Problems & Solutions - Lexis at Pre-Intermediate Level
by Emma Worrall

I am going to look at the problems that my pre-intermediate students might have with vocabulary; identifying the problems and suggesting ways of overcoming the problems. I will begin the assignment with a brief introduction to vocabulary then I will go to look at some of the problems that students have with vocabulary and in particular multi-word verbs. I feel that my students need to be better equipped to deal with them before they go on to a higher level. The few multi-word verbs that the students have already encountered have been a challenge for them and I want to see how I can help them cope with multi-word verbs when they are dealing with texts inside and outside the classroom.

How important is vocabulary?

"Without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just cannot happen in any meaningful way" (McCarthy 1990)

"Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed" (Wilkins in Thornbury 2002).

Thornbury (2002: 13) says that teachers often underestimate the 'communicative advantage' in developing a wide range of vocabulary.

As teachers I think we often find it hard to keep up with the demands for vocabulary from our students. However, this can be used to our advantage: students are already motivated to learn vocabulary. On needs analysis forms vocabulary rates highly as a student need. In my own experience of teaching vocabulary I have found that, due to time constraints, vocabulary sections are often rushed through and often in end of year exams there is little emphasis on the vocabulary learned during the year.

Despite my students' enthusiasm for learning vocabulary, they often find it difficult to acquire vocabulary, which is a problem I hope to assess during this research into vocabulary in this assignment. I encourage my students to read and listen to as much English as possible outside the classroom. I feel there is no denying the value of exposure to 'comprehensible input' (Krashen 1983) in expanding students range of vocabulary. I feel, from my own experiences of learning Spanish here in Spain, that everyday exposure to L2 can help you to acquire language faster than having twice-weekly classes in your native country. The more advanced my Spanish becomes, the more I am able to infer new vocabulary through context.

What makes learning a word difficult?

Thornbury discusses how cognates are easier to teach and should be exploited. I often use cognates to explain or define vocabulary (without the need for translation) and I feel that it helps me speed up the class and provides clarity for my students. However, he advises us to be aware of false friends .

Factors, which inhibit a learner's ability to learn a word, are:

Pronunciation: Words that are difficult to pronounce are more difficult to learn, for example words with consonant clusters (for example, crisps, breakfast, asked). I have been training my students to record words with their phonemic script to help students remember pronunciation. I also find it helpful to show students how word forms change in speech, particularly with weak forms (at this low level) and connected speech patterns.

Spelling: Sound-spelling mismatches create lots of errors (for example, words with silent letters).

Length and Complexity: Long words are more difficult to learn than short words. Generally, high frequency words in English tend to be short.

Grammar: The grammar associated with the word. Thornbury cites phrasal verbs (multi-word verbs) as particularly confusing.

Meaning: Some words overlap in meaning. I find it useful to present different meanings in context.

Range, Connotation and Idiomaticity: Problems with cultural references and words with a narrow synonym range are more difficult to remember.

Of course, all of these factors are especially difficult for low level learners. Not only do they not have the vocabulary necessary to communicate fluently, but they have to contend with all the above factors. I feel they need to be gradually introduced to these factors to build confidence in our students.


Ways of Teaching Vocabulary

Taylor (1990: 3-4) presents seven criteria, which describe 'what it is to know a word' and she believes that we can begin to use these criteria in the classroom (see appendix 3) by introducing students to them a few at a time.

Taylor says that learners remember best the words that they have heard many times and have uttered themselves (she suggests that choral repetition can be useful here, but only when meaning has already been established). I agree that personalising vocabulary also helps students remember vocabulary and I often ask students to record sentences which have 'meaning' for them. Taylor (1990: 41) says "where possible we should relate new meanings to our learners' own experiences". She suggests that incorporating several of her seven aspects of 'knowledge of a word' when teaching vocabulary. I must admit I have been reluctant to try all these with my pre-intermediate students for fear of 'overloading' them with information. Gairns and Redman (1986: 17) argue that low level learners "should be spared lexis that is superfluous to immediate need, or involves conceptual difficulties that may not easily conveyed without using language of comparable complexity". However, if you have a strong group, I see no harm in challenging. Taylor also discusses the 'communicative teaching' of vocabulary as a way of presenting new items:

"When we 'do' a reading passage with our students, surely we are teaching vocabulary? Sadly, in many classrooms this is not the case. Encountering and 'understanding' a word are seldom enough: as with meeting people, there needs to be depth and interaction for the encounter to be memorable" (Morgan & Rinvolucri 1986: 4).

Taylor says that we may prefer, before doing a reading or listening, to pre-teach vocabulary which may cause difficulties. This can be done by 'pre-familiarisation' or by 'post-familiarisation'. Pre-familiarisation is when we establish 'sense' by encouraging students to look at the topic first then move on to the 'item' of vocabulary. Post-familiarisation is the opposite process. The 'item' is given before sense. I decided to use a 'top-down' approach in my lesson, using the technique of post-familiarisation- they will be encouraged to work out the sense for themselves.

The importance is on giving learners time to assimilate the vocabulary, which was the thinking behind my lesson plan. I wanted to carefully stage the lesson so that the students would be able to 'get to grips' with the vocabulary before they can confidently use it in a 'meaningful' way. Thornbury (2002) suggests, as does Taylor, that personalisation is important when teaching vocabulary, for example, written sentences and ranking vocabulary in order of preference (see appendix 1 for Thornbury's list of ways of presenting vocabulary).

I feel it is especially important to present vocabulary in a variety of ways. Often the course books we use have a method or set way of presenting vocabulary and there is a danger of the students getting used to the routine, and therefore we need to challenge them more and put more pressure on their abilities to memorise words.

Teaching Multi-Word Verbs

A muli-word verb = a verb + one or more particles, for example, give up- she gave up smoking (she stopped smoking)

A particular problem for my students has been the use of multi-word verbs. They have only met a few in the course book but I have noticed that they were lot particularly happy with them (and may be with my presentation of them). As my lesson is aimed at teaching multi-word verbs I want to look more closely at the problems that teachers have teaching them and students have learning them. I feel that my students need to be able to use 'real' language in the classroom. My pre-intermediate group are now at the stage where they are learning 'chunks' of language to communicate. I want to build on this and I feel that introducing multi-word verbs is a good way of providing students with 'usable' language. At this level the students do not have the language they need to communicate effectively and at this level (and indeed above) they often rely on latinate words to help them to communicate, which often makes them sound unnatural. They do this because either they do not know the multi-word verb equivalent, or they are afraid of misusing multi-word verbs.


Some Problems:

Course books often present multi-word verbs in lists with the same verb e.g. 'put' with various particles (put off, put up) or the same particle(s) with different verbs (break out, take out). Students are usually given a definition sentence and then expected to learn them by heart. It is widely known that students (and even teachers) do not like multi-word verbs. Students are often introduced to them from intermediate levels and up. Course books avoid them until this level and then suddenly students are exposed to massive amounts of them and expected to learn them (I refer to my experience of teaching First Certificate).

So why do students and teachers, alike, fear multi-word verbs? Side (1990) summarises the reasons as follows:

(I am using the term multi-word verb here to define phrasal verbs- with idiomatic meaning)

1) The combinations of verbs and particles is confusing
2) They often have more than one meaning
3) The meaning of the parts of multi-word verbs does not appear to have any relation to the idiomatic meaning (compare phrasal verbs such as 'run over the cat' and verbs with a prepositional phrase: 'run over the bridge')
4) Students will often use the latinate definitions rather than the multi-word verb
5) The particle is 'random' with no logic
6) The confusion of whether a verb is transitive or intransitive , and if the verb is transitive students need to know if the particle can be separated from the verb ('call it off')
7) Students need to be sensitive to the appropriacy of using multi-word verbs in certain contexts, for example, not using "I'm done in" (meaning tired) at a business meeting.
8) Students' ability to understand multi-word verbs is influenced by their knowledge of their own language. From my experience, the common use and confusion of 'en' in Spanish which can mean in/on/at.

(See appendix 2 for the types of phrasal/multi-word verbs)`

How Can We Teach Multi-Word Verbs?

Side suggests that teaching them in isolation should be avoided. Teachers should make connections to show a their context within the language "to show they are meaningfully idiomatic rather than meaninglessly random" (Side 2002: 150-1). He suggests grouping multi-word verbs lexically, for example, fill out, pad out, flesh out. Vocabulary, he says, is far more easily learned when it is understood in context. He cites Ttofi (1983) who says that we should look at multi-word verbs as they arise naturally in a text. Side also points out that, generally, the particle is an integral part of the meaning and that it is more useful to concentrate on grouping multi-word verbs by their particle rather than the verb which precedes it. The particle carries some, if not all, of the meaning. In most cases he says we can follow this rule and the exceptions are few and far between.

Thornbury (2002) says that students probably do not learn phrasal (or multi-word) verbs by learning the rules. He takes a lexical approach, which is based on the belief that lexical competence comes from frequent exposure, consciousness-raising and possibly memorising. He believes that the classroom provides lots of exposure to 'lexical chunks' , for example, classroom expressions (" I don't understand", "Can you repeat that, please"), and that students will often learn chunks of language long before we present the 'grammar' of the language. He also says that techniques for teaching multi-word verbs often rely on a great deal of motivation from the learner to read outside of class and look for, identify, and record new multi-word verbs. Thornbury believes that teachers have a responsibility to try and include as many multi-word verbs in their classroom language as possible. He suggests we include common expressions such as put your hand up, look it up, turn your papers over, etc to enable our students to have "exposure to a rich diet of phrasal verbs" which can begin on Day 1 of the teaching course (Thornbury 2002: 127).

This brings me on to student participation in the learning of vocabulary through organising notebooks and learner autonomy (which I will briefly look at later). Side suggests multi-word verb pages in students' notebooks with a page for each particle. As new words come up in class students can discuss which category they think the word should go in. As long as the student does not distort the meaning when personalising recorded sentences, meaningful phrases are a good aides-memoires . I have been encouraging my exam classes to do this as preparation for their exams in June. Many have commented that they have found it useful.

Learner Autonomy

Finally, I think there should be some discussion here about learner autonomy. Students have a responsibility for their own learning, and it may be helpful for the teacher to do learner training in their classes to encourage students (especially those who have been out of the education system for some years) to organise and record their work. Strategies should be taught to help students infer unknown vocabulary and, of course, teachers should do regular vocabulary recycling activities. Teachers should regularly ask students 'What did you learn from today's class?', 'Did you find this activity useful? Why/why not?' in order to negotiate with their learners and identify problem areas. It also gives students confidence and coming away from a class with some new and useful vocabulary, which they can then use again, is what students want (Ellis & Sinclair 1989).


My future aims are not only to experiment with vocabulary teaching methods in all my classes, but also to try and lose my anxiety over teaching multi-word verbs and train my students to be more confident when learning and using them. I aim to continue training my students to contextualise vocabulary and I aim to push my students more by introducing more vocabulary (for example, synonyms and idiomatic expresssions associated with multi-word verbs). I believe that my pre-intermediate students are ready to be introduced to the idea of multi-word verbs and hopefully they will already be familiar with them and have a good base of them before they become bombarded with them at FCE level!


G, Ellis & B, Sinclair, 1989, Learning To Learn English: A Course in Learner Training,
R, Gairns & S Redman, 1986, Working With Words, CUP
D, Nunan, 1988, Language Teaching Methodology, Longman
M, McCarthy, 1990, Vocabulary, OUP.
J Morgan & M, Rinvolucri, 1986, Vocabulary, OUP
N, Scmitt & M, McCarthy, 1997, Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy,
R, Side 1990, Phrasal Verbs: Sorting Them Out, ELT Journal Vol. 44/2 April, OUP.
L, Taylor, 1990, Teaching and Learning Vocabulary, Prentice Hall International.
S, Thornbury, 2002, How To Teach Vocabulary, Longman.


Appendix 1
Presenting Vocabulary
(Thornbury 2002)

Thornbury (2002: 77) presents a list that teachers can refer to for presenting vocabulary:

  • translation
  • real things
  • pictures
  • actions/gestures
  • definitions
  • situations

And whether to present the word in its:

  • spoken form, or
  • written form

Translation: Although Thornbury says it is probably the most direct route to explaining a word, and it is economica,l especially for coping with incidental vocabulary which crops up in a lesson, it could mean that learners "fail to develop a an independent L2 lexicon, with the effect that they always access L2 words by means of their L1 equivalents, rather than directly" (Thornbury 2002: 77). He also makes the point that if translation gives students the easy option they may not remember the word so easily because no cognitive effort is involved.

Real things: The technique of the Direct Method, which rejected the use of translation, is an approach which Thornbury says is particularly useful for teaching beginners and mixed nationality classes, where translation is impossible.

Pictures: Visual aids ( such as flashcards) can be created and used to both present and practise new vocabulary. Presenting pictures in a different order each time can help improve students' memories. Thornbury also says that it is important to let students work at their own pace.

Actions or gestures: Thornbury says this is useful for some vocabulary e.g. miming verbs or animals, but for more complicated or abstract vocabulary one may need to use other words or definitions to explain the word in question by:

  • providing an example situation
  • giving several example sentences
  • giving synonyms, antonyms, or superordinate terms
  • giving a full definition

Situations: This involves providing a scenario which clearly contextualises the target word or words.

Appendix 2
Types of Phrasal Verbs

(Naunton in Thornbury 2002: 123)

There are four types of phrasal verbs:

Type 1: Intransitive e.g. come to (recover consciousness).

These do not take an object.

Type 2: Transitive inseparable e.g. look into (investigate)

These verbs must take an object which always comes after the verb.

Type 3: Transitive separable e.g. put off (postpone)

The object can either come between the verb and the particle or after the verb. If we use a pronoun then it must go between.

Type 4: three-part, e.g. put up with (endure)

These are always transitive inseparable.

Appendix 3
Taylor's seven stages of 'knowing a word'
(Taylor 1990:1-3)

1) knowledge of frequency of a word in language- the probability of encountering the word in speech or print
2) knowledge of the register of the word i.e. knowing the limitations imposed on the use of the word according to variations of function and situation
3) knowledge of collocation, both semantic and syntactic i.e. knowing the syntactic behaviour associated with the word and also knowing the network of associations between that word and other words in the language
4) knowledge of morphology i.e. knowing the underlying form of a word and the derivations that can be made form it
5) knowledge of semantics i.e. knowing firstly what the word means or denotes
6) knowledge of polysemy i.e. knowing many of the different meanings associated with a word
7) knowledge of the equivalent of the word in the mother tongue


Lesson plan

Preliminary information

Main Aims:

1) To introduce the following vocabulary: (stages 4 and 5)
take after, get on with, look like, fall out with, look after, look up to, grow up with, split up with

2) To encourage students to infer the meaning of unknown vocabulary through context (stages 3, 4 and 5)

3) To introduce the concept of eight transitive inseparable multi-word verbs and encourage the students to create personal meaning from the verbs and draw their attention to the form of the verbs. (stage 5 & 7).

4) To highlight the word stress and connected speech patterns of the multi-word verbs (stage 6).

5) To give the students the opportunity to practise the new vocabulary at sentence level (stage 8)

Subsidiary Aims:

1) To encourage the students to use previously taught family vocabulary.
(stages 1, 2, 8 & 10).

2) To expose the students to less structured, freer text material to build students' confidence in dealing with more complex listenings.

3) To give the students the opportunity to produce the language in a long speaking turn.

Timetable Fit:

The students are currently studying the English File 2 course book for elementary learners. I feel it is a good level for them but sometimes (as they are quite a strong group) I feel they need something a little more challenging. In the past few lessons we have looked at adjectives for describing people (including family vocabulary). In the next unit we will be looking at some phrasal verbs.

Class Profile:

There are nine students in the group. Six of them have been together from the beginning, two joined the group after a month (they were originally in my other group of the same level) and one of the students joined only very recently (about a month ago). In general, the group was very quiet. They used to lower their voices to a whisper when they did speaking activities but recently they have become more confident. They are generally a strong group in most areas and they usually do their homework. The attendance levels have been quite good, however, recently some students have been coming very irregularly. Recently the students have been using more English to communicate between each other and not only with myself, which I have been actively encouraging. The students are between the ages of 16 and 40. Four of them are students at school or at university and want to improve their English levels for the future and the other four work and need English for their jobs. Despite the age range of the students, they get on very well.

Ana: She started in a different group of the same level with me in October then changed to this group. She is one of the weakest in the class in most areas and I think this is due to the fact that she missed lots of classes when she was in the other group of this level. However, she is quite confident when speaking.

Cecilia: She has recently joined the class. She is a fairly confident student and her speaking is probably her strongest area. She needs to work on her grammar as she has not studied since school.

Guillermo: One of the youngest students. He is very enthusiastic and works very hard in class. He uses lots of English in class and often helps his partner or peer corrects. His speaking level is better than his listening. His writing is always carefully planned out and he tends to check for mistakes. He needs English for his studies and he also likes travelling.

Jose: Jose has only just joined the class and so far he seems to be coping well with the level. His speaking seems to be fairly strong but it is too early to comment on his grammar, listening and writing levels.

Iñigo: The youngest in the class. He is a fairly fluent speaker but tends to make lots of mistakes. He has lots of passive vocabulary knowledge. He has travelled to England with his school and wants to go back to London for a longer stay.

Matilde: The oldest in the class. She is very enthusiastic and attends the classes regularly. Although she is a fairly fluent speaker she has very 'hard' Spanish pronunciation (particularly /j/, /h/ and /r/). Her listening is quite strong. She loves travelling and occasionally needs English for her work.

Mercedes: She is very quiet in class but she has a good range of structures and vocabulary. She has to use English on the telephone and she frequently travels abroad. She sometimes struggles with the listening exercises. This maybe because she deals with mainly Italian speakers of English on the telephone.

Mouna: She is from Syria and so English is her third language after Arabic and Spanish. She has lots of Spanish interference when she speaks. She is a confident speaker but she often lacks sensitivity towards the other students and tends to answer for other students when I am asking individuals for answers. As this was starting to create a bit of a negative atmosphere among some of the class members, I have been very careful to let her know that she must let the others speak. She has lots of fossilised English errors and it is difficult, even in controlled practise, to get her to use grammar structures that we are doing in class. This is evident in her homework too, where she will use the structures that she feels are correct without following the model or example answer. She uses English quite often in her job.

Tatiana: She is repeating the level and has only recently joined the class. She seems to have a very low attendance so far. As she is Russian and also learning Spanish she has lots of Spanish interference when she speaks English. She is very hardworking in class and seems to take the classes very seriously. She often answers the questions that I direct at other students.


My students are quite a strong group at this level and I have started to introduce more challenging materials into the class. The book they are following (English File 2) is very controlled and gives the students security and guidance they need at this pre-intermediate level. However, for stronger students it is not challenging enough and the book and its structure become predictable. The students in this group are all planning to do the next level in the academy, which uses a different book (Cutting Edge Intermediate). I have used English File 2 with a semi-intensive group and then taken them through to the next level using the Cutting Edge course book and I found that there was a substantial jump between the two levels. Colleagues of mine have found the same and have advised me this year to push my students more towards the end of the File book. This is to prepare them for what is considered a fairly difficult change of levels. The Cutting Edge book is not as controlled and there is a lot more free practice with speaking activities and more difficult listenings. The students are often daunted by the new course book and the teacher of that level is often under more pressure to get the students up to the level. Phrasal verbs are a big part of the Cutting Edge vocabulary sections and in the next unit of English File 2 there is an introduction to some phrasal verbs. I wanted to introduce my students to multi-word verbs at this stage using a topic which I think they will be interested in i.e. the family.

I got my idea for the topic from Workout Pre-intermediate course book. At the end of the previous class we looked at family vocabulary and we have recently done a unit on describing people, using adjectives for personality. For this particular class, I wanted to provide realia for my students so I used photocopies of photos of my own family in the form of a family tree to make the task more personal for them. I also decided to use only transitive multi-word verbs so as not to confuse the students at this level. As the verb 'get on' is an intransitive verb I have decided to not give this explanation and use it as 'get on with + person' to avoid confusion. All the verbs take an object (pronouns and nouns) and are inseparable. I also added extra multi-word verbs (see appendices) because I did not want to use all of the verbs from the text in the course book (see appendix 9). I wanted to stage the introduction of the vocabulary very carefully without overloading the students with too much information and as the vocabulary has the added factor of being 'chunks' of vocabulary which follows a certain pattern I decided to limit the multi-word verbs to eight.

The practice stages (stages 8 and 10) do not really have much of a communicative purpose. I thought that the first practice stage (stage 8) is intended more for cohesive purposes; to allow the students to practice the form and pronunciation. I feel the students will naturally be curious about their classmates families, so they will be listening to their partners (in both stages) without the need to encourage them to listen for particular information. A quick feedback question "Whose family is most similar to yours?" should be sufficient to check the students were listening.

In previous classes we have often rushed through vocabulary due to the course book constraints and I feel that I have not guided my students enough for them to assimilate and use vocabulary confidently and in a meaningful way. I hope to encourage the students to see that these multi-word verbs are chunks of vocabulary which form a part of a lexical set (i.e. the family) and to encourage them to record multi-word verbs in context.


The students will be interested in the topic of the family as it is big part of their lives. They should be motivated by the pictures and information about my family as students often take an interest in their teachers' lives and the photos help provide a memorable reference for the vocabulary. The students will appreciate the introduction to multi-word verbs as they are often difficult for learners of English and their confidence will be boosted by their being able to produce the new vocabulary in talking about their family and the memorable reference of their family photos and the Royal family questionnaire (see appendix 7).

Problems and Solutions:

Problem: The students may get confused with question forms with multi-word verbs (where there is no object e.g. Who do you look up to?).
Solution: I am not planning to highlight question forms at this stage. The students will not be expected to reproduce questions but the students should have no problems encountering them receptively when I do feedback stages.

Problem: We will not get to the reproduction stage (stage 10)
Solution: As this is the first time the students will be introduced to a group of multi-word verbs I want to make the stages very clear and make sure they have a good grasp of the meaning and form. Therefore I am not prepared to rush the students to this stage. Using the photos will be a perfect warmer/consolidation activity for the follow-up class.

Problem: Students may forget to bring their family photos.
Solution: Students can use their circle diagrams again to show their partner.

Problem: The students may find the listening too difficult.
Solution: I will play the tape more times of the students need it so as to make sure that they have a good comprehension of the tape. Other stronger students can help those in the comparing stages and if necessary I will use the OHT of the tape script to go straight to the correction stage of the true/false questions.

Problem: Students may encounter other unkown vocabulary (especially those students with a low attendance).
Solution: I will use latinate words for definitions (for example, shy = timid) or, to speed things up and for clarity, I will ask the other students for the Spanish word.

Problem: The students might not understand the meanings through the Royal Family questionnaire.
Solution: I will ask more concept questions and use board diagrams/pictures to empasise the meaning.

Problem: Generally it is expected that meaning is highlighted before form when teaching vocabulary.
Solution: I will elicit the vocabulary meaning for just two of the multi-word verbs (stage 4). Then I will highlight form so the students can elicit more of the multi-word verbs from the text but they will have the meanings in the forms of definitions to lead them to the vocabulary.


White board, board pens (red, green, blue and black), teacher's family tree (including copies of family photos), students' family photos, Royal Family questionnaire, worksheet with circles, copy of teacher's family tape script for each student (with definition exercise), cards with family vocabulary and stress marked, tape cassette recorder, tape cassette, overhead projector, overhead transparencies.



Stage 1: Warmer
Interaction: T- stds
Time: 5 mins

To review family vocabulary from previous class.

Put the family vocabulary, that the students need to describe their photos, on the board. Write the phonemes next to the words and indicate the word stress. Drill the pronunciation and stress.

Stage 2: Listening
Interaction: T- stds-stds
Time: 8 mins

To encourage the students to use prediction skills to listen for names and dates.

Give the students a copy of my family tree (with photocopied photos of my family, see appendix). Students, in pairs, predict who the people are and the dates of birth. Play tape to the students and ask them to listen for the dates of birth or names to enable them to label my family. Play tape again. Ask them to compare in pairs and then elicit the answers as a whole class.
Observation starts:

Stage 3: Listening
Interaction: T-stds
Time: 8 mins

To give students the opportunity to listen again and infer the answers from vocabulary on tape to answer true or false questions.

Give students the True/false sheet (see appendix). Play the tape again. Students compare their answers. Ask the students for their answers in open class. Do not confirm if they are right or wrong at this stage. Ask the students to justify their answers and elicit any vocabulary that helped them make their choice in pairs.

Stage 4: Introduce vocabulary
Interaction: T- stds-stds
Time: 5 mins

To draw students attention to the new vocabulary from the monologue.

Ask the students to check their answers to true/false questions from OHT of tape script (see appendix ) on OHP. Check answers to true/false questions. If questions are false ask students to correct them. Pick out the following multi-word verbs: 'look like' and 'get on with' and elicit possible meanings (see appendix 3 for definitions of the multi-word verbs).

Stage 5 : Language
Interaction: T-stds-stds
Time: 15 mins

To introduce the students to the multi-word verbs in the tape script.

Explain that the three multi-word verbs above are special verbs, which contain a verb plus a particle. Explain that the verb and particle together give a new meaning to the verb. Give the students the definitions work sheet. Ask the students to look for more examples of these multi-word verbs which mean the same as the definitions that they have and underline them. (see appendix ).Put OHT on OHP with verbs and objects highlighted for students to check. Highlight that the verbs are all followed with an object

Stage 6: Pronunciation
Interaction: T- stds
Time 5 mins

To highlight students' awareness of the pronunciation, word stress and connected speech features of the multi-word verbs.

Put OHT with verbs on OHP. Say the words. Ask the students if they notice anything about the pronunciation of the words together. Elicit/highlight the connected speech patterns of the multi-word verbs (see appendix 4). Ask the students to listen for the stressed word in each multi-word verb. Mark the stress on the board (underline in red). Ask students to look at appendix 4 on their work sheets. Drill the verbs.

Stage 7: Meaning/form
Interaction: Stds-stds-T
Time 15 mins

To raise student awareness of the meaning and form of the multi-word verbs.

Give students Spanish Royal Family questionnaire (see appendix). Ask them to discuss the questions in pairs or small groups. Monitor for pronunciation/meaning/form. Elicit feedback.

Stage 8: Practice
Interaction: Stds-stds
Time: 13 mins

To encourage the students to personalise the new vocabulary.

Give the students the 'circle' handout. Put OHT of circles on OHP. Write the following question on the board: "Who's this………?" (point to a name in one of the circles). Model the answer by saying "……….. is my sister/brother etc and I get on with him." Encourage the students to ask you the same question about another name in a circle and follow the same procedure, for example, "……….. is my mum and I take after her". Ask the students to follow the same procedure by choosing a family member to go with one of the multi-word verbs. Monitor. When the students have completed their circles with family names, ask the students to stand up and mingle asking another student the question on the board about one of the names in one of their circles. Students reply why they have written the name and say the relationship between them using the multi-word verbs. Monitor for pronunciation and form.

Stage 9: Feedback (optional stage)
Interaction: T-stds
Time: 2 mins

To give the students an opportunity to report feedback

Ask the students individually "Can anyone remember who …………(name of student) looks up to/gets on with/looks like etc.?".

Stage 10: Speaking
Interaction: Stds-stds
Time: 5 mins

To give the students the opportunity to give a long speaking turn using the new vocabulary.

Ask the students to show their partner his/her family photos and talk about their family, saying who they are (brother, mum, etc.) and what the relationship is between them. Model an example with a photo from teacher's family tree. Partners swap and repeat the procedure. Partners compare family members to see who has a similar family to them.

Stage 11: Homework

To give the students the opportunity to consolidate the new vocabulary.

Ask the students to write a short paragraph about their family using the new vocabulary.


Lesson materials & appendices

Family vocab

Put the words into the following categories:

father - uncle - cousin - mother - grandmother

grandfather - aunt - daughter - niece - sister

son - wife - nephew - husband - son-in-law

brother - daughter-in-law - grand-daughter

father-in-law - grandson - mother-in-law



Tape script:

Emma: Ok, so this is a photo of my mum and dad.

Mike: And how old are your parents?

Emma: Well, my dad was born in 1945. He's called Terry and my mum, she's called Mary, she's two years younger than my dad.

Mike: Who do you take after?

Emma: I think I take after my mum. I think we're both extrovert and friendly people. But of course, it's not perfect! I sometimes fall out with her, like all mothers and daughters.

Mike: I think you look like your dad. You've got the same nose and mouth. And who's this?

Emma: That's my brother. He's called Mark and he's 29.

Mike: Do you get on with him?

Emma: Yeah I do. When I'm in England we always go to the pub or the cinema together. We have the same friends and we always have a good time.

Mike: Who's that with your brother?

Emma: That's my brother's girlfriend, Fran. We grew up with her because she lived in the same street as our family when we were young.

Mike: And who are these two people? Your grandparents?

Emma: Yes. They're my mum's parents. My grandmother was called Elsie and she was born in 1913 and my grandfather, who was called Albert, was born in 1910. They often looked after me and my brother when my mum was at work.

Mike: What were your grandparents like?

Emma: My grandmother, Elsie, was a very generous and patient person and she looked after five children during the war so I really looked up to her. My grandfather was a very intelligent person.

Mike: And these are your other grandparents?

Emma: Yeah. My dad's parents were called Marjorie and Malcom. I remember my grandfather was a very shy man

Mike: And who's this?

Emma: That's my aunt Judy and her husband Peter on their wedding day. They're not together anymore. They had some problems so she split up with my uncle six months ago.


Matching Definitions

1) Match the multi-word verbs from the tape script to the definitions below:

a) look the same as

b) have a good relationship with

c) respect and admire f) have the same personality/
(an older familymember/ character as (an older family
famous person) member)

d) stop speaking to someone after an angry discussion (family or friend)

e) live close to someone and spend your childhood years with them

4) take care of

8) to separate from somebody (in a romantic relationship)


True /False Questions

Listen to the tape. Decide if the following sentences are true or false.


1) My mum and I are shy people.

2) My relationship with my mum is not perfect.

3) Mike says I have the same eyes and ears as my dad.

4) I have a good relationship with my brother.

5) My family lived in the same street as my brother's girlfriend.

6) I did not see my grandparents (Elsie and Albert) when I was

7) I really respected my grandmother (Elsie) .

8) My aunt Judy and her husband Peter are separated.


Royal Family Quiz

Answer the following questions in pairs:

1) Who does Elena look like? What things are similar?

2) Do you think that Felipe takes after the King or the Queen? What similar qualities do they have?

3) Do you think that Letizia gets on with Queen Sofia? Why/why not?

4)Who does Felipe look up to? Can he look up to his nephews? Why/why not?

5) Who did Felipe split up with before he met Letizia? Is it possible for Felipe to split up with his mother? Why/why not?

6) Did Felipe grow up with other boys in the royal family? Who?

7) Who looked after Felipe, Elena and Cristina when they were young?

8) Does Felipe fall out with his parents? Were they happy about his relationship with a

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