Phrasal verbs – Register

One of the things I have noticed most is that our students lack knowledge of how much lexis affects register.  Even CPE students I have taught have been puzzled to find phrasal verbs highlighted (by me) in essays, assuming the issue was with meaning, not style or register.  I think students need to know about register and how their choices affect it and so here is a little lesson to highlight it.

The other reason for doing it like this is that students often say:

“phrasal verbs are hard, I’m just not going to use them.”

This hopefully gives them a reason to use them in a way that is manageable and demystifies them, seeing them as just another piece of vocab.

For follow up I am setting noticing skills, asking them to see if they can find other examples in newspapers / magazines / films and bring them into class.  As always, the key is trying to make them a little more autonomous and get them reading outside the classroom environment.

*I am using ‘phrasal verb’ in the lesson to describe multi-word verbs, I know therre is a debate about what is and what isn’t but don’t think it is necessarily helpful for students to play that out in front of them.

Level: High Int +

Aim: To highlight the effect on register of using phrasal verbs

Procedure: 

This lesson starts with a little sort of needs analysis, getting students to think about this first just helps you to find out more about their strengths and weaknesses.

Needs Analysis: You could set it as homework and then ask them to bring it to class to discuss, but I do this as my warmer.  Depending on the students this stage can last between 10-30 mins.

Answers

  1. I think the second option is correct, but in a sense you could accept that both are correct
  2. look at is not a phrasal verb – look into (investigate) and look up (search in a dictionary/online) can be both normal verb and phrasal verb.  Look for meaning search for something is a phrasal verb.
  3. Students own answers and good for discussion
  4. probably more spoken but not exclusively.  There are some phrasal verbs which we use a lot in written English

Get letter – sheet 2: 

T/F questions -answers

  1. F
  2. T
  3. F it is grammatically good but has register issues
  4. F

Meanings of get

  • get your reply – receive
  • getting around to – finding time to
  • get involved in – take part in / participate
  • have got – have
  • will we get – receive
  • get picked up – be picked up – get used in passive
  • get on well – have a good relationship with

The rewrite could be done in class as groups, something I like to do, or could be set as homework

Putting knowledge into action

When I do this I ask them if there is a subtle difference in the two choices, highlighting that synonyms are rarely perfect for each other and that they add subtle shades and nuances.  Try to elicit this from students as well as any other synonyms that come up.

  • talk – catch up
  • spend time with – hang out with
  • plan – sort out – in this context
  • meet – get together – I also emphasise that meet up would work here too
  • like to go – be up for it
  • come – pop by
  • interested in – keen on
  • excited about – looking forward to

These words make it more informal and friendlier in its feel.

Materials:

 

Barry London: a tale of two cities

You may or may not have noticed but I have a tendency to call everyone in my lessons Barry. I don’t know when this started, I don’t know why but it has definitely become a thing for me. Maybe I just like the name.

So, in keeping with this, we’ve decided to make Barry a little more real. We’ve given him a second name and over the next few months, we’re going to do a string of Barry-related lessons. Obviously they’ll all be standalone lessons but there’ll definitely be a thread running through them.

This is the first of many Barry-lessons and we join him in the Shard in London…but it doesn’t start off well for the poor fella.

spire shard

Level: Intermediate and above

Objectives: By the end of the lesson, your students will be better able to identify useful chunks of language in a text by themselves

Language Points: Phrasal verbs and expressions related to relationships and dating

Time: 2-3 hours depending on activities

Procedure:

The worksheet and text are pretty straightforward for this one and take you through the steps one at a time. The general idea of this lesson is that your learners are gradually brought from just finding the meaning of vocabulary, to identifying useful chunks of language and finally grasping their meaning from the text.

Material:

  1. Word: Barry London – up the shard
  2. PDF: Barry London – up the shard

What’s the big deal with phrasal verbs anyway?!

This is quite a high level lesson and it came in response to students freaking out about Phrasal Verbs. My hope was to highlight the importance of learning phrasal verbs in context and not worrying so much about learning lists of them (something which the vast majority of students seem to be obsessed with).

However, when I taught this lesson the first time, I realised that the main issue students had was not with the phrasal verbs but with the pronouns in the text. They really had trouble deciding who they were referring to. So the second time I used this story I added in a section on referencing which the students found extremely useful.

If you’ve tried any of our other story-based lessons, you’ll notice some common activities but the really interesting part is the referencing. I’ve included a short procedure below but the worksheet is pretty easy to follow.

Material:  pick up story

Textploitationtefl: What's the big deal with phrasal verbs anyway?

Procedure:

(1)

Creating interest in the story:

Show the students the title of the story and ask them what they think the story will be about. Ask them if they think it will be a happy story or a sad story.

(2)

First Reading / Discussion:

Get students to check their ideas from part 1 by skim reading the story and then discussing it. Discourage them from discussing vocabulary at this point.

(3) 

Focus on Vocabulary:

Match the definitions to the language in the text.

Get students to underline all of the examples of “pick up” in the text. Ask them if it’s got the same meaning in each case. Using the context, ask them to come up with a definition or synonym for each situation.

It’s a good idea to have a little chat after this section on the importance of learning phrasal verbs in context and try to demystify them a little. The idea is to encourage students to notice them when they’re reading / listening and hopefully to not be as scared of them as they can often be.

(4) 

Focus on Pronunciation:

Examine the features of connected speech in the direct speech from the story.  It can sometimes be good to get the students to record themselves here so they can really focus on natural speech.

(5) 

Referencing within a text:

Get students to follow the instructions on the worksheet. Really encourage them to work in pairs and to discuss this as they can have some real issues with this.

(6) 

Follow-up Activities:

There’s lots you can do as a follow-up to this story.

  • I find it usually leads to a discussion about living in big cities how they can be lonely places or about Facebook “friends” etc.
  • You can also get students to write the story of how some of the characters met. The focus here  can be on using the phrasal verbs in context or on referencing within the text.
  • On another occasion, I focused on the night John and Tina met. We expanded the connected speech section, discussed flirting and opening lines and then students created the dialogue and acted out their first meeting. This was obviously a lot of fun but the real challenge was getting them to mark the connected speech on the dialogue before they acted it out. For homework I asked them to try it again and to record themselves. We played them in the next lesson and there had been real improvement.