When we mention the need to expand their range of phrasal verbs, we usually find our students have one of two rather distinct reactions: either moans and groans can be heard as a familiar feeling of dread sets in (we’ll call these students Camp A), or it sparks off a flurry of excitement and sudden interest about what’s coming next (these students represent Camp B).
The reasons for these feelings are even simpler to explain than learning the phrasal verbs themselves:
For the students in Camp A these combinations of seemingly easy ‘verb + particle’ expressions, which have too often been taught to them out of context, seem to intimidate and confuse even the keenest of learners. And who would blame them? How are they supposed to know that if you let down your best mate it doesn’t literally mean you drop him down a big dark hole? Or that if your teacher tells you to look it up you shouldn’t be searching for an answer on the ceiling?
On the other hand, those who occupy Camp B have learned to embrace the apparent lack of logic connected to phrasal verbs. They believe that putting up with the difficulties mentioned above will lead to an increased fluency and more natural sounding English, and we have to say we think they’ve come to the right conclusions about that. Indeed, we positively encourage our students through pointing out that phrasal verbs are not to be feared or avoided, and that with lots of exposure and practice they can make a really noticeable difference to how much you understand and are understood.
When we ask our students for feedback on class content, phrasal verbs feature highly on their list of requests to the point that we often have full attendance at a Friday afternoon elective class dedicated entirely to improving confidence with using phrasal verbs.
So, whether you want to brush up your English in general, pick up new expressions, stop your progress from dropping off, or simply learn how best to jot down new language, we suggest joining Camp B and enhancing your everyday English for good!
Jenny and Monika
Jenny Cannell, Director of Studies, BLC
Monika Smith, Assistant Director of Studies, BLC