Blooming Phrasal Verbs

The title of this post, of course, may well have you nodding in sympathy for all those generations of learners who curse about phrasal verbs. The focus, though, as you may have noticed, is green and when I say “blooming” I really mean it in the horticultural sense. This is, in fact the reply to David Warr’s latest blog challenge, to use his great new (and altruistically free) plant maker tool. To find out more visit his blog and follow his instructions for using plant maker.

I decided to combine this with a lesson for my C1 university students to raise their awareness of how we can use the same words at different levels, in different ways. So this is how it works:

1. Learners are given the title of the poem and asked to discuss what they think the “dream” is?

2. Learners look at the plant and make as many lines to the poem as they can;

3. Each line has the word “hold” in different meanings. Learners should say which meaning they think corresponds to which level: A1, B1 etc.

4. They could then make their own plant poems and post them on our class blog as a sort of “class challenge”

The English Vocabulary Profile a nifty tool

Follow up

This whole plan grew out of my perusing the English Vocabulary Profile an amazing resource, created as the result of a joint project. Based on the findings of the Cambridge Learner Corpus researchers have classes lexis alphabetically into levels of usage. This means not what we think learners should be using but what they actually are using. On September 30th the resource was made available to everyone free, so you can simply sign up to be able to use it, so that it can be used for all kinds of things such as writing tests, preparing materials etc. etc.

Using the English Vocabulary Profile in class

In this lesson I wanted to do a search of the word “hold” search at all levels. (At present the levels go from A1 – B2 but the more advanced levels are being worked on)

I simply put in the word “hold” to the search box (see the screenshot above) and was provided with this list:

By clicking on the links you can then see more information including examples of the way learners use these items and what level these learners are. 

This, I think we can safely say, takes peer learning to a whole new level.

Oh, and you wanted to know the original poem…

OK, then here goes:

She held a book

a book in her hand

She held a dream

a dream in her mind.

They held a lesson, an English lesson

They held an English lesson every Monday.

She held her dream and her head up high.

Simple but effective, so thanks David. I think I’m going to have to get the advanced software…

8 thoughts on “Blooming Phrasal Verbs

  1. Hi Sharon, I’ve really enjoyed reading this post, there’s so many things to talk about! Firstly, thank you for taking part, I hope you enjoyed the making the plant, the act of doing so gets you to think about similarities and differences between the phrases, so is a way to dwell on language. The link to the Cambridge resource, I’m sure everyone will find extremely useful. I know I will. Am I right, did you make this poem yourself, based on the research? Have you actually used it in class? If so, I’d love to hear what other sentences they were able to make. (BTW, new features and improvements to come soon).

    1. HI Ann,

      Thanks for the comments. I wasn’t sure whether you wanted me to post stuff on the Facebook page, but I will if you like 🙂


  2. Hold on, a minute! I was holding out there for some phrasals, which you appear to have held back! Now, perhaps I should hold back from commenting, for it’s not easy to hold you to what was offered in your title. In fact, I tried to, but I couldn’t hold off any longer and so now I’m holding up my hands in submission. Problem is, how to include ‘hold down’ in this comment? I never could keep a job. (I hope you accept this comment in fun! I like your site!)

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