Teaching Beginners | Collocations


Teaching phrasal verbs can be fun and can really help your students speak better English.

There are good and bad ways of teaching them. First off, let's see what you should never do.

Never do the typical exercise you find in some textbooks where you ask your students to work with all the phrasal verbs for a particular verb: bring about, bring back, bring in, bring forward, etc.

This is the fastest way to confuse your students and make them hate phrasal verbs. Think about it. It just doesn't make sense. There is no connection whatsoever, no logic, nothing to help your students learn.

This is made even worse by textbooks which just ask students to do the exercise before even teaching the phrasal verbs. I mean, how are the students supposed to do the exercise when this is the first time they see those phrasal verbs. This is just crazy. Please don't make your students suffer. You are their teacher. Teach them something before you give them a test, for God's sake!

We should always approach phrasal verbs systematically, helping students to understand the logic behind the preposition, providing example sentences and pointing out the different collocations. Interested? Read on.

This may seem difficult but most of the time the key is to have plenty of examples to back up your explanations. You can do this by searching our Generator and/or using a couple of good dictionaries.

The following exercise is an example of what you should avoid doing:

Phrasal Verbs with Bring :

Complete the sentences using one of these prepositions: out, on, up, over, in, back.

1.- This cold weather has brought .......... his cough again.
2.- He's brought .......... a new record.
3.- The government is going to bring .......... new legislation to deal with the problem.

...and so on

Why make students suffer with a stupid exercise like this? There's nothing to be learnt because there's no logic. The different verbs with bring have nothing in common and therefore this exercise will lead to chaos and frustration.

Even if students try and remember a few sentences, they'll soon be wondering if it was bring off or bring in that meant introduce new legislation? Or was it, perhaps, bring up? They get confused and disappointed and jump to the conclusion that it's much better to avoid phrasal verbs altogether. And the next time you suggest doing an exercise on phrasal verbs, you'll have them running for cover.

Try this exercise instead:


Phrasal Verbs with Out :

Out is sometimes used to indicate that something is available to the public. Complete the following sentences using one of these verbs: send, hand, bring, come.

1.- Remember to .......... out the invitations.
2.- He's .......... out a new record.
3.- His new film will be .......... out in the summer.


And then, after you've checked the answers with the students try a different version of the same exercise to emphasize collocations:



Words that go together :

Complete the following sentences without looking at the previous exercise using the following words:film, invitations, record.

1.- He's bringing out a new .......... .
2.- Remember to send out the .......... .
3.- His new .......... will be coming out in the summer.