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An outline on how to present and give controlled practice of nine phrasal verbs with the particle 'up' or 'down' by Gerard Eley

For a Word version

Preliminary information

Level: Mid-intermediate

Time: 1 hour

Main aims:
To present and give controlled practice of nine phrasal verbs with the particle 'up' or 'down'.
To present the grammatical rules that are necessary when using phrasal verbs and to increase the students' awareness of what they need to take note of when learning phrasal verbs.

The verbs have been chosen because of the common link of 'up' meaning 'increase' and 'down' to mean 'decrease'. I have not chosen a lexical set of phrasal verbs as this often means choosing a set of verbs with low frequency, which would not be appropriate at this level. In addition the main aim of this class is not to insist on production, as avoidance of phrasal verbs usually does not impede communication, however, there is a need to develop the stds' awareness of phrasal verbs for receptive purposes.

Subsidiary Aims:
To give further practice in using bilingual and monolingual dictionaries.
To increase the students' knowledge of terminology in dictionaries.
To give revision practice of narrative tenses and linking expressions

Timetable Fit:
The stds have been doing a lot of grammar and skills work and are generally progressing well. The students tend to under-utilise phrasal verbs in both spoken and written language production. Although this lack of use does not usually impede the stds ability to express themselves, a working knowledge of phrasal verbs will be very useful for receptive purposes. This focus on phrasal verbs is part of an on-going process to increase the stds vocabulary range by focusing on different areas.

The stds know what is meant by a phrasal verb and use some of the more basic ones well. However, their knowledge of the rules that encompass the use of phrasal verbs is limited and for this reason they are reluctant to use them and have difficulty understanding them. Some of the stronger stds may know some of the verbs in the presentation stage but will benefit from a greater knowledge of the mechanics.

Anticipated problems and solutions:
Dictionaries may not provide information about separability of verbs - T directs stds to example sentences or will have to offer solutions.
Stds are not used to looking up grammatical information in dictionaries - Overcome by close monitoring and micro-teaching. However, dictionary use is part of an on-going teaching programme.

Class Profile:
There are eight people in the class who get on very well. They are aged between mid-twenties and mid-thirties. The majority are professional business people with a need to learn English for their work purposes. Consequently, all are highly motivated although attendance can be erratic due to work obligations.
Adelina: Businesswoman in her thirties. She is enthusiastic but is often tired in class and so sometimes finds it hard to concentrate.
Esther: Late twenties. Again very enthusiastic but is one of the weaker members of the group as far as grammatical accuracy and word order are concerned. However, she does not let this get to her.
Manuel: Late twenties. Manuel's attendance is erratic so is not progressing as quickly as possible, but he is strong enough to pick up the ideas if he has missed previous work on the area.
Angel: Mid twenties: Angel is the quietest member of the group and is reluctant to speak in group discussions probably because his spoken English is weaker than most. However, in pair work and small groups he participates well.
Faust: Late twenties. One of the strongest members of the group but again his attendance is erratic. He likes to ask questions and suggest/check alternative ways of expressing ideas.
Juan: Early thirties: A computer engineer for Norsystemas, he needs English for working with his counterparts in Kenya and the Philippines. Juan is less fluent than the stronger members of the group but participates well.
Jose: Early thirties: A colleague of Juan's. He is one of the stronger members of the group.
Javier: Mid thirties: A strong member of the group, he likes to ask questions and has no problems about asking for matters to be clarified.
Pilar: A businesswoman in her late twenties. A strong member of the group in terms of fluency and accuracy. Highly motivated and has a good attendance.

Cuisenaire rods, coursebook, handout, pictures, board.


Stage 1 Warmer. To warm the stds up and compensate for late arrivals
2 mins
1. Stds reorganise the seating arrangements according to who has the largest family. They have to decide how far the family extends.

Stage 2 Presentation 1
20 mins
1. T presents the new vocabulary - see the chart below - using cuisenaire rods as a visual aid - each verb is contextualised with a sentence or two - elicit & drill chorally & individually. The mini-contexts would depend on your stds & what you have been doing recently in class - try & link it in.
2. Stds use rods as a stimulus to remember new vocabulary.
3. Controlled practice. Stds complete sentences with appropriate verb.
4. Stds compare.
5. Feedback. If short for time, on the board.
6. T tries to elicit the common meaning of 'up' and 'down' meaning increase and decrease.

Stage 3 Presentation 2
20 mins
1. Stds read with teacher through the three main points of the handout. T clarifies any areas of doubt or confusion and explains terminology.
2. Stds work in pairs or small groups to complete table on the worksheet with the use of monolingual, bilingual dictionaries and the example sentences.
3. Stds compare.
4. Feedback - if short for time on the board
5. Stds brainstorm phrasal verbs that they know and try to classify them in the same way. If time activity/homework activity
6. Group feedback.

Stage 4 Revision - the pictures are not included in the plan
15 mins
The main aim of this task is to provide practice of narrative tenses and linking expressions. The pictures have been chosen so that the stds could use some of the vocabulary presented in this class. However, as stated above, production of this vocabulary is not the main aim. The pictures are of very general situations and there is no obvious link between them. Consequently the stds may produce very minimal stories, to overcome this I will be encouraging them to develop the stories at the group stage.
1. In small groups stds chose six of the pictures and decide on a story line.
2. T monitors and micro-teaches as required.
3. Groups tell stories to other groups but withhold last 1or 2 pictures and invite the others to suggest an ending. Story telling group gives their version of events
4. T monitors, takes note of errors and successes.
5. Group error analysis and correction.

Handout for stage 3

Phrasal Verbs - what you need to know

When you learn a new phrasal verb, you need to learn the following;

Many phrasal verbs have more than one meaning. Consider 'cut down';

'We cut the tree down because it was dead.'

'The doctor told me to cut down my cigarettes to no more than five a day.'

Transitive or Intransitive
Just like other verbs, phrasal verbs can be transitive, intransitive or both. If a verb is transitive it has to have an object, if it is intransitive then it doesn't. You need to make a note of this with the meaning because it can change with different meanings.

For example. The first use of 'cut down' has to have an object. This verb is transitive.

The second use of 'cut down' is intransitive. We cannot say: 'I cut down cigarettes'

To find out if a verb is transitive or intransitive you need to look in dictionary. Look at the following extract from a monolingual dictionary.

cut down vb. (adv.)
1. (tr) to fell
2. (when intr., often followed by on) to reduce or make reduction (in).

tr and intr tell us if the verb is transitive or intransitive. Some dictionaries use a different notation such as 'I' or 'T''.

Seperable or inseperable
If the verb is transitive, we need to know where the object can go.

For example. "I cut down the tree." is the same as "I cut the tree down." so 'cut down' is separable we can say "I cut it down." However, we cannot say "I cut down it."

If a verb is separable and we use a pronoun then the pronoun has to go between the verb and the particle. An example of an inseparable verb is 'look after' We can say. "Look after the baby." "Look after her." but we cannot say "Look the baby after." "Look it after."

Not all dictionaries state whether a phrasal verb is separable or not. But if there are example sentences in the dictionary this usually helps.

Verb Meaning Trans. Intrans. Sep/
grow up        
heat up        
wind down        
cheer up        
bring up        
turn down        
cut down        
hurry up        
slow down        


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