What activities can we use in order to help our students revise and consolidate their knowledge of various phrasal verbs? Keep reading to discover my 5 activity ideas.
This year I am once again teaching from Close Up, an excellent coursebook published by National Geographic Learning. I enjoy using this series as the vocabulary each chapter offers is varied, relevant, and, to a large extent, not usually encountered in coursebooks. There around 8 new phrasal verbs per unit, which poses a considerable challenge for to a lot of my teenage students. Luckily, I think that phrasal verbs really lend themselves to a number of activities that go beyond gap filling.
All the ideas below are meant as the second and all the subsequent times our students deal with a given set of phrasal verbs. The objective in each case to expose the learners to a different way in which they are supposed to deal with the target phrasal verbs. The activities vary from passive to more active ones, from imitative to creative, from literal to more abstract. Feel free to choose the ones you feel your students would benefit from the most.
Idea #1: Substitution
For this activity, you should write a text where target phrasal verbs are substituted by their regular equivalents.
Your students’ task is to match phrasal verbs with their equivalents. To perform successfully here students need to be aware of the meaning and context. To add extra spice, you might decide that phrasal verbs need to be used in different tense forms.
The activity might look something like this.
Idea #2: Substitution (created by students)
This activity works the same as the one above but for the fact that it is your students who need to come up with the initial text. Once they are ready, they can exchange their tasks with a partner. This engages the students in a more complicated decoding process and cuts your preparation time in half (if not more). Two birds, one stone.
Idea #3: Photo association
This is one of the more abstract ideas here but I have tried with both my teenage and adult students and saw them get into it.
For this activity, you are going to need a ppt presentation. On each slide put an image that somehow represents the phrasal verb. Your students have to guess each phrasal verb and write their answer in their notebook or on a mini whiteboard. After you check the answers you might use the ppt to play a lighting round kind of a game where you show the images in random order to different students and they have to say the phrasal verb out loud.
Here is the presentation I made when we were talking about phrasal verbs connected with eating and cooking. Can you guess any?
Possible follow up ideas:
- students select images for different phrasal verbs they have learned
- ask the students to write sentences about the images using phrasal verbs
- students pose for photos that would illustrate the phrasal verbs so that you can have photos to use for your next ppt
Idea #4: Questions and answers
This is an activity I have tried with a lot of new language items lately and I have found it quite challenging for my students.
The premise is simple: students have to write questions that can be answered using target phrasal verbs
Example: What did you do last night after going to the gym? I pigged out on a giant plate of chicken nuggets / I polished off a giant pizza / I snacked on some celery sticks.
The beauty of this exercise lies in the fact that there are barely any wrong answers, however, you might ask your students to come up with questions that force a more precise answer. Another perk of this activity is that it revises question forms which is something a lot of students struggle with (could it be because they are used to us, teachers, asking the questions?)
Once you have a bunch of questions written by students you might:
- use them to play a game in teams (read the question out loud, the teams who haven’t written it might signal their readiness to answer, the author of the question might judge how close to intended the answer is, and award the points)
- ask students to interview each other and note down each others’ answers to then retell it to the whole class/another pair of students
Idea #5: Draw/Mime/Define.
This old reliable works like a charm with phrasal verbs.
Here is what you need: pieces of paper, plastic containers, dice.
Ask the students to prepare small pieces of paper with phrasal verbs they remember from the last unit/last two units. It is OK if the same phrasal verb appears more than once. Collect the pieces of paper, put them in a container/containers if you teach a bigger group.
Students play in pairs or small groups. Each pair or group receive a container filled with phrasal verbs.
Demonstrate how the game works. Draw a piece of paper from the container, read your phrasal verb, keep it to yourself. Then, roll the dice:
1,2 = you need to draw the phrasal verb
3,4 = you need to mime the phrasal verb
5,6 = you need to define the phrasal verb
Keep this written on the board for your students to see.
If the partner/team guess the phrasal verb correctly, they get a point. Whoever ends up with the most points at the end of the game, wins.
This game is fast-paced, dynamic, fun, and offers each student an opportunity to engage with their phrasal verb in a different way.