Number one for English language teachers

Phrasal verbs: Introducing phrasal verbs to elementary students – tips and activities

Level: Elementary Type: Reference material

Tips and activities for teaching phrasal verbs to elementary students.

Introduction | Teaching approach | Stage one | Tips for understanding phrasal verbs | Stage two | Stage three | Stage four | Stage five | Stage six

Anchor Point:introIntroduction

Who says phrasal verbs are only for intermediate level students and up? This lesson is for elementary or false beginners to introduce some common phrasal verbs. It can be used with higher levels who are suffering from 'phrasal verb anxiety' and need to be reminded that it is not that difficult Teaching approach.

Download the worksheet at the bottom of this page.

  • Aim: To introduce (or review) 12 phrasal verbs common to the classroom environment. To highlight the correct pronunciation of phrasal verbs.

  • Level: False Beginners and elementary

Anchor Point:1Teaching approach

TPR (Total Physical Response) is a language teaching method which was first developed by James Asher. With this method students learn the target language by first listening and responding physically to the spoken requests of the teacher. Later, students produce the target language in making requests of their fellow students (giving them commands). This lesson draws partly on this method for its first stages.

This set of phrasal verbs are presented together in the context of the classroom and classroom instructions. Students are also encouraged to learn the phrasal verbs with the nouns they go with. A lesson of this type would be suitable to do at the beginning of a course or as review.

Return to top

Anchor Point:2Stage one

There are two possibilities here:

  • If you are not sure that students will understand the majority of the phrasal verbs in the box, read the following statements out loud and perform the action. Students have to order the phrasal verbs in which they hear them.
  • If you think that many of the phrasal verbs will already be familiar to them, copy the following statements onto individual strips of paper. Give a student one strip of paper and ask him/her to perform the action (but not read it). All the students mark the corresponding phrasal verb on their paper. Continue with different students until you have gone through all the statements.
  • Stand up and then sit down again.
  • Pick up your pen and then put it down.
  • Put away your books.
  • Rub out the words on the board.
  • Pick up your pen and write down some words in your notebook.
  • Turn on your mobile phone and then turn it off.
  • Turn over your papers and put your hand up.
  • Open your book. Cover up page 15 with a piece of paper.


If some of these statements are not suitable for your class (i.e. nobody has a mobile phone, or they don’t have books) leave them out or change them.

Return to top

Anchor Point:3Tips for understanding phrasal verbs


Sometimes you can understand the phrasal verb by looking at the particle (the second word). The particles UP and DOWN often relate to a physically higher or a physically lower position. Stand up, put up (your hand), sit down, pick up and put down are all examples of this kind of phrasal verb. Try the interactive exercise to practise phrasal verbs with up and down.

Return to top

Anchor Point:4Stage two

Check back the answers with the students. Then repeat the instructions in a different order but ask individual students to perform them (e.g. Maria, put away your books. Peter, pick up your pen. Put it down again.) You could add another one in with your instructions: Hurry up! Make sure you write this one on the board and explain its meaning (it is also the title on the worksheet).

When you have practised this sufficiently, ask students to try and complete the gaps in exercise 3. Check answers (the sentences in exercise 3 are the same as the above statements). Drill the pronunciation of the sentences, and highlight that the second part of the phrasal verb often receives more emphasis (sit down, pick up your pen)

Return to top

Anchor Point:5Stage three

Ask students to work in pairs and give each other instructions using the phrasal verbs. Circulate and listen, correcting errors in pronunciation (wrong emphasis).

Return to top

Anchor Point:6Stage four

This exercise focuses on possible phrasal verb and noun combinations. There is more than one possible answer for each.

  2. COVER UP or TURN OVER (less likely)
Return to top

Anchor Point:7Stage five

If you are doing this as review for an elementary level class you could point out the grammar of this group of phrasal verbs. With the exception of sit down and stand up, all the phrasal verbs in this lesson have the following characteristics:
  1. They take an object (rub out the words, turn on the TV).
  2. The object can go between the verb and the particle or after the particle (put your hand up or put up your hand).
  3. If you use a pronoun (e.g. it) then it can only go between the verb and the particle (turn it off – not turn off it).

Stand up and Sit down are phrasal verbs that don’t take an object and are therefore never separated.

Return to top

Anchor Point:8Stage six 

Optional clarification and online practise

The tips box above contains tips about phrasal verbs as well as explores the meaning of the particle. This month it focuses on the particles UP and DOWN. If your students have access to the Internet, they can do the online exercises to practise the phrasal verbs from this lesson. Anchor Point:bottom

Rate this resource (4.71 average user rating)

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

You must be signed in to rate.

  • Share

Readers' comments (1)

  • Useful for my students..

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup