A Phrasal Verb Story

Here’s a story I made with a few phrasal verbs in it. It’s intended for higher levels, but depending on the activity, could work with Intermediate students. I devised it not only to teach a bit of new vocab, but as a vehicle for looking at phrasal verbs with regards to idiomaticity, pronunciation and form (separability). This is what I did:

1) Warmer – Students asked if they have seen any fights or violent behaviour. Asked what the common reasons / locations for violent behaviour are in their countries / England.

2) Reading for comprehension – students can read to answer the question “How is the main character doing now / Where is he now?”

3) Students go through text and underline phrasal verbs

4) Students categorise them in to three columns (don’t give them titles, ask them to sort them as they wish)

5) Groups rationalise their choices

6) Look at phrasal verbs in terms of pronunciation rules, separability and levels of idiomaticity (I believe that each of these three categories can be split in to three columns – for more information see my essay: 

Teaching Phrasal Verbs to Lower Learners (particularly pages 3-7)

Drill, answer questions etc.

7) Gap fill / other controlled practice activity

8) Get them speaking – role play, or writing a story.

As a follow up to this lesson, I gave students the following muddled up version of the original story. NB: This is difficult, but my class were all CAE / CPE students, and coped well.

Phrasal Verb Story Muddle



Idioms – Market Traders

I often get students asking “What does…….mean?” after trips to markets. The fact is that not everyone can be expected to grade their language. This is particularly true of markets, where traders strive to represent their area of the country as much linguistically as anything else. With that in mind, I created this for a high level class.


1) Cut up conversation and students can order it in groups

2) Have a look at meaning, form and pronunciation – particularly focusing on London accent variations. I’ve found that students love having a go both understanding these phrases when said rapidly and saying them themselves.

3) Role play!

Enjoy 🙂

Students – can you find any “strange” language in the text below? Do you know what it means?

Market Traders