Refuse to Be a Boring Teacher! A Fun and Creative Lesson Plan to Teach the Annoying Phrasal Verbs

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By Farid Mohammadi

The Issue

Usually, learning phrasal verbs is not that easy for students. They often struggle to memorize long lists of them, and in the end, the result is not very fruitful. It is fair to say it could be even more challenging for ESL instructors to teach various forms of phrasal verbs to their perplexed pupils. I believe part of the issue (sometimes) is related to (lazy) teachers. That is to say, they do not spend enough time reconsidering their strategies and/or coming up with new approaches to establish a more engaging learning environment in their classrooms.

Photo via Google Images

In this article, I share with you one of my own lesson plans, which is a simple, workable, more fun, and interactive approach to deal with the issue of teaching phrasal verbs. The objectives are to introduce, for instance, 4 to 5 different phrasal verbs and to utilize them in the proper context. I designed four different stages to encourage learning the structure and the definition of each of the phrasal verbs. I employed this strategy to teach my intermediate and upper-intermediate adult groups numerous times, and the results were fruitful.

The Approach

Stage 1) Matching

Based on your syllabus, pick 4 to 5 phrasal verbs. For example, I utilized eat, plate, tuck, and prepositions such as up, in, and out in two columns on the board and changed the order. Students should think and match two parts of phrasal verbs either in their notebooks or on the board.

Stage 2) Phrasal Verbs Conversation

Then I distributed pieces of paper among the students, half the class received verbs, and the other half got prepositions. A student who got a verb should begin by saying the word out loud, and whoever has the matching preposition should respond. For example:

John: Eat!

Nina: Out!

Correct! Then collect the papers.

Jax: Plate!

Sara: In!

Incorrect! Ask them to keep their papers.

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The students should keep playing until no one remains with papers. In the next round, you should switch and distribute the papers among your students, which means those who had verbs now will have prepositions.

Stage 3) Study Cards

Find some related images on the Internet and utilize them that go with each phrasal verb in the form of Study Cards. You should draw or print them out on separate sheets of paper. Show the class the images and see if they remember the phrasal verbs.

The fun part is that you must initially show the images slowly and then eventually increase the pace. Trust me, regardless of the age group, you have no idea how entertaining the group chanting would be to your pupils, especially when you increase the speed of changing and mixing the symbols!

Photo via Google Images

Stage 4) Recalling Game

By now, your pupils should be well-informed about the selected phrasal verbs. In this stage, the students should play in pairs or groups to collect as many matching sets as possible.

The Application of Phrasal Verbs in Context

Stage 1) Mixing Activity

Now you should write some follow-up questions on the board visible to the whole class. For instance:

Who do you usually go with when you eat out?

How much do you usually pay when you eat out?

What time do you usually get up?

How often do you borrow money? Do you always pay it back?

Photo via Google Images

Depending on your time and class size, ask your questions. Once you finished asking questions, ask your pupils to interview each other in pairs using their list of questions. In the end, they should ask and answer questions with at least 3 to 4 other students.

Stage 2) Questions

You should divide your pupils into different groups, and each pair gets 3 or 4 phrasal verbs. Their assignment is to write 3 to 4 questions containing the given phrasal verbs. For instance:

Get along: Is there anyone you don’t get along with? Who and why?

Help out: How do you help out your friends and family?

Now, divide the collected papers so that each group has example questions containing each of the phrasal verbs. They should pick a question from a pile to answer it. For instance:

Can you set up a computer? Yes, I can set up a computer.

Photo via Google Images

Stage 3) Student Talk Time

Now, every student should pick a phrasal verb from a pile and then talk about it for a minute. This part is usually exciting for the kids because it engages their imagination to come up with a story with the selected phrasal verbs.

Stage 4) Homework Time

Ask your pupils to pick 2 to 4 phrasal verbs and use them to write a 50–70-word essay.

Photo via Google Images

Final Thought

I admit initially, the idea of teaching phrasal verbs throughout the whole session was not very thrilling. However, my students really enjoyed their learning time, and this lesson plan time and time again proved to be a successful template to teach phrasal verbs. The thing is, after a while, they could memorize and utilize a greater variety of phrasal verbs to express their thoughts and feelings. Please leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

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