game. In charades, one student silently acts out a word or phrase and the rest of the class must guess the word of phrase.

2.     Act out one of the sentences from the listening activity and have the students guess which sentence is it is.

3.     Have students come to the front of the class and act out another sentence from the listening activity.

  • For more competitive classes, award points to students who are the first to guess correctly. The student with the most points at the end wins.

Part 3 – House Party!

1.     Begin this part of the activity by having the students create their own sentences on a sheet of paper. Encourage the students to use the pattern used in the listening activity:

  • (phrasal verb)  the  (noun)  in/at/on the (location).
  • For example: Clean up the pizza boxes in the living room!

2.     Next, give each student a copy of the House Party! worksheet in Appendix 3. Read the directions on the worksheet as a class.

3.     Have the students form pairs. Each pair will have student A and student B.

  • Note: This activity will be done in two rounds. During the first round, student A will read his/her sentences and student B will write them down on his/her worksheet. Then the pairs will switch roles.

4.     Next, have student A start a dialogue with student B. Encourage the students to use stress and intonation like they heard in the dialogue. Student A needs to instruct student B on how to clean up the house. Student B should write down on the worksheet the instructions he/she hears from student A.

5.     After they have finished sharing sentences and taking notes, have the students switch roles. Student B will now call student A and give instructions.

Optional Activities

  1. If time permits, have the pairs come to the front of the class and act out their dialogue.
  2. Another optional activity is charades. Now that students have had a chance to work with the phrasal verbs, have individual students come to the front of the class and act out the sentences they wrote for the House Party! activity.
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Week 4 - Taking a VacationExpand

Level

High-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); writing, reading (secondary focus).

Goals

Students will practice using reported speech through a vacation-planning activity.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk.
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

In this week’s Teacher’s Corner, students will practice phrasal verbs through a vacation-planning activity.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully before starting the activity.
  2. Print a copy of the Vacation Flyer in Appendix 1 for each pair or small group of students.
  3. Print a copy of the Travel Phrasal Verbs card in Appendix 2. A card can be printed for each group or one can be printed and put on the chalkboard/whiteboard for the whole class.

Procedures

Part 1 – In-Class Practice

1.     Begin the activity by having the students form pairs or small groups.

2.     Inform the students that today you will be discussing vacations.

3.     Next, give each pair or small group of students the Vacation Flyer in Appendix 1.

4.     Give the students time to read the flyer and ask any vocabulary questions they may have.

5.     Next, have the students discuss what they would like to do during the beach vacation shown on the flyer.

a.     Encourage the students to be creative and think of more activities than just those shown on the flyer.

6.     Have the students list the things they want to do on their beach vacation and things they need to do on their vacation.

a.     For example:

Want to do

Need to do

Visit local sightseeing spots

Register at the hotel on arrival

Take nice pictures on the beach

Pack sunscreen in our luggage

  1. Give the students time to work on the list. Be sure to circulate among the students and check their work. Encourage them to include write complete sentences, or at least use a verb and a noun in their ideas. Later, students will replace these verbs with phrasal verbs.
  2. Next, have the class come back together as a group and share the vacation ideas they brainstormed. List these ideas on the board in a format similar to the table in step 6.
  3. Give each group the Phrasal Verbs Travel Card in Appendix 2 or place a copy of the card on the board. Review the phrasal verbs on the card and brainstorm other possible phrasal verbs with the students.
  4. Ask the students which verbs can be replaced with phrasal verbs.
    1. For example:

i.     Note: Not every verb can be replaced with a phrasal verb.

Want to do

Need to do

Check out local sightseeing spots

Check in at the hotel on arrival

Take nice pictures on the beach

Bring along sunscreen

11.  Encourage the students to be creative and think of more things they may want to do, or need to do, during their vacation. For example:

a.     We should dress up and take pictures at the beach.

b.     We must ask a friend to drop us off at the airport and pick us up when we come home.

c.     It is sunny at the beach, so we should put on sunscreen so we don’t get burned!

12.  Once students have some phrasal verbs to work with, have them write a short speech they can present to the class describing their beach vacation.

d.     Once all the pairs/small groups have presented, have the class vote on each presentation:

i.     Which pair/small group is the most practical and planned the best vacation?

ii.     Which pair/small group will have the most fun on their vacation?

Optional Activity

If time permits, have the students form new pairs/small groups based on the type of vacation they would like to take. For example: an adventure vacation in the mountains, a big-city vacation, a quiet vacation at the beach. Then have them create a new vacation plan that fits the type of vacation they would like to take.

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