Collaborative idea generation for ELT

20 Phrasal Verbs

Gordon Scruton sent me this tweet last week:

The link took me to his blog, about an interesting lesson based on the 20 most common phrasal verbs in English. The list he based the lesson on came from the Learn English from Home blog, and I have copied it below.

bring up, carry on, chase up, come across, come up with, fall apart, get along, get away with, get over, give up, go on, hold on, look after, look up, make out, pull over, put down, put off, turn up, watch out. (Click here for the original article with explanations)

So, what would you do with this list of phrasal verbs in class? Take a look at Gordon’s lesson for a bit of inspiration, and let’s help him out with some more ideas 🙂 You can make any assumptions you like about the context they are used in. There are no wrong answers…

Click here to find out more about the idea behind this blog.

Comments on: "20 Phrasal Verbs" (7)

  1. Must be a slow week in the ELT brainstorm world 😉

    I think what we’re looking for here is a way to make these phrasal verbs “stick”. They can be tough, especially when you get into the “get” and all its directions !

    So, if you have a group that’s open to a bit of silliness, one way of making these stick might be to bring in a kinesthetic element— have them act out sentences with each other (or in groups) and emphasize the direction in some way ie:

    Bring UP (and have them throw their hands up)
    Give UP (…) Look UP (…) Carry (on)…

    It’s worth a try. It might work because it’s a bit different and can be goofy. In either case, if it sticks with the group, I think these somewhat tough phrasal verbs could just become a bit easier to “own” for the SS. Cheers, brad

    • Ah, the bane of my existence – silliness in the classroom! 🙂 I completely agree with you Brad but I think that silliness in the classroom is a tone that has to be set by the teacher. Unfortunately for my students, my ‘silliness’ only extends to acting out “trip over” every now and then. Being truly silly and committing to it is an incredibly brave thing to do. I really need to work on that facet of my teaching. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • “trip over”… haha, you cracke me UP.

        Being silly might require some bravey, but it doesn’t come without its possible consequences as well—> ESPECIALLY with young learners. Setting that tone can be easy, but then it’s hard to get them to focus back on anything “not silly”. A fine line, and I agree that the teacher could launch this kind of kinesthetic silliness… again, it’s a matter of knowing our SS, ourselves, and taking some risks.

        I think I’d risk this one if I had a group willing to open up a bit.

        Cheers, brad

  2. Sandy,

    Thanks for taking the idea and broadcasting it. I’ll say that, rethinking it more objectively (always easier when you don’t have to plan for a specific class – why is that?), I believe the key here is to engage the learners as to the importance of these particular phrasal verbs. Apparently they are the 20 most common phrasal verbs but whether they are or not is irrelevant (they are all certainly commonly used at least).

    I think a conversation and a guessing game of sorts needs to stem from this. Before the learners see the phrasal verbs, they should try to produce their own lists of 20 (or 10 depending on level, etc.) in pairs or groups of three. A collaboration and negotiation on the board as a next step would allow the teacher to check understanding and maybe feed in some additional uses for those phrasal verbs already known.

    Then a comparison with the original list.

    Thinking more about it, the “20 most common” phrasal verbs must be so dependant on geography and demographics as to almost be useless. I mention this because obviously dealing with “pull over” with a bunch of teenagers would be pretty much a non-starter since none of them drive. Sure, their parents do, but it’s not an action that is part of their own lives yet, not really.

    Perhaps the idea of the 20 Most Common Phrasal Verbs is a stronger point to build an activity around than the phrasal verbs themselves. We’ve all done the trick of having a pile of blank paper and telling the students “I’ve got a test here, what do you think is in it?” so maybe the action of “I’ve got a list here, what do you think is on it?” is enough to get something special started.

    To contextualize my comment here: I’ve just finished watching Luke Meddings BC Seminar on teaching unplugged, so I’m currently thinking materials light and maximising input from the learners. 🙂

  3. Oh, and Bob Knowles (@BobK99) left this suggestion on my blog so I’ll copy it in here as well:

    Although it’d take you longer than you could allow for your Ss, you could write a story based on all the ones that use ‘come’ or ‘take’ (or… these are just the first two that spring to mind), and make a cloze (with gaps for the particles) – to be followed up with some of the reinforcing activites already mentioned.

  4. Get them to write fictional status updates of famous people (or classmates/friends) using these phrasal verbs.

  5. If you’re still looking for ideas, here is one that uses photos. Have several photos ready to show to the students. Some possible photos: a man and woman arguing; a driver pulled over by the police; or, for some real American culture added in, two people at a yard sale. Show the first photo to the students and they need to think of as many sentences that use the phrasal verbs for each photo that would be a logical part of a conversation relating to the photo.

    For example, the photo of the man and woman arguing: “I didn’t know my ex was going to SHOW UP at the party.” “You need to GET OVER it.” “I hate it when you PUT DOWN my best friend.” “Why do you have to BRING UP my accident with the Mercedes every time we have an argument?” “What excuse are you going to COME UP WITH this time?”

    The statements wouldn’t have to be in any logical order, just an exercise to think of logical sentences. You could put the students in groups of 3 and have them take turns thinking of a sentence, then cross it out and the next group says another sentences. This idea just came to me after reading your post so I don’t have any personal experience with it to say how well it works.

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