This post outlines a number of strategies that can be used to help students practise phrasal verbs. While students play these games they are forming personal contexts for a difficult to understand part of the English language.

The recycling and reproduction of the language in meaningful ‘chunks’ helps to make phrasal verbs, even idiomatic ones, more memorable.

Generating our phrasal verbs

With my class we’ve looked at a number of phrasal verbs over the term. I want to revise 16 of them in a single lesson.

I write four headings on the board. These are the different contexts where my students first encountered these phrasal verbs:

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In pairs, students talk together and try to think of as many phrasal verbs as they can for each heading.

Next, students each make their own table, copying the headings from the board. I then read out the sixteen phrasal verbs in a random order and students write them under an appropriate heading. Students can ask me to repeat a word if they miss one.

Students compare their tables in pairs, then I hand out some board pens. Each student with a pen comes to the board and writes down one of the phrasal verbs. They then hand it to another student. This continues until the board is complete:

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The words in green are the sixteen phrasal verbs I read out and their intended column. However, due to the nature of phrasal verbs, there are plenty of alternatively correct answers. Also, one student misheard ‘take after’ as ‘take over’ which is under work/career.

Check understanding in groups of three, especially those that have additional meanings and have been added to more than one column.

Games – generating our sentences

Now that the phrasal verbs are up on the board we can play a game to practise their use. Here are links to several games that you could use. In each case I’ve written quick instructions and provided examples.

Follow up

In each game students are producing the language in personalised and memorable ways, which will help them to better remember phrasal verbs.

In your monitoring, and by reviewing their micro-writing from the activity, you can see which phrasal verbs students struggled to use correctly. You can also see which ones they avoided altogether, which shows they didn’t feel confident using them, helping you to plan your revision tasks for the next lesson.

After reviewing students sentences, I have a some error correction games I like to use:

Thanks for reading!

There are lots more games on the site. You can start by checking out the front page – www.teachinggamesefl.com

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